Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Core of Discovery Tour

Since it seems like I have been eating my way through St. Louis (if you've been following me, I think you'll agree!), I thought it might be a good idea to get outside and walk. When I checked the Core of Discovery website, I realized there were downtown walking tours. So off I went!

There are two types of walking tours: one is a visual arts tour to see some of the visual artwork in the downtown area; the other tour is a architecture tour to see the different types of architecture in St. Louis. Since both appealed to me, I decided to do a combination of the two.

The tour started at the famous Gateway Arch located on the St. Louis Waterfront:

To be honest, I don't believe I had ever seen The Arch before. And is it massive standing underneath it! There are tours in which you can go up 630 feet to see out over the city. I had been forewarned by a friend that it can be a bit tight as you move up the arch. And since I am becoming a bit claustrophobic as I get older, I decided the best place for me was on the ground!

I had the chance to see Busch Stadium and the cool statues of players outside of the stadium:

One of the sights I was really looking forward to was Citygarden:

My pictures don't do the garden justice. I bet it's a beautiful place to be in the spring and summer when the trees have flowers on them and the flowers are in bloom.

As I started walking again, I saw a wonderful tribute to firefighters (surprisingly, not on the 'official' list of statues to see):

And you'll never guess what I saw painted on a completed street block...PINK RIBBONS!!!

I have no idea why the pink ribbons were spray painted on the ground. But it was certainly a nice and unexpected surprise for me!

I decided to walk a few extra blocks (OK, like 8 blocks!) to see St. Louis Union Station. I believe in its day, this was a pretty happening and terrific place. It has a hotel connected to it, and some shopping, but I don't know if it was worth the 8 blocks (16 round trip!) that I walked to get there. Just sayin'.
Probably my most favorite thing I saw all day was this statue:

Walking Figure
'Walker Girl' (as I like to call her) reminds me so much of myself since since I like to walk. To me she possess a 'can do' attitude just like me!

Although I didn't hit all of the spots listed on the walking tours, I did see a great deal of downtown St. Louis. The complete tour is listed at 3 - 3 1/2 miles. Honestly I think you can probably add on more mileage once you get to each of the items walking around the general area. A GREAT way to see downtown St. Louis if you are ever in the area!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fly, Fly Away...

Wow, I can hardly believe that it's the last week of January! Where has the month gone?! Mine started with two weeks vacation, and the rest has been busy with work responsibilities. I'm glad that I will be headed home on Wednesday. I'll only be home for a little over 24 hours, and then I'm off on my next business trip. Whew! Unfortunately, February is already looking to be a busy travel month too.

Speaking of travel...

Most of the travel that I do is by commercial airline. I've been fortunate to have elite status with American Airlines for the past two years which certainly helps make traveling a bit easier. If you fly a lot, I strongly encourage you to book your flights with the same airline. This will help you reach elite staus with one airline a lot quicker. All airline programs are different, so you'll have to check the program rules for the airline you are interested in.

To achieve gold status with American Airlines, you have to fly 25,000 elite qulaifying miles OR 30 airline segments in a calendar year (January - December). 'Elite qualifying miles' means actual miles flown on an airplane. (Although I also have an American Airlines credit card, the points from the credit card go toward a free airline ticket not elite status qualification). A segment is each time an airplane takes off and lands. (So a non-connecting round trip flight would count as two segments.)

You might be wondering what the benefit is. Well, here are some of the benefits (in no particular order):

1) Seat Selection: I'm able to select any seat (except for First Class unless I purchased a First Class ticket) on the plane when I book my ticket. Since I'm tall I like to sit in the exit row for the extra leg room.

2) Boarding the Plane: I'm one of the first people to board the plane after First Class passengers. This means that I don't have to worry about finding room in the overhead compartment. (If you've ever been the last person to board a plane, you know what I mean...there's no place to put you're bag!) Which seagues me to the next benefit...

3) No Baggage Fees: I am able to check 2 bags ABSOLUTELY FREE! This is a savings of $120 round trip. The only thing I carry on is my purse and laptop bag.

4) Flight Check In: Although I typically use the self service kiosk to check in, I have the option of checking in the First Class line. This line is always considerably shorter than the regular line. Which can come in very handy at a really busy airport.

5) Priority Access Line: I have access to the Priority Access Line when going through airport security. Although I live in Dallas and typcially the wait times aren't that long due to the number of security check points, this sline has come in very handy in busy airports (Denver, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta) where the security check in lines can be ridiculous.

6) Complimentary Upgrades: For every 10,000 miles I fly, I receive 4 complimentary 500-mile  upgrade credits. Each upgrade credit is used to fly First Class. So if a flight is 800 miles, I would need to use 2 upgrade credits. A year ago, I purchased a ticket on an overbooked flight, and I received a First Class upgrade without having to use any of my credits...sweet!

These are just some of the benfits that are important to me. Traveling can be stressful enough. Why not have a little help to make it better?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

February NaBloPoMo

Can you believe that I have already signed up for February NaBloPoMo?! Over the past month I have found out just how time consuming keeping up a blog can be. And not that I am complaining. I am really enjoying writing for my blog!

One of the concerns I am experiencing is making certain I am writing about things that will interest other people. I mean, I think my world is somewhat interesting. But even I get bored with my world sometimes.

So, for the month of February I am going to try to follow the theme from NaBloPoMo. This month's theme is: RELATIVE. I decided to look up the meaning of relative (curtesty of dictionary.com):

1. a person who is connected with another or others by blood or marriage.
2. something having, or standing in, some relation to something else.
3. something dependent upon external conditions for its specific nature, size, etc. ( opposed to absolute).
4. Grammar . a relative pronoun, adjective, or adverb.

5. considered in relation to something else; comparative: the relative merits of democracy and monarchy.
6. existing or having its specific nature only by relation to something else; not absolute or independent: Happiness is relative.
7. having relation or connection.
8. having reference or regard; relevant; pertinent (usually followed by to ): to determine the facts relative to an accident.
9. correspondent; proportionate: Value is relative to demand.

So, it looks like I might possibly be exploring my family relationships, friendship relationships, business relationships, etc. Looks like this could be interesting. And if all else fails, I can just go back to my very random posts!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I'm Baaaaaack...

I can hardly believe that I have posted almost daily on my blog this month! I have posted more this month that the entire year of 2011!

See, I told you I was back...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe'

Earlier this week when I was checking out historic St. Charles, I forgot to mention that I found a new cupcakery to try! One of the shops had a banner hanging outside advertising that it sold Jilly's Cupcakes. Intrigued, I decided to go inside...

Well, once inside the store I realized that it was a children's store that little customized beanie type hats were sold. On a stand were about 8 cupcakes in plastic containers. I have to admit that the cupcakes looked tasty, but I wondered how long they had been sitting there a.k.a how fresh are these cupcakes? After checking them out, I went outside and accessed the cupcake business on my smartphone. Next thing I knew I was in my rental car headed to try Jilly's cupcakes!

When I arrived, I was surprised to see the following window wrap:

I had no idea this cupcakery was a winner of Season 3 Cupcake Wars! Now, as much as I love cupcakes, I don't follow Cupcake Wars (maybe I should start, huh?). So now I was even more intrigued about these cupcakes.

There was a line which gave me time to look over the cupcakes, although I already had my mind made up. Here's my cupcake selection...The Bee Sting!

Love the bee on top!

Two of my favorite flavors are honey and lemon, and this cupcake had both! It's a vanilla cupcake, with honey lemon curd stuffing (also known as filling), and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting, toasted almonds, and white chocolate bark with crushed lemon candies. The cupcake was kind of dense (not as dense as Sprinkles) and not overly sweet. Although the topping certainly won the prize for sweetness! The frosting was a thick cream cheese frosting that complemented the cupcake very well.

I received a fresh cupcake (meaning it had not been sitting out on the counter like the others) and it was a bit chilled. I believe that I would have enjoyed this cupcake more if it had been sitting at room temperature for a little while.

Overall it was a great cupcake. A little pricey ($5) but the size and quality of ingredients definitely warranted the price. The decorative nature of Jilly's cupcakes is a big draw. Bottom line is I would definitely return to Jilly's if I were in St. Louis again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Drunken Fish

On the first night that I arrived in St. Louis, I took a list of recommended restaurants from the front desk representative at my hotel. Almost immediately, I decided on a restaurant named Drunken Fish, which sounded like a Japanese restaurant. As I started to drive there, I began to second guess my decision...I really, really wanted some good sushi, and I was going to be soooo disappointed if this was garden variety sushi. So against my better judgement I continued on.

When I arrived the restaurant hadn't open yet, I decided to wait 20 minutes until it did. And am I glad that I did!

First plus is that Happy Hour is offered daily three times: 11 am - 12 pm; 5 pm - 7 pm and 10 pm to close. For Happy Hour there was an assortment of appetizers, speciality rolls, traditional rolls, nigiri, and adult beverages offered at half price to choose from.

Everything sounded good so I decided to try a hodge podge of things: lobster spring roll, white tiger roll, and sticky fries. And here's what that goodness looked like:

White Tiger Roll
Although I don't have a picture of the lobster roll (I took the first bite before I knew it and it was gone quickly!) it was AWESOME! It was a spring roll stuffed with lobster, cream cheese, jalapenos, asparagus and masago with honey wasabi dipping sauce. The spring roll was warm and creamy, and felt like it melted in my mouth. And the honey wasabi was wonderful! The honey kind of cooled the wasabi and gave it a light touch of sweetness to compliment to spring roll.

About the time I finished the spring roll, the sticky fries and white tiger roll arrived. I love, love, LOVE sweet potatoes, and the sticky fries were home-cut Japanese sweet potatoe fries, caramized in sweet syrup and black sesame seeds. O.M.G!!! The white tiger roll consissted of calamari tempura, crab, avocado and massago, topped with white tuna, spicy mayo and eel sauce. YUMMY!

Sticky Fries
Well you can probably tell that I throughly enjoyed my meal. I definitely give this restuarant two thumbs up and highly recommend Drunken Fish to anyone who goes to the St. Louis area and is looking for phenomenal siushi in a hip atmosphere. And to confirm just how much I enjoyed the restuarant, I found myself there AGAIN two nights after my first visit!

Red Dragon Roll and Caterpillar Roll - YUMMO!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Attitude

Ok, I think I'm finally over my Weight Watchers and non-weight loss funk. It's totally not me to have a bad attitude about things as I am normally a glass half full type of gal.

The other day as I was lounging for the day in my PJ's (ok, being lazy), I found myself watching past episodes of weight loss stories featured on Oprah. There were people who lost under a 100 pounds, a 100 pounds, and some who lost hundreds of pounds. The people who lost hundreds of pounds really amazed me. Some had lost their mobility due to their weight, yet they still found a way to exercise to lose weight.

When I thought about my 'woe is me' attitude, I quickly realized that I don't have a lot of other factors hindering me from losing weight. I am physically mobile and I'm not responsible for preparing meals for anyone but myself. I've determined that my lack of exercise and daily activity is one of my challenges. Yes, I can walk a half marathon or 60 miles for breast cancer, but just exercising everyday because I should isn't something that I do.

So I've decided to get back on the wagon and get back on my weight loss journey again. My goal is to lose 75 pounds, which is a lot of weight. And I would like to lose it by this time next year. Which is completely doable since safe weight loss is 1 -2 pounds per week.

I know there will be good days and bad days, and lots of other temptations and distractions along the way. The important thing is for me to keep my eye on the prize just like I do in other areas of my life when I want to reach a goal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Historic St. Charles

Since my trip to the St. Louis area is short, I decided to make the most of it and venture out on my second day there. The front desk representative at my hotel recommended walking Main Street in the historical area of St. Charles, so I thought "Why not?". Well...the first reason should have been because it had been a little rainy that day, and the second reason was that my newly coiffed curls were going to get damp and fall. But determined to do something, I set out for St. Charles.

And am I glad that I did! 

Once I reached the cobble stoned streets lined with beautiful historical homes and buildings filled with unique shopping, I knew I was in for a treat! I parked at one end of the 19 block area and decided that I would walk (or shop!) my way up and down the street.  

It didn't take long before I came across this cute little shop, I Am What I Am:

The store is owned by one person, although it has a collection of unique items created by local artists that are sold in the store. (If I even had a creative bone in my body, this place would have certainly given me LOTS of ideas!) The best thing about this store is that I was able to find a Christmas gift for someone. (And yes, I DO shop for people other than myself!). This year I am determined to purchase more thoughtful gifts for people other than the simple option of gift cards. (Although I love to receive a gift cards!)

As I continued walking, I quickly realized that I couldn't stop into every store due to my urge to want to purchase items! But I couldn't help but go into Di Olivas, a olive and vinegar emporium:

I had heard of this type of store previously, but never knew exactly what it was. Basically it is a store that sells high quality extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) and balsamic vinegars. Before even tasting one, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the store.


Fortunately there was an extremely nice salesperson to walk me through the process of trying different oils, vinegars and mixing the combinations together. (And thankfully consuming 2 tablespoons of good oil is on the Weight Watchers plan!) I ended up purchasing a butter flavored EVOO (yummy!) which the sales person said some WW members purchase it to spritz on their air popped popcorn; it also will be amazing to drizzle on baked fish. This way I am getting the taste of butter, but with the healthy, good for me oils that I should have. I also purchased a cranberry-pear balsamic vinegar (tart, yet a hint of sweetness) to spritz on my salads. I will also visit their website to order some gifts for other people for the holidays because this is GREAT stuff!

Although the day was a bit chilly (and I quickly lost my curls), it was still a great day to be out and walk about. Before I knew it, I had spent 3 hours walking in and out of shops, and I hadn't really stopped at all of the stores I wanted to!

There are lots of restaurants, some with very hip, cool and inviting outdoor seating areas that I am certain must stay busy in the spring and summer months.

So if you are ever in the St. Louis area, it's definitely worth it to make the drive to historic St. Charles!

Monday, January 23, 2012

3-Day Discount

I'm sure you've made new year resolutions or set goals for yourself for 2012. If you're interested in doing something completely remarkable, unforgettable, and meaningful, think about participating in the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3 Day!

You can register to be a walker (it's only 60 miles and they feed you along the way so you won't go hungry!). Or you can register to be a crew member (which I think might be harder than walking 60 miles!) or volunteer . And to entice you even more, a $25 discount is being offered if you register to walk or crew by January 31st at 11:55 pm CST (who doesn't like to save money?).

Of course I'm very partial to my home city of Dallas to walk in. And if you walk in Dallas, you can join me and my fantastic team as we walk the streets of the metroplex! (Some of us are walking two cities this year...more to come on that later!)

Angels for the Cure after the 2011 Dallas 3 Day Walk

Wether you decide to walk or crew, you'll be helping to create awareness for breast cancer education and research, and ultimately finding a cure!

Come on, think about it...what's stopping you?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On the Road to...

St. Louis!

Although I'm not quite ready to return to work, I have to admit that I am looking forward to traveling to the St. Louis area. Mainly because I've never been there before and I always like to travel to places I've never been.

With my job, it's possible that I could travel on any day of the week. Although today is Saturday, I love to take Saturday flights. Depending on where I am traveling to and from, Saturday flights tend to be less crowded. Business travelers typically travel the most on Sunday, Monday or Friday; and people traveling for pleasure typically travel before the weekend to get to their destination.

My flight today was no exception - thankfully plenty of empty seats (no one likes to sit cramped up next to someone else) and I had an entire exit row to myself! I love to get an exit row seat due to the extra leg room (I'm 5' 7"). And just in case there is an emergency, I always say a short prayer before each flight that everything goes well so I won't have to be responsible for the exit row door in the event of an emergency. (I also like to think that a kind gentleman will be more than willing to assist me with this responsibility if needed)

This morning as my flight left the gate, we quickly returned to the gate due to a problem with one of the instruments. The pilot was very kind to keep us updated throughout the process. Although an hour after returning to the gate an announcement was made that the plane was 'out of service' and we would need to deplane. By time we deplaned, another plane had been located for us just a few gates away. After waiting another 30 minutes, we were able to board. Only to get on the second plane to be told that there was an auxiliary unit that wasn't working properly. So after another hour on a plane we were finally off into the clear blue ski. Even after the 3 hour delay, I still stand by Saturday being a great day to fly!

The morale of the story is to make certain you bring things to keep you busy when traveling, like reading material, your iPod, or some type of electronic device (I guess kids can be entertaining too depending on their age). Unfortunately there was a problem with the Nook app on my iPad to read the books I recently purchased and downloaded. Fortunately I found out Citi/Advantage Card was offering 30 free minutes of Internet access, which allowed me time to reinstall the app and download the books again. Problem solved! This little nugget of info was only learned after checking my email during one of the delays. So see, some good can come from subscribing to emails from the airlines that you frequent.

Don't forget to check back to see what I figured out to do (in additon to working) while in St. Louis. And if you've ever been to St. Louis or the surrounding area, please feel free to recommend some things for me to do!

Friday, January 20, 2012


I'm certain that you are pretty glad that today is Friday! Possibly the end of a short week (if you had this past Monday off for Dr. Martin Luther King Day) or a long week if you had to work everyday. Seems like everyone looks forward to Friday no matter what!

For me, today means the end of staying home and being a lady of leisure. (No more sleeping in, staying up late, or wearing my PJ's all day) Duty calls and my next work assignment begins tomorrow. Be sure to check back to see where I land!

Since I travel for my company a new aspect of my blog will be me posting about the places I travel too and what that area has to offer. (Don't worry, they don't send me anyplace too exotic!)And if you've ever been to the same area, hopefully you can point me in the direction of some cool things to do while I'm there!

Well, my bags are packed and it's time to say goodnight!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Buddha Bowl

I’m certain by now it’s no surprise that I enjoy shopping (Probably a little too much sometimes). Well, today my Buddha Bowls arrived in the mail!

Who doesn't love a cute box?

It’s kind of a looong story about how I found these bowls, but here it goes…

Somehow I came across an online website called OpenSky. I honestly have no idea how I came across this website, and this could be a case of which came first – the blogger or the website! Well on the website, I could select different people (who become my team) whose online store I wanted to follow. The ‘team' then selects items that they like to showcase in their store. Well I came across a blogger, Kath, who is a registered dietitian and writes a food blog (more on her wonderful food blog later!) and decided to follow her. And this is how I found the Buddha Bowls!
Every now and then OpenSky will give me store credits (I’m sure it’s just a marketing ploy to entice me to make a purchase. And it worked!). After I received a store credit for $10, and I decided to use it to purchase a set of Buddha Bowls. First, I love dishes that are ceramic or made of stoneware. Second, I love unique items and these bowls seemed to be a cool way to eat soup or drink tea or coffee. Thirdly, seeing Kath’s delicious looking creations in the bowls definitely sold me!
See how easy it is to hold the bowl in the palm of my hand?!
Although I have only had ramen noodles in my bowl, I love them! I love the way I can slip my thumb in the handle and then hold the bowl in my hand. The warmth from the bowl just feels comforting and makes me want to snuggle up on my couch in a big blanket! OK, about Kath’s blog….
Kath is an awesome blogger who post several times a day at Kath Eats Real Food. She posts mainly about what she cooks and eats, the bakery that she owns, and remolding her home. Kath is also a great photographer and her pictures will immediately draw you in! And if you like unique plates, bowls and glasses, you will love what she presents her food items in. What I like is that Kath is into healthy eating, although when you look at the items you might not initially think that they are good for you. Overnight oats are one of my favorite things to make. Ah ha… I just figured something out!
The blogger came first! I follow another blog in which the blogger wrote about overnight oats and referenced Kath’s blog. That’s how I first located Kath’s blog. Then once I found out about OpenSky, it was nice to see a familiar name listed and I decided to follow Kath’s online store there. So hopefully you’ll take the time to check out Open Sky and Kath’s blog. Just don’t do it on an empty stomach! You’ve been warned…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Still Not Losing...

As much as I didn't want to go to Weight Watcher's today and weigh in, I knew that I needed to keep my promise of reporting how my weight loss journey is going. Here are the results:

Weekly Loss/Gain: +2.0 pounds
Total Loss/Gain: -6.4 pounds

Honestly, I'm not surprised that I gained weight this past week. Every since I returned from vacation about a week and a half ago, it has been very hard for me to motivate myself to do the right things concerning losing weight. Although I know I will feel better once I start losing weight, that hasn't been enough of an incentive.

All I keep thinking about is how much I enjoy food...I love socializing around food, trying new dishes, going to new restaurants, and the list goes on and on. In the meeting today other members shared some of their food success stories and what they have been eating. As I heard each story, it just sounded like a big compromise to me. All I could think is that no matter how much they say they are enjoying what their eating, they certainly can't be enjoying it! I mean what's exciting about grilling chicken breasts and opening a can of black beans to go with them? To be me it just sounded like a means to an end, and that they are choosing to eat things because the point value might be low. I'm just not ready to compromise.

Hopefully I can turn my not so cheery attitude about my eating habits around. Right now I am just feeling so limited with my choices. This week one of my goals is to really review my Weight Watchers materials to see what options are available on their Simply Filling program. Maybe this will help me get around counting points and jump start me back into a positive direction.

If any of you have thoughts and suggestions about healthy food options to try, I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finisher's Medal

It finally arrived today...my finisher’s medal from the Las Vegas Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon!

Some of you might remember that I walked in the Las Vegas ½ Marathon about 6 weeks ago, and that the sponsoring company RAN OUT OF MEDALS!!! Needless to say this was the let down of the event for me. Seriously, how do you run out of medals? Seems pretty simple to me, but if you have 30,000 people registered to participate in the event, you should probably order that number of medals OR less a small percentage to account for those people who registered yet couldn’t participate for one reason or another. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.
OK, the medal is pretty cool and worth the wait. It actually glows in the dark!

You can faintly see the moon and stars...pretty cool, huh?!
And in case you’re wondering, no, I am not any kind of competitive athlete. I registered for the ½ earlier in 2011 because it sounded like fun to walk (not run!) the Las Vegas Strip at night.
So for those of you who might be interested in participating in the Las Vegas ½ Marathon, the following are some pros and cons:
1.      It was GREAT to walk The Strip at night and see it in a different way. Although I think this might have been the first and last year for it to be scheduled at night. This event shut The Strip down from about 3 pm until midnight.

2.      This event had over 45,000 participants for the full and the half marathon. That’s a lot of people!

3.     Due to the number of participants, I would highly recommend staying at the hotel/casino that the race begins from. I stayed at a hotel about a mile away, and it took over 2 hours to get back to the hotel once the race was over. (And after walking 13.1 miles who wanted to walk another mile to the hotel?) Side note: I stayed at the ARIA and I highly recommended it!

4.      If you are a marathoner and using this event to qualify for another marathon, this might not be the one for you. The full marathon merges into the half marathon which definitely slowed down the true runners.
If you have other questions about the ½ marathon, please let me know! And if you have other ½ marathons that you recommend, please let me know that too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Product Expiration Dates

After my trip to Sephora, my mind slowly drifted to all of the skin care and make up products that I already have. I have so many perfumes, moisturizers, lip glosses, lotions, etc. that from the outside looking in, an outsider would think that I probably don't need to purchase any additional items. And if I were really being honest, I probably don't need to purchase any skin related products for the rest of this year. 

Some people might think this is borderline hoarding of some type but I honestly need these things!

So, since I do have all of these items, I decided to look up what expiration dates are of products. And that's when things got a little scary. Here's what I found out:

General period after opening is:
Perfumes, perfume – up to 3 years;
Powders (including blush, eyeshadows powdery texture) – 1 to 3 years;
Foundation in a jar or a cream powder – 1 to 3 years;
Liquid tone means (in tubes or jars with dispenser) – 1 year;
Nail polish – 1 year;
Sun cosmetics – 1 year (but no more than one season);
Lipstick, lip gloss – 1 year;
Pencil (Eye, Lip) – about 1 year;
Skin care products (hydrating cosmetics, wrinkle, eye contour) in a sealed packet with the pump – about a year, in a jar – from 6 to 10 months;
Solid eyeliner and eyebrow pencil – from 6 to 8 months;
Bronzing – 6 months;
Mascara – 3-6 months;
Liquid eyeliner – from 3 to 4 months;
Natural/Organic products – up to 6 months.

I decided to look up the expiration of a few items, and let’s just say that I will need to throw some items away. Like yesterday. And there are some items that will be expiring within the next six months.
I also learned that some items have a PAO (period after opening) date. I had always seen a symbol like a jar printed on some products, with an ‘18M’ printed inside the symbol. This means the product is good for 18 months after it has been opened. But of course if the product expiration date occurs first, then that might prevail. To be honest, trying to decipher some of this stuff started to give me a headache (and I’m sure you might be getting one too right about now). So here’s a link to the site that I used to get information AND it has a product calculator on it: http://checkcosmetic.net/
I have a feeling that I won’t be the only person throwing away some items…

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ah, Sephora

Today I made a long overdue trip to Sephorathe make-up, skincare, lotion and potion wonderland. For me, Sephora is one stop shopping for anything beauty related. And the best part is that I can test whatever I want to purchase before I actually make the purchase. (Well, today the best part was probably that I had a Sephora gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket) Which brings me to today’s testing excursion…nail polish!

For the most part, I don’t have a nail polish collection at home. I get mani’s and pedi’s on a regular basis and I typically select a color from the salon that I go to. Couple of problems with that: 1) I tend to wear the same colors over and over again and 2) if I chip a nail I don’t have the color at home to do a quick touch up. So today I decided that I would find a signature color to wear for the rest of the winter months. After trying on about 15 different colors (thankfully there was a wonderful and conditioning nail polish remover handy), I finally landed on a Sephora for OPI color named ‘Metro Chic’.

I like it because it is a neutral color that should go with just about anything that I am wearing. And to me, it is kind of grayish with a purplish undertone to it (and then again, I could be becoming colorblind) which seems to be pretty popular right now. (I am happy to announce that Sephora lists the color as ‘opaque dark smoke with a hint of purple’, so I wasn’t too far off with my description of the color!)
Other purchases for the day were a new blush brush and Urban Decay eye primer. (Since I have spoken about this amazing product before, I’ll have to later this week!) And the second best part of the Sephora excursion was that after using my gift card, it only cost me $1.42…winning!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Update

A few days ago I posted that I received my first ever mammogram. The following is the message that I received from my OB/GYN today:

I hope you are doing well! I am happy to inform you that your mammogram is within normal limits. Please continue yearly screening.

 So see, great things can happen on Friday the 13th!

Friday the 13th

This morning when I awoke, I quickly learned from a morning show that today is Friday the 13th. I've been on vacation for the past two weeks, and I honeslty have no idea what the current date it. I'm still having trouble remembering that it is 2012. (Although I do know that Monday is 'doomsday' - the day my vacation officially ends. Sigh)

Not only is today Friday the 13th, there will actually be three Friday the 13th dates this year AND they are 13 weeks apart from one another. (Just in case you want to mark your calendar, the next dates are April 13th and July 13th)

And since I've mentioned the number '13' seven times already, that might have some people even more spooked out. Well guess what? You're not alone! People who have an aversion to the number 13 are known to have triskaidekaphobia. And people who have a fear of actually saying 'Friday the 13th' are known as having paraskevidekatriaphobia. (And I thought I had problems?!)

So, all of this probably way more than you wanted to know about Friday the 13th. I'm certain many of you are more like 'T.G.I.F'! Enjoy the day and have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Mammogram

I typically don't write about things too personal, although today I have decided to. (And I promise that I won't get too personal either!) Today I went to get my mammogram. Actually I should say my first mammogram. EVER.

Over dinner tonight I told a really good friend that I went to have my first mammogram. She just looked at me for a few seconds before saying 'I am really surprised to hear you say that. I thought if anyone had had a mammogram, that it would be you.' Later when I shared my news with my mother, she also said that she was surprised. She too assumed that I had been getting a yearly mammogram.

The reason for the surprised responses from my friend and my mother is that I have been a breast cancer awareness advocate for as long as I can remember. I have participated in too many to count Susan G. Komen for the Cure Walks; and over the past three years, I have participated in 5 Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walks raising over $10,000 to create awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. And more importantly, breast cancer runs in my family.

To be honest, I don't have a reason for why I have never had a mammogram before today. Yes, my OB/GYN has repeatedly talked to me about it. And no, I wasn't afraid to have a mammogram. And most importantly, I know first hand that early detection is key since this is the reason that my family members and friends are survivors of this deadly disease.

I share my story with you today to create awareness and with the hope that you will not prolong having your yearly mammogram or to encourage someone you know to have theirs. A mammogram only takes 15 minutes...15 minutes that can give you with a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Longer Losing

OK, I promised whether positive or negative results that I would post my weekly Weight Watcher weigh in. Here are the results for this week:

Weekly Loss/Gain: +2.4 pounds
Total Loss/Gain: -8.4  pounds

Although I am disappointed that I gained weight, I am happy that it wasn't more than 2.4 pounds. The last date that I weighed in was two weeks ago on December 28th. And that was 2 days before I left to go to Hawaii for 10 days. Although my plan was to eat as healthy as I could, my plan fell apart pretty quickly. (I just couldn't resist the wonder shave ice!)

I believe that one thing that did help me (meaning not gaining more weight) was that I stayed active during my trip. Of the 10 days that I was gone, I walked or hiked 7 of those days. I would awake in the morning and either hike along the coastline at my resort or I would walk the resort (which was extremely hilly). So even though I didn't lose weight, I am happy that I remained active while on vacation.

So this week it is back to my Weight Watchers plan AND sticking to it. Hopefully next week I will have negative (in a good way!) results to share with you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Prayer for 2012

On my last day in Hawaii, I awoke early to take one last walk around the resort to take in the views and snap some final pictures (I promise I will post some pics by the end of the week!). I can hardly believe that my last day in Hawaii has arrived so quickly! The past 9 days have done me a world of good and I'm not quite ready to leave. But I guess ready or not, I'll be returning to the mainland very soon.

During my walk, I had a chance to reflect on the past year and focus more on the upcoming year. My walk quickly turned into a conversation with God, and went a little something like this:

1) I am very thankful for the opportunity to travel to Hawaii. Traveling to someplace so beautiful is a wish and dream that many have, yet many will never obtain. I am very fortunate to be able to travel to the places that I have during my life.

2) I prayed for a healthy 2012 for my family. Over the past two years my dad, my stepmom, and stepfather have experienced different medical problems. Some medical conditions extremely serious, and other conditions unexplained. Fortunately everyone is healthy and doing well right now. I pray that the upcoming year brings nothing but good health to my family and friends.

3) I prayed for a young lady, Lauren Scruggs, who was seriously injured in a helicopter accident 5 weeks ago in Dallas. Although I've never met Lauren, her story has touched me. Lauren lost her left hand, left eye, and suffered brain damage from walking into the propeller of the helicopter after it landed. In spite of all of this adversity and change, her mother writes a daily blog about Lauren's progress. I am amazed her mother's selfless act of keeping everyone updated, and I pray for healing for Lauren and continued strength for her and her family. Here is a link to Lauren's story and journal: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/laurenscruggs

4) Lauren's story makes me think about my own life, and feeling as though I am not living my life to its full potential. I pray for more direction and that I will be open to where I am being led. For awhile I have felt very unsettled. Typically I move to action to attempt to change what is wrong. Now I am going to be still and listen to where I am being led to see what my future has in store for me.

5) I prayed for a fresh outlook towards my current career choice. I have been feeling so burned out and slowly resenting my job due to the amount if travel, the long hours, and not feeling any purpose in what I do professionally. At one time my job brought me a sense of excitement, fulfillment, and I looked forward to my next assignment. I am prayerful that feeling returns or that a new opportunity presents itself.

6) I prayed for patience. Patience has never been a strong suit of mine, and I find what little patience I have left is slowly draining away.

This is just a short synopsis of the thoughts I had this morning on my walk. I don't know what this year will bring. Although I finally feel lie I am ready to face it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Homeward Bound!

My trip to Hawaii is coming to an end. Sigh. Maui is so green, lush and tropical that it is sometimes hard for me to remember that I am in the United States. (I also am beginning to think that there are many uncovered treasures in the US, and that I should plan more trips exploring my great country!)

This trip was much needed to rejuvenate me and get me in the right frame of mind for 2012. So if you ever need a place to regroup, travel to Maui!

Hopefully by the end if the week I'll be able to recap my trip here and include pictures! Here's hoping for an easy breezy and safe travel day home!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Crazy or Not? You Decide

People who know me, know that I don't eat chicken. Many find it funny and interesting since I'm Black (guess all Black people don't eat chicken...LOL!) and since just about everyone (except me) does consider eating chicken a pretty basic food to eat. The other evening as I was dining with friends, the question came up about why I don't eat chicken. Well, here's the story...

In December 1999, I had three bad experiences with chicken. The first one was at a random strip mall Chinese restaurant (enough said). The following week I was at Popeye's Chicken and received some chicken strips that we're a little too pink inside for my liking. Well, the last bad experience took place at Wendy's. I'll begin by saying that it was mid day New Year's Eve and the drive thru line was wrapped around the building and out to the street. After I ordered my fried chicken sandwich combo meal, I drove home. After I took the second bite of my chicken sandwich, the inside of the chicken was completely raw! 

I like to think that if each if these occurrences had been more isolated, and not a week apart from one another, I might still be eating chicken today. As time passed on, I thought about trying chicken again, but just couldn't do it. Now that 11 years has passed chicken free, I don't believe I will ever eat chicken again. And to be honest, a grilled chicken breast doesn't even look appealing to me. Watching others eat chicken doesn't bother me (as if it would stop them from eating it), although smelling large quantities of chicken does make me queasy (like a few weeks ago when I went inside Chick Fil A to purchase a gift card for someone).

So after sharing my story, I asked my friends if they had a food phobia or aversion that others might think strange. Here are theirs in no particular order:

Friend 1: Patio Umbrellas. If she is sitting outside she can't stand to look at them because she thinks they will fall over and they make her sick. (And I have been with her when it was almost a matter of life and death if we didn't change tables or seats)

Friend 2: Bone meat. She doesn't eat meat off a bone. Example ribs, fried chicken, corn dogs, etc. She says there is a name for this, but who knows. That night at dinner she didn't realize her entree came partially on the bone. Thankfully her husband was there to cut off the bone portion.

Friend 3: Ice Chewing. Although he loves to chew ice, he can't stand to hear other people chew ice if he doesn't have some ice to chew on too.

Somehow my chicken phobia isn't looking so crazy anymore...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Weight Watchers on Vacation

For the past several weeks on Wednesday I blog about Weight Watchers and fortunately my success with it. Today I am in Maui (I know, woe is me) and it doesn't look like I will be completing my weekly weigh in (or that this will post on Wednesday either due to the time difference). Yes, there are WW locations on the island although they have strange weigh in dates and times.

Every since I started doing Weight Watchers again, I have been worried about how my trip to Maui was going to affect me staying on the right track. I did bring work out clothes with me (first ever for a vacation!) and I have managed to use them.

Every day I have taken a regular walk or hiked a trail. The trail hikes have surprised me since they are more physical than I thought they would be. The stepping motion is very different than walking, and stepping 'up' or 'down' rocks works different muscle groups (after the first day I was really amazed that I could feel some soreness in my legs!). Although the trails aren't that long, I can really feel my heart rate increasing.  I also purchased a pedometer before I left. Each day I have come close to walking 10,000 steps which helps me to know that I am being more active than I think.

As for my food choices...well, I could be doing better. Shave ice seems to be my favorite thing here. Although shaved ice on its own has zero calories, the wonderful flavored syrups and creams certainly do not! So for the remainder of my stay, I am going to try to make better choices. And maybe only have shave ice one or two more times.

Stay tuned for next Wednesday to see how my weigh in goes!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

Ok, here's this week's Ten on Tuesday, with questions provided by Chelsea at Roots and Rings. (Actually this might be Ten on Wednesday due to the time difference that I am experiencing right now)

1. What did you get for Christmas?
Ugg Sparkle Boots, Kurieg Coffee Maker, iPad stylus, gift cards (bed, Bath and Beyond, Starbucks, Nordstrom, P.F. Chang)

2. Have you taken down your Christmas decorations?
Anyone who knows me knows that I didn't decorate. My goddaughter gave me a musical snowman that I will need to put away when I return from vacay.

3. What did you do for New Years Eve?
I spent it in Maui with friends. We had dinner at Duke's Beach House, and afterward returned to our condo to toast the New Year in.

4. Do you like accents?
For the most part yes. Although sometimes a southern accent can drive me crazy! I live in Texas and dont think I'll ever pick up one (thankfully!).

5. What kind of television do you have?
A 42" Samsung LED TV in my living room, and a 42" Samsung LCD TV in my bedroom.

6. Did you make any changes at the beginning of 2012?
So far, no. I am on vacation and will think about this more when I return home.

7. What’s the last book you read and do you recommend it?
I just finished reading 'Something Borrowed' by Emily Griffin, and yes, I do recommend reading it. Although I didn't realize it when I started the book, I believe it has been made into a movie.

8. Do you stay current on celebrity gossip?
For the most part, yes. Between the reality email I receive daily, Twitter, and Facebook, I tend to stay in the know.

9. Do you know the words to Bohemian Rhapsody? Gangstas Paradise? Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
Nope, nope, and nope. Should I?

10. What is your favorite educational television show?
Hmmm, great question, and I really don't know! I probably watch way too much reality TV (see question #8) which I don't consider educational.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hawaii by Daylight

Ok, Hawaii is much better in the daylight than the dark! 

Although I awoke still a bit fatigued from traveling, I was anxious to get out to begin my day to see Hawaii. I also needed to switch resorts as well. My first night was spent at the Marriott Waliea which is a wonderful resort. (I even had my first celebrity sighting, Weird Al Yankovich!) After breakfast I walked the resort and was able to take some beautiful scenic shots before leaving.

After checking out of the resort, I headed west to the Kapalua area which is where I will be staying for the rest of my stay. On the way there, I found the most wonderful thing by accident - shave ice! And this is nothing like the Sno Cones I've had before either. Each shave ice (and yes, it is 'shave' without a 'd') has the ice shaved to order, and it looks like fine snow falling into to cup. I selected to have pineapple, blue Hawaii and guava syrup added to mine. And to top it off, I had it 'snow capped' which is sweet cream poured over the top of the shave ice. Well from the first scoop it was love at first taste for me!

For dinner that night I dined at Duke's Beach House and had a wonderful Seafood Risotto full of shrimp, scallops, and lobster. At the table we shared a slice of Hula Pie which is a macadamia nut ice cream pie on a chocolate graham cracker crust. That night we returned to the condo to toast in the new year with champagne.

After all of my festive eating, I thought it would be a good idea to get some exercise in. I walked part of one of the hiking trails and then added on another 2 miles to check out the resort.

So far the New Year is off to a great start for me!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, and blessed 2012!

I am beginning mine looking at the beautiful ocean in Maui, feeling the warm sun on my back, and a light breeze tickle my toes. As the waves roll in and then out, I can't help but think 'in with the new, out with the old'. I can't think of a better way to start the new year, and I look forward to all of the promise that it brings!

Hawaii Bound

From yesterday's post you might have read that I traveled to Hawaii for a vacation, which is also where I will ring in 2012. When the decision was made to travel to Hawaii, the decision was also made to fly First Class (if you've never flown First Class it should be on your bucket list of things to do!). Fortunately I had enough frequent flier miles to cover the upgrade cost which made it an easier pill to swallow. 

On the first leg of the trip I was well taken care of with toasted mixed nuts, a cheeseburger, and lets not forget the FREE drinks! There was also a nice blanket to jeep me warm and headphoneS to listen to the movie that was playing. With all of the attention from the Flight Attendants, the almost 3 hour flight to Los Angeles went by before I knew it.

During a 2 hour layover in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to use a free Admiral's Club pass (I received this a few weeks ago to entice me to sign up for a yearly membership). As fabulous as the Admiral's Club is, paying $400/year is a bit steep to me (I do gave enough frequent flier miles to purchase the membership, but i think I'll use the miles fir free flights). Besides, flying from Dallas I am able to book direct flights and I very seldom get to the airport hours in advance to reap the benefits of the membership.

Once I boarded the plane to head to Maui, the First Class treatment started with pre-flight champagne. The meal was served in courses, and I was even given a menu to make my selections! After having a wonderful spring salad, cheesy four cheese ravioli, and a fruit and cheese plate for dessert, I was ready to enjoy the remaining 3 hours of my flight.

Once I landed in Maui I was beyond tired. After a short drive to the hotel, I was ready for bed, yet very anxious to see what tomorrow brings since it was already dark when I landed.