Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Hits and Misses

First off Happy Halloween! Hope you have a fun costume and are celebrating tonight!

At Target I spotted Noosa yogurt in Pumpkin flavor and had to try it! Lucky me it’s only sold at Target! Noosa is an Aussie style yogurt which is similar to rich Greek yogurt. It’s made in Colorado from milk free of artificial growth hormones (rBGH) and artificial preservatives from outdoor cows that eat grain and alfalfa grown without pesticides. Eating organic yogurt free of artificial sugar (splenda) has always been really important to me. Their pumpkin flavor is absolutely divine, it was incredibly delicious!! I split the container into two servings so it’s better calorie wise. Definitely make sure to get your hands on one, you won’t regret it!

At Whole Foods I spotted Suja’s seasonal pumpkin smoothie. Now I’m a big fan of Suja’s vegetable juices so I was excited to try this. It’s made of sweet potato, carrot, maple syrup, pumpkin, pecans, coconut, coconut palm sugar, black strap molasses, and spices. Sounds good right?  Well let me tell you, it’s no pumpkin pie in a bottle. Even though it has sugar in its ingredients, it’s not sweet at all. The flavor just fell flat to me. I’d skip this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Leggings Love

I've really been enjoying this Fall Style Challenge and get excited every evening when my email comes in with what I'm supposed to wear the next day! One of the items on the original shopping list was leggings and the question was asked of our group of ladies what is the best brand to buy? Well almost unanimously people said HUE leggings were the best! They have an ultra-wide band which is a must have as it helps prevent any bulges on top. You can find HUE leggings at Macy’s.

Now I've never worn leggings before, I don't know it just didn't interest me and I've never worn yoga pants outside of yoga class. I decided to take the plunge and order my first pair of leggings.  Then I had a problem, what do I wear them with? So I ordered a bunch of tunics as I learned that the rule with leggings is that they are not pants and thus should not be worn like pants. It's always ideal to keep your backside covered when wearing them.

For my first look my sweater was a little short in the front so I paired it with a long layering tee to get more coverage. The purple peacock purse I bought on my trip to Thailand. The infinity scarf, riding boots and boot socks were all purchased because of the challenge, never worn this style before but love it now!

For my next look I'm once again wearing a black layering tee as the sweater wasn't quite long enough in the front.

The sweater is from Talbots, never shopped there before but I saw it in the window and loved the color and knew I had to have it! Since I'm stepping outside the box trying out new fashion trends, I'm also trying out a new nail polish shade - Zoya - Jana, it's a purplish grey, totally out of the norm for me. 

Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah | 
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa  | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bali Soul Shine

rice terraces

Do you want a peaceful, picturesque getaway in the countryside with lush greenery and nothing but the sound of nature? Head to Ubud, Bali. It only takes two planes and 22 hours in the air. But the journey also involves in-flight movies, tiny meals at random hours in the middle of the night, compression socks, a comfy travel pillow, a blow up foot rest, blanket and an eye mask. Traveling isn't as glamorous as it may seem, my last trip to Asia was 9 years ago and I forgot how grueling the long travel was, 12 time zones later it really takes a toll on your body. You can read about the part of my trip in Bangkok here.

airplane map

Bali has everything - beautiful beaches, temples, jungle, rice terraces, delicious food and friendly people.  It’s a very popular travel destination for Australians because if you look at the map Indonesia is right on top of Australia. I split my stay in Bali between two hotels, one at a beach resort at the south of the island and one in the interior on the outskirts of Ubud. To enter that hotel you had to drive through a rice terrace to enter as it was in the jungle but with an infinity pool in a property surrounded by tropical birds, frogs and 2 monkey families that roamed the property. My bathroom was partially outside so when I showered there was no wall, I could see all the trees. Each room is a separate hut with no TVs so waking up to the sound of nature was so amazing.

I spent my first few days in Bali visiting with the locals and learning more about Balinese culture. I visited several temples, and since it was during one their holidays I saw lots of  traditional Balinese offerings.  I also watched a Balinese dance performance in which they wore beautiful costumes. I saw lots of rice fields, and was shocked to discover that a 11 lb bag of rice in the grocery store costs only 50cents! The rice farmers allow duck farmers to bring over 100 ducks to sit in their rice paddies to eat, they ducks stay put in one spot just because of a stick.  Did you know that Bali is surrounded by a coral reef and has both white and black sand beaches? The black sand beaches come from their active volcano. Bali is also a popular spot for  night surfing as there are great waves then.  I took a leisurely bike ride along the beach, just like I did in Santa Monica.  There were Mandarin oranges all over the island that produced green skin ripe oranges. The most unique thing I saw was that they dyed the feathers of hens neon bright colors for cock fighting which they use as an offering to the gods. Because the island is so densely populated there are few gas stations so people sell roadside gasoline  out of absolute vodka bottles. There seemed to be more motocycles than cars, saw very few helmets on children and babies, and tweens drive motorcycles. The government subsidizes gas and one liter costs only 60 cents! I visited a few factories to see local handiwork, they make amazing wood carvings in Bali and batik clothing. Because of Dutch colonization, the Balinese use the latin alphabet. 

lotus flowers

where's waldo?

temple offerings
black sand beach from island volcano
I exchanged $100 and instantly become a millionaire! lol

free wifi at Starbucks

Tanah Lot

as the sun set the water came up further into the land

I watched the sunset from the sky into the sea 
Campuhan Ridge Walk

The next few pictures are from my sunkissed bicycle ride along the breezy beach, isn't this the prettiest scenery you've ever had on a bike ride?

wedding on the beach

watching surfers
hotel signs along the beach
I decided to do the quintessential Bali activity in Ubud during my visit - I took a yoga class at the Yoga Barn which has an open air yoga studio covered by a traditional Balinese roof and set on a lush property.
2nd floor studio
pink chicken

ceremonies make up the most unique aspects of this island

I came home from Bali feeling relaxed and renewed and with lots of wonderful memories. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Good Lie

I only talk about movies on my blog when it's an indie type film, something that isn't talked about much but I don't want you to miss it. The Good Lie is a feel-good drama that will educate you on the situation in South Sudan, which Africa's newest country created just two years ago. Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan that begin in 1983 when their villages were burned to the ground and everyone killed, these children trekked thousands of miles for many months, some dying of starvation until they found safety in a refugee camp. Thirteen years later of living in the camp, 3600 displaced refugees won lottery visas to the United States.  The movie centers around four Lost Boys (and girl) of Sudan and their experience after immigrating to Kansas where they meet Reese Witherspoon who is their employment counselor. If you want to read more on this topic click here.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Casual

I've completed week one of the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge which has been so much fun to see what the other ladies are wearing and getting ideas from them. Since I'm documenting my outfits every Wednesday with other bloggers in the challenge, I present you the outfits I wore last week and what the assignment was for the based on a fashion trend. 

Trend:  Military jacket, plaid infinity scarf and riding boots
Military style jackets always seem to stay in style and this challenge encouraged me to purchase one. My jacket is sold out but I've seen similar ones at JC Penney or Anthropologie. Payless has a really cute pair of camo pumps. I paired the jacket with a plaid infinity scarf, never worn one of those before. I wasn't sure it would keep my neck warm since it's open in the front but I guess the extra layer of fabric on your chest is what keeps you warm. Not being a big fan of plaid, so I kept it modern with a burberry print. These are my first riding boots! I've been wanting to get a pair for years, but it wasn't until this challenge that I finally did.

Trend: Plaid shirt and puffer jacket
I'm not a big fan of plaid, it's just too lumberjack/country for me. I went for a stylish plaid print in a pretty olive color from the Banana Republic. 

Trend: Dressy Sweatshirt
I needed a new white sweater but it wasn't really on my radar as I'm not usually on the lookout for basics. The challenge called for a dressy sweatshirt and I saw this Animal Jacquard  print tunic and immediately scooped it up! 

Trend: Striped Shirt and leopard flats
You know I actually didn't own any stripped clothing before this challenge. I didn't realize this until a year ago when I was reading a fashion blog where the woman said that her closet was filled with stripped shirts and that she might have a problem. lol It made me want to never venture into the land of stripes. But when I tried this shirt on I thought it looked great and would be very versatile. Just about every store at the mall has striped shirts right now, the problem was finding just the right color and stripe width. I've been wearing leopard flats for years as I think leopard is a neutral and goes with any color. 

Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah | 
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa  | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Food & Luxury from Bali & Bangkok

I thought I'd write a separate post detailing some of the delicious food I ate and some of the luxurious experiences I had.  Massages, pedicures, tailors and personal drivers can all be enlisted for a fraction of what you’d pay back home.  

Thai Massage The world’s most beautiful pain
For a few dollars you get a better massage than you’d get for hundreds at home. I had a $12 one hour massage at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok where they have the top massage school in Thailand specializing in Thai massage. Traditional Thai massage in a bit painful and has influnces from Ayurveduc and tradational Chinese medicine. Thai massage is more energizing and rigorous than traditional  massage. Thai massage is also called Thai yoga massage, because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. You could say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work, while it also relaxes you, reduces stress, improves circulation and you’ll sleep better.

Foot Reflexology
The last time I was in Bangkok was 9 years ago and I remembered I had a wonderful foot massage near my hotel. Well I went back to that neighborhood, walked around a bit until I instantly knew I was on the same street! Massages are cheap and easy to come by in Bangkok, you’ll see lots of storefronts advertising it, but this place was special to me. It wasn’t just a foot massage - it was an hour long foot reflexology. Your foot has thousands of nerve endings that correspond to every organ and system in your body. By pressing on these reflex points, you stimulate the nervous system and open energy pathways that may be blocked or congested.

On this same street I also found the tailor that I've been to a few times who surprisingly remembered me. Thailand is famous for their silk so I've had a few silk pieces made.

Fish spas are all over Bangkok and Bali.  Basically, you sit with your feet in a giant fish tank and tiny fish chew the dead skin off your toes. In Bali I found a place where $4 got me 20 minutes in the tank with the fishies. It felt really weird at first, you should have seen the look on my face, but afterwards you get used to the sensation. Can’t say though it worked or not, I keep my feet pretty moisturized, in fact I had a pedicurist comment that she had little work to do.

Seeing an elephant in real life is an experience I cherish having in Thailand. I got to touch a baby elephant and he felt comfortable putting his trunk around me. On a previous visit I got to stand in between adult elephants and feed them bananas which was a bit scary considering how large they are and I’m not behind some fence. Did you know elephants paint? Yep some of them are trained to paint artwork.

I visited a coffee plantation that grows cocoa, pineapple, exotic fruits as well as coffee. While I don’t drink coffee so I’m no an expert on taste, Indonesia is known for its excellent coffee.  They had a small furry animal in a cage called a Paradoxurus from which they make Kopi Luwak coffee from the animal poop! lol These little mammals live in the trees and one of their favorite foods is the red, ripe coffee cherry. They eat the cherries and beans but their bodies can't digest the beans so it comes out in tact but undergoing a chemical treatments and fermentation in his digestive system.  This exotic coffee is described as having being very smooth with a  rich, heavy flavor with hints of caramel or chocolate. In the U.S. it will go for $300 per pound! I tried the local made chocolate but skipped on the world’s most expensive coffee. I did buy some lemongrass tea and vanilla bean.
animal poop coffee beans

What’s cheap in Thailand & Bali – Food. The food was amazing, plentiful and cheap. Bali and Bangkok was a cuisine paradise for me as a vegetarian. Bali is the home of tempeh, a product made from soybeans and alternative to tofu. Both countries know how to prepare perfectly seasoned tofu which was easily found on restaurant menus.

In Bali and Thailand, banana leaves are used like aluminum foil. They are used to wrap food prior to steaming and grilling. The leaf makes an excellent platter. Fresh coconuts were sold pretty much everywhere for drinking water, perfect for hydration in the humid temperatures. I tasted so many delicious exotic fruits with passion fruit being my favorite.

I was first introduced to Jamu at my hotel during breakfast. Everyday they had a different flavored Jamu juice. My ears perk up anytime I come across something healthy so I had to try this. It’s a Balinese style turmeric juice because turmeric is known to be one of the most powerful healing herbs. Every morning the menu would list what aliments the herbs in the juice would help with. It’s not a particularly sweet juice, some days it was quite difficult to drink. lol
spices that make up Jamu juice

Balinese breakfast of tempeh, jamu juice and fruit served on banana leaf
fresh coconut to drink

floating market
Thai desserts
tempeh curry - red rice was popular in Bali

exotic fruits that I had daily for breakfast
passion fruit, tamarillo, soursoup, snakeskin fruit, rambutan, watermelon juice
Panang Tofu - my favorite Thai dish

roadside fruit stall, saw a ton of these in Bali

pumpkin coconut curry with red rice



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