Thursday, August 31, 2017

Your No Fear Career Book Review

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by the publisher of Your No Fear Career* and asked if I was interested in receiving a review copy of the book. I was immediately interested as I'm always in the process of redefining my career - a patchwork of college teaching, doing research, and writing. I was also interested because I used to be a regular contributor to my husband's career blog, Career Action Now.

This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from purchases made through links in this post.

Your No Fear Career is written by Robin Fisher Roffer, who is a brand strategist and has worked with brands such as A&E, AMC, CNN, Discovery, Food Network, and many more. As the title of the book suggests, Robin encourages readers throughout the book not to be paralyzed by fear but to reach for their full potential.

The book is divided into very short chapters, which Robin compares to blog posts. The short chapters really make reading the book enjoyable. I read the book during a very busy time, but I was able to reach for it whenever I had a few minutes. The short chapters also make going back to a section you want to delve into deeper very easy.

The author reminds readers throughout the book that everyone has an inner voice and that that voice is usually right. We should follow it before we are persuaded not to follow it by overthinking and fear.

Robin also points out the importance of identifying one's core values - a concept central to career planning - and uses her own example to illustrate how following her core values has improved her life tremendously. In fact, what makes the book so enjoyable and easy to read are the many anecdotes and stories that Robin uses to illustrate her points.

A very helpful feature of the book are the "Self Minute" sections that are included in each chapter. Each section is a sort of mini assignment that makes readers think about their own life and has them answer questions or consider information provided. Everyone can take this section as far as they want. Some I skimmed through while other sections really got me thinking. The questions are meaty enough to take some time with and answer in several paragraphs or more.

Overall, Your No Fear Career is an enjoyable and very useful book that makes readers look at their life, their values, and their careers and helps them identify what's important to them and how they can move in a direction that's right for them.

Questions: Have you ever identified your core values? What are they? When was the last time you thought about which direction your career was going? Is there anything you would like to change? If so, what, if anything, are you doing to change things? Is fear ever a factor that prevents you from pursuing what you want to pursue - career or otherwise? 

Be well,

*Disclosure: As stated above, I received a free review copy of the Your No Fear Career. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from purchases made through links in this post.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Black and White Stripes at Fleming's in Santa Clara

On Thursday, Andy and I were invited to the VIP Preview event at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Santa Clara, located at 2762 Augustine Drive, Suite 110 in the Santa Clara Square. The restaurant is opening on Monday, August 28, 2017, and we are already looking forward to special lunches and dinners there.

The dress code for the event was business casual, and I decided to do a little bit of pattern mixing with a black and white striped dress topped with a black and white striped cardigan. I also wore my black and white checkered Adam Lippes for Target flats.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Santa Clara

When we arrived we were greeted with a little sparkling wine in front of the restaurant. And once we entered, we saw the gorgeous seafood buffet. 

Everything was extremely fresh and tasted amazing. 

During the preview dinner, the restaurant served sangria and two cocktails: blueberry lemon drops and the Cuban. The sangria and both cocktails were delicious. 

One amazing feature of Fleming's Santa Clara is that they offer 100 wines by the glass. And during the preview night, they were pouring all 100 wines. The staff were very knowledgeable and made great suggestions based on preferences. We tasted a couple of sparkling wines and some extremely smooth and delicious reds. 

In addition, we learned that Fleming's has its own private label wine brand - Forty-Six Diamonds. Each year, Fleming's partners with a prestigious winery to create a unique wine. 

After we got to taste some wine, it was time for dinner. 

We tasted both the New Wedge salad and the Fleming's salad, and both were very good. Andy picked the Filet Mignon for his main course and was very happy he did. The meat was cooked medium - just as he ordered it - and it was very flavorful and tender. I had a few bites and enjoyed it tremendously.

I decided to order the Sea Bass to see how the seafood was prepared, and I was very happy that I did because it was delicious. The miso glaze it came with added the perfect umami flavor and the fish melted in my mouth. 

All the side dishes, which were served family style - potatoes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and macaroni and cheese - were also very tasty. 

The meal ended with a selection of desserts, all of which were very enjoyable. Whenever I see creme brulee on a menu, I have to order it, and the creme brulee at Fleming's does not disappoint. 

Here is a look at our fun table after we devoured all of the dessert.

And here is a look at the beautiful main dining room - such an elegant yet inviting space. 

Isn't the wine wall amazing? 

Thank you Fleming's for inviting us! The evening was very enjoyable, and the food and the ambiance were outstanding. We very much look forward to coming back soon! 

Questions: When was the last time you went out for a special dinner? Where did you go, and how did you enjoy it? Do you like black and white stripes as much as I do?

Be well,

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Car Shopping

This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

The last time we thought about buying cars and did any research into cars was in 2003! At that time, I purchased a Hyundai Santa Fe, and Andy got a Honda Accord. We have been extremely happy with both cars as they are just as reliable and low maintenance as we hoped they would be.

We actually ended up selling the Hyundai Santa Fe with 180,000 miles (and running great) earlier this year because our older son was selling his 2010 Nissan Versa. Since we knew that he had taken very good care of the car, it was seven years newer, and that it had a lot fewer miles than the Hyundai Santa Fe, it made sense to buy the car from him. He ended up with a little more money, and we got a car we can trust and that will hopefully serve us well for years to come. 

But this still leaves Andy with the 2003 Honda Accord. While the car still runs very well, it’s time to get a new one. We would like to get another SUV as it’s very convenient to have a car to transport bigger items, go on vacation easily, etc. 


Where to Find Reliable Car Information

Since neither one of us is “into cars,” we had to find a place to gather reliable information about cars to consider, and we were very happy when we came across has a wealth of information about cars, including a very useful videos and reviews section. What I appreciate about the reviews section is that it includes critical reviews that give you the facts straight up. With the help of, we were able to narrow down our choices.

The next step will be to visit several dealerships to test drive the cars, decide on a make and model, and then buy from the dealership that offers the best deal. Stay tuned to find out what car we’ll end up getting – I’ll make sure to reveal it in one of my Sentence a Day posts in the next few months! 

Questions: When was the last time you purchased a car? What kind of car did you buy? How did you research the car before you bought it? Are you happy with you purchase?

Be well,

Monday, August 21, 2017

Easy LBD and 2nd Summer Bucket List Update

My summer outfits have been very low key, consisting mainly of shorts and tees. But on Saturday, we went out to dinner with my in-laws and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, so I had a reason to get dressed up a bit.

I wore a comfortable t-shirt dress that I bought on sale at Old Navy in July. I love how comfortable the dress is and that it can be dressed up or down.

This post contains affiliate links, and benefits from actions taken on the links.

We went to Korean Palace in San Jose, a restaurant we hadn't been to since the kid was a toddler. The food was very good, but the meat dishes are certainly pricey.

I always enjoy the wide variety of side dishes (banchan) that is served with a Korean meal.

 I ordered a cold, spicy buckwheat noodle dish (bibim naeng myun).

The guys really enjoyed the meat.   

2017 Summer Bucket List Update 

In June, I posted my summer bucket list along with a group of other bloggers, all organized by Leslie from Once Upon a Time Happily Ever After. A month ago, some of us posted a summer bucket list update. Today, we are posting a second update. See below for the linked-up posts.

2017 Summer Bucket List

1. Make at least five day trips to the beach. - We haven't really made any progress on this one.
2. Read three fun books.- Done. But since I read the three books at the beginning of July, I think I should make some more time for fun reading.
3. Go to the farmers' market at least once a week. -This is still not happening, mainly because the schedule is just not working out.
4. Go on one hike per week. - We are doing very well with this one!
5. Take two barre and/or yoga classes per week. - After realizing that I didn't do well with this one in July, I have been stepping up my game and am taking three or more classes per week.
6. Sleep in at least once per week. - I'm sleeping much better; I still wake up early, but since I sleep well, I am refreshed when I get up.
7. Barbecue at least once per week. -This hasn't happened in the past month, but I have  meats and veggies marinating in the fridge right now, ready to barbecue tonight.
8. Spend time in the patio every day. - I'm spending a little time every day in the patio, but I should spend more time there.
9. Swim at least four times per week. - Nope. Not at all. Somehow it's really hard for me to fit swimming into my schedule.
10. Make good use of our Great America and Monterey Bay Aquarium season passes. - We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium one more time and also made it to Great America a few more times before school started for the kid.  

Even though I'm missing some targets, I'm very glad that I wrote a summer bucket list as it has reminded me to focus on things I want to accomplish. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Question: What was on your summer bucket list this year? Is there anything you want to do before summer is over? 

Be well,


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Where to Find Outfit Inspirations

I haven't felt all that inspired when it comes to getting dressed lately.

For one, everywhere I look, I see fall clothes - in stores, on blogs, in magazines. Yet, we are in the middle of summer, and it's going to stay hot around here - at least in the middle of the day - until the end of October. Another reason is that I have bought very few clothes this summer and somehow my options seem limited. But in reality, I have plenty in my closet, so I really just have to take a closer look at what I own and wear it!

To help me, I decided to look at the outfits I posted in August 2016. It turns out that all four outfits I posted last year included a recent purchase! I also realized that I haven't worn most of them in quite some time...

I bought this black and white tunic in Germany last summer, and I really like it. It's time to wear it again! 

Black and White Tunic

The graphic tee is another purchase I made in Germany last year... I don't really ever buy "real souvenirs," instead I buy clothes...

The third item I bought in Germany is this kimono/poncho. It's a great third summer layer, and I have worn it recently. But there is no reason why I shouldn't wear it several more times this summer!

Finally, the last outfit post from last August included a new Tommy Bahama maxi dress that I picked up at the Tommy Bahama outlet store on our way back from Tahoe. It was a "real steal" as it was marked down from $168 to $39. However, if I don't wear it, it's not that much of a "steal," is it?

Questions: How/where do you find inspirations for what to wear? Do you find it hard to get dressed at the end of summer when you see fall clothes all around you, yet it's still very warm? What's your favorite outfit right now? What are you looking forward to wearing in fall? 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

DIY Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is something I always carry with me. And I have often thought to myself that I should look into how to make my own. How difficult could it be to make your own? It turns out, not difficult at all, especially when all the ingredients are conveniently delivered to you!

Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box
 Disclosure: I am a Simply Oil ambassador and will earn a small commission if you decide to purchase products through one of my links. As always, all opinions are my own.

As luck would have it, my most recent Simply Earth* essential oils recipe box included a recipe for a hand sanitizer. All the ingredients for the sanitizer, except for the rubbing alcohol, were included in the box.

Simply Earth Essential Oils Hand Sanitizer 

DIY Hand Sanitizer

  • 15 drops orange essential oils
  • 5 drops amyris essential oils
  • 5 drops ginger essential oils 
  • 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol 
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  1. Drop essential oils into bottle.
  2. Add in 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol.
  3. Fill the rest of the bottle with aloe vera gel.
  4. Close tightly and shake to mix.
  5. Your hand sanitizer is ready to use! 

DIY Hand Sanitizer

The recipe and the ingredients for the hand sanitizer were part of the July essential oil recipe box that I received from Simply Earth.

Here is what was included in the July box:

  • Orange essential oil
  • Amyris essential oil
  • Ginger essential oil 
  • Peace and quiet essential oil 
  • Cloth pin (for the car freshener recipe) 
  • Squeeze bottle with aloe vera gel (for the hand sanitizer)
  • Spray bottle (for the linen spray)

Recipes to make the following:
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Spa day diffuser blend
  • Peaceful diffuser blend
  • Mini car air freshener 
  • Linen spray
Here is my review of the first Simply Earth essential oil recipe box that I received. 

Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box

Simply Earth* is a subscription box that has a new theme every month. The first box I received allowed me to mix different beauty products, and this box contained products for your home, car and on-the-go. I did a bit of research and found out that prior boxes included ingredients and fun recipes for candles, cleaning products, lip balm, bath bombs and more.

In each box, you receive four essential oils, containers, and five to seven recipes as well as recipe ingredients. You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time. You also have the option to buy just one box without subscribing. Additionally, you can subscribe to one box every three months. I really like the flexibility of this subscription service. 

I love the Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Boxes* because the essential oils are 100% natural and can be easily mixed into all kinds of nourishing and natural products. I also like that there are easy recipe cards, but that you can also experiment a bit on your own.

I have made several batches of body scrub (one of the recipes from my first box) and have changed the oils I used. I have also mixed a bit of lemongrass oil with a bit of camellia seed oil (both in my first box) and put it into a roller bottle. The smell is very relaxing, and I keep it next to my bed to unwind at the end of the day.

Simply Earth Coupon Code

Simply Earth* has a special coupon code offer for my readers. Here is what you can get:

$10 OFF if you order the SINGLE OILS
A FREE DIFFUSER when you buy an Essential Oil Recipe Box.

The Coupon Code is: ANDREALEEFREE

Questions: Have you ever tried essential oils? If so, what did you use them for? Have you ever signed up for a subscription box?

Be well,

*Disclosure: I received the Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box for free. As always, all opinions are my own. I am also a Simply Earth ambassador and if you sign up through one of my links, I will earn a small commission at no cost to you.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Little Black Dress to the Rescue

This past weekend, Andy and I were invited to a beautiful wedding at Fernwood Cellars in Gilroy. It was the perfect setting for a breathtaking wedding. And the wines were really good, too! We'll definitely be back soon for some wine tasting! (Fernwood Cellars is open the first and third weekend of every month).

Even though we had received the invitation to the wedding back in May, I didn't really think about what I'd be wearing until Thursday afternoon. And then I briefly panicked. I tried on a few dresses that were "ok," but I didn't feel great in them. What I ended up wearing was a LBD that Andy bought for me as a surprise for a last-minute trip to San Diego 10+ years ago.

As soon as I put on the dress, I knew it was the one (even though I originally didn't want to wear black to a wedding...). But the dress is comfortable, moves with me when I move, and it makes me feel great.

Click here to check out the fabulous bloggers I’m linking up with.

Questions: When was the last time you attended a wedding? We hadn't been to a wedding since I was pregnant with the kid... Do you have a go-to special occasion/wedding outfit?

Be well,

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sentence a Day: July 2017

I first joined Sarah and Leslie in writing one sentence a day in January, and this is my seventh sentence-a-day post. You can read my January sentences here, my February sentences here, my March sentences here, my April sentences here, my May sentences here, and my June sentences here.

Overall, July was a very good month! We got to spend a week at the beach, I was off from teaching, and Andy only had to teach an online class. Unfortunately, there were also some costly and unplanned (in addition to some planned) home repairs that had to be taken care of.

July 1, 2017
We went out to lunch at Lazy Dog and ran lots of errands afterwards.
July 2, 2017
My MIL and FIL came over for a BBQ to celebrate my MIL's birthday.

July 3, 2017
We went to Great America for a few hours, but sadly Andy's back didn't feel all that good after going on a roller coaster.

July 4, 2017
We went to the track and jogged/ran; we all realized that we are a bit out of shape...

July 5, 2017
The kid and I had dentist appointments in the morning, and then we went on a long and strenuous afternoon hike.

July 6, 2017
We spent pretty much all day getting ready for our trip.

July 7, 2017
We drove to Avila Beach and were in vacation mode as soon as we arrived.

July 8, 2017
We started the day with a 1.5 mile walk to the fish shop on the pier and then spent some time at the beach.

July 9, 2017
Got up at 4 a.m. and made the 3-hour drive to Universal Studios; it was an exhausting but fun day!

July 10, 2017
We spent the morning at the pool and in the hot tub and went on a long beach walk in the afternoon.

July 11, 2017
Perfect day: wine tasting (for me), beer tasting (for Andy), and another long walk on the beach.

July 12, 2017
We went to the beach again; the kid loved being buried in the sand.

July 13, 2017
It was a cooler day today, and we explored San Luis Obispo and had lunch again at Libertine Brewing Company.

July 14, 2017
Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Avila Beach and make the drive back home, but we stopped at a few breweries on the way which made the drive more fun, especially for Andy who did the drinking (and I the driving).

July 15, 2017
The day consisted mainly of chores like laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, but in the evening we were invited to our friends' house for dinner, which was very nice.

July 16, 2017
It was a very hot day, and we went for a hike in the afternoon; unfortunately, it was still very, very hot.

July 17, 2017
Our water heater started leaking suddenly and a LOT; luckily, we were able to get it replaced the same day, but it cost $1,400 for labor and a new water heater... Ouch.

July 18, 2017
We went to California's Great America for a few hours in the morning as we had to be home because the "water heater guy" had to finish up some work in the afternoon.

July 19, 2017
I went for an early morning hike with a good friend I don't see often enough, and then it was another home improvement day: consultation with an electrician (it's going to be expensive but must be fixed) followed by dry wall repair from the previous water damage (the damage is much worse than previously thought and also very, very expensive).

July 20, 2017
More dry wall repairs...

July 21, 2017
I went to a 6 a.m barre class to catch up on my barre and yoga class summer bucket list goal; later in the day we went on a hilly hike.

July 22, 2017
We spent a relaxing morning at our wine club's pickup party and went on a long walk in the afternoon.

July 23, 2017
I started the day with a barre class, and then we celebrated the older kid's birthday; I can't believe I've been a mom for 26 years!

July 24, 2017
The electrician was supposed to come bright and early, but he forgot; the highlight of my day was meeting up with Dawn from Fashion Should be Fun and Lynn at Santana Row.

July 25, 2017
I met another San Jose blogger, Prerna from Prerna High on Chai, for lunch (strangely we didn't take any photos...); in the afternoon, after the electrician left, we went on a hike.

July 26, 2017
We went to Great America and went on a bunch of water rides right when they opened; then we hung out in the shade for a few hours and read.

July 27, 2017 
I started the day with a barre class, and then we took the kid and one of his friends to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

July 28, 2017
The electrician was back to do more work, and we ran a bunch of errands.

July 29, 2017
We went to the Ciderwalk in Willow Glen in the early afternoon and to a fabulous "Taste of Summer" dinner at Whole Foods Market in Santa Clara in the evening where we learned where many of the ingredients that went into the dinner came from - a truly tasty and inspirational evening!

July 30, 2017
I started the day with a tough barre class - I'm really proud that I have been keeping up with my barre classes, and my lower back is thanking me...

July 31, 2017
I started the day with another barre class, and then the kid and I went on a hike.


Question: What were your highlights in July? Are you going to join us this month and write one sentence a day? There is still time to catch up and write one sentence a day for each day in August.  It’s lots of fun to look back at the month; I promise.

Be well,