Saturday, April 14, 2018

Visiting the Presidio in San Francisco

Andy and I got to escape to San Francisco for a few hours today to attend the Cider Summit.

The weather was picture perfect, and I enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine a bit.

We also loved the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the buildings in the Presidio.

We went for a short walk and appreciated the view of the city.

It’s always fun playing tourist in San Francisco, and we don’t do it often enough.

Question: When was the last time you played tourist in your/a close by city? 

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

Be well,

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Beauty of Dirty Skin Book Review

This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from actions taken on the links. I received a review copy of the book for free. As always, all opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted and asked if I was interested in reviewing The Beauty of Dirty Skin by Whitney Bowe, M.D. I've always been interested in taking care of my skin, and even more so in recent years, so it was easy to say yes.

Right from the start the book spoke to me because the author makes the case that our skin, our gut, our nervous system - everything in our body - is connected and affected by each other. She provides the reader with detailed, but easy to follow, explanations of these connections and gives many suggestions on how to improve your skin and your overall health. She makes a strong case for eliminating processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and processed fats.

Dr. Bowe thoroughly discusses how stress affects our skin and our whole body. We can probably all relate to the pimple that shows up right before a high-stakes situation. But continued stress can truly affect our skin (and overall health) and do so very quickly. She gives examples from her practice where patients develop skin conditions or appear ten years older in a matter of a few months when they encounter high amounts of stress. The culprits are cortisol, the breakdown of collagen, and inflammation. Research has shown that the skin is able to produce its own stress response to UV light, heat, cold, pollution, allergens, etc. Throughout the book she points out how important it is to incorporate stress reduction techniques into our lives.

Dr. Bowe makes some surprising skin care suggestions such as using a facial scrub no more than twice a week. I used to use a facial scrub much more frequently but have been scaling back since reading the book.

Probiotics are also discussed, and Dr. Bowe explains that they are beneficial for the skin when applied topically as well as when ingested.  I love kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and I was already familiar with the benefits of eating probiotics, but I'm also going to look into topical probiotics and will make sure to eat prebiotics (chicory, garlic, asparagus, onions, jicama, etc.) more regularly.

Dr. Bowe also suggests supplements that are beneficial for the skin and explains what each does. One supplement especially piqued my interest as I hadn't heard of it before. It's called Heliocare, and it is supposed to help protect the skin against the negative effects of the sun from the inside (you still apply topical sunscreen of course). In addition, Dr. Bowe points out that it also protects the skin against infrared rays, blue light, and even pollution. Dr. Bowe suggests taking one capsule every day, and up to three on days when your skin is exposed to a lot to sun. Since I have very fair skin and skin cancer runs in my family, I'm going to give it a try.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It reiterates many principles I am already familiar with because of the food-based cleanses I have done over the years. Most importantly, I think that by following the suggestions in the book, including the detailed 21-day plan she outlines at the end of the book that includes a food plan and many recipes, one not only can improve one's skin but one's overall health. I therefore highly recommend The Beauty of Dirty Skin.

Questions: Are you aware of the connection between your gut and your skin? Are you including plenty of probiotics in your diet? Have your ever used probiotics in topical form? 

Be well,

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Striped Dress

I remember when I was growing up, my mom often bought a new dress for Easter. And often the dress was not appropriate for the temperature that it ended up being on Easter Sunday, but my mom would always wear her new dress, no matter what.

I think this is the first year that I bought a dress for Easter. I hadn't planned on buying a new dress, but when I came across the striped dress on sale (with an additional 25% off), I couldn't resist. I love stripes; the dress is fully lined and doesn't show every lump and bump; and it's the kind of bold piece of clothing that I like to add to my wardrobe once in a while. While I don't own a lot of bold pieces, the ones I do own, I truly cherish and wear for many years.

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

 I ended up styling the dress with a red necklace, a pink purse, and red shoes.

Questions: Do you like stripes? What's the last dress you bought? For what occasion? 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sentence a Day: March 2018

Here are my sentences for March 2018. You can read my past sentences on my Sentence a Day Page.

Thursday, March 1, 2018
It's my mom's 82nd birthday today, and I sent her flowers, but it's sad that I've missed so many birthdays over the past 26 years since living in the US.

Friday, March 2, 2018
I started the day with a barre class, held office hours, taught my 3-hour class and then we drove to the Central Coast again in the afternoon; it was raining a lot on the drive and we saw one rainbow after the other.

Saturday, March 3, 2018
There was rain in the forecast, but it ended up not raining and we spent a beautiful day outside.

Sunday, March 4, 2018
It was a beautiful morning at the coast before it got cold and windy in the afternoon.

Monday, March 5, 2018
It was good to get back to my barre class, and then it was a busy day of grading and meetings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
I took a barre class, cleaned the kitchen, got dressed and ready to go - all before 8 a.m.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
I started the day with a day with a barre class, did lots of work for my classes and then we had some appointments involving Andy's dad's care.

Thursday, March 8, 2018
The kid had picture day at school and we almost forgot, but it all turned out well in the end.

Friday, March 9, 2018
It's been a REALLY busy and exhausting week, and I actually cancelled my early morning barre class so that I could get a bit more sleep.

Saturday, March 10, 2018
I started the day with a new, challenging interval barre class, and then we spent the rest of the day taking care of various errands for my in-laws.

Sunday, March 11, 2018
It was a stressful day, but I'm glad that we got to go on a beautiful hike.
Monday, March 12, 2018
It was a busy day, and Andy spent over four hours after work taking care of his parents' car and other errands; I'm glad I made time for a walk.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
The kid's "big piano test" is in 13 days; he had practice with his teacher today and did well, so he is feeling a bit less anxious.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
The kid had a musical performance at his school, which was very nice.

Thursday, March 15, 2018
My right knee has been hurting since Sunday evening/night, and I took a break from barre classes on Tuesday and today; I'm starting to think I can't take too many barre classes in a row without a break or my knee starts complaining (I should keep this in mind as it's not the first time that this is happening...).

Friday, March 16, 2018
I'm thankful that this busy week is coming to an end, but I'm also aware of all the grading that's waiting for me. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018
My knee is still not 100%, but I was able to modify during an advanced barre class; at night we were invited to dinner at our friends' house, where I had a slice of amazing flour-less chocolate cake.

Sunday, March 18, 2018
I met a friend for a barre class, we went to the farmers market together, and in the afternoon Andy and I got to enjoy a lovely meal at Fogo de Chao.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Dealt with some unpleasant people today and tried really hard not to be affected. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
I didn't sleep well but started the day with a barre class, which made it better, did a lot of grading and visited a friend and her 8 months old baby. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
The day was spent grading, but Andy and I got to go to a fabulous wine dinner at Il Fornaio in Palo Alto in the evening, which made the day a lot better.

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Another barre class, more grading, office hours and 3-hour class - it's week 11 of the quarter, and I'm feeling it. 

Friday, March 23, 2018
The kid had his last piano practice before his "big" test on Sunday; everyone is getting nervous... 

Saturday, March 24, 2018
I started the day with a barre class, Andy and I visited Andy's dad while the kid was at German school, the kid did a final piano practice at home, we went grocery shopping, did a bit of wine tasting at BevMo, bought some plants for the patio, and finally spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching some movies on Netflix.

Sunday, March 25, 2018
I didn't sleep well as I was hoping the kid wouldn't be too nervous before his piano test, which wasn't until the late afternoon; in the end, despite being very nervous, he was happy with his performance and was all smiles when he finally came out, but we won't know the outcome for about a week or so.

Monday, March 26, 2018
I got up early and did a lot of grading, went for a walk, did a couple loads of laundry, did the dishes, cleaned, did more grading, before making it to a lunchtime barre class. Why can't every day be this productive?! 

Tuesday, March 27,  2018
I got up early and got some grading done, went to a lunchtime barre class, visited my father-in-law in the nursing home, and then we played basketball at the park; I love that the days are longer!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Today is the three year anniversary of my dad's major stroke and also my aunt's (his sister's) birthday- a bittersweet day.

Thursday, March 29, 2018
I got a text from the piano teacher in the morning that the kid passed the piano test!!!!

Friday, March 30, 2018
I got up bright and early for a barre class and then gave my last final; I'm looking forward to finalizing grades and spring break!!!

Saturday, March 31, 2018
I started the day with a challenging barre class; unfortunately, my knee is still not all that happy.


An InLinkz Link-up

Be well,

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Black and White at Santa Clara University

On Sunday, the kid had his "big" piano test at Santa Clara University. Parents are strictly prohibited inside the building, so Andy and I explored the beautiful campus a bit. I loved all the green, the beautiful buildings, including Mission Santa Clara, the blooming trees, and all the palm trees. It's truly an oasis in the middle of Silicon Valley.

I decided to keep my outfit simple and chose a black/white striped tee, my black/white coat, and black jeans.  I also wore my favorite pearl statement necklace.

Questions: Do you like wearing black and white? Yes, it's often my go-to choice when I'm not sure what to wear. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Fogo de Chao: A Great Place to Celebrate

Andy and I were fortunate to be invited to experience a traditional Brazilian gaucho dinner at Fogo de Chao in Santana Row*. Life has been stressful, and it was perfect to get away for a few hours and celebrate everything good in our lives despite all the challenges.

We both really enjoyed the extensive, colorful, fresh and very tasty Market Table that included several seasonal dishes and of course the fabulous meat dishes. It was truly a memorable afternoon, and we tried to capture the experience with the photos we took.

I love the inviting and calming decor when you walk into the restaurant. It was a true respite from the hustle and bustle outside of the restaurant.

The wine wall is quite impressive.

The main dining room is modern and warm.

Soon after we were seated, the most delicious cheese bread was brought out. I'm sensitive to gluten, but I couldn't help myself and indulged in one. It was hard to stop at just one, and Andy certainly had a few...

Andy and I are new to the cocktail scene, so we each ordered one on the recommendation of our helpful server. I got one of the seasonal cocktails: Guava Do Sul – Belvedere Vodka, shaken with guava puree and fresh lemon, then topped with La Marca Prosecco. Both cocktails were delicious, and we both commented that we could get used to drinking cocktails more often...

We started with the Market Table, which featured a lovely and fresh selection of fruits, vegetables and salads.

This is one of the seasonal salads - Spring Pea & Asparagus Salad. The arugula, asparagus, peas and goat cheese go perfectly together. It's a very enjoyable salad, featuring spring flavors.

The cheese selection was also very nice, and I had a little piece of each.

Look at that ham! It was very tasty.

The meats are served with garlic mashed potatoes, polenta and caramelized bananas.  I love mashed potatoes and these did not disappoint. I also really enjoyed the polenta, but Andy was seriously in love with the caramelized bananas. I think he could have eaten twenty of them...

Here we are served filet mignon.

It was very good.

And this is the picanha. Also very tasty.

My favorite meat were the beef ribs. I'm still dreaming of them. So flavorful and tender.

We really enjoyed the interactive dining experience, and the excellent service by all the staff. Our younger son, after seeing the photos, made us already promise to take him there soon. Fogo de Chao is a great place to celebrate a special occasion or experience a special meal "just because."

Cheers to coming back soon!

Questions: Have you ever been to Fogo de Chao? If so, what was your experience like? If you haven't been, would you like to go?

Be well,

*Our meals and drinks were comped, but, as always, all opinions are my own.