Friday, June 6, 2014

French Pharmacy Magic

I'm finally starting to recover from an enormous case of jet lag.  It didn't help that this week involved delivering a high-intensity program for a client.  Nothing like a hard re-entry to get you back up to speed.

Anyhow, I had a great time on vacation, and made a bit of a discovery.  The French Pharmacy.  I had NO idea how great they were.  I suppose I hadn't really thought about going in to look for beauty products before--it just never crossed my mind.  But after a quick internet search, I soon learned about what I was missing!  French women typically look great and polished, but not "overdone" with makeup.  Skin looks fresh and healthy.  Well, clearly because they have some good stuff going on at the pharmacy to help.

I stocked up on some products to try, based on some suggestions and research.  I've used a bit of all of them at this point, so thoughts below.


Thermal Water:  This stuff is great--I know, I know, just spray water?  Seems to moisturize and refresh and will be great in the summer.

Cold Cream:  high quality, thick hand cream.

Eluage eye and face:  Night creams for both eye and face from their anti-aging line.  Thick, but not heavy.

Some random sample:  no idea what this is or what it does.  We'll see.


Cellu Destock:  Vichy cellulite ads are all over pharmacies in France.  This one has ball rollers and caffeine to reduce the look of lumps and bumps.  We'll see.

Normaderm:  the anti-acne line, a mattefying lotion and scrubbing cleanser (although those beads are supposed to be bad for water supplies!)

La Roche-Posay

Serozinc:  I love LRP sunscreen, so I picked up a random spritz cleaning solution (no idea) and Cicaplast, which is apparently a healing cream for "post procedure".  Probably should have read the box better, but I was excited.  Side note, I also just got back from Toronto and picked up more LRP products to be discussed later.


Dry Shampoo:  Highly recommended by bloggers, I picked up the spray and the powder (which I haven't yet figured out how to use).


Crealine:  Holy cow this is really good to remove mascara...especially if you have sensitive eyes.  Awesomeness.

A travel pack with Atoderm:  It was a slickly-packaged travel pack.  I'm a sucker.  Shower gel is nice so far, and can't go wrong with a mini lotion.


Huile Prodigieuse:  Last, but certainly not least, this stuff is AMAZING.  Goes on face, body, hair, wherever, and leaves it softer and smelling nice.  We stayed in a hotel with a Nuxe spa and it was awesome, so I had no doubt.

Reve de Miel lip balm (not pictured): Wow.  Creamy awesomeness in a container.  Spendy as it is, it's the best lip balm ever--matte, rich, feels like it actually WORKS.  I dig it.  I also bought it in stick form in Toronto.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chamonix Mont Blanc

A hike up Plan Praz on a gorgeous day.
Chamonix, France, is a great mountain town.  After a quick stop in Annecy for lunch, we made our way to Chamonix for a few days--since the weather was going to be ok.  This vacation was essentially going to be a follow the weather/wind type of vacation since we wanted to paraglide and hike (aka hike-and-fly) as much as possible.

Our first few days were windy.  A combination of Mistral/Foehn winds were making their way around Europe, which resulted in gusty weather, but some warm sun as well.  We ended up hiking the first day in a half-hearted attempt to climb Plan Praz, one of the paragliding launches that during season, has a cable car that goes up to the top.  We were not in season.  And we both had colds...mine received after reuniting with my partner in crime, shockingly, not by an airplane.
Half way up Mont Blanc

We were able to manage a flight from Plan de l'Aguille (the first stop on the famed Aguille du Midi cable car up Mont Blanc) and it was spectacular.  The winds were light to nil, and we had a bit of a run off the east facing side, but the reward was amazing.  Somewhat of a sled ride into town, we caught a bit of lift here and there, but took a short, gratifying flight.  Turns out we were really lucky, as the weather and launch conditions on the rest of the trip didn't bode well for tandems.

A great flight

A celebratory lunch.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vacation...all I ever wanted

I'm back!

Three weeks away from home is a lot, but much more do-able when two of those weeks are spent galavanting around the Alps in France and Switzerland.

Stop 1 was Barcelona for work.  Packing was a bit of a challenge considering I needed to take work clothes as well as gear for 2 weeks of mountain fun.  The end result was my taking my work clothes plus a paraglider and boots with me to Barcelona.  My partner in crime was stuck carrying the other paraglider, all of our clothes, and equipment.  It worked out ok.  I lugged the tandem glider (all 49.5 pounds of it) through the airport with not too much difficulty.

Not enough mustard.
My stopover was in Frankfort.  I'm not a huge fan of FRA for a few reasons.  One is the fact you typically end up in "remote parking."  It's annoying to haul off a 747 with 300+ of your closest friends and cram into busses for a ride around the airport.  And, depending on timing, lines for security can be pretty rough.  Luckily, I breezed through--off the first bus, through passport control and security quickly (hooray for business class lines) and was soon getting a pretzel with mustard.

But then, the most insane thing happened.  I noted my departure gate for Barcelona.  I meandered over after a few minutes checking email in the Lufthansa lounge.  I saw that the flight number wasn't a match--but thought nothing of it.  They wouldn't have two flights to BCN leaving at the EXACT same time on the EXACT same airline, right?  Wrong.  Much to my shock, while boarding, the gate agent told a handful of us that we were at the wrong gate, and that our flight was boarding at a gate a good 15 minute run away.  Of course it was.  Uh, Lufthansa, get your shit together.  Regardless, I made the flight and was the only person in Lufthansa's shitty business class.

The 5 days in BCN flew by.  We were staying at a hotel right on the beach south of town--hard to get into the city, but nice to enjoy some sun and sand before and after work.  The team I worked with was pretty great, so it was a nice way to wrap up work before 2 weeks off.

A little beach time.

A new dress/shirt combo for some r&r before work.

Dressed and ready...with a large paraglider in the background.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scough--my new travel tool to be less sick


I'm trying to make 2014 the year I get sick less.  Not that I'm always sick, but I did catch a few good germs the last two years (including a bout of whooping cough, brought home by my airline pilot husband from another pilot..). 

In comes Scough.  I stumbled on this scarf with filter in an email I get around "innovative ideas."  I'll say.  It's a much more fashionable surgical mask.  Although the weirdo Japanese girl in me doesn't mind wearing a cool surgical mask, no doubt you get an odd look or 3 on a plane.  Like you're diseased.  And contagious...even though you're all those things, you just can't get away with avoiding the stares.

How about a cute scarf with an air-filter built in?  Yes, please.  There's a replaceable filter that goes around your ears and then you just wrap this bad boy around your face and stay reasonably germ free on a long flight.  

I put the Scough to use on my flight from SFO to FRA.  There was a dude hacking up a lung a few seats away, and two kids who were likely germ magnets.  On the Scough went at the beginning of the flight, I slept in it, and it kept me warm when we got to Frankfort and had to brave a cold spring rain in our remote parking spot.  So far, so good.  No sniffles.  And I'm being a bit more liberal with the hand sanitizer.  It helps if you get the nicer-scented ones...makes you want to use them more.    Here's to a more germ-free travel experience!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A fantastic bag for travel

Converse® One Star® Perforated Satchel H... : Target

Converse® One Star® Perforated Satchel 

This trip was a bit of a challenge on the packing front.  One week of business, 2 weeks of outdoor adventure.  From a purse standpoint, I just wasn't in the mood to take one of my nicer bags, since I knew it'd probably be stuffed in the back of a dirty car for 2 weeks at the end of the trip.  And I didn't want to worry about that.

Behold, the solution.

It's no secret that I am a budget fashionista with the best of them, and Target is a favorite (I had been there 3 times in 2 days before the trip).  Well, I was looking for something to store my airplane necessities, but small enough to carry around Barcelona.  And it had to have a zipper (those damn pickpockets) and a cross body style for hands-free fun.   And not be too precious that I would have to worry about it.

This Converse bag at target does the trick.  It's large enough to hold my headsets, a smaller bag with my wallet, keys, and junk, a pair of sunnies, my beloved neck pillow, and it has a zip pocket inside for security.  A handy and easy-open snap pocket on the outside holds tickets, passport, and phone for easy access.  There's some pockets inside for a phone as well.  Plus it's on trend with the perforated leather.  There's an adjustable strap for cross body, as well as 2 top handles for easy carrying.  It's cute enough to bring into my business meeting, but not too fancy that I can't carry it with jeans.  I'm not sure I could have designed a better bag for my specific needs for this trip.  And, it's a steal.  Target FTW.  Again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Keeping it Simple on Business

Keeping it Simple on Business

I have a 3-day business meeting in Barcelona next week--which so happens to be right before my 2 week Europe paragliding vacation.  That means some tricky packing.  I'm trying to keep life as simple as possible for the work stuff, since that's not going to be the case for paragliding and hiking.  Although I think I've done a decent job.  Although I probably could have simplified with a dress, I'm not convinced it's warm enough to really want to wear one.  Plus, hotel conference rooms are always so chilly.  The black jeans, loafers, and blazer are going to do super-duty, for pre-meetings, the last day, and for warmth.  I am going with my standard colored pants and black-and-white combos to keep it easy.

Blazer:  Zara. Nicely made, affordable, classic.  Mine has puff sleeves for a little extra something.

Loafers:  Mine are Nine West and are calf hair with spikes on the back.   A little edgy.  Comfortable, now that I've put in some heel inserts.

Bag:  I'm still debating, but based on my last Barcelona experience, I definitely need a bag with zippers that's cross-body.  Dang those pickpockets.

Pants:  The green and blue ones are Banana Republic...from last season.  But these Reiss ones look nice.

Black Jeans:  My go-to for the last day of a business meeting.  These Citizens skinny Avalon jeans are awesome.  Like leggings, but jeans.

Black and white striped t-shirt:  Mine is a heavier weight Banana Republic shirt that's a heavier material that works well under a blazer.

Silk shirts:  Both are staples.  The black and white dot one is a good go-to with pants or jeans.  I just picked up one from Uniqlo (after being able to read the Japanese on it!) for $20.  Seriously, for a silk shirt.  Awesome.

Jewelry:  I'm not too faffed on this one.  Keeping it super simple, as I will be either lugging this stuff on my post-work vacation, or storing it at the airport, so nothing to flash.

Luggage:  I'm debating on checking my bag, since I'll also be lugging a my little carry on Briggs and Riley may just go under the plane to keep it light and easy.  I've got a connection through Frankfurt and it's just annoying to have to lug shit around if I'm already checking one piece...but I just have to remember to lock it.  And use my old name tag.

Looking forward to this trip--love Barcelona, and hoping to get the chance to eat at 7 Portes (since last time I had food poisoning and didn't go out).  Staying at a hotel near the airport, so at least that'll be easier to get into town.

And REALLY looking forward to the vacation...2 weeks of mountain air, flying, hiking, and being outside all day.  Can't wait.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Costanoa Meeting

There's something really nice about being able to take a day or two every quarter and pause to think, plan, and assess.  I'm grateful I work for an organization that does that.

We spent the last 2 days at Costanoa, a resort on the coast near Pescadero.  It's tucked away--in between the water and the hills near the coast of Highway 1.  The agenda was essentially get together as a team and do some planning and spend some time together.  We also had dinner at one of our facilitating partner's houses who lives in the area.

The tent cabins we stayed in were quaint, clean, and really nice.  Each had a queen bed with 6 (SIX!) blankets, including an electric blanket--needed, considering how chilly it gets near the water.  There are comfort stations, which have bathrooms and showers, as well as saunas and fireplaces.  It's really what I'd consider "glamping."  There's a nice restaurant on site as well.

Although it rained pretty heavily on the 2nd day, it was really a nice overnight to get stuff done as a team, get some nature, and relax.  If only I had more time to spend in the sauna and hot tub.  Maybe next time--it would be a nice weekend away.

Plenty to do in the area, including hiking, bike riding, and going for walks near the water.  Plenty of surfing around, too.