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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Honolulu Favorites

What I've always said is a day in Hawaii is better than no days in Hawaii.  Makes sense to me.  The flight really isn't that terrible, and when you land in paradise, you pretty much forget how quickly those 5 hours go by.  Car-free weekend, so we stayed close to Waikiki.

Basically, we did many of the favorites on our one-day Hawaii spectacular.

1.  Breakfast at Island Vintage Coffee:
It's certainly become our new favorite.  Instead of our usual pancake festival at Hula Grill, we opted for the lighter choice of an acai bowl and coffee from Island Vintage in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center.  It's very popular with Japanese tourists.  The key is to split the bowl--there's plenty for two.  Last time I was there, I even enjoyed some of their healthier egg options (served with salad).   The regular coffee is outstanding.
Runner up:  Hula Grill pancakes

2.  Hike to Diamond Head Crater:
A good walk from any hotel on Waikiki Beach.  Starting early helps with the heat, so we were out and walking by 7.  The walk is probably 7+ miles round trip, but worth it.  The crater hike up has great views of Waikiki and north to Koko Head and Makapu'u.

3.  KCC Farmer's Market:
At the bottom of the entrance to Diamond Head, there's a Saturday morning farmer's market that has a great selection (of produce I wanted to take home and couldn't).  Lots of juices, fruits, veg, and other foods, including some of the best poke I've ever had.

4.  Relaxing on Waikiki Beach:
'Nuff said.  Happy toes.

5.  Dinner at Jinroku:
An okonomiyaki place introduced to us by friends who live in Honolulu part-time.  Delicious options, including a gyoza okonomiyaki and a pizza one.  Ridiculously tasty.  Sit at the grill.

6.  Some Yogurtland to top off the night:
Trying to keep it relatively healthy on the dessert front.  Mostly fruit.  Maybe some whipped cream.

Overall, a quick and great day in Waikiki!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hawaii Weekend

Hawaii Weekend

Hawaii Weekend by posinator featuring short shorts

I love it when a plan comes together.

Looking at the travel items at Target and I spot a mini travel sunscreen.  Then, we both ask "hmm...wonder if we could get to Hawaii this weekend?"  Turns out we can.

Literally a one-bag trip.  T-shirt, shorts, a dress for dinner, sandals, a tank, a swimsuit, and a hat.   Keeping it super simple.  Oh, and a mini travel sunscreen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday Workday

Friday Workday

Friday Workday by posinator featuring a cream blush

I've been busy...  

I had a big presentation last Friday.  It was our 3rd annual Thought Leaders Forum, which is essentially a day for us to create and deliver new content for clients--current and future.  I had the spotlight for the opening and the close, so I wanted something comfortable but polished.

Jeans:  I went with my Joe's skinny ankles (not the ones here, but close) because darker jeans tend to look a bit more professional.  Plus, I like the ankle cut because then I'm not fiddling with the jeans-shoes issue and I can wear flats.  

Shoes:  My Chinese Laundry d'orsay's are on their last legs.  They have lots of extra insoles in them and I think it's time to say goodbye.  They're awesome, but just murder after a whole day of standing.  I wish they had more support.  I'll wear them for non-delivery days.

Jacket:  A new Zara puff-sleeve blazer was a purchase in Barcelona.  It's great.  Perfect weight, and the puff sleeves are a nice detail.  I love Zara.

Blouse:  I wore a long-sleeve dot blouse--silk, from J.Crew Factory and I love it.  Perfect weight and about as much as I want to pay for a blouse I will eventually destroy from working, sweating, etc.  I like a price point where I don't feel like I need to be too precious with a piece of clothing, but it's still polished and nice.  Dots are cute.  I wore it untucked and it was great.

Jewelry:  I rolled out my very adorable personalized necklace from Bauble Bar--in my own handwriting.  Many compliments on how cute and ridiculous it was.  I did get a "you're like a classy Flava Flav" once or twice.  I freaking love it.  Simple gold studs on my ears, as to not detract from my amazing necklace.

Makeup:  Not wanting to distract (although a friend said I should have totally rocked my false lashes...) I kept it simple with basic pink.  I didn't even fuss with gloss during the day, essentially neutral eyes, pink cheeks and lips, and brows.  That's it.  There's maybe a certain seriousness to what I present that I feel like maybe if I'm too glam, it comes across as not serious.  Kind of a weird fine line.  I debated on wearing my gold loafers, but didn't, for that reason.  Totally ridiculous.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rainy day sightseeing outfit--Barcelona

Rainy day sightseeing outfit

Rainy day sightseeing outfit by posinator featuring a military jacket

Key for a spring sightseeing trip in Barcelona is to keep it simple. Although I wish I had that umbrella with me...

Military jacket is light weight, but still enough to stay warm.  I layered with a t-shirt and a scarf, since I knew we'd be in-and-out of spots.  I also decided to break in my new gold loafers (mine are Sam Edelman).  I wanted simple and unfussy, but a bit of flair since Barca is pretty fash.

One key is my crossbody with latch.  Barcelona pickpockets are notorious (and my colleague did actually have a guy's hand in her purse in the train station when the cops were cuffing him and taking him away).  I put my cash and a card in my front pocket, left the rest of my wallet in the safe in the hotel, and had a pretty worry-free day on that front.  Normally, I'm not that paranoid, but literally watching a guy get dragged away had me a bit more aware.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Barcelona, I love you.

It's been 10-ish years since I went to Barcelona, but I think it's in my top-5 European cities list, for sure.  After a rough flight there, I was happy to have checked into the hotel and rested a bit.  We were staying outside of Barca, at the AC Marriott in a town called Sant Cugat, a landscape of office park buildings and hills (snooze).  Luckily, we were about a 4-minute walk to the train that took us directly to Sant Cugat, as well as to the center of Barcelona in about 30 minutes.

Ended up heading to a small, cute cafe in SC called "Somewhere" for a great brunch.  It was a cosy spot in the middle of town--perfect on a drizzly day to spend some time eating away the day and having some spectacular coffee.  The place was run by some lovely folks who enjoyed practicing their English with us.  It was definitely tucked in the middle of town and was a very local little place--odd, considering a lot of their info had English all over it.  No worries there.  The food was simple, fresh and good...although tough to find meatless dishes in Barcelona, I was able to enjoy some egg whites, fruit, and yogurt.

After a recovery day, we worked for two days with a great team--honestly, it couldn't have gone better, despite the fact that everyone on my team was pretty jetlagged from a busy week the one prior, along with some long flights and time zone changes.  It definitely made the job easier, and once finished, we were excited to have a day to explore the town before heading home (or on to more work).

We moved hotels to be more in the center of town, and found a funky, cute, and affordable boutique hotel called Chic & Basic Ramblas.  It was about a block away from the south end of La Rambla, so the location was pretty much perfect.  The hotel was basic, but had nice artsy touches, a solid bar/cafe for food and drinks, as well as a DJ in the lobby during the evening.  Cute touches like the soap, a nicely designed mural in the room, as well as themed floors definitely made it stand out from your basic hotel.

We had one day of sightseeing--but decided not to start too early.  First stop was La Boqueria, Barcelona's famed food market off La Rambla.  Great selection of fresh food--seafood, meats, cheeses, breads, and incredible fruits and vegetables.  I enjoyed some fresh juices--both a mixed fruit as well as a dragonfruit + coconut combo that was like drinking dessert.  The market was packed--I am definitely going to go back there when I return and have a meal at one of the bars.  It was fun to see students on field trips at a food market.

The rest of the day included walking, having a visit to La Sagrada Familia, a lunch stop at a cool place called Bar Mut, a visit to Parc Guell, and some shopping and ice cream.  Except for a bit of a rainshower mid-day, it was a pretty incredible tourist day.

La Sagrada Familia is a must-see.  I haven't seen it in 10 years and it was incredible to see the progress.  I remember the interior being blocked off with scaffolding--but now, it's wide open and functional.  The natural shapes and stained glass were really cool.  I dig transcendental architecture and Gaudi.  He's a dude.  Handy tip--there was a huge line waiting to get in, but nearly no line for "online ticket purchases."  If you head across the street to the McDonald's for free wifi, you can buy tickets online and go right in.  #winning

I'm not much of a churchy, but something about this place is pretty incredible.  I lingered a bit checking out the interior, as well as snapping a shot with the turtle who is essentially holding the whole place up.

After a lunch of seafood madness at Bar Mut, we headed over to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi's masterpieces.  Although it was still a bit rainy, and the park was pretty much soaked, it was fun to check out the view from the hills, as well as the intricate mosaics lining the main part of the park.

Gaudi's houses appear at the bottom of the park, and one of them is a museum, but I wasn't interested in going in.  There were quite a few tourists, even for this mid-season.

After a good dose of tourist fun, we headed back to La Rambla for walking, ice cream, and shopping.

Overall, a successful few days in Barcelona, both work-wise and play-wise.  And, as this trip went, as soon as I was really done with jetlag, it was time to get on another plane and head home!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Duty Free Purchases

Duty Free Purchases

Duty Free Purchases by posinator featuring Clarins

I admit it.  I am a complete sucker for duty free cosmetics counters.  There's something about the fact they have all these fun-sized travel goodies that just gets my heart racing.  I typically try to get to the airport with at least 30 extra minutes on an international flight so I can peruse the goods.  I've been known to pick up a good buy on the airplane (I may be the only human to have ever purchased something on an airplane, amirite?)

This round of travel, I got a Clarins travel kit that seemed like a smashing value with 6 decent-sized products for face, hands, eyes, and body.  I haven't used Clarins in the past (other than samples) so I was excited to give this pack a go.  Plus, it came with a perfectly-sized travel bag.  Definitely good for my travel kit.

I also scored a trio of these L'Oreal lip colors--ones I had been planning on getting when I got home, but got 3 for $26, so couldn't pass them up.  All 3 were colors I liked--a punchy pink, a soft mauve, and a medium-toned purple shade.  They're the cheaper version of the YSL gloss stain I already own and love.  Finally, a Kiehl's purchase.  Oil-free gel cream for summer moisture.  I get so oily in the summer, but still need moisture.  This gel reminds me of another duty free purchase I made in Singapore of a L'Oreal set of gel moisture--a perfect place to buy good, light moisturizers for humid weather.

I'll report back once these go into rotation.  I already used the lipstain a bunch and all 3 colors are fantastic, long-lasting, and shiny.  Good stuff.