Additional sunscreen successes and failures

I’m on a plane headed to Alaska on vacation. So exciting! I have a lot of flight hours ahead of me, though, so I am going to take advantage of this time to compose some webpage posts. Sunscreen might not be the most obvious subject for me to write about when I’m headed for a less than tropical destination (I’m looking forward to some cooler weather now that summer has arrived in LA), but I wanted to share my recent experiences before too much time passes. (Speaking of which, I still need to finish a post I’ve been working on about my amazing trip to Hawaii in June, but that might have to wait until I get back from my current vacation. I’m just traveling all over the country this summer!) I’ve combined my latest two sunscreen experiments into a single post for brevity and to avoid boring my faithful readers (all two of you) too much!

Sunscreen experiment #14: Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
After my overwhelming success with the Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 I was eager to try the “sport” version of this sunscreen. Usually when brands market different varieties for face vs. body they are extremely similar products, so I was expecting something light and comfortable when I slathered the sport sunscreen on my arms and legs for a trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was thick, sticky, and hard to apply. Not greasy like some other sunscreens, but not as pleasant as the face variety. What a disappointment. However, since it’s a mineral sunscreen my skin was very well protected all morning at Disneyland. At least it was effective in that respect. But despite that point in its favor, I’m adding this one to the growing list of sunscreens that have failed to meet my high expectations!

Sunscreen experiment #15: Coola Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish
After exhausting the cheaper Coola sunscreen options (Bare Naturals) I turned back to the original brand for inspiration. If the “cheaper” face sunscreen was so amazing, might the more expensive alternative be just as good? Way back in sunscreen experiment #8 I tried one of Coola’s mineral sport sunscreens with mixed results. It definitely provided superior sun protection, but it felt sticky on my skin. Not ideal. This time around I ordered a tube of the mineral face sunscreen from the Coola website. Once again, I used this stuff on my face, arms, and legs for a trip to Disneyland. The cucumber scent smelled pretty good which was a major plus, and it felt light and powdery on my skin during application. So far, so good! However I noticed something funny when I used it on my face. If I rubbed the same area too much I started to see white flakes forming. Very annoying. It didn’t look very good, but I just shrugged my shoulders hoped not to see anyone I knew at Disneyland that day. Luckily I didn’t notice the same problem with flaking on my arms and legs, even later in the day. As another test I also used this sunscreen at the OC Fair 5K last weekend and it worked great (since I wasn’t exactly concerned with my appearance during the race!). So this sunscreen isn’t a complete loss! I will definitely continue using it, especially on my arms and legs.

2015 Resolution #3 follow-up

I’m on a plane headed to DC for the week and this travel day has been quite an experience already. Between checking my bag and getting through security my flight was delayed by an hour and the gate changed. No big deal. I sat down for a leisurely breakfast and then wandered around the terminals to pass the time. (Today is the last day of Boeing on the Move 2015 and I wanted to rack up as many steps on my pedometer as possible before getting on the plane.) By the time I made it back to the second gate assignment it was in the process of changing again. And then as soon as people started lining up at that gate to board the plane, it changed again. I guess United decided to switch our flight to another plane since the original one was running late. I seriously contemplated sneaking on one of the three flights to Hawaii that were leaving from our terminal. In the end the flight to DC took off about two hours late. This kind of ruins my evening plans once we arrive, but I can be flexible. It should be an interesting week.

The purpose of this inflight blogging session wasn’t to share boring travel stories, though. Last night I was looking through all of my draft posts that I have been neglecting lately, and I realized a terrible trend. It’s one thing to have a backlog of fairly inconsequential posts waiting to be polished and published, but I’ve started a few on big and exciting events that I can’t believe I haven’t finished yet. Earlier this year I made a resolution to blog about events in a timely manner, but it’s a struggle for me. Finding the time and the motivation to write at the same time isn’t easy. I will continue to work on that going forward. The funny thing is, this post isn’t going to be about one of those big and exciting topics. Well, I guess it is a little bit, but only barely. I just want to make sure to tell this story before I completely forget about it.

On my way back from Hawaii I wrote about my bikini experience. Well, that was just half of the story. While getting ready for that trip I learned that by mid-June the bathing suit selection at most stores has dwindled down to almost nothing. Not only did this hinder my search for a bikini top that fit properly (as I documented in that post last month), but also for some bikini bottoms that would work with (or at least not clash with) whatever top I ultimately wound up with. Fortunately some of my old bikini bottoms still fit so I wasn’t quite as panicked about having something to wear with the black Rip Curl top that I was lucky enough to find. But on my last desperate trip to Aerie to complete my swimsuit collection for Maui I saw a purple bikini with white polka dots and little lobsters all over it. (See the photo above. Cute, right?) After discovering that Aerie bathing suit tops don’t fit my very well I didn’t even bother trying on the bandeau top, but the bottoms were just too adorable to pass up. And while they didn’t exactly match the black bikini top, it was still an acceptable combination and I loved wearing something whimsical on the beach in Hawaii. I was never one to follow fashion trends so why start now? I know this wasn’t the wrap up post that my amazing trip to Maui deserves, but I will work on that this week while I’m in DC. I promise!

2015 Resolution #3 completed

Thanks to inflight wifi, this post was written while on my flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles!

First of all, I’d like to say that while in Hawaii this past week I successfully completed my New Year’s resolution #3 to wear a bikini! Woohoo! It was a rocky road to get there, though. It’s hard for me to admit, but after I hurt my knee in January I put on a bit of weight while I wasn’t exercising. While I was pretty happy with how I looked at the beginning of the year, being inactive for about a month really damaged my body image. I knew I needed warm weather clothes for my vacation, but I didn’t really want to think about it while I was heavier. I kept hoping that once I started running again in March/April the weight would come off easily. Unfortunately it didn’t. For that reason I kept postponing trying on my old bathing suits to see which ones I wanted to take with me to Maui. Three weeks before my trip I finally felt courageous enough to pull them out of storage and actually put them on, but the results dashed any self esteem I had a tenuous grasp on. None of the bikinis I bought last year fit properly. The tops and the bottoms were all too small for me to even consider wearing out in public. It was so discouraging. But I absolutely needed bathing suits in Hawaii so I began an urgent search to figure out my options. I won’t bore you with all of the steps I took to find swimwear in a hurry, but the results ended up being a mixed bag. Today let’s just focus on the positive outcome of that emergency shopping situation.

The last time I was in Hawaii in 2011 I saw a surfer wearing a bikini top with straps that crossed in the back. I loved it and I decided that I had to have that swim suit! Historically I tend to favor halter bikini tops since they fit me well and seem to be flattering, but I find the ties at the back and neck to be fussy and very uncomfortable. Inevitably the tie in the back is too tight or too loose, and the tie at the top causes me neck pain after a while. So when I saw the cross back bikini top I went on a mission to get one for myself. It took some work (i.e., a lot of weird Google searches), but I discovered that particular style is made by Rip Curl (see the photos above). So last year I went to Endless Summer, a little clothing store in Seal Beach that always has tons of bikinis, and bought the coveted top and a pair of matching bottoms. I loved them! Unfortunately I never found or manufactured a reason to wear a bathing suit in the last year. Fast forward to now and that top is currently too small for me. Yikes. Less than a week before leaving for Maui, and after a largely unsuccessful search for other bikini options, I desperately went to the Rip Curl website and ordered the cross back top in a larger size with two-day rush shipping. And it was perfect! I only ended up swimming two days on my trip, but I wore the Rip Curl top both times. I have another story about the bikini bottoms I wore with them, but I’ll save that for another post. The moral of this story is that bathing suits inevitably cause major frustration, but there can be a happy ending! Thanks to online shopping and rush shipping I was able to be comfortable in a properly fitting bikini in Maui this past week. And I completed a New Year’s resolution too! Incredible.

On my way home

After eight days I’m on my flight back to Los Angeles. Actually, I’m on a flight to San Francisco at the moment and I’ll catch a connecting flight to LA there. I’m not thrilled about a two plus hour layover there before I can get home, but I didn’t have much choice when I booked the ticket. I’m not going to have nearly as much time as I’d like tonight at home before bedtime. There are quite a number of things I need/want to do, but I’ll have to be picky. I can’t skip the grocery store if I want to make something for my lunch at work so that’ll be my top priority. Yes, I’m going right back to work. As much as I’d like to take a day off I don’t think I can afford to. I’m way too busy. (Plus our pay periods won’t easily accommodate it, unfortunately.) I’m considering taking an afternoon off one day so I can go to Disneyland, but that’s still in the planning stages at the moment. I just checked our flight map and right now we’re flying over quite a lot of snow in Colorado and Wyoming. Did I mention I’m going to Wyoming in May? I’ve been wanting to go to Yellowstone National Park for a long time so I talked my family into going at the end of May. I bought my plane ticket before I left for DC and I’m really excited about it. I tried to talk my dad into going to Yellowstone back in 2001 when we were driving across the country for my second internship, but it was just too darn far north to justify diverting from our route. We didn’t make it much more north than Denver. But with my 2014 New Year’s resolution to visit as many new states as possible, I figured this was the perfect time to visit Yellowstone. Not only have I never been to Wyoming, but we’ll be able to easily hit Idaho and Montana as well. Let’s face it, I can’t imagine I’ll ever have another reason to be in that part of the country so I want to take advantage of it. I think I’m actually doing pretty well on that particular resolution so far this year since in the last week I went to three new states which brought my total up to 30. As I’m sure you could tell from the pictures I shared this week (because I was too tired to actually write anything), not only did I visit West Virginia last week, but I took a little detour into Pennsylvania on my way back to DC. Then yesterday I drove to Delaware to visit the Winterthur Museum outside of Wilmington. They have an exhibit of costumes from “Downton Abbey” that I definitely wanted to see while I had a chance. I’ll write more about (and include some pictures) that in another post. I’d share a new map of the states I’ve visited, but at this point it doesn’t look significantly different from the one I posted last Sunday. But look out after my trip in May! That bad boy is going to be much more colorful. My only regret about my adventures last week is not swinging by New Jersey yesterday. It was right there across the bridge on I-295, but by the time I got there in the afternoon I didn’t want to make my drive from Delaware back to DC any longer than it needed to be. Oh well. I still need to visit Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont at some point so maybe I can add New Jersey then. Besides my travel excursions, I also did something else on this trip that I’ve been wanting to do (OK, needing to do). I started running again. I know I’ve written about this a little bit already, but I completed three (extremely slow) runs while I was out of town, which was a major victory since I hadn’t run in two months. Treadmill running is the most boring thing ever, but I discovered that watching the first two “Back to the Future” movies makes it much more enjoyable. I decided to take the weekend off because I was traveling (and because I got a blister on the bottom of my right foot on Friday), but I’m planning to run as much as possible over the next two weeks (outside this time – I love California!) before the Seal Beach 10K. I don’t really care how long it takes me to finish the race, but I’d like to not walk through the finish line completely exhausted. I’ll do my best to be prepared! Speaking of prepared, I think it’s just about time for me to turn off my laptop for our landing in San Francisco. The good thing about this fairly random stream-of-consciousness paragraph (besides keeping me occupied on this seemingly endless cross-country flight) is that I’m done with my webpage post for the day! That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about when I get home tonight. Not bad at all.

Saturday in-flight

I just wanted to let you know that I’m still alive. This past week was absolutely insane at work and I had no energy to do anything else when I got home each night. It was terrible. Right now I’m sitting on my flight to Dulles and going through the list of everything I didn’t accomplish before leaving on my business trip. I hate when my to do list is mostly undone. For example, the glass on my iPhone shattered last Sunday and I still haven’t gotten it fixed. I set it down on something in Target and someone else bumped it off. It hit the tile floor on a corner and smashed. That’ll teach me to not have a case on my phone! It still works and the screen is still mostly readable, which is good, but I didn’t have the time or the drive to get it fixed yet. I’ll try to find some place that replaces iPhone glass while I’m in DC this week. (Although I’m planning to get an iPhone 6 when they are available I’d rather not replace my phone just yet.) I’ll be working a lot of hours, but since I’m away from home I should have a little more free time than I usually do (i.e., no cooking, dishes, or laundry). Plus, I’m not going in to work today when I arrive. Not that I’ll get my phone fixed today, but at least I’ll be able to relax a little. I have a bit of a plan that I’ve set in motion for my off days on this trip, but I’ll write more about that tomorrow. After my first little adventure I will have to go to work tomorrow, though. All of the work items I planned to complete before this business trip fell by the wayside when something more important came up this week. But I’ll manage. Life has been stressful since my surgery and I haven’t enjoyed it very much. That has got to change. I have so many things on my calendar for the rest of the year and I plan to have as much fun as possible in my current circumstances. Starting today.

Plane ramblings

About a month ago I learned that I’d drawn the short straw and that I would have to travel out to DC for work in August. What a horrible time to be on the East Coast! Heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. I moved to California to get away from these things! (Actually, I like thunderstorms, but they’re extremely rare in Los Angeles.) Well, fast forward to today and I’m writing this post on my flight to Dulles. Woohoo! I’ve got a little girl’s elbow in my side (seriously, how can she be so small and still take up so much room?) and the in-flight movie was “Mirror, Mirror” which was terrible. I missed being able to watch “The Avengers” by eleven days. Didn’t flying used to be fun? But anyway, yesterday was my last full day at home, but unfortunately it wasn’t spent doing anything very exciting. Dan has been sick since Tuesday so he’s mostly stayed in bed for the last four days. Poor guy. I got up early yesterday and went on my weekly half marathon walk while it was still overcast and cool outside. The Los Angeles summer heat wave finally broke in the middle of last week or else I wouldn’t have been able to walk outside during the day for three and a half hours without risking heat stroke. Before about Wednesday it had been in the 90s even in the beach cities where I live and work for about two weeks and we’d been really miserable. When you don’t have air conditioning in your house because you almost never need it, you realize how uncomfortable it is to try fall asleep when it’s 83 degrees in your bedroom. Yuck. Hopefully this will be the extent of the hot weather we have this year. Luckily for me yesterday morning was cloudy and cool (in the mid 60s) so I was able to walk my usual 13.1 miles in relative comfort. It was fantastic. I got home, showered, and then immediately went to CVS to get Dan some medicine. He’d been coughing so much that he was worn out and he needed some relief. I picked up something for him at the pharmacy and then got myself a delicious turkey sandwich at Togo’s because I was starving after burning 950 calories (according to my Nike+ app, at least) walking! When I got home Dan came downstairs to watch the previous night’s New Zealand vs. Australia rugby match with me while I ate. The All Blacks shut out the Wallabies so it was a great match to watch and another great victory for New Zealand. After the game was over Dan went back to bed and I got started on a few things. 1) Another batch of chocolate chip cookies. This time I tried a recipe that substituted cream cheese for eggs. Unconventional ingredients intrigue me and I was very interested to see how these cream cheese chocolate chip cookies turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of them before they all got packed up to take to DC with me, but I’ll write another post about them next week. 2) Packed for my trip. I was planning to start this much earlier in the week, but life got in the way. Luckily I didn’t have many other obligations yesterday so I was able to pack leisurely. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to fit everything I need for a week and a half into a carry on sized suitcase. You see, I’m taking advantage of my business trip to fly to Tallahassee to see my family over the Labor Day weekend after my work obligations are done. This means that I needed to pack shorts, t-shirts, and sandals in addition to my work clothes. And I tried to fit everything in a carry on suitcase because I have to switch airlines on my way home next Tuesday. My flight to and from Dulles is on United, my airline of choice for business travel (although not for much longer due to their degrading frequent flyer program), but my flight to and from Tallahassee is on Delta because it was by far the cheapest ticket available. So on my way back home when I’m flying from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Dulles and then from Dulles to Los Angeles I’ll either have to find a way to get Delta to route my bag directly to LAX or else carry it on all of my flights and deal with all the complications of dragging it around multiple airports. Either way I figured it couldn’t hurt to just pack a carry on sized bag one way or another. I always over pack for trips anyway and the smaller suitcase forced me to economize. I think I did pretty well, especially considering I got everything in there even with some of the limited available space is being taken up by a small Tupperware of chocolate chip cookies for my co-workers! There was even enough space to cram by umbrella in there at the last minute this morning. 3) Watched “Doctor Who.” For years I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out because I haven’t been watching this show so I finally broke down and started watching many years of backlogged episodes on Netflix Instant. So far I’ve finished season 1 (of the modern series which started in 2005) and started on season 2. I’m definitely hooked. Science fiction is right up my alley. I’m looking forward to watching a whole lot more episodes in my free time on this trip. I didn’t bring my iPad with my so I’ll have to use my laptop or my iPhone for Netflix while I’m away from home, but it’s a much nicer prospect that relying on the limited cable channels in my hotel room for entertainment. According to the captain it’s time to turn off our electronic devices so I’ll end this post here. Washington, DC here I come!

In-flight post #2 – ATL to LAX

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the whole year – holiday potluck day! It’s an annual tradition of a work group that I’m not actually a member of, but I was invited to attend about five years ago and I’ve been involved ever since. Over the years I’ve brought lots of different offerings for the breakfast or lunch spread including pumpkin bread, cornbread, and cookies, but I usually partake of just one thing – scones. One of my co-workers makes these award-winning scones that are out of this world. So delicious. Last year I walked out to the parking lot in the rain to help bring them in the morning of the potluck…then helped myself to about five of them. Yum. So when I got the email about this year’s potluck I was one of the first people to sign up (after the guy who makes the scones, of course). I told the coordinator I was going to bring cookies because I assumed I could easily whip up a couple of batches the night before, like I’ve done in many similar situations, and my cookies are always well received. Then I realized that the potluck was my first day back at work after my trip to Tallahassee. That changed things a little because I definitely wouldn’t have time to make anything when I got home from the airport. (And since my flight took off from Atlanta two and a half hours late I’m not going to get home until about 11 PM. Definitely no time for baking.) So I told my mom I’d have to do some baking while I was in Tallahassee. Getting ready for the potluck was on my mind from the time I landed at TLH on Thursday until I packed a Tupperware full of brownies and blondies in my suitcase to fly back to LAX today. Luckily, now that I’m sitting on my flight to Los Angeles I know that my offering for tomorrow’s buffet is ready. How did that happen, you ask? Well, yesterday I baked a pan of my favorite brownies, cut it into bit-sized pieces, and packed them into one half of the red Tupperware I brought home with me. Then this morning I made a double batch of snickerdoodle blondies and filled the other half of the Tupperware with them. Both recipes turned out great so I know they’ll be a hit tomorrow. I could have just picked up some cookies at the grocery store on the way to work tomorrow morning, but the fact that my co-worker will be making his famous scones before the break of dawn made that option impossible. I would have felt too guilty stuffing my face with scones made from scratch while only bringing store-bought cookies for everyone else. And knowing I could have easily made something much better would have made me feel even worse. But with a little bit of work while I was in Tallahassee I will be proudly serving brownies and snickerdoodle blondies to my co-workers tomorrow. I hate to say it, but I probably won’t eat anything but scones all day! I’m so excited!

In-flight post #1 – LAX to ATL

I wrote this run-on paragraph while sitting at LAX waiting to board my flight to Atlanta. Then I edited it after takeoff and now I’m publishing it en route to ATL. Yes, I paid for in-flight internet access today and I’m going to get the most out of it!

Terminal 6 at LAX is under construction and it’s very unpleasant in its current state. If being at the airport at 6 AM isn’t bad enough, add some circular saw noises to that. I’m not looking forward to my flight to Atlanta because I don’t have frequent flyer status on Delta anymore and I was too cheap to pay for a seat with more legroom. I was also too cheap to pay for a checked bag so here I am sitting at the gate with my little carry-on suitcase. It doesn’t weigh very much, but it’s infinitely more annoying to deal with when boarding a plane than a backpack. It remains to be seen if I’ll be too cheap to pay for in-flight internet access on the way to Atlanta. I probably don’t need to be connected to the internet, but it would allow me to get a few things done I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Like make a grocery list for all of the cooking and baking my mom and I are planning to do this weekend, and update my webpage so that I don’t have to worry about it after I arrive in Tallahassee tonight. I’ll have to decide if it’s worth the cost. It’s been about seven years since I last flew Delta – probably since I was in grad school. Delta seems to be the cheapest airline to fly from LA to Tallahassee, but I just haven’t flown back to my hometown that many times since 2004. And I’m so spoiled being a United Premier member that I expect to check bags and get seats with extra legroom for free. I’m afraid today’s flight is going to be a rude awakening. In general, coach travel (domestic and international) is awful. The only good thing about taking my carry-on suitcase on this trip is that I won’t have my usual bag under the seat in front of me, occupying some of the space for my feet. Hopefully I’ll be able to entertain myself with my laptop, movies on my phone, and potentially the in-flight entertainment system. From what I read online Delta has a complimentary satellite TV option like Virgin America and Jet Blue now. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s on this flight. Not that there’s a whole lot to watch on TV this early in the morning, but anything to distract me from how miserable air travel is these days will be welcome. After abstaining from air travel for more than seven months (not by choice) this will be my third round-trip flight since the beginning of November. (On three different airlines, no less.) I’m no big fan of business travel, but I definitely missed it after we stopped traveling to DC in March. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have any trips planned in 2012 because I’m going to lose my United Premier and Hilton Honors status at the beginning of the year. Dan and I are hoping to go to New Zealand in February, but that will only be possible because we’ve been hoarding American Airlines frequent flyer for quite a while. We were hoping to fly first class, but getting those tickets to New Zealand using miles is difficult so the best we might be able to do is business class on Air Pacific. Air Pacific is kind of a second-class international airline, but I can’t dispute that it gets you to New Zealand for a good price. When we went on our last trip in December 2008 our tickets were only about $750 apiece. So while we would like to be on Qantas instead because they have much nicer facilities, Dan and I might have to resort to Air Pacific f we want to go to New Zealand in the spring. As long ¬as we don’t have to fly coach again I won’t complain. But back to the trip at hand. My flight to Atlanta should be boarding in about half an hour. I hate taking a wheelie suitcase as a carry-on because someone always ends up having to drag their bag back to the front of the plane to gate check it when the overheard bins fill up. Luckily I haven’t been that person yet, but maybe today is the day. And I’m positive that my suitcase won’t fit in the overhead bin on the tiny plane that’s taking me from Atlanta to Tallahassee. As long as I don’t have to pay to check my bag at any point I’ll be happy. These days every penny is precious. I just paid my credit card bill that had about half of our Hawaii trip expenses on it. Yikes. As always, I’m extremely grateful that Dan and I are still employed in these tough economic times. And our minimal Christmas is going to help too. Speaking of Christmas, Dan came home from work early last night so we could get our tree! We always buy our Christmas tree from the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis lot on PCH because I feel better giving money to a charity organization than a tree farm. Since we were there early in the season this year we had a pretty good selection of trees. We ended up buying a noble fir in the 7-8 ft category that looks great in our living room. While we were coveting the 8-9 ft trees it’s a good thing we didn’t get one because the shorter tree we actually bought is only about six inches from touching the ceiling! Dan and I knew that we wouldn’t have time to trim the tree until I get back from Florida on Monday, but we got the difficult part of getting it home and setting it up yesterday so that’s a relief. I can’t wait until I get home and we can decorate that thing within an inch of its life! One of my main goals for this trip to Tallahassee is to help my parents get ready to host some of our family for Christmas. They haven’t put up a Christmas tree since the last time I spent the holidays there (2005, just before Dan and I got engaged) so they’re a little out of practice. I guess we’ll see how their artificial tree has fared after being boxed up in the garage for the last six years. If it’s not presentable we’ll either pick out a live tree or buy a new fake one. I wonder if my dad still has those Christmas CDs I bought him back in 2001 when we drove from California to Florida in December? What better to listen to while trimming the tree? I’ve got a pretty good train of thought going right now, but I’d probably better get up and go to the restroom before my flight starts boarding. I kind of hate to get up, though, because this terminal is so hard to navigate with a rolling suitcase and all the construction. Maybe I’ll just stay here. I should have looked for new cooking magazines on my way to the gate because there’s no way I’m going all the way back to the shops now. Plus, I can avoid spending money that way. I already know that next month’s credit card bill is going to be huge because it includes the second half of our Hawaii trip expenses. Very painful. I’m going to have to be frugal in 2012. That brings New Year’s resolutions to mind. I don’t think I was very successful with the ones I made for 2011. I have however, completed my goal of trying fifty-two new recipes this year! I haven’t posted them all yet, but I’ve been very productive in the kitchen since Thanksgiving so the grand total for the year is going to be more than fifty-two. It probably would have been better if more of those new recipes this year had been dinner fare rather than all the desserts I made, but my resolution didn’t specify that!

In-flight ramblings on the way back from Maui

Here we are on our flight back from Maui. These last nine days have really flown by. I can’t believe we’re already on our way home. I spent the last half hour trying to compile a list of the things we did on the second half of our trip (to complete the one I posted about the first half of our trip last Monday), but was I wasn’t very successful. For example, we saw so many different sights on the Road to Hana that I can’t remember half of them. I vividly recall the hikes where we ended up covered in mud to see some gorgeous waterfall, but there were plenty of other places that didn’t provide much lasting memories. Dan is asleep right now or we’d probably be poring over the tour books trying to make the list more detailed. I’m in a similar situation with the second half of the list of the delicious food I ate on Maui. I’m going to need to look at some of the online menus for the restaurants we visited to recall exactly what I ordered. And there were way too many items on the buffet at the Old Lahaina Luau for me to remember everything, even after looking at the picture I took of my dinner plate! On the flip side, with the exception of today Dan and I either hiked, swam, snorkeled, or some combination of those activities every day of this trip. We never spend much time sitting around on our trips, which is probably why I always lose weight on vacation. No matter how much we eat, we get plenty of exercise to balance it out. In the past nine days I’ve more time in a bathing suit, covered in sunscreen (and sometimes bug spray too) than I have since my summer camp days. It’s been great! (And speaking of bug spray, I tried just about everything to keep from getting bitten, but I still got a bunch of nasty bites all over my legs in Hana. I used spray, dryer sheets in my pockets (recommended by a local in Hilo last year), and one of those clip on devices. Nothing really worked.) Who cares if I didn’t look as good in my bikini as I did a year ago? Let’s just hope I don’t start crying when I see the pictures. The snorkeling we did this year was so much better than last year. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have a mask that doesn’t leak! And not being seasick really improved the experience too. It’s impossible to have fun when you’re vomiting off the side of a boat. Trust me, I know. I don’t think I have the energy to write about our entire trip (even though I have a five-hour flight to kill), but Dan and I really had a great trip. The day we flex home from the Big Island last year I was so ready to get home because I was tired of being hot (most of our hotels didn’t have AC), eaten by mosquitoes (Hilo was awful), and covered with sunscreen. My skin was dry, but never quite clean. Getting on that air conditioned plane to go back to Los Angeles was wonderful – especially since the entire Kona airport is outside with no place to escape the heat. Yuck. This year things are very different. When our plane took off from Kahului I wasn’t ready to go home! Luckily there are only three workdays this week before Thanksgiving, but I know they’ll be busy. Well, here’s to getting back to our normal lives. Aloha!

In-flight ramblings on the way to Maui

Here’s another stream-of-consciousness post that I wrote while enroute from Los Angeles to Maui on Friday.

Veteran’s Day, lucky 11/11/11 day, and the first day of our 2011 Hawaiian vacation. When I booked our flights back in March, right after I came back from my last business trip (yes, it was that long ago), November 11th seemed so far away. But the time flew by and now we’re sitting here on our flight to Kahului, Maui. Well, Dan is practically lying down, asleep with his head almost on my shoulder. I didn’t bring my neck pillow with me so I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable if I tried to sleep. This leaves more time for writing anyway. The last three days have been incredibly busy. I worked ten hours each day and then spent the rest of my free time getting ready to go on vacation. I credited myself with starting to pack on Wednesday night because I got my suitcase out of the closet and threw a couple of bras inside, but I effectively did all of my packing yesterday after work. I know I brought too much stuff with me on this trip. I intended to have some extra space in my suitcase for souvenirs, but Dan needed me to pack one of his jackets so that idea kind of went out the window. My only solace is that my backpack is about 50% full of edibles (the box of Christopher Elbow chocolates that I bought in San Francisco and a bunch of energy bars for meals on the go) that we definitely won’t be taking home with us. I should have plenty of room in my backpack after we polish off those chocolates this week. I’m afraid we don’t have as much money to spend on mementos this year, but I’m still hoping to find a few new things in Hawaii. I’d love to get some Christmas presents for my family, but I don’t think the ones I bought last year were a big hit. The older I get the more I’m convinced that edible gifts are best. Fudge from a Hawaiian middle-of-nowhere shop was definitely well received last year and the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts were popular with my co-workers. As soon as I get home I’ll have to start making some experimental batches of Christmas cookies. I saw the oblong red Tupperware containers that I usually buy to send out my holiday care packages on sale at Target yesterday, but I refrained from getting any yet. There will be plenty of time for that when we get back. I did buy a bag of candy cane Hershey’s Kisses, though, and I have big plans to turn them into some kind of blossom cookie later this month. Wait, how did I start writing about food? Oh, I remember – the chocolates and energy bars in my backpack. As far as I’m concerned it’s OK to return from a trip with your bags overfilled, but leaving on a trip that way is not usually a good idea. I swear my belongings get heavier and bulkier the longer I’m away from home. That’s why I can never fit the same amount of stuff in my suitcase for the trip home as I did when I departed. But how can I come home from Hawaii with nothing new? I know that sounds materialistic, but since I’m not earning nearly as many frequent flyer miles this year I doubt we’ll be going back to Hawaii any time soon. That’s kind of a depressing thought as we’re on our way there right now, but I know Dan and I are going to enjoy every minute of this trip so I’m not worried about when we’ll be able to come back. I am a little worried about the turbulence on our flight right now, though. I’m typing with my left hand and holding on to my can of Diet Coke with my right hand to keep it from slipping off my tray table. Or spilling on my laptop, which would really suck. I intend to use this computer a lot on our trip for publishing webpage posts, offloading photos from our camera, and writing whenever I get a chance. Airline flights always seem to go by quicker when I’m writing. Our in-flight movie is “Life in a Day” which is a compilation of YouTube videos taken on one particular day all around the world. It’s pretty incredible. Seeing people from all walks of life doing mundane things or extraordinary things makes the world seem both big and small at the same time. I wonder what I was doing on July 24, 2010? It was a Saturday so probably nothing special, but who knows? Look out, I’m about to start talking about food again. We aren’t even halfway to Maui yet and I’m already looking forward to our dinner at Spago tonight. It will be a great way to start our vacation. Last night’s dinner was a couple of frozen pizzas because I needed every free minute to pack my suitcase (except that hour we sat down to eat and watch “Project Runway: Behind the Seams”). That pretty much explains why I only found two dirty dishes on the counter from the entire week when I was cleaning up yesterday. I haven’t had time to cook anything in a while. And since I’ve made restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner that pretty much absolves me from having to cook anything for the rest of November. However, I do want to do some culinary experimentation over the Thanksgiving break. There was a fairly simple looking turkey breast recipe in the Paula Deen magazine I bought before my trip to San Francisco that I’d like to try. And if I make it after Thanksgiving and it turns out to be a complete failure I don’t have to worry about ruining the iconic American meal. I’m definitely running out of things to say right now. I think it’s time for me to turn off my computer and retreat to my iPhone to watch “Harry Potter.” My next update will be from Maui!