My Watsonville-Capitola Day Trip Adventures

The day started off at the Roses of Yesterday and Today in Watsonville for a picnic lunch. To our slight disappointment, the roses were not blooming yet. It is free to go inside and look around. And the nice balance between a little sunshine showing through the shades of trees that surround the rose garden combined with the quiet serenity really made it for a relaxing spot. I am so going back when the roses are in bloom! IMG_4733

The second stop was at the Martinelli’s Company Store where we tasted soooo many different kinds of cider and juice flavors that we didn’t even know Martinelli’s made (some of them were exclusively available at this company store too). It’s really like wine tasting minus the alcohol and it’s also free *wink*wink*

There were some limited edition items in their store too since Martinelli’s is celebrating their 150th anniversary!

 

The company store also has a mini museum display of rare photos and artifacts:

 

We also got to pose in front of this former door that is now on display inside the company store (below). The staff person pointed out that “Watsonville” was misspelled as “Watsonvill” on the door:

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The views in Capitola was just gorgeous no matter where we went. The weather made it so pleasant to be by the beach:
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And the shops there were charming and unique. I spotted a very sensual display of women’s body parts made into these sculptured pieces inside one of the stores:

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The day concluded with a delicious dinner at Shadowbrook Restaurant where I did not take any photographs but if you go to their website you do get a very good “picture” of how scenic and gorgeous their location is. The fact that you descend down into the restaurant via a gondola ride is another unique, charming touch — just like the town it’s in.

Thank you Watsonville and Capitola — for a wonderful time!

-M

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More Elephants and Roses

As I continue to work on books #2 and #3, I think I’m continuing to attract elephants and roses as my latest ModCloth purchase ended up being an elephant print robe and a rose print blazer.

Elephant Robe:

I guess it’s a bit funny since I purchased a rose print bathrobe a few months ago (mentioned in this previous blog posting where I am already sporting 2 different outfits that have rose prints on them). I am a fan of the hood that comes with this one, though I admittedly have a bit of a quirky side when it comes to when/when not to have hoods:

  • I am NOT a fan of hoods on winter coats typically because I find that it tends to add unnecessary bulk
  • BUT I do often wear at least one layer (ie. jacket) over my workout clothes when I walk to the gym in the mornings that has a hood on it that I do utilize.

It might also be because when I’m wearing regular [non-workout] clothes I often will wear a hat or a fascinator already on top of my head so hoods on coats aren’t necessary. Whereas, I wouldn’t ruin a nice hat or a fascinator when I’m trying to work up a sweat from a workout.

The Blazer + A-Line Dress Vs. The Blazer + Wiggle Dress:

I did sport both types of dresses with/without the fascinator. And I felt like it would be an overkill if I posted 4 varieties with the same blazer so I’m posting just 1 look of each dress.

You could wear pink shoes to accent the dress colors, but since the blazer is black I went with simple & plain black tights and shoes. I usually try to pick one piece in an outfit that I want to showcase to keep it from becoming too busy – And in this case, I’m trying to showcase the blazer.

IMG_4138It continues to be the Year of the Rose for me, but February is the month of roses for many of those who celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’ve always associated the holiday with my mother so it’s not the traditional, romantic-kind-of-love celebration. But I think it’s wonderful to celebrate love that comes in the many different forms it comes in. And for me, I continue to celebrate every week by buying these gorgeous flowers for myself.

Wishing you all love,

-M

Book Review: Endurance by Scott Kelly

I admittedly had never heard of Scott Kelly nor his twin brother Mark (who is also an astronaut) prior to reading this book. Though I do recall seeing and hearing in the news about Mark Kelly’s wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords being shot in 2011.

Personally, I have no interest in ever going to outer space myself but I did find reading about the experience(s) very interesting. It made me appreciate all that we take for granted for living on this Earth and not having to worry about things like having to strap ourselves from flying off a treadmill or having an ample supply of oxygen to breath. Scott Kelly also describes the craving for fresh produce during long periods of not having access to such supplies coming in and the very last “real meal” or “real shower” he got to enjoy prior to his departure.

As someone who goes to the farmers market religiously every weekend, I would definitely struggle with the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables… In fact, Scott Kelly’s list of things he requested for his fiancé to have ready for him to enjoy upon his return home after his year-long journey in space consisted of basically different varieties of beverages (ie. Gatorade, beer, etc.) and fresh fruits and vegetables (ie. strawberries, salad). And I loved that the first thing he did when he got home was jump into his swimming pool still wearing his flight suit, just like he said he would- And that he would never take water for granted again.

None of the book club ladies that were in attendance at the book club meeting to discuss this book were able to finish reading the book in time for the meeting (I had one more chapter left which I got to finish reading this afternoon after the book club meeting). We purposely chose this book to read for both the month of December and January since we usually don’t meet in December due to the holidays and saw how long this book was (369 pages without the Index). BUT we all agreed that it IS a very interesting read and that with more time we would have probably been able to finish reading it. So it is a highly recommended read.

I personally enjoyed the incredible photos that were in the book too and the diagrams of the International Space Station and such were very helpful to reference to. Since the book was also about his life leading up to the year-long space mission, there was a lot of going back and forth from chapter to chapter of different time periods. And I was impressed by his honesty of telling his life story the way he did. He was very candid about his marriage, divorce, family, his struggle with school, etc.

In the book Scott Kelly gives acknowledgement many times over to Tom Wolfe for changing his life forever by inspiring his pursuit to become a navy pilot and astronaut from the moment he picked up Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff at the age of 18. It made me want to pick up a copy myself so it is now on my list of books to read.

I continue to nourish my soul with great books to read and gorgeous roses. The white roses I purchased this morning coincided with the headlines I read online just minutes ago in regards to the statement celebrities were apparently making tonight at the Grammy Awards by wearing white roses for the #TIMESUP campaign. Whether it is honoring women or astronauts (or female astronauts), I felt like it was a reminder of how precious and beautiful life and life on Earth can be. So for this week’s documentation of my weekly roses, I present to you all this photo I decided to capture in honor of it all:

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M

Year of the Rose

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According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. However, I plan on having it be the Year of the Rose.

Perhaps this will also serve as a hint as to what my next book cover will look like since I am also working right now on my second AND third books as I type this.

Truth be told, I had a sunflower phase for a long time and actually was a bit anti-rose because I saw roses as the archenemy. I also have had a dahlia phase and actually do find all of these flowers still beautiful.

I think my newfound love for roses might have something to do with me embracing my inner Belle since last year when the film Beauty and the Beast came out. It’s evident by my many posts reviewing books, the one I did on my love for life-like inanimate objects, my fashion choices, and now my obsession with buying bouquets after bouquets of roses the last several weeks.

 

Also, being a Game of Thrones fan, I had a coincidental incident happen where a fellow GOT fan joked about my house doing well and I asked him what animal or creature my so-called house would be symbolized by. In my head, I thought to myself “House of Roses.” Out of curiosity I decided to look up “roses” on wikipedia when I got home and it led me to a historical reference to The War of Roses, the war within the English royal family between the House of Lancaster (symbolized by a red rose) and Yorks (represented likewise by a white rose). Being an American, I was not knowledgeable of much English history but these civil wars were fought between the two houses over which house were to gain control of the throne, serving as an inspiration for the author of the Game of Thrones books. Hence, the Lancasters would be the Lannisters and the Yorks would be the Starks.

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Like the English, I continue to enjoy my tea, sometimes in my rose tea cup topped with a silicone rose lid to keep it from cooling down as quickly. One of my friends who gifted me with tea was thoughtful enough to also gift me with a gorgeous rose tea comprised of whole minature roses to steep.

So as the saying goes, don’t forget to smell the roses in life.

-M

Book Review: Unshakeable by Tony Robbins

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I’ve been a fan of Tony Robbins since being introduced to his work several years ago. And I have had the honor of partaking in his Unleash the Power Within seminar too. I just finished reading his latest book Unshakeable so this is a review based on that experience.

Since I have been working for myself pretty much most of my adult life now, I have never worked at a company where opening a 401k account was offered. It really wasn’t until I got divorced in my late twenties that I actually bothered learning about opening up a retirement account. And even then, I made the very mistake Tony Robbins talks about in entrusting a friend who has the title of a financial advisor whose agenda was to sell me an expensive life insurance policy instead of helping me open a retirement account. Thankfully, I was able to get a second and third opinion and realized my mistake before it became a very expensive one long before I read the book.

However, in reading the book I was able to learn the different types of financial advisors and what to look for. Likewise, I had recently shopped around for a new tax accountant and have come to learn what to look for in that particular situation as well. There are certain things I believe in hiring professionals to get the job done correctly, especially when it comes to legal documents or anything that I am unfamiliar with that could get me in trouble if I do it myself incorrectly. So it’s that much more important to know that I’m hiring the right people in the first place!

It was also when I opened a retirement account that I started to invest in stocks. According to the book, low-cost index funds is the way to go and I was reminded of why I shouldn’t invest in mutual funds. I admittedly wasn’t aware of all the different asset classifications for low-cost index funds until I read the book (and I still need to refer to the post-it notes I stuck on the pages in the book to go over them as I type this).

I do consider myself a creative, artsy type. But I’ve also been running a business for over ten years now and have made a living from doing creative, artsy things. Reading a book on finances many not seem as entertaining as a pre-conceivably creative, artsy novel —- but pretty darn vital for a single, independent, modern vintage woman. And I would argue that it’s even more of a challenge to be creative in presenting information in a book about finances so that people can understand it and hence, enjoy reading it.

More surprisingly, I actually was moved to tears when I was reading one of the chapters in the book on emotional/psychological/spiritual wealth. It was a two-minute gratitude meditation that Tony Robbins takes people through at his seminars. He has an audio version of it available too but I decided to continue reading the words on the pages and went through it as I read along. Somewhere between steps 2 and 4, I lost it. He instructs you to breathe while becoming physically aware of your heart beating, reminding you to be grateful for it doing just that.

Here’s to learning to make better decisions, building & growing wealth, and being grateful for what we have.

-M

Martial Arts Meets Dance: My Shorinji Kempo-Salsa Fusion Performance

I recently paired up with one of the students at the Shorinji Kempo dojo I help teach at for what may be the very first fusion performance of this particular martial art with Salsa dancing. It was purely for entertainment at a Shorinji Kempo event at a party, and we did accomplish just that.

This was also our first time performing the routine in front of an audience. And needless to say, I watched back the video and immediately knew where we made mistakes, even if no one else noticed in the audience (I also kept it a secret that I had a ribcage injury when I did this number).

The sensation is actually similar to that of when I published my book. Even though I was proud of the fact that I published a book I was still nervous and self-conscious knowing that it wasn’t exactly a pulitzer prize-winning piece. I’m also not the best martial artist or dancer in the world either.

BUT both times, I did something unique. My book is not like other books and this performance is not like other performances. When you do something different, you don’t know how it will be received by the rest of the world. But if you don’t ever put it out there, it will never be given the chance to be shared. And it’s alright if you don’t want to share it with the rest of the world, but don’t not do something because of what others may think of it.

So I keep telling myself that it’s alright to feel nervous or insecure sometimes but do it anyways, be bold and brave in spite of the fear. Make this life count – do something.

-M

One Dress Styled for Every Season

I recently gave a tip to fellow fashionista & blogger Muse Meileena about my lack of winter-specific pieces such as bulky sweaters since I make use of a lot of my clothes all-year round utilizing outerwear instead to layer over in colder weather. Here’s an example using a dress I bought during the Cyber Monday sale:

Winter

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I would most likely wear a coat if I was walking around town in the dress during the winter time. However, if I’m attending a holiday party, I would sport the white furry shrug so that I can still show off the dress. The ear muffs are not usually something I wear in California but I’ve worn them in other places that snow during my travels and it makes all the difference. In this situation it worked out that the white fluffiness of both items matched.


Spring

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I could wear cardigans but I opted for the light purple jacket I had bought as part of a set with a formal dress this year since it’s close to that pastel color vibe. It works with the shoes (which also scream spring) that match the jacket. As a general rule of thumb, sinamay fascinators are more appropriate for spring and summer whereas felt and wool head/hair pieces tend to work better for autumn and winter months.


Summer

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I wasn’t able to quite decide which summer look to choose for this posting so I decided to post all three! The white cardigan can work for spring as well, but I figured in the summer months hanging it over the shoulder like that would still help prevent shoulder sunburns while staying relatively cool in the hot weather. Hats with longer brims would also help with sun protection along with a cute pair of sunglasses (which I sadly did not photograph myself with even though I purchased a few along with the dress). Summer and spring seasons call for bright colored shoes that pop!


Fall

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I couldn’t quite decide between the navy blue blazer (which I’ve been posting photos of me wearing in recent postings) or the black & white one. The black & white one does match the color scheme of the black & white hat (which I thought went well with the Parisian landscape of the print on the dress). But the navy blue does go well with the lighter blue color of the dress too and I did pair both blazers with navy blue pumps. When I wore the black & white blazer, I also wore black gloves. If it was in colder weather, I would probably opt for tights too.


As you can see, it’s really all about the outerwear and accessories. I do think it’s more fun to sport vibrant colors during the colder seasons too. So next time, consider reconsidering before you decide to put away so-called spring/summer clothes during the autumn/winter months.

-M