A little wander down the coast: Part 1

An excellent wander

Sketch Away: Travels with my sketchbook

Over winter break the kids and I did a little wander down the coast for a few days. Our first stop was a town we’ve often headed to for a short break: Pismo Beach.

To mark the last day of the year, we decided to do something none of us have done before: Ride ATVs on the beach at Oceano Dunes.

Post dune-riding, we stopped for lunch. Either the food at Old Juan’s Cantina is fantastic, or we were ravenous. Or both.

The New Year started with a late breakfast. That diagram in the bottom of the page is an explanation for why we have seasons. Drawing it made me think of how much clearer things would’ve been for me at school if more teaching were visual.

Wandering aimlessly around Pismo, I sketched these guys fishing on the pier. Catching fish doesn’t seem to be the focus of this…

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I heart San Jose

We went to san Jose on St. Patrick’s Day.  We were there to celebrate a young man named Ryan getting an awesome internship offer.  He probably won’t take it because it’s out of state and he has two other offers in town.  Getting an internship in a competitive area isn’t easy so we wanted to make sure he felt all the long hours of work were being noticed.

It was fun.  We had coffees in an awesome place called Crema on The Alameda followed by a lot of searching in a used bookshop called Recycled Books.  A couple of cats live there, at least during the day, and we love that too.  The giant Babe’s Muffler guy is still looming over the sidewalk near Stockton Avenue, and after we ate burgers at a place called Konjoe Burger where the line was close to awesome theme park ride levels, but totally worth it.

There was some horribly bad karaoke.  How many people you know that can tolerably sing, “At Last”?  Maybe the singer hadn’t had enough drinks yet, I don’t know.  Turns out the karaoke went with an ice cream truck called TreatBot.  I don’t know why they named their treat truck that, but I can tell you the idea cream was sublime.  I’m all for pralines and these were the best I’ve ever had in ice cream.  They stayed crunchy, there were a lot of them, and the maple idea cream they were in wasn’t overpowering.  The maple was delicate, as it should be.  I’m in love.  Can you tell?  No?  I bought a t-shirt.  It went well with all the talk of dark matter.

I guess I miss San Jose.  Maybe I missed my dad, his birthday was the day before and I was headed home when I saw a dark purple Corvette.  Now, my dad died when I was seven so my memories are more like snapshots or short film clips, and one of them is of a small, purple sports car with pop-up headlights.  I texted an older brother, thus better memories and he remembered the car better.  Said he was in the car once when dad burned rubber, and told him later, “Don’t tell your mom.”  I laughed while a few tears escaped.

Then my bro added that he later drew a picture of him and dad in the car with a speedometer showing 95 MPH, so mom probably figured it out.  We were only texting but I bet he was laughing out loud along with me, and probably had to wipe away a few tears too.  It was nice seeing San Jose again.

Whole Foods Beauty Bag 2018

This years beauty bag comes with in a gorgeous bag by Piece and Co. and inside you’ll find a bevy of skincare and makeup items.  It’s selling for $20. The store in my area is selling them on Friday, but a store in San Jose already put them out and my oldest got one for me.

In alphabetical order the items, if you’re curious, are:

Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub in a one ounce tube.  Among the ingredients is walnut shell.  A lot of beauty products these days seem to have a tree-nut ingredient in them from almond oil, academia nut oil, to walnut shells.  If you’re allergic, read the ingredient list before rubbing anything on anywhere.

There’s a one time use mask by Alba that gets warm on the skin, “Hawaiian Detox Warming Mud Mask”.

Andalou Naturals offered up Hyaluronic DMAE Lift and Firm Cream.  This is a small sample of .14 ounces and smells, interestingly enough, faintly of grapes.  I think it’s interesting because the packaging is purple.   It’s just a hint of a scent and it goes away.  It feels good going on and so far so good.

Burt’s Bees Brimming Berry Lipstick.  A full size lipstick that is flattering to my coloring and it feels good too.  Too bad Burt’s Bees sold itself to Clorox and now sells in mainland China which means animal testing.

Derma-E SunKissAlba Radiant Glow Face Oil, .13 fl. oz.  I have high hopes for this.

Dr. Hauschka Lip Care in a .17 oz tube.  I was so excited to see this because I have yet to find a lip balm as good as the now retired R.L. Linden balm so I quickly applied some.  I felt a strange tight sensation after applying this.  It’s not unpleasant, just unusual.  Otherwise it’s fine.  I’ll use it, but I don’t plan to buy another one.  Almond oil is one of the main ingredients.

Evan Healy Rose Cleansing Milk is a lovely addition.  It’s a 1 ounce glass bottle that I’m excited to try but not until after I’ve used up all of the product I’m currently using.

Pacifica gave a packet of Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes, there are ten in the pack.

There is a three ounce bottle of Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel which I already know I love.  It’s gentle enough to use on the face as toner.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Light Blend in a glass tube.  I liked another of their face oils and expect to like this too.

Weleda Skin Food in a .34 fl. oz tube.  This has almond oil in it.  It’s a good enough size that I will be able to get a few uses out of it to decide if I like it.

Mineral Fusion gave two items, a full size Bronzer Duo and a mini Volumizing Mascara in Jet.  I already know I like that mascara and tried the bronzer this morning.  It went on and blended well.

There’s a headband from Satva.

The last item is an Expressionist Mini Mascara by W3ll People that I was happy to see as I almost bought one of these the other day.   That’s the bag and the label says it holds products totaling $100.  If there’s anything in there you think you’d like, it’s worth a go.


A book, a show, and a sketchcrawl

I love San Jose and had to share this

Sketch Away: Travels with my sketchbook

It’s finally here! My book of urban sketches Sign of the Times is here. Over 80 urban sketches of vintage neon signs. Sketched over 5 years in San Jose, California, the collection is annotated with stories that celebrate these fading beauties. Get your copy here (And yes, I’m happy to sign your copy if you’d like me to).

Or better still, come to the show opening atHistory Park, San Jose this Sunday, pick up a signed copy and see the show which contains over 75 original sketches, many of which are in the book. (I sketched a total of about 200 sketches over the last few years and picking and choosing was hard!)

And of course there’s the sketchcrawl to follow. What’s an urban sketching show without one, right? The weather is looking great for sketching on Sunday and History San Jose is a treasure trove of stuff to sketch.

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Cleanse, rinse, moisturize, repeat – A year of face products

I gave up on subscription boxes when I realized I was more disappointed than delighted at their arrival.  I like decent sample sizes because they can save me from returning a full size via shipping as most green beauty products aren’t yet available here, and smaller sizes are great when traveling.  Sometime last year I thought I’d save up all the empties and review the products from the last year of subscription boxes and gift with purchase bags.  In the spirit of not wasting, I spent the past eleven months using nearly everything even if it meant putting expensive moisturizer on my feet.

First up in the empties is Metta Skincare Intensive Replenishing Face Balm.  Giving the Metta jar a sniff it smells good but I remember every single face balm wasn’t great for break outs, so I probably used this on my neck, chest and arms.  De Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm, broke me out too and smelled of Lemon Pledge furniture polish.  I finally used up the entire jar on my feet where the lemony scent would be farthest from my nose.  MAYA CHIA Supercritical Chia Waterless Wonder Balm.  I loved this product as a lip balm.  And I loved the scent.  I even got a little education from looking up the definition of supercritical.  I refuse to pay for a new one, especially when what I want is an awesome balm in a tube I can take anywhere.

That led me to try new lip balm products.  Why are lip products important?  Because whatever you put on your lips you’re going to eat a portion of.  I have all of the S.W. Basics organic lip balms but no plans to repurchase those after they are gone.  I got a tube of R.L. Linden & Co. La Balmba Rosa lip balm and love it. Love it.  After I discovered it I learned they went out of business so the quest continues.  What does the Linden balm have that I love so much?  It is smooth going on, there are no shea butter bits, it feels perfect, not too waxy, not too heavy, and my lips love it.  Also, it lasts.  One application and my lips are happy for a very long time, whereas the S.W. Organic balms disappear quickly, my lips still feel as dry and I have to reapply far more times.

On to lipsticks and tinted lip products, I used almost half of the Modern Minerals Lip Creme Tint.  I liked the color but not the strong mint scent.  Speaking of strong mint scents, the NOTO Multi-Benne Stain Stick opened up my sinuses with each use. I got a jar of Kari Gran tinted lip whip and love it and love that it has no scent but I’m wondering why they can’t put this in a stick form.  Pacifica Deeply Devoted Natural Lipstick feels good, smells okay, goes on like a dream but the colors are not for me.  I could write a paragraph about that but let me just say that if the colors work for you, I suggest them.

A Bite lip product I love is High Pigment Lip Pencil.  I love how it feels on.  However, I got the Sephora Bite birthday gift this year and the two color products inside, a Matte Creme Lip Crayon and Amuse Bouche Lipstick have a faint scent that gives me headaches each time I apply them.  I knew about the Amuse Bouche from previous samples, but I was hoping the Lip Crayon didn’t have that same issue.  Sadly it does.  The lip scrub and lip balm samples, tiny blister packets, that were also inside are nice.  I’m considering buying the Agave Lip Balm, as for the lip scrub, ah, let me say it had a smoother feel than anticipated but I can’t imagine paying for lip scrub.  When I brush my teeth I gently go over the lips with the toothbrush and voila, lips are scrubbed.  After that I apply a balm.  I don’t have chapped lips ever.

Derma-E Hydrating Night Cream w/Hyaluronic Acid.  I didn’t like the smell.  Instead I applied it to my neck and chest in the morning and my shirt probably kept the scent from my nose.  First Aid Beauty has excellent facial moisturizers for me and my daughters, especially during winter.  We’ve had good luck with FAB moisturizers not leaving a white cast on darker skin tones. I’m not clear on how green they are, but last time I looked they were still cruelty free.  I should probably double check that because I want more of FAB Eye Duty Triple Remedy A.M. Gel Cream.  Blissoma Pure Sensitive Skin Soothing Complex was lovely.  I remember liking this because it went on nicely and not greasy.  There is an odd scent to it, but I’m guessing it fades away.  PAI Chamomile and Rosehip Calming Day Cream was not as hydrating as my skin needed.  SKIN OWL Neck +, and Eye + creams are good.  I prefer the Neck + and purchased a full size of that after I used up the .25 oz. sample.  It looks like a clear gel but goes on lighter than that and not sticky.  There’s no scent and my skin likes it.

Widcraft Cleanse Makeup Remover.  It smelled pretty awful for chamomile and honey.  It worked ok, jojoba oil works better at a better price , thank you Trader Joe’s, with no smell and no stinging eyes.

Mun Akwi Purifying Cleanser remains one of my favorite face cleansers.  The only reason I don’t have more is the price.  Following that, I received a sample of Little Barn Apothecary Blue Yarrow + Geranium cleansing oil and it’s what I use at night.  I even purchased a full size bottle and am happy to let anyone reading this know that Ulta stores will be carrying Little Barn Apothecary products.  Without checking, I’m pretty sure my Blue Yarrow oil is half the price of the Akwi cleanser.  After using the cleansing oil, I apply Thayer’s Witch Hazel (alcohol free, I like Rose and Aloe) and breakouts are a thing of the past or rare (witch hazel also helps with breakouts from trying new products.  If I didn’t say it before, here it is, don’t squeeze the spot, wash your face with whatever you use and wipe some witch hazel over the area twice a day.  I’ve had the best results.)

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator is another empty I can barely remember.  I smell the empty spray bottle, ah yes, memories.  It was nice.  It felt good.  I noticed no benefits though.  The Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner was in a lovely bottle but I can’t tell it did anything for me, as did the Osea Sea Minerals Mist (toner), ditto on the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask.  That’s the thing I did learn over the past year of trying some lofty face items, I still look like me.  That being said, I am pretty sure the daily sunblock and constant moisturizer has helped me remain looking like me like I want to look versus the me that used nothing and looks leathery. Can I take a second to point out a design flaw in the Osea bottle?  The silver pump has a cap that looks like it should twist off but instead it slides off, which means every time I pick up the top of the bottle, the cap comes with me, and the bottle falls.

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen went on really well but after a week I noticed my face was drying out.  I came to realize I tend towards dry skin and zinc oxide doesn’t help this no matter what it is mixed with.  Big alert, Mad Hippie Face SPF is awful.  Forget it unless you like the white, chalky look.  My favorite facial sunblock was Algenist Sublime Defense Anti-Aging Blurring Moisturizer SPF 30, it has a light, whipped texture, goes on easily, doesn’t leave a white cast, the scent fades instantly, but it costs a fortune (and I don’t know if it’s cruelty free or green).  I continue to look for facial SPF, I’m currently using First Aid Beauty w/SPF 30 but it leaves me looking shiny.  It’s currently winter so the other day my dry skin loved it and I looked dewey.  The good kind of dewey.  Another day it looked greasy, on those days I use my RMS powder to take away the shine (I love that powder).  I also gave E.L.F. Foundation Serum with 25 SPF and Goji Berries a shot.  It felt nice and blended well, and if you have oily or at least not dry skin it might be nice on you.

I’m still on the hunt for a good concealer because I’ve got dark circles under my eyes that have nothing to do with sleep.  NYX Gotcha Covered Totale (sic) Waterproof Concealer wasn’t for me.  I can’t remember why but tried two shades and returned both, I’m thinking they were too thick.  NYX Dark Circle Concealer Correcteur (sic) can be patchy and fades away.  BECCA Under Eye Brightening Corrector was thick and greasy on me.  I wanted this product to be part of my stash so bad I tried it for days.  DAYS.  But no go.  I also tried E.L.F. HD Lifting Concealer and like it very much, but there’s no way that stuff is green.  I bought samples of Root Under Eye Brightener, Prime/Conceal Cream Corrector to go green.  They were a big nope for me, patchy, chalky and just yikes.

Urban Decay Cannonball waterproof mascara was the love of my mascara life.  Mineral Fusion Volumizing Mascara was in the Whole Foods Beauty Bag 2017 and I was pleasantly surprised.  When it was gone I bought a tube of E.L.F. mascara and didn’t like that, ditto on the UD Perversion which transferred below my eyes.  I’m currently awaiting delivery of Lily Lolo Black Vegan Mascara which I hear very good things about.

Recent purchases: The Balm Nude Beach eyeshadow palette has some really good colors in it.  You can find reviews of this on Youtube that have all the details.  I wish The Balm sold singles of my favorite shadows but they do not.  If I publish this in time, be aware they are having a 50% off sale tomorrow (Monday, Feb. 26, 2018).

Now that I’ve used up all those trial sizes, I’m ready to move onto specific things I want with a few new samples.  I am expecting any day now a waterproof eye pencil from Antonym Cosmetics, the aforementioned Lily Lolo Mascara, Osmia Rose Clay Facial Soap I’m planning to use during the summer when my skin gets oily and if it’s as gentle as I’m hoping, it will be good for travel.  Also arriving by mail soon are Hynt Beauty Duet Concealer sample in two shades so I can decide which is best for me, and because Integrity Botanicals lets you pick three free samples with each order I am getting a sample of W3ll People Bio-Tint Multi Action Moisturizer SPF 30, a sample of concealer from Sappho ( I said I was still on the hunt didn’t I?), and a Mahalo Balm because I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

If you’re wondering about green eyebrows, or other unusual colors check out Notoriously Morbid and MehronMakeup on Instagram.  From these two I have seen wiggly eyebrows, green and other shades on brows, but I’ve also seen purple brows on IG on some other post.  I adore how creative people can be and use makeup for fun.  If you’re into something more theatric, I suggest @MadeyewLook.  She’s the best.

Heads up, the Whole Foods Beauty Bag comes out sometime in early March.  The only way to know which day is to follow them on Instagram and get to the store first thing in the morning.  Last year it was me and about seven other people waiting for the doors to open.  A man told me his wife made him go since she was at work.  Make it a Breakfast at Whole Foods morning and try out some new things.

Why/how can I pay so much attention to makeup?  It distracts my mind from some of the more ghastly things I’ve read/seen at work.  When writing won’t work, when reading or gardening, hiking can’t take away the images in my head I have found playing with face paint does.

Discoveries – it’s not easy being green

Not only is green beauty expensive, but I assumed my overly-sensitive nose would love natural fragrances and was I wrong.  Plus, something in a green beauty skincare product is giving my skin dry patches that flake.  It isn’t pretty.

But, there have been pluses.

An excellent discovery that smells good and keeps me smelling good is Schmidt’s Deodorant.  Every so often I’ll listen to a YouTube video and pick up a piece of info I wasn’t looking for, that’s how I heard of Schmidt’s.  I have a travel size natural deodorant from a Credo Beauty bag of goodies, and it works great, (it’s Lovefresh in grapefruit scent).  My youngest decided it was time for her to start wearing deodorant and took it over.  I looked into buying another one and saw that it’s $7.50.  (Did you remember that I said it was travel size?)  $7.50 for another travel size, plus tax, and shipping.  Ouch.  Thus, I was happy to hear about Schmidt’s  (2.65 oz for $4.99 at Target) and it works well, but because it’s sold at Target that saves me a shipping fee.  Better still, there are options in scents.  I got bergamot and lime, and my teenager tried the lavender and sage.  I find the smell is very light and after applying it, the scent doesn’t catch my attention at all.  Even better, it works and I’m not catching whiffs of b.o.   We’ve already had two days that broke the 100 degree F. mark.  Welcome to Fresno.

Another awesome discovery has been a coconut hair conditioner by Juice Organics that came in the last Goodbeing box.  I tried the Coconut oil hair mask that came in a Petit Vour box some time back and meh, my hair seemed the same after washing the mask out, but after using this conditioner my hair felt soft.  Even after blow drying, my hair felt soft.  My hair never feels that soft unless I let it air dry, but with Juice Organics Repairing Conditioner, it was soft after blow drying.  I’m rambling.  Better still, I discovered Target sells this product.  I am not paid by Target but will add that I am glad their organic/green section is growing.  I suggested they put out sample containers the way Whole Foods does, so customers can smell lotions and feel the texture, but the woman working there gave me the hairy eyeball.  Here’s how I manage around that, I make my purchase, head straight to the in-house Starbucks, open the package and test it there.  If it’s objectionable, I return it before leaving.

I’m still hoping to try products by Osmia and have considered wanting to be Dr. Villafranco when I grow up.  She’s brilliant, raves about weird looking green smoothies which I cannot embrace (yet), and has an awesome job.  Something about making natural products like soap appeals to my inner hippie.  But I’m not trying anything new until I figure out what is causing my desert skin.  I’m beginning to suspect Suntegrity’s 5 in 1 tinted Sunblock, but I can’t be certain.

I heard from an esthetician that lavender essential oil isn’t a good thing to put on the face (thus in face products), and so many face products have blends of essential oils in them, in part (I’m guessing), to add a pleasing scent.  I’m left wondering if that and/or another essential oil might be causing my never before experienced level of desert skin.  So, I’m not using any of the products that have any essential oil blends and such for fragrance in my skincare routine, and I’m not using my Suntegrity sunblock, and I’m holding back from Osmia products for the time being, all though, that rose clay soap is calling my name.

In the meantime I bought Mad Hippie Facial SPF.  It leaves a faint white cast, and it smells odd.  Not horrible.  Just odd.  Of course, my dry flakes look horrible picked out in white sunblock.   I stashed it in the “waiting” drawer until my skin goes back to normal.  I’ve been wearing a lot of hats these days.   Oh, and I purchased a bottle of Mad Hippie face cleanser and after a week, I still love the Akwi face cleanser by Mun best of all.

On an earth-friendly note, my oldest and I agree to stop using and/or cut back on single use plastic items.  She now owns stainless steel drinking straws and I no longer buy swabs with plastic middles.  You know the ones with the cotton made into a point?  They are a huge help in swiping away still-wet mascara clumps.  Don’t stick them in your ears.  I found them with paper sticks in the middle and now buy those.

Green beauty is pricey, it can smell horrible and so on, but the positives outweigh the negatives so onward I go.

You could be a hero, and you, and you, and

When someone asks me to name my personal heroes I used to think of people who’ve won great prizes and were well-known for their work.  But, since 2003 my list has been topped by a friend who donated a kidney to his sister.  And recently I learned an old friend donated one of her kidneys to a stranger.  There are super folks all around it turns out.

Now, my niece is scheduled to donate part of her liver to an older brother.  She’s a perfect match.  And once again I am in awe.

Years ago I joined the national bone marrow registry, and I admit, I didn’t think it would ever come to anything and so far, it hasn’t.  I’ve donated blood loads of times.  I look away the entire time.  They tell me I have lovely, fat veins, but I sing songs in my head so I don’t imagine what they’re doing to those veins.  And sure I’ve filled out and signed the donor card that came with my license, but that’s not the same thing.  I’ll be dead when that happens.  It’s the idea of donating while alive that scares the heck out of me.  Or, maybe it is my (tiny) hospital phobia.  Hmmm.  But now I realize, if I’m ever a match I’ve got three heroes to emulate.  Wow.

If you haven’t already filled out a donor card, please consider it, or sign up online.