Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

View original post 25 more words

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.


Sharing an article

Going it Alone by Rahawa Haile

“What happens when an African American woman decides to solo-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine during a summer of bitter political upheaval? Everything you can imagine, from scary moments of racism to new friendships to soaring epiphanies about the timeless value of America’s most storied trekking route.”

I heard of this on the radio and was struck that there might another reason besides being anti-nature that kept people from going out.  Seriously though, this is an excellent read and I heartily recommend it.   I hope it’s acceptable to share in this manner.


What’s in the box? Adventures in beauty subscription boxes – Take 1

Signing up for subscription boxes is like going to court, or working in a theatre company. It’s a whole lot of hurry up and wait. I’ve given these subscription boxes a try; Ipsy, Sephora Play, Beauty Heroes, GoodBeing, and Petit Vour. Well, sort of.  Three out of five reviews are below.

First up, Ipsy.  I signed up, paid up, and THEN was told I was on their waiting list and that posting my new subscription to my social media might grease the wheels and get me an actual Ipsy bag sooner. Wait. What? I paid with the understanding I would be getting a bag, that I WAS on the ‘get-a-bag’ list, not a waiting list. No, Ipsy.  No.  Maybe if I’d received a bag and loved it I would tell the world, but in this instance, sigh. I cancelled right away.  No Ipsy bags for me.

Next was Sephora Play.  I dithered, the website refreshed to let me know that they were full up, and did I want to be put on their waiting list?  Sigh, no.  I kept checking and finally hit on a moment in the space-time continuum where an opening existed.  After that, there were no problems.  It did take a month + to receive the first box, but their customer service kept me informed.

There was a Drunken Elephant product that I had been curious about but at $90, I was kept away.  A fat sample arrived, I used it for a week straight, and not one thing happened to my skin.  The Cover FX Illuminating Primer is not for me.  I had planned to give away the items from companies that weren’t cruelty free, and in the end, I ended up giving nearly every item away.  Also too many items were strongly scented, or were something I’m not ready to try my hand at.  Liquid eyeliner scares the hell out of me.  Don’t judge me.

Plus, what am I supposed to do with all those drawstring bags?  One reviewer said she puts tampons in them.  You get a bag each month.  How many bags of tampons does one women need?

I decided to give eco/green beauty products a try.  Enter Beauty Heroes.  They get boxes out to their new subscribers fast.  I told hubs to order early so there would be something under the tree in December and wow, I had two boxes (Nov and Dec.) and then, January’s box arrived the first postal day after New Years.  Bam. Well done Beauty Heroes.

The only item I wasn’t thrilled with was a face oil from Maya Chia that smelled too damn strong and it did not fade. (imagine strong notes of fresh cracked pepper)  I gave it to my oldest who loves this stuff.  There was also a Maya Chia face balm that while too heavy for my face, read breakouts, smells good.  I use it as lip balm.

The BEST face cleanser I’ve tried so far, is Akwi by Mun.  It is superb. Why a washcloth came with it as a sidekick item is an unknown to me. It is not a beauty product no matter who wove it, or how.

The Josh Rosebrook facial hydration spray was nice, I used it all. It smelled a bit like candy but faded quickly.  What can I say, it’s fun to spritz. Once it dries, my skin still needed moisturizer love. The chocolate mask was a kick to use, at first, (45 minutes to leave it on isn’t easy to manage) but again, I used it as recommended and I saw/felt no difference.

Onto Petit Vour.  Their box needs to get from Dallas, Texas, to me in Fresno, California.  Driving from there to here is estimated to take just under 24 hours.  When I emailed a complaint/whine/wtf sort of query in the middle of February, (days after they emailed saying it had shipped) I got back an apology for my misunderstanding, and was reminded there had been a holiday involved. ONE day off equals a package wandering around Texas for five business days?

I love that the items inside the PV box are cruelty free and green/eco beauty, but don’t care what the box itself looks like.  I like that I can recycle it.  A favorite skin moisturizer from PV is called Metta.  I can’t use it every night because it is a heavy-duty moisturizer, but when I do use it, my skin looks happy in the morning.  The odd scent fades fast.  A cream eyeshadow stick from Juice Beauty requires too much pressure to adhere to my lids. I use a brush when I have time to add one more step to what should be an easy one-step application. I love the very light color and subtle shine of “Cove” (the color I received).  It helps me look awake behind shadow casting glasses.

A pink Konjac sponge arrived, but after three days of consecutive use my cheeks started drying out.  I looked like newly born Benjamin Button.  I drank oceans of water to hydrate from the inside, and holy mother of god, it took over a week to get things back to almost normal.  No worries, it dovetails with my youngest’s science lesson.  Plants make two kinds of roots, tap roots, a carrot for example, and fibrous roots, like a Konjac sponge.

I STILL have not used the coconut oil hair mask. I have plans to break off a bit, melt it and carefully, carefully, dab/massage it onto my scalp, and the ends of my hair.  But I’m scared. Even hubs, who has no hair and no interest in hair care heard coconut oil and said, “Coconut oil? In your HAIR?”  Even he knows that putting the full amount of product in a headful of hair in one go is too much and will probably leave my hair looking greasy.

The second PV box arrived without issue.  There was a tiny bottle of shiny illuminator stuff.  It came with its own explanatory card. I opened it, dribbled a drop onto the back of my hand, rubbed it in, and saw it left behind tiny specks of glitter. Maybe I’ll mix a drop into my facial sunblock and see what happens.  There’s also a one-use nail polish remover but so far I haven’t received any eco/green nail polish.

I got a powdered face mask in an elegant envelope.  I can mix it with honey, or cooled down chamomile tea, etc.,.  Maybe I’ll use it on a hot summers day when my face seems to shine with oil like a bag of french fries.  Which lets me segue nicely into the last item I’ve tried, Little Barn Apothecary cleansing oil.  After the face balms I was nervous, but this gem has helped me in the fight to re-hydrate my skin.  It worked, there were no break outs, it even smells okay.  Actually, I initially put a drop on my hand and after a few minutes it went rogue or something, all I know is that I couldn’t wash it off fast enough.  Put it on, wash it off.

The reviewers of green beauty products (sometimes) give me pause.  I wish they didn’t talk about chemicals as if all of them are evil.  Also, microwaves are not something we believe in or not, they are not fairies or Santa Claus.  They speed up the water molecules in food, etc., The science of this exists whether anyone likes it or not.  I’m getting off topic.  Again.  Apologies. (Sorry Santa. I know you’re out there.)

(coughs, shuffles notecards)  I signed up for Goodbeing because they send items from brands I’m very curious to try, such as Vapor, Osmia, Juice Beauty, W3ll People, etc., but don’t want to pay full price to learn I don’t like.  I am learning that Beauty Heroes and their fast shipping is a rarity.  I signed up for Goodbeing on March 1 and have yet to receive a box. I have yet to get a response from their customer service aside from the auto-response saying they received my question and will get back to me within two days. It’s now April 8th, I’ve read over their FAQs and think I can expect the first box sometime next week.  I’m so underwhelmed.

They do have an online question form so items can be more tailored to skin/hair type, etc., which I thought was excellent. I did get to choose two items, but then no box arrived.  I have no idea if that was a glitch or if those items will arrive in the April box.

I’m a little iffy about Goodbeing not being a beauty/makeup box only.  Body care items, such as vitamins, toothpaste, deodorant, I think tea, are included.  That sounds fine. I guess. I’m enough of a hippie.  Sort of a suit-wearing, patchouli-hating, paralegal hippie, but I have some crunchy edges and am open to discovering a tasty new tea, or whatever. But first I need to get a box and so far, that’s not happening.

*UPDATE.  The Goodbeing box arrived today (April 11).  Inside is a bottle containing fifteen capsules that are made with algae, aloe, and some other mess that is said to be clinically proven to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.  I want to see that clinical trial.  The capsules are enormous and smell terrible.  I was hoping from the lengthy profile I filled out Goodbeing understood I wasn’t interested in more than say, chamomile tea, honey lozenges or a spice mix for chai.

There is a one ounce bottle of Noto deep serum for the face and neck, it does not have a proper cap for traveling.  It is a thin oil, a drop runs down the back of my hand quickly, and it has an unusual scent.  A bit peppery, or spicy, but only a bit.  I’m getting used to it and I think I can appreciate it, and that the ingredients are listed.  Next is a fair sized jar of face cream by Clarity (the size isn’t given).  It is a thick cream that absorbs into the inside of my wrist nicely.  As I run my fingers over the area it feels different from the surrounding skin, a bit dryer, less silky.  The card says something about leaving a matte finish, so the dry feeling is intended.  The mix I have has sage, desert rose and gardenia according to the label (there is no list of ingredients) and smells flowery.  I’d rather smell sage.  There’s also a note of something that reminds me of items scented for baby lotions, I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m not enjoying it and it’s lingering.

Along with the reasonable sized samples are three others that are ridiculous.  First up is a .16 fluid ounce of Seaweed Bath Co. Day Cream.  It looks like the lotions you get in a middling hotel, only of much smaller size.  If I’m to use as directed, on face, neck and décolletage, there is probably enough for one use.  A tiny foil seal is under the cap so I know I haven’t accidentally received an empty even though it feels like there’s nothing inside.  The cream is an unusual light blue color and goes on fine.  It smells a little of sea salt or something that brings the ocean to mind but then a green/medicinal scent scares it away, bringing to mind grannies and camphor.

Second runner-up for worst sample in any box so far, ever, is a primer from Vapour.  The plastic disc the product is in, is one inch diameter and less than half a centimeter thick, so it’s a bit like a fat quarter.  This is glued to a card that says to keep it as a reminder of the brands I love and that the product inside is valued at $3.  Dear Vapour and Goodbeing, you want to know what I value it at?  Less than zero.  If you think a smear of product in a plastic button is better than a smear of product in a foil pouch, you are wrong.  They both suck.  If I took a pink Froot Loop, soaked it in water, smashed it gently and pierced the center with a 1mm sized hole, it would look like what is inside this absurdly af sized sample.  Also, it has an odd medicinal smell to it.  This is going in the trash.  I’ll wash it out and throw it in the recycle.  Vapour, this is a snub.  Your products are pricey, and if you want me to spend my cash on them, you need to give a decent sample.

The winner is a half inch wide section of a tinted lip product from Suntegrity.  The cap of the plastic nubbin-of-a-container is bigger than the bottom but it isn’t filled to the top.   There are stickers so I know the brand and product color (lucky me), AND this comes with a three-inch long section of plastic stick with a brush at one end with which to apply the product.  The fact that they went to the trouble to have these tiny stickers created for their grudging samples strikes me as a clear signal they never intend to go one step better.  Going on with the customer-dazzling ideas (that’s sarcasm by the way) is that the sample and “brush” came in a ziplock plastic bag.  After one use the brush will be dirty, am I expected to store it in the zip baggie for the next two uses I may get out of this?  That baggie came stapled (nothing says classy like a staple) to a thick/glossy Suntegrity card showing the various shades available.  So, Suntegrity, you can buy thick card stock with glossy printing but can’t pony up a bullet sized lip balm?

Along with all of this came six small cards detailing what the items are, one large card mentioning the brands offering discounts, the Clarity jar was in a bubble wrap envelope, and the oil/serum came in another zip baggie.  And of course it all arrived in a cardboard box, with a thousand paper crinkles.   I’m awash in plastic and paper and a pathetic amount of makeup. *End up updated section.

Mostly I signed up for beauty boxes to get makeup, and I have to say I’m not getting much of that. It almost makes me miss my Sephora Play days.  Aside from the boxes, I purchased the Whole Foods Beauty Bag.  There was a full size mascara by Mineral Fusion (that’s quite good) no flakes, and only late in the day smudging.  I’ve learned not to put any kind of sunblock under my eyes if I’m going to wear mascara.  It will smudge even the best waterproof formula.  Everyone else probably already knew that.  Also there was a lipstick by Pacifica that I like.  It has a natural coconut scent, not chemical or candy-like, which fades quickly.  It feels good and is not sticky.  I’m thinking I’m going to end up not renewing any boxes and have to resort to haunting the aisles of Whole Foods and pilgrimages to Credo in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

*Tip.  I’ve learned plain witch hazel dabbed on pimples makes them go away.  No squeezing, or picking, just dab twice a day.

My teen got a couple of Loot Crates, I’ve heard there’s another box for artisan chocolate, there’s probably one for anything you can imagine. Just keep in mind it may be a few weeks before the account gets going and you actually have a box in your hands, so if it’s a gift, better order early.  Be patient, and maybe send some of that patience my way.