Tuesday, July 31, 2012


It all started with a simple statement from my theater group buddies, "We're going to run a half marathon to raise money for Bindlestiff (my theater group)." I thought, "cool...where do I donate" and then the thought drifted into, "I wonder if I could run that" and that soon turned to "Lex, you've only run 3.5 miles in your life! You may collapse at 4!" My good friend, Aivy, began running not too long ago, talked me into it and she didn't really have to do much pushing. She has run the Women's Nike Marathon in SF last year and she has other runs under her belt. She likes to call herself an "enthusiastic jogger" but I call her my running whisperer.

I have always been somewhat active - Women's Freestyle wrestling as a young adult, boxing, tried out Krav Maga and gym rat at least five times a week. But I had a love/hate relationship with running. Knee injury that ended my wrestling career, a bunion on my right foot that required a $300 customized insole from a podiatrist and just general break down that one might feel at the ripe old age of 37.

But something just stirred inside and I question myself - "what is really stopping me?"

I put a plan in motion - I gave myself three months to train, got new shoes, stopped wearing my insoles (they made my feet hurt when I ran) and made a date at my old community college track where I use to run. I struggled the first two miles but then I ran the third easily. The next week I ran 3.5 miles pretty effortlessly. I soon discovered that running on a track is pretty boring - I might as well just hop on a treadmill. So I ditched the gym on Mondays and ran from the famous Ferry Building along the Embarcadero to AT&T Ballpark and back to my office. This run is a little over 3 miles round trip but depending on how sassy you are feeling you and how much time you have during your lunch break you can easily stretch it to 4 or even 5 miles.

Plus, you have an awesome view of the bay and Bay Bridge:

Okay this became easy enough for me to run. I then decide to take on another nagging challenge - Lake Merced, SF. Click here for map. It's roughly 4.5 miles, I think. I was always intimidate by this lake. My alma mater, SF State University is nearby and I never thought to run or even walk around it. What was I really intimidated by? As expected the first two miles were tough but by mile three, I began to get control of my lungs and my breathing wasn't as heavy...I began to enjoy it. Also, Beastie Boys on an iPod or Pandora station helps the situation. The first month of training closed and I found comfort running 4.5 miles. Word travels to my serious running co-workers, they encourage me, give tips and the make sure I follow through with my running goals. Now that they knew I was running a half-marathon, I am now held accountable for my actions. I don't want to punk out and look like a cowardly jerk if I pulled out.

Month 2 of training...goal - try increasing the next time I run around Lake Merced. Ugh, first obstacle - nagging pain in my right hip knocks me off the course. I felt it as I ran but I wanted to push through it - I thought it would just go away but as I completed the course and thinking I could run a little further. A pain so sharp stopped me from taking another step. DAMN...not again...a year ago my right foot stopped me from wanting to train just to run the 7 mile Bay 2 Breakers annual run. I'm out the next week and a half trying to rest my hip. I don't stop working out - I begin cross training on the elliptical machine and stationary bike. I over come my fear or re-injuring myself by doing running/walking intervals on the treadmill. I find myself back at the lake the following week steadily running a solid 4.5 miles again. I even begin to add on for the first time by running an extra half mile. I discover running with someone else that runs better than you is very helpful - it adds a bit of challenge to keep up. My 10:30 mile goes down to a 9:57 when I run with my buddy, Aaron, who is also part of my theater running group. I also forget to mention another running teammate, Nina, who also ran for the first time. She's a new mother and another inspiration to me. I end this month by running six miles successfully. I am also addicted to tracking every run on the Run Keeper app. It keeps me accountable for my progress and it gives me an estimate of how many calories I burned.

Month 3 begins with me getting nervous and anxious. I begin doubting myself again and really wondering if I can really run 13.1 miles without stopping. Also, everyone around me keep assuring me that it's really okay to stop and walk if I need to. I really am my worst enemy and I tell myself that I can keep running and to stop only when I feel like I'm going to collapse or bust hip - well which ever happens first. I've also increased my running frequency by now - instead of running twice a week, I am now running three times. I keep doing yoga two times a week for flexibility, also to help with my breathing and focus. I try to sneak in a weight session as well. I'm feeling awesome, however my diet is still the same. Needless to say, I don't lose a whole lot of weight but maintain where I am and I finally accept it. Sorry, but I like to eat and drink! My co-worker, Natalie is another great support. She's perky every time I talk to her and she's also running - the FULL 26 MILES! She tells me that if I am going to do another long run before the big day to do it two weeks before. So I run eight miles for the first time with my running buddy, Aaron. We run around the lake twice, well actually I was only going to run 6 miles but I'm feeling great after the first go around and what do you know - I'm feeling pretty awesome after 5 miles so I keep going. Until I reach the 7th mile - I slow down and I stop for the very first time. I talk myself out of it and 5 minutes later I am running again. Albeit, slower but at least I'm running again. The following weekend I attempt running around the lake twice again and I do it. I don't stop running till I reach 9 miles. I feel stronger and it's wonderful! The feeling of completing a full 9 miles non stop is elating, I can only imagine what it feels like to run the full 13.1 without stopping.

The week before the marathon, I am getting more confident in myself. I run twice and they're easy 4 miles. It wasn't that long ago that I feared running around that lake. I begin to get a scratchy throat and I am pissed. There's no way that I'm getting sick now - I buy a box of Cold-eeze and take them religiously. I still have to pick up my running bib and and info at a marathon expo. I have something I secretly always wanted - a bib number - #56451. I am never throwing this away! The Cold-eeze have also worked - my scratchy throat is no more.

Saturday before the race, I don't have any time to freak out - I am hosting my daughter's 4th birthday party at the park and my husband's Stepmother is in town. I am running around this party making sure it goes off without a hitch. Her friends, their parents, my friends and family all enjoy themselves. Most importantly, my daughter has a blast! The party is over and am now consumed by nervous energy but the highlight of that evening - CARB LOADING! I make my favorite fatty Fettuccine Carbonara and I eat 2 1/2 bowls shamelessly. I sleep well but I keep waking up early in fear that the alarm on my phone doesn't come on. I get up before the alarm and I make myself a small cup of coffee, a small egg white soft taco and a glass of water. Yes, all this liquid becomes my downfall later in the marathon.

Here I am so eager to start running:

My husband drops me off and it is quite a scene but I am pumped and happy to know that he and our daughter will be there to see me cross the finish line. I see my friend Nina and we are both nervous and excited. We are in the very last wave and we wait for our turn through the gate. And we're off. At first I turn on my trusty Run Keeper app to help me track my run time to keep me on pace but the problem with this app is that it's like a GPS tracking device and it sucks up a lot of battery. I also have my pandora station on so I have music to listen to. I am tortured the first five miles of this run - it's easy but I'm still running around Golden Gate park. I feel like I'm never going to get out. Finally by mile 6 I'm on the sidewalk and I'm running through the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood. I check my phone and I watch the batter slowly die and as I get to 20% left I have to make a decision what to cut off - I turn off my Run Keeper. At this point, I throw away my desire to push myself to the limit by running faster and I slow down and just enjoy the moment. When I get down to 15% battery power, I turn off my music and really take in the sight and sounds of side walk spectators. They cheer us on and I found them to be an integral part of running this marathon - my inner Olympic athlete comes out. I make it past mile 7 and I have to pee badly. I find the next porta potty, bite my pride, stop and pee. I ignore the fact that I am killing time, do what I have to do and just go right back to it. You know how you appreciate your city when you are hosting a visitor and you take them sight seeing? Well it's the same when you're running in a neighborhood you normally drive through. You notice subtleties of each passing neighborhood and the hill you drive up is really not that hard to also run.

I begin to snap some photos of the sidewalk cheerleaders:

You can't tell but her sign read, "don't chicken out - you're almost there!!" and also I loved these young girls across the street:

They saw me snap photos of them and they cheered me on - their signs just read "Run...RUN...RUN.." and "YOU CAN DO IT" - just thinking of these and the "Run Random Stranger RUN" make me happy. The one moment that almost made me cry were the young girls holding up signs that read, "YOU INSPIRE ME" and it was that point that running faster, stopping or not stopping didn't matter anymore. By me just completing this run can inspire a complete stranger to step outside their comfort zone to do something crazy for the first time.

I came to the last mile and a very familiar territory - AT&T Ballpark, the scene of my weekly run. I breathe easy and my smile gets bigger and bigger. Because I keep hearing "You're almost there" being yelled at me at every direction and I see this up ahead almost out of nowhere:

And then I find my husband and daughter in the crowd. I am over joyed I have no words, my husband has never been so proud of me. And my daughter is happy to see me. 

I hope we look back at this picture and it would serve as some inspiration to her to do commit to a goal and do something courageous. 

And if I need another bit of inspiration, I can always turn to this picture:

I will promise to remind myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. Not only did I complete this run but I found a new way of life - allowing myself to get uncomfortable. I learn that if I remain comfortable I will never grow in general - especially at work. I tell my boss this mantra at my last review and he's proud to hear that I am now not afraid to fail by getting out of my comfort zone. I have a new confidence. 

I also have these items to thank for getting me through this obstacle:

I forgot to include my old Droid phone that has my Run Keeper and Pandora apps - Roots, Notorious B.I.G., No Doubt and Blondie stations have keep my spirits up as I run!

And yes, I'm currently taking a break from running. But not for long - I'll be running again next week to get ready for my next scheduled half marathon - The SF Giants Half Marathon on Sept 16. 

Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post on MISS for 7/24/2012 - NARS Fall 2012

This week on MISS, I had the pleasure of reviewing some items from the NARS FALL 2012 collection. I am quite pleased. I've been having fun playing with the trio and Amsterdam Velvet Matte Lipstick is my new favorite office red.

For more info, click here.

Have you checked out the new collection? Pick up anything?

Friday, July 20, 2012

In Current Rotation....

I realized I have not contributed a monthly love post, partly...well largely due to sheer laziness. So I will try to kick my procrastination ways and share what I am using regularly at this moment.

I am not just feeling lazy in writing but also getting ready in the morning. I already forgo washing my hair daily  -  I can go without for about 2 (3 if I haven't done any hard core workouts) and I am paring down my makeup by focusing either on a brighter than usual lip for summer or a strong lined eye instead of my usual carefully four shadow blended look. A strong lined eye can be done with just one or two shadows.

These are the shadows I will use when just focusing on liner:

I now have six and I do realize that I could have just purchased a kaleidoscope palette. It was a big pill to swallow purchasing my first two since one shadow will run you $30. I know it's a lot but it's a pretty big pan. At 3.8 g, it's about twice the size of one MAC shadow, which is only 1.5g at $15.

The two shades shown are the popular cool taupe, Corinthian and Spicy, a brownish bronze with a gold shimmer. I love the silky feel and it goes on so smoothly. On top of a primer, this shadow will last me a full eight hours and this is even on days when I run during my lunch hour.

I am always late to discovering favorites of my fellow bloggers. But better late than never, right?

Le Metier de Beaute is available at Neiman Marcus, (selected) Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman in NYC.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Everything but the Clowns...

I've been to the circus once when I was a little girl. I was enamored with trapeze artists and my heart melted with elephants performing tricks (and now my heart weeps thinking about the torturous training they go through to perform these tricks). I try really hard to remember the scent because it was just an assault to my eyes - so much to see that I just forget to use my other senses.

Plus, clowns distract me. I'm usually trying to look away so they don't come anywhere near me!

Sure they look friendly now but imagine these two coming at you in the middle of the night! Yeah, I thought so.

Therefore, this is the circus I turn to deep in my imagination:

Yeah, I'm sure she's a little creeped out, too.

I recently stumbled upon a scent that is made to give the wearer an ambiance of a circus. Really, do I want to smell like a barn with cotton candy and soda stained on the floor? Maybe this is why I tried three times to give L'Artisan Parfumeur scent, Dzing! a fighting chance. The nose behind this scent is Olivia Giacobetti, also famous for creating the famous Diptyque fig, Phylosykos and many, many more!


Giacobetti wanted to evoke memories of the circus by blending scents to make the wearer smell the leather saddle that may be on a horse or elephant, the sawdust kicked around the arena to salty sweet pink popcorn. One might be turned off by smelling like saddled animal, I know I was one of those people. But I am a sucker for reminiscing so I had to give this scent a try. I found it to be odd on paper so naturally, I was drawn to it. This is also favorite among my experienced frag-head friends and I trust their judgement...for the most part!

Leather, Musk, Woods, Saffron, Tonka Bean, Ginger and Caramel.

At first whiff, you smell a worn in saddle blended with bits of animal fur which could be attributed to the blending of saffron and musk. Then in a matter of minutes it turns sweet but not a overtly, cloying cotton candy sweet. It's actually a bit salty when you lift your nose from your skin - it makes me think of pink popcorn and mouth begins to water just slightly.

This is a treat from my youth when I was taken to the zoo. I now share this with my daughter whenever we go.

Unfortunately on my skin, the savory sweet is fleeting and then the woods and musk come in. Not just any wood but sawdust. According to my husband, it's a sawdust that would come from a fruit tree. This man knows the scent of sawdust because he is a serious wood worker and he really knows his materials. It also explains why this is one his favorite perfumes on me. The final dry down is musk. A musk that is powdery and comforting like a hug from your mom as she's sitting next to you, perhaps protecting you from those damn clowns!

At first application this fragrance is not loud as a circus. It may hit you with leather hard but it wears close to the skin like a riding boot. It gives me a vibe that I'm watching an old black and white 16mm movie of Marilyn at the circus and the sound cuts out and all I can hear is just the film in the tin rotating.

Honestly, I never thought a circus themed scent could be so sophisticated. It isn't for everyone but if you have an adventurous spirit do give this a try.

This is how I feel when I wear this:

And yes, I am usually wearing this in the evening as I wind down from a crazy workday. I know it's ironic because when one thinks circus, you are assaulted with images of heart beating high wire acts, lion taming tricks and yes, once again those friggin clowns. But L'Artisan's version of the circus is sensual, calming and sexy.

But without those damn clowns!

L'Artisan Parfumeur, Dzing! - $145/100 ml
Available online or at any fine department store that offer the L'Artisan line.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post for M.I.S.S. - 7/17/12

Yes, we can officially put Tuesday behind us! We are moving along swiftly - which means I'm that much closer to running my first half marathon (7/29/12).

Ugh...really not trying to freak out over it!

Okay so to take my mind off of that, I will share a mascara I recently discovered.

It does wonder for my wimpy lashes, click here to see my results!

Not looking forward to Wednesday - day 2 of running on my lunch break....tired just thinking about it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shoe of the Day - Guest Model Special!!

Today's shoe of the day belongs to my daughter, Gabriela!

Fancy cowboy boots from Gap Kids - unfortunately, they are no longer available. Well, it's no longer on their site. I am loving the distressed look with the embroidered flowers. Personally, I am a big fan of cowboy boots with jeans, leggings and cute dresses so of course my daughter is now, too:

I also wanted to wish this special mini lady a very happy birthday - she's four years old today. And just yesterday, I was in complete agony with induced labor pains. My labor may be considered short to some - fifteen hours but when you are induced it's double the fury and triple the pain! But listening to hear her yell out, "MAMA...", being attacked by her endless hugs and kisses and hearing her tell me, "I love you, Mama" She has made me a better person and I learn something new every day. Actually, I become more accepting of myself because I want her to become a confident girl knowing she will grow into one awesome woman. However, I am a work in progress because I'm not perfect and I want her to know that I don't expect her to be either. I just want her to love and respect herself. If she accomplishes that then my job is done.

I would go through all the pain for her, just as long as I was entitled to all the drugs again...hahaha just kidding, I would have gone natural. Well, I'd have to think about that.

Happy Birthday, Boo-Boo girl! Mama loves you and yes, you can have ice cream cake after having birthday cupcakes with your classmates today.

It's back to berries and apples tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saturday Sniffin'

To feed my growing fragrance addiction, I got together with some like minded (equally obsessed if not fragrant consumed) folks in downtown San Francisco last Saturday. We met at Alexander's Bookstore to receive our first treat, an informal reading from Alyssa Harad's memoir about her abyss into the wonderful world of fragrance, Coming to My Senses.

It was a rocky start at first - the manager of the bookstore was unaware of this reading and gathering and most ironic - she was ALLERGIC to fragrances! So we gathered on the bottom floor and tried to discreetly smell fragrances Alyssa brought. But obsessed fans can only take so much - wrapped up quickly to run outside to smell the fragrances with abandon. I even broke my rule of saving my wrists and forearms as they are prime real estate on a day of fragrance testing by dabbing every vintage scent she had to offer.

Here's Alyssa talking about her Fragrance themed Bridal Shower - I'm now thinking of having a fragrance themed luncheon with my girlfriends for my next birthday party. And yes, she had vintage extraits for us to smell - I am still dreaming of vintage Femme by Rochas and Cuir de Russie by Chanel. They were so exquisite and nothing like their updated versions. 

She ended her impromptu reading with a passage describing her mother's signature scent, the aforementioned, Femme and it almost brought a tear to our eyes! 

This was the second time I participated in the SF Sniff outing. We are a group comprised of online fragrance fans, whether it's from blogs like Now Smell This or online guides, like Basenotes to organized fragrance groups on Facebook. We vary in age, race, and occupation but the one thing we have in common - an obsessive borderline unhealthy love of collecting hoarding fragrances. I make new friends and I learn so much about fragrances from other folks. You can swap your unwanted samples with others but I just tend to collect and collect as many sample I can through out the day. Last time, I bulked up my Frederic Malle samples and this time I got a great amount of samples from L'Artisan Parfumuer, Chanel Les Exclusifs from the Chanel boutique and some iris body oil I just remembered from the Diptyque boutique. 

I made my way into the super chic boutique Gumps to check out their selection of Santa Maria Novella, Histoires de Parfum, Lubin and Penhaligon's. 

I am coming back for Ambre 114 and possibly 1969...I guess I should start saving up now!

I ended the day at Barneys' Beauty/Fragrance Department - a.k.a. my happy place!

I hear angels singing when I look at these bottles!

See how happy these fellow SF Sniffers are when in the Fragrance area?

SF based perfumer, Yosh Han was there to present her lovely collection to us. I am a fan of her Ginger Ciao, a gourmand floral (notes include: black coconut, ginger, neroli, basil, night queen and ylang ylang) that evokes a blazing tropical sun while laying on the sand without the cliche suntan lotion vibe.

Heeley is brand that I am still learning about. I will say that I was really drawn to Hippie Rose. I'm from the Bay Area and I work in San Francisco so yes, I can appreciate this chypre fragrance with rose, patchouli, woody notes. It's a fancy, chic hippie - the kind of hippie I would have been if I were one.

Here I am with Alyssa:

She is an amazing woman. I thought I was going to be too intimidate to talk to her but she is extremely down to earth and easy to talk to and you can see her passion for fragrance exude when we asked what was her earliest scent memory. Mine, by the way, Aqua Net hairspray and Jovan Musk for her - I lived with older girl cousins and had to share a bathroom with them. She is the kind of woman you've met before or know, you could have gone to school with her, worked with her or just had a quick conversation sitting next to her while stuck on a train. You can relate to her and approaching her is so easy. Even though I was unable to attend the very first Fragrance Salon in San Francisco on Sunday July 8th, I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet her one on one. Alyssa didn't just stirred my curiosity about vintage fragrances, she made me believe in myself again and just the simple possibilities life has to offer because I am here and my passion will never die. 

Also, I reconnected with a woman I once worked with at a bank at one of my early temp. job assignments. We laughed, shared stories, smelled fragrances and laughed some more. I'm sad that I didn't bond with her while working at the bank but I am thankful for the Facebook Fragrance Group I'm a part of to have brought us back together! 

More about Alyssa Harad, click here

Her book is also currently available on www.amazon.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

NARS for Don Giovanni

Hey there,
You may have noticed I was M.I.A last week - I decided to take a week off. At first I thought it was cool to have a major holiday in the middle of the week, who doesn't like random breaks from monotony? Well I was  wrong taking a holiday on a Wednesday to come back on a Thursday is like having two Mondays - nothing good comes out of that and the day just feels like a million hours long! Luckily, today went by quickly and I powered through another lunch time run - 4. 43 miles in 45 minutes - not bad at all! I'm training for a half marathon the end of this month (more on that later) and the furthest I have ever ran was a little under 6 miles. We'll see if I can last an entire 13 miles - wish me luck or offer any advice you can give me!

Okay before taking a mini breather last week, I managed to muster a few words on a recent NARS collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic production of Don Giovanni

For more info, click here.