a yoga retreat for a certain kind of woman

Turns out women “of my age” (thirties) love to go on yoga retreats.  However, considering this retreat in Santa Margarita, California was a Wine, Chocolate and Yoga retreat, any woman or man of any age and stress level could appreciate this type of relaxation. Santa Margarita is a beautiful area and the oak trees, golden light and quietness of it all envelope you like a blanket of earthy goodness.  If you want to enjoy other women’s company, a retreat is for you.  The shared rooms, bathrooms and communal dining times lend to some sort of required socializing.  If you want to spend time contemplating your next step in life, a more solo trip might be more suitable. 



What I learned on the yoga retreat: 1) I can do three hours of yoga a day and enjoy it (I don’t regularly do yoga); 2) I can eat vegan for three days and not miss meat (well maybe I missed it a little); 3) women’s retreats (no matter what the theme) are awesome.

Time for a Change

If you follow me on instagram or twitter you know I’ve been traveling for work.  But work is no longer my own practice but as in-house counsel for a global company.  I officially started the position in early August and it’s been an exciting, and crazy change for me and my family.  I loved my practice and loved my clients but one of my bucket list dreams as an attorney was to go in-house and learn about one “client” inside out, their business model and about how a client treats and views legal counsel.  In my short time there, it has been an eye opening experience.


The photo above is from the Hyatt in Maui, where the president (my boss) and I stayed for four days.  Our days and nights were packed with events and meetings.   I was a bit worried traveling with one other person, who I barely know, on a trip to Maui …. but it was a good trip and I learned more about the company and what we do and how people view it. 

I’m not sure how much I will publicly share of my work experience but I do want to share the personal journey with you.  My new boss said one of the hardest changes in life is getting hired. The last time I was “hired” for an employment position was in 2005, when I was single.  Being “hired” after spending 5 years with my children, working on a flexible schedule, has been a serious change for the entire family.

Evil Empire or Yankees; Tomatoes or Tom-ah-toes?

illustration: Craig Mahoney

Even if your home decor brand is known as XYZ Central, if your mark and brand is famous enough and well known enough, your nickname [“Zen Spaces”] may be protected as well…even if you didn’t register it or use it!  See here.

designers or crowd design contests?

Lately I’ve been having problems with designers I hire for my small business design needs.  Recent problems with two different designers made me think of posting this.  For simple illustrations on my site, the designer told me she would have the first draft presented a week ago.  I’m still waiting on the first drafts.  On a logo project with a different designer, after payment and receipt of the final design, the designer wouldn’t give me other formats to the logo and told me to hire a graphic designer to re-size the images for me …ummmm…oooookaaayy.

Before hiring the designers, both of whom I know from other projects, people recommended I try out design contests to get multiple submissions and generally offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Here are a couple I was referred to:

DesignCrowd: They have over 40 categories of design possibilities from wine labels to book covers.  You can post a design contest or a specific freelance project.

99designs: This site is similar to DesignCrowd and they offer logo templates for sale as well.

I think I may try out DesignCrowd as one of my acquaintances had a good result from their designers.  I’ve used Inkd for a logo and the logo turned out well, but the first draft of designs that came back looked like what they already had on their site’s portfolio.  So I had to request something more original.  Despite that bumpy start, the designer from Inkd was helpful and open to my suggestions.  The company’s prices were reasonable as well and the company routinely has sales on their site.

I use Vistaprint for postcards and marketing products.  For business cards, I’ve “upgraded” to Moo Cards. The quality of the Moo business cards are outstanding and I always get compliments on them.  They are modern and sleek and they have great templates on their site.

Because I’ve had mixed experiences with designers for my own work, these experiences have helped me when drafting their contracts.  But these experiences also made me turn to user-friendly design platforms like Weebly and Tumblr so I could design my own simple websites.  But maybe to round out my experience, I should give a design contest a try. 

Anyone have any good tips or suggestions when it comes to design contests or hiring a designer?


Fighting Forest Fires with @GreggBoydston

Earlier this month, 19 hotshots—firefighters that specialize in containing forest fires—were killed while battling a fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of forest near the small Arizona town of Yarnell. All across the American west, these small, elite units are dispatched to contain and extinguish fires before they spread to inhabited areas.

Gregg Boydston (@greggboydston) is one such firefighter stationed in Oregon who has been sharing photos and providing insight into his job through Instagram.

Initially, it was the beauty of his surroundings and his love of nature that inspired Gregg to post photos from the field. “It was really hard not to share, mainly because of some of the gorgeous places we get to go. Our 20-person crew is available through the entire fire season to go anywhere in the nation.” As others began to find and comment on his photos, however, Boydston realized Instagram was “a good way to share what hotshot crews are all about.”

"This is definitely the hardest yet most rewarding job I have ever had," says Gregg. “Shifts often go 16 hours a day with less than five hours of sleep." Despite the demands, working with a small crew builds camaraderie, and Boydston is excited by the opportunity to share his experiences and passion with others all around the world: “I can give people a behind the scenes look at fighting fires for the Forest Service and protecting the landscapes people love so much."

A big heartfelt thank you to all firefighters!

Happy 4th of July with our Legoland season passes

My parents gifted my entire family year long passes to Legoland, which happens to be less than 10 minutes away.  So the kids have been enjoying themselves every week (yes, every week) at this Lego-wonderland.  Grandma takes them on this weekly field trip.  I’m not a big fan of amusement parks, particularly in the summer, but I think the passes will be great in the fall when the crowds die down and it cools off a bit.  We still have to check out the water park and we’re excited to see the fireworks up close and personal tonight.  Happy Fourth of July!

I always wondered why my friends have Disneyland annual passes and now I know why!

Treat people the way they want to be treated


I’m just finishing up with Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  She tells a story of throwing her mother-in-law the perfect birthday party the way her mother-in-law would have appreciated and enjoyed.  This meant making it very personal, not having it be a surprise etc.  It made me think of the ways I treat my family and friends on special days, like their birthdays.  Personally, I forget most people’s birthdays and forget to look it up in the birthday date notebook I attempted to maintain.  I don’t enjoy finding the “perfect card” or putting together birthday parties.  This is clearly reflected poorly because as the “wife”, I’m the one who people believe are behind the birthday gifts, the thoughtful note and creator of scrapbooks.  And when I receive thoughtful notes and gifts from friends, though I appreciate the effort, I usually forget about it soon after receiving it.  On the other hand, I’m sure the gifter has a mental star for themselves and when their special day arrives and they do not receive anything from me, I get a negative mark next to my name.

Above is a photo of my parents and brother eating at a street market in China.  My father LOVES to eat.  He has an obsession with it.  He also enjoys sharing the food and almost forces you to eat what he is eating.  That is because when you are out to dinner with him, he expects a nibble of your dish as well. 

I don’t know why it never occurred to me that people want to be treated the way they treat others.  It is so painfully obvious.  I’ve just been going by some mental “wifey” or “mommy” etiquette book and try to get by on the minimum amount of work.  Who has time to send an anniversary card for someone else’s anniversary?  Who has time to buy the perfect hostess gift for a dinner party when a bottle of wine should do?  I have one friend who used to make me shadow boxes, personalized monogrammed gifts for every move, cards on every special day in my life.  She stopped a couple of years into her own marriage, and I’m not sure it’s because she realized I was not reciprocating or because becoming a wife and mother, she became overwhelmed with her own family obligations.

But I think the reason this small part in Ms. Rubin’s book struck a cord is that I’ve been spending so much time on my businesses and family that I don’t remember my friends and extended family as much as I should - that their nuances are exactly why I should be remembering their special days or remember to offer a bite of my dish to my dad when we are eating together.  

that time of year - one piece suits

L-R: River Island; Insight; Inc. at MacysRalph Lauren at Macys

Most mothers have a one piece bathing suit - at least one that they keep for one of those days.  I had one from before I had kids - a bit stylish with an asymmetric neckline and from Calvin Klein.  But since I’ve gained a little weight and parts of my body need a little lift here and there, it’s time to get a new one that is flattering and not too “motherly”.  I found a few of these gems online and definitely need to do some swimsuit shopping before all the good pieces are taken!

(Source: momcounsel.com)

bathing suits 2013 swimsuits for mom Asos Macys