Thursday, September 11, 2014

In need of a good laugh?

Hi everyone. I've been at a business conference this week; missing my family but enjoying being able to take leisurely evening baths. I get home late tonight, work tomorrow, and then leave for a 10-day vacation. I'm really hoping this will be a trip where I can disconnect and really relax. But it's a busy time at work so we'll see.

I won't be posting while I am gone so I want to leave you all with my recommendation for when you need a good laugh: Eddie Izzard! I love this guy. He's smart and funny and his HBO show "Dressed to Kill" from years ago can be streamed on Netflix (or on Vimeo) along with all his other one-man shows. "Dressed to Kill" is heavily quoted when I'm around my family and watching it never gets old. It's always a perfect pick-me-up. And along with being a great comedian Eddie a fabulous actor who I really enjoyed in the underrated The Riches.

If I could I'd totally vote for him for mayor of London.

Image via.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What's your vice?

So it's Friday and the end of my work week is getting closer and I am feeling excited about picking up the Pepper from daycare, coming home, hanging out, and then once D is done with his work sharing our Friday tradition: tequila shots! Ok, I know that sounds really immature but there is something about a tequila shot that really relaxes me. It's like a little hammer to anxiety. And sometimes I need a little help unwinding and easing into the slower pace of the weekend.

I can admit that of all the vices alcohol is probably mine. I've never been interested in smoking, I eat pretty healthily, I stick to an exercise routine. But everyone gets to have one vice right? And I am a lady who enjoys a glass of wine. Or a little sipping tequila (and of course I'm talking about in moderation). I like the social aspect of drinking and love getting together with friends over some wine. I also enjoy the times D and I have to ourselves and we pour some drinks and sit on the porch and talk. It's probably a cultural thing. The family I grew up in often included alcohol in meals or get-to-gethers. My mom is from a former British colony and she herself grew up with a 5pm daily cocktail hour so that spilled over into my home life. But it always made things feel social as people would come over to have a cocktail and everyone would sit around the table and talk while they enjoyed their drink. Even kids too young to drink knew it was a time designated to sitting back and relaxing and being together.

Now that we are so close to wine country I'm hoping to take more trips up to the beautiful Santa Ynez. Also, loved this validating article on the benefits of combining wine and fitness :)

Cheers to Friday! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Image via.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finally I've bought new sunglasses

I've been in need of new sunglasses. My current two pairs of sunglasses have been great but I bought them off of Etsy years ago and they weren't the highest quality and they are falling apart. One actually has duct tape holding it together and the other has stuff flaking off of it. I live in a very hot and sunny place and sunglasses are something I have to wear everyday. But I also have a hard time spending a lot of money on accessories. As much as I admire those that can pile on the accessories and make it look amazing, I just don't like using them myself. So for me, the accessories I have are practical.

Thank goodness for Moorea Seal. I just discovered them and they have great but affordable accessories! I just bought myself two pairs of sunglasses and I can't wait for them to arrive. I was tempted to get something really fun like these extreme cateyes but held back at the last minute. Luckily I can always go back for more :) I do already have my eye on some earrings.

Image of the Tessa.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) Wow. This is an impactful perspective on a horrible disease.

2) I love the idea behind this but also as a fan of mythology I enjoyed reading all the stories around these interesting women.

3) I'm sure the effort needed would not be worth it but I do one day want to make these cookies.

4) These are good reminders, especially the last one.

5) This made me laugh, especially how it concludes. Having worked in an office I can also totally imagine the disruption his caused.

6) I think everyone should read what this man has to say about his experience being a hermit. What stuck me those most was "with no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant." I've been ruminating on it all week.

7) Inspired by these. You go girl!

8) I think this is very true. We are not all so different! We all work hard and are all doing our best.

9) This show looks amazing.

10) These days I'm not good about staying up-to-date on world events and news. So I appreciate when Jon Stewart breaks it down for me and brings the element of reason sometimes lacking form other media outlets.

Image via.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unusually excited about growing my own herbs

The above picture isn't the prettiest but I wanted to share it because I am unexpectedly excited about my tiny growing basil plants! I've been wanting to grow my own herbs for a long time but in our loft in LA there just wasn't the right place to do it. We didn't have a sunny window sill for pots and I wasn't prepared to get crafty and build some amazing at-home herb tower like some of my friends did. But, now that we are in a new home I have the perfect kitchen window sill. I bought these pots, this soil, and these seeds. I started off slow: I planted some basil and parley seeds and anxiously waited to see if anything woudl happen. Within days I had adorable little basil shoots! The parsely took longer but yesterday I saw my first little parsley plant poke up from the soil. I'm thrilled.

So now I've also planted some mint and some cilantro and I'm obsessively watching to see how tings develop. I've always hated purchasing herbs because I feel I can never buy the portion I actually want or need. Growing my own feels economical, and it was surprisingly easy. If all goes well with these first four I'm going to want to expand my little garden (though I know D will have a problem if pots start taking over his kitchen).

Anyone have any tips for indoor herb growing?

Picture of my little basil plants

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Pepper's current obsession: anything with wheels

Thankfully my little girl is still obsessed with her books but a new obsession recently emerged and I'm excited about it: cars! Actually, all things with wheels. This includes cars, trucks, bikes, and particularity motorcycles. She loves watching cars drive down the rode, she points out trucks or buses, and motorcycles are just fascinating to her. There is a restaurant here in Ojai called the Deer Lodge and it is a popular spot for motorcyclists because it's on a windy lovely road. It's become one of our favorite restaurants because it brings the Pepper so much entertainment. We walk outside and look at all the motorcycles and talk about the different colors and ornamentation. But the real fun is when the motorcyclists come out to leave. We watch them get their gear on and then wave to them as they vroom away. Exciting stuff! And the best part is that the motorcyclists get such a kick out of the Pepper's interest that they are so sweet and friendly and chatty and they play it up for her.

I'm happy about this new interest because I like that it's gender neutral. I guess you could even say it's considered more of a boy thing. But since I don't like to think to much in gender I like that this came into our lives. I've been thinking of gender and toys since we visited some new friends with a 2 year old boy the other week. He had a lot of cool things I wouldn't have thought to get for the Pepper, including some large plastic dinosaurs. And my little girl loved it all. It will help me think a little more "outside the box" when it's time to next upgrade her toys.

I also want to note hat motorcycles scare me. A lot. So while I support the Pepper's interest in them there is something about it that also worries me. My parents gave us a lot of freedom but there was one big thing on the "don't to it" list and that was ride motorcycles (we'd known too many tragedies). Flash forward and I ended up marrying a guy who used to work as a motorcycle courier. D grew up riding motorcycles with his dad so for him it was a normal part of life. This was a hidden side of him until a few years into our relationship. When I met D he didn't have a motorcycle but when he started his PhD he bought one to reduce his commute time and I almost had a heart attack. It seemed like death on wheels. But I had to get used to the idea and while his riding always worried me I got used to it and mostly just decided that I had to trust him to be as safe a driver as possible.

Hopefully the Pepper will grow up just appreciating the more dangerous hobbies from afar. Fingers crossed...

Image of the Pepper from this weekend. She loves this hand-me-down little car.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do you take vacations?

Did you see this article about how bad American's are at taking vacations? It's kind of upsetting, and in my opinion true. Recently I've realized how burnt out I am. I haven't taken a real vacation in almost a year, and the last time I took time off was Christmas. So that's over 9 months without time off from work. And I can feel the toll it's taking on me. I hate to admit it but I'm not being as productive or efficient at work these days because my mind is a little overloaded. It needs time to decompress, reset, and process all the information it's been taking in. And I haven't taken the time. This is partly because we like to take vacations after the summer rush as it does make things more affordable. But there are other cultural factors that create this situation.

My company works with resources all over the world. I have hired people in Switzerland, Canada, and Ukraine. The biggest difference I see when working with people from other countries is their relationship to and their expectations around time off of work. First off, they expect more of it. When hiring a resource in Switzerland I knew I had to give them the 20 paid days off of work a year required by Swiss law. But, this person actually expected 25 days off a year as this is what most Swiss companies provide. I felt bad giving him "only" 20 days off but I explained that this was already twice as much as his US colleagues received. I'm so jealous that many other countries provide more paid time off. Part of the reason we can only take one vacation a year is that if you only have 10 days off a year you can't plan a lot of trips. That's one week-long vacation and then some days off in case you get sick, need a personal day, or to celebrate the holidays. But a year is a long time to wait to get way a from work and really have a break.

The other thing I've noticed is that when my international resources do take time off they really take time off. In my experience here in the US we're always working. For example, one of my US employees emailed something over Thanksgiving, and I responded! We both told each other to go back to enjoying our holiday but there we were emailing on our work accounts. As a comparison, if one of our Ukrainian employees gets sick, they are out of  contact for a week. It gets challenging at times when someone disappears but if they are sick shouldn't they be resting and focusing on getting better? Aren't they entitled to that? And we are always able to make it work without them somehow and continue (though we are thrilled when they return). We always survive. And they take the time they need to be healthy and return to work at their best.

What I appreciate about my international team is that they don't feel guilty for expecting time off or taking time off. They see it as a necessary part of life. If they are happy and healthy in their life they will be better workers and they will produce better results. They will have energy to be creative. They can respond quicker to needs. They can be focused and efficient.

I hope this country can move towards a company culture that is more accepting of time off. I think we do worry what others will think; that we will be deemed "less" for not working. But it's important to take the time and to feel ok about it. I know that when my vacation comes up in a few weeks I'm really going to try to enjoy it and disconnect because I know it will allow me to come back to work refreshed and better than ever.

Do you feel you take enough time off of work?

Image from our vacation last September. The Pepper was a chubby 6 months old!