Month: January 2015

Jungle Island

I totally got to feed a red kangaroo today. I also met a white tiger and white-handed gibbons– all of this, and so much more, at Jungle Island in Miami! That was the location of the 2015 Attraction Regional Forums presented by the Florida Attraction Association. Since I work for the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, obviously I love animals — and our zoo is an attraction — so our marketing department (Marketing Mgr. Claudia Harden, Events Mgr. Ron Brooks and me) attended. #RoadTrip

The actual forum was fun, but the MOSTEST BESTEST PART was the Jungle Island tour! You can contact a large variety of the animals… At the zoo where I work, we are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, so there are a lot of strict regulations we follow. The good news for my Zoo is we do now offer several animal meet-and-greet-up-close experiences that you can add on to your day! And on February 13th we will even offer a KOALA EXPERIENCE! Check out the animals you can meet at our Zoo – http://www.palmbeachzoo.org/animal-experiences
Meantime, back to Miami…

I’m holding a blue and gold macaw
Yes, there’s a lemur on my head.

…and that’s a baby kangaroo. Joey alert!
An adult red kangaroo.
We do have a red kangaroo and an elderly giant Aldabra tortoise at my zoo. This tortoise is 100 years old! Well, allegedly.  πŸ˜‰

White tiger! Don’t let him know he has a genetic mutationl. He can’t help it. πŸ˜‰

I was so interested in the white-handed gibbons because they kept swinging and swinging and swinging! They were so active in their habitats.
I also loved the orangutans! This is Peanut. She hasn’t learned how to sit like a proper lady, LOL! Just kidding… But she is the first orang to survive a human chemotherapy treatment. She has been cancer-free for more than a year now! Celebrate survival, Peanut!

Jungle Island even has their own private beach. 

My favorite part of our visit, hands down, was the Lemur Experience. I absolutely recommend that!

Let me know if you’ve ever been, or plan to go! #LemurLove

Click HERE to watch my Lemur Experience video!

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3 reasons to visit the South Florida Fair

When you think of your local fair, do you think of rides, games for prizes, entertainment? At the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach, you have all of those options. Here are three reasons why I think it is worth your while to go:

1. The fun — It’s almost impossible not to have a good time at your local fair! And I gotta admit, with our cooler temperatures this week, the weather is totally cooperating.
2. The food — Originally I was going to make this blog primarily food-focused. You will notice most photos are all about the grub!
3. The entertainment — This one is definitely my favorite. I was SO IMPRESSED with the entertainment at the fair, especially Las Vegas on Ice!

About to ride the double ferris wheel…
Awesome dance group TURNT UP FOR WHAT!
South Florida mini-railroad group
The line for the kettle corn was SERIOUS…
Speaking of corn, I LOVE corn on the cob with cayenne pepper!
 Chicken and waffles, y’all!
 Nathan decided on the half-pound burger and fries with cheese
He said, “You know it’s good when it’s four napkins down, plus the wrapper, and you still see grease!”
 I’m a carnivore! That looks good!
Willy Wonka ain’t got nothin’ on the fair
 THIS IS WHAT I WANTED!

So this gentleman, named Eugene, said he’s been working this “Krispy Kreme doughnut burger” booth for seven years now. “After you eat about 20 of these, you don’t want them any more,” he explained. Well, I can’t imagine eating 20 of them, but I definitely was drooling over one!

I ate the entire doughnut burger!!! But I did not get any fried Oreos afterwards because my burger was made with TWO DONUTS. Last year, it was only one donut sliced for the bread. I just think two doughnuts was a bit much, haha! JUST A BIT! πŸ˜‰ 
Deep fried mac and cheese 
 The rides didn’t tempt me that much, because they don’t seem that safe– but I admit that kind of adds to the THRILL of them!
 The only ride we rode was the double ferris wheel and it was super fun! Check out that view…
 My absolute favorite thing about the fair was “Las Vegas on Ice!”
 This ice skating troupe was so talented
 When the aerialist came out, I was like, “This is like Cirque de Soleil!”
 With the “ringmaster” ice skater
 Elvis impersonator– can you tell this year’s theme is Las Vegas?!
 Awesome sand sculpture! SO HUGE! This is a panoramic photo
 Elvis traveling museum showed some of The King of Rock n’ Roll’s costumes
 And his bike
 Hypnosis show was funny as you can expect
 I also appreciated that the Palm Beach Post‘s display gave a plug for our Palm Beach Zoo Florida panther, Mirasol! Thanks for the #ZooLove

I highly, highly, HIGHLY encourage you to check out the fair while it’s still in town. It’s worth the visit!!


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Art Palm Beach First View night

I was grateful to Constance Jones (http://www.thecraftyreporter.com) for alerting me to the Art Palm Beach First View night, because I would not have known about it otherwise. I’ve been SO CRAZY BUSY preparing for our Zoo gala (seriously, it’s the hardest time of year for me at work) so it’s like I’ve been living under a rock. Anyway, her husband, the talented Troy Simmons (http://www.troysimmonsstudio.com) has work displayed there, and some friends and I enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful presentations!

We loved Troy’s pieces– so cool and edgy!! This piece is called “Serendipity,” so go check it out at booth #B308 with Jankossen Contemporary.

Maybe you know Ashleigh Walters (http://www.facebook.com/ashleightv) as an anchor on WPTV, but did you know she has an art degree as well as a journalism degree?! She and I have different tastes in the kind of paintings we want to create… she is a legit artist who favors creating more realistic paintings, and I’m like a kid with a paintbrush in my hand who just wants to paint a bubblegum pink tropical sunset… But we both agreed that Troy’s works are COOL. Before my friends even knew that I was there to support him, they noticed his work and commented on it!
Other than his displays, we also enjoyed seeing the dozens of studios that showcased some truly amazing pieces. 
My favorite was this simple glass obelisk with LED lights that Andy Delancey (http://www.twitter.com/TheListAndy) dubbed “The Pentagon.” But in actuality, it was titled “Obelisk” and it was by artist Frank Hyder. Anyone got a spare $12,000 so I can buy this thing? It even changes colors! 

There was sooo much beauty to see, it was amazing. Nathan and I went to Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland two years ago, and I HATED it. Waste of $150! Yucky “art” there really just seemed like trash. There was one room that was covered in mud… Didn’t look like art to me, looked like a dirty-ass room! At Art Palm Beach, it was the complete opposite– everything was high-class and beautiful. PLEASING TO THE EYE! That’s what made the evening so enjoyable.

I’ll close with a sincere recommendation that a visit to the event would be worth your while! Here are more of my cell phone snaps. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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Synthetic fragrances: is your perfume poisoning you?!

It sounds like a cliche news tease… One I probably would have written myself back in the day: “Is danger lurking in your bathroom drawer? Coming up, killer chemicals are causing cancer!

Meantime, this post is giving you a peek into my own bathroom… Note the dust on certain bottles of perfume for lack of use, LOL!


I like perfumes. They smell great! Sure, those are simplistic statements, but they carry a lot of weight for me — especially considering that I am fully aware that they can be harmful to your health. So, as much as I enjoy the way they smell, I’m choosing not to use these perfumes.


Totally borrowing some facts, because I couldn’t write this any better:

There’s a dirty little secret the fragrance industry would rather you not know about, however, which is the extreme toxicity of many of these products. Hidden behind their pleasant scents are typically chemicals linked to hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and even cancer.

Many perfumes sold at department stores, big-box retailers, and virtually everywhere else can aptly be described as poison – and this means that you could very well be sacrificing your health by wearing them…” (Click HERE for the source article)

I’ve been having a daily battle with myself, because I just wanna spritz on my Viva La Juicy Couture perfume– but I KNOW BETTER NOW! So I don’t… Parabens and phthalates are bad, mmkay?! Parabens are associated with messed up hormonal production and phthalates are known carcinogens. That’s a fancy way of saying they can cause cancer.

Borrowing words again… “…the vast majority of personal care products – shampoo, lotion, deodorant – contain fragrances of their own.”

Yeah, they do. So what can we do about it??? GO MORE NATURAL!!! I’m not sayin’ “au naturel,” although you can do you however you want… But I’m gonna do me a little more fresh and clean-clean style. πŸ™‚

I purchased this solid perfume at Whole Foods, and it’s a fruity, flirty guava scent made out of coconut and soy wax with essential oils. Speaking of essential oils, I have also made my own blend of “perfume.”

I mix peppermint and lime essential oils, throw in an extra drop or two of lavender, and shake all of that up in a small spray bottle of water. It’s a super-energizing blend that I really love! I spray it on my pulse points just like I used to do with synthetic perfumes.

Last, but certainly not least, I took a good long look at the chemicals in my personal care products, like my deodorant. You can see one has 18%, one has 25% and one has 20% of aluminum. Medical experts are going back and forth about whether or not aluminum is definitively linked to Alzheimer’s or breast cancer, but my question is — why risk it? How about we cut out the aluminum if we have something that works just as well, if not better?!!

I have not blogged about this yet, so this is officially the first time I’m sharing about it– but I’m now part of a growing movement that’s alerting people about the possible dangers of chemicals around our households. In short, I’ve gone TOXIC-FREE in many of my daily choices. I’m a Healthy Home Company representative, because I’ve been using their products for more than half a year now– so I finally stepped up because I BELIEVE IN THIS STUFF, I think it’s important, and I feel like people are looking for easy ways to CUT THE CHEMICALS!

Feel free to surf around and ask me questions about specific products (because I use a ton of them). If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you. πŸ™‚ 

I’ll write more in the future about other products, but I wanted to start with a simple one that illustrates the beauty of going toxic-free. 

This deodorant smells great, and just like every single Healthy Home Company product– it’s toxic free, made with ZERO chemicals. My husband, Nathan, and I have been using it for months. You have to shake it before you use it. Nathan has sensitive skin, and we always had to be careful to choose certain types of deodorant that would not irritate him. He used to get angry red rashes in his armpits… Now, those rashes are HISTORY because of this deodorant.  πŸ™‚

Anyway, I just wanted to write all of this because I feel like people think it’s really hard to cut out chemicals. But you can see that I’m choosing options that are simple! Trust me, I’m not one of those crafty, homemaker types. I need things to be quick and easy, and these are definitely good!

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Fiber mascaras – they are NOT created equal

So many people have been posting on Facebook about Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes by Younique, that I went ahead and bought some of my own and did this video review about a $5.95 version of fiber lashes.

I was a fan of the product, and I preached about how much money I was saving using that mascara instead of the more popular, expensive product by Younique. But when a high school band buddy, Jessica Sisk (a Younique representative), sent me some of the fiber lashes for free, I was curious how they would compare.
I started using them and was impressed– there’s really no comparison between the cheaper version and the Younique product. The Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes gave me a much more fuller set of lashes. I like the cheaper product more than regular mascara because it gives you LENGTH, but I love the Younique mascara more than the cheaper fiber mascara because they give you VOLUME AND LENGTH. Does that make sense?
Breakdown:
Regular mascara = good, better than lashes with no mascara
Cheaper fiber lashes = much better than regular mascara
Younique 3D lashes = MUCH better than the cheaper fiber lashes
Now I’ve done a video review/demo of the Younique fiber lashes with my mom as the model, since she has Asian lashes that are short, sparse and straight. They are the most difficult natural lashes to show up. Since the Younique made her lashes look so much better, you can clearly see the impact they have in the video… and notice my lashes in the video, I’m wearing Younique and I am obsessed with how good and thick they look. The product also helps your lashes hold curl, which is great for me since I’m half-Asian and my lashes grow straight. 
One last note — I recommend using Rapid Lash to grow out your lashes. That’s why mine are so long. I bought Rapid Lash at Bed, Bath & Beyond using a 20% off coupon there or you can also order it on Amazon. Thanks for reading!
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Reasons why you should enroll your child in piano (or music) lessons

I always recommend that parents consider putting their children in music lessons… it’s sooo good for them for so many reasons! I remember as a child, my mom purchased a little electric keyboard for me. I started tinkering around with it, and figuring out how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (I think she gave it to me for Christmas). Since I demonstrated an interest, she enrolled me in piano lessons with my one-and-only piano teacher, Susan Wilson– the rest, as they say, is history!

Some ways learning music can be good for your child:
–It creates strong neural pathways that can benefit your child’s performance in math, science and art.
–Music lessons teach discipline. Practice makes better!
–I text and type very quickly, and although the true reason is because I’ve been typing on a keyboard for a really long time, it sounds much cooler to say my hand-eye coordination is superior because I’m a pianist. πŸ˜‰
–It can make your child a future income! Although I started out playing for church for free back in my First Baptist Church, Monroe, Louisiana hometown, it eventually developed into a paying gig when I became the organist of Lakeshore Baptist Church, also in Monroe, when I was 16 years old. So literally half of my life has been spent playing for churches, and I estimate I have made more than $100,000 over my lifetime from playing for worship services, weddings, funerals, etc. Seriously, that’s a true number. And yes, I enjoy playing so much I WOULD do it for free (which is always the question you should ask whenever you wonder if you love your job).

There are so many reasons beyond these listed… I literally wrote my college Honors Program 40-page thesis on why music lessons are good for a child’s brain development. That was a decade ago, so I don’t remember everything I wrote! Maybe my brain’s memory capacity hasn’t been developed by music lessons as much as it could be, LOL!

But there are few people who would argue that music lessons are not beneficial– so please consider supporting your child with lessons if he or she shows an interest in music!

Click here to watch my Christmas concert with St. Luke Catholic Church in Palm Springs, FL.


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