The Dusty Road To Mandalay…

890A1365Sunrise, Bagan, Myanmar

I’m back! At least my body is…

My mind, I’m not so sure…it might arrive later this week. It’s still spinning with the imagery, sounds and scents of distant lands.

 I’ve lost some sense of time & space, but how lovely to come home to Spring and the clocks being turned back, er forward, or…whatever…

 It’s staying lighter much longer than when I left and that makes me very happy :-)

Oh and look at that-Wordpress got new smiley face icons while I was away.

Boy, did we do a lot of traveling in 3 weeks. If it didn’t involve a plane, van, truck, boat, bike, a hike or a climb and a 5:30am wake-up call it was a slow day.

Lake Inle, Myanmar, slimpaley.comCruising along on Lake Inle, Burma

Why all the early starts? It gets hot in *Burma quickly at this time of year. Very, very HOT.  100+ degrees  on many days with nary a suggestion of a breeze. The fine, chalky dust from the red earth rises to meet the omnipresent smoke of the open cooking fires blanketing the atmosphere with a gauzy filter from sunrise to sunset.

Woman smoking, Burma, slimpaley.comA woman in a street market in Mandalay

Yet, despite the heat, many destinations and points of interest require keeping your arms & legs covered, as well as closed toed shoes (because of dust & dirt) yet easily removable (because of the shrines)

Shwedagon Pagoda , slimpaley.comMy shoeless friend and me at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Burma. The light coloured marble here was lovely underfoot, but some darker hued stone floors at other shrines, not so much…

We took sooo many photos. There was SO MUCH to photograph! Besides, I wasn’t about to lug my Canon 5D (AKA Big Daddy) 1/2 way across the world for naught. In its travel case it’s the size and weight of a small baby. I attached a big hot pink name tag to the strap (Travel Tip #1 learned after leaving my husband’s headphones in a plane seat pocket) in case I left the baby on a plane, or pagoda steps…Did I mention there are a LOT of pagodas in Burma?!

And that I now know the difference between a stupa, a shrine and a pagoda?

 What is a “Stupa”? for $500 Alex.

I also shot in ‘RAW’  format for the first time-FYI that’s a camera setting not a sartorial choice ( I only just learned about this, hangs head in shame. Thanks Mr. Sammy’s Camera Man!) So I’m busy downloading, sorting and trying to figure out how to transfer all these huge files without taking 5 minutes per pic. It’s hard being an empty-nester and not having in-house tech support anymore, but wowzer-zooming in has taken on a whole new meaning. If the photos take a little longer to load than usual, please bear with me.

Breakfast, slimpaley.comBreakfast. NOT every day.

I’m learning, always learning as I go, and we saw and learned so many wonderful things on this trip.

From the mind-blowing wealth and staggering architecture of Dubai, the chic decors and gorgeous people of Sri Lanka to the endless stupas, golden light and dusty chaotic roads of Burma it was a wild, wild ride.

The Tintagel hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka, slimpaley.com

And always, the beautiful children all over the world

IMG_9632A couple of heart-melters at a monastery in Inle Lake, Myanmar

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 I usually cave to self-inflicted Virgo-ian pressure to blog in chronological fashion, but as my last post was March 6th and inspired by my trip, I’m going to go ‘off road’  and let all these places and photos just spill out willy nilly over the course of the next few weeks.

IMG_9536Much like an intricate mosaic, they might not appear to make complete sense viewed too closely but trust me-they’ll be cohesive when viewed from a distance.

I think.

Stand back a bit farther.

I’m starting with the travel tips I promised you but rather than spew them all out at once (that could be pretty boring) I’ll give you just a few at a time.

Starting with the Most Important; MEDS.

1) NEVER pack them in your suitcase. Always in your carry-on.

2) BRING ANTIBIOTICS. Absolutely mandatory on overseas trips!

 No need for me to run through the more obvious medications (Dramamine, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol (pink bismuth caplets) etc. but you might want to also consider;

3) If you’re going somewhere tropical, always check to make sure the area you’re visiting is Malaria-free. If not, seriously consider taking Malarone tablets. I’d rather suffer through a few bad dreams (a possible side effect, and more or less a given for me) than Malaria. I’ve read too many books about Africa & India to risk it, thank you very much. I’m also always the one covered in mosquito bites so I carry

4) “Mozy” After Bites spray. Provides great relief.

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If your trip requires shots, i.e. Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Influenza, it’s always a good idea to carry your yellow International Certificate of Vaccination (approved by the World Health Organization), in case you need to show it to a foreign doctor for any reason.

5) Toothache gel.  Although I think tooth-aches are rare these days, this can be a life-saver if you aren’t near a reliable dentist. I’ve only ever suffered an adult toothache twice. Both times, away from home and excruciating. Once in San Francisco and once in Vegas, where basically you can just win a new tooth, but imagine suffering from a bad bicuspid in say, Africa??

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6) a Dental Repair kit. A friend shared this with me-how about losing a filling or a crown, especially HORROR of horrors, a visible one, right in the front? Talk about excruciating. No more holiday Selfies for you!

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7) Leg cramp tablets. Long flights, not enough liquids, lots of walking, strange mattresses…I get leg cramps often when I travel and I like Hyland’s Homeopathic pills-I swear they work.

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and lastly, for this go round; my Slim Paley Special Tip that works brilliantly for me whenever I’m around ‘questionable’ tap water;

8) Fluorescent hair ties.

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Don't Drink the Water! slimpaley.com

Don’t Use the Water!

The first thing I do in a hotel where I won’t risk even brushing my teeth is to wrap a fluorescent scrunchie around the faucet to serve as a reminder. Because, let’s face it, we’re all Pavlov’s dog when it comes to daily hygiene habits. Works like a charm for husbands & children too :-)

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Next up; not sure… markets & monasteries, fishing & silk weaving, shopping & eating, stupa climbing, beautiful hotels…suns setting & rising and lots of other fun stuff plus more travel tips.

Stay tuned.

Balloon over Bagan, Burma, slimpaley.com

Happy Spring to All!!

xxSP

*To dispel any confusion, Burma is now called ‘Myanmar’ but a healthy number, if not majority of Burmese including our guide and Aung San Suu Kyi still commonly refer to it as Burma, and Yangon as Rangoon. Much of the signage and newspapers still use “Burma” as well. I won’t dare attempt to get into the politics of all this, but the names appeared to be interchangeable without causing any rancour.

I’m Still Here…Just Away

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Believe it or not, I’m still the proprietor of this blog.

I haven’t quit, misplaced my muse, or simply done a runner…

though I did skip town  :-)

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Girl’s Trip!!

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So things around my bedroom looked like this

jewelry.slimpaley.comand this

jewelry.slimpaley.comand this

For days…

goldjewelry.slimpaley.combecause what better time to totally organize all your summer clothes and every single piece of jewelry you own than right before going away for 3 weeks?

(I’ll spare you the pics of my emptied & reorganized drawers as they won’t provide the same thrill factor for you as they did for me)

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OK, maybe just one. It’s too exciting!

My thought process being I wanted to be totally & meticulously prepared for this trip as well as come home to a beautifully  organized closet.

Everything sorted, grouped and instantly accessible.

IMG_9283.slimpaley.comMy jewelry in the hotel room this morning.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Dubai.slimpaley.comWe rendezvoused in Dubai.

A city of conundrums & contradictions.

luxurycars.slimpaley.comToys parked outside the Burj Khalifa/Armani Hotel

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These old boats, a veritable kaleidoscope of patina and charm, dock directly across a busy road from the Spice Market where baskets of cinnamon bark, cardamom pods and nuggets of indigo jostle for precious space amongst teetering stacks of rayon ‘Pashminas’ and plastic Louis Vuitton umbrellas. In the distance, barely visible here (alas, another post) staggering skyscrapers from The Future are here now and battling for supremacy.

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Indigo & rose hips

The Dubai Mall slimpaley.com

Lady hips & more modern shopping

IMG_8995As I said, conundrums & contradictions…

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The Burj Khalifa-Armani Hotel  (also in another post)

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Next port of call; Colombo, Sri Lanka.

We flew right over Thiruvananthapuram.

I just wanted to say that  :-)

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Lots more coming, including good travel & packing tips!

Internet & phone service is sporadic so please bear with me if your comments don’t post right away.

Namaste

xxSP

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Header image via Flickr

Happy Labour Day Weekend!

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Happy Labour Day Weekend!

Oh YAY.

The weekend that officially licks the stamp, seals the deal, clicks the “send” button on Summer.

 Super.

And me, with all these lovely, summery images & ideas still left to share…

And possibly one of the greatest summery songs by one of the greatest summery bands;

So you have to promise to listen, nice & loud as always, while you stroll leisurely through this post…


(there’ll be a test to make sure you were listening afterwards!)

bouganvilla covered terrace

Well. We’ll soon be kissing these scenarios good-bye, won’t we?terrace with lanterns

( 2 images from Tumblr )

890A8404and no longer running out to my garden to gather roses for the table

(OK,  laying it on a bit thick here-hopefully we still have a couple of months left of roses in Santa Barbara)

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I never got to finish the ultra impressive “SUMMER ICE” post I was working on.

(Martha, you can breathe a sigh of relief my friend-the above was my very best effort- they were supposed to be ice balls but the two halves wouldn’t stick together. It looked so easy in the Japanese video)

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I wanted to say what a nifty idea this was-freezing aloe vera juice into ice cubes to soothe nasty sunburns.

Particularly great for using on your kid’s friends so they go home and say “Timmy’s mom makes aloe ice-cubes for sunburns!! “

and you just sound like the best frickin’ mom ever.

PS. I never made them.

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I also never told you about my trip to the city of Orange recently where the temperature reached a 100 degrees and as I stepped out my car I spotted this super cool old fashioned ice-dispensing machine. Instagram American Graffiti moment. IF I were old enough to even remember that movie, which, no way, I’m not. My husband told me about it.

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Oh, I had so many summery images collected

canoe as table

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Some, like maybe this one of Daria Werbowy, you could have lived without. But if I’m in testy mood, I’m dragging you with me.

We’re a team here-you’re in or you’re out, you know that.

beachy bracelets

Skinceuticals Sunscreen, Slim Paley photo

I had a whole summer skin products thing I was working on…

but I’ll just say; for me, this was the best face sunscreen I found. Broad spectrum, very lightly tinted, thin consistency (though slightly oily, not a bad thing for me) and a whopping SPF 50 without feeling like you have a mask on. Also comes un-tinted.

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Did I get a chance to write my post on “HAMMOCKS”?

NO.

Well, that post is still coming, maybe even tomorrow, so don’t try and stop me.

Bloody Labour Day.

And did you know that this past Friday, the 30th of August, was “National Marshmallow Roasting Day”?

Swear to God.

 I even had a “Roasted Marshmallow Post” so here it is, somewhat condensed;

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Roasting by the river’s edge in Idaho.

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Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake (with Greek yoghurt!) HERE

mulit-prong marshmallow roasting stick

Help me find these??

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Some perfectly roasted giants mallows I posted on Instagram last month.

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Aqua Creations’ Origami LED “Marshmallow” lamps are folded from a single sheet of paper.

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covered porch, Sun Valley, Slim Paley

The antique lantern in my covered porch in Sun Valley always reminds me of a toasted marshmallow.

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Marshmallow outdoor furniture

marshmallow shaped hanging light

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and if  you’re cramped for space, how cool, er hot, is this wall mounted barbeque from Sigma Focus?!

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bracelet & watch

striped shirt

and when all else fails…

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XOXO SP

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Top photo Kate Moss by Patrick Demarchelier

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Gluten, I Hardly Knew Ye

gardenias & berries

Chilled white wine, lush sweet berries, the scent of freshly picked gardenias wafting over a beautifully set table beneath a lemon arbor…

roses

Fluorescent pink roses against a garden wall

lumpmeat crab

Great friends, non-stop laughs and plates piled decadently high with delicious warm weather delights, including a massive platter of fresh crab meat.

Summer Perfection, right?

Except just look at that crispy white French bread.

Filled with naughty gluten.

And oh I just wish I could show you a photo of my gluten-free for 3 months lunch mates’s tiny little ballerina waist.

20130716-215654Rosie Huntington-Whitlington-blah blah blah

I hadn’t seen my friend in awhile and I was totally gob-smacked by the transformation. I was so jealous happy for her.

So much so, that I only had 1 1/2 pieces of that bread (only because there was cheese) and decided to try going gluten-free for 3 weeks myself.

Not right away mind you, but a couple of days later.

I’m 6 days in and so far, so good. I’ll keep you posted.

Now all of you long time S.P. readers (bless each and every one of you) know diet & exercise is not exactly a recurrent theme on this blog.

Other than the exercise post I wrote a week or so ago, I think I also mentioned going for a run once this year.

The only productive thing that came of it was I bought some better bras. Never ran again. Dude, it was hard and I ran out of breath.

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I did keep up my coconut oil “pulling” for a few months but that fell by the wayside with traveling so much. I will definitely start doing it again, for the meditative benefits alone, if for no other reason.

If you missed that post, you can read it here  but of course oil pulling hardly counts as exercise.

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I stopped Pilates too long ago to even admit, though I still adore my pilates trainer Kristi Cooper and derived a great deal of perverse pride in being her longest lasting, worst client ever. Literally.

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Her. Remember?!

Kristi now has the uber-successful website “Pilates Anytime” and I like to think that in some infintesmal infintesimal small way my laziness and bad attitude contributed to her turning to web-based classes and she’s never looked back.

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I DO still love yoga and my yogini Denise Zeverdes with whom, I just realized, I’ve been practicing for 7 years.

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However I’m afraid to do handstands (my wrists are like twigs) it has to be on days it’s OK for my hair to be frizzy and my pitiful “OM” in class is a constant source of embarrassment.

WTF?? How does everyone else “OM” so loud for sooo long??!

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But let’s back track, as I believe I was on the subject of tiny waists…

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I really wanted to share the amazing results of another  good friend’s commitment to getting majorly Bathing Suit Ready this summer.

Now as you can see in the photos below (which she so graciously permitted me to share) Ronda wasn’t exactly battling a big weight problem,

but after having two babies, she was sick and tired of the constant yo-yo of diet and exercise regimens that never seemed to ‘stick’.

One day, along with a couple of friends, she simply made the decision to work with a trainer, keep a food journal, and religiously follow everything her trainer told her to do.

Without question, without cheating.

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BEHOLD!

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Yes, she’s tall and has gorgeous legs, but don’t be a hater. Ronda worked super hard to achieve these results in just a few months!

PS. I always assume these type of photos are photo-shopped or totally fake but these are 100% real.

Before & After shots

Most importantly, she feels empowered, looks amazing and has kept the weight off.

 Way to go Ronda!!

And yes, she is a lot younger than me. I have young friends because I’m cool :-)

And refuse to grow up.

fangocrema cellulite mud cream

What’s not so super cool is that I thought I might cheat my way to Ronda’s results with an aggressive regimen of GUAM cream.

I got caught up in the incredible Beauty Department of Liberty’s in London.

Even though the only words I could read on the box were “CELLULITE”, “Quick and easy to use mud-based cream” and “Guam”

I mean, I’ve been to Guam. What could go wrong??

skin test patchSo, you might be thinking that due to the “strong” reaction the test patch produced on my arm that I’d reconsider this ‘Get Svelte Quick Scheme’

Uh uh.

Instead, I thought- yes! This is going to burn fat off my thighs something fierce!

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In fact, for the sake of the blog, i.e. YOU, I’ve been applying it to just one leg and, er, cheek, to see if I’m able to measure any discernible difference after a few weeks.

So far, nada.

But if you happen to see me around town with one leg like Gisele’s and one like Melissa McCarthy’s, you’ll know the reason why.

In the meantime, I remain your gluten-free, pink thighed Slim(ish) Paley.

Any diet/exercise/gluten-free secrets YOU care to share?!

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*Ronda’s Santa Barbara based trainer’s name is Andrea McLarty

Denise Zeverdes’ Montecito Yoga

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Black & white & “Soleil” photos via Tumblr

exercise…Wait! Come Back!

Love Story

Did you have a great 4th of July holiday?!

Whut? It’s the 10th already?

And me, still not bikini ready :-(

Oh, let’s get real.

I’m not even underwired, black one piece with a pleated skort ready.

As Pinterest loves to remind me on a daily basis.

white bathing suit

and yet, casting my memory back to Christmas when my older son’s adorable girlfriend “C” bought me the Nike Fuel Band I was so chuffed.

I thought Wow-this is going to be GUHREAT!!

No more pocket for my old pedometer (and it going through the wash every other month) my new Nike band would also tell me the time, number of steps I was taking, and amount of “fuel” and calories consumed/expended each day

(but we’re not going to talk about that part. You lost me at calori…ZZZZZZzzzzzz)

Nike fuel band

Pretty cool, right? ( also comes in black)

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What I didn’t realise was that Nike was not only going to set outrageously, preposterously, Herculean, nay Sisyphean  “GOALS” for me,

 it was also going to spy on me. And be cruel about it.

 I mean could that O% get any bigger?? WTF?

 I wonder if they’re sharing Slim’s FAILURE information with the government?

It’s not as if I haven’t been active…

Amangiri hotel, Utah

Rock climbing(ish) in Utah in May

hiking Montecito, California

And as my Instagram account will attest, I’ve climbed to the top of the peaks of Montecito more than a few times.

Which means twice in truth speak.

yoga

I’ve done plenty of yoga…

yet I’m O for how many days and counting.

Nike fuel band success

Unlike my dear friend who posted this on her Instagram page.

Apparently it takes climbing Machu Picchu to achieve the  “Full Rainbow”

and a well deserved glass of wine.

Fuel band Nike Well, I’ll show you Nike Dudes

 I’m getting to the red zone if it kills me this next week.

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Speaking of failures…

pink lantern

I still haven’t painted that damn vintage chandelier hot pink yet and then this popped up on Pinterest.

Nike and bloody Pinterest. They’re gunning for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest. Just check out that cute painted floor!

I’d love it even more if I’d been a ground floor investor, but as I’ve never invested in anything, I can’t be bitter about that.

It’s just that you can never quite predict how you’re going to feel after a tip-toe (marathon) thru “Pinterest” am I right?

It’s like;

I’m INSPIRED!! I’m so unproductive.

I’m redoing the laundry room! I hate my body. I should knit! Would it kill me to juice more?

Lauren Santa Domingo’s so cool. My mom never braided my hair. I can’t live without that hot pink garden hose.

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Look, I saw it, now you have to deal with it…

ombre hair

I should ombre’ my hair

I need a portable chain saw

I should wear heels more. How do they get the jello to separate like that?

and the biggest one of all (and my current screen saver)

salted caramel & chocolate pie

How did we EVER live without salt in our caramel??

Unsalted caramel is like the MySpace of confections

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and on that note,

Go to the gym!

JUST DO IT :-)

xox SP

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Photo of Ali MacGraw & Ryan O’Neil and girl in white bathing suit via Pinterest

Salted Caramel & chocolate tart recipe HERE

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