Sunday, September 28, 2014

Climbing Mount Whitney on Sept. 30, 2014

I'll be closing down the shop to go climb Mt. Whitney from Sept. 29th - Oct. 1st. This is the highest peak in the lower 48 United States and I cannot wait to challenge myself mentally and physically and see if I can reach the top! I will be the first person in my family to climb this mountain and this will surpass my Grand Canyon climb by 2970'.

Some fun facts:

1. You need a permit to climb Mt. Whitney. They only issue 100 day passes day during the climbing season and when I went to buy one in June for an August climb, the earliest I could get was September 30th! It's a busy mountain with people coming from all over the world to climb it.

2. It is 11 miles to the top, making it a 22 mile round trip hike, with an elevation gain of over 6000'.

3. It is the highest summit in the lower 48 United States with an elevation of 14,505'. The highest summit in the US is Mt. McKinley in Alaska, which tops out at 20,322'.

4. There are bears on Mt. Whitney. I have bear spray.

5. There is snow at the top of Mt. Whitney. I have new crampons, trekking poles and waterproof gloves from REI.

6. Mt. Everest is the highest peak in the world topping out at 29,029'.

7. I never planned to do this at 50 years old, but here I am. Life is funny that way. I'm thankful I'm physically able to attempt this challenge. And I'm thankful every day for my little internet business that allows me to go on all these amazing adventures. As I always say, I would not be here without my wonderful customers who I am also honored to call my friends!

I'll be starting at sunrise and since this trail faces east, I'll have some spectacular views. I may or may not make it to the summit, but I'm sure going to give it everything I've got. I'm looking for a challenging and injury free climb.

If you've ever climbed Mt. Whitney or done a similar ascent, leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

New look, new waterproof labels, I hope you like them!

You asked, I listened and took action! I've had many requests for waterproof, smudge proof labels and they are here. This also presented an opportunity to redesign the logo and present you with a new, clean look.

The search for a new logo starts with a really nice font. After considering thousands of fonts, I finally chose the "A Simple Kind of Girl" font. The name also reflects the Somethin' Special personal style of keeping it simple with as few ingredients and additives as possible without sacrificing product quality and consistency. The font for the fragrance name label is called "Call Me Maybe" and adds a little touch of whimsy to each label.

The color palette is still a blend of blue, green, pink and yellow and I tried hard to give it curb appeal for my loyal lady customers as well as my growing male fan base. After testing many labels, I chose a white, glossy label with square corners and they are considered "weatherproof" which means waterproof, tear proof, smudge proof and sun fade resistant. And after much research, I chose a high quality color ink jet printer for sharp, clear text and images.

I hope it also increases the "giftability" factor, as many of you have stated you'd like to give these as gifts and desired a more polished, professional look.

I really hope you like the new look!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bought another cute Chicago Bears onesie on Etsy

My sister Rebecca had her first baby, Hunter, and I had bought him a Chicago Bears onesie for her baby shower. Well, baby #2 is on the way and I had to keep the tradition alive, so I once again searched Etsy for the perfect onesie. I found the shop MyWayMomma and her cute shop, great product and 5 star reviews encouraged me to click the Add to Cart button. I requested my sisters last name and the #2 (for baby #2) to be put on the back.

I bought it on 7/27 and seriously, I blinked and it was here. I thought it would take longer, but it came super fast, delivered on 7/31. It was wrapped in baby tissue paper with a tulle bow and a nice hand-written message from the seller:

I didn't even have to buy a gift bag or tissue, I just slid the note out from Katie (the seller) and gave it to my sis. So easy!! And it is adorable:

Katie at MyWayMomma has a great selection of clothing for the kids and with great prices and service, I would not hesitate to recommend her shop. Click the pic to check it out!

This is not a paid review nor am I affiliated, just a happy customer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 10 day hiking tips

recent pct section hike
I'm a late in life day hiker, started about 5 years ago and now love hiking every day. I love hitting the trails, connecting with Mother Earth and pushing my body to climb higher and faster every day. I hike about an hour a day, always with a climb involved, and do a longer 4-6 hour hike on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on weather, family commitments, etc.

Here's my top 10 tips:

1. Bring your charged up cell phone. I use it to check weather and for emergencies, not only for me, but for anyone in distress I may find on the trail. And you need the camera to capture all the beautiful scenery shots.

2. Invest in good hiking shoes. It took me years to find the right ones, I love my Scarpa Sparks, Merrell Siren Sports and Merrell Moab Mid. Read the reviews and ask the manufacturers what they recommend, I posted on Merrells Facebook page and they sent me in the right direction. Just spend the money, it's worth it. And get good quality wool socks. When I switched from cotton socks to wool socks, my blisters disappeared.

3. Wear a hat. I hated getting hat hair, but now I don't hike without a baseball cap (usually Chicago Bears, got to represent the home team). Keeps you cooler, keeps the sun out of your eyes (my eye doc loves this too), wicks up the sweat and is just good common sense.

4. Wear sunscreen. I had a hard time remembering this one and when I used it on my face, major breakouts. Especially the ones made for faces only. I finally found a daily moisturizer that has SPF in it that doesn't freak out my face that is mostly natural, vegan and paraben free. In the morning I apply it to my face and neck and then use a sport sunscreen for my arms and legs.

5. Wear sunglasses. I have sport semi-wrappy around UV sunglasses, it protects my peripheral from too much dust and debris hitting my eyes. I really struggled with horrible eye inflammation and redness until I made this a priority. I also have photochromic (darken when sunny, lighten when cloudy) glasses for cloudy days to protect them. I actually ended up in emergency care for an eye infection because I didn't protect them on a cloudy, windy day on a Boynton Canyon hike in Sedona. And carry eye drops to flush your eyes if something gets in them.

6. Water is important. I always carry enough water for a longer hike even if I'm planning on a short hike. After a few times of passing up that amazing off-map trail going uphill because I'd run out of water on a hot, dry day, I carry more than enough so I never have to pass up unexplored trails. For my quick week day hikes, I have a reusable water bottle. For weekend hikes, I have a 2 liter Camelbak backpack filled with water and ice and I also carry an extra 2 water bottles mixed with all-natural electrolyte replenishing packs. And just in case I do push it too far (dehydration, heatstroke, been there), I make sure there are at least a couple extra bottles in my car.

7. I used to hike without music and just meditate, but I couldn't calm my mind enough for the relaxation benefits. So now I always bring my iPod and listen to music and podcasts. I find that if my mind is thinking about the technical aspects of hiking (don't sprain your ankle, don't fall off the cliff, is that a mountain lion) while simultaneously enjoying the music, I can relax and meditate and focus on my breathing. I'm not sure why, but it definitely helps calm my busy mind and I get my very BEST ideas while hiking.

8. Bring extra moleskin squares to treat hot spots. I have a roll of moleskin I bought from Amazon, I've cut them up in different sized squares so I can treat any rubbing or possible blister "hot spots" on my feet during long hikes. This tip brought to you from my Marine brother-in-law, Brandon, who has hit the hiking trail hard during training and real missions many, many times.

9. MapMyHike: I just found this app and am in love with it. It will track how many miles for the total hike, how long it takes, how fast you are moving per hour and your altitude during the entire hike. I love having these stats so I know how far I can go and how far to push myself. Screen shot from a recent Pacific Crest Trail section hike:

10. Situps and pushups: My legs are super strong and I have amazing cardio but my arms and torso are weak sauce. So, about 3 months ago, I started adding daily push-ups and sit-ups to my routine. In the beginning, I could not do one push-up, I had to actually do wall push-ups until my arms could support me (bad, I know). But I persevered and now I can crank out 20 at a time without straining and I keep getting stronger. Same with sit-ups, my abs were laughing at me when I started. Now I do 20 crunches and 20 alternating elbow/knees crunches. After years of neglect I still have alot of work in those areas, but you have to just start slow and build up your strength. I have an alarm set on my phone at 3pm to remind me to do them daily.

I hope this helps any kindred hikers out there. Do you have any comments or tips you want to add? I'd love to hear from you, please comment below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

*CLOSED* Giveaway - (5) California Summer Essentials Bath & Body Beach Sets! Ends 8/10!

I'm giving away (5) California Summer Essentials Bath & Body Beach Sets! Just enter your info in the Rafflecopter entry form below and you can enter 4 ways, follow on Twitter, like the Somethin' Special Facebook page, comment on this blog post or tweet about the giveaway. Or do all 4! Just log into the entry form using your Facebook login or simply enter your name and email address to choose your entry options. This giveaway is only available to US residents.

Here's a link to the beach set details:

*NOTE* If you do post a comment, it won't show up right away, I need to approve them first, so please only post it once!!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello San Marcos, CA and all of Southern me what you've got!

It's been about 6 weeks since I moved from Sedona, AZ to San Marcos, CA and I'm getting into the Cali groove. I do miss the visual beauty of my healing red rocks and the absence of traffic, but Southern California has alot to offer this avid hiker.

My first order of business was to establish 5 different hiking trails nearby for my daily hikes and mission accomplished with the San Elijo Hills (4 minutes away), Elfin Forest, Daley Ranch (has 3 different trailheads) and Del Dios Highlands (the last 3 are 10-15 minutes away). Elfin Forest & San Elijo Hills give you an ocean view on clear days:
elfin forest

Saturdays or Sundays (depending on weather and family commitments) are reserved for the big, long, 4+ hour hikes and I've enjoyed Palomar Mountain, Crystal Cove Park, Hellhole Canyon and Caspers Wilderness Park. I'm also going to start hiking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is not too far from me. Here's Crystal Cove on July 5th:
And Santiago Peak looks like it needs to be climbed, so there's plenty to keep me busy for the next year. I'm happy to start using my favorite hiking resource from when I lived here in 2011, Brian & Ashleys Hiking Blog. They are the SoCal (and beyond) hiking experts.

And so far, after the morning cloud cover from the ocean dissipates, every day has been sunny and 80's, followed by sunny and 80's, with one cloudy and 80's day last Saturday. Can't complain about that!

If you have any Southern California hikes you just love, share them in the comments section below, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Custom Memory Remembrance Stuffed Animal from TheFabricPhoenix on Etsy

My sister was expecting a new baby boy and she asked me if I could create a rememberance stuffed animal from our dads shirt. We lost our dad in 2001 and I had done this for my niece, Grace, when she was a baby from a shirt my mom gave me. It felt important to have this connection for Grace to a Grandpa she will never meet, but is always with her.

I searched Etsy for memory bears (the first one I did was a stuffed bear) and found this shop on Etsy, TheFabricPhoenix. After a few messages with the owner, I bought a monkey on March 13, 2014. The owner sent me a message to mail the shirt to her and it was then I noticed she was in the United Kingdom (I'm in the US). I did not read the entire listing and if I had known that before purchasing, I probably would not have done it. This shirt is too precious to risk sending out of the country, so I thought.

But, I am an online seller with a good reputation and she is too, so I rolled the dice. I mailed it Priority Mail to the UK (you should have seen the struggle in choosing insurance, this was so valuable there is no dollar amount that I could come up with) on 3/17/2014.

Dads shirt:
And then I started biting my nails. She received it on 3/24/2014 and sent me a quick message to let me know. On 4/2/2014 she sent me a picture of the monkey and let me know she is sending him tomorrow. Very nice customer service. I received the monkey on 4/18/2014 and he is perfect:
She used the collar from the shirt as his collar and the buttons too. The attention to detail and the artistry that went into recreating dads shirt into his grandsons new stuffed companion was professional and flawless.

So, thank you Cindy for doing such a great job! My nephew Blake is here and his monkey is in his crib with him. I highly recommend her services to anyone in the world!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bye Sedona, it's been an amazing year!

I'm so happy I took a year to explore Sedona. It's truly a beautiful place that everyone should visit once in their lives.

My favorite part is the over 100 hiking trails. This entire town is composed of interconnected hiking trails. And I hiked every single one. The Sedona Parks District does an exemplary job of maintaining these trails and I very rarely saw neglected, damaged areas or trash. My favorite hikes in order:

1. Bear Mountain
2. Wilson Mountain
3. Hangover Trail
4. HiLine Trail loop with a quick climb up Cathedral Rock
5. AB Young Trail (be careful crossing Oak Creek before and after the trail)
6. Scheurman Mountain
7. All the rest

I pushed my body further than I ever thought I could and became stronger in the process. I've had countless blisters, muscle aches, dehydration, elevation sickness, heat stroke and when I was positive I could not take another step, I did it anyway. I met someone new every day: hikers, bikers, unemployed, millionaires, retired, military, locals and people from all over the world.

And I turned 50 in this beautiful place and celebrated with a helicopter ride over my lovely Sedona.

A couple things surprised me:
1. There is a monsoon season here. It was from July to September when I was here. It poured rain almost every afternoon. You can see the huge dark clouds coming your way and it was really beautiful. So yes, it does rain here.
2. Cost of living was very reasonable. I am used to paying Chicago prices and the expenses here were very low. Rent, electricity, fuel, all about 20% - 30% lower than Chicago.
3. Vortexes: I felt nothing at the Cathedral Rock, Airport and Cow Pies vortexes, but felt peace and calm at the Boynton Canyon and Bell Rock vortexes. Just sayin'.
4. Except for the helicopters during the day, it is very, very quiet here. Not many police or fire sirens, d-bags with loud sub-woofers in their cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, none of that. Peaceful.
5. Hitchhikers. Haven't seen them in many years.
6. Parking is free everywhere. After living in Chicago and LA and paying for looking at a parking space, this was a nice surprise. The only fee I incurred was for a yearly Red Rock Pass for $20 to park at all the trailheads.

If you need to carve out a quiet place in your mind and want to connect with all the beauty that mother nature has to offer, come to Sedona. If you're looking for action, noise, commotion, distractions, go to Vegas :)

Have you ever visited Sedona? Tell me about it in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sedona 4WD Adventure Day: Munds Mtn, Schnebly Hill, Honanki Cliff Dwellings

Ever since I started exploring Sedona last June, I noticed there were a few unpaved roads that I could not access with my Ford Focus. I knew I had to get out there. I rented a jeep from Barlow Jeep Rentals on May 11th for 24 hours, her name is Lelu. They were very helpful and the jeep was safe and rugged.
barlow jeep rentals
Here we go, leaving those paved roads behind!
schnebly hill road
First stop, up Schnebly Road to the Merry Go Round Trailhead. Start hiking up the Schnebly Hill Trail:
schnebly hill trail
Lovely views of Sedona on the way up:
schnebly hill trail
sedona cows
After 2 miles, intersect with the Munds Mountain Trail:
munds mountain trail
 Keep climbing (my Sedona mantra) to grab some amazing views:
munds mountain

munds mountain
A little bad weather was heading my way and was surprised by about 5 minutes of snow during my descent:
munds mountain 
Next stop, Schnebly Hill Vista:
schnebly hill vista
Another cow. Pretty much seen all Schnebly Hill Road has to offer:
schnebly hill vista
Time to head west and explore more territory:
west sedona
I came upon the Honanki Cliff Dwellings ruins, but they were closed. A very nice guy from Pink Jeeps tours let me in to take a look at the "living museum":
honanki cliff dwellings
honanki cliff dwellings
And finally more exploration out west of Sedona and a magnificent sunset:
sedona views

sedona views

sedona sunset
Lelu and I explored Sedona for 12 hours and at the end of the trip, we were both covered in red dust and tired, but loved every minute of it. Have you ever taken a back country 4 wheel drive trip in Sedona? Tell me about it in the comments, I'd love to hear about your adventures.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sedona Birthday Helicopter Ride

My 50th (yes five oh) birthday was May 5th and I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. So I booked a helicopter tour with Sedona Air Tours. They had 3 tours to choose from, I picked the Ancients Way Tour because I'm fond of those hiking trails and that area of Sedona.

I showed up bright and early on May 5th ready to fly. After checking in, weighing in and getting our pre-flight instructions, I hopped on board:

sedona air tours
Roger that, ready to launch:
ready to fly
Pilots name was Big John originally from Iowa. Here we go:
sedona helicopter view
Big John kept us informed of what we were seeing, but I was so dazzled I barely could take it all in.
sedona helicopter view
A quick pass over Devils Bridge:
devils bridge sedona
Just one jaw dropping breath taking view after another. And this from someone who's been running all over these rocks for 11 months:
ancients wayancients way
We saw lots of ruins left by the people who used to live in these rocks:
ancients way
A quick pass over Doe Mountain:
doe mountain
And coming in for landing:
sedona airport
It was over way too soon and my first thought was wow, followed by again again, when can I do this again. I'll try to squeeze in one more flight before I head out to California. Have you ever taken a Sedona helicopter ride? Share your story with me in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!