Friday, December 23, 2011

Pampering for my Birthday

Photo credit: The Daily Obsession
 Am I one lucky lady! Last week was my birthday (the 12th) and my BFF for over 20 years informed me that she'd like to take me to her favorite spa for a day of pampering! The last time I had a day of pampering like this was for my birthday in 2009 when both my bestest buddies, M & C, took me to the Clairmont where I had a body scrub AND a facial.

This year M took me to a spa near her place of work in the Presidio in San Francisco. It's called SenSpa and it's got a tranquil, Asian theme throughout, which I totally love. The picture above is the Warm Room where you lounge and wait for your appointment. Behind the giant coin sculpture is a cascading fountain over glass. The heater in the middle has a moving, spiral flame, which I'd never seen before but looks utterly magical.

When we first arrived, we got into our robes and headed to the steam room. We each took in a glass of lemon cucumber water, which was delicious (I'll have to make this at home!) and a cold iced wash cloth. It felt lovely opening up those pores.

After that it was shower time, taking a long, leisurely shower with all the jets on massaging the entire body and one of those huge shower heads that dump down water all over your head. AAAAH!

Then we retired to the warm room where we waited for our appointments. M got a massage and I got a facial. My beauty regimen is basic, to say the least, and my skin shows it. After today I have sworn to invest more in my skin.

My technician, or therapist, was Bianca, a beautiful Romanian woman with a flawless complexion. My facial included two things I've been wanting to get done for ages: microdermabrasion and a chemical peel. Both slough off dead skin cells, lighten pigmentation and reduce fine wrinkles.

It felt wonderful and I feel like I got a good head start on my facial upkeep. The recommended products were out of my budget, but I swear I will get them once my income increases in 2012.

The day after my facial my skin felt tender and toward the end of the day it was hot, like a windburn, and red. So I blotted my face with a cool wash cloth and put on more moisturizer.

After our spa indulgence I took M to lunch on Chestnut Street, which has lots of cool little restaurants and shops. We went to a restaurant called A16, where we shared a wood-fired pizza, a tasty salad and a delicious appetizer. No wine though. #1 M was driving and it would be unfair and #2 we were just informed that our skin was very dehydrated, so drinking alcohol would be an unwise choice.

It was a perfect day. By the time we slogged home in the rush hour Bay Area traffic it was early evening.

Thanks again, M! It was a brilliant day and one I won't soon forget!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It is a problem that many parents face: Your child has a class mate who is THE troublemaker. In Aidan's class, there is a boy who has some serious problems. He disrupts the teacher and bothers the other students. He blocks the flow of learning when children are trying to focus and do their work.

At the parent/teacher conference last week, Aidan's teacher told us that she just doesn't know what to do anymore and that she plans to have a behaviorist come into her class to give her some advice because she's used up her "bag of tricks" with this troubled boy. She admitted that when this boy was absent for a few days last week, the entire vibe of the class completely changed. That is such a shame!

Aidan talks about this boy frequently and mimics his antics. This child has infected the behavior of a few boys in this class, influencing relatively well-behaved children to misbehave. My child is included - he's picked up some bad habits.

So Aidan's teacher, instead of teaching, has to spend a lot of her time giving this troublemaker individual attention. This gives the kid additional attention from the entire class. Ms. Teacher has to stop her instruction and deal with this kid's antics. Classmates think that the troublemaker is being funny and, well, since that gets attention, they copy that behavior.

It's utterly disgusting and my child is being cheated. And there is nothing I can do about it.

But the only thing I CAN do is make up for it at home. Already for an hour each day Aidan and I hang out together and do homework, read and play this coin counting game, which involves math in a fun way. But I want to make sure that what the class is lacking is made up at home.

Have you dealt with this problem with your kid(s)? What did you do and how did your child turn out long term?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eliminating Coffee

About a month ago, Golf and I watched a movie on Netflix streaming called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The director and creator, Joe Cross, is a lively and likeable Australian who came to the USA for 60 days to do a juice fast and lose some weight. He had a chronic skin condition, not to mention heart and cholesterol problems.

During this time he also talked to Americans about food and what they actually eat. That most of their diets are made up of highly processed grains, too much dairy and meat. Vegetables and fruits, which should make up like 65% of your diet, ranked at only 5%.

Joe Cross also met a trucker during his travels and later helped him lose a tremendous amount of weight and changed his life.

I don't need to lose 100 pounds, though! Only 15 - 20 pounds. I would also like to do a juice fast to jump start my progress, likely a 7 to 10 day cleanse like a lady he interviewed during the movie. She wasn't overweight, but she suffered from migraine headaches and she was doing the fast to help her with that and her overall health.

I love coffee!
But I have an obstacle I need to overcome before I start this purifying cleanse. I'm addicted to caffeine! I've been a loyal and enthusiastic coffee drinker for nearly half my life. I love the taste and the mental boost that caffeine gives me. I drink not only coffee but iced tea (both green and black) and Diet Coke. Love it ALL!

So beginning today I've decided to wean myself down and by January, I'll be caffeine free and ready to do a juice cleanse. I'll also be ready to buy a nice juicer! I'm already on Craigslist looking to buy one for a cheaper price than online.

How am I weaning? Beginning today, I am limiting myself to only one cup of coffee in the morning. Normally I have two. Instead of cup #2 of coffee, I am taking a cup of black tea, English style (a little milk and sweetener). Mid morning I'll have another tea and then no more hot caffeinated beverages. In a few more days I will have only tea. Then from there I will slowly wean myself down from all caffeine. No more Diet Coke. I normally have a glass-and-a-half per day, so it's not out of control, but I would like to give my body a break.

And that's what this cleanse is for - not only for getting rid of some extra weight, but to show myself that I can do this, that it is possible. I'm curious to see how I will feel as well.

January is also a good time to do my juice fast because that marks my one year anniversary of regular green smoothie diet! Yep. I've been consistently having green smoothies nearly every day and while I feel better and have more energy, I do need a big boost with the juice.

I'll report my progress here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holding Off Another Year?

Ugh. I hate to say this, but Golf and I have decided to hold off going back to Thailand to live for one more year, or at least for the time being... Why in the world would we do this?

The flooding has not only damaged physical infrastructure, but also the economy. Additionally, the situation has brought out ugly political fighting, worsened with the possible pardon of Thaksin. This will likely cause worse turmoil within the country, so we just want to stand back right now.

There is another reason we want to hold off. My business. I do stroller reviews as well as other baby gear and I've taken it up a notch by purchasing my own products to use and review and make videos. I don't have to tell you how much more meaningful that is, right?

Let me tell you, it is far easier, and less expensive, to do product reviews right here in the United States than in Thailand. This change is critical for my business' success and giving it a year to grow and become more financially steady is smart.

After all I have to make a choice. My business or another fancy that is spiritually gratifying? Frankly right now I have to buckle down and work and Golf seemed reluctant all along to go back.

Maybe by summer we can take a month to come over and stay. You know, an in-between compromise. I miss Bangkok, afterall, and the entire expat lifestyle. But change happens and I'll never live the same lifestyle I did pre-kid. Having a child changes EVERYTHING and if I think I'll be living there as I did before, I am quite mistaken.

So there you have it - new goals, new timeline. Let's wait and see what happens.

PS: Speaking of my business, I need to do a quick plug here: I've written my latest article on Shopaholic Mommy about what lies ahead for Baby Trend strollers. If you're a newer mama and need this information, you should check it out. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011


For the first time in 100 years it is, again, 11/11/11. I had heard, probably on Coast to Coast AM, that on this day what I want is tripled. I should light a white candle and meditate on the things that I want, and so early this morning I lit my brand new vanilla-scented votive and thought about and wished for what I wanted.

Unfortunately, during this time, my mind wandered toward a woman with whom I worked during the ESL testing I was doing a month and a half ago who was having some serious personal issues. Why my mind went there, I don't know. So instead of focusing on her sour frowning face, I turned it around and wished for her to be well and happy again.

One area of my life needs improvement. Lots of us are in that same situation though, so it's not like my family is in the minority on that one. It's for better a better financial outlook. In my case, if some obstacles are cleared, then that will open up the path for better income, but it is out of my control. So I keep on doing what I can and doing my best.

But all other aspects in my life that are going well;  I acknowledge that and am extremely grateful.

So have a happy and contemplative 11/11/11 everyone. It is an auspicious day indeed!

What are you wishing for today? Comment below!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shake it Up!

I have an irrational fear of earthquakes. Not good for someone who lives only a few miles from a very active fault line (the Hayward Fault Line).

Yesterday we had not one but TWO earthquakes right about 4.0 on the Richter Scale. The first one was at 3:46 PM it rattled some of our things, and it happened BOOM! Just like that. Usually I can hear it coming a second or two before it hits. This one gave no warning and it was a jolt rather than a roll.

The second one was at 8:16 PM and I was standing on the sidewalk outside. It felt like one sharp jolt as well,  but Golf was up here in our apartment on the 3rd floor and he said it shook worse than the one in the afternoon. He was putting Aidan to bed when it happened.

I can't help what happens to me when an earthquake hits. My heart beats so fast it feels like it's going to explode out of my chest. My whole body shakes and my legs get so weak I feel like I'm going to fall down. After the 2nd one hit last night, I could not sleep. I put my headphones on and listened to late night radio until 5 AM, my usual wake up time.

Today I bought some earthquake preparedness items. 3 gallons of water. I'll put them under Aidan's bed. 4 cans of tuna. A 6-pack of ramen noodles. Plus we have some other canned food in the cupboard, but it's a start. We just don't have a whole lot of room. We already have candles and batteries. I feel a bit more prepared today.

In other news, my site got Panda slapped again. For those not into SEO, that means that Google changed its algorithm again last week and my best baby strollers site got hit hard. Over 50% drop. It sucks! But there is nothing I can do but continue with my good work.

I have decided to take it up a notch and do more stroller reviews myself. I've ordered a really cool new stroller and it ought to be here early next week. I will use it out over a period of a few days, see if any of my mommy friends with babies want to try it out and then make a YouTube video.

In the meantime I've been busy writing articles. A new opportunity presented itself earlier this week and I got to post an article on The article is called Brand New Strollers for 2012. I'm really excited about this blog and it's got some great information on there.

Then I just had my bi-weekly article published on  This article is called Chicco Expands & Improves Stroller Selection. There are lots of changes and new stroller models coming out late this year and beginning next year. Lots of stuff to write about!

So despite my business shake up and the literal shake-up of California, I'm excited about the direction my business is going. I know things well shape up again soon.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New Green Smoothie Combo

When Aidan was in his school at the Berkeley Thai Temple yesterday, I discovered that a local Berkeley Bowl natural food store was just two blocks away. I went in without any intention to buy anything, just wanted to pass some time before lunch.

Berkeley Bowl is famous for abundant produce, cheap produce with many different varieties of fruits and vegetables. Often times prices are half of what you'd pay at a Safeway or Lucky grocery store chain and even farmer's markets!

So I ended up buying a big grocery bag full of yummy produce to have for dinners and for my green smoothies.

Today's smoothie I tried something different. I bought some raw flax seed meal. Flax seed has lots of Omega 3 fatty acids that help combat bad cholesterol and has lots of fiber! So I put a scoop of that into my smoothie today.

For greens, I saw something there I'd never seen before: green pea sprouts! And for only $1.89/lb! I paid $1.89 for the 4 oz tub of little clover sprouts, so the same price for 4 times as much sprouts was such a deal, so I got about a pound of it to use as my main green vegetable for my smoothie today. So total was combined clover and sweet pea sprouts. While at Berkeley Bowl I bought a type of organic kale I'd not seen before, but it didn't go into the smoothie today. I plan to try it out later this week!

The rest of the smoothie was made up of:
  • frozen pineapple and strawberries
  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened organic soy milk
  • 3 scoops of whey protein vanilla shake mix
  • a few sprinkles of steevia extract sweetener
This makes enough for two breakfasts. The sprouts give a very strong flavor and I couldn't consume it all in one go. I had half, took Aidan to school, got back from my powerwalk and now I was just able to finish it.

With it being October already, that means I've been drinking green smoothies on a fairly regular basis for 10 months now. Knock wood, I've hardly gotten sick and have been feeling healthy and fantastic!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Work Updates & Planning a Thailand Return

Wow, three weeks already and now we're in a new month! I was dreading October's arrival a little bit because I was wishing for September to stretch on a few more days. Why? Because I was so disappointed in my earnings! My stroller site's traffic was like a roller coaster, up then down, up then down, and all the while trending slightly downward. BOO! Turns out quite a few business owners experienced the same phenomenon.

Because of this and past experience of my sites falling prey to Google's algorithm changes, I need a more diverse income, so I've decided to pursue my old job in Bangkok when we return to Thailand. Originally I was adamant about not doing anything but working on my sites, but I think that earning a local currency with an occupation that is high in demand is smarter, just in case my income gets slashed in half because of a whimsical change on Google's end. Once I get my income WAY up will I decide it's time to cut back on teaching.

So here's the plan: Currently I've been working mornings to administrate the annual California English language learner's test within the local school district. So far my team and I have finished two middle schools with one more to go. That should be done in about a week and a half. After that, it's full throttle with my websites, writing as much content as possible and starting site #4 in about four months.

Then come January I will contact my former employer in Bangkok and discuss coming back, when, negotiate pay and Aidan's tuition. I'm confident I'll get hired back on since the director said he would welcome my return, plus I've stayed in the education system, more or less, in the six years I've been away.

Before January, I'm getting Golf's and Aidan's passports updated.

I've told my husband that he will be in a unique and valuable position in Thailand because he is so fluent in English and familiar with western ways. He's been disconnected with any network in Bangkok because he's lived in the US for so long, and it's important to have connections to find any decent employment for Thais.

I told him he could probably find work at the US Embassy or through one of the businesses at the American Chamber of Commerce Thailand since he is a US citizen now. He needs to just promote himself and attend some events.

Overall, he's not nearly as excited about returning as I am. I will miss my friends and family here, but I've always thrived in Thailand and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience there. I always felt my opportunities shined brighter abroad and it will be my chance to shine again for a few short years. Golf prefers life in California. It's all a compromise!

So that's it for now. Here's expecting that October going forward will bring on more fruitful abundance!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting Back to Thai

First a little backstory: I had known in the back of my head about this podcast production called Bangkok Podcast, but I had forgotten about it until I read Cat's post that it was shutting down. So in my curiosity, I went to iTunes and downloaded a couple of episodes and was extremely impressed with the production.

So impressed, in fact, that I've been voraciously listening to multiple episodes per day, reminiscing about my time in Thailand from 2001-2005. Greg, one of the Bangkok Podcast hosts, has been there since 2001 as well and on his personal blog, he had commented about spending the last decade in Krung Thep and how much change had taken place. Boy could I relate to his photos of the new Paragon shopping center under construction and how sad it was to see the beautifully designed Intercontinental Hotel get torn down (at least I got to go inside once and tour the gardens before Paragon!) I also remember the opening of the MRT subway and how exciting that was despite the initial glitches.

Anyway, getting back to Thai. In their Bangkok Podcast, Greg and his co-host Tony have a Thai language series where they talk about learning Thai from foreigners who have become fluent in the language and they discuss how they did it and what it is like living in Thailand when this major form of communication is opened up to them. It's been so engaging and encouraging that I've decided to crack down on my Thai again.

I have 7 months to see how far I can get and this is my plan. Rather than go out and spend a ton of money, I'm going to work with what I already have and the goal is to READ. Reading will improve my vocabulary and therefore improve my speaking. It will open up my world.

So I will finish with my two novels I'm currently involved in and as soon as I'm done with them, I'm going to finish the Teach Yourself Thai book I'm in the middle of - and have been for over a year - and then get Benjawan's newest talking dictionary. Even that one is on hold, because I have her old one that I think will do for now.

Then I plan to go through all of Aidan's worksheets from his summer Thai school and read all the new words on them, write them out, translate them and study them. Learn Thai with a 6-year-old! I'd like to see how far I can take it by March or April 2012.

Because our goal is to go back to Bangkok at that time!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Golf is a US Citizen!

Our family reached a major milestone today. My husband became a citizen of the United States on this day!
He took the Oath of Citizenship at the Paramount Theater in Oakland this morning along with 1,200 other people from 96 countries. The balcony of the beautiful theater was filled with friends and family for the joyous occasion. Mom and Dad made the journey the night before and joined us.

The night before, the parents took us out in a celebration dinner at a steakhouse in Oakland and while the restaurant was more casual than expected, the food was outstanding! I just shared with Aidan and Mom, but Golf had a huge steak that he devoured and was a happy and satisfied man.

On Wednesday, the BIG day, Aidan didn't go to school so he could attend, too. The ceremony was just right, not too long. The MC could greet and say some sentences in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Tagalog, French and Hindi and needless to say, all of us in the audience were impressed!

Later on, the lady who would do the swearing-in oath, read the names of the 96 countries represented that day. When your home country was read, you would stand and by the end of the list, everyone was standing. They were then instructed to raise their right hand and repeat the oath line by line. It was cool.

Then new citizens handed in their green cards and received a certificate of naturalization. They now don't have to prove that they are in the United States legally. Think about it. I don't have to carry documentation with me because I am a citizen. Golf doesn't either. Made me feel so good and it brought a big cheer in the audience.

It was such a great day and Golf was on top of the world as we all were.

Next step in the coming months is to get his American passport.With a green card, his travel prospects were restricted, along with time limits. But with citizenship his options just expanded significantly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Website Showcase: Baby Development News

Attention new moms! I want to show you a fabulous website called Baby Development News, which is all about ensuring your baby masters and fully develops all natural skills, abilities and talents during the first 24 months.

Baby Development News is run by webmaster/owner Dalene, who is a professional occupational therapist. She enjoys the company of children and especially newborns to age 10 years. Dalene's passion is to help babies and children achieve their full potential and develop their natural abilities.

BDN has informative articles on baby's progress, such as the time they are newborns and during their first year. On BDN you will also learn about the skills children must master, such as language development.

You also get valuable information about the best developmental baby toys and some informative baby food reviews.

So come check out Baby Development News to have all your questions answered by Dalene, who's got one heck of a site that greatly helps parents with small children.

Original Article written for the best baby strollers blog at Stroller Envy

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day Trip to Point Reyes

Golf had a bunch of work to do yesterday, so I planned a day outing for Aidan and myself. I wanted to take Aidan to the real ocean because he had only been around San Francisco Bay, particularly in Alameda. He'd never seen the open ocean in all its glory.

I wanted to go to Point Reyes National Seashore. The last time I had been there was at least 20 years ago on a camping trip with the family and Mellie came along too. I wanted to show Aidan the lighthouse there, since I think he would be impressed. So I packed us a lunch and we took off for our destination.

By looking on the map I thought it would take maybe an hour or so to get there, but in all it took just over 2 hours! The fog was lifting when we crossed the San Rafael bridge - clear at the coast! COOL! This time of year it usually clears up by late morning.

However, once we got nearer to the ocean, the fog came back with a vengeance and by the time we reached the lighthouse it was so thick with misty fog that you couldn't see much of anything. It was a tiny bit scary driving in that when you're on a narrow road and signs on either side of the road warn you of the dangerous cliffs. So I inched along at about 15 MPH not caring if the car behind me got impatient. Let them!

But the ocean was impressive and the cliffs were beautiful once we arrived. We had to climb down hundreds of narrow stairs down to the old lighthouse. The fog horn was sounding off in intervals.

Aidan got to go onto the lighthouse and was impressed with it all around. We also got to see some resident deer up close.

When the lighthouse visit was done, we ate lunch in the car. We had just enough time to visit one of the beaches before we had to head back. The unexpected time it took to get there gave us less time to hang out before hitting rush hour traffic back in the Bay Area.

So I gave us about 50 minutes to explore a nearby beach. It was still a bit foggy but starting to clear up a little bit so you could see some scenery.

I was impressed and astounded at Mother Nature today. I have never seen the waves so huge, and I mean that sincerely! Signs at the beach warned us not to swim or even wade in the water because of the rough surf and sure enough it was not an inviting ocean on that day.

The only unfortunate thing that happened was that my trusty old hiking boots fell apart. The rubber soles corroded from the salty air and sand. I felt sad because these boots went with me on my Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and through many hikes and adventures. I may see about getting them resoled because they're good leather and extremely comfortable, just a little bit heavy.

Dad even bought Aidan some new hiking boots so we can take more hiking day trips. I love getting into Nature and being in the outdoors and want to share that with my son in a big way. Golf ain't into it much, he's an indoor man.

Anyway, it was a fantastic way to end the summer holidays. Today is catching up on chores, tomorrow is the day the kids come to the Thai Temple to receive their certificates of course completion and then Monday Aidan starts Grade 1 - with the teacher I requested, too! Life is great.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Catch-Up

It's hard to believe that school has started for many Bay Area districts on Monday. I've never heard of school starting in mid-August! Aidan doesn't start kindergarten until the 29th, so we've got about a week and a half left and in that time we'll visit my parents for a long weekend before school starts as well.

Aidan has been going to his Thai language and culture school at the temple in Berkeley four days a week and he's learned a lot. This year's teachers are fantastic! They give out homework and demand excellence from the students. The kids work hard. They also want to make sure the kids know how to stand for the Thai national anthem properly. If the etiquette is never practiced, it can never be learned!

On Sunday the 14th, the temple celebrated Thai Mother's Day and this photo is from that ceremony. Aidan impressed everyone when he said in Thai that his loves me the most in the whole world. He speaks flawlessly for a boy his age and his exposure to Thai. Aidan's love for his father and Golf's insistence in speaking only Thai has made Aidan fully bilingual. It's absolutely wonderful!

Golf had his citizenship test on the 8th and he passed it with no problem as I knew he would! He's now awaiting the notification of when his oath taking will be. Next on the agenda, once he's officially an American, is to get his new passport and research ways to do some government translation projects.

On the 9th I began working at the testing center, testing incoming kindergarteners with their English and it's been fun working with such cute little ones. Aidan is so much more grown and mature in just a year, it's amazing to compare.

So now I'm working only in the mornings rather than sticking around for afternoon sessions. This is because I want some time to work on my websites! My online earnings are now replacing what I would have earned working full time at the testing center. YES! So now I've decided to only use my substitute teaching permit for the CELDT every year. No more substitute teaching. Not that I did it much last year anyway - I think I did it twice.

My plans are to get a new laptop within the next few months. This one is already about 3 years old, which, by technology definition, means it's out of date! But I'm going to give it to Golf to replace his Toshiba laptop which is about 6 1/2 years old! Yeah, he needs an update much more desperately!

I've been out promoting Stroller Envy, putting out a press release called All-Terrain Strollers Hot Sales Items this Summer. I invested quite a bit into this release, so we'll see how well it does over time. I also wrote a couple of guest posts for a blog called New Parent Tips. The first is called Top 3 Disney Cars Toys for Your Toddler for The Leaping Lamp and the second is called Trending Now: Convertible Strollers. I've been quite pleased with how much I've been writing for other blogs. I've got another new article due to Shopaholic Mommy tomorrow.

I tried out FaceBook ads for The Leaping Lamp and got about a hundred new fans, and for both sites, I've become more active on site blogging which seems to have boosted traffic. It's been both fun and enlightening with how much work marketing your product takes.

Having my own business has been one of the best expressions and journeys of self-growth I've ever been on. I've learned so much, both about business, online marketing and humanity all at once - it is quite an education in and of itself. I'm grateful for the experience. The feeling of taking matters into your own hands and creating your own economic reality on your own terms is utterly priceless.

Speaking of which, I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan. How does that relate? He's got a movement he's started called The Great Recovery. He believes that The Great Recession can be healed and it starts from the bottom up rather than the top down through government jobs programs. I agree with him because I'm doing it myself.

He talks about "God's way of handling money" and while I am not a Christian I feel that these principles hold truth. The debtor is slave to the lender. I've always felt this way. Save your money, sacrifice now for better returns later. Always felt a connection with that. Ramsey can be a bit controversial, but that makes him entertaining. He's uplifting and positive, most of all, and he cuts through all the BS that you hear every day from our so-called leaders in office. BLEH!

So that's what's up for now. I should update more often so that I don't write so much next time!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Always Moving Forward

Suddenly three weeks has gone by and I realized I haven't updated my personal blog! The main reason is that I've had some articles published elsewhere on the web that I want to bring your attention to, but had to wait until they'd been released.

First let me start with a little story. I was reading the SBI member forums of one web entrepreneur who started in 2009, just like me, and she has two websites, just like me, but unlike me, her websites are earning her $10k in monthly income! It made me feel a bit like a fool because my websites aren't yet earning 1/10th of what hers are, but I must realize that my niches are different.

My Pixar site simply doesn't have the commercial intent that her sites do, but I think that over time, it will earn a higher income, though not a powerhouse of income.

Her story also inspired me, to know what the possibilities are. She gave some valuable tips that I implemented right away and I hope that these little tweaks will make a difference.

On Tuesday I had my first major press release unleashed upon the media around the world! Actually, in January I had published another one, but it was quite limited in its distribution compared with this one. I shelled out some serious cash for this release, and I've yet to be able to measure the results, but from what I understand, such press releases are always worth the investment. The article is about the popularity of all terrain strollers and the title is All-Terrain Strollers Hot Sales Items this Summer.

It hasn't generated the extra links I was hoping for, but at least I have a good link from PRWeb.

I've also gotten some media inquiries from the article, one from a lifestyle show in Florida. I thought that was pretty cool, except that as the conversation moved forward, I was told that I'd have to pay over $5,000 to "insure" the show that I'd show up for the interviews for the show segment! Whoa, I don't think so! Even if I had that kind of money. You'd think that simply the opportunity to promote your product or service would be motivating enough! I'd never heard of this practice before.

Lastly, I just had an article published over at Shopaholic Mommy about the Contours line of Kolcraft strollers. The new tandem Optima is exciting and the entire brand is surprisingly good quality for prices that are almost too good to be true.

While you're on her site, you should check out the other deals and topics she writes about. It's quite helpful, entertaining and interesting.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Involved at Thai School

Last week we had a parent meeting for the Aidan's Thai school at the Berkeley Wat and we hashed out a schedule for several parents to come supervise during the lunch hour. So now every Thursday I have lunch duty, but since my required time to be there is in the middle of the day, I've chosen to make an entire day of it from the time I take Aidan to school to when I bring him home.

While my work time is cut down to only 3 days a week, I get an opportunity to benefit from several different experiences. First, I get to know the other parents and teachers better by chatting with them more often. This creates a tighter community. Secondly, I get to immerse myself in Thai language and improve my skills.

I am very happy to say that when I was helping out in Aidan's classroom yesterday, I could understand everything the teacher was telling the kids! The years of listening to Golf and Aidan communicate has paid off and I was pleased at how much I could understand. Now if all Thais spoke to me like a 6-year-old kid, I'd be just fine! LOL!

It was a great day and I enjoyed the change. I am grateful that I am my own boss and have the luxury of being able to carve out my schedule any way I like or need. My work time may have been reduced, but it is to be expected during summer months. I have a clear vision of what I want my mini empire to look like and it may just take a tiny bit longer to get there. No worries. What I get to contribute to the wat and Thai community is extremely important and benefits others as well as myself.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Taking a One-Month Break

Since January I have incorporated green smoothies into my diet. I feel great and what's not to love about fresh greens and delicious sweet fruit blended together.

The only problem is that since January I've gained about 6 pounds! The only thing that has changed is my smoothies - I haven't changed any other eating habits or exercise. So I cannot help but think that there is a correlation, though it MAY be a slowing metabolism, hopefully not.

Just for kicks, I'm going to stop my green smoothie intake for the next month and see if it has any effect. I hate how my clothes fit and how my body looks, so I'm all on it! Wish me luck and I'll report back in a month

Friday, June 24, 2011

Alternate Life?

Yesterday a former colleague I worked with as a teacher at a bilingual school in Bangkok confirmed me as her friend on Facebook.

She was another English teacher, an American just a few years younger than me, who had come from Vietnam to teach in Thailand.

Ended up she didn't like teaching at that particular school very much (spoiled kids) and her long-term European boyfriend couldn't get work, so she finished her contract and moved back to Vietnam with him.

On my side, I had a baby and then moved back to the USA with my little family. I haven't seen or heard from her since.

But I looked her up the other day on FaceBook and she's been living in Vietnam the whole time, teaching English, getting her advanced degree to further her opportunities. So that's what - 5 or 6 years in Vietnam?

Now she's moving with her partner to Bangladesh to teach in Dakha.

Wow, what a life. It would have been mine, you know.

Before meeting Golf I was planning on moving to a different country to teach English. I would have gone to at least a few more countries for the experience, excitement and to move out of my comfort zone.

So after contacting her, I reflected on what her life must be like and what my alternate life would have been like had I not met Golf and gotten married.

I had fun doing it because I'm GRATEFUL for how my life has turned out today, but still like to imagine if things had been different. And now I can follow her around on FaceBook and watch how this new chapter in her life unfolds. How exciting!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Out of the Hole & New Articles

I am on top of the world!
It looks like the "Google hole" I fell into in mid-April is no more. As of Friday, my traffic has bounced back to April levels and I couldn't be more thrilled. I feel like I can get on with my career now and focus on continued delivery of optimum-quality information for moms looking for strollers.

This entire experience, while it sucked, was very good for me and my handling of fear and anxiety. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and you have the choice to panic and flounder or command the aspects of your business and your life that you DO have control over. It was a great life lesson, but at the same time, I am very glad it's over with.

Some New Articles
And now I'd like to direct you to a couple of new articles I've written! I really love writing for others, and here we go.

First, if you're coming out my way and would like to visit SF, then you must see San Francisco, A Great Family Destination over at Atlas Travel - they've got great deals and are recommended to help you plan your next vacation.

Lastly, if you're a mom in the market for an umbrella stroller and you're considering a Maclaren, you might not be sure about this product after the recent hinge recall. Find out what happened, what parents think about Maclaren strollers now and get a breakdown of all the models when you read Maclaren Going Forward over on Shopaholic Mommy.

Have a great week, everybody!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Still on my Green Smoothies and other updates

So it's been half a year now and I am still on my green smoothie diet. Many who are proponents suggest drinking a quart per day, but I just can't manage that into my lifestyle at the moment. Instead I drink about a pint per day or one large glass of it in the morning.

I've gotten more efficient at preparing the greens, although I still go for the same ones: spinach, collards, kale, red chard and green chard. I tend to buy two kinds per trip, a combination of a bitter, thick green with a smooth mild green. Example: this week I'm mixing collards with green chard.

Mixing it up to make it more palatable is the fruit. I totally love mangoes and you can get them cheap n frozen at Trader Joe's. I've also simply bought what's on sale, like this week it was peaches. Mango and peach taste great together!

Anyway, I've been quite proud that I've been able to maintain this new eating habit and there's just nothing like fresh fruit and raw vegetables first thing in the morning to give you lots of energy.

Thai School
This week Aidan started Thai school at the temple in Berkeley. He goes Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM til 2 PM. He's one of the only kids who utters a word of Thai to his teachers who are teaching students spending a year in the USA. It certainly helps that Golf refuses to speak to him unless it is in Thai - it has made a HUGE difference. The teachers rave about Aidan's Thai language and it certainly makes us proud!

The boy who was a bully last year has returned, much to our disappointment. But the teachers this year are more structured and more strict with the kids, plus we warned them about the bully and how he behaved last year. Today was the first report Aidan had that the bully's true colors finally showed. Took only 3 days! Aidan knows how to defend himself now and and knows to tell a teacher immediately if he is being bullied. He didn't seem upset by it when he came home today, so I feel alright about it.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Making Myself Rich

About two or three months ago I was listening to The Dave Ramsey Show on the radio when Dave began the segment by interviewing a man he called his "brother of a different mother" because he connected so much. This man is named Tim Sanders and they talked about his new book called Today We are Rich. 

The focus of the book is developing total confidence in your life, which in turn, gives your life meaning and purpose. This is the recipe for a rich life. Not to mention it helps bolster your financial prospects.

Many aspects of the Today We Are Rich are practices that I already engage in on a regular basis. Some I did now and then but do more regularly now, like verbalizing aloud my intentions, requests for guidance and my gratitude. I get the opportunity to do that almost every morning along a quiet beach with a gorgeous view of San Francisco in the distance. WOW.

But there was one lesson in Today We Are Rich that took me by surprise and deeply affected me.  I would like to share that with you.

The most profound  takeaway from the book was toward the end, where Mr. Sanders dissected the difference between following your passion and following your purpose. Oh if only I had access to this advice15 years ago!!! I'd be a different person by now, but better late than never.

What is the difference between your passion and your purpose? Your passion is self centered while your purpose is your service to others. Sanders says that when you blindly pursue your passion you end up drifting aimlessly doing what you want to do instead of doing what you need to do to contribute to society.

Oh my gosh, this is so much my life because it wasn't until I moved away to Thailand in my early 30s that my life had any purpose and meaning. I chose to live abroad and teach so that I could make a difference to children and help them with one of the most important parts of life, their education. I also needed to take myself out of my familiar environment to heal emotionally.

It wasn't until I had a life of purpose that the things I wanted in life finally happened. I found love, got married and became a mother.

In my early and mid twenties, my life was all about partying. I was completely hedonistic; I lived for fun. It set the course of my life - self gratification.

Then I had been a dissatisfied drifter, deeply unhappy with unsatisfying relationships and vocations that  were just jobs. I was still living for the weekend and work was drudgery. I totally reaped what I sowed because I followed my passions, which back then was educating myself on topics Art Bell would talk about on Coast to Coast, namely UFOs and extraterrestrial life. It consumed me! And it is still interesting, though not worth so much of my invested time.

Then I got hit by the travel bug in my late 20s and early 30s and my life was focused on being adventurous by following my passion for travel. I was always looking outward, never thinking that looking inward and finding meaning in all of this would end all this seeking.

Now a decade later, I have finally matured and feel spiritually centered. In that time I have discovered  meaning after my first few years being a new mom and redefining my sense of self yet again. It has not been an easy road to take, and this is a huge lesson I plan on teaching my son so that he hopefully will find his way sooner than me. It certainly avoids much suffering!

So the bottom line that Tim Sanders makes in his book is to follow your purpose instead of pursuing your passion. Enjoy your passion because it makes you feel good and it's a fun play time. But in the end it is only self-gratification.

You might want to read Today We Are Rich as well, so that you can find a takeaway in your life that really makes a big difference and helps you achieve the power of total confidence.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Aidan!

Yesterday was a memorable day for my son, who turned 6 years old. Melanie and Daryll decided to throw him a party at a nearby Chuck E. Cheese and it was a blast. What started out as 5 people turned into 12 as the week went on and plans were made.

Who all came? Aidan, Golf and I,  Mel & Daryll, Caroline, Mom & Dad, Josh, James & Mariko. We got there at noon and Mel had already got us a set of tables with Toy Story napkins, plates and balloons. We got tokens right away and Aidan went off to play while I visited with Mom and Mel. All the men had a great time going back to their boyhood and playing arcade games. :)

Aidan had a chocolate layer cake and TONS of presents! From Mel & Daryll he got a Pirates of the Caribbean poster and Jack Sparrow costume, Mater alarm clock, Toy Story 3 Wii game, and a neat floppy kind of Frisbee.

This morning Aidan woke up to his new clock and he was loving it! He's also got his poster set up right over his bed and it looks fantastic!

Caroline got Aidan a Spirograph, which Aidan absolutely loves. He began using it as soon as we got home and can already make some neat designs.

Mom and Dad got him a set of jammies and some money for his college fund (I have to remember to get that done today!)

Mar, James & Josh got Aidan a Mater's Adventures Wii game and some nori seaweed for rice rolls for his lunches. Yummy! Aidan will probably start playing his new game over the next week. He started his Toy Story game last night, and I'm sure he'll begin his new Mater game too.

Golf and I got Aidan a new Ironman comforter and sheet set, Golf got him a Masked Rider action figure and a Japanese robot he loved as a kid. I got him a 60-piece world map floor puzzle since he loves the big USA puzzle he has.

It was an AWESOME party and one he won't soon forget. What a special day and a big huge THANK YOU to everyone, especially Mellie and Daryll for putting it all together. You're the greatest. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Night of Fun with Kylie Minogue

For the second time in about a year I got to go see Kylie in concert! This is her APHRODITE LES FOLIES 2011 TOUR.

Caroline got our tickets and we went with her friend Woody and Michelle. We danced and sang along and lost our hearing! LOL! What a great night. :)

Here are some YouTube videos of her concert - not in San Francisco, but other parts of the world, but it is the same show.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Now a Bi-Monthly Contributor!

I've got my first regular writing gig and I'm very excited about it! Tina over at Shopaholic Mommy and I have collaborated together and worked out an arrangement where I will be writing a bi-monthly column about strollers!

The first article I wrote is about your reviews. Consumer reviews have become so important for both future customers and for manufacturers and marketers. It's a first-hand insight to a person's unique experience with the product and it might be similar to what you may go through if you purchase it too.

I want to know what to expect if I plunk down my cash for a product. And in the case of strollers, it can be several hundred dollars!

So in my first column at Shopaholic Mommy, I talk about the stroller manufacturer Baby Jogger. They are one of the most popular companies on the market today and they paid close attention to the customer reviews on sites like Amazon and, where some reviews were less than stellar and quite consistent with the same problems in a few of their stroller models.

Find out what that problem was, which stroller had that problem and what Baby Jogger did about it in my first column: How Your Stroller Reviews Helped Baby Jogger. Leave a comment when you're done! :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Facing My First Challenge

While the world is fixated on Bin Ladin's death a few days ago, I am completely focused on my business and my first problem I've encountered thus.

So on my stroller site I'd been experiencing nothing but roaring success, meeting my goals ahead of the date I set. Then I got hit by a Google algorithm update just before Easter and my traffic drops by a whopping 2/3!

Needless to say, for about a week I was half-paralyzed in shock. While I realize that Google does not owe me a living, I had been working on my site full-time, pouring ALL my energy into it and pushing myself to the maximum to put out the best quality information on the internet. That's saying a lot, considering the crap sites out there, so I was floored when Google deemed my site not worthy of ranking.

So I did the only thing I could do - I did a careful self-audit of my site and fixed a few problems and kept building more pages. I have to have faith that this will all work out.

One successful "infopreneur" had traffic plummet on his site too, a few years ago, and he mentioned how he had faith and kept building. His traffic returned within 3 months and skyrocketed afterward. I have to believe that my site will do the same.

This is my business and the ONLY thing I want to do. I WILL overcome!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finally getting somewhere

I've been working on my business for almost 2 years now - lots of hard work. And as I let go of one site that is dear to my heart but utterly makes me no money, my other business is starting to take off. This is so encouraging to me because my first site did not do well monetizing, but it is still slowly growing even though I've pretty much put it on auto pilot while I focus on my money maker.

I can't tell you how good it feels to finally be making some real money! There is nothing I want more than financial success with my own creations using the skills and talents I've developed. Seeing results after two years of very hard work is a long time and most probably would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.

But I'm persistent.

To keep my mindset in success-mode I actually listen to Dave Ramsey often on the radio or a podcast recording while I make dinner.  While he focuses on getting people out of debt and we are actually debt-free, I like to listen as it is inspiring and gives me momentum.

I learned of an author named Tim Sanders who has a new book out called Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence and one of the things you need to do if you weren't raised with an entrepreneurial/success mindset from childhood (like me!) you need to feed your mind all the time with good stuff. Dave had said that earlier too, and recommends that we read a book a month about business or success or leadership.

A week ago I ordered a book called Thou Shall Prosper, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin on how and why Jewish people have prospered over the centuries. He discusses the values, beliefs and attitudes Jews are raised with so that others can take in these values as well and make them our own. Simple curiosity prompted me to buy this book because it is true - most Jewish people I know are successful and driven. Why? I'm learning. :)

The author also recommends we read a business biography or some other book that increases our wisdom and feeds our minds.

So among Rabbi Lapin, Dave Ramsey and Tim Sanders all recommending the same way to feed the mind, I cannot ignore this piece of advice being heralded by each of these successful people. Since I love books, I have no problem getting this permission to read!

And now that I am finally making some money, I can afford to buy more books.

Once I finish Thou Shall Prosper, the next book waiting for me in my room is The Seven Lost Secrets of Success by Joe Vitale, who goes over this copy writing genius named Bruce Barton who wrote an ad that got a 100% response. This is not only success-oriented reading, but development for my own copy writing skills.

I feel my momentum building and I just had to share it with you all.

My friend Caroline has predicted that I will be earning enough monthly income by my birthday in mid-December to safely move back to Thailand without making it necessary to take a teaching job. That sounds like a fantastic goal to me!

December 2011 = $2500 in monthly income.

I can do it!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cherry Blossom Time!

Yesterday was special. We went to San Francisco to Japan Town to join in the yearly Cherry Blossom festivities! It was an adventure getting there because parking so horrific we decided to take the BART train then a bus. And since it had been such a long time, we couldn't remember the fares.

Let me tell you on a side note - it is EXPENSIVE just to get into the City. The train was $14 for two people round trip. Aidan got in for free but I think this may be the last year he can get away with it. Then the bus fare is now $2 per person, so that's $8 round trip, and again for now, Aidan rode for free. So let's see, just to get to Japan Town cost us $22. That's why we don't go to San Francisco very often. Hell, it wouldn't cost that much less to drive what with bridge tolls and parking meters, IF you can find a spot. OK rant over.
 When we arrived, it was lunch time and we went to Golf's favorite Japanese restaurant. I enjoyed Zaru Soba - a cold buckwheat noodle dish with dipping sauce and it came with five pieces of sushi that I shared with Golf and Aidan.

Aidan had his favorite gyoza and shrimp tempura. Golf had beef  mixed with egg and green onions over rice. Unfortunately I cannot think of the name of it! Top it all off with some delicious green tea and we were set to explore.

We walked around the displays and through the shops. Golf bought Aidan some red bean ice cream and while we ate it we watched the taiko drummers during the opening ceremony. Then we walked around some more in the shops and I bought some sublime smelling incense, which is more subtle and soft than traditional Indian incense that is more readily available.

After more meandering we went back to the main stage where we got to watch some traditional dancing, which was very lovely to see.  Later the karate demonstration would begin. That was the highlight for the boys since Aidan has been taking karate classes.

This dojo - or school - was quite good and far more serious about their training than what Aidan's class is about. His class is more like an introduction to karate. While Aidan has earned a yellow belt in his class (the next higher level than absolute beginning white belt), the yellow belts in this dojo were far more advanced.

And the teacher, sensai, had a clear, strong voice. I LOVED his voice as he counted out in Japanese and gave commands in Japanese that these American children responded to. It was extremely impressive. I'm looking forward to sending Aidan to a more serious school when we can come up with the money. I think he will be ready very soon.

There were lots of demonstrations both from beginning students and advanced. The teachers put on demonstrations as well with impressive fights and they also kicked through baseball bats and boards. The final showpiece though was when the master sensai karate chopped through oblong blocks of ice. The first was held vertically. Then he chopped through five layers of these "ice boards". Aidan was cheering with delight!

We were absolutely freezing though. The wind was fierce and we ended up sitting in the shade of the Peace Pagoda. Even with Aidan's thick coat his teeth were chattering. By then Aidan was pretty tired and we headed back. It was a full day and lots of fun.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Posting on other Blogs

When I started looking at ways to market my websites, one of the strongest ways I've found to do it is to write up a quality article with a few links back to my site. It's proven to be extremely powerful.

Because social media is all about spreading the word, I'd like to point you toward the latest post I've written on a blog called Born 2 Impress. The article is called Top 3 Travel Systems for Newborns and you'll be surprised at how small babies can be to ride in these strollers and car seats. While you're there, check out Jen's fabulous giveaways. She's always got some incredible deal going on. :)

I would also like to promote an article I wrote on the air travel with strollers on Simply Stacie called Mangled on Arrival Or... Simply Stacie is a blog that also promotes giveaways and contests and has some great articles in the mix as well. Go check it out!

I'm also looking at what else I can do with this blog to bring in more income. It's all about diversifying your streams, right? Today I found a site called LinkFromBlog where advertisers can buy blog reviews from blog owners like me to write about them and link to their site. Much like what I did for the owner at Born 2 Impress. Kind of neat, huh? I'm still learning more, but I will let you know what I find out. 

Advertise with my Blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Clearer Focus on My Career

Have you ever ventured forth on a project and discovered a skill you have but need to improve and sharpen? Knowing that you can perfect this skill could mean far better opportunities for you in the future - a leveraging of your skill, so to say.

I've always known my writing was good. I used to write emails to my friends and family when I lived in Thailand telling them about my adventures. Then I started this blog shortly afterward. I'd get feedback saying how well I wrote and I could grip my audience with a story.

Now I write for business purposes, but that does not equate to boring, dry, dead content. Quite the opposite actually! Because I am genuinely interested in the product I'm selling and when I write about it, that interest shines through.

How am I getting a clearer focus on my career then, you ask. I'm honing my writing skills for creating better value while at the same time perfecting the ad copy within that content. It's one thing to provide information, quite another to create desire.

That whole playing with the mind thing has perked my interest and has me hooked. Now being in control of my own mind, my own feelings and emotions and being aware of what I'm thinking and feeling is fascinating as it is. But using my words on a website to influence and guide other people's thoughts and feelings is almost the same thing and I find it utterly irresistible!

I've been studying how to do this effectively and have been trying it out and I think it looks pretty good. I have LOTS to do, lots to practice, but it looks like it is beginning to work. If I can do this and do it well, which is my intention and goal, then this skill can translate to a business asset I can leverage no matter how my websites are doing. I can take it to the world at large and market myself as a successful copywriter. In other words, I'm making myself more marketable in the work place. That's always a good thing.

I'll give you an update in a few months to let you know how this little experiment is doing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rainy Spring Break

Aidan's been home this week because it's spring break and it's been rainy most the time. We didn't sign him up for any extracurricular activities, so Golf and I have been trying our best to keep him occupied and engaged. Golf bought some clay and papier mache to make some masks, and while it didn't go as planned, they both had lots of fun.

Yesterday I took Aidan to see a friend of mine who has a 9 month old baby and it was fun to see him interact with the infant. My friend Stella and I got to catch up a lot and talk babies; she's a SAHM and is all baby all the time, so she was craving some time with a friend. I brought some sushi and we enjoyed lunch together.

I finally got to see her stroller, too, which I had been bugging her about, but it was always kept in her car trunk because it is heavy and bulky. She got a First Years Wave, one of those beautiful prams with reversible seat that can also hold a car seat. She loves it but the frame is just too big for her to get it out of the car on her own while holding her baby. I got to play around with it and while it is ungainly while setting it up, it is VERY nice once assembled. I can see why she likes it when she has it out.

But baby Luke doesn't care for it a whole lot. He's still young, though. Aidan didn't much like his stroller when he was that age, but at least he liked his Snuggli. I still remember pushing my stroller til Aidan got tired of being in it, then I'd put him in the carrier, and I'd carry him and push the stroller. It wasn't til he was about a year old that he dug going for stroller rides.

I'm also on a bit of a vacation, too. Since Aidan is at home, I don't frustrate myself by trying to get much work done. Instead of working on my websites, I'm improving my writing skills by learning how to write better copy that sells. I had bought a book before called Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words, by Joe Vitale. It's been a very good lesson and I have some additional resources to better my writing style. It is my intention that these skills will serve me in the future with or without a website, as I think that persuasive selling writing is always going to be in demand.

So while my week is not nearly as productive, per se, it is productive in a different way as I am gaining something. Perhaps it is better like this, because ALL workers must take time to improve and learn new skills.

Man oh man how I love what I do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Made a Hard Choice

I made a painful decision at the beginning of March. I decided to let my blog go. Not this one - my Expat Women in Thailand blog.

It had been giving me troubles since the beginning - for nearly two years you could not find it in Google at all. As it turns out, I think I had made a selection in WordPress options that it not be found in search engines! Whoa, exactly what I DON'T want!

Then I only updated the blog once a month. Used to be bi-weekly, and before that weekly. I just didn't have the time to keep it up, nor was I in the proper environment rich with topics to write about (actually LIVING there!)

The entire reason I started the blog was that I had written an e-book and built the blog around the e-book to support it and market it. However, since I haven't actually LIVED in Thailand for going on six years now, it no longer felt authentic. Things change quickly in Bangkok. We visited for three weeks in Nov. 2008 and my how it had changed since we left in late 2005! I can't write like I know what I'm talking about if I'm not actually THERE, as I'm sure you'd agree.

Golf and I didn't expect we'd be back here in the States this long, either, but this Great Recession has kicked our butts and we've basically been in survival mode for years now, just paying our monthly bills and getting by. The good news is that within a year it is our goal to return for a couple of years for Aidan's schooling, we should be ready by then.

I hope to make my living outside of teaching and make my income purely online for the greatest flexibility. Ideally, maybe I'd teach part time, like an English reading and writing extracurricular class to improve English literacy for those students who show interest or who excel in English - it will also ensure that Aidan stay current with his English while living there. I've given that some thought, as you can tell!  It will also get me out into the community, which is important to me when living in Thailand.

Will I keep my Expat blog going then? Not likely. There are so many resources online right now and the niche for expat women in Thailand is still so small that I cannot make any money with it.

I sold one copy of my e-Book once every three months or so. That's just under $15 USD or about $5 per month. I need to update my guide once every six months because I use active URLs as resources. Companies and restaurants change or go out of business - MANY of them - and new ones come onto the scene. It takes me a full WEEK to update and change all the information in my eBook to keep it current. One week for an average of $5 per month - or less? I don't think so.

I've been working, instead, on my Stroller Envy site and it's coming along quite well. Traffic is increasing 50% every month. A few months ago it was a 100% increase. I'm already making decent money from it and I only get a couple hundred visitors a day - average for a new site.

Thailand is not a profitable niche to get into if you want to make any money. Unless you write about the tourism aspect or meeting Thai women aspect, neither of which interests me at all and both are oversaturated anyway.

So that's it. I'm not deleting my blog, just not updating it. The articles currently on there are still good and provide value, but it's simply an unprofitable endeavor that I cannot afford to continue any longer. It is sad but that's life!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Books, New Seeds, New Website

I got a notice in my inbox the other day that my neighborhood Borders is going out of business. Kind of sad, because I love the atmosphere of a bookstore, how it smells from the coffee upstairs to that distinctive paper and ink scent. But it is just plain difficult to compete with online book retailers like Amazon, the competitive landscape is changing to that of a virtual world.

So I went in and bought some books I had on my wishlist because everything was 20% off and I have to say that I just checked on Amazon and their price is still lower than what I paid for at Borders with the discount. I mean, this is exactly why bookstores like Borders cannot compete. Plus I had to pay tax, but that may be changing soon for online retailers as well with states being so broke.

The first book I bought was (notice the irony with the link!) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond. I had his book Guns, Germs and Steel on my wishlist but since it was not in stock and Collapse was, plus it was the follow-up to GG&S, I got it instead.

In Collapse, Diamond explores the demise of once-productive societies such as the Maya, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse. He also sounds the alarm on environmental practices undermining modern societies, including China, Russia, Australia and the United States.

It got rave reviews and so I'm going to learn a little something.

While I was there I bought Victoria Boutenko's Green for Life, on how greens and incorporating green smoothies improves your diet and overall health. It's a more detailed look into the nutrition of raw fruits and vegetables in the diet.

As a matter of fact, yesterday I made a green smoothie with two apples, half a Meyer lemon from Mom and Dad's tree, a leaf of collard greens, and about 3 large handfuls of baby spinach. Granted all that made just over a liter and I only drink half that per day. Green Smoothie Girl and Victoria Boutenko both recommend drinking a liter, but I'm not there yet.

One pint of that smoothie and a small serving of leftover brown rice and tofu for breakfast held me over til noon. Normally I have to eat a more substantial breakfast AND have a mid-morning snack because my body just gets HUNGRY during the morning and mid-day. But I didn't one pang at all, which is simply amazing.

So as I was reading Green for Life, Boutenko mentions using chia seeds as a way of getting more fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. It also helps control your appetite when you soak the seeds and they turn into a gel because the seeds bulk up and produce a thick film around the seed. By adding 1/3 cup of seeds to a cup of water will bulk it up nicely and so you add that to your green smoothie to add lots of good fiber.

Those were all the magic words I needed to see on the page. Golf's Amazon Prime membership ends on Monday so I rushed over to see if any merchants offered Prime shipping on chia seeds. Sure enough, I found a great deal on a 3-pound bag of chia seeds and I ordered them yesterday. I plan to make chia gel and incorporate them into my smoothies, so I will tell you how it goes. Chia is supposed to not taste like anything, just act as a bulking agent to make you feel full. They do have calories though, so I cannot use too much, unlike konnyaku or shirataki, the yam noodle.

OK, lastly I want to promote my friend Benjawan Becker's new book called The Interpreter's Journal. Benjawan has taught foreigners to learn Thai and Lao over the last 15 years and in the meantime she has also been an interpreter in the northern California court system.

Follow my very personal journey starting in Thailand, the Land of Smiles. See how the influence of my family, Thai culture, Buddhism, meeting foreigners in Thailand, traveling abroad and living in the United States formed the catalyst for me to master several languages, become a professional interpreter and write numerous books on learning the Thai and Lao languages.
Her story is fascinating and inspiring. If you're interested in languages, the law, or in success stories, then The Interpreter's Journal is a good book for you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love Those Divas!

I got so distracted with work yesterday because I watched Lady Gaga's Grammy performance. Sure Born This Way sounds a lot like Express Yourself. But that's my FAVORITE Madonna song, and so something similar ain't bad.

Again I am in awe of Lady Gaga's performing talent; she's extremely over-hyped like her whole meat dress stunt, but you must admit, she's quite talented and creative in marketing herself.

What is it about these pop divas I love so much?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My How Food Prices have Risen!

This is something I think that all of you who shop for groceries have noticed - your money isn't buying you what you could get for the same amount a year ago. Whether it's rising prices or shrinking sizes, the cost is going up rather sharply!

One of the first things I noticed is sugar. I used to buy 5 pound bags every few months and the next time I needed to get some, I saw that the bags are now smaller - an entire pound smaller! Now a 4-pound bag of sugar costs me the same as what I paid for 5 pounds less than a year ago.

Next is produce. Now you'd think that by my living in California makes fruits and vegetables cheap. Not so!

Side note: I keep meaning to get to the farmer's market more often, but it's out of the way and frankly, I've been a bit LAZY about it. I promise I'll make a better effort though!

Onions, for example, are at about $1.49/lb. Potatoes, regular russet are the same price. Heavens, I used to get red potatoes, usually costing more, for 99 cents/lb! And these aren't vegetables that are necessarily out of season right now.

Then there are my greens that I have been using for my green smoothies. I usually like to get them at a different supermarket where organic costs $1.79/bunch and they are big, beautiful bunches with huge leaves. At Safeway, however, a CONVENTIONALLY grown bunch of chard cost $2.49 EACH! I just spent five bucks on two bunches of so-so greens!

For rice I've been paying about $1.79/lb in BULK for regular long grain brown rice. Couldn't you used to get this for less than half that a year ago?

So the most dramatic increase in prices that I've noticed have been in staples. Sugar, grains and fruits and vegetables. It is insane. And we're supposed to be telling people to eat healthier? How can many families afford this?

Personally, I'm going to try braving the crowds on Sundays in Berkeley when Aidan is in Thai school and go to this natural foods store that's ENORMOUS called Berkeley Bowl West. They have the largest selection of produce in northern California. And for being an expensive shi-shi grocery store, their produce actually has excellent value. Their bulk foods are also not bad.

So I shall try and plan meals better and stock up on veggies n fruit there.

What have you noticed about food prices in your area? I'd be especially interested to know how you fare in non-agricultural states.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Promoting a few articles

I've been on a mission to get out there and get social and take advantage of all the opportunities there are to connect with others online.

On Lisa's 2 Create a Website blog, she writes about reasons she won't accept a guest blog post. She then mentions a guest post author named Ann Smarty who gives tips on being a great guest blogger. It's through Lisa's site and Ann's post that I found I cant' tell you how great that site is for bringing together bloggers and those who want to write for them. I've been an active member since and have learned a lot.

It's been serendipitous with how information comes to me lately. I won't get into to it too much, but how we all come across one another is sometimes an amazing story in itself.

On that note...

Here are a couple of articles I've written for other blogs in the recent weeks. I'd like to promote them here, not only to draw attention to my article, but to get you to browse around the rest of each site. They are very well done!

Recession Friendly Cheap Strollers

Stroller Accessories Moms Swear By

Whats to Love about the Chicco Cortina Travel System?

Where to go from here...

The first month of the new year was very productive on my two websites and it has gotten me thinking about my third site, my Thailand website.

It was a labor of love I worked on 3 years ago and wrote my first e-book for women who are moving to Thailand, Bangkok especially. I created the blog to sell the e-book, but it never sold the way I wanted nor expected it to. But it's not making me hardly any money, maybe one sale every 3 months.

It's the type of e-book that has to be updated at least twice annually, with all the online information I include in it. To go through and check each link takes me about a week to do! Now do I want to spend a week of my time updating a book that makes me less than $15 once every 3 months, or spend that time working on websites that are going to bring me umpteen times as much in earnings? I think the answer is clear.

Have you had to give up a project you were emotionally connected to? What happened?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Parenting and Food Choices

I've been reading Anthony Bourdain's new book Medium Raw, and in one chapter he goes into detail how he has an entire propaganda campaign to sort of brainwash his 2 year old daughter on the evils of McDonalds.

He has to talk to her often about how Ronald McDonald smells like poop and has cooties and how the food served in McDonalds has nasty things in it (it does!).

But the entire passage left me puzzled - if you've never taken your kid into a fast food restaurant, how can your kid beg to eat there?

I've taken Aidan to McDonalds three times and it was ONLY to play at the play structure to inject some variety into our usual park outings. I ordered a Diet Coke and sat at the table outside while he played. We haven't been back in about a year.

My kid never even MENTIONS McDonalds or any fast food outlet because we simply never patronize such places. Aidan only mentions McDonalds when we pass by it and he associates the restaurant with the play structure, not the food. I'm proud to say none of the disgusting menu items have never passed my son's lips because I did my job as a parent.

So the whole controversy about San Francisco banning Happy Meal toys is absurd to me. This should be the job of parents. The rest of the country laughs at SF when they see such a story (John Stewart had a real gem on his show about this subject) because it is clear that the government is overstepping its bounds in nannying. What do you think?

Back to Anthony Bourdain: the question I kept having when reading the chapter on his daughter and Evil McDonalds is, "Why is McDonalds even on this child's radar?" All fast food restaurants are not in my child's consciousness at all. We don't make it a big deal, we don't go to fast food restaurants, and my son doesn't watch TV with the advertising about it. It's so ingrained in our lifestyle it doesn't even take any effort to avoid, either. And because it didn't take any effort, the huge amount of effort that Bourdain went through for his daughter gave me pause for consideration.

What kinds of efforts do you go to for your kid regarding fast food? Are you like Anthony Bourdain putting in lots of effort or like me where it's not an issue at all? I'd love your feedback.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2 Week Results

It's been about 2 weeks since I began making green smoothies and have noticed some changes.

First of all, I have more energy. Before I would be very sleepy by mid afternoon and need a small nap or at least a rest for a half hour to recharge my batteries. Now I can go all day long feeling alert with no feelings of sluggishness.

Next my skin has cleared up! Not completely, but at least far better than it was. That's always a plus for us ladies.

Unfortunately, husband and child aren't into the smoothies. I've even tried blending them with more fruit, but Aidan just doesn't care for it. Golf is so-so with them.

So far I've used spinach, kale, collard greens, mint, green chard and red chard. I mix them up a bit, but I find that the tougher leafed greens like the collards and kale are very "chewy" in the smoothie and I find that I have to choke it down. The softer leafed greens like spinach and chard blend more smoothly and are very easy to drink.

I like to mix these greens with fruit, usually apple and pear, and I put in a little bit of steevia in to sweeten it a bit and make it more palatable. Once melon comes into season, I'll blend in honeydew and cantaloupe.

Cucumbers and celery stalks have been added now and then to add freshness.

Within the next month or so I would like to get this book called Green Smoothie Revolution, by Victoria Boutenko.

Not only does this book go over the benefits of consuming raw greens, but it has lots of recipes for varying your smoothie recipes to give you a wide variety of different greens.

More updates coming soon!