The Edgy Wedge!

Courtney Okuda - Thursday, February 13, 2014
                                                

Whenever I wear my Rebecca Minkoff Trott Wedges (pictured above), I always get compliments and have people asking me where I got them.  Unfortunately, they are from many moons back and sold out very quickly.  I've been keeping my eye out for something similar to recommend, and finally came across the "Tahnee" Sandal by Charles David - love the stud detail!  It is the closest thing I've seen in years, and is available in Natural (pictured) and Black.  The slingback and platform increase the comfort level of this five-inch heel.  Available on Nordstrom.com for $124.95 & free shipping - get it before it's gone!
                                                        

After the Half...

Courtney Okuda - Tuesday, February 04, 2014
                                                   

As I sit here reflecting on my Surf City Half Marathon experience, I must give the race organizers a big high-five for such a well-oiled machine.  This is a great race for first-timers and has spectacular ocean views.  Compared to the previous three marathons, this race set the bar.  If only my iPod synch worked properly and I wasn’t missing five of my new songs so I could have beaten that girl with the pink tank and shorty shorts!  But I digress…

Check-in at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, the host hotel, was a breeze with no line even though the hotel was completely sold out.  The hotel’s renovation was just completed and the rooms were very nice with beachy modern décor, and great views of the ocean.  We were able to walk to the Race Expo, which was located right across the street, and picked up our race packets with ease.  The start & finish lines were located right in front of the hotel, so we were able to walk out, start running, and walk right back after getting our medals and goodies, still basking in our accomplishment!  No worry and stress about missing the race because the shuttle driver doesn’t know where he’s going.  No getting stiff in the cold waiting in line for a bus back.  No frustration and hassle trying to pick-up your belongings. 

Dining and shopping were convenient as well with the hotel being two blocks from downtown Huntington Beach.  After the race we showered, walked to lunch, shopped around and were back in time for the Superbowl pre-game show.  I even had time to join the Havaianas flip-flop following with a pair of polka dot ones that are so lightweight and comfortable - the perfect remedy for my blistered feet!  

All in all, this was my favorite race so far, and sets the bar very high for all races to follow!

                                                

Half Marathon Here We Come!

Courtney Okuda - Friday, January 31, 2014
                                        
I'm leaving for Huntington Beach tomorrow to run the Surf City Half Marathon on SuperBowl Sunday!  It is the last of the Beach Cities Challenge, which is comprised of the OC Half, Long Beach Half & Surf City Half Marathons.  I would highly recommend these races which are beautiful - parts are right on the water, and are mostly flat - thank goodness!  This will be my fourth, and I have learned some valuable lessons along the way.  Here are my top three tips:

1) Stay at the Host Hotel! - being able to walk out of your room and to the start line is priceless.  After staying at one of the "Other Race Hotels" that boasted close proximity to the start line, shuttles to and from the start/finish lines, and participant rates, then almost missing the race completely because the shuttle driver got lost, having to sprint a mile to the start line, and waiting for over an hour for the return shuttle to show up - I vowed never again.  After training for months for this race and paying a pretty penny to register and travel, the last thing you want to have to worry about is making it to the race.

2) Carry your own water bottle & energy chews to avoid lines at the water stations and stay on pace.  And conveniently the Lucy Pack & Dash Tank pictured above has all the pockets you need to stash your goods and your Ipod/Iphone!

3) Apply BodyGlide anti-chafe balm to any problem areas - mine is my left underarm on long runs with certain shirts.  I thought I was the only one with arm fat that rubbed against her shirt, but thank goodness I'm not! 

Outfit
Lucy Pack & Dash Tank
Lululemon In A Flash Short
Nike Lunarglide+
Nike Swoosh Wristband in white available on Amazon.com
Running socks

Extras
Crunchy Peanut Butter Cliff Bar
Jelly Belly Sports Beans (watermelon flavor)
Nature Valley Trail Mix Bar (fruit & nut)
BodyGlide Anti-Chafe Balm

Happy running!

Happy Valentine's Day YOUR Way!

Courtney Okuda - Monday, January 27, 2014
    
Pictured: Special Delivery - Flowers & Bubbly; Heart Pot Plants; Heart Cookies & Whoopie Hearts

I'll be honest, I've never been big on Valentine's Day.  And I used to think it was because of all of the pressure and hoopla associated with it, but by writing this blog I realized it's mainly because I don't like how it makes people who don't have a significant other feel left out.  Instead of making it a day about couples, I'd rather it be a day about love.  I am reminded of the quote from Sex & The City: “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.” 

How did I come to this realization?  I was inspired by the ideas in Martha Stewart Living - they were just too cute to not pass on, and the best part is they are simple to make!  Trust me, I barely have time to shave my legs, so any recipe or project with too many steps is immediately chucked into the "maybe some day" pile.  This year I've decided to give my nearest and dearest gal pals a version of the "Special Delivery" above.  It also gives me the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a flower delivery woman - I've always fantasized about surprising people with beautiful things every day and watching them smile.  It sounds like the best job in the world.  Just writing this makes me laugh, but I'm completely serious.  I hope for a world where people are thoughtful and kind to each other every day, and don't just "go big" on certain days. 

For those people that adore Valentine's Day and everything it stands for, more power to you.  I'm just providing an option for everyone to be able to participate in, and has the added bonus of spreading the happiness around.  So this February 14th, my wish is for you to do Valentine's Day YOUR way!

Embrace Your Curves! By Guest Contributor - Mary Schultz

Courtney Okuda - Friday, January 24, 2014

                                         
                                         Pictured: Mary working her stripes, skinnies & boots!

I've always loved fashion, clothes and most of all shopping, but being a curvy girl, I've always thought I was limited in what I was allowed to wear.  Trust me, I've heard it all.  Everything from "You can't wear stripes" to "You can't wear pleated anything", and my favorite, "You can't wear leggings or skinny jeans".  It was because of these opinions that during high school I shied away from anything that would show off my curves, correction - my amazing curves.  However, once I started college, all of that changed.  I have gradually become more comfortable in my own skin and started breaking the rules when it comes to "curvy girl fashion". 

My every day attire during high school was my fav pair of jeans and a t-shirt that was at least one size too big - not very exciting I know.  I wasn't much of a rule-breaker or risk-taker when it came to fashion; however, once I moved to Chicago I started to reinvent myself.  I was tired of hearing that leggings and skinny jeans only looked good on thin girls and that curvy girls shouldn't wear them.  I took a risk and bought my first pair of skinnies and instantly fell in love with them.  And amazingly, I received tons of compliments when I wore them.  After that, I started doing research on body shapes and what looks best.  I always thought I had an hourglass figure, but quickly learned that I am what they call a "Botticelli Babe".  This woman has great curves, but her proportions may not be as defined as an hourglass figure.  Once  I figured this out, I really started to venture out of my fashion comfort zone. I started experimenting with different styles, and started wearing leggings a lot more. I even started wearing shirts that fit my figure, which made a huge difference when it came to my self-esteem and confidence. 

The one thing I would tell any curvy girl is don’t listen to the myths and the rules when it comes to fashion because they aren't always right.  And I want to encourage you to experiment, wear what you feel the most comfortable in, and don't forget to embrace your curves!

Thank you to Guest Contributor & Photo Editor - Mary Schultz.

Kula Sweet Candles! A Dream Come True...

Courtney Okuda - Monday, January 20, 2014
                                               
When I started this business two years ago, I dreamed about having a line of candles, totes & tees.  After many months of research, meetings and prototypes, I'm thrilled to introduce Kula Sweet Candles!  Made of 100% soy, these candles burn for over 100 hours, are made in California and are hand-poured into these darling re-useable mason jars!  Available in 3 scents: Exotic Plumeria, Madagascar & Royale for $38.  Available in-store or call to order.

"Why Soy You Ask?" 

1. Soy burns longer: Soy burns at a lower temperature and therefore burns longer.

2. Soy is sustainable: Unlike paraffin, which is derived from oil, soy is a renewable resource.

3. Soy is better for your health: Soy burns cleaner and produces as much as 90 percent less soot than paraffin, reducing the amount of indoor air pollution produced.

4. Soy won't ruin your walls: The emissions from paraffin candles build up on walls, staining the paint in your home. They also build up in upholstery fabrics and in carpets, affecting the air quality in your home.

5. Spilled soy is easier to clean up: Soy is biodegradable so if it spills on your tablecloth or clothing, it's a lot easier to clean than paraffin.

6. Soy helps U.S. farmers: The United States is the number one producer of soy in the world, so when you buy soy products, you're supporting American farmers.*

Photography by Mary Schultz.

*Check out TLC's "10 Reasons Soy Candles Are Better For Your Holiday Feast"@ http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/reasons-soy-candles-holiday.htm for these and more.

My Inspiration For 2014...

Courtney Okuda - Thursday, January 16, 2014

                                                

Happy New Year! 

2013 was filled with wonderful ups like experiencing Thailand & Vietnam, going to Japan with Kula Grandma, running two half marathons and finally getting a puppy!  Of course this came with not-so-wonderful downs like Wailuku Grandpa hitting a few bumps in the road and the challenges in retail, but the downs help us appreciate the ups right?

For 2014, my goal is to continue working on designing a life I love.  It is so easy to get caught up with all of “the stuff” – family stuff, friend stuff, work stuff – that we forget about taking care of ourselves.  My dear friend Sheila put me on the right track when she called to say: "write a new blog post or take it down."  She then gave me a deadline and threatened to not play Words With Friends with me until I finished.  We all need that one friend who will kick us into gear. 

Here’s to us all remembering to design a life we love.

Stop Waiting...Live the Life You've Imagined!

Courtney Okuda - Saturday, March 23, 2013
                                                         

One of my goals for 2013 and beyond is to follow these 2 simple, yet powerful words: "Just Go".  I am a perpetual planner, over-analyzer & worrier.  I fret about the success of my store, my aging grandparents, being a good friend, whether it's the right time to get a puppy, what am I going to wear in Calistoga next month, and the list goes on and on...there are many times where I can't sleep because my mind is racing with my extensive to-do list.

However, since my grandpa's passing last year, I have made a conscious effort to stop THINKING so much, and just start DOING - life truly is too short.  So I've decided that I won't miss any more of my grandma's birthdays, and if she wants to fly to Japan for 2 nights to see her favorite singer in concert, I'm going with her.  If I want to run a half marathon or have the opportunity to travel and see the world, I'm going to make it work.  And if I want to eat fries, a Sprinkles cupcake, or ice cream in a waffle cone - it's OK!  No more, "I'm too busy", or "I'm not working hard enough", or "Do you know how many calories are in that?". 

There's enough crummy stuff that happens in our lives, so maybe it's our job to live the lives we've imagined and believe that we deserve it!

A Travel "Must Have"- The Bikini Bag!

Courtney Okuda - Monday, March 18, 2013


Ladies,

We put ourselves through the pain and suffering of working out, in addition to the hunger associated with eating well, to get ready for swimsuit season.  On top of that, we go through a rollercoaster ride of emotions trying to find the perfect swimsuit that covers the "problem" areas, and accentuates the "not-so-problematic" ones, which naturally means buying the most expensive suit in the store.  Shouldn't we take great care of an item that costs so much blood, sweat and tears, rather than throwing them into a plastic Safeway bag?  Introducing the "bikini bag" by Echo - with a cotton-canvas exterior and water-resistant lining, it's perfect for toting wet or dry bathing suits, and ideal for travel. 

When I saw it at a little boutique in Paia, Maui, my first thought was "Why didn't I think of that?!"  They come in a variety of bright colors and your standard white and black - I chose the blue pictured above.  And they're not just for travel, as most of my bikinis are bandeaus with removable ties (to prevent tan lines of course), I hated the hassle of unearthing the ties from my dresser drawer and my suitcases.  Now, I even use the bag at home to hold all of my clean suits and ties - so functional!

Oxfords for Spring!

Courtney Okuda - Friday, January 11, 2013

I am obsessed with the Oxford trend for Spring '13!  The outfit above is just one of the many darling ways I would wear these traditionally masculine shoes.  And designers have come up with so many fun variations on the conventional look like adding a heel, wedge or pop-of-color - I'll take one of each please :)  Will you take a leap and try this trend with me?