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new routines

May 17, 2016

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I leave for Europe next week and couldn’t be more excited. It’s my first time out of the country since I moved here from Japan at the age of 8, and it’s my first time to Europe. But I’m trying to appreciate my time until then so I don’t go crazy with the anticipation (easier said then done).

It has been almost a full year since I’ve had my office job. What started as a temporary gig turned into a full time gig, and, well, here I am a year later. The situation is too good for me to complain – I go to work with my husband every day, I have the flexibility to leave for auditions, I’m being trusted to lead a video initiative within the company, and I have some extra income for fun things (like travel!) and not so fun things (like almost paying off my student loans!). But – this doesn’t mean I don’t miss my leisurely days off – where I could sleep in, take a mid-morning work out class, walk my dog for an hour, have the actual time to run errands and cook instead of eating out all the time. I’m lucky. I know that. I don’t have reason to complain, and if I have to juggle full time work with acting classes and workshops and showcases on my nights and weekends – well, that’s how it is. It’s not called “struggling actor” without a reason, and honestly, I know my “struggle” is much less than it is for many others. I couldn’t go back to waiting tables, so the compromise is I’m stuck in an office 8-5. I guess what I’m really saying is – adulting is hard, and like, why can’t someone just pay me to travel the world already?!

Back to my original intention of this post (sorry, I had a cup of coffee, and it’s kind of amplifying my anxiety right now, which in turn means my heart and mind are racing a bit).

In an effort to appreciate my time outside of the office (instead of, you know, wasting it), I’m trying to be a bit intentional with what I do. Because it’s already May, and where has the year gone?! So with that, I’m trying to establish some routines to make my life better:

  1. Waking up 30 minutes earlier to take Kipling on a long walk (Whitney generally does this every morning). I love the early morning hours when the sun is just coming up and the world is quiet. But I also love and cherish those extra 30 minutes of sleep. It’s a battle I’m still fighting.
  2. Nighttime showers. With candles! And music! I hate hate hate artificial light and only turn them on when absolutely necessary. I’m a blinds open, turn on the lamp if you must kind of person, but I really  hate using overhead lights. The other night I took a shower and only lit a candle + played the Indie Acoustic station on Spotify, and guys, it felt like I was at a spa. Seriously – so relaxing, and definitely something I want to incorporate into my routine. I’m a morning shower person because at night I get lazy and just want to go to bed, but nighttime showers make the next morning so much easier for me. After my nighttime shower spa experience, I put on a mud mask and rubbed rose oil on, and it was all so heavenly. The problem is making time to do this at the end of the night (instead of watching one more episode of Lost).
  3. Eat breakfast. This goes with the getting up earlier thing, so I have time to make breakfast before said eating it. I’ve never been a breakfast eater because I never have the time, and generally I need to wake up a bit before I can eat. This in turn leaves me starving every morning at work, and I’m sure it’s not helping my metabolism. This week we bought stuff to make smoothies and or eggs with avocado, so I need to intentionally leave enough time in the morning to start my day right.

-wonderland sam

www.imdb.me/samanthalee

new york, new york

April 29, 2016

 

Last week I got to take a last minute work trip to NYC to shoot some video and herd the big dogs to their happy hours/dinners. To say I was excited for this trip would be an understatement – getting PAID to travel to New York? Yes, please! I was hoping to make a trip to the city this year for a girls’ weekend with my friend, Nikki, so this lined up perfectly.

I’ve been to NY twice before but always when it has been freezing. This trip I arrived right as the weather was warming up and the flowers were blooming everywhere for spring, and let me tell you, it was magical. So beyond being put up in a fancy hotel and getting to do some fun “work”, I got to explore the city in all its springtime splendor with my friend by my side. And instead of doing all the touristy things I’d done on my previous trips, I got to enjoy it from a local’s perspective. I think it’s safe to say that the city stole my heart this time around.

It helps that my friend and I enjoy all of the same things and are all about the photos. She planned a perfect weekend for us visiting the most beautiful spots. And I do have to say one thing here – for some people they think taking photos gets in the way of enjoying something…that maybe you should put the camera down and soak in the experience. And while that may be true for some people and I totally get the validity of that statement, for me, taking photos has always enhanced experiences for me. I love seeking out the beauty and creatively capturing it forever on my camera – it is after all what I get to keep with me after I travel. I had a whole roll of film I planned to use and didn’t – as well as a GoPro that I wish I’d shot more on – so all in all, I think my photo taking vs. just experiencing the moment ratio was pretty good. It did inspire me to seek out the photo opportunities in LA – so maybe at some point I can share a guide for that.

Without further ado – here was my whirlwind of a trip to the city.

Wednesday: I got to stay at Hotel Hugo in SoHo – too pricey if I was paying for the trip myself but beautiful (I loved the decor). I couldn’t make a trip to NYC without catching a show on Broadway, so our first night we saw Kinky Boots, which I highly recommend. So FUN, and it’s been a while since I saw a show that I immediately wanted to purchase the cast recording to.

Thursday: My hotel was just a stone’s throw away from Dominque Ansel Bakery (the home of the original Cronut), which was all too convenient. Thursday morning I picked some up before heading to our We Work space to shoot some video. So good and SO RICH (I only ate half, which is saying something coming from me). Afterwards I ate pizza with old friends at Rubirosa and then literally walked all of Manhattan before having a fancy work dinner at The Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen.

 

Friday: Already exhausted after one day in the city, I slept in a bit before meeting Nikki to grab coffee and pastries at Dean & Deluca to enjoy on the steps of the MET. In an effort to find an ATM, we ended up getting sidetracked by some thrift store shopping before taking a row boat out on the lake in Central Park. Afterwards we had a glass of wine and some snacks at The John Dory Oyster Bar before I had to go to another work happy hour/dinner.

Saturday: All work obligations complete, I extended my trip through the weekend and stayed with Nikki in Brooklyn. We got up early to have a fancy brunch at The Plaza before making a quick sweep through the MoMA (super crowded on the weekends). Similar to the day before, we got sidetrack searching for a vintage photo booth and ending up walking the beautiful streets of the West Village. After our photo booth mission (Bubby’s on Hudson) was complete, we headed back to Brooklyn. We had plans to enjoy some jazz at the Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar (which I still want to go to!) but were so wiped. Instead we walked around Brooklyn and Prospect Park (so beautiful) before grabbing cheese fries and mules. We relaxed the rest of the night back at her apartment with ice cream and a movie.

Sunday: My last day. We hit up the Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo and had lunch near the bridge. It was a beautiful day to wrap up my trip before heading home, and I came back with new sunglasses, a purse, and a pair of sandals.

I’m already missing NY, and my heart is just aching to return. I’ve got to find a way to get back (and maybe even live there temporarily).😉

P.S. You can find a short video of my trip here.

 

-wonderland sam

www.imdb.me/samanthalee

gopro

April 18, 2016

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I’m finally finding the time to edit all of our GoPro footage together and am obsessed with having these little videos to preserve our memories. I haven’t used the GoPro for extreme adventures/sports (other than skiing), but it’s been a fun new hobby all the same. I’ve taken thousands upon thousands of photos over the years, but video captures a whole other magic that still photos can’t. My only regret is I didn’t start doing this sooner.

I was hesitant to share because YouTube video quality is horrendous, but I started a Vimeo channel, which has been so much better. The only downside is I’m limited on upload space each week (for their free subscription), so for now I only have two videos up.

Take a look! Videos from our San Diego Zoo trip and company ski trip to Mammoth Mountainhttps://vimeo.com/wonderlandsam

-wonderland sam

 www.imdb.me/samanthalee

beauty finds

April 13, 2016

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I am such a n00b when it comes to makeup and hair, but I’m always fascinated by people’s beauty routines and the products they use. This past year I’ve been experimenting with new products because if this is something I do every day (makeup that is..for hair I often opt for the legit bedhead look), I might as well have fun with it and find the best products to use.

I’ve been trying new skincare products too, but as of late my skin has been breaking out (which it rarely does), so I’m going to lay off them in an effort to figure out what is triggering it. More on that later.

Anyway, here are some beauty finds (from an amateur) I’ve really liked so far:

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NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil: Lipstick is something thing I’ve never really worn, but I have been wanting to make a point to. Regular lipstick would drive me UP THE WALL with how easily it came off and smeared and how often I had to reapply. Then I found this line of lip pencils and am obsessed. Sure, your lips need to not be dry and flaky, and sure if you eat/drink you’ll still want to eventually reapply, but so far it’s working wonders for me. The Dragon Girl is a perfect red (I always get compliments), and I just picked up Sex Machine, which is an awesome, natural every-day look (and as it wears off, it’s not super obvious). Plus, I really love the matte look (as opposed to glossy). I honestly don’t know how it’s taken me so long to realize how much lipstick can really elevate your look.

Stila Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: I’m an eyeliner girl through and through, and I had never used liquid until I found this. Now, I’m never going back! The pen makes it so easy to apply, and it stays on so well (so well in fact that if you mess up, good luck fixing it if you wait longer than .2 seconds). If you are one of those people who apply eyeliner on the inner rim of your eye, this one is probably not for you (as the liquid will just leak into your eyeball, and ain’t nobody got time for that). It seems to last me about 6 months before running out.

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CoverGirl Lashblast Mascara: I have been using the waterproof version of this for YEARS and just recently switched to the regular (the waterproof is truly so, so hard to get off, and it was tearing out my lashes). I have pretty long lashes, but they aren’t thick, so I’m a big, BIG apply-lots-of-mascara type of girl. I haven’t found a mascara that I am 100% obsessed with, but this one has been the most reliable, and I always come back to it. I replace mascara so frequently that I’m not going to spend $30 on a tube of mascara. I do apply a lot of coats, but even without the waterproof aspect, it stays on really well (unless…you know…cry). Plus, people often ask me about my eyelashes, so I’m assuming this one is doing its job.😉

Xtava Satin Wave 5-in-1 Curler: I literally have no idea how to use a curling iron (the clip freaks me out). But I DO know how to use a straightener and have been using one to curl my hair for years. It’s super quick and easy but hasn’t always given me the type of curls or waves I’d like. I’d been seeing tutorials for getting those “beachy waves” using a wand, so I thought i’d try it out. My hair stylist recommended this one, saying Xtava makes great products – plus it’s cheap, won’t fry your hair, and is interchangeable (a couple sized wands and curling rods). I’ve only used the large clipless barrel, and haven’t used it tons – I’m not as quick with it as I am with my straightener – but it does the job extremely well. Seriously, the curls stay forever. In fact, I’m working on it NOT holding the curl so well, haha. I wish it came with a larger wand size, but I think this is a great option if you want to try using a wand and not spend tons of money initially. Warning – this one doesn’t have a plastic tip at the end, so you absolutely have to use a heat-resistant glove, or you will burn yourself. Google a video tutorial to see how to use it and seriously, it only needs to be held for a few seconds to get that curl.😉

Even though I’ve worn makeup for a long time (and always wear it), I get pretty stuck in my ways when it comes to products because I’m lazy and don’t want to waste money. It’s been a nice change of pace experimenting – and actually having fun – with my makeup and hair routine. Currently I’m on the hunt for a signature perfume to wear (rose scented, preferably), as I’ve never been a perfume wearer either.

-wonderland sam

 www.imdb.me/samanthalee

meal planning part two

April 11, 2016

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Do you remember how over a year ago I said I wanted to make “meal planning” a regular feature on my blog, and I wrote precisely one post about it?

Yeaaaaah.

Well, better late than never, here’s round two (with a group of healthier recipes because I’m kind of at the age where I should probably focus on eating more than pizza).

Just kidding – PIZZA FOREVER.❤

But really, here you go:

Yummy She Hulk Breakfast Smoothie : Drink the whole thing yourself if you need to stay full ’til lunch. The peanut butter MAKES IT.

Healthy Quinoa Salad: Prepare it Sunday night and eat for lunch throughout he week. I skip using the sweet potatoe (just an extra step) and top with a lot of avocado and stuff into pita bread.

Easy and Flavorful Tuscan Dinner: This one comes from one of my cookbooks  – heat up butter, grape seed oil, and sage leaves in a pan / salt and flour chicken or turkey breasts / fry in pan until fully cooked / squeeze lemon juice on top and serve with a side of broccoli (and maybe bruschetta topped bread). One of my favorites.

Mushroom Pasta : This one is from the archives, but it’s such a quick and easy favorite (I double the recipe for leftovers). Pasta is not the healthiest thing in the world, but this is half mushrooms, so does that cancel it out? Also, LOOK HOW MUCH I’VE CHANGED. I’m now 100% give-me-all-the-red-wine-PLEASE. (So yeah, don’t leave that out). You can also drink the rest of the bottle with your meal, so I’d say it’s a win all around.😉

Veggie Stir-Fry: I made my own version of this a long time ago, but I’m trying this one out tonight (a bit modified). It’s hard to screw up a pan of fried vegetables though, so I’m sure it will be good. Easy AND healthy.

-wonderland sam

 www.imdb.me/samanthalee

life as of late

April 8, 2016

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Man, it’s been a while. Still trying to figure out that work-life balance thing. March was a busy month for me – what with spending the entirety of my days editing, shooting footage, and recording voiceover for a big video project at work, as well as attending a slew of casting workshops in the evenings and on the weekends (plus preparing material for said workshops and a showcase), I’m wiped out. Taking this next month to recover and catch up – on taxes (ugh) – and on planning my Europe trip (yay!). The warmer temps (though it’s been gloomy the past couple days) and the longer days are GIVING ME LIFE. The jasmine blooming next to my front door and our garden springing back to life after the dead of winter are both making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I’m trying to focus on my health, both mind and body, as well as how I get dressed in the morning. I sometimes forget how fun it can be to coordinate outfits and how much better I feel when I’m excited about my clothing, rather than always slumming it in black denim and a tee (though I will forever love that simple combo). So needless to say, my Poshmark addiction has been coming back in full force. At some point I’d love to document my wardrobe during the week and/or my thrifted finds.

On focusing on this life of mine, as the days go by slowly and the years go by quickly, I want to appreciate my time spent. No regrets. And I’ve realized how insecure and dependent of a person I’ve always been. I met my husband my second day after moving to college and wholeheartedly relied on him throughout. Now that I’ve grown, and learned, and changed so much these past years, I’m kind of reclaiming myself again (or for the first time). I’m becoming okay with doing things on my own. Happy about it even. He was sick one weekend, so I spent a day in Santa Monica by myself doing exactly as I wanted, and I didn’t feel awkward or weird about it. That same weekend we had a camping trip planned, and he still wasn’t feeling up to it, so I took my niece instead. My first time camping without another adult’s support. I did it and had the best time, and it was so EMPOWERING. Basically I’m realizing that not only am I capable of doing all the things I dream, but I can actually do them well and have a blast doing so, even on my own. Be independent. Do what you want. Don’t doubt yourself.

P.S. He wasn’t so sick that he needed my unwavering support at home. Basically he needed to rest up and watch TV (I’m not that bad of a wife, I swear).

Anyway, I’m hoping the skies clear up this weekend because I’ve got a busy weekend of fun, friend time planned – game night, a trip to the Rose Bowl Flea (I haven’t been since I moved here 3 years ago!), and dinner and an art show. My only complaint is the weekends aren’t long enough, so if someone would like to spearhead a “3-day-weekend-every-weekend” campaign, I’ll be your #1 supporter.

These photos are from my last roll of film I just got developed. I’ve been slow with the “big cameras”, so these stretch as far back as December.

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My perfect nephew.

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San Diego Zoo on New Year’s Day.

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Our girls’ weekend camping trip in Big Bear.

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Is she not, literally, the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

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-wonderland sam

www.imdb.me/samanthalee

springtime

March 3, 2016

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Spring is in the air – and with that, warmer temperatures. It’s a little absurd how happy the sunshine makes me. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE LONGER DAYS. I’ve tried to take lunch outside as often as I can to soak it all in and am anxiously awaiting summer. But until then, here’s what I want to enjoy this season.

  • replanting our garden
  • riding bikes
  • roller skating
  • longer walks with Kipling
  • visiting Malibu Wines
  • stretching/meditating daily
  • buying a new mattress
  • visiting the Rose Bowl Flea market
  • picnics at the park
  • grilling at the park
  • finding a signature scent
  • trying essential oils

I’ve also got my trip to Copenhagen/Stockholm coming up at the beginning of the summer, so I need to get planning!

-wonderland sam

www.imdb.me/samanthalee

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