Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - View from a park bench

While sitting on a park bench at Irvine Regional Park, I noticed the beautiful reflection on the water. A little ironic considering I was reflecting on my life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do you take time to journal?

I took a few days off from blogging and tried to disconnect with the electronic world, while connecting with the real world. Took some nice walks along the trails with Dylan, spent an afternoon at Irvine Regional Park, and lots of time just sitting on the couch at night reading magazines. It was nice to have a little breather and clear my head.
Some time to reflect on the past year. No, not as in New Years reflecting, but as in birthday reflecting. Yep, another year has come and gone and I'm not getting any younger.

A clear head means it is time to start documenting what I am going through. When I was a teenager I had a diary that I wrote in every night. I documented all my deep, dark secrets.

Not too long ago I came across one of my old diaries. I laughed, I cried, and I even felt a little heartache for the girl who suffered from her first broken heart.

Now that I have a blank slate, I thought it was the perfect time to start writing again. Not the things a teenage girl writes, but what I feel is important in my life now. The things I want to do. Places I want to go. The legacy I want to leave.

Seeing that I'm passionate about wildlife and conservation, I think my new San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy journal is the perfect place to start. Who knows, my thoughts and ideas could spark awareness and make a difference in the world.

Do you keep a journal? What do you write about?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dylan's Birthday Wish for the Tigers

Dylan has always loved animals and over the past year his love has become more of a way of life. He would rather watch documentaries about animals than cartoons and has been collecting animal reference books since before he could even read. Adopting animals is second nature to him and he wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up.

Knowing this about him, it should not have surprised me when he told me what he wanted for his 9th birthday - yet what he said took my breath away and was probably the proudest moment in my life as his mother. On a recent visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for Endangered Species Day, we had the opportunity to meet Joan Embery and hear her speak about the wonderful conservation efforts that have been made over the past 40 years.

Dylan listened so intently to every word said. I do believe he stopped breathing for a moment when she announced that an anonymous donation was being made to the new Tiger Trail in the amount of $9 million. However, there was a catch. They must raise $2 million by the end of 2012 to get the $9 million. He turned to me and said, "Mom, I want to help too"

At this moment there was no doubt in my mind that he was sincere. After reading about the new Tiger Trail and seeing sketches of what the exhibit would look like when completed, it was time to start planning. When Dylan learned that making a $1,000 donation would allow him to have his name inscribed along with other Tiger Trail Sponsors on a recognition plaque at the entrance to the new exhibit his eyes lit up.

I explained this was a lot of money - then he surprised me again. "Mom, I don't want birthday presents or a party. I just want money to help the tigers" ...
Wow! Did this just come out of an 8-year old child's mouth?

I told him if he was going to ask people for donations to help him reach his goal that they would want to know why this was so important to him. So I asked him a few questions.

Why do you want to help build Tiger Trail?
"Because the tigers need a safe home to live. They can't do anything about the poachers who want to kill them in the wild. Tiger Trail will give them more freedom and more room to play and interact with others."

What will it mean to you to have your name inscribed on a plaque at the new exhibit?
"Everything! It will mean everything to me. It will make me very, very happy and proud because it means that I helped the tigers and made a difference in their lives."

So there you have it. Dylan's birthday wish is to donate $1,000 to Tiger Trail. 

I contacted the Zoological Society of San Diego to see what could be done. An honorarium has been established in Dylan's name and all donations made through this link, with the information entered as explained below, will be credited to him. By selecting Dylan Fryer as the honoree and making a donation through this link, you will be helping Dylan and the tigers, plus your donation to the Zoological Society of San Diego is tax-deductible.

Dylan will only receive credit for your donation if his name is entered as the honoree and Tiger Trail is selected as the gift designation. 

Here is a screen shot of the donation page with instructions for the Honorary donation.

Honoree: Dylan Fryer
Send notification to: Michelle Fryer

Dylan's birthday is in July and his goal is to raise the $1,000 by July 31st.

As a special thank you, Dylan will be sending a set of tiger note cards (handmade from pictures I took of the tigers at the San Diego Zoo) to everyone who donates $25 or more.

In order to protect the privacy of the donors, the Zoological Society of San Diego is unable to release any personal information to me; including donation amount, email address, and mailing address. If you have made a donation of $25 or more and would like the note cards, please email me your name and mailing address to

Thank you for helping make a birthday wish come true for Dylan and for the Tigers of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

I would like give special thanks to Liane, from the Zoological Society of San Diego, for all of her help in setting up the donations and tracking the donations made in Dylan's honor.

Dylan's story appeared on the front page of the Newport Beach Independent on June 22, 2012.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Slow and Steady

Happy World Turtle Day!

These gentle animals have roamed the earth for almost 200 million years and it is estimated that they will disappear within the next 50 years due to habitat destruction, cruel pet trade, and the exotic food industry.

Giant sea turtles and desert tortoises may be slow, but we all remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady always wins the race.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Creating memories at the San Diego Zoo

Yes, as you know Dylan and I spend lots of time in San Diego. Starting to think we should just move down there - but that is another story. Over the Mother's Day weekend we had the opportunity to attend a VIP tweet-up during the Garden Festival at the San Diego Zoo - so I figured we could make a weekend out of it and have some fun. Together, we shared some amazing experiences and created memories that will last a lifetime. Of course I documented the 20+ hours spent at the zoo with over 500 pictures ... don't worry, I'm not going to post all of them. 

Day 1 started bright and early leaving home at 7 a.m. so we could get to the San Diego Zoo in time to see the macaw fly over and be one of the first people in the zoo. The Garden Fest tweet-up started promptly at 9:30 a.m. and Dylan didn't want to be late. We were treated to a behind the scenes look at some creepy crawlies in the Insect House. One of Dylan's favorite places to visit at the zoo - and one that took me some getting use to a few years ago. 

Dylan was always front and center asking Kelli and Paige a million questions. He was in his element. Thanks for being so patient with him ladies - and fellow tweeps :) 

Since it was the Garden Festival I took my time looking at all the beautiful flowers on display and at the various exhibits. Sometimes I get so caught up with the animals that I forget the San Diego Zoo is considered a world-class botanical garden

After making our usual route through the zoo, we decided to make one more stop at the tigers in hopes of seeing them. When we went by earlier, the tigers were way up at the top and we like seeing them up close. Boy were we in for a treat! 

Not only did we get to see the tigers, but we were front and center for play time in the water. After 20 minutes and taking close to 50 pictures, we peeled ourselves away from the glass so others could get a look.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeing the world through a photographic lens

Now that I am not doing a million different things, I have found the time to enjoy a hobby of mine - photography. I have always liked taking pictures, what mom doesn't like taking pictures of her kid? Aside from birthdays, holidays, and documenting family outings, I didn't really think much about my subjects.

After a few tips from friends and spending some time learning what my new camera can actually do, I have discovered that I'm not all that bad of a photographer. As much as I love taking pictures of my son, my favorite things to photograph are really flowers, animals, and anything nature. I love capturing the details in a flower that so often go unnoticed and the personality of an animal that can speak volumes about a species.

Since taking the time to focus on my hobby, I see the world in a different way. I find myself pulling over on the side of the road or stopping mid-stride because I notice the way the light is hitting something. I look up more than before and see the depth of the trees - the beauty of the clouds.

I am going to read some books on photography that another friend recommended to learn more and then when I feel confident, I am going to buy a "real camera". I love the Cannon that I have and it takes decent pictures, but imagine what I could do with a Cannon Rebel.
I just can't justify the cost until I am a better photographer - but who knows, the camera might make me a better photographer!

What is your favorite subject to photograph?

Connect with me on Flickr - I would love to see your photographs.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Endangered Species Day!

Whether you have a favorite endangered species or not, today is a day to create awareness worldwide about the animals that may be extinct sooner than you think. Sure, many of these animals can be seen in zoos, but what about in the wild? Species need to thrive in their natural habitat and reproduce to ensure their survival for many years to come.

Many species are listed as endangered and even more as vulnerable. Although I wish all animals were off the endangered species list, I have a soft spot for the tigers.

Extinction is forever, Endangered means we still have time.

Believe it or not, poaching and smuggling of animals does exist and is more common than you think. A recent story of illegal exotic animal carcases found near Bangkok is just another reason that I feel it important to bring awareness to people about conservation.

Dylan and I will be spending today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to celebrate Endangered Species Day and the 40th anniversary of the park. For 40 years, the park has been making a difference, raising awareness, and inspiring others to do the same. There is no other place I would rather be on this special day.

While one person can't save all the animals, one person can make a difference. Get involved and join a group of others who want the same - San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is working together to bring these animals back from the brink of extinction. Some species like the tigers and rhinos have a long way to go, but others have had great success.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5 easy ways to recycle almost anything

When most people think of recycling, what comes to mind is aluminum cans and plastic water bottles. Why? Well, because we pay a CRV when we buy them and want our money back - right? For some people yes, this is the only reason to recycle.

However, there are quite a few people who recycle because they care about the environment and want to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible. I'm one of those people.

When we recycle cans and plastic bottles my son gets to keep the money. He usually gets about $6 a month - which isn't a lot, but to a kid money is money. He also knows that he is helping the environment.

As a family, we recycle almost everything. There is a bin that all newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and all paper products go into. We even flatten cardboard boxes from cereal, crackers, and soda cases. If you think about it, almost every type of paper packaging can be recycled. Once a month I take the bin to my work were they have a recycling program that earns the school money. I am helping the school out and keeping the landfills a little smaller.

All glass jars and wine bottles also get recycled. We either take them to them recycling center with our cans, or I use them for other things like plants or storing beans and nuts. This type of glass doesn't have a cash value, but that is not why we recycle.

Now what about all those cans of soup and beans in your cupboard? Easy-peasy. Tear off the label and rinse out the can. These also go to the recycling center. Again, no cash value - but my carbon footprint sure is getting smaller.

OK ladies, this one is for you. What do you do with your empty shampoo bottles and moisturizer jars? Or your empty bronzer compact and lipstick tube? You probably throw them in the trash just like I use to do. Stop doing that and start using TerraCycle. It's easy to join a brigade and all you have to do is ship them your empty containers. TerraCycle does the rest.

Aside from recycling your containers and packaging, start pre-cycling. Which basically means to think before you buy. Look at the packaging. Does it have the recycle symbol printed someplace on it? Is the packaging minimal?
I would say close to 80% of what we buy as a family can be recycled and it doesn't take that much work. Just set up some bins or even some reusable sopping bags and you will be amazed at how quickly they fill up - and how long it takes to fill your trash can!

Who knows, maybe some of the products you recycle, instead of throw away in a landfill, will be used to make a bench like this one.

All benches at the San Diego Zoo are made from recycled materials.

What type of recycling do you do in your home or office?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mother's Day I will never forget

This is only my ninth year as a mom, but it was by far the best Mother's Day and one that will be hard to top. We spent the weekend in San Diego with two full days at the San Diego Zoo - and by full days I mean from open to close.

Aside from the special Garden Fest tweet-up, Dylan being selected as a volunteer and having a toucan land on his arm (proud Mom moment)

and about 20 other memorable moments, feeding the giraffes had to top the list.

I mean really, how many moms can say they got to feed giraffes with their child on Mother's Day?

Friday, May 11, 2012

How does your garden grow?

I wouldn't say that I have the greenest thumb, but it's at least a shade of green and I'm willing to keep trying. I love getting my hands dirty and feeling the earth when I'm planting. I have always had house plants, but living in an apartment doesn't make it easy to attempt the garden of my dreams. It must be some type of container garden.

Luckily my son has had good luck with plants and currently has a nice windowsill garden growing. His lima beans were one of three that actually grew out of the entire third grade class and his basil is doing quite well.

The little seedling that he brought home from school is also growing quickly. He told me that it is a Golden Trumpet tree - I guess only time will tell.

This weekend we are heading down to San Diego to attend the Garden Festival at the San Diego Zoo in hopes to learn a few gardening tricks and venture outside of the windowsill. Maybe design a little balcony garden.

Oh, and of course we are going to see the animals too!

Do you have a garden? We would love to see pictures of your garden. Tweet your garden pictures to @bchbby and maybe we can get a little inspiration from you.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I have a new found love for tigers

Sure, I have always liked tigers. They rank high on my list of favorite cats with leopards, jaguars, and lions. The size and strength of these animals alone amazes me and their eyes always seem to tell a story. I knew that tigers were an endangered species, but it wasn't until I started a board on Pinterest that I realized how critical their fate was.

The board started as a simple contest sponsored by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. As part of the 40th anniversary celebration, people can start a tiger-themed board on Pinterest called Pin It For Tigers for a chance to win a Behind-the-Scenes Safari for two and meet some of these big cats up close. I thought this would be a great surprise for Dylan if I actually won.  It started as simply pinning pictures of tigers - then I started really looking at the pictures, the amazing photography, and how beautiful these animals actually are.

Before I knew it, I was spending hours each night reading blogs and websites about how the tigers are vanishing at increasing rates. Some of the pictures I saw actually brought me to tears.

How could a human being do this to an animal. An animal that has done nothing wrong. The tigers are not killed in self-defense. The tigers are not killed because they are attacking people. They are killed for their skins, fur, and bones because some cultures actually believe that tigers can provide medicinal healing. Tigers are not medicine.

Tigers are not shot, they are trapped in snares so not to damage the pelt. Aside from stopping the poachers and illegal trading of tiger parts, you can do something to help save the tigers. You can stop buying products that are made by destroying the tigers natural habitat. Buy sustainable coffee that is certified Fair Trade and does not destroy the rain forests. Buy the Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamps and create awareness.You can donate to local zoos who support conservation and help in their efforts to save the tigers.

Photograph I took of a Malayan tiger at the San Diego Zoo last month

Awareness is what it really boils down to. Making people aware of something will cause a reaction. To think that the beautiful Malayan tigers I see at the San Diego Zoo are a rare sight (there are only about 500 Malayan tigers left in the wild) and that future generations may never have the chance to see these animals, or photographs of these animals in the wild breaks my heart. The Safari Park has Sumatran tigers and there are only about 400 of these tigers left in the wild. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild. That's not a lot - considering the size of the planet.

So sure, I would love to win the contest and take Dylan on a Behind-the-Scenes Safari to see the tigers up close - but I can always pay for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. More importantly, I would love to create a spark of hope within you, a little inspiration to share what I have shared with you. Conservation is the key to saving tigers and all endangered species - and conservation starts with awareness. You can make a difference. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Aquarium of the Pacific welcomes new babies

To some people springtime means flowers and butterflies, but to many in the animal world it means small bundles of joy. Adorable babies that make me squeal with delight and probably share way too many pictures on Facebook and twitter - but I can't help it - they are too cute!

In the last month, Aquarium of the Pacific announced the arrival of two new family members. I'm not sure who is cuter, the Sea Otter or the Harbor Seal.

This baby sea otter was found separated from her mother in Northern California and brought to Aquarium of the Pacific in early March. Once she is big enough and strong enough, she will be placed in the exhibit with the other rescued otters. She has been named Betty, after Betty White, in honor of the long time support White has shown for the aquarium and all animals.  

            Photo courtesy of Robin Riggs, Aquarium of the Pacific

Now I must admit that I am partial to this little harbor seal pup. She was born to Shelby, a long time resident of the Aquarium, on April 26, 2012. This picture captures a very loving moment between mother and child and I just adore it. Shelby is a first time mom, so Aquarium marine mammal experts are monitoring them both.

        Photo courtesy of Terri Haines, Aquarium of the Pacific

Both pups will remain behind the scenes for a few months to insure good health and allow time for bonding - but I'm sure the Aquarium staff will continue to post pictures on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram to keep us all updated on the progress.

Rescuing marine mammals and other ocean animals is something I feel strongly about, which is why I am a huge supporter of Aquarium of the Pacific. Besides being a wonderful place to spend the day, the Aquarium has great exhibits that educate people and believes in protecting and conserving our oceans for future generations. As a non-profit organization, the Aquarium relies solely on donations and annual memberships.

I'm looking forward to seeing these little pups when they make they debut and watching them grow. Are you a member of Aquarium of the Pacific?

LUSH Cosmetics offers fresh products that look good enough to eat

Beautyisms may be no more, but I still love a good natural product.
(As published on Beautyisms 2-5-2012)

The name alone makes me want to shop here, but it's the fresh handmade products that will keep me going back for more. If you are not familiar with LUSH Cosmetics, then let me introduce you.

LUSH Cosmetics believes in living a lush life filled with products that look good enough to eat. Products that are made from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics.

Each LUSH products is made by hand using little or no preservatives and minimal if any packaging. Because these products are made fresh, each container will tell you who made it, when it was made, and when the product should be used by.

The vibrant colors, smells and textures of the handmade natural soaps will leave you asking if you are supposed to eat it or use it on your body. The display of Honey I Washed The Kids soap looks like a rich and creamy creme brulee - and it feels just as rich and creamy on your skin.

Over the years, bar soap has gotten a bad reputation as being bad for your skin and leaving a filmy residue on both your body and the tub. The hand and body soap selection from LUSH should not be put in the same category as the bar soap you might find at the drugstore.

Made from all natural ingredients like lemon, jasmine, lavender, honey, mint, fig, and vanilla - to name a few - these soaps will not harm your skin with harsh chemicals or additives.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Redefining who I am

I have spent the past three nights doing pretty much nothing. Well, not nothing because I have enjoyed spending time with Dylan and catching up on reading some magazines that seemed to pile up faster than I thought possible. I have been able to get a good nights sleep and noticed things in my surroundings that have always been there, but that I was just too preoccupied to notice.

I have had time to reflect on my choices and my decisions that I have made for myself. Time to redefine who I am and what I want. Mid-life changes, coming of age, who knows ... I will be 42 years old next month and started thinking what have I done with my life? What legacy will I leave behind for my child, and hopefully one day, my grandchildren? Have I really done anything that spectacular? No, not really.

I didn't lose as many followers as I thought I would when I changed the blog last week. However, there is one more change that I wanted to make. A change that would really force me to redefine who I am. This decision took me a while to make. 
For almost 14 years I have been a makeup artist or worked in the beauty industry. My focus has been cosmetics, beauty, and skin care. People have come to know me as this. However, what  I discovered is that this was not my passion in life - rather it was my obsession. Does that make sense? It was something I was good at, and still am, yet it's not who I am. For those of you have been following Beautyisms, you may have noticed the Facebook page is gone and no tweets have been going out. Well, this is because I am stepping away from my obsession. I am ending that part of my life. I am moving on.

My real passion in life has always been animals and the environment. During high school I became active in Greenpeace and drove an hour just to be part of a dolphin movement called Don't Say Goodbye. The decor of my home has always been nature and ocean inspired and now with my son we are adding more animal inspirations. This is who I am and what I want to be known for.

I remember how scared I was when I told my parents that I was pregnant - especially considering I was single and knew the guy wouldn't be around. Something that my Dad told me has always stuck with me. He said, God does things for a reason. 

I believe that now more than ever because my son, through his love of animals, reminded me of my true passion. The passion that inspires me to see the world as a better place than I did before. 

The passion that brings me to tears when I see pictures of animals being killed for their body parts. 

The passion that gives me such a sense of calmness and peace when I see the ocean. 

The passion that comes with such enthusiasm and sincerity to share - To inspire others. 

Wordless Wednesday - Stop and see nature

The other day Dylan and I were walking through a parking lot and I noticed some beautiful yellow hibiscus flowers. I walked over to take a picture and noticed something amazing.

There were hundreds of ladybugs and other insects, which I do not know the name of, crawling all over the leaves and stems of the hibiscus plant. We ended up standing there for almost 15 minutes just watching. It was fascinating!

Some people say stop and smell the roses - I say stop and see nature.