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TBT: Spain, 2004

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I’ve been clearing out everything that’s been stored for years at my mom’s house (she’s moving out to a smaller place) which is quite exhausting, irritating, frustrating, time-consuming, and lethargic. It’s not what I would call nourishing at all.

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Except, there are moments when I come across something wonderful and forgotten, that I’m glad to have rediscovered. For instance, these three photos I took on a disposable camera on a school trip through Spain and Portugal in 2014.

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I don’t need a bunch of photos, yet I take way too many these days, and am unable to edit the photos on my phone down to even a couple hundred from the past year. And yet, these three photos from my middle school trip are perfect. They aren’t even good photographs, but they capture a mood and trigger memories (both fond and painfully awkward at that age). Somehow, they’re beautiful. But still, I will probably throw the away (now that they are preserved here online).

 

What do you think: how do you decide what to keep and what to throw away?


October 2016 Yoga Schedule Update

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This month I will be leaving the island of Oahu for a few days, again. My best friend Zan is flying here to visit me! I’m meeting her at the airport tomorrow and we’re headed to Kauai. So, my 9 AM class Sunday, October 2; 10:30 am class Thursday, October 6; and both classes Friday, October 7, are subbed out. I will be subbing at Yogaloha at 10:30 am on Saturday, October 15. 


Book Review: The Girl on the Train

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I’ve heard very mixed reviews of The Girl on the Train, but everyone seemed to agree that it is similar to Gone Girl, which sucked me in completely (I finished it in less than 24 hours). I decided to give The Girl on the Train a go on my flight home from Minneapolis this summer. True to what I’d heard, it sucked me in completely just like Gone Girl, and I’d finished reading it by the time we touched down in Honolulu. I think what appeals to me about both these thrillers with unreliable narrators is that the twist got me in both cases; I didn’t suspect what happened, but it also still seemed plausible (even though in both cases, it’s pretty out-there). There isn’t much I can say about either book without giving away the plot. Both are the story of a missing person case. Both are quite dark; have unreliable narrators; are well-written; fast-paced; and take a deep dive into the inner mind and secrets of the main character. If you enjoyed one of these books, my guess is you’ll also enjoy the other. If you like psychological thrillers, mystery, etc. you should give this book a read.

 

Thumbs up!

 

PS: The movie version of this book is coming out in October and it looks pretty good!


Sunnyside Pizza {Queens}

Sunnyside Pizza Queens

Whenever I am in NYC, I have to visit Queens. It’s my favorite borough, plus, I have amazing friends who live there. When I was leaving from a quick visit this May, I decided to get a slice of New York pizza on my way to the airport (pizza in Hawaii is pretty disappointing). I chose this place because it was close to the subway.

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I was just early enough to miss the lunch rush. Sunnyside Pizza is small, with just a couple stools for those who want to enjoy their pizza immediately. I was one such person, and the pizza guys talked to me while I ate. That’s what I love about Queens: it’s a real neighborhood, where the pizza guys will talk to you (with heavy New York accents, and in a gruff but friendly way) and ask you where you’re going with a suitcase.

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I know it infuriates some diners, but I ask the staff what to eat when there are too many good options. They recommended a chicken parmesan slice, so I got it. It was amazingly delicious, and I ate the entire, huge slice. If I had been able to save half for later, I would have definitely done that instead, but I knew I would’ve just made a mess. This actually wasn’t quite the classic NYC pizza I was looking for, but I still really enjoyed it.

Sunnyside Pizza

40-01A Queens Blvd. Sunnyside, NY 11104

(718) 433-4040

Strala Yoga Teacher Training

Since Tara Stiles’ great new book, Strala Yoga, is now out, I thought it was finally time to share some information with you about Strala Yoga. She also just announced that she is pregnant (congrats, Tara!!) which makes me feel doubly blessed that I was able to take her 2-day Immersion Teacher Training this year (she’ll have to take a break from such events for maternity leave next year).

STRALA: MOVE LIKE WATER, FUELED BY YOUR BREATH. THE RESULT IS FLOW STATE. YOU TAP INTO YOUR CREATIVITY AND INTUITION. YOU FEEL ELEVATED, ENERGIZED. YOU FIND YOUR OWN BEST BODY, BEST FITNESS, AND BEST HEALTH. YOU GET HAPPY. YOU RADIATE LIGHT.

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I took the 2-day teacher training this May in New York City (at the Strala Yoga headquarters/main studio). I took a redeye flight out of Honolulu Friday night, then landed in New York City Saturday morning and went straight to the training, which was 9 am-6 pm for two days. I was able to stay right nearby at one of my best friends’ apartments, and we met up for lunch both days.

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Here are all the other cool people who participated (can you spot me?). As far as trainings go, this was one of the best group of people I’ve had the pleasure to learn with. FullSizeRender (3)

Here we are playing around with natural movement, led by Mike. So who is this Tara I’ve already mentioned multiple times? Tara Stiles is a former dancer and model, who created Strala drawing on her background in classical ballet and choreography, as well as her long-time personal practice in yoga. She began her yoga study in the 1990s with her ballet teacher, Rory Foster of American Ballet Theater. The science and movement of Strala is also guided by her husband Mike Taylor, who studied mind-body medicine at Harvard, and complementary medicine at Oxford.  He has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qi gong, for 30 years.

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Here I am during the training, laying down (on the left) while everyone decides who is most in need of a savasana massage (I guess I must have been pretty relaxed because almost no one picked me).

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And here is our whole group at the end of the training. It was two 8-hour days, but I could have spent much more time playing around, moving, breathing, learning, and picking Tara and Mike’s brains. Tara and Mike are both super friendly, responsive, approachable, calm, grounded, clear, efficient, graceful… all the things I aspire to be!

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Strala is a way of being, moving and healing, that helps people connect with how they feel, move how it feels good, and handle challenges with ease. This is yoga that moves far beyond poses, helping you blow past your goals and get into your dreams. It’s a freedom flow that expands your limits and cracks you wide open. You reveal your radiantly inspiring self. If this appeals to you, you can read even more about this awesome practice here.

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I am so incredibly grateful to have found this practice and Tara Stiles as a badass role model! I have been guiding Strala classes at my home studio here in Honolulu, at Yogaloha Hawaii, since July. If you’re interested, come check out Strala Strong with me on Thursdays, 7-8:15 pm. Strala Strong is a moving vinyasa flow that builds strength, balance, and flexibility evenly in the body. Calm ease is carried through simple and challenging movements alike. All Strala classes move slowly and continuously, guided with deep breath and easygoing movement from your middle. You’ll get strong, let stress go, and accomplish tremendous challenges with ease. You’ll also feel free, creative and intuitive, and get healthy and happy from the inside out!

The Beet Box Cafe {Haleiwa}

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The Beet Box Cafe used to be a small counter where you could order food in the back of a health-food store, on the North Shore of Oahu (in the small, touristy town there called Haleiwa).

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I ordered an iced tea for while we waited for our food (you order at the counter, but they bring the food to you at the table. You then have to bring your dishes to a bin, but sometimes they come get the dirty dishes for you. It’s pretty confusing). I love that they added frozen blueberries in with the ice; by the time I finished the beverage, the plump blueberries had absorbed some of the tea, and tasted even better than regular blueberries.

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I hold a special place in my heart for restaurants that serve breakfast all day. The breakfast options here are so good that even Kiyo ordered off the breakfast menu (and he never does!). He got the Mexicali Blues: eggs scrambled with a crunchy, toasted, sprouted-corn tortilla and jalapeño jack cheese topped with homemade salsa, avocado, and sunflower sprouts, and served with brown rice and Brazilian black beans. He opted to add soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo).

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On the recommendation of a friend, I ordered the Zen, a scramble (choice of tofu or egg) of broccoli, onion, carrots and zucchini “seasoned with curry and love,” served with a scoop of brown rice and black beans and topped with avocado and sunflower sprouts. I LOVED this; it’s the kind of plate of food that I will think about and start to crave. I would definitely brave the traffic of Haleiwa to get to this again.

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Although it was a little pricey (more than $12 per plate) we were both very impressed and satisfied with our meal. We each finished our plate of goodness, and felt very full, but managed to avoid the food coma that comes from overeating food that isn’t nutritious.

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We had to save our cinnamon sugar [vegan] donut for later, since we were so full. I wouldn’t choose to eat this again; it was much too moist to be a donut. There wasn’t anything terrible or disgusting about it, but if I’m going to treat myself to dessert, I want something that’s worth the sugar and calories.

The Beet Box Cafe

66-437 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

(808) 637-3000

September Yoga Schedule Update

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This month I will be leaving the island of Oahu for a few days. I’m headed to Los Angeles TO SEE BEYONCÉ LIVE IN HER FORMATION WORLD TOUR! My friend Danelle and I have been obsessing over Lemonade for the past few months, and finally decided we needed to go see it performed live.

 

I will have subs teaching my regular classes Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 18.

 

I’m sure I’ll be posting lots of pictures during my trip so be sure to follow along via Instagram @ValerieBrett (and @eyechow if you’re a foodie). While I’m gone, enjoy these latest yoga playlists!

International Marketplace Opens in Waikiki

The old International Marketplace; it was updated another time, before this round, as well.

The original International Marketplace

The brand-new International Market Place in tourist-hub Waikiki (on Oahu) opened yesterday, with world-class restaurants, upscale retailers, and the first Saks Fifth Avenue in Hawai’i. It closed for renovations in 2014, which Hawaii Business Magazine covered:

For more than 50 years, tourists flocked there, drawn to the warren of cheap jewelry stores, kiosks selling kitschy bric-a-brac and the romance of the original Don the Beachcomber restaurant, which opened there in 1956. Owned by The Queen Emma Land Co., the market place was a memorial to – if not Old Hawaii – the tiki image most visitors have of Old Hawaii, replete with ersatz thatched roofs and a Swiss Family Robinson tree house in the grand old banyan that dominates the mall, a tree reputedly planted by Queen Emma herself.

Those days are done.

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Oahu’s newest shopping, dining and entertainment destination, this project was developed by Taubman and CoastWood Capital Group in conjunction with Queen Emma Land Company. Now that you’ve heard the technical details, here is what what you really want to know: The new lineup includes the following (a single asterisk before the name indicates brands that are unique to the island):

STORES:

*45rpm

ABC Stores

*Abeo

Abercrombie & Fitch

Aesop

Anthropologie

Banana Republic

*BCBG MAX AZRIA

Brunello Cucinelli

*Capital Teas

*Catimini

Chapel Hats

*Christian Louboutin

Clarks

Crazy Shirts

*Fabletics

Flip Flop Shops

FootAction USA

Fossil

*Free People

GameStop

GNC Live Well

Godiva Belgium 1926

Greenroom Hawaii

*Hanna Andersson

*Herve Leger

Hilton Grand Vacations (kiosk)

Hollister

Honolulu Cookie Co.

*Intermix

Island Art & Sole

*Jo Malone

*Kona Coffee Purveyors

Laline

Lani Beach by Mireille

L’Occitane en Provence

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

MAC

Maui Divers Jewelry

Michael Kors

*Mitsuwa Marketplace

*Oliver Peoples

*Ondademar

Pandora

Papyrus

*Penhaligon’s

*Robin’s Jean

*Saks Fifth Avenue

Sand People

*Seafolly Australia

*Shinola

Shoe Palace

*Stuart Weitzman

*Sugarfina

Sunglass Hut

Swarovski

Tabora Gallery

Tesla

*Trina Turk

Vera Bradley

Vilebrequin

*YOGASMOGA

RESTAURANTS ON THE GRAND LĀNAI (THIRD LEVEL):

*Baku

*Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi

*Flour & Barley

Goma Tei Ramen

*Herringbone

*Kona Grill

*STRIPSTEAK

*Yauatcha

RESTAURANT ON THE FIRST LEVEL

*The STREET, A Michael Mina Social House

Opening celebrations continue this weekend; I know I’ll be going to see the Fabletics store (fitness apparel brand by Kate Hudson) and try a Shaka-stamped cocktail at Chef Michael Mina’s restaurant. Some of the other unique-to-Hawai’i stores are intriguing, and I’m sure they will find no dearth of customers, considering that tourists spend more money in Waikiki on luxury goods than at any other stores in the world. Not to mention, Oahu is home to a population of locals that love mainland brands, strip malls, and shopping. Goma Tei, as I’ve mentioned previously, is my favorite place to eat ramen on the island, and I’m happy to have a good new option for food in Waikiki. Shockingly, despite the over abundance of retail and hotels, there aren’t very many good places to eat in Waikiki (unless you’re willing to drop a ton of money). However, I assume that Goma Tei be a madhouse of tourists, so I probably will not try it out until the next time I’m hungry & stranded in Waikiki (I work in Waikiki, and live nearby).

The shopping center is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (but perating hours for restaurants will vary). For ease of access, the center provides 700 parking spaces and valet parking (which will be a huge draw for locals, who usually hate driving into Waikiki and looking for limited -or expensive- parking).

For more information, visit ShopInternationalMarketPlace.com or on Instagram: @intlmktplace.


Five Routes Through Thailand

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this (or this) post about a giveaway, for a Thailand food/travel guidebook. Well, I got a couple responses, but sadly could not give the book to more than one person. So, I decided to take some photos of what seemed to be the most useful pages in the book, so we could also enjoy and save for future reference. Below are 5 Routes (planned particularly for foodies) you could take through Thailand; these pages are all in order, and you click each image to enlarge so you can print and/or read. Happy travels!

Five Routes Through Thailand:

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travel to thailand day by day planning


Packing Tips: How To Pack The Right Way

We have teamed up with Rebateszone to bring you this awesome Infographic on packing! Let’s be honest: traveling is amazing, but packing is a huge drag. Unpacking when you get home is even worse. No matter how well-prepared I think I am, it’s always a struggle and a time-crunch right before leaving for a trip. Check out these great tips and tricks for packing for your next trip:

Packing Tips: How To Pack The Right Way