Sunday, July 28, 2013

Introducing.. Francine!

Hi All!

Last year, I met a lovely gal.  Her name is Francine and she was interested in modeling for He Qi!

Miss Francine was brought up in a Filipino family, who wanted her pursue a career in the medical field. She volunteered at hospitals and proved to be a great caregiver. She's also very artistic and talented in many forms of art.  Throughout high school she took numerous art classes as well as science classes. During her free time, she would read blogs and watch YouTube videos. Doing so inspired her to potentially pursue a career in the fashion/beauty industry.  Her family was hesitant of her passion-- unsure if one can make a living in such a field, so she entered college as a nursing student and a few years later underwent what she calls "a beautiful tragedy"; her mother passed away. This unfortunate event made Francine realize that she did not want to waste any time-- she wanted to pursue her passion and embrace her talent.  So after two years of being in the nursing program, she switched majors and loaded up with the required classes to graduate on time. And in two and a half years, she graduated with a BA in Graphic Design. Throughout this entire process, she was still in love with the fashion/beauty industry and blogs/YouTube continued to inspire her. So, in 2012, Francine started a YouTube channel as a hobby dedicated to share, motivate and inspire others in any way possible.

Francine is currently a full-time graphic designer with a fashion retail company and freelance on the side.

Please support Francine by visiting her YouTube.
You can view her Portfolio HERE, and contact her via email for any questions/to say "hi":

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tahoe 2013 Tough Mudder Recap (and food porn)

We did our second Tough Mudder this Saturday in Lake Tahoe, CA.  Course was at Northstart Resort, elevation = 6000-8500 ft.  Total distance = 10.5 miles

Here's the course map in case anyone's interested in the details:

We turned this thing into a mini-vacation.  Rented a cabin in Truckee Thurs-Sunday-- best decision ever as the drive to Northstar was only 15 minutes!  Made the ride there and back stress free.

I knew in my gut that I was potentially going to get clobbered by the elevation.  I didn't have an idea of how much.  Two days up to the race we wandered around Truckee, visiting various little shops and you know.. um.. carb loading.

We had some Drunken Monkey Sushi for dinner one night and they were quite delicious!  Very clean rolls, no sauces or stuff to add extra unwanted calories. Really satisfied us.  When we return to Tahoe in September for the Fall Tough Mudder we are likely to visit this again!

We started with the seasoned edamame:
Pretty standard, delicious and satisfying.

A few rolls:

And holy crap.  I wish I had taken a "comparison" photo of the nigiri to my hand-- but seriously, each piece of king salmon was longer than half the length of my hand.  The largest pieces of sashimi I've ever seen on nirigiri.  Love.  It was delicious.
At least one of our rolls had real crab meat in it instead of the imitation stuff.  Really delicious!

Anyway on to TM..
Night of we had spaghetti w/ ground turkey.  Nothing fancy. Simple, carbs.

We ended up going in the 9 o'clock heat, finished around 1:30.
First 5-6 miles were up... up.. and up some more.  This killed me. KILLED ME.  I don't know how else to express it but seriously all the way up, despite walking it, had trouble catching my breath.

This guy:

Was... every bit as awful as it looks.  You are biologically programmed to NOT stay in that water... but to have to fully submerge was like... telling you not to jump off a ledge (funny, because that's coming up later).  You go in, bf had to literally grab my hand from the other side of the divider and yank me down and across to get me through.  Then I got out, shivering like mad and felt like a gazillion tiny needles were piercing my muscle.  Need... to... move...

Kiss of Mud was MUCH lower than expected.  Big guys/gals -- you can flatten yourself 100% to the ground and it will be tough.  I'm small, and I got stuck 3 times during the first crawl and the guy behind me had to get the barbed wire off of my shirt/camelpack.

Electric Eel -- was.... worse than I remember it to be.  Seems like they added more dangly eels.  Team consensus-- this was crappier than last year because it hurt more.  There was way too much cussing involved with this one than I'd liked.

Everest -- gave me a bunch of trouble last year.  Was able to get up, with help from comrades, on the first try. Not sure if I actually got up higher/the pipe was less muddy/I had more traction, etc.

Electroshock Therapy- Last obstacle.  Another one. Sigh.

I was close to the end, but I got zapped a few times in a row and that's when I went down, Brian had to come back and hesitantly helped pull me out at the end.

Overall, another great experience.  Some people have said "why would you pay to suffer?"--  but I see it was "Where else are we going to get an experience like this, that pushes us so far out of our comfort zones?

If you are even remotely thinking about doing a TM, DO IT.  Stop contemplating, and just sign up.  If the price give you sticker shock-- VOLUNTEER Saturday and do Sunday for like.. $20 or something like that.  We'll try our hand at that next time around.

The race was worth the price paid.  You get EXCELLENT treatment throughout-- water station, bananas, energy bars/gummies.  At the end, you get an AWESOME quality Under Armour shirt and an orange headband.  Can't ask for anything better.  Oh yea, a beer, and some more energy bars.  But the last thing I give a crap about is that beer, and more about the UA shirt.

Every single race is different.  It could be the same venue, same race, different season, and it's a whole different ball game. Dress for your comfort and safety.  For me, I always go in long shirt and at least 3/4 pants.  I screwed up a bit this time though.  I wore a long shirt, put some tape on my elbows, some 3/4 pants that RODE UP throughout the day and some more tape on my knees.  The tape on the joints really helped prevent further scrapes (which you'll get a lot of), but my pants were all wrong.  The rode up, causing my calf to get exposed in 85 degree weather and I'm sunburned.  Unhappy because due to the muddy waters it the burn is like.. a thousand tiny needles stabbing me and not warm and painful like sunburns I'm used to.  Could also be a bunch of microscrapes, I don't know.  My two cents is-- wear compression clothing, and cover up as much as you're willing to.  Guys don't really care (2 guys on my team did this shirtless... good for them).  But I prefer to me as less hurt as possible :)  Ladies, if you're on your monthly cycle, um... compression clothing, use a tampon, one that you hopefully don't have to change out of for the entirety of the race because you don't want to carry that with you and it'll get muddy, dirty and oh god, gross.

Obstacle races are getting popular.  I think it's stupid that companies who organize these events take stabs at each other-- who cares which is more hardcore?  Yes, we'll all find something for us. We're all pushing beyond our comfort, utilizing this as a method to improve health, fitness and mental grit.  Yes, you're going to be darn uncomfortable, look awkward/ugly, get gets/bruises and feel potentially extremely shitty at some point but in this modern age, we RARELY get the chance to do so!  Embrace the opportunity to do something like this.

Doesn't matter if you're doing a Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash etc. etc-- you're going outside, being active-- something that so few of us do nowadays.

Today, day after the race, I'm sore and my hips hurt.  As we've been more of less consistent with workouts this year, I actually feel pretty good.

Our next event is Spartan Race in Monterey in 3 weeks.  I'm a little scared as this really kicked my ass last year.   But no injuries should make it much more fun!

Have you guys done obstacle races?  Marathons?  Preferences?  Thoughts/advice?

Talk soon,

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Chain Chain ... Chainmaille & a giveaway!

My latest obsession is chainmaille.

Intricate designs woven together with just rings.  Lots of possibilities, and I'm excited to add some He Qi flair by incorporating SWAROVSKI crystals into the designs.

Our first chainmaille design last year were of bracelets accented with crystals:

And some pear drop earrings, same pattern as above with SWAROVSKI crystals thrown in:

While I'll likely continue to make this design, I wanted to try my hand at a more detailed weave-- the byzantine weave that I've fallen in love with.  Stunning pattern, simple, classic and extremely versatile.

Here's a very recent piece of jewelry I made utilizing the byzantine pattern:
A close-up of the weave pattern:
I'm not a big bracelet person.  I've made of these for myself and love it to pieces.  It's perfect for work, and a great conversion starter! See item HERE.

Also made a cute little pair of earrings with gold and silver rings, with SWAROVSKI teardrop dangles:
Check out some of my other byzantine designs HERE.

For a chance to win your very own custom-length byzantine bracelet, enter below!

It'll be made to your length. :)  Please share this with your friends!  With enough participation I am likely to through another prize in there ;)

Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July.  Until next time!