Now I wasn’t sure what to call these are first and a quick check brought me to the term “cleansing systems” (mostly facial but some are also for your body too). Basically I’m talking about those vibrating brushes that you use to help cleanse your skin. I got the Toilet Tree brand because it was a price point I liked, but I think it really got popular with the Clarisonics (which I would love to try but certainly not for that price). Nevertheless, my own cleansing system is at least more effective than just washing my face with my hands. I love how it can help slough off old skin and penetrate pores in ways you couldn’t do manually. It’s also rather soothing to have these brushes rubbing your face and I love when my products foam up a bit (ok, a lot). These brushes make my skincare routine fun and that’s pretty great.
Panda and I get a chance to stay at a bunch of different hotels throughout the year, so I thought I’d share some of the experiences a bit more thoroughly than I could in a travel review site. I’ve broken it down into a few sections: Location (including parking info & nearby businesses), Rooms (including wifi info & toiletries), Service (including check in/out times & front desk service), and Amenities (including breakfast info & pool/gym details). Finally, I sum up with a Pros & Cons comparison if you’re short on time. Click on any of those to jump straight to the section you want!
The Hotel Maya is down in Long Beach, facing part of the harbor and not too far from the Queen Mary (you’ll hear the foghorn sound a few times throughout the day). It is being run as a Doubletree, so you can expect the same services and amenities (such as complimentary cookies). The location can be a little confusing to get to since the roads are long and windy and as soon as you cross the Queens Way bridge, you exit on the right and it looks like you’re getting onto a freeway but then you get right off. From there, you do a complete 180 and basically backtrack along your route on the side road, passing by a Residence Inn and curving around underneath the bridge to get over to the hotel. If you’re like me and missed the exit, then you end up reaching the end of the bridge and having to pull a u-turn and loop around from the opposite direction. Confused yet? Yeah, it can be a bit challenging reaching the hotel the first time but take a look at the maps I linked for you to see what I’m talking about. There aren’t really many businesses nearby, so you’ll probably have to drive back across the Queens Way bridge to access the more densely-packed area where there are restaurants and bars and stores.
When you arrive, you will get a ticket from the parking machine that will let you in. If you’re in the lot just dropping off someone, don’t worry – you have a grace period of (I believe) 20 minutes that you can stay without being charged. If you’re staying as a guest, you will have to pay the fee of $19 per night. You’ll just use your room key as the entry and exit card whenever you want to drive out somewhere. When you enter, you’ll find this giant door, which you push on the left side to enter. It will rotate to open like some sort of secret passageway entrance. Or, you can opt for the “normal” door on the left side, which is that glass panel with the metal bar handle. The front desk is just to the left once you enter. If you were to go straight up the ramp in front of you, you’d find the restaurant up the stairs on the right and some meeting rooms in the back. From the front desk, off to the left is the open computer area, couches, and more meeting space.
The hotel actually consists of multiple small buildings clustered together. It feels rather like an apartment complex and there are only a few rooms per floor. Each room has its own little balcony or porch, with chairs and a small table so you can sit and enjoy the weather and/or view (if you have one). If you happen to get a top floor room, it will likely have very high ceilings as shown. Overall the feel is very airy and spacious, which is appropriate for being by the ocean. The beds are typical ones, not too firm or soft and the bedding might be a bit light if you’re sensitive to the cold like me. We had to use the heater at night and it is an older type that is mounted in the window, so it rattles a bit and isn’t the quietest thing.
You’ll get to enjoy free wifi, yay! To ensure a lot of light can enter the room, the entire window area also houses glass sliding doors that lead to the porch. The porch doesn’t have railing like a fence, but instead is composed of something like plexiglass so you can enjoy the best possible view from the porch, with nothing obstructing the way. It’s also nice for helping to block some of the cool ocean breeze you might get as you sit outside. I really enjoyed the furnishings in our room, from the wicker seat by the mirror that was great for stacking our stuff on to the glass top desk by the porch to the nice sturdy coffee table next to the couch. Check out these photos of the room – you can click on them to enlarge.
In the restroom you’ll find Crabtree & Evelyn toiletry products in Citron Honey & Coriander. The wallpaper is Mayan-themed and the floor and shower area have a nice marble. I did not like that the toilet paper holder was on the wall behind the toilet, so you had to reach back blindly or twist to try to reach it. I did like the sink, which had a nice water flow and a cool rectangular design. There are bars beneath the sink so you can keep hand and face towels within each reach, but the small little metal nub on the wall for hanging towels could have been bigger. If you didn’t place the towel just right, it could easily slide right off.
Check-in time is at 3 PM and checkout time is at 12 PM, but of course this is always negotiable if you ask and are courteous to the staff. The hotel is a non-smoking property, so don’t expect to find ashtrays or get a smoking room. I found the staff to always be helpful, whether we needed some disposable utensils or wanted an extra cookie. They even held a bake sale while I was there, raising funds for the Ronald McDonald House. You could easily hold events here as well, ranging from weddings to business conferences. They offer a nice outdoor area pictured there, which was set up for various events during my stay. They also have some large rooms you can use for meetings, presentations, and the like.
As you’d expect, the Hotel Maya has a pool (complete with lovely “floating” cabanas) and hot tub, as well as a variety of seating options to enjoy the sun, the pool, the harbor, or just the air. There is a gym with giant glass windows just across from the lobby area – a good place to get drinking water if you have some bottles you want to fill up. There is a small business center in the hallway region off to the side of the front desk, with two computers for you to use if you need to hop online or print something. The little snack shop on the side of the front desk offers not only food like a s’mores kit, but clothing and magnets to remember your visit to Long Beach by. You can also use the microwave there to heat up any food that might need microwaving to eat.
A free continental breakfast is available in the in-house restaurant (Fuego Restaurant) to Hilton Gold members and above. One of my mornings, I was told the hot buffet was available to me as well, but I’m not suer if that’s usually the case or if you have to pay an additional fee. Anyone is welcome to purchase meals there throughout their working hours. They offer a great view of the harbor. Just outside and down the stairs, you’ll find the Aquabus, which only runs in summer months. It takes you across the harbor to the more main area of Long Beach, where you can go to the convention center, check out a park, or grab some food. There’s also a bus you can catch from the front of the hotel area, which can take you into town as well,
There are also a ton of great spaces to enjoy that make this property feel somewhat like its own little town. You can stroll along the harbor, play tennis or beach volleyball or bocce ball, hang out in a variety of cabanas and lawn chairs, enjoy firepits and the small “beach” that they built, and so much more. Check out my gallery of pictures below for even more looks at what the Hotel Maya has to offer!
Cons: location slightly out of the way for most activities, paid parking, small inconveniences in restroom, loud air conditioning unit
Overall? I’d totally stay here again whenever I’m looking for a chill atmosphere and some relaxation – as long as I have a car I can use at night. I mean, I wouldn’t mind trying Fuego for dinner but I doubt it’s in the price range I prefer.
I just wrote about this a bit today, but I wanted to highlight it in the 365great series too. I think owls make for a great style whether it’s home decor (pillows, candles, statuettes) or jewelry (necklaces, earrings, watches). They make just about anything cute with their googly eyes and rotund bodies. I love how creative people can get when creating items in an owl’s image, whether it’s an iPad case, an oil warmer, or even a mug. And even if it’s not shaped like an owl, just put the image of one on a pattern and you’ve got yourself a winner too. When I get my own home, I’m totally going to indulge some of my owl obsession with owl-themed products. It’ll be great!
a~ I can’t believe this is my 6th one already! Where did the time go? I’ve been bumming around lately because I’m hoping my first choice in future employment pans out and I’m not that motivated to apply for other jobs just yet, plus I haven’t watched my shows since early February so I’m catching up now that all the seasons seem to be ending. I’m slowly transitioning back to working more and resting less.
b~ On the box front, I have a lot going on! I got into the Influenster Spring Voxbox (yay!) and hopefully I qualify for the summer one as well. I sprang for the May Ipsy bag and while I liked the overall value and items in the bag, I’m looking to trade two items. I’m going to cancel the subscription and wait for June spoilers before deciding if I want to get it again. I got that free Bulu box that I mentioned and I’ve suspended my subscription for now. I liked the box but I didn’t love it, so I’m reluctant to spend money on it when they’re more on the healthy scale than I’m interested in. I also received my first Conscious Box and it was packed full of goodness! Gonna take me some time to get through everything. And finally, I got Panda to get me a Treatsie box subscription because I’m a sucker for treats. Call it a very early birthday present.
c~ Every now and then I get my contacts out of place in my eye and it hurts for a bit, but then I get it back in place. Awhile back, my contact kept creating discomfort in my eye so I took it out and put it back in after washing it down with solution. Still, it didn’t feel right and the next time I took it out I discovered this:
d~ It has been many long months since I heard from BzzAgent and I was pretty sad they weren’t including me in campaigns even though my BzzScore is pretty high. Then FINALLY I got an email from them and I am IN for the Dr. Scholl’s massaging gel insoles! Pretty excited about that since I’ve always wanted to try them but kind of never got around to figuring out which one I should get. I’m going to put them to the test on my next vacation, where I expect a whole lot of walking. My feet always hurt after standing all day and a massaging gel sounds amazing.
e~ Is it just me or are owls cute on/as almost any product? I mean, I love them as jewelry and decorations and sculptures and designs and even oil warmers. Something about their round, pudgy bodies and those giant eyes melt my heart. If I could find an owl bag, owl blanket, or gosh even an owl metronome, I’d probably get it. I was pretty tempted to get a felt iPad case made to look like an owl, but I don’t use cases for my iPad so I resisted. I’m that much more likely to get something if there’s an owl involved! I feel similarly about pandas and cats.
f~ I’ve made it a habit of keeping a lot of my skincare and beauty products upside-down lately. Everything from toners to shampoo to nail polish. A lot of these products tend to settle and I don’t like having to shake them up each time, so by keeping them on their heads, I don’t usually have to shake them. And for very thick things like lotion, I don’t have to struggle (as much) to get it to come out. I wonder if they have some sort of adjustable rack that I can use for this purpose?
g~ I’m obsessed with marinated mushrooms!! It was about 10 years ago that Costco stopped carrying the ones they had in their stores and I’ve been checking the pickled goods aisle ever since. In the years since, I managed to find them in the salad bar at Ralph’s a couple times, but it is very expensive to buy them by the salad bar’s weight pricing! Then I happened upon a new brand at Costco out east when I was visiting Panda a few months ago and I was joyous. I took home two jars that day and devoured them. We got some more jars and I happy ate them until I had to come back to SoCal. Unfortunately my local Costco does not carry it. I then had Panda bring me more when he came to visit. A few weeks ago he reported that there were only two more boxes of it left in the store, so I had him help me buy an entire box (8 jars). Gotta stock up in case Costco stops selling them! Yes, I am that in love with these suckers.
h~ When I got a bar of Mrs. Meyers soap in my Yuzen box many months ago, I was pretty excited to try this brand I’d been curious about. Once I started using the soap I found that the smell was too clean for my taste. I was sad and put it aside while trying to figure out what to do with it. Then I had to do some cleaning and I decided to use that soap since it was handy and seemed to cut through grease really well. I’m glad I did! For some reason, using it to clean with is perfectly fine, but using it to wash myself with feels weird. Maybe it’s a psychological thing? I associate that refreshing smell with cleaning but what I use on my body I want to feel more like I’m beautifying. Totally random, but just goes to show that you may not like something for certain reasons at first, but those very reasons can make it great for something else.
What are your random thoughts these days?
It’s been about a year since I first got into subscription boxes and it’s a service I hope to use for a long time. I love how they help you navigate through the waters of whatever you’re not knowledgeable in, whether it’s eco-friendly brands or great ingredients to cook with. I’ve seen ones helping you with your child-rearing efforts, ones that offer something fun and useful for guys, ones that offer a complete set of ingredients to cook a fabulous meal, and so much more. I personally have been exploring a lot of skincare and eco-friendly products, most of which I never would have come across if not for these services. They’ve helped me discover amazing brands that I will likely be using for years to come! How great is that?
Been meaning to write about my very first Goodies box and here it is!
This was box #4 and included:
~Alo Water Watermelon & Peach drink (like)
~Ola! Vanilla Almond Handbaked Granola (meh)
~Rickland Orchards Toasted Coconut Greek Yogurt Coated Granola Bar (like)
~BelVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar Breakfast Biscuits (yum! like healthy Teddy Grahams)
~Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves (haven’t tried yet)
~Erin Baker’s Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookie (peanut butter’s not my thing)
~Jovan’s All Natural Creamy Vanilla Instant Breakfast (haven’t tried yet)
~Nabisco Newtons Triple Berry (like)
For the most part I enjoyed these snacks, which was nice since I’m not a breakfast person and I wasn’t sure if I’d like the theme. Luckily, all these are great as a snack anytime so it’s not exclusive to “morning foods.” This was sadly the last time they included those nice large info cards, but I guess it’s easier for them to list the varieties online.
I was never really into coconuts, but lately they seem to be cropping up everywhere in my life! It started with a coconut-scented lotion, which combined with lime smells really good. It came in one of my subscription boxes and was a brand I had wanted to try, so I gave it a shot and I love it. Then I got various coconut-flavored food items, from coconut chips to coconut granola bars and even coconut water. I can’t seem to escape this fruit and I even learned of its many benefits from The Book of General Ignorance: its water is sterile and full of vitamins and minerals (no wonder people drink it straight). Coconut oil is quite healthy – it’s been shown to help reduce cholesterol – and is apparently both antiviral and antibacterial. You can use it to make biodegradable products as sturdy as seats, incorporate it into mouthwash, or make a flour from it to clean jet engines with. And, most impressive, you could survive on just coconuts if you ever got stranded on some tropical island. They’re so versatile it’s great.
Remember that game you used to play? Everyone would hold up all ten fingers and you’d go around the room saying “Never have I ever [fill in the blank],” with all those who had done it putting down one finger. This went on until there was only one person left with fingers standing. Sound familiar?
I played that game quite a few times as an icebreaker and it’s a really interesting way to get to know people. The things that you choose to not do can say a lot about you. After all, self-control isn’t easy, so if you’re making the effort to NOT do something, then it’s probably somewhat important to you (usually). Of course sometimes it might just be because you can’t do it (which can also reveal a lot about you). I saw this post over on FatMumSlim and thought it was a great conversation-starter. Here’s my version!
Ok, so here goes! Never have I ever:
~cursed (on purpose/aloud). I must admit I did stumble over my tongue once when trying to say “shirt” and I have, in my head, considered saying some foul words. But never intentionally at or in front of someone.
~had most forms of alcohol. I tried a can or two’s worth of beer once (way worse than I even expected) for a round of beer pong.
~drank underage. I was 22 when I tried that nasty beer.
~had coffee or energy drinks. I hate the smell of coffee so I stay away. I’m not into over-caffeinating to try to stay away/alert so I have no need for coffee or energy drinks. Good old water is my friend.
~owned a dog. I’m more of a cat person, since they tend to be quiet, don’t need walks or baths, and are just the right size for cuddling. I do like dogs but I don’t really love them. One of the few breeds I might consider one day is a white Pomeranian – they may yap sometimes, but they’re so fluffy and cute I can probably overlook that.
~ridden a motorcycle. I’m not sure if this is something I’m interested in, but for the sake of trying, I probably will one day. The closest I’ve gotten thus far would be a moped. Does that count?
~had my own place. I’ve lived alone at my parents’ house (they were living abroad at the time) and I’ve had my own apartment (but shared it with someone else). I’ve yet to live in a place that I’m paying for by myself and I doubt I ever will. I don’t think I need to though, so that’s fine with me.
~smoked or done drugs. I have been around it and seen plenty of people doing it, but I usually walk away (if possible). In fact, I think that because I disliked smoking so much, I gave myself a sensitivity/allergy to it. One day, suddenly, I found that if I pass by the smell of cigarettes or marijuana, my throat swells up and my voice gets scratchy. Or maybe I just “gave” it to myself because I was around smoke so little. Who knows.
~had a food allergy. Nuts, gluten, dairy, fish, strawberries? Bring it on! I’ve known friends who are allergic to all of the above, but I’m not allergic to anything of the sort. In fact, other than that smoke “allergy” (sensitivity?) I’m not allergic to a single thing.
~pulled off an ollie. Ok, so most people probably haven’t, but what skateboarder hasn’t? I’m partial to long boards for cruising around SoCal style and those aren’t very trick-friendly. I played around with some friends’ short boards before and they taught me a trick or two, but I’ve yet to master the ollie.
~(for the non-skateboarders since the previous one is practically a freebie) broken a bone. The worst injury I ever had was shin splints and the only time I ever needed a hospital was for a minor surgical procedure to remove an odd birthmark.
So how’d you do? How many fingers do you have left standing?
Xiao long bao – “little dragon dumplings” – an awesome name for an amazing dish. They’re also known as soup dumplings, because of the “soup” inside each dumpling that gushes out as you bite in. I absolutely love these bite-size morsels of goodness. It’s the perfect combination of thin skin, juicy soup, and fragrant meat. Oh, and I love eating them with the ginger and vinegar dip too. The eating experience of XLB is really a sort of adventure: first you carefully pluck it from off the paper in the steamer, then you dip it in the vinegar and ginger sauce (add some soy sauce or hot sauce too if you like), and then you delicately bite in as the steam and soup inside heat up your mouth and the salty, tart, sometimes spicy tastes spread across your mouth. Making good XLB is an art form in itself and it shows when you eat it. The skin has to be thin but strong, there has to be a nice pop of soup inside each dumpling, and the filling has to be seasoned well and not over or undercooked. Treat yourself to some one day and I think you’ll agree – it’s great!
Ok, changing it up a bit this time. All my previous posts have been way after the fact so in an effort to be more timely, I will first post up what came in the box and then update as I try the items. The summer box had the most items yet and was just as fantastic as you could imagine.
*Disclosure: As a super fan, I was invited to be the Yuzen Ambassador to help them spread the word about their brand. Starting with the October box, I began to receive them for free. I was not compensated otherwise and all opinions are my own, irregardless of my relation to Yuzen. I just happen to think they’re awesome (as does everyone else I’ve heard from).
Click on the pictures for the full sizes so you can enjoy all the details of each product! You can even zoom in to read all the messaging.
SukiColor – Luscious Lips Berry Cream Trio Fresh Finish Mineral Cream Makeup: What a cute little palette! I’ve never had this kind of cream that you brush on your lips and cheeks so I’m pretty excited to try it. Might I add that there’s a nice citrus sort of scent coming from at least one of them (I can’t tell if it’s just one or all). I kind of want to lick them! Is that weird? Well, I’ll probably end up doing that once they’re on my lips anyway.
JJ’s Sweets Cocomels - Sea Salt Coconut Milk Caramels: Yum! I love caramels and the concept of making them with coconut milk is pretty cool. I didn’t use to like coconut much but it’s definitely growing on me and these are quite the tasty treat. My taste buds didn’t know what to do with the sweet coconut flavor with a hint of saltiness. So unique!
PHYT’S - Lait Hydro Nettoyant: Wow, this must have come straight from France – they didn’t even translate the product name into English. I actually took French in middle & high school and I know lait is milk and nettoyant is cleanser/washer. So I could tell this would be a face wash. It cleans off makeup too! It looks super soothing and gentle. I have a lot of face washes/cleansers at the moment so I don’t want to open it just yet. I imagine it to be creamy, maybe even silky and either clear or white-ish. We’ll see if I’m right!
Level Naturals - Shower Bombs: I got these in a different box awhile back and I actually decided to sell them at that time, but this time around I’m going to try them out! The smell is so invigorating and clears up my sinuses in a snap so I’m sure it’ll be very refreshing in the shower. I might have to keep one intact just to sniff because it is super effective at invigorating and soothing me at the same time. When I get back into the workforce I could definitely use these to help wake me up in the mornings since I am not a morning person. In fact, I often doze off a little while showering and getting ready for work (oops).
Acure - Marula Oil & Moroccan Argan Oil: I’ve never heard of marula oil, so I’m totally curious about it. It’s supposed to be good for scars, redness, fine lines, and dry skin and if it lives up to all that I will be very impressed. I scar easily so anything to help prevent that would be amazing. I’m familiar with argan oil for your hair but I’ve never tried it on my face or cuticles so I’m going to use this bottle towards that.
SpaRitual - Emerald City Lacquer & Multitasker Base & Topcoat: Love this brand! We got a bold red in the December Yuzen box and now it’s a beautiful green for the summer. I love that they rolled the base coat and top coat into one so you don’t have to get both separately. These are super cute and I like smaller sizes since I never use much nail polish and I’d rather have small ones of a ton of colors so I can change it up all the time. They also apply really well/easily!
Pritte - Moisturizing Body Lotion: I like the slender tube and push dispenser they use. It makes their brand seem classier than most and it reminds me of some high-end product lines. I tried a bit and it’s a wonderful citrus sort of scent that I enjoy. It absorbs well and hydrates very effectively. I’m going to have to use this on my feet since they tend to get the worst beating. Got a chance to check out more of their products online and I am really loving their packaging! Maybe it’s the use of gold on the labels? I just want to try more of their products, haha.
Action Wipes - Full-Body Wet Wipes: I can see myself using these after a workout or after being outside in the sun. They seem very refreshing and a great way to rejuvenate your body without having to take a shower. I mean, sometimes it’s just not convenient to have to wash up so I’d totally wipe down instead! I can’t wait to try these out. I’d use them on myself and my yoga mat after a class and I’m sure Panda could make good use of these after his workouts. I’ve been trying to get him to cut down on his water usage and if he can save a rinse with these I think that’d be pretty great.
Juil - $40 off discount code: Ok, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of their style of shoes but I love the concept! I had the same problem with Crocs until they started making more designs so I bet the same would happen with Juil. These shoes are pretty pricey so a $40 discount helps out a lot! (Most of the women’s shoes are $85 and the men’s are $95.) I’d be really curious to try these so I can see what grounding shoes feel like but at the moment this sort of thing is not within my budget.
What a fabulous box! Everything is very fitting for the summer months, helping you soothe, relax, refresh, cool down, calm down, and so much more. There is so much to try and I can’t wait to field test everything!
What do you think of the Summer Yuzen box? Did you receive it too? If this looks like something you (or someone you know) would love, but sure to sign up for the fall box! Currently there’s a waitlist so don’t delay any longer! Also, you can get in line for the summer favorites box, which will include items from previous boxes. Gift it to someone special or claim it for yourself, especially if you missed out on previous boxes.