Behind the Scenes with Diane Peacock of Blue Lollipop Road

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Diane Peacock is a seize the day type of girl. Her positive energy and enthusiasm is contagious and her follow- your-dreams-and-make-it-happen mantra has led her to all 50 states and countless countries, connecting her to thousands of people. It’s impossible to label Diane with just one title. She’s a blogger, a road trip maven, a community activist and a small business champion. With a book collaboration and 50 state speaking engagement tour in the works, we are sure that list is about to get much, much longer. Read on to get to know Diane, hear about how she pays (and PLAYS) it forward and see what else 2013 has in store for her.

What inspired you to start bluelollipoproad.com?
After years of traveling, I started itching for a way to share my stories and adventures with more than just friends and family. I also wanted to  inspire other people to just get up and go, to explore beyond everyday surroundings. I thought a blog would be perfect- so I just started writing. Thus, Blue Lollipop Road was born!

Tell us about your upcoming, second-annual BLR Play It Forward event. How can we get involved?
During my Honda sponsored road trip in the fall of 2011, I saw an old soccer teammate I hadn’t seen in years and she sprung on me: “We should have an alumni game Di! You have to plan it. It’d be great!” I was at the point where I’d traveled so much I was ready to “give back” and had thought about establishing a travel scholarship fund. That conversation led to a full-scale weekend long alumni event that Blue Lollipop Road hosts where my fellow soccer alumni and community members gather to reconnect, play soccer, honor lost friends, and have fun! The weekend kicks off with a Welcome Back Party on Friday night. Saturday includes the Strong Mojo Summit (where current female athletes meet alumni to discuss life experiences), a gifting of the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial scholarship, and an Alumni Soccer Game. On Saturday evening “Celebration Cocktails” wrap up the event. The event is a blast. The focus is on giving back to the community and encouraging everyone to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. We give a local teen the opportunity to travel by awarding a scholarship in honor of my two friends that BLR is dedicated to. It’s pretty much my dream come true. Alumni  can register to play in the game, or anyone can donate to BLR Play It Forward and the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Fund by visiting: http://bluelollipoproad.com

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What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up around 6:30am and check my phone responding to any quick important emails, then read the news. I’m out the door at 7am for a run (3-5 miles on weekdays, more on weekends.) I french press coffee as soon as I’m back from running. After that it’s straight to my laptop for emails, writing, editing, uploading photos, and social media. This time of year I spend a lot of time on BLR Play It Forward: recruiting alumni, meeting with press/media, and planning logistics from jerseys and posters to sponsors and food. If I’m not already at a coffee shop working, I usually come up for air in the afternoons when I get an itch- and go camp out at one.

What is your favorite travel destination thus far?
Ooh! This questions always gets me- so many places! In the US, all around favorite:
City: Chicago
Beach: Outer Banks, NC
Secret spot of pure heaven: Finger Lakes, Upstate NY
Summer utopia: Anywhere in New England
Food, wine, and serenity: The Napa Valley
Country: Argentina. The people, landscape, food, wine, ahhh….

What sites and resources do you use to plan your trips?
None! I am a less planning, more doing kind of girl. I make sure my AAA card is current, oil is changed and my tank is full and I take off. That’s how the best experiences happen. I say, Always be prepared but don’t “plan.”

What entrepreneur resources have you found to be the most useful?
I’m not sure these would be considered “resources”, but I always like to check out what’s going on with the following organizations to stay inspired to follow my own road- like they do:
http://www.oneweekjob.com
http://roadtripnation.com
http://www.americangap.org

What is the best advice you have ever received?
1.) You’re not picky- you just know what you want.
2.) You promote what you tolerate

What do you do in your free time (or would you do if you had any :))?
I run, play soccer, and take classes like hip hop and yoga. I like to play outside as much as possible, and stay super active because I love scoping out delicious local eats and drinks wherever I am, so I’ve got to keep moving to stay healthy! I also just get in the car and drive a lot.  On rainy days you can find me at a bookstore researching things such as small businesses, company culture, food and wine.

What else does 2013 have in store for you?
A home base set up in Charlotte in July! I’m very excited as this is the first time I will establish a home base in about 6 years.  Also, working on a 50 state tour that will launch in spring 2014. Exciting times ahead!

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How to Cut Your Morning Beauty Routine in Half

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You’d love to have time to sip your coffee while reading the morning paper or cook your kids a homemade breakfast, but alas, time is not in your favor. Unless you want to look like you just rolled out of bed at work, the fun morning rituals have to go. Not true! Here are eight great ways to cut your morning routine dramatically, so you can fake that Mad Men-era high maintenance and spend more time doing what you really want or need to do.

1. Dry Shampoo – I usually only wash my hair every two to three days. In between, I use a dry shampoo that prolongs my blowout or other styling, keeps hair smelling fresh, prevents oil and adds volume. Tips: Buy a travel size to keep in your purse for after work touch ups. Also, spray under the hair at the roots instead of on top to avoid visible powder splotches, or if it’s in a powder form, spray into your hand first and then work it through your hair. Two brands I use: Pssssst (best budget buy) and Klorane (non aerosol)

2. Microfiber Hair Towels – On the days you do wash your hair, this hair towel will dramatically reduce your blow drying time. Tip: Do not wash it with fabric softener because it will reduce its moisture wicking capabilities.

3. BB or CC Cream – A tinted moisturizer, skin protectant and serum all in one. I use Dr. Jart Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45. It provides more coverage than many of the other brands, gives my skin a dewy glow and has a high spf. While it isn’t cheap, I figure I am still saving money by not buying two other products to complete my skin care routine.

4. Spray on Body Moisturizer – Quicker than applying regular moisturizer, just hold your breath! I haven’t tried this one yet, but it sounds good and they claim it’s absorbed within 10 seconds.

5. Skip Eye Cream – Despite the claims, most eye creams rarely do more than your regular moisturizer. Plus, the area under your eyes needs spf protection too and not all eye creams offer it. Warning – don’t go too close to your actual eye that the product gets in your eye, even if it’s eye cream.

6. Lip & Cheek Stain – Multi-tasking stains save time and money. Stains also last longer (less time spent reapplying), give you a more natural, flushed look and are perfect for travel (one less product to squeeze into your zip lock bag). I use Benefit’s Benetint.

7. Mascara  – When applying mascara, position the wand at the base of the lashes and gently wiggle it back and forth. This deposits a coat of color that mimics eyeliner, so you can cut eyeliner out of your routine. I love this mascara and think it performs better than most department store brands.

8. Perfume – If you have to skip a shower, don’t forget perfume. Stash a roll-on in your purse to apply on the go without disturbing your neighbors. Here’s an application tip: apply your perfume in the crease of your arm or behind your knee. These areas help emit the fragrance like your neck or wrist would, but don’t expose your jewelry to the perfume compounds and oils that often cause chemical reactions, resulting in jewelry tarnishing.

For other great beauty buys and tips, check out our past posts:

– How to do no chip manicures at home

– Great beauty travel gadgets

– The best drugstore beauty buys

Photo source, with my words.

Japan in Photos: Tsukiji Fish Market

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What you just witnessed were a collection of photos taken from the secure area of the fish market that is not open to the public until much later in the day. I’d like to pretend that we had a thrilling exposé planned, but the truth is, we just got lost while searching for the tuna auction and wandered into the not so secure, secure area. The last photo is us being caught by the security guard. His laminated paper says “not open to the public” in English and Japanese.

Tips for getting the most out of the Market:

1. Get there early. Ideally at 5am. This is difficult because the trains don’t start running until 5am. The tuna auction only allows a certain number of tourists inside and of course you also have to find it. Which brings me to number two.

2. Secure a good map of the area ahead of time with specific directions from your concierge. We stayed in a capsule hotel the night before. Since we were only getting 4 hours of sleep we figured it didn’t make sense to splurge on a hotel, plus that was a unique experience in and of itself.

3. Grab some super fresh sushi afterwards. We picked a medium length line and went for it, but you can get a recommendation ahead of time.

4. Camera flashes aren’t allowed in the auction area. They might kick you out if you break this rule.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Just Got Real

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If you don’t like chocolate, I’m not sure we can be friends. If you have an allergy to chocolate, I’ll give you a pass as long as it’s not one of those fake-allergies-so-you-can-diet ploys. The truth is, most people either like or love chocolate and some have even dreamt that a magical place like the factory in Charlie and Chocolate Factory exists (we’re not naming names). Well, no need to waste any more time dreaming because I’m here to tell you it does!

This past weekend we visited San Francisco with some friends from college. One of our friends resides in the City by the Bay and always plans unique excursions for us (see the excursion from our last trip here, it was so much fun and highly recommended!) This year we did a tour and tasting at Tcho (named for the first syllable in chocolate).

During the tour we learned about every step in the chocolate making process, from growing the Cacao beans to putting on the candy bar wrapper (usually done by women because their hands are colder). It interesting stuff. So much goes into creation of chocolate. A full 150 Cacao pods worth of Cacao beans are needed to make a single chocolate bar and there are tons of steps in the process: harvesting, fermenting, drying, de-shelling, etc., etc. It’s a wonder why chocolate prices aren’t akin to those of caviar.

After the informative video and question and answer session, we took a short walk through the factory to see some of the machines and assembly lines. Most of the process occurs in South America or Africa (Cacao pods cannot be imported into the U.S. and they can only be grown within 20-30 degrees of the equator because they thrive on high, consistent temperatures.)

We ended the tour by tasting 6 different chocolates. We were told that the proper way to taste a piece of chocolate is to warm it up in your hand for a few second, crack it by your ear so you can hear if the chocolate has been tempered correctly, breathe in the aromas being omitted by the piece and finally pop it in your mouth and let it melt on your tongue (do not chew it!) My favorite was the SeriousMilk Bar that is 53% Cacao, which makes it tastes like a mix of milk and dark chocolate. So good!

The tour last about an hour and it’s absolutely free! Before or after the tour I recommend grabbing lunch at the Ferry Building, which is a short walk away. What are your San Francisco recommendations?

Japan In Photos: Kyoto

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We spent two days in Kyoto meandering along its famous walks, exploring temples and viewing the breathtaking fall leaves. It’s a magical place where the modern world is beautifully interlaced with centuries of tradition.  I took over 400 photos during the trip, but this handful of shots captures the essence of the city; a seemingly peaceful place bustling with color.