Saturday, December 27, 2008
I have a lot on my tentative post list though. I'll share with you my first department-store cosmetics splurge, a peak at some goodies sent to me by sweet Maayari, a review of J.Lynne Cosmetics' new blushes, a look at a scarf I'm crocheting for a friend, quick appetizer recipes (in case you still have parties coming up), and....my new haircut.
I haven't gotten my hair cut yet. It's currently about three inches below my shoulders and aching for a cut. I last had it done in August. It was highlighted last December but I've been growing it out since then. I'm trying to decide how much to cut off now and whether I want to color it again, or perhaps wait till summer to make it lighter.
Decisions, decisions! Hehe...
Off to the Panera for some food with high school friends!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The gender of Rudolph and his or her sleigh-hauling friends — the subject of goofy Internet chatter every year around this time — is now being pondered by renowned wildlife experts at Texas A&M University.
"Santa's reindeers were really females, most likely," said Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinary medicine professor specializing in deer who cites the depictions of Santa's helpers with antlers as the primary evidence. It turns out reindeer grow antlers regardless of gender, and most bulls typically shed their fuzzy protrusions before Christmas."Yes, seriously.
Something to think about over your cocoa and cookies (or latkes) tonight, perhaps.
I'm about to make some brunch and drive home to my family in New York. I hope you are reading this from somewhere warm and cozy, and having a very happy holiday season!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Daisy is one of the few fragrances I've tried in recent memory that I can remember liking both on initial application and several hours later. Not ready to spend $50 or $60 on a full size bottle, I was ecstatic to come across this solid scent ring for $20 at Marshall's. (It's limited edition and currently out of stock at Sephora online, where it's advertised for $30.)
It was in a sealed anti-theft container so I didn't get to see the actual product until I checked out. I was a bit disappointed by how small the perfumed area is -- about nickel-sized. It makes me feel like I'm going to dip my finger into it three times and use it all up (but that's just because I'm a little paranoid). The scent is just as good, however. And the packaging is admittedly really adorable.
The daisy is top-heavy, probably not something you'd wear on your finger all the time though it's big enough to do so. I think it's more practical to use as a keys or purse charm since it comes with a key chain. Personally, I adore its gold-colored pouch. I'd probably keep it there, tucked safely away till I feel like adding something sweet to brighten my day.
Or rather, my 19-year-old, art student sister's day. She and I are not very similar - she is more interested in ornate, abstract and bold things whereas I like delicate, sweet things - but we both appreciate quality and some similar elements of style. As much as I like this product, I think it'd be a great gift for her because it's classic-looking yet a bit surprising/outside the norm at the same time.
She's leaving for a two-month study abroad project in Barcelona, Spain next week (oooh so jealous! lol), so I think it'd be a nice little thing for her to take on the trip.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Yes, the AP, which touts itself as "the backbone of the world's information system."
This is information, of course. And yeah, I read the article. The Hills is my guilty pleasure, I admit it. I can't wait to see what happens Monday.
But still...To me, this says that The Hills couple everyone loves to loathe are actually now...newsworthy? Something about pseudo-reality shows boggle my mind when I'm not just ingesting them like candy, so I don't think about them much.
Oh, at least Dr. Suess' the Lorax is on now, yay!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Directions: Once you’ve been tagged, you have to write a blog with sixteen random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose ten people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. don’t forget to leave them a comment (“you’re it”) and to read your blog. You can’t tag the person who tagged you.
1. I'm currently watching Legally Blonde. Right now while writing this. Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but I actually like that movie and think it's cute, hehe...guilty pleasure.
2. I really like cheese, but not American cheese.
3. I've wanted to be a writer since I was very young. At least since elementary school.
4. I play Neopets! (Yep, more embarrassing stuff.) When I babysat in high school, the kids I watched started an account for me. I really like the flash games. (That's my lupe, LukaGrey, on the right.)
5. My middle name is Kristin.
6. Xanga was the first site on which I ever blogged.
7. I usually don't drink orange juice, except when I'm sick with a cold or something like that, and trying to increase my vitamin C intake. It could be in my head, but it helps me feel better. (I just tried doing research on the matter and it seems that evidence varies greatly, so take this as you will.)
8. I really like soup, particularly miso soup, black lentil soup from Cosi, homemade potato leek soup, and the way my mom prepares chicken noodle when it's cold out.
9. I was born and raised in the New York suburbs.
10. My family has three dogs - two mini poodles and a Boston Terrier, Bon Bon. I miss her soooo much, since I live and work in Maryland now (the Washington D.C. suburbs) away from them!
11. I highlighted my hair for about four years - a few shades blonder than my natural color - but I'm currently growing it out. I might color it again. Hmm...
12. I love the color orange.
13. I once worked at the women's clothing store Coldwater Creek. Since then, I am fairly meticulous about the way I fold my shirts and hang my clothes...even though I'm not especially neat.
14. My college roommate and I know all the words to this video:
15. I really like flossing my teeth. My mom got me started.
16. I used to bite my nails, till I gave it up cold turkey years ago. Now my nails tend to be kept long-ish.
Alright, since so many people have already done this, I'm leaving the tag open to whoever hasn't filled this out and wants to join in!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
(Edit: The headband is actually a bow meant to go around a present box. I picked it up for $2 at the drugstore.)
(I had another long entry in the works with these photos but I decided to scrap it...I'll share more later.)
Friday, December 12, 2008
Despite being prone to dry skin, I almost never exfoliate my body. Combine this with a cold/dry home, cold/dry weather and a stagnant/dry office, and you have quite a recipe to let scaly skin get out of control.
Well, a few days ago I had enough. My legs itched...all over...and felt horribly rough. It was time for action.
I futilely searched CVS for body scrub (crossed my fingers for Alba Sugar Cane Hawaiian Body Polish after reading good reviews on Makeup Alley) but alas, there was nothing. Maybe one bottle, but nothing worth a second glance! So at 11 p.m. I went to Safeway supermarket and purchased Burt's Bees Citrus Spice Exfoliating Shower Soap on a whim.
Don't be fooled by how smooth the bar feels when you initially open the package. Once you start rubbing it on your skin it is definitely abrasive enough to get the job done. It was a bit too rough for some parts of my skin, but it almost felt rough in that good sort of way...like a little pain for a lot of gain, I hoped.
Though the bar isn't the most attractive color, the scent is nice. Spicy and citrusy - just as it advertises - but not overpowering. To me it's a unisex scent (I just suggested it to a male friend with super dry skin without a second thought). It lingered subtly on my skin post-shower.
My skin felt smooth when I hopped out. I slathered myself in body lotion and went to bed.
Well oh boy, when I woke up in the morning I remembered what my legs felt like when they were soft, because they were soft again! That's been the case since I used the soap - no more itchy and flaking.
I'm sure the lotion had a lot to do with iproving my legs too, but I've used lotion on several occasions in the recent past and never had results like this before exfoliating, even after a regular shower.
I will definitely be using this soap again.
Burt's Bees Citrus Spice Exfoliating Shower Soap retails for between $2.50 to 5. I read some info that says it might be discontinued - surprising, since it was abundant in my local supermarket, but who knows - in which case you might want to try getting this fast.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In Monopoly: Sephora Edition you go to jail for bad hair days and use Beauty Bucks to invest in real estate like Stila in Gloss Gardens and Nars on Cheek Street -- all while vying to run the most successful Sephora store.
It's not a new product but it's new to me, and maybe to you too. Sephora Monopoly is available at Sephora.com for $23.25.
Personally, I'm more of a Scrabble girl, myself.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This is a slightly abridged version of the article:
Handicraft Stores Make a World of Difference
From the outside, Ten Thousand Villages looks like any other store along the cozy streets of Rockville Town Square. Stepping inside, however, reveals a vibrant web of colors and stories from faraway lands told through handmade crafts.Unique tableware, home décor, stationary, linens and jewelry are just some of the products you’ll find nestled on the shop’s over-brimming displays.
But Ten Thousand Villages is more than just a chain of stores. It’s a nonprofit organization devoted to providing a livable and dependable source of income to the underprivileged artists who hand-make its products in developing nations — a concept known as “fair trade.”
From humble beginnings out of founder Edna Ruth Byler’s car trunk six decades ago, it’s developed into one of North America’s largest fair trade organizations, with more than 80 stores nationwide and partnerships with dozens of artisan groups in more than 30 countries.
Volunteers staff stores
To reduce overhead costs and keep products affordably priced, the organization uses a significant number of volunteers to supplement the small number of paid staff in each store.
“Working at Ten Thousand Villages is very rewarding because…no matter how tired you are, you know you’re working for someone disadvantaged, and without our store network this person might not have an income at all,” said store manager Bea Strattner, who’s been with the Rockville store since its April 2007 opening.
Strattner said most of her store’s volunteers started out as customers, liked the atmosphere, and wanted to make a more significant contribution. There are many tasks for volunteers to work on, from helping customers up front to unpacking products in the back.
Retired nurse Carole McWilliams, a Rockville-resident who’s volunteered at the store for several months, cited the opportunity to give back to the community and to promote a non-profit organization as two factors that drew her to Ten Thousand Villages. Though she has plenty to do — “Retirement is busier than you think it is!” — she finds the experience worthwhile and would recommend it to others.
“It’s a good place to spend some time. It’s very positive,” the 71-year-old said, adding praise for her coworkers, the customers and the products.
Caring for the crafters
As part of its fair trade mission, Ten Thousand Villages’ business practices are designed to support economic, environmental and social sustainability in developing countries. For example, artisans are paid about 50 percent of their wages for a product upfront, when the organization places its order, Strattner said.
This gives workers the funds to live on and create those goods. It also means their livelihood isn’t totally dependent on how a product sells.
Because it’s to everyone’s advantage that the products sell, the organization works closely with artisans to develop goods that are true to their region yet will also appeal to North American tastes.
On the environmental front, the organization sells several products made from recycled materials. A rooster-shaped ornament from Columbia is made of dried orange peels; recycled magazines are used for coasters from a women’s cooperative in the Philippines; a choker made from soda tabs is created by disabled artists in Kenya.
Volunteers don’t need a lot of retail experience to get involved. Sales associate Roberta Staat, 61, who began as a volunteer, said she would never have seen herself going into sales because she doesn’t like “hawking” products.
Knowing the stories behind the wares, however, gets her very excited about the merchandise. Plus, as an art teacher, she sees her work at the store as inherently tied to her career as well as her interest in social justice.
“To find a way for artists in other countries to be respectable and economically independent” is a very powerful thing, she said.
That feeling is passed on to customers, who “want to be a part of the system, helping to support this mercantile system,” Staat added. “It’s guilt-free shopping.”
There are two local Ten Thousand Villages stores in Maryland's Washington suburbs: 4959 Elm St. in Bethesda, (301) 718-3465; and at 107 Gibbs St., Unit D, at the Row at Rockville Town Square in Rockville, (301) 340-7122. There is one local store in Virginia: 915 King St. in Alexandria, (703) 684-1435. For more information online, visit www.tenthousandvillages.com.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Instead, I'm going to try taking a cue from this picture I took over Thanksgiving with my freaking amazing pup Bon Bon (I miss her! She's in NY with my fam):
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
1. Smith's Minted Rose lip balm -- This has the same consistency as it's famous cousin Rosebud Salve, but with an added minty kick. ($7, Sephora.com)
2. ChapStick 100% Naturals -- I prefer the texture and scent of these to the classic ChapSticks; Naturals are composed mostly of oils and waxes, whereas the Classics are more than 40 percent petrolatum (likely accounting for the consistency difference), according to the ingredients on the brand's Web site. ($2.99, Walgreens.com)
3. Burt's Bees Beeswax lip balm -- Beeswax, natural oils and lanolin make this a winning combination that's more than 95 percent natural, the company boasts. It leaves my lips minty soft. ($3, BurtsBees.com)
4. Carmex -- Ah, the infamous, addicting yellow tube. Though I don't think it's as dangerous as detractors and urban legends claim, the salicylic acid is a bit curious to me as an all-over treatment. Regardless, I like how easily this glides on and thoroughly coats my dry lips. ($1.69, CVS.com)
5. Lather lip protector with SPF 15 -- The tube calls it "an intense lip moisturizer," and it definitely delivers. I love its light citrus scent and how it soothes even my most dry, cracked lips. Being environmentally and animal friendly is an added bonus. ($6.50, Lather.com)
6. Nivea's A Kiss of Shine-- A moisturizing/glossy hybrid with vitamin E. It also has a cirtus scent and unique consistency that's not balmy, but is more mositurizing than regular lip gloss. ($3.29, Drugstore.com)
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Bath & Body Works - A slew of products on sale, including four packs of anti-bacterial hand soap for $10. Ends Sunday, Nov. 30.
Cherry Culture - 20 percent off everything with the code TG20. Ends Sunday, Nov. 30.
Kiehl's - 20 percent off online with the code FAMILY or by printing out this flyer and bringing it in-store for the Kiehl's Friends and Family discount. Ends Monday, Dec. 1.
1-800-Flowers - Free shipping (within the U.S.) or no service charge with the code FreeShp25. Ends Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Friday, November 28, 2008
After trying on four or five decent-but-not-fantastic dresses, I came upon this:
It might not look like anything super special on the mannequin but it looks great on me. All three of my friends sitting on a bench in the waiting area agreed, and they have very varied senses of style so I trust the collective judgment. It accentuates my hourglass figure without making me look too busty and smooths out flaws. Plus, I had no little black party dress! This will be great since I can wear it to many different types of functions.
Online at Overstock.com it's listed for $42.50 in a Black Friday sale (normally $49.99). But I got it for $25 + tax, not even on sale! I thought it was a good deal in the store (without sacrificing quality or fit) and this is just icing on the cake.
Now all I need to do is accessorize. Since I don't want to wear all black to a wedding I'm thinking a jewel toned violet shawl with gold paisley detail on the bottom and some metallic shoes. Or...something else. Luckily I have a few weeks to make a decision. Any suggestions?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
And it didn't disappoint. It was a quiet Thanksgiving with important people in my life. This year I have a lot to be thankful for: My close friends and family, my lovable doggies, starting a career, new opportunities presenting themselves, overall prosperity.
It hasn't been the easiest year, and I know the road ahead has many challenges and tough decisions to make. But for the moment, I'm just going to sit in bed with Bon Bon, my Boston Terrier, and be content.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"The Institute calls the calendar "Pretty in Mink," and includes Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and other well-known conservative women. According to the CBLPI's website, the calendar harkens back to a time when "women were a little more feminine, the men a little more charming - and the world a little less politically correct."
The pictures try to evoke the glamor of a bygone era, but personally, I don't think you need mink to do that. I'm not going to stop people from wearing fur coats if they please, because I certainly wear animal products -- specifically, suede jackets and leather sneakers. But there are a few things that seem off to me about flaunting fur.
First, wearing mink strikes me as a very old-person thing. My grandmother has some decades-old fur coats in a downstairs closet, and her mother had some, and my own mother might even have one somewhere in storage. But who invests in a fur coat nowadays when a winter coat from the Gap is as functional, and will leave you enough money to invest in a flat screen TV or pay off some of your mortgage?
I think part of it has to do with changing symbols of wealth and status in this country. A fur coat was a sign that you'd made it back in the day. Fur isn't how people -- other than pimps on TV? -- flaunt wealth today. "It" bags, fancy cars, designer duds, sparkling jewelry...that's more like it.
Secondly, fur smells musty after a while and is susceptible to picking up scents from things like food and smoke. Plus it's difficult to get stains out of and physically heavy. Have you ever tried on a fur coat? It must give those little old ladies wearing them to the supermarket quite a workout!
Third, you're literally cloaking yourself in the pelt of a dead animal. Even as a meat-eating, leather-wearer, it strikes me as a bit weird when I stop and think about it that way. I understand though that there are places where animals pelts are a key part of keeping warm in winter, or where people still hunt and make use of all parts of an animal (more worthy than just hunting for sport, in my opinion), or where fur is part of a long cultural heritage. This concerns me less than photo-shoot fur.
Lastly, I don't think real fur coats give most people a slim silhouette. They may look stylish on a runway or in photos, but they are so bulky to normally wear. Give me a slim wool trench coat instead! Washington doesn't get super cold. (That's a $250 rouge trench from Banana Republic.)
The blogger stresses that this isn't a symptom of everyone who subscribes to conservative politics, though.
"Before anyone slams all Republicans or all conservatives, keep in mind that Richard Nixon publicly praised wife Patricia Nixon's choice of a "respectable Republican cloth coat" over a fur coat in 1952, and that PETA asked animal activists in 1989 to thank Barbara Bush for refusing to wear a fur coat for her husband's inauguration. Animal issues cross party lines, and you'll find quite a few Republicans with high marks on the Humane Society Legislative Fund's Humane Scorecard.
...The decision of the CBLPI and these women to promote fur is clearly a attempt to push buttons and raise the ire of animal activists. By attaching the phrase "politically correct" to the current attitude against fur, they are flaunting their callousness and trivializing animal suffering."
Ouch, harsh. Props to her for calling out what I agree is probably just mostly a stunt to get attention. But as I've outlined earlier, I think there are plenty of other reasons why fur coats probably won't be returning as a major trend in the near future.
Friday, November 21, 2008
-CoverGirl liquid foundation
-Wet 'n Wild lipliner 717
-Red lipstick from a YSL Gold Celebration Palette/"Expressions of Love"
-NYC eyeliner duo in black and gold
-Champagne-colored Revlon cream eyeshadow as base from the Precious Metals quad
-Beige Revlon Colorstay powder shadow from the Blushed Wines quad
-Milani blush in Luminous
-NYX lipgloss in Sunrise
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I usually don't watch much television, particularly on television itself. Shows that are streamed online, however, I can get into. Like ANTM, whose episodes are online at the CW's Web site. This way I can watch shows when I want, when I have time.
Anyway, Top Model is a guilty pleasure of mine. Does anyone else watch it? Elina, the Angelina Jolie-esque, tattooed, Ukrainian-born beauty, and Marjorie, the nervous and super slim girl of French heritage, were my favorites. I didn't even like Marjorie that much at the beginning but she grew on me toward the end. I liked seeing how she transformed from awkwardly shy to starkly intense in front of the camera. Elina was just really beautiful to me, I think she's got a great face, body and style. Too bad she couldn't give her all to the camera.
Personality-wise, Sheena and Jocelyn were two of my favorites. (Check out this WPIX video interview to see Sheena sharing some interesting info about what we didn't see on the show, and elaborating on some issues featured. ) Oh, and I liked seeing Isis featured. Sure, it's a show and they need to push some envelopes for ratings, but even if that's the case, I think it was pretty progressive to have a transgendered woman and address some of the unique challenges she faces while not turning it into a spectacle.
I wasn't overly impressed by the top three though. Analeigh is so pretty and seems sweet - and I kept getting frustrated at Paulina for dissing her face in that subtle, trying-to-be-nice Paulina way - but that appears to be Analeigh's niche, lacking the edginess of a top model.
Samantha, I never fully understood. When she's glammed up or in front of a lens she looks amazing. Her pictures are awesome. When she spoke though...um...That didn't connect for me. I realize there are thousands of hours of footage and of course for the sake of understanding, the show can only explore so much of each contestant's personality, but there were a lot of green, almost dopey comments from Samantha. I liked seeing her pictures but wasn't won over by the way she spoke or carried herself.
McKey, on the other hand, just didn't translate into having a lot of personality for me. I wish the editors would have developed her storyline more -- tomboy boxer who turns into a breakout star? Something like that? She had the most striking and unique look, in my opinion. But other than that, I wasn't captivated by her. Too bad.
And yes, if there's another season I will probably watch! ;)
Monday, November 17, 2008
This photo is of an interesting feature in the Nov. 2008 Cosmopolitan en Espanol. The pictorial is called "Genre Fusion," though 'gender fusion' makes more sense to me since it shows how you can take a handful of pieces and make them work for menswear-inspired looks as well as feminine looks.
I've seen plenty of features on how to repurpose a few items to make several outfits - I really like those, btw - but nothing quite like this, at least not in a while. It really struck me because I love menswear-inspired pieces like suit jackets, vests and shoes, but I also love to dress up and be super girly sometimes. So it makes sense that I'm drawn to a feature showing how to meld the two with some of the same pieces, because I have some from both categories in my closet.
I don't think I'd wear all these specific outfits - for one thing, a frilly-chested tank with a thin belt wouldn't be flattering on my short frame - but the idea is definitely something I can work with. (Outfit titles like "masculine charm," "feminine mistique" and "girl in control" give me something to aspire to, you know?)
Oh, and at the very bottom of the picture you can see my Russian Navy-wearing nails! Great color. It's a dark purplish blue with super tiny red sparkles in it, I mean so tiny you can harly see them unless you look very closely. It's vampy pretty, in the way muted, brick/brownish red lipstick on fair skin looks pretty. It's dark enough to almost look black on first glance but it's way more interesting than black. And I used a Sally Hansen basecoat and the color didn't stain my nails at all. I am glad I purchased it - thanks Maayari for suggesting Trade Secret, I'd never been to one before - and I will definitely wear it again.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I really enjoy painting my nails. As someone who has trouble relaxing, it's a great way to make me relax because it takes attention, care and focus to do a good job. Which is why I make sure, as often as possible, that if I'm going to paint my nails I'm going to try to do it right.
Start with clean hands and nails. This sets the canvas for your new lacquer. Definitely take off old polish. Cotton balls work well, but I prefer using a nail polish removing jar -- the kind with a sponge inside that you just dip your fingers into one by one. These are available in drugstores and will only set you back a few dollars, which is worth it to me because of the ease of use and how they cut down on mess. The bottle to the right costs $2.49 at drugstore.com.
*Acetone vs. non-acetone remover: Acetone is a strong solvent and the fastest way to dissolve your old polish. It's especially good if you're trying to get off very stubborn lacquer or remove acrylic nails (which is a whole 'nother long process that I know little about, but there are plenty of online resources to fill you in. It seems to call for using pure acetone!) Personally, I prefer for non-acetone remover, even if it takes longer to get things off, because it's more gentle on the skin. If you have dry, brittle or acrylic nails, it's probably the better choice for you too.
Shape your nails. Of course, start with a nail clipper if you need to adjust for length. Once you have that, whip out the emery board! I'm partial to those big, $1-2 cardboard ones that are at drugstores and beauty supplies. They are more sturdy than the package of eight flimsy ones you can get for a buck, easier for me to grip and use to shape, and more sanitary/gentle than metal files. Plus, I don't lose them as much as the super cheap ones! For natural nails a finer grit should do the job. I've never used a glass file so I can't speak to that.
How to file? Gently. Try going from the outside of your nail toward the middle, using strokes that only go in one direction. Imagine the file in your left hand. Place the board against the right side of your thumb on your right hand. Glide the file upward, toward the middle of your thumb nail. Then place the board on the inside section of your thumb and file from the right side of your thumb to the center.
The crude Microsoft Paint drawing shows you what I mean. I find when filing is done this way, it's easy to be gentle and not have to tug a lot on your nail. This is an effective way to shape a rounded tip, which is what I like to wear.
Once this step is done, soaking your nails in some warm, soapy water will soften the cuticles and help get out any remaining dirt around the fingers.
Base coat. Important for several reasons: It fills in ridges in the nail to provide a smooth surface onto which the colored lacquer can adhere, helping your manicure last longer; and it protects nails from staining due to chemical reactions with ingredients like formaldehyde or after the application of dark colored polish. I also find that using base coat makes nail polish easier to remove once the time comes, since instead of sticking directly to my nail it is attached to the clear base coat.
The moment of truth -- your color! The best part and the one on which I feel least qualified to opine. Take your time, don't worry about putting too much color on in the first coat, use long, vertical strokes...most of you can probably run circles around me when it comes to this art! Polish applying has become so second nature to me, it's hard to think about verbalizing all the moves.
Top coat. You went through all that trouble and won't seal the deal? Shame on you. Slap on some top coat and call your beautiful manicure a day!
*P.S. Give yourself time to dry. This always gets me. Once I'm done with my manicure and snapped out of the zone I feel the need to go back to doing my normal five billion things, thus putting my nice nails in danger. No no no! Take your time after the manicure. Thirty minutes or an hour is minimum to keep your nails out of harm's way...and 30 is even pushing it, because though the polish might be too dry to transfer onto other surfaces, it is probably still soft enough to be dented by accidental bumps. When I'm careless and my polish is still tacky, I tend to end up with a lot of texture impressions (especially from fabrics). That ruins all the hard work I put in to keep my nail polish smooth, so really, devoting the extra time to being careful is worth it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Victoria and Jason work intently...
I personally had never made spaghetti before...and I really didn't this time. Jason brought his dark blue Kitchenaid standing mixer, for which he has a spaghetti roller attachment and an attachment that cuts the dough into linguine. He did that while Victoria and I made the meatballs.
Flour, water and eggs, baby! Yeah, that's a hanger from my closet.
As for the meatball recipe...Meatballs are very easy and fun to make. Not only that, but the recipe is flexible for varying tastes. The recipe I used this weekend was taught to me by my mother and originally adapted from the recipe of a family friend's Italian grandmother, who brought it over from the Old World:
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- A teaspoon of salt
- A handful of chopped curly parsley (to taste)
- Seasoning such as oregano and black pepper (to taste)
- 1.5 - 2 regular sized jars of tomato sauce
- Half an onion, diced
Don't be afraid to get messy, mash it all up between your fingers! The consistency should be solid enough to form balls that won't slip apart or lose their shape, but not too dry. Even though I list amounts of ingredients above, when it comes to the dry ingredients and parsley it's not paramount that you measure everything to a tee. More important is to eyeball it for texture. The one rule I'd stick with is that you should use one egg per pound of meat.
Heat oil in a medium to large sized frying pan - enough to entirely coat the cooking surface. I'm partial to olive oil. Roll 1 to 1.5 inch-sized balls from the meat mixture and drop them in the hot pan, leaving about half an inch or an inch between each. (You need enough room to flip them all over.) Cook until they are browned on the outside but not totally cooked all the way through.
As the meatballs are done browning, transfer them to a large pot on a separate range filled with the tomato sauce. Turn this pot onto medium heat. You can either brown the meatballs and then put them on a plate with paper towels to soak up some of the olive oil, or you can transfer them immediately from the frying pan to the sauce-filled pot.
Once all the meatballs are finished, saute the diced onion in the frying pan until the pieces are slightly transparent and beginning to caramelize. Add to the tomato sauce and meatball pot.
Fold the meatballs into the sauce. You want to have enough sauce to almost entirely cover the meatballs. Cover the pot and let sit for about 10 minutes, to give time for the sauce to heat and for the meatballs to finish cooking through.
So good!! Paired with cold cream soda....yum. Looking at the photo is making me hungry now.
Notes: You're not married to using pork and beef. Flavor-wise, I like using two different meats with at least one of them being beef, but you can also try ground turkey, ground chicken, ground veal, etc. You can also stick to only one kind of meat, though I'd really suggest using two, it gives a much more unique taste.
Same goes with the seasonings and with the cheese. I like Romano, but Parmesan is just as good. You don't even necessarily need to use cheese, though I like the slight flavor it gives and the way it helps the consistency of the meatballs.
Pick ground meats with a higher fat content if taste is your first priority. I used 90/10 beef in this recipe, though being somewhat health conscious, I usually cook with more lean packages. Ground turkey is a good way to make the meatballs slightly healthier while keeping tasty.
Friday, November 7, 2008
*Just so you know, I'm that person in the store who likes to open bottles, test them on my thumb nail, and then wipe the swatch off on my opposite palm or any appropriate/won't-be-noticed paper surface possible. (Today some polishes were in a wicker basket with tissue paper....um, yeah, that became my impromptu napkin.)*
I was having a love/hate relationship with Siberian Nights in the store. It's a dark, matte purple that's both rich yet dull. All Lacquered Up has great swatches of the entire Russia collection which I suggest you check out to get a feel for the whole line. Her pictures make me drool over Russian Navy but that wasn't in store today. Maybe I can get it online?
I didn't end up getting Siberian Nights...I thought about it a lot though. I might go back and pick it up. Hmmm...
Koala Bear-y, a pretty pinkish berry, and Brisbane Bronze, a rich sparkly bronze, are two of my favorite Australia-inspired shades and were available in-store. For nail polish I tend to be drawn to pinks and purples or wild colors like blues, greens, etc. I also have plenty of reds. I wear a lot of berry colors but not much brown or tan when it comes to my nails. (When I am not lazy and actually paint my nails!) Maybe I should try expanding out though.
Alas, I didn't pick up either of these polishes either....I was feeling too indecisive! Plus, I was going to stop by the bank to cash a check after my CVS pit stop, and since I've been paying for all the little purchases I can with cash, reality quickly sets in when I spend money on non-necessary items.
Instead of nail polish I picked up a Physician's Formula Organic Wear kit with a blue/gray eyeshadow duo and black eyeliner. Until tomorrow you can get 40 percent off all Physician's Formula cosmetics at CVS -- my purchase was on a display with a $2 off coupon too, so I ultimately got the set for under $5. I'm not a huge PF fan so I'm not necessarily encouraging you to run out and try the brand, but if you like it or if, like me, you just want to try a new product, now would be a good time to do your shopping. I'll try to write about that soon, and post if I end up going back for some of the O.P.I. lacquers.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
That happened this week.
I had some CVS extracare bucks to use on Monday before they expired and decided to splurge on cosmetics. The coupon was worth just a bit more than $5 and there was nothing in particular I needed, nor any enticing BOGO sales, so I thought I'd try a bunch of little random things.
Error 1: Normally, drugstore pantyhose is just fine for me. I have horrible luck with stockings (and even tights) ripping, but other than that, few complaints. Well, let me tell you, don't try On The Go!-brand stockings. For $2 or $3 I got a pair of navy stockings and some black knee highs, which were attached in some special promotion.
First off, the package looks like it was left over from 1983. Second, the pantyhose is super rough (95 percent nylon, 5 percent spandex) and the color looks dreadful on the skin. I'm also not accustomed to wearing pantyhose that is stiff and has a very defined shape, as opposed to being very stretchy and conforming to your own shape like most pantyhose. The minute I put it on and saw how it looked on my legs, I was kind of horrified. So much for wearing that pantyhose with my navy blue and cream skirt...
My friend brainstormed a new use for it though: a funny hat for his cat! (Progress pending...)
Error 2: $2.99 Black Radiance liquid eyeliner in navy blue. (Guess I was in a navy mood?) For an extra dollar I could have sprung for waterproof, but I was feeling cheap. I got what I paid for. This stuff sucked so much upon first application I'm thinking about throwing it out before a second use. The applicator itself isn't bad, but the formula is so wet that as soon as I opened my eye after lining it, I got blue residue on the overhanging lower part of my brow bone. I could have gotten over this (by, say, keeping my eye closed for a few more seconds) if the formula also didn't run out before I could finish lining half my eye. Maybe I need to press harder while lining...but that would have made it even more wet and left more unsightly residue.
When I tried to do a cat-eye look, it smudged off the sides of my eyes within a few moments. And when I tried to remove the stuff, despite not being waterproof, it was very difficult to get off. I took a shower, used eye make-up remover, and still had blue residue that accumulated on my lower lash line which proved very hard to finally take off. Plus nasty blue bits that got caught in the liquid on my eyeball. Ewwwww.
Maybe I'll try it again, but I think in the future I'll stick to brands I know and trust when it comes to eyeliner. I'm a bit wary of putting sketchy substances so close to my eyes.
A friend of mine really like L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner, so I think I'm going to try that soon. I'd like something that works for a thin, subtle line, and also to be strong for a sexy, smoky eye.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I saw it at a store at my local mall. Whipped out my camera to snap this blurry photo while trying to not be conspicuous, lol. It's kind of like a uniform you'd see in a campy '70s sci-fi movie, complete with go-go boots, perhaps? Or does someone know how to rock this and make it look stylish for 2008? If so, please share.
And...here are seven more random facts about me, as tagged by the lovely Crystal:
1. I enjoy all sorts of crafting and like making greeting cards in my spare time.
2. I am moderately proficient in speaking/understanding Spanish and Russian.
3. I really like the color orange. And oranges, the fruit.
4. My secret television guilty pleasures are America's Next Top Model and The Hills. I don't usually watch them on television, though, instead I watch them on my computer on my own time schedule!
5. I own many pairs of socks with silly patterns and designs.
6. I disliked the beach as a kid -- ewww sand and too-hot sun -- but it's grown on me.
7. I've known since elementary school that I wanted to be a writer. And now I am one (?). Woot!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Anyway, I have a lot of stuff I'm working on posting -- cute clothes, make-up, maybe some recipes, and being tagged again for more random info about myself. (I won't lie, I enjoy those things sometimes.)
The problem now is that my home Internet crashed! Phooey.
At least it gives me time to pull things together offline. I should be back very soon, in the next day or two.
Hope you all had a fun Halloween. It's so weird that stores have already cleared out of all the spooky festivities and are on to Christmas. What about Thanksgiving? Probably my favorite holiday of the year. I'm stoked to be going home to New York to see my high school friends and family in just a few short weeks.
Last random thing -- I like election night too. I'm definitely going to be watching TV all night (if that works and my computer is still down) to find out the results. Hard to believe that in 48 hours we will (hopefully) know who the next American president is.
Time moves forward, whether we like it or not. Right now, I'm feeling pretty pumped for some change myself. Figuring out what that change should be feels so difficult sometimes, but as I said, time moves forward either way.
Okay, I'm done being deep lol. Time to leave work!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Here are the Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
1. I love to eat salad. After four years of inconsistent eating habits in college, I found salad to be a fast, cheap, tasty way to dine when I started working full-time two months ago and was faced with lackluster take-out options in my area. Now I'm hooked - I generally eat a salad with/for at least one meal a day. I really enjoy the taste of fresh veggies.
2. That being said, I definitely like junk food sometimes. Cheese doodles are a personal favorite. (I'm such a foodie and love cooking too....hmm, might be inspired to post more recipes...)
3. I love wearing sneakers. I like my feet feeling secure in my shoes and the ability to walk with ease. Thus, I usually only wear flip flops around the house or if I'm going out to lounge, and I save heels for special dressed up days.
4. I once wrote a 90+ page screenplay about a 16-year-old British science prodigy trying to discover time travel while working on a submarine with a team of international experts. It had romance, drama, and cool sci-fi stuff. Unfortunately my computer hard drive died and I lost the whole thing :( But maybe one day, I'll write it even better.
5. I really like reading washingtonpost.com discussions. I'm a big fan of the Post as a whole.
6. My dentist says I grind my teeth at night. Sometimes I wake up with my jaw clenched really tightly. I should buy a night guard for my teeth...which I normally take very good care of. Heck, I floss everyday, seriously!
Trying not to duplicate tagging is hard, so I'm calling out:
JennBee at Bare Budget Beauty
Crystal from Beauty on a Budget
Sara at Bombshell Beauty
My elementary school friend Aimee
Anyone else who wants to do this!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Pretty, huh? Vanessa at Nessasary Makeup - whose reviews and tutorials I absolutely love - recently had a post with her NYX "lipstick army"...and while I'm not quite there yet, I'm quickly becoming a convert.
These are glosses, not lipsticks, so don't expect a heavy, lipstick-quality color. The lighter colors are more sheer, particularly 'Juicy Red,' the most translucent in the tube of the bunch. Since I haven't yet mastered the art of taking pictures of my lips, check out the below photo and I will verbally explain how they look on my lips.
From left to right:
Sunrise is a bright, opaque, shimmery, berry color that's less red than it looks in the tube.
Juicy Red makes my lips look exactly as tasty as it sounds. It deposits just a hint of color and a lot of shine.
Salsa is also bright, berry, shimmery and fairly opaque, but lighter than sunrise and less intense. It's a true, bold pink that feels very tropical to me, if that makes sense.
La~La~ is probably my favorite color. It deposits just the right amount of light, rosy, bubble gum pink on my lips, subtly perking up my complexion. (Side note: You can't see it in the photo, but Juicy Red isn't sparkly at all, Sunrise and Salsa are shimmery, and La~La~ and Perfect have bigger sparkle particles in them.)
Perfect is sooo pretty. It puts a very muted pink glaze on my lips with tiny sparkles, only apparent from up close.
Overall product pros:
- Wide range of colors.
- Fantastic texture; this is some of my all-time favorite textured lip glosses. I find slight variances based on color - for example, between the glosses with shimmer, with sparkle and those without it. Yet across the board I find these glosses to be smooth and provide ample coverage without being too sticky or gloopy.
- No taste and no odor (unless you sniff it really close).
- Great alone or over lipstick.
- Not too sparkly. The shimmer works as a light reflector and is subtle.
- Great price.
- Not widely available depending on where you are. (I got mine at an independent beauty supply...I've seen NYX in some drug stores, but never these lip glosses.)
- Relatively long-lasting but nothing special when challenged with food or drinking.
What I especially love is the quality. I haven't used many high-end lip glosses so I can't compare these NYX glosses to them. However, I am very experienced when it comes to drugstore brands, from Revlon, Covergirl, L'Oreal and Maybelline to Wet 'n Wild, NYC and Bonne Bell (in my younger days) -- and in my opinion, these NYX glosses match or beat all of them. Plus, they're cheaper?? Count me in. (FYI, online the glosses are $5 on NYX's Web site, but I'd still pay that much for them, definitely.) I feel like I'm not sacrificing quality for cost, that it's fun and easy to experiment with different shades, and that I don't have to break the bank to treat myself once in a while.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I've been so busy lately at work and in life. I'm looking forward to putting up more entries soon. Speaking of which...
Coming up next:
NYX lip glosses = new favorite product.
Anyway, go out and tell a good friend how you feel about him or her today. It's so nice to feel loved. :) I hope you all are feeling that, and having a good kick-off to the weekend!
P.S. The Neutrogena poll is back open so please vote and tell me what kind of product to buy with my $10 coupon. Thanks.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
So, times like this call for some special shoes. Shoes purchased on a whim, before said drama happened, but an appropriate pick-me-up for my current mood.
Pink fairy princess shoes (in an adult size).
Don't knock it, I thought these were just adorable at some sketchy, no-refund boutique in my sketchy local mall. In person they're a really soft, pearlized pink with sturdy rubber soles.
I also bought a pair of brown faux-leather ankle boots with a heel and some coppery little heels for the office. I prefer wearing shoes with some height, since I'm so short (read: little and lovely), but I just adored the above pair. I've been wearing them around the house, and even might venture to find something they'll go with outside. Skinny jeans? A gray tweedish skirt? A black skirt and textured black tights? Maybe you have some more creative offerings.
*Blissful sigh* Now back to reality...
Friday, October 17, 2008
4 things I did today:
If you've read this, I tag you!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I currently have 14 containers in there, but in all fairness, I only use a maximum of five per shower. Half of the items are spares I brought with me when I moved that I don't have a better place to store. Four of the containers are trial size samples.
The fact that they are such a wide array of colors is pure accident. Seriously. Funny how that worked though. Guess I'm really drawn to vibrant colors.
The products, from left to right:
Gillette regular foam shaving cream -- No prissy shaving gel for me!
Bath and Body Works body wash in Midnight Pomegranate -- I have no idea what makes a 'midnight' pomegranate different than an afternoon one. Or a 3 p.m. one. But I love pomegranate and picked this up on sale a few weeks ago. The scent and lather are great. In fact, I even picked up the same body wash and a hand cream for my friend for her birthday. She liked it too.
Herbal Essences Color Me Happy shampoo -- I don't know who bought this. Probably me, though I'm usually not a big HE fan. I highlighted my hair for about four years years, during which time I almost exclusively used color protecting products from the drugstore. I'm currently in the process of growing it out - wanted a change, also going darker for winter - but I still use color protecting shampoo. I've got no complaints with this bottle, and I like it better than regular HE.
L'Oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Conditioning Treatment -- As the yellow-label indicates, it was on clearance at Duane Reade. This is supposed to be a deep conditioner, however, I'm really not sure what it does. I've had neither especially good nor especially bad results. I've read mixed reviews of this stuff so I'd say you can judge it yourself. I probably won't re-buy because I know I can find something better.
Christophe of Beverly Hills Color Extending Conditioner -- I picked up a a handful of these Christophe 2 oz. trial size bottles in a few different treatment types. Does anyone know how long you should continue using color-treating products after getting your hair done? Until the hair grows out, or no?
Citre Shine conditioner for colored or permed hair -- I love how this smells! I'm almost out and want to find more. It feels light on my hair and isn't tested on animals. Great. I can't speak to its "citrus vita-actives," but fyi some of its top ingredients are cetyl alcohol and amodimethicone.
Sedal Miel y German de Trigo (honey and wheat germ) conditioner -- I bought this on vacation in Mexico in March, since I didn't want to risk getting hair products all over my stuff when I packed. Sedal is the spanish language version of Sunsilk -- both are made by Unilever. This conditioner is aimed toward hydrating dry hair. My hair actually isn't very dry, but again, since it was processed and because it's naturally curly/wavy, I try to give it as much replenishment as possible.
St. Ives Apricot Scrub, Renew & Firm --This will help tone your skin to make it look younger. If it works as it says it does, people will be asking if I'm in middle school soon! but seriously, I bought this hoping it might be a bit more gentle than the regular stuff, which I find a bit rough. Did they change the formula recently? Since the beads in here are a lot finer, but I don't know if that's just this particular type...and by the way, it still works like a charm, just as I expect St. Ives to do. **HG product for me**
Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask -- I've written about this before and will add to the choir who love it for being good and cheap. Definitely a lot of quality bang for your buck in this tube.
Garnier Fructis shampoo for color treated hair -- Another item picked up in Mexico. Does anyone know if South and Latin American products are formulated differently than their American or European counterparts? I browsed the ingredients here and from what I remember, it was the same old stuff at the top - sodium lauryl sulfate, etc. I love the smell and tend to like how Granier works for me.
Christophe trial size bottles in clarifying shampoo and curl-defining shampoo and conditioner -- Just got these, don't have a ruling on how they work.
Bath and Body Works 3-in-1 body wash/bubble bath/shampoo in Twisted Peppermint -- Ha! Also funny that my two body washes are from BBW when I never shop there. This was in a gift pack given to my mom a few years ago. I was using the chocolate scented one at home in N.Y. (it smells like a dream...mmm) but brought this with me in the move. It makes me smell like a candy cane, in a good way. And it makes me excited for the holiday season! Which is why I'm going to look for a more autumn-y scent today, so I can get my fall-wheels in gear. (Pumpkin spice anyone?)
In fact, I might go to BBW for some...my once-a-year visit.
So there you have it, the array of colors in my shower! My shower pouf is powder blue, so it would actually futher complete the spectrum, but I didn't take a pic ;)
Do you have a lot of stuff in your shower too? Do you switch out regularly? Or do you store extra products under the sink?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
That's not an inherently bad place to look for makeup, but it was because of my disappointing find. I was looking for bright pink products for Pink's Kawaii contest not too long ago but CVS had few options. (I imagined in-your-face Barbie pink shadow...but even without it, I'm happy how my look came out, especially in relation to the pink wig I got on a whim.) I saw a L'Oreal blush compact while lightly perusing the sale bin and thought 'Why not? It's pink and 50 percent off. It looks pretty and I could re-purpose it for my lids.'
I think I know why this product is LE. Because it bites.
(I hope it's LE. And I haven't seen any more in this packaging around.)
The matte darker color looks like faded Pepto-Bismol and has the consistency of old chalk. In fact, I think it might work better to rub chalk of my face, because after swiping this several times on my cheeks I could barely see any color. It wasn't just lack of pigmentation, it was a problem of picking up the powder at all.
The lighter shade has a tiny hint of shimmer, and aside from also having to swipe it many times to get it to show up, it is pretty. Nothing amazing, nothing bad, a decent highlighter I'll probably use again. I kind of feel bad for it being in this unfortunate duo...it's really brought down by the other color.
(The label and ingredients. I've read good things about the Blush Delice line but couldn't find any other reviews on this particular blush.)
My real problem in looking for blush is that I just don't know exactly how to start. I have one nice rosy blush - Milani's Luminous, which gives me a very natural looking flush on days when I'm looking especially like a zombie. But it's packed up somewhere because of the move and I haven't seen it in a few weeks. My NYC peachy-mosaic wheel is too dark and sun-kissed for my increasingly pale autumn skin. Plus, it just doesn't feel right. I want to look like an ice princess (it's 70+ degrees, a bit early for that) or someone carving pumpkins and eating cranberry sauce, not like I'm about to head to the beach.
I'm thinking something very light - like Nars' Deepthroat, I thought it looked so pretty at the department store makeup counter - or something dark, burgundy colored for night time. I just don't want to look like a clown because my skin is very fair. Any suggestions?
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Quick update, since I'm working on another entry, with just some little things...
--Are you plugged into Pandora.com? It's a free Internet radio site that creates play lists based on your personal recommendations. "Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar," says Wikipedia. "Users provide feedback on the individual song choices — approval or disapproval — which Pandora takes into account for future selections." It's not something new but I just signed up for my account yesterday.
--If you're a little panicked about the economy - or worse, just trying to ignore it because it seems so bad, - Crystal at "Brunette on a Budget" put together an informative post with expert tips for how we individuals can get our own financial states in order.
--Fantastic Contraption: a fun online physics game. I haven't played but I'm told it sucks you in. I'll say no more.