Saturday, December 27, 2008

Comin' Up

I'm feeling kinda sluggish lately - a week ago I started coming down with a cold/virus, a few days ago it hit its peak, and today I'm finally starting to feel better. (No more cold sweats and fever. But then I got my period today, joy.)

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

"Wildlife experts ponder gender of Santa's reindeer"

"LUBBOCK, Texas – There may be a perfectly good reason why Santa doesn't get lost on his annual Christmas globetrot: His flying reindeer just might be female and don't mind stopping for directions.

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

A Lovely Little Gift for a Little Sis: MJ Daisy

A week or two ago I came across Marc Jacobs Daisy, a fresh, floral scent with notes of strawberry, violet, jasmine, musk and vanilla. It's light, feminine and not too sweet. "Massively pleasant," is how one review put it, and I tend to agree. In fact, I agree so much that I'm willing to take a chance on gifting it.

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

What is this world coming to?

The Associated Press has an article about whether or not Heidi and Spencer actually got married in the States.

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

Ice Princess FOTD

Quite literally. This is the look I did for Mayaari's Winter Challenge. (Click to see all the entries.)

I guess ice princesses don't smile, eh? Because it's so cold!

The hat is from Target....so warm, I love it.

Tagged - 16 Random Facts About Me

I was tagged by the ever-lovely Digital Angel. Thanks!

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

Holiday Contest Look

Ummm...I'm the dumbass who forgot to post this before I sent in my entry for Lady L Online's holiday contest...sad b/c I think it came out so cute!


(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

The Soap That Made My Legs Soft Again

Earlier this week I had an exfoliation emergency, if you will.

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

A Board Game for Beauty Lovers

This ain't no Pretty Pretty Princess...but it might be a grown-up beauty addict's dream come true.

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

Handicraft Stores Make a World of Difference

Last month I wrote a story about volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit organization with stores that sell fair trade and eco-friendly items from around the world. Plenty of reasonably priced goods are available -- pretty onyx candle holders from Pakistan for $12, Vietnamese paperweights made of hand-lacquered stone (40 days to make) for $7, etc. There are higher-priced items too -- like $300 quilts and copper bowls, $70 necklaces, -- but to me, those price tags seems comparable to what you'd pay for these goods in any other store, except here you know where the items are coming from and that the workers are really benefiting.

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, rev
eals a vibrant web of colors and stories from faraway lands told through handmade crafts.Unique tableware, home d├ęcor, 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

WTF This Week

It seems like this was a rough week for several of you in the blogosphere....it certainly was for me, after lots of little and big issues sprung up all at once. But right now I'm stretched out in bed on Saturday morning with nothing pressing to attend to, so I'm going to not worry about my drama.

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

Sweet Salve-ation


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)