Sunday, February 27, 2011

Product 13: Sandia Soap

Thanks to a dear family friend, I was able to get some of the Sandia Soap for my birthday. I’ve had a nice selection of three different bars (Sangre de Cristo Sunset, Taos Sauna, and Jemez Morning). Each soap has a nice aroma to it which is very distinct but at the same time, I couldn’t fully place it. But these soap bars are beautiful in color and harken the scenery of the Sandia Mountains (i.e. the beautiful mountains of Albuquerque, New Mexico) which remind me of visiting that family friend.

So I figured for my body soap, instead of a shower gel, I would use the Sandia soap. Unlike the soap from work, I didn’t know the ins and outs of the soap. I literally picked my first bar by which one looked prettiest and smelled prettiest. So I decided to use the Sangre de Cristo Sunset.

The bar was a little hard to use since it was hard to grip. More than once, the bar slipped and would fall on my body. I’m just glad I didn’t bruise from the soap. But I liked the way it felt on the skin. But I never fully enjoyed the feel of a bar against my skin. It never fully felt clean to me since I didn’t have that exfoliation factor that I get in my mesh shower poof.

A while back, I got a soap sack from Schillers. Basically it allows those who love soap bars but a person who loves the exfoliation from a mesh sponge. So after a few days, I decided to put the Sangre de Cristo Sunset in the soap sack. Ironically it actually made the soap easier to hold. I don’t know how that happened since the mesh made it even wider for my hands but I guess it’s because it allows me to grip it better.

This is when I really started to enjoy the soap.

Before blogging about this entry, I decided to check out some of the information about the soap besides the label-that it was a vegetable based soap. So I went to the website.. But to my pleasure, I could figure out what the scents are. Sangre de Cristo had Geranium Egyptian Rose scent, Taos Sauna had eucalyptus scent and the Jemez Morning with the pine scent.

I definitely enjoy this soap for my daily cleansing.

Book 14: Star Trek: A Singular Destiny

Star Trek: A Singular Destiny by Keith R. A. DeCandido was the latest book in my Star Trek book binge in this year. So if you followed my non-linear approach to the Star Trek books, this book occurs after the Destiny series but before the Typhon Pact. This is the book I’ve been looking for since reading Zero Sum Game- the explanation to the Star Trek political shake up. This is where the unholy (or holy union if you are part of the Kinshaya empire) alliance of races that are against and surrounding the Federation and Klingon Empires finally develops. So I’ve been waiting for this book.

Unfortunately part of me was largely let down. It was only an okay book. For a book that I was so eagerly awaiting in two different ways: first because it was to explain the political shake up and secondly it was to be a book featuring the Aventine (my new favorite ship since it has Capt Ezri Dax).

This book had a few real gem moments. I loved loved the scene where you see Drex and Martok sit and have dinner. It was a great use of one of my favorite Klingons and really getting the dialogue and his mannerisms dead on. Then at the end of the chapter Drex was killed. It was such a let down since I really enjoyed seeing how Drex grew up from his appearance on the DS9 series. But all the scenes with Martok was amazing.

Now the scenes that featured Dax. There was some great moments and other times where Dax was a little duller. Plus the Ezri featured in Destiny and Zero Sum Game was so powerful and great, that it’s understandable that a different author couldn’t capture all of that power in the same way.

My biggest problem with the book was that it never hooked me and could be a bit slow. Nothing definitive that I can point out as being overtly bad. Basically it wasn’t my favorite Star Trek writer.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Product 12: Derma E Vitamin A Glycolic Cleanser

Derma E Vitamin A Glycolic Cleanser is one of my favorite things in my beauty arsenal. I don’t say that lightly but it’s a great product. I even go a little overboard at times and use in the day when I know I shouldn’t.

A year ago, I was skeptical of Derma E as a line. I’ve always loved the idea of a natural and even organic beauty line but after trying several lines, I started to come to the conclusion that there was no such thing as a great natural/organic line that could live up to the chemically based products. But after hearing an esthetician rave about the quality of ingredients in the Derma E products and how they are really similar to the chemically based products and seeing her recommend Derma E to her friends, I figured the line was worth a shot. So I tried a sample of their microdermabrasion scrub, very clear cleanser, papaya enzyme toner, glycolic cleanser and their vitamin a glycolic scrub. I enjoyed all their products except for two: very clear cleanser and the papaya enzyme toner. But all the ones I loved couldn’t really be used for daily used, a scrubs should only be used once or twice a week and the glycolic was good but didn’t always take care of my oil issues (although as it’s been said twice to me in the past 24 hours ‘all that oil, you’ll never get wrinkles’).

So when I saw that Derma E created a Vitamin A Glycolic Cleanser I was really happy. Not because I’m worried about anti-aging products (one of the largest reasons people use Vitamin A/retinyl palmitate), but because I loved the Vitamin A Glycolic Scrub. Now I could get that babysoft skin that was completely rid of acne creating residues on a daily basis. Plus I loved the ingredients in the product: glycerin, papaya, retinyl palmitate and glycolic acid. All of these things were important to dermatologists and estheticians.

One of the things that really surprised me about this product was how it was helping to even my skin tone. It was making the red disappear, the pores shrink and just doing great things to my skin. I could never tell that from using a scrub that is used once a week versus every day like the cleanser.

Now the only detraction/slight whine I have is the fact, you really shouldn’t use this cleanser in the morning. But that’s the nature of the beast. Retinyl’s will make your skin sensitive to sunlight, so it’s not advisable to use it in the morning. Plus I’m sure the glycolic will do the same thing but I’ve never read it in print.

So all in all a great product. Especially for retailing at $12 at Schillers. It’s a great purchase price. Too bad I’ll be breaking away from this particular cleanser for a little bit as I sample a few other products.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

13 Books Down: The Nazi Officer's Wife

So thanks to my awesome friend, I received a new Holocaust related book: The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer as part of a belated b-day package. I really enjoyed this book.

Edith's perspective was fantastic. This was not a book about bitterness or elicit duplicity. Instead it was about eduction. In many ways, this was the best book about the holocaust that I've read. I loved how she took the time to really show how Vienna Jews were different from regular Jews, how there was Anti-Semiticism, and just taking the time to really say, 'you have to understand, this was the way it was.' Plus I enjoyed how she took the time to be introspective in the middle of the narrative.

Now her story was a little bit different the most of the holocaust stories that I've read before. Edith went to work on a farm and then a paper factory before and was only in a ghetto when she failed to check in after her family (her mom) was relocated to Poland, and then through the help of a friend she was able to emigrate to Munich while passing for an Aryan. Then the story develops into how she married a Nazi.

One of the interesting bits about the story was that her Nazi husband wasn't the love of her life especially before the war. In many ways, they lucked into the relationship. Through her fear and inability to really show who she was, they had a very happy life together. But for the better part of everything, Edith loved Pepi. She used the hope of marrying him to gather strength. Unfortunately he didn't have the strength to really be there for her.

I love how this story just completely works. When you read autobiographies, you get the braggarts, the liars, and the true personality of a person. When I read Edith's story, I was so happy. It just seemed so genuine and the placing of ideas in time was just so helpful.

Thanks so much to my friend for sending me this book. It made me so happy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

11 Products, 12 Books, 17 Letters down and 313 days left.

Book 12: The Company She Keeps

The Company She Keeps by Georgia Durante was quite possibly the best memoir that I've read in a really long time. But Georgie Girl's life was just flat out interesting. It's just not very often that a person is a model who marries into the mob and then becomes a stunt woman. Simply put it's a great read.

Georgie Girl (or Georgia) basically lived a normal childhood in Rochester, New York. But then she got her big break modeling for several of the local companies including Kodak. This break in modeling lead to some money and the ability to go several clubs at an early age. it was at these clubs where she started to run into the mafia crowd.

Georgia had several failed attempts at love which is understandable. Although it's sad to see that she had a really abusive relationship, then had a run in with a crazy con-man who tried almost everything he could think of to get Georgia to have a real relationship, then a loveless marriage and yet the whole time there is Frankie in the background that seems perfect for her who she could never end up with him. Although that's due to him trying to protect Georgia only for that plan to completely backfire when she met Joe.

But in one of the more fun turns for me, I loved how she went from a mob wheelwoman and aging model to a stunt woman. That's just insane and awesome. It's just an easy transition but I would have never thought to do it.

It's amazing to read about her life. Although are times when the book just jumps ahead in time or skips things that seem somewhat major.

I would highly recommend this book to my friends. It's just a good read where you wouldn't expect such a tumultuousness life from a person and still able to relate to her completely. Okay certain things you would expect to happen like if you were to marry into mob life that it would not be an easy home life.

Letter 17

Just a fun note to a friend when he was sent something.

Bonus project
So today, I also decided to make a skirt. When I found this fabric, I knew I would have to have it. So I decided if I was going to do anything with it, I want a clutch and a skirt. Since the most fabric and the trickiest part would be the skirt, I did that first.

My original idea was to have a perfect A line skirt. But when I was cutting, I forgot to curve up the sides, so I got this cool new shape where there is a hint of asymmetrically line.

Now all I have to do is wait until Thursday night and get the top I want from my other job and then I will have the perfect new outfit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

11 Products, 11 Books, 14 Letters down and 320 days left.

Product 10: BR Collagen Makeup Remover Cleansing Tissues

In a very recent order at Schiller's, we got the BR Collagen Cleansing clothes. I will have to admit I've been tempted by the BR cleansing clothes in the past but the two other flavors we carry never appealed to me (cucumber and green tea) but there was something about the collagen ones telling me that I should spend the $5 on them.

I will admit I've been really skeptical about the collagen bit about the clothes. I've just thought it was a gimmick by beauty product. Kinda like caffeinated soap to help energize the skin, great in theory but since you aren't ingesting/injecting there will be no actually improvement. Now after using them for two weeks, I'm convinced it's not a gimmick.

So my skin is more then a wee bit oily, especially since my dermatologist stinks and won't give me a new medicine that won't make me sick. Plus I've got a good amount of red tone anymore to my skin. Not exactly pristine skin. But since using these collagen cleansing clothes, there has been a noticeable improvement to my skin. The redness has seemed to dissipated and more importantly the oil is under control. So major win there.

Plus I really like the scent to these cloths. It's basic and clean and it lasts. When I first used them, I noticed it for a while. But since then the smell isn't that noticable. But my face does feel clean.

For $5, these cloths are great!!!! Especially since they are really improving my skin tone especially when paired with my favorite derma-e products (to be shared with another day, still testing that).

Product 11: The Laundress Sport Spray

So now the Laundress Sport Spray was from a recent raid of the 50% off rack at Schillers. I figured for $5, it would be a great little purchase especially with my habit of being a workaholic and a bit of a hockey player. A little spray to help cut down on the sport ick wouldn't be a bad thing. So far it's worked out great.

Basically, this is just a different form of Febreeze. But this is nicer then Febreeze in two important ways: portability and smell. The Sport Spray can actually fit in my pocket. So guess who can spritz her clothes in between two work shifts. While it's just over the TSA approved travel size, it's still in a really convenient size. Plus I love the way it makes things smell- just like fresh starched laundry. It just smells clean and with no hassle at all. I've always love the smell of spray starch but hated to do laundry. Now with the sport spray I get the best of both worlds. So YAY!!!!

Now other business

So I'm playing with the format of my blog. I'm curious what people like more. This way of doing it when I'm putting multiple entries up or if was better before.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book 11: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has been a really popular book lately. Seems like my friends and co-workers who aren't into Star Trek have all read or seen the movie (the Swedish version since the English one is still in production).

I will have to say Steig Larsson created an interesting story web about a journalist who is hired to look into the Vanger family. The Vanger family are of interest for two reasons: first they are a family that owns a bunch of enterprises in Sweden with a sordid history and more importantly to investigate the mystery behind Harriet Vanger's disappearance.

I totally understand why this novel is captivating the world. But there was a veil of interest for the first 400 pages, where I liked it but I wasn't gobbling the book up whole. It has a complex plot about a presumed murder with a lot of twists and turns. It's almost ironic that the main character point of view is from Mikael and not the girl with the dragon tattoo (Lizabeth).

The best part of the book for me after studying abroad was seeing the places I went to. It's fun to see some of the references for Uppsala and Stockholm and know exactly what he was referencing. It was really fun that way. That might have been part of the reason I wasn't fully hooked onto a good story. I was keep getting yanked from it thinking about my past time in Sweden.

But overall, I liked this 590page saga. It wasn't the best story for me but I can't wait to see the movies related to this book.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Product 9: Essie Bahama Mama

So my search for a spring nail polish continues on... This time I tried the Essie Bahama Mama color. It's a shade of plum. As a friend of mine described it, it's both conservative and bold all at same time.

After testing this color, I have admit it's the closest to the one I like. It's a shade that doesn't distract me and it's kinda pretty. It's a little dareker I want to say

Plus it has stayed on really well. For the most part, it doesn't really chip despite working a lot. It's not often that you can say after nearly 5 days of 8-12 hour shifts with most nail polishes. So that was a huge plus to see that it stayed on really well.

My biggest problem with the nail polish is the application. It made me realize that OPI has totally spoiled me. OPI is so easy to apply and touch up. This polish has a few flaws based in application. It was a little tricky to get that flawless finish (probably because I'm not patient enough to let it set and to get an even tone through out the nail). The paint didnt evenly spread and seemed to get a little bit of marking on them.

But I'm pleased with this nail polish. I love how it hasn't actually chipped and the color is nice enough.

Product 8: Japanese Caramel

I'm almost dubbing it the unknown candy. It's crazy. Over 6 people have tried this candy. We all agree it's yummy but it has this fruity flavor that none of us can place. It's crazy. Especially when we have a couple foodies who love to try new flavors trying the candy and no one knows what that additional flavor really is.

So one of the things I love about Pittsburgh are their Asian grocery stores. I love going into a market and just finding great food that I only kinda know what I'm getting. But entering them are so much easier now that the translation on the package is in English rather then Danish but they only translate a little bit. On a recent trip to Tokyo Market, I bought some Japanese Caramels.

I opened up the caramels knowing I had a sweet treat but that was about it. I wasn't expecting to see the candy be pink color. So it was a little bit of an 'okay that's a little strange but let's go with it' type moment. Then I took a bite. It's so tasty. There is a fruity almost cotton candy like aspect to it but I can't place it in addition to the caramel flavor. But it's a fun caramel. Love the texture (even after it kinda froze being in the back room of work).

So I will have to recommend this unknown candy if you like caramels.

Product 7: Uggs Sparkle Boots

So I am blessed at my primary job, I work with amazing people (both as customers and my co-workers). Thanks to work, I got a pair of "Steeler Uggs". A huge part of me is shocked that I own pair of Uggs now.

For the longest time, I thought very little of Uggs. They always seemed so ugly. I heard they were comfortable. But let's be honest, sheepskin lined boots don't ever looked cute with a pair of shorts like how so many starlets wear them-which is why they always get mocked by the fashion police.

But after putting on my Uggs for the first time, I understand the appeal. They felt so incredibly comfy. It was like my favorite pair of Nike's Air but at the same time all around the foot.

I really don't wear my Uggs out-although I did wear them to work the Friday before the Superbowl. It goes against almost every fashion tenant I have. Plus these things are really glitzy. If they were the black ones, I'm more likely to wear them out but these are the gold version of Dorothy shoes.

In the end I love these shoes. They are amazing feeling. I love how much of a reward these shoes after a long day working. I just want to put them on and relax. They just scream relaxation and fun. Plus the fact when I look at them, I just giggle never hurts.

Letter 14: Saying hello

Another fun piece from the previous set.

Letter 13: Friend Stuff

I just love this set of stationery. Plus I love how I can relate to this card

Letter 12: Friend Stuff

A pretty set I got for my birthday

Letter 11: Saying Hello

Sometimes I just love to do the Kuwaii letter paper instead of a card.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Product 6: Baudelaire Sisal Wash Cloth

So I'm a girl who loves a good shower gel on a shower puff. I love the exfoliation factor in a shower poof that a washcloth has never given me. But I was drawn to this washcloth since it seemed like I could get some exfoliation.

I really like this wash cloth. It was really great one since it can give some exfoliation. It was a great break from the puff and still feel clean afterwards.

The only bad side was this wash cloth didn't get lather from my shower gels as well. I still got a good solid lather.

In the end, I really like this product. It's a nice addition to my bath and body collection. I hope we get more of the Sisal wash clothes in stock again at Schillers soon.

Product 5: Barielle Shades Monique Jet

Since I wasn't in love with the Milan nail color, I decided to try out the other nail polish I got from the Schiller's discount basket- Shades Monique Jet Nail Polish. It's a strong shiny black nail polish. It was great in my terms of comfort.

Colorwise I love the Monique Jet. It's strong yet completely neutral with my clothing. It was a great deep black. It wasn't like some other black nail polish,where I had to apply several coats to get that deep true black nail lacquer. Plus I wasn't looking at the nails thinking how that color looks strange on my nails. I know black or even dark purple nails aren't for everyone but I like them.

But I was disappointed in the Shades nail polish. It didn't go on as well as I would have liked and it took a long time to dry. Since both OPI and the Nailtiques dried pretty quickly, I wasn't anticipating it to take so long to dry and got some imperfections in the shine. Additionally it didn't really adhere to my nails like it should have. Instead it kinda bubbled up.

Some chips after a few days of wear. Most of them seemed to occur in the first day of wear.

In the end, I probably won't recommend this product unless someone is looking for a nice black nail polish. For a black nail polish, it's the best color I've seen but the way it went on really disappointed me.

Product 4: Nailtiques Milan Nail Color

I've been searching for a new nail color. I love my OPI Ink but after wearing it all football season, I need something different from my dark purple. So I decided to dip into the Schiller's $5.00 basket for two new nail polishes. The first one I tried was the Nailtiques Milan nail color.

I was immediately drawn to the deep red color. It was dark without being too dark. Plus I thought the shade would be far enough away from the red family that I would feel comfortable wearing the color.

The first day I only put on one coat of the nail polish. The color wasn't even close to what I thought it would be. It was something that almost reminded me of the color of dried blood. Not exactly a cute nail polish color. So I tried putting on one more coat. I will have to say, that made a world of difference. It still didn't match the polish in the bottle but it was much prettier.

One of the things I did love about this nail polish was how it didn't chip. The first three days I was doing a lot of work that tended to chip my OPI Ink. I was pleasantly surprised that he nailtiques actually stayed on my nails really well. This is a nail polish I can recommend to people with good confidence even if I didn't feel beautiful in the nail color (beauty comes from comfort and I just love the black/dark purple shades too much to feel comfortable in Milan).

Book 10: In My Hands

I decided to take a break from my fun books that offer basically no educational value by reading about one of my favorite memoir subjects- the holocaust. For as long as I could remember I’ve been interested in the holocaust and reading about the different forms of survival. So I was excited to get my hands on In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke.

In My Hands was different from most of the holocaust books I’ve read. Most of the books are about the Jews themselves or the different officers. This time it’s about one of the rescuers. Plus the book was from a Polish girl (most of the time I’ve read the German perspective and occasionally the Danish perspective).

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a book that showed a woman who did some extraordinary acts in some infamous times. She did so without losing her morality. Plus what I enjoyed about the book, it seemed to be more about educating people about how her war experience. It didn’t read like a story bragging about her actions which I liked.

It’s nice to read about the Polish view of the war. They were suffering too and it was nice to see some of the things that they had to deal with. But yet Irene was able to make her situation better by being selected to work for a German officer. She was able to be in charge of a small staff of Jews who she later rescued. It’s unbelievable the gall to hide several Jews in the house of a German officer and yet it was completely understandable since it was what she had available to her. After being forced to relocate both herself and the Jews in her care, she became a Polish partisan until then end of the war.

It was a great story where you could really understand her motivations. It wasn’t for glory or anything like that. It was about doing the right thing. I liked that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book 9: Star Trek Destiny Lost Souls

I finally got a chance to finish up the Star Trek Destiny series. The last book was Star Trek Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack. Let me just say I loved it even though it wasn’t a huge surprise.

Truthfully there wasn’t any huge surprises in Lost Souls. The first two books set everything up so well. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It’s like Black Swan and Titanic. Just because you know what is happening, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy every minute of it.

Now I got into a slight debate with my good friend about some of the character stuff. I thought the situation where Picard had a sit down with Riker was perfect. I thought Riker was the one person who could really talk some sense into Picard. Worf is too much of a good soldier who will support his captain no matter what, Dax had no stake, and the rest of the Enterprise crew didn’t have the standing, gull or his trust to really help him see the light. It had to be Riker. The timing was right too since he needed someone to say get over the borg right as they were taking one of the biggest gambles yet.

Now the ending made me want to see what happened next. I still don’t know the full in and outs of the Typhon Pact but I can see the framework of how alliances started to shape up.

One of the things that made me happiest about the whole Destiny series was how it finally explain question number two for me as a trek fan (question number one was the Klingon ridge thing but that was one of the few things masterfully done by Enterprise) . Question two that I always had was why the Borg were they human under the cybernetic stuff if they came from the Delta Quadrant? Humanoid, I always got but the human aspect especially in the early episodes threw me. So a huge thanks to David Mack for just going there and coming up with a really ingenious way to do it.

Book 8: Club Dead

So I took a slight break from the heavy Star Trek readying by going to one of my other favorite genres. This time I read Club Dead by Charlaine Harris. Yes, I’m still catching up on the True Blood Series.

This one I’ve really enjoyed. Actually more then the first True Blood book that I picked up. It was a fun easy read. I can see why so many people are addicted to the HBO series.

Club Dead was entertaining. Sookie got to meet Alcide (a werewolf) who creates a fun dynamic to the whole supernatural world. Plus it doesn’t hurt that they have a great dynamic together even though they are both in a spot where they shouldn’t mess with relationships since it’s basically rebound central.

But my favorite character addition from the last book was probably Bubba. He was so much fun. Okay a little dense and I’m not sure if the real person was that way. But he was so sweet. He meant well and always seemed to pop up at the right moment.

This was yet another great fun read in the supernatural section.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Product 3: Herbal Essence Body Envy

So over the years, I've been a huge fan of the Herbal Essence Products. Although I tended to stay to a couple types-degunkify, straightening, and clarifying. I always loved how that Herbal Essense is one of the few non-salon brands that can get my hair not looking like an oil slick without drying it completely out (although I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've had dry hair). So I decided to try out the Body Envy product since who doesn't want a little bit more volume from time to time.

I will have to say, I'm really surprised by the Body Envy product. It truthfully does give more volume to my hair and actually cleans it. But it's not a full time fix. As the product use started to go towards the 3 week mark and whatnot the fullness started to fade.

Best of all for me, it actually cleans my hair with good results everyday.