Wednesday, March 30, 2011
One of my favorite things to use on my long days is dry shampoo. Now I don’t ever use dry shampoo to avoid a shower. It just doesn’t work. But I love dry shampoo as a quick fix to avoid the crazy oily hair that develops from working 8 hours a day and I still have another few hours of work. Thanks to Schillers, I was able to try out the Klorane dry shampoo with Oat Milk the non-aerosol can.
We don’t sell the non-aerosol can but we received a tester to try out. Since Patrice knows that I use the Shampowder (another dry shampoo that is in a brush applicator), she let me try out the Klorane dry shampoo. The canister is really cool. You open up the top and squeeze. Then you just brush it through. That’s it.
I like the Klorane shampoo. It really got things cleaned quick. It seemed to actually clean things rather then just absorb the oil. So that’s a perk.
Now I have to say this one I have to be careful. Klorane is a white powder. If you put too much in, it can give the hair a weird white powdery look that is just as bad as the oil slick. So it’s about balance. For my hair length a couple squeezes and then flip the hair (I don’t always have a hair brush in my purse so you MacGyver something). Sometimes it's nice how my Shampowder is a brown color (close to my natural color) versus how the Klorane is a white color.
Other downside compared to the Shampowder is the size of the bottle. It’s something that fits in only my Snow White Purse and the Bath and Body plaid purse I own (i.e. my big purses). So I have to plan ahead on if I’m taking the Klorane dry shampoo rather then just have it on me in any situation.
I like the Klorane dry shampoo. It’s a great quick fix on my long work days. It’s something that I am glad that I have it to use on days I work more then 8 hours.
So last night I finished my latest book: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. This book I highly enjoyed. Sometimes I just need some light occult books in my light and this definitely hit the spot for me.
This was the last of my Christmas goodies from a wonderful co-worker. Now my pile of books will be blander for a while since I only have a couple more conventional Kathy fiction left and a lot of biographies and a couple mangas.
I’ve had a lot of experience with reading Kelley Armstrong books. So I was looking forward to reading this book. For some reason I thought this book was somehow related to her Men and Women of the Underworld series. But the Awakening was actually part of the Darkest Power Series and book two at that. Thankfully, I don’t mind when I read out of order and Kelley Armstrong does a great job of getting you to speed without being too much of a recap.
The Awakening is a fun book where Chloe and her friends are running away from the Edison Group who are bent on using them as Guinea pigs. There is a neat mixture of occult monsters: necromancer (Chloe), shaman (Liz), werewolf (Derek), sorcerer (Simon) and witch (Tori). Well to be fair Liz is a Shaman and a ghost who only Chloe can speak too for the most part. Now Derek was a prototype werewolf and very similar to Clay (one of the werewolves in the Otherworld series) but at the same time, I really liked how Derek played off of Chloe.
Having the main character be a necromancer is interesting. She has problems of having her powers be out of control and there are times she’s raising the dead in her sleep and she can’t recognize who is alive and who is dead. I am looking forward to learning more about the amulet she wears and to see if at least helps her keep the
Plus I read the next chapter to the next book in the series (The Reckoning). Between the adventure of The Awakening and the two preview chapters, I really want to read the next book in the Darkest Power series. So just what I need, another book in the I want to buy pile. But a highly enjoyable read.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I finally finished up the books from my great belated birthday/Christmas package. The final book that was sent to me was The Man on Mao’s Right by Ji Chaozhu. I was glad that my friend included this book since I’ve always been interested in China for a very long time.
Ji Chaozhu has the improbable history of studying at Harvard and was an important person in the Foreign Ministry as an English-to-Chinese interpreter and later became an ambassador. His life was a fascinating twists and turns from being a rich landlord’s son to being an American student who was driven to quit Harvard and go to his homeland to help the Communist cause.
I really liked the candidness of Ji Chaozhu. He gave opinions of different people he worked with. You could tell the people he admire verses people who were challenging to work with. He had no love lost for Jiang Qing (Mao’s last wife) and her gang of followers. Like many others, he believe that many of the purges of the Cultural Revolution and the ineffiency of foreign policy based on her prodding.
The book was very good. There were times when he did repeat himself. He gave the same description of Jiang Qing a couple times and shared an anecdote with a meeting from Kissinger twice.
I wish there were more stories from his work. He shared some but not a ton of details. But I understand when dealing with state secrets, there is a time for openness and a time for speaking in broad strokes. Most of the memoir meant speaking in broad strokes. But he did share some insights of what is was like to be at a negotiating table during Korea and the different styles the Chinese and Americans had.
This is a book I would full heartedly recommend reading if you are interested in Chinese history or foreign policy work. Now I will have to say, I’m not a Chinese history expert (I’m terribly underread in this field) so I can’t say how it compares to other memoirs about working during the Cultural Revolution, But I do feel like it was good foreign policy book. Now I’m looking forward to discussing this book with the friend that sent the Man on Mao’s Right to me and to the friend I just passed it on.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
So I decided to read the Typhon Pact book that had my eye the least. I hate to say it like that but that was the truth when it came to Seize the Fire by Michael A. Martin. I wish I could say that this book surpassed my expectations which were that this book would be okay, but I can’t. It merely lived up to being okay.
Seize the Fire is the second book in the Typhon Pact (so now I’m finally all caught up chronologically). It deals with the Gorn Hegemony and the Titan crew (captained by Riker). In many ways it takes things best found in classic Trek and expands upon it by placing it in the more contemporary timeline of that with Riker, Troi and Tuvok from TNG and Voyager. I will be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the original series of Star Trek so that’s why I was bit hesitant.
I don’t actually think I’ve seen the episode dealing with the Gorn. Hate to say it but it’s true. So this book in many ways was like entering a new world by having it focus on the Gorn. But the book also focuses on the debate about the Genesis project (a terraforming device that can remake worlds). Even when I saw the two movies (Star Trek II and Star Trek III) , I never got how the Genesis Project was the akin to making a nuclear weapon in the schemes of things. To me the Genesis Project was always much more like a comprehensive missile defense system- inherently dangerous but at the same time it does more good than bad. If you can remake a dead world in a matter of seconds into a living breathing world, that should be a good thing. It’s if you try to use it on a world with living matter, then it can destroy that.
There are some things that I enjoyed in this book. It was an interesting story line and I could capture my attention really well. I would read a good chunk of the book in a sitting without realizing it.
I learned a lot about the Gorn. You got to see a much fuller picture to the Gorn and just see how things played out. For a culture that got named-dropped a lot, it was nice to see an actual depiction of if it in a form of Trek.
So there are things in this novel that I actually disliked. They had two different spellings for many words: the Gorn way and the Federation way. But there were times when the Gorn spellings would slip in during a Federation point of view segement. So it would throw me. Plus if the Gorn can match/mimic human speech almost perfectly to the point where it can nearly fool a computer and definitely fool humans for being a match, why would they call Riker Rry’kurr? Same thing when it comes to calling the Federation the Federrazsh’n? By having the differences there, it makes me wonder if that voice mimicking even existed to such a high degree. Another thing that threw me was giving a Cardassian a comme ci, comme ca hand motion. I had to be taught what that hand movement was in French class, so why would I believe that a Cardassian would know how to do that?
Another thing I really disliked was how on pages 322-323 you get a philosophical moral to the novel by the thinker above Hranrar. Normally I would love this. It actually pointed some good things like how the Gorn and the Federation are very similar despite their biological differences. But it’s the location of this. The book is actually 488 pages. If you want sum up a moral to the story, do it at the end like Martin did with Tuvok’s hesitance to discuss what he learned from the mind-meld with the ecoscuptor device (the Gensis Project like device). Don’t do it mid-novel. It just seemed useless especially from a perspective that provided so little to the book.
The characterization of the main characters from the Titan who I was most familiar (thanks to reading Destiny and watching Voyager and TNG) was hit and miss. There were times I could hear their voices in my head with the dialogue and the movements and other times I just couldn’t get the voice with dialogue. It wasn’t dialogue that was so far off that I shook my head or broke my Trek reality, but enough were it didn’t seem quite right.
So I have mixed feelings with Seize the Fire. It was okay but it had issues too. But not all books will be stellar. I’m glad to read it to read it just see how it fits with the Typhon Pact series even though it was nowhere as good as the other two books I’ve read in the series.
P.S. I decided to include this little gem. As I said before I’m not really a huge TOS fan although I can appreciate their spot in Trek. So it’s amazing that I can recognized where half the clips came from in this video.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Philip B Styling Gel is another Philip B product. It’s another good product from the Philip B collection and one more likely to find its way into my daily hair routine.
So upon for a first few uses of the Philip B, I loved it. It has a great supple hold without being too firm. Only once in a while, I would have that crunchy feel to my hair that you get with too much sticky product. Plus I could finally get that kink out of my hair mentioned in the other Philip B testing.
It holds well in my hair for about 8 hours, after that, then the hold starts to wane and I get a strand of hair that separates out and insists upon being in my eye. But that’s when my hair gets oily and needs to get a dry shampoo treatment or a full wash. So I don’t fault the styling gel for not holding up to some high grease context. In fact, the Philip B styling gel does a better job than other styling gels that I’ve tried.
The Philip B styling gel is $20, so that’s a good chunk of money. I think for now the trial size of the product was perfect. It gave you that hold and feeling you want that will make you spend the money.
Philip B Drop Dead Straightening Baume is a sample that I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s a light weight styling product that I could use in a few different ways.
One of the most common ways I would use the baume was to help take the frizz out of my hair and make it manageable without doing anything else. While those days weren’t always the greatest hair days since I often just put the baume in the hair and didn’t take the time to fully style the hair. You still have to take the time to style. Plus I would notice how there was always the one kink in my hair that never seemed to go away when I used only the Drop Dead Baume.
But one of the things I really liked about the Drop Dead Straightening Baume was when I used it as a way to condition my hair and then style it proper way. My hair never felt dried out when I used my straightener iron nor did it frizz up when I put the baume in. So that was a major plus.
Philip B is one of the more expensive hair product lines at Schillers. We sell the Drop Dead Straightening Baume at $25. Like most botanically and essential oil based product, they are pricier. But they work really well too.
Spuma di Sciampagna is one of the few true bubble baths at Schillers. It’s not a bath and shower gel. But made strictly for baths.
It has a nice light scent. It’s best describe as a light floral mixed with powdery scent that is stronger. The scent itself almost reads as being luxurious if luxury had a scent. Nothing is overwhelming which is nice.
So how are the bubbles? I think how the company markets it is correct: it’s a bath mousse. Not a true bubble bath with big foamy bubbles, instead it’s a layer of silky, small bubbles that just go around the bath. Plus it feels well. Plus the layer of bubbles were replenished by adding more water.
Spuma di Sciampagna is a fun Italian import. But I’m not sure I will be spending another $14.00 for a bottle. It’s a great treat but I can only use it in the tub. But when it comes to day to day use, I think I prefer a shower gel that I can use to create a bubble bath or to use my scrubby in the shower.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thanks to my friend’s great belated birthday gift, I got to read the historical fiction/romance novel called The Scroll of Seduction by Gioconda Belli. This book is a fun read while at the same time very informative.
In many ways the book has two stories to it. The first side is of Lucia and Manuel. Lucia is a young girl who become seduced by Manuel and his story telling ability. It becomes the ultimate escape from time in a boarding school and the death of her parents. Then you had the story of Juana the Mad and Philippe the Handsome. This is the true side to the tale where Juana was so in love and possessive of her husband and would stop responding to the public whenever things didn’t go her way. That deemed her as mad by history and her time. But Gioconda Belli made a very convincing argument that Juana wasn’t mad, but merely misunderstood as she instilled power over her world in the only way she knew how.
I have to agree with my friend’s assessment of the book. The ending was not good. It was rather sloppy. The part with Juana ended fine. But I didn’t like the way Belli ended the Lucia part. It was as if she ran out of ideas how to end things so she just ended the story hastily. There was a little bit of an epilogue to explain what would happen the pregnancy but it really wasn’t enough.
One of the things I really liked about the book is the history that is weaved into this story. I really didn’t know about the history of Juana. I just barely knew her name after reading loads of Philippa Gregory books since her sister was Katherine/Catalina of Aragon. Now I want to know more about Juana. She was so in love and her children were rulers of so many different countries. Plus I want to know more about Isabella and Ferdinand (her parents) in more than just a brief textbook version of their history. So that’s a good sign of an historical fiction author when they make you want to learn more about the world that has happened.
So on to the next book in my pile. Stay tuned to find out if I’m going to read a memoir/biography, a Star Trek Book, or something else.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren was an unusual memoir that spoke to me the moment I spotted it at the Borders going out of business sale that never let me down. Upon buying it, I bumped it to the top of my reading pile.
This memoir is about how a girl from New Jersey traded in her life as a struggling actress and a call-girl in order to be a kept woman for Prince Jefri of Brunei. The prince (who preferred to go by the Western name Robin) would have women host parties for him and they were expected to entertain in exchange for untold amounts of money and gifts. These party girls in all reality created a harem.
This book was interesting. Although you didn’t get the juicy details of the backstabbing and the political games other then hints at it. But at the same time, you understood what she was talking about even though it wasn’t greatly deep in detail. As it is so often with power struggles involving girls, the moves are subtle and hard to describe to an outsider.
There is a real bond that I developed with how Jillian presented herself. She loves music and has many layers to her even when she had a facade up. I really enjoyed how at different points, she would have a song lyrics listed or a song that caught her attention at that particular moment. It allowed me to really relate to her. But then again, who wouldn’t relate to listening to the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime” while on the way to Burnei in adventure that she wasn’t even sure she understood. You can understand why she went back to Brunei for a second stay with the Prince.
One of the things about the book that i liked is how it largely focused on her time in Brunei and what lead up to led up to it. She glossed over her childhood and her actions after Brunei. At one point, I thought that the book was getting off track since it was talking about the year she left Burnei. Jillian was growing and changing but with about a 100 pages left in the book, you almost felt left down that there wasn’t more about being a mistress to a prince. But then you realize it was explaining how she changed in the year way from Burnei and she was going to return.
This is was a fun memoir for me. It gave me a glimpse into a world that is fascinating even though I’m know I’m unlikely to experience myself.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
So I raided the Schiller’s half off rack again. This time it was for a Tassi (which now is $7.50). I’ve been thinking about a Tassi off and on but never really gave it too much thought until recently.
So what is a Tassi? It’s basically a headband that will hold your hair in a very gentle way so you can wash your face or apply makeup without having stray hairs get into your face. It’s made out of microfiber towel that you can just tuck your hair into. It has a band that doesn’t leave creases in your in hair as a tighter elastics, headbands and barrettes tend to do.
I actually decided to try the Tassi in more then just washing my face setting. I didn’t bother to use it when applying make-up since I don’t apply foundation or blush so having loose hair doesn’t really bother me. One of the ways I wanted to try it first was to use it in my bath. I love to really hot bubble baths and to read for a while, unfortunately that also can allow some sweat to drip. Knowing the characteristics of microfiber, I had a feeling that it would do a great job of absorbing the sweat almost on contact. And in the end I was right. Another way, I ended up using it was after work or a long day. I recently got my hair cut short, so I can’t always pull it off my face after work in. It’s so easy to just pull it on and have a clear face for the rest of the evening.
I really enjoy my Tassi. It’s just a quick fix in the evening. I can use it in a variety of different ways. This will be one of the products that I will use around my house and maybe my closest girl friends. But it’s something that quickly worked its way into my one of my favorite products.
In a recent book swap with one of the pharmacist from work, I had the pleasure to read the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This fantasy is unlike a lot of books written in English and in the fantasy realm.
So this book was not the easiest book to read at times. It’s incredibly dense in the 846 page novel and includes hundreds of footnotes. Yes footnotes to a fantasy story and these footnotes weren’t translations of foreign languages that are real or unreal. These were full fledge footnotes that were citing magical books and adding layer upon layer of the mythology of the book.
But I loved the tale of two magicians trying to bring magic back to England and after successfully doing that, they worked together to help defeat Napoleon and then had to worry about fairy magic as well.
The characters are not the typical heroes. They aren’t really the most sympathetic especially Mr. Norrell and his associates. They did some really shady things and would do anything to maintain their power over magic and the ability to get knowledge about magic. Mr. Norrell was a downright hypocrite by being anti-fairy magic but his greatest claim to fame before the end of the book was due to help by a magic. Jonathan Strange was much more likable until the death of his wife. But he had his flaws just like all people do. They aren’t all good and all evil. There’s a lot of gray which creates richer characters.
There is a formality about this book that I’ve never really seen in the fantasy/sci-fi/occult genre. Many of the characters are referred to by Mr. or Mrs. ______. Plus it had a feel of a textbook in some ways too. It was more then just the footnotes and the use of the formal titles. At times it would have the tone of a textbook but then it would casually go back into a more casual narrative.
I ended up enjoying this book. There were times where it was really dry. But then at others it was so magical that I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
So for the first time in my blog, I found a product that I HATED. This wasn’t something that where there were things I disliked about a product yet liked it overall. I flat out hated it. So what is the product that I hate? It’s Derma-E Fragrance-Free Moisture Therapy Hand and Body Lotion.
So let me back up a little bit and start at the beginning. I was excited to see in the latest shipment of Derma-E that they changed up their sample packets-it included a couple new samples including my favorite Vitamin A and Gycloclic Cleanser and the hand lotion. I really wanted to sample both of these products but for different reasons. I wanted to try the hand lotion mainly because we don’t carry it. We have a limited shelf at Schillers so there is a lot of picking and choosing of products. The benefit of samples is that sometimes they can encourage us (Schillers) into carrying different pieces of a line. Plus I read in the Derma-E literature that they have an award winning lotion lines so I was curious what it was like.
I hated this Derma-E product first because of the scent. I should have known that it might have a scent since in bath and beauty products scent and fragrance are not the same thing. Fragrance is something that is added to a product (usually perfume or essential oils). If you have sensitive skin, you are looking for fragrance free products since perfume and oils can be irritating to the skin. Whereas scent will naturally exist and when you use natural products, you can’t always eliminate what a thing smells like. The product had strong aroma that I believe is from the Willow Bark since I do dislike that scent profile.
But then I put on the hand cream. It just felt awful. It wasn’t so much of a greasy feeling (although that was there) that I disliked, it was the gritty and dirty feeling that I hated most. For the first time ever, I washed my hands to rid myself of the hand lotion almost immediately after application. There have been hand lotions in the past that I dislike the feeling, but I never wanted to rid myself of the hand lotion immediately. So there was an extreme reaction to the lotion.
Thankfully I used a sample product. I learned for sure that I do not like the Fragrance Free Moisture Therapy hand and body lotion. It’s disappointing to find a product I dislike so much when so many of my favorite beauty products are from the same company. But that’s the benefit of a sample. Since Schillers doesn’t carry this particular product from Derma-E I don’t know the retail price off hand but guessing by the other things in their lines, that I’ve saved around $16 by trying before I’ve buy.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Much to my dismay, I found another reason too put down a good book on loan from an friend in order to read something that needed more immediate attention. In order to help make a square peg fit into the round hole for a writing contest, I went to read one of the prime examples laid out by the contest's moderator. He recommended a Star Trek Captain's Table books. I happened to have one from my late highschool/early college days (also when I was the biggest Trekker)still on my shelf: Captain's Table The Mist by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. So I immediately dove into the book once more.
Now the book is very entertaining. It's basically about how Captain Sisko goes to the Captain's Table (a bar set outside of time and space)and how he's retelling the story of how he met this race/confederation of races called The Mist. I say that last bit very deliberately since once he crosses over into Mist Space, you find out that there are more then one species that are ruled by the Mist government and there is the actual species called the Mist. Sometimes things like species/races/political labels get all muddled up like that.
Now this book is laid out in a specific where where it's one of the few series in Star Trek that one has something that is so completely devoid of space & time and it has things written in first person. Normally books are written in more of a third person perspective with limited omniscient (and the bar scenes are all written this way). Most of the story is a retelling of a story so it's in first person.
Rereading The Mist has been a good thing for me to do. It's actually helped me come up with ideas how to set a childhood tale in a bar (such a stupid thing to do in my eyes since 99% of the time, people tell stories of the recent past when drinking in a bar and never even mention about being kids-maybe something their kids did but not themselves), how to play with the narrative requirement and juxtapose the bar setting away from the events being told. Now rereading the story didn't help me as much as I would have liked with the first person narrative. But that's more because the contest I'm writing for has a first person present tense requirement which I'm struggling with. While I had some help in making it not sound like a diary, I'm still struggling with not slipping into past tense too much since The Mist was also fully in the past tense.
Now I will have to say this book was written while DS9 was still in production. So there are lines that seem exactly like the characters from the show. There has been little growth in them away from the series which is different from the books that I've been reading as of late since they had so much further character development from what was last seen in the show. So after reading so many newer Trek books, this book felt like going back to my roots and taking a refresher course rather then reading something new. It's kinda fun to see the growth in characters. Plus it's just nice to have the Chief be back.In all the books I've read this year, there has been almost no mention of him at all. Which is kinda sad since I've always loved the NCO engineer.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Jack Black Lip Balm-Lavender and Vanilla flavor- with SPF. I quite frankly have mixed feelings about this lip balm although in the end it’s a good lip balm.
For those that don’t know, Jack Black is a great men’s line. It’s also a line not tied to the actor at all. They just happen to share a name. Jack Black is probably best known for their shave creams and their body washes. But gaining a large following that is actually crossing genders is the Jack Black lip balm. I will have to say I heard more than once “my girlfriend stole my lip balm” or “I need to replace my husband’s lip balm after losing it” in reference to Jack Black- you really don’t hear that with any other lip balm we sell and we sell tons of them (Relish, Burt’s Bees, Yube, Carmax, Crabtree and Evelyn and lots of others). In fact, people are now starting to say it’s one of the best lip balms on the market. So when it was decided to open up the newest flavor, I was really excited to try out the lip balm.
The lip balm is really heavy. That’s actually the reason I’m not really a fan of it. None of the other lip balms I use really have that weight to it when you apply it. So that takes a little bit to get used to.
The other thing I don’t always like about the lip balm is that you can feel it create a barrier on the lips. But that’s also a good thing. You can feel the moisture get locked into the lips so it really helps the dryness in a way I never really before. Plus at the same time, I’m sure the barrier is cause in part by the SPF aspect to the lip balm.
One of the nicest things about the lip balm is the fact I only have to apply it once or maybe twice a day. It’s not like other lip balms that wear off as the day goes on and you are reapplying it every few minutes to have comfortable lips. It is something that really lasts all day.
The weather has been extreme lately here in Pittsburgh so it’s taking a toll on my lips in additional to my own habit of picking at them. So it’s nice to know that the Jack Black will help to really treat the lips and help them heal. When they are really dry, this is the one that I’m leaning towards more then my Relish lip butter but for overall wear, I still find myself drawn to the Relish lip balm since it’s not as heavy on the lips and it also helps repair them a little quicker. But if you use the Jack Black, you aren’t likely to have those super deep cracks since they will always have that deep moisture.
I know this review is one of the less clear cut reviews that I done. But as I said, I’m not fully in love with this product although it really works. I can honestly say out of the lip balms on the counter (that I’ve tried): the Jack Black is a really good one but so is the Yube and the Relish. Now the Jack Black and the Relish retail at a slightly higher price than some of our lip balms at $7.50 but you are paying for a great product that lasts all day. Where Yube is cheaper at $5. Then from there I will go towards the Neutrogena lip and it’s a tossup with the Burt’s Bees lip balms (I used to love Burt’s Bees but it simply doesn’t work like it used to).