Saturday, January 31, 2015

There Is Nothing More Exhausting Than...



But at least the house is kind of presentable.
In the middle of picking up things that I have left laying around for months Andy fixed a bookshelf that was broken and now I have a wonderful place to put all of my "to be read" novels so I see them and pick them up.  Hopefully I can't put them down because I have a TON of amazing books to get through.  I'll be reviewing one tomorrow, so stay tuned.

He also brought our rocking chair out into the living room so that I get more use from it.  It has been acting as a hamper in our bedroom for far too long.  It's one of the very first things Andy bought for me for our new house and I love reading in it.  He even brought a lamp out to set beside it so I have a new nook to curl up in with a novel and a cup of tea.

One other thing that I accomplished today while Andy helped me clean was making a new sandwich for lunch.  It was a twist on chicken salad that turned out pretty delicious.

I used a can of chicken, three tablespoons of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of hot dog relish (mustard and relish mixed together), and a quarter cup of a mixture of Craisins and unsalted almonds that were then finely chopped.  The nuts give a nice crunch and the cranberries have a great sweetness to them.

And now I'm beat.  I can't wait to see my sister tomorrow so we can exchange Christmas gifts.  We even left our Christmas lights up just for her!  (Or maybe because it is stupid cold and windy and they look nice where they are, no matter what the neighbors think).

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Food Discovery (Courtesy Of My Darling Husband)

Andy surprised me tonight be making a stupid delicious dinner.

It involved tuna fish.

If you would've asked me yesterday if I liked tuna I would've said "no way!" but then my husband made a meal with it that was so awesome I ignored my diet (which has been going really well!) and asked for seconds.  It probably helped that he said "keep an open mind" when he gave it to me and that I didn't even know it was tuna, but if this is what tuna fish is all about I have seriously been missing out.

My yummy dinner involved crispy pan fried tuna patties with the fish, mashed potatoes, onions, spices, an egg and breadcrumbs.  It was phenomenal.  He made mine as a sandwich on toasted potato bread.  It tasted kind of like a Filet O'Fish but better. (Aaahhhhh!)

I bet you wish you had a husband who made you amazing food and insisted you try new things even when you're sure you won't dig them.  In the last few years I've discovered that I actually like a ton of things I thought I hated.  I guess my tastes are changing as I get older, but here are a few of the things Andy has convinced me to try that I wound up enjoying after insisting I wouldn't:

Steak cooked to medium
Sauteed mushrooms
Cooked carrots
Pulled pork and pork tenderloin
Tartar sauce
Slow cooker pot roast
Celery and apples with "peanut" butter
Lima beans
Hog maw

And now tuna fish!  Yes, it's a vegetable heavy list, but I suddenly find the prospect of eating more vegetarian dishes pretty exciting.  Now that I have lentils and I'm not afraid of dried beans and grains there will be lots of vegexperiments on the horizon.

This weekend I'm going to give barley a shot.  It will be new for both of us.

Thank you Andy for making such a delicious dinner and for constantly encouraging me to try new things.  I may kick my "we'll have pasta because that's all I know how to cook" pattern yet!  I love you Bubba!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Asleep In My Dinner Plate

Last night I fell asleep during the last fifteen minutes of Sons of Liberty and I didn't get to see John Hancock sign his name real big.

Tonight I fell asleep just at the end of Top Chef and I didn't even know who had to go home.

The conclusion?

I need sleep.

I'm so tired I can't even think straight.

I made dinner - crispy tofu fried rice which was delicious, but after that I crashed and zonked out.

Start with pepper strips, scallions, and carrots lightly sauteed in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add a cup of rice and simmer in 2 cups of beef stock until water is absorbed - about 15 minutes.

I added sauteed mushrooms, an egg and soy marinated tofu dredged in corn starch and pan fried until crisp.

Truly, I barely made it through Supernatural and it was a Charlie episode!

So I'm going to bed.  Hope you enjoy this simple stir fry on a night when you can function better than I can!

Nighty night!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Soup For Days

I know that all of my recipes won't be successes, but I was really hoping tonight's soup would be better.  I ruined it by using a box of stock that I was unfamiliar with.  I think I would've enjoyed it if I stuck with chicken stock, but I used a Cajun flavored vegetable stock instead.  I thought the onion, carrots, celery and pepper flavors would work nicely with the cauliflower and lentils, but I didn't ananticipate the seasoning in it would smell like Old Bay.

I hate Old Bay.  Just the scent of it in the can makes me nauseated.

When I worked at Alabama Shakespeare Festival we had a one man show called "The Fula From America" and on opening night they had a cocktail party that featured shrimp boil.  The day of the show the entire theatre reeked of Old Bay and I was incredibly ill at the time.  Now every time I smell it, it instantly makes me sick.

On the plus side I really liked the cauliflower.  I somehow made it to this point in life without ever having tried raw cauliflower.  I thought I hated it.  I don't.  I thought it tasted lovely and similar to the pods of snow peas.  Even in the soup (which was Old Baying me to death) I really dug the texture.  The vegetables have really been upping their game lately.  Tomorrow I'm going to do a veggie stir fry with all of my newfound vegetable friends.

I put lots of melted cheese on Andy's dish and it looked just like the photo in the One Pot cookbook, but my bowl was very small since I was afraid of it.  Andy has lots of leftovers, and I need to buy more lentils!

Thank you to Blogging for Books for the awesome One Pot Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.  I am checking out a cookbook on healthy affordable meals from Melissa D'Arabian (of Food Network fame) this week - it just came in the mail today so there will be an upcoming review soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Don't Know Much About History

As I sit and watch "Sons of Liberty" on The History Channel, this Sam Cooke song is stuck in my head.

"Don't know much about history.
Don't know much geography.
Don't know much about a science book.
Don't know much about the French I took.
But I do know one and one is two,
and if this one could be with you
what a wonderful world this would be."

I may have mixed up the verse slightly, because Sam doesn't know much about a variety of subjects - he doesn't claim to be an "A" student after all.

I feel his pain.

I find myself saying things like "really?  This stuff happened?" and asking Andy "so is this the midnight ride of Paul Revere?  No, wait is this it?  Weren't there lanterns or something?" (Except I call Paul Revere "Renee" because that was the actor's character's name on "True Blood" - I also keep waiting for my friend Aaron Munoz to show up near him and get shot in a bar because there are a lot of bars in this and that's what happened when he was on "The Walking Dead").  Incidentally, Paul Revere does a lot of riding around in the dark.

Tonight I also spouted things like:

 "Aren't they supposed to be dressed as Indians?"

"So she just walks around in the middle of the night by herself because she's already beaten up?"

"So does she make an appointment to have an affair without her armed guard?"

"Where did they get those uniforms?"

"Oh.  It's like when Luke posed as a Stormtrooper". (I think I just thought this one rather than saying it out loud)

"Where is the light coming from?  It's not like they'd leave a bunch of candles in a store room full of gun powder.  That is some crazy bright moonlight up in that silo."

"Where is Abigail Addams?  She's on 'Downton Abbey'."

"What do you call it when there are guys with guns in an army and stuff but not army guys just normal guys?"

"Okay I love John Hancock."

My historical takeaways?

Sam Adams is hot.

I'm not sure if it's Adams or Addams.

Brilliant marketing tie-ins make me want beer.

John Hancock is the best.

The actor playing him looks just like a lot of other actors, but mainly Tom Hulce from "Amadeus".

Really  - I love John Hancock.

I've seen parts of this movie before on the HBO miniseries "John Addams".

I've seen a couple of Mrs. General Gage's outfits in other movies and now I have to figure out which ones. "Dangerous Liasons?"

I probably saw a lot of the men's clothes in "John Addams".

Still not sure about the spelling of the Adams/ Addams thing - I'll use both.  I really wish I had some beer to check...

Tomorrow we'll watch the third and final part of this and I'm sure I'll still be humming the song in my head.  I sure don't know much about American history.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rediscovering Polyvore

Back in 2012 I found a website called Polyvore where you could create clip art collections of fashion and beauty finds.  I'm not quite sure how I first came across it, but I remember thinking that it would've been invaluable to me when I was in grad school to research clothing pieces for  modern plays.  My favorite way to render was to make mood boards filled with photos of clothing I thought the character would have in their closet.  From those collages came the pieces that eventually made their way into the actors and the stage.

A few days ago I saw the app for Polyvore in the Android store.  It was free to download and I've been having a great time making collages and just looking at all the gorgeous shoes, clothes and accessories.  Although I'll never own the items that I clip for my boards since I always seem to gravitate toward the ridiculously expensive designer pieces, I really enjoy putting together collections.  If you have any interest in fashion, beauty or even interior design, there are easy tools to put together outfits, rooms and looks on their site.  They also run contests where your collection can be featured on the site and sometimes they give away gift cards to the stores that the clothes featured in the contest come from.  I entered one for American Horror Story Asylum when it premiered, it is always nice to see how other people create collections too, and you can follow people whose work you enjoy.

Here are a few of my older collections:

I'm excited about creating new ones!  Hope you're all gearing up for an awesome week.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Sunday Soup Bowl

Andy and I sat down with three of our cookbooks last night and decided our grocery trip today would include the ingredients for several meals this week.  I have had dried lentils in the pantry for several weeks and although I love lentil soup I wasn't quite sure how to go about preparing them and using them.  When I saw a recipe in the Taste of Home Cookbook I bought at the used bookstore last week that featured lots of things we had on hand and lentils I decided to go for it.  It was incredibly delicious and filling and it will definitely be a part of our regular menu planning.

I modified it a little due to the fact that I read the instructions wrong (I was only supposed to use 4 oz. of smoked sausage - whoops) and I didn't have a something I was sure I had (cumin), and I just wanted more vegetables.  I also added more of the chicken base because I knew I'd need it for the extra veggies and I used pre chopped frozen onion because I didn't need the crying today with my already pounding headache.

In my version there is 12 oz. of sliced smoked sausage by American Craft (which was delicious, but I'll stick to Hilshire Farms in the future because I didn't care for the papery casing on this brand).  I added more carrots, celery stalks and spinach (an extra carrot, stalk and cup of fresh chopped spinach), as well as 6 cups of hot water with about 2 Tbsps of chicken base dissolved in it.  Since I didn't have cumin I added a 1/4 teaspoon of hot paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and herb seasoning mix in addition to the black pepper and oregano.  I topped it with a tiny bit of a shredded Italian cheese blend and a few croutons in lieu of the several crackers I usually eat with a bowl of soup.  I also put in several dashes of Worcestershire sauce instead of measuring it out.  That late addition really added a ton of complexity to the flavor since I was tasting it along the way.  This doesn't need any salt - the broth and the sausage took care of the seasoning.

mjreynolds32 on Instagram

You can watch the step by step video on my Instagram by clicking on the caption of the photo above.  While you're there please follow me on Instagram and say hello!

Lentils turned out to be really easy to use and completely unintimidating.  I had read several times that you had to sort lentils before you cooked with them and I wasn't quite sure what that meant.  I went to my trusted friend Google to find out and instead of saying "check for small pebbles or burnt pieces" the first site I visited had a mile long explanation involving tweezers, spectrometers, and metric calipers.  Although I'm sure this would be very satisfying to my obsessive compulsive side it made me a little upset that I was so stupid as to have googled it in the first place.  If nothing else cemented my "you don't know anything about cooking" feelings today, it was being mocked for trying to learn something new.  I'm glad I didn't let it get to me, because the soup was ultimately really yummy, easy to make and something I think a lot of people would enjoy.  I hope that you share a bowl with the people you love soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I'm pretty sure my head is going to explode.

Migraines aren't fun.

I'm heading off for my second nap today.  Hopefully I'll feel like actually writing something later.  But I'm not making any promises.

I'm so tired of headaches!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding New Favorites

In effort to explore the many many samples I have and clear out some products that are taking up space I am determined to test out at least one new product every day.

Thanks to the beauty subscription boxes and freebies I've managed to accumulate over the past few years I don't really have to shop for new things (although I can't seem to help myself every now and then).   I decided that this week (and every week from here on out) I was going to give one or more beauty products I hadn't used yet or had barely used a shot.  Here are this week's explorations and a micro review of each product.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Rose'- this has a strange lemongrass flavor and although I liked the tint it makes my lips feel oddly itchy.
Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips - I love this.  It has the slightest hint of pink and I've workn it all week.  My only complaint is I'd like more tint!
NYC Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum - Didn't last more than a few minutes because it was uncomfortable on.  It had an odd, grainy texture and had an unpleasant scent. (I got this free from Influenster)
bareMinerals marvelous Moxie lipstick in Break Away - This was everything I wanted the NYC to be.  Beautiful color that lasted three hours and was comfortable to wear.
LipFusion Plump + Shine lipstick in Baby Doll - I loved the tingling sensation of this and was very surprised to find this pink a slightly sheer, very wearable shade.

Two Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer - I loved this!  The color was lighter and very wearable and gave just a hint of glow.  I would love to own a sample size larger than this card.
Sephora Bronzing Powder in Maldives - This has a subtle shimmer and is very warm.  It will probably work better on me in the summer but it made a great eyeshadow color and was pretty buffed out with a kabuki brush as a cheek color.

Rimmel Just Let It Go Eye Makeup Remover - just okay for me.  It felt just like water but did easily remove regular mascara.  It had no scent.  I prefer my Lacome bi-facil which smells like roses and feels luxurious although that is $30 a bottle and this is $5.  (Also free from Influenster).
Tarte Lights Camera Flashes Statement Mascara - This has a very spiky plastic brush that I find a little difficult to maneuver.  I feel like I'll poke my eye out.  It is hard to grab the inner lashes with this wand although the formula is inky black and lasts for hours.
Avon Glimmersticks Diamonds Liner in Sugar Plum - this has an amazing sparkle and even beats the Stila purple sparkle  liner I have in staying power.   It takes waterproof eye makeup remover and patience to remove so fix smudges and wiggly lines quickly!  This is also an awesome buy at $3 in quantity (4 for $12).
bareMinerals Round the Clock Eyeliner in 4PM - this deep eggplant shade is wonderful.  It doesn't budge and glides on like a dream.  I'm happy to have discovered this in their mystery box.
Covergirl Eye Enhancers in Natural Nudes - I was really hoping these would wear longer but they didn't last.  The pinky taupe shade on my hand had a huge amount of glitter, 95% of which ended up on my cheeks.  The darkest of the four shades just wasn't pigmented.  It is actually swatched below the glitter.
Wet n' Wild Eyeshadow Collection in Comfort Zone - Wow.  I am really amazed at the pigmentation in Wet n' Wild shadows.  The lower right corner shade is swatched and you can see it has a beautiful teal shift with a reddish brown base.  I love the soft creamy quality of these powders and I love the fact that for less than $4 I had shades that lasted on my hooded eyes for 12 hours without creasing.  I have no idea why I didn't use this sooner.  I am definitely going to use my Petal Pusher palette as well and will be hunting for the winter palettes on clearance.

I actually tried a few other products this week too and revisited some older favorites.  In the coming weeks I will highlight some wonderful buys, some lamentably discontinued gems and some beauty staples I find to be go-tos.  If you have any suggestions for a collection of products you'd like to hear about let me know!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No One Can Eat Just One

A major first tonight:
I only ate one slice of pizza.

Big deal right?


I can't even remember the last time I ate a single slice.  I was probably a kid.  A little kid at that.

I have had a problem with food as long as I can remember.  It hasn't always been overeating.  There was a time in my adult life when I weighed 107 pounds and wore a dress that was a 3/4.  It was years ago, but I was already living on my own and in college.  At the time I was dating a man who said he would love me more if I weighed less.  Even then, when I was the smallest I would be (and about 40+ pounds lighter than I was as an eighth grader) I could kill  a whole pizza all by myself.

The thing that prompted me to only eat one slice was the enormous calorie count.  Maybe not the best reason, but the honest one.  For one sixth of the thin crust two topping pizza we bought, it contained 440 calories.  I was aghast.  I only ate an eighth of the pizza, but still....

 Did I want a second slice?  Yes.  Did I eat anything else?  Yes - I had a salad with spinach, carrots, celery, mushrooms, a few sunflower seeds and vinaigrette.  Did I die?  No.  But I spent the rest of the night thinking about what I could have as a snack because I seem to always be eating.  I knew what I didn't want to eat (junk food) and also what I didn't want (an apple, celery or vegetables).

Still, that slice was really good.  Incredibly good.  It was kind of cold because I ate the salad first, but I enjoyed it slowly and tasted every bite.  I didn't gulp it down like it would be stolen from me and I didn't eat it mindlessly.  I even watched Top Chef and didn't snack afterward at all (which is a special kind of miracle, especially with Andy eating Chicken n' a Biscuit crackers), but I am definitely going to make some beans tomorrow because the beantown challenge with the crispy garbanzos Melissa made looked amazing.

I hope this is a trend.  I really really do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Eat Me

Every damn piece of candy in this house is calling my name.

I see it everywhere.  It is screaming at me, begging me to eat it.

In the kitchen the following things spoke to me and asked me to partake of their deliciousness:

Hershey Kisses
Mini Kit Kats
Hard Tack
Godiva Truffles
Snack Size Heath Bars
Ghiradelli Squares
Chocolate Chips
Kraft Caramels
Fruit Vines Licorice Nibs
Honey Drops Hard Candies
Lik'm Aid
Reese Cups
A Snickers Bar

The hot chocolate and Oreos were talking too.

Then I went in the craft room in search of a needle and thread and what do I find?  An Easter basket from my sister.  It was in a Wonder Woman lunch box.  I have two identical lunch boxes, one of which I kept my sewing things in.  The one I opened had a whole dark chocolate bunny and a milk chocolate cross as well as a chocolate bar wrapped in an old fashioned paper with flowers, chickadees and bunnies on it.  It had tags from Classic Chocolates where I worked over seven years ago.  There was also an entire box of my beloved rock candy.

I very nearly cried.

Then I broke down and had three licorice nibs because they are sweet but they last a long time and I don't love them so much I need to get more.

I couldn't take it.

Screw you candy.

Also on a side note, I seem to have lost two followers.  It wouldn't be such a big deal, but I only had eleven to begin with.  Now I'm in single digits.

Perhaps it's because I title my posts things like "Eat Me".

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Television's Guilty Pleasures

I watch crap TV.

I watch good TV too, and even some great TV, but I watch a lot of shows that don't change me for the better or impact my life in ways that are meaningful.   They don't even teach me how to handle a zombie or enlighten me of the trials of managing a large estate in England in the 1920's in case there is an apocalypse or time travel suddenly becomes possible.

These shows are a waste of time.  They're mindless fluff that allow me to zone out or  laugh or cry or be outraged or just stare.  Sometimes they let me sleep.  They fill my DVR and they can be deleted to make room for the "real shows" I love without too much angst.

But they make me madly, blissfully happy sometimes too.  I might be loathe to admit my love for them, but it is a tangible emotion.

Here are three I will admit too.  If you hate them, that's ok.  Sometimes I do too.  If you love them but don't want to stand up and be numbered, your secret is safe with me.

#1 Girls - HBO

There are times that this show captures the way I felt as a twenty-something so perfectly that I sit and rewind scenes over and over again as a reminder of my past.  There are times when I want to kick some of the characters in the teeth for their ridiculous and unbelievable selfishness (mostly Marnie) and stupidity (mostly Hannah) and general cringe worthy antics  (mostly everybody).  I hate how manipulative the show is as a whole and I wonder each time why I'm watching it.  If I'm being completely honest Adam Driver is a huge reason.  His giant gawky awkward presence makes me giddy.  I hope to high heaven he's the one holding the new sword hilt light saber because I want an action figure of him.  He is a great example of how one actor can keep a whole show alive season after season.

#2 The Bachelor - ABC

I don't watch every season of this.  I can go a year or more forgetting it's on and wonder at who the heck the people on Dancing With the Stars are to find they were a previous season's bachelor or bachelorette and be completely unaware it was even on.  When I get involved in a season though, look out.  I love the drama, the tears, the roses, the engagement rings the size of a paperweight.  I love the fact that a small town Iowa farmer is allowed to publicly date a harem and pretend one of the girls he meets is going to be on the passenger side of his tractor for all his days.  I like to laugh at the nut jobs and fictitious virgins.  I like to hate on the guy who breaks up with the girl he chose in favor of the runner up.  I love to cry with the rejects that head home in the limo who decided after spending approximately three hours of shared "alone time" with the show's headliner that they were the clear choice and the person who sent them packing is missing out.  This year I hope Chris winds up with Britt or the girl he crashed the wedding with last night.  I can't remember her name but I love that she rescripted the episode on a whim and that she insisted on taking the wedding couple a gift.  That's as classy as the Bachelor ever gets.

#3 Dance Moms - Lifetime

I can say in all honesty that I began watching this show because a friend of mine from college actually works at this dance studio and taught the girls.  Although it was a personal connection that caught my attention, I was rapt from the first episode when the moms sent their kids onstage dressed like mini hookers.  Even for dance wear, those booty short/bra top ensembles were tarty, and so began my love/hate relationship with Abby Lee Miller and Dance Moms.  I love the talented kids, but if I'm being truthful I fast forward through the boring repetetive choreography and just watch the momma drama.  I have loved watching these girls transform into real dancers and their moms into real lunatics.  I miss Chloe.  I miss her mom Christi more.  I secretly (really not so secretly) want Dr. Holly to stomp Abby at some point until Abby admits that she doesn't teach so much as torment.  I also want it known that although Kendall is a lovely girl, she is not and never will be a member of the "original group" although her mom says she is every week.  I think they forget the entire season where Abby cut her and added her 100 times.  Even Vivi has a greater claim to original group member and she is the daughter of Abby's arch nemesis.  I love Cathy too.  I hope she doesn't lose her husband's beef jerky business by hiring every professional choreographer the country holds.  But if she does I hope they film it.

What are your favorite shows that you can't believe you watch?  What guilty TV pleasures balm your soul?

Monday, January 19, 2015

5 Beauty Products I Wouldn't Wish On My Worst Enemy

I love makeup.  Truly.  For years and years my heart has skipped a beat when I see a gloriously lit counter holding those pretty little tubes and bottles, compacts and powders.  Drugstore walls draw me like magnets to their rows upon rows of lip gloss and mascara.  I can spend hours lost in an Ulta or Sephora.

Occasionally those lovely little parcels of promised beauty don't deliver.  Every so often one of those treats of glamour makes it all the way to my house and I open it, hoping to be struck with awe and wonder but I get nothing but disappointment and buyer's remorse.  Here are five truly crummy products that I felt had great potential only to leave me shaking my head at how I could've been duped by their glossy allure.

5. Maybelline Color Tattoo Matte Eye Shadows - I know these are very popular, but I hate them.  The shimmering shades are fine, but the matte variety slips and slides and clumps and dries and flakes and goes anywhere you find undesirable.  I've tried them with brushes, sponge tip applicators and my fingers.  I've tried them with primers and without, with setting powder or even a lock it fixing spray and nothing makes them the least bit good.  After being open for less than a week two different matte shades in my collection had cracks in them and were completely useless.  They were a huge waste of time and money and I stupidly kept buying them thinking it was a fluke.  Five bouts of stupidity later and I've learned my lesson.

4. Physicians Formula Kohl Kajal Eye Liner  - When a product only receives two out of five stars on the company's website and every review has the same complaint you think they'd take notice.  This eyeliner breaks at the base the first time you use it if you put even the tiniest bit of pressure on it.  (Say for example the pressure of touching it to your eyelid).  I bought a set of three and emailed the company after all three broke.  The response I received was "they work well when applied with a brush if you are having difficulty".  I suppose that's true, but if a brush is necessary why not just package it in a pot rather than in a crayon?  Also, it can't be sharpened or pressed to a point without making and enormous mess.  I smashed mine into an empty compact and even that was a mess.  It's odd because this company's lash growth liquid liner is my favorite eyeliner of all time so I wish they would improve their design.

3. L'Oreal BB Cream - I have never received a free product that I completely hated before O Magazine sent me this to try.  There are many reasons why it didn't work for me.  The color was far too dark even though I had received the lightest shade they made and it laid on top of my skin rather than blending nicely.  Most of all it had an overwhelming chemical fragrance from the sunscreen it contained which lingered for hours.  I tried to use it long enough to complete the testing but I had breakouts and dry patches after wearing it for just a few hours.  I tried thinning it out with L'Oreal's Youth Code Day/Night Cream (which I am a huge fan of) but I couldn't salvage it or get used to the scent no matter how hard I tried.

2. Klean Color Lipsticks - In an effort to find a fun and playful lip color at a great price I ordered a dozen of these lipsticks in a rainbow of shades including blues, purples, greens and golds.  I had hoped that they could shift existing lipstick shades I already owned and that I could make some bold, fun looks for Halloween or just to play around.  At 89 cents I thought they wouldn't be too big a gamble.  Yikes.  These lipsticks are the greasiest, stinkiest, most repulsive things ever.  Wearing them led to instantly chapped, sore, dry lips and I can only describe their scent as a tutti-frutti chemical nightmare.

1. Wet n' Wild Eye Makeup Remover - if they took the word "makeup" out of the product name it would be more truthful.  Ouch!  I implore you, don't ever get the liquid from this little purple bottle anywhere near your eyes.  For hours after using this product my eyelids stung like they had been sunburned and covered with jalapeno slices.  Not only did it not remove my waterproof mascara, it made me cry and the salt from my tears put me into an even greater agony.  It wasn't an allergy either - I know of other people who have had the exact same reaction to this product.  I would rather wash with soap and get soap directly in my eye than suffer through this product again.

What is the worst beauty product you've ever tried?  What can you spare me from?  Have you tried any of the ones above?  Can you feel my pain?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell wasn't quite what I was expecting.  I had hoped it to be inspirational in terms of my own weight loss goals, but I had some trouble with the tone of the book and in sympathizing with the author.

The book has absolutely amazing descriptions of the foods that held her prisoner for the first twenty years of her life.  There are some magical tales of the chocolate cake (which has a recipe included at the book's end for the people with the willpower to bake it and not devour it on the spot) and other desserts she enjoyed as a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother who was working three jobs and never present.  Her love affair with food is obvious from her lusty, raptured accounts of eating multiple cupcakes and half a dozen bowls of cereal to entertain and care for herself when left to her own devices as a young girl.  I was in love with her descriptions, but wasn't moved by her family's story.  I feel like the real relationship in this book is between the author and food and that the relationships she shared with people were displaced and secondary.

Perhaps it was just me, but her weight loss seemed almost magical like something out of a movie.  Throughout the first half of the book I was feeling depressed because as a plus sized woman, the descriptions of her body didn't seem all that indicative of a person who was fat.  She describes herself as wearing an extra large top and being called a "whale" by her classmates.  To me an extra large isn't that big and the same kids then vote her prom queen while she is attending the dance with the "most handsome boy in the school".  I felt a huge disconnect in the way she saw herself as a fat person and the way I saw her.  Even the photo on the book's cover doesn't show a fat kid to me.

When she is in college she makes a decision to be healthier and lose weight.   Going to a gym and weighing herself she finds that she is 268 pounds.  She then decides her health is at risk and she needs to stop binge eating.  Within a few pages she is down to 228, within another paragraph 10 more pounds are gone.  She sees a counselor who diagnoses her with a "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified" and they tackle her food addiction.  She drops many more pounds (eventually over 130) and wrestles with food but I felt like the author looked at the hard work she did to lose the weight as something boring and not worthy of putting in the book.  By the end when she is talking about how supportive her boyfriend (who has his own struggle with weight) is of her and how his career as a professional poker player allows them the luxury of picking up and moving around the country every six months to suit her burgeoning career as an assistant on film sets I was dismayed with the author.  When she breaks up with him after several years I was actually kind of mad.  I was equally upset by the way the author glosses over time her new thin self's addiction to exercise and how she was running miles a day on a treadmill to achieve her new size four figure.  Although she mentions this when she talks about her struggles with maintaining her weight loss she also talks about her food blog that focuses on photos of her daily meals.  It all ends up feeling like I missed huge parts of the story which would've helped me feel inspired to change my habits the way she did and left me with several chapters of humble bragging about how she has everything figured out.

I think if Andie Mitchell ever writes a fictional story I would love to read it.  I think she has a great talent for describing food, people and her surroundings.  They would lend themselves well to a different genre.  I can't say this book didn't make me think about food.  It did.  It made me feel like I wanted to cry when my husband pulled into McDonald's for breakfast this morning and has made me incredibly conscious of what I'm putting into my body.  I wish it had inspired me in different ways, but it certainly has made me think about my own eating habits.  I would recommend it to those who have an interest in memoirs, but perhaps not to those seeking motivation for weight loss.

This book was provided by the folks at Blogging For Books for the purpose of review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on it.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Breaking Up With Deliciousness

I'm currently reading a memoir written by a girl who was overweight and then lost well over a hundred pounds.  I thought it was going to be motivational, but honestly it has made me utterly depressed about everything I've chosen to eat today.

I know that the foods I like the best are terrible for me.  They are (practically without exception) filled with preservatives, fat, sugar and calories.

I love pasta and bread, butter and mayonnaise, fried anything and cheese laden dinners.  I like potato chips and pizza, coffee laced with sugar and cream and a whole bunch of things that are easy to pop in the microwave or oven that are breaded and topped with salt.  I like a lot of them.

I never met a cookie I didn't like.  (Actually I knew a girl with that nickname that I thought was a real bitch, but she wasn't made from sugar and butter so she doesn't count).

I wish I loved things that were good for me and I didn't wind up in tears after I ate dinner, but I feel so guilty for eating the things I wind up shoveling down that I get down on myself.  I give myself splitting headaches and then I take a nap.  An hour turns into three or four hours of me lying in a half sleep and hating myself for being hungry.  Who can put away a Whopper, a chicken crisp sandwich and a small fries and still be thinking that the Sun Chips on the coffee table are looking delicious?  This girl can.  And she despises herself for it.

A few weeks ago I was eating a "healthy" snack of veggie straws (which are pretty much the same as potato chips in the guise of "good for you" junk food) when a friend said he couldn't believe how fast I "killed" the bag of them.  He went on to say "you just shoved them in your face in a never ending stream".  It isn't the first time he's made that kind of observation on things I'm eating.  Occasionally other people will say "leave her alone" or "well she must like them then" because they can see how upset it makes me, but then I just get more down on myself.  Practically anything I eat receives a comment.  I brought Pop Tarts for lunch for a few weeks and I still hear about that.  If I bring a power bar everyone's concerned I'm not eating, but if I ate like I did at home (2 sandwiches, multiple sides) they would think I was disgusting.

Even I think that.

Tomorrow when we go grocery shopping I'm going to try to make some better choices.  I'm going to look for more whole grains and less Captain Crunch, but I know that it's going to suck.  I feel it's necessary to eat what we have here, and 90% of it is unhealthy, but eating healthy is expensive and getting rid of food that we spent a lot of money on won't help our budget.

 I'm not good at moderation, and if a bag of chips is available I eat half the bag, so I should probably start with portion control, and that is a little more feasible.

Still, I feel like I'm about to break with all things delicious.  People always tell me how wonderful different foods are and how I don't try enough new things.  I have found that there were vegetables I would never dreamed of trying that I've wound up liking, but trying to tempt me into the world of healthy eating by singing the praises of an all vegetable, dressing free salad is like saying cake is just as delicious without icing, flour, eggs, sugar or butter.  It just doesn't work.  Unfortunately for me, I know what I'm missing, and it seems like I'll be missing most everything I enjoy.

Will I be happier to weigh less?  Yes.  Will I miss the days of double sandwiches and ice cream?  Unfortunately that's a yes too.  It kind of seems like I'll make myself miserable either way.  I have a talent for that.  But a healthier me will probably be slightly less miserable.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bring Me Back A Little Something....

When I was in high school I would always ask my friends to bring me something back when they went on vacation.  I didn't want them to spend any money, but I wanted a souvenir from the trip that showed they were thinking of me.  It was a little strange but I always asked it of people.  

I had a box that I kept all these treasures in.  I had tiny seashells and jars of white sand from beaches I'd never visit.  I had smooth stones and pieces of quartz from rivers and hikes that I'd never wade in or mountains I'd never climb.  I had a flower pressed with the help of a Gideon bible from a friend who visited Hawaii.  I loved these tiny "thinking of you" treasures.  

At one point when people started realizing the definition of free was wide ranging I started getting some odd and wonderful things.  One friend traded some candy they had with them for a silver bracelet in Mexico.  Another brought me a hand painted Japanese calander they'd admired in a restaurant and had succeeded in getting it by telling the waiter about their friend who loved to be thought of but hated the thought of them spending money.

Some of my favorite things were procured by less honest means.  I had a friend who passed away as a teeneager who used to steal interesting flatware and hammer it into bracelets for me.  I had a fork with curled tines that came from a diner in Erie that I wore for most of a school year.  I had salt and pepper shakers from all over and my absolute favorite things were ashtrays.  I had one from a restaurant called The Tangiers that convinced me I needed to date my first fiance even though he was more than ten years older than I was and it took my parents a little convincing.  I also loved plate and glasses and any kind of useful item that could be had.  I had a collection of rocks glasses from several hotels.  Even a college professor I had stole me one he thought was beautiful and gave it to me when he returned from a conference.  I may or may not have found that a match for it made its way into my suitcase after a recent weekend in a nice hotel.

One thing I have always wanted was a coffee mug from Waffle House.  We would go there on vacations a lot and they were everywhere in Alabama where I had first experienced the joy that is an order of scattered, diced  and covered at 3 A.M.  When I was in the local thrift store looking for a coffee table yesterday I saw one calling to me.

I know, I know, it cost fifty cents, but clearly that money is a donation to a charity and not really "spending money" so it doesn't count.  I also know that somewhere someone liberated this from the Waffle House without their knowledge and I wouldn't want the store to get in trouble for selling stolen merchandise.   I would never have the balls to take one, but I sure am glad that someone knows how very much I enjoy souvenirs and that they were able to gift me this mug in a grand cosmic gesture of goodwill.  

Thank you for thinking of me.  

What's the best token of remembrance you've ever received?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

This Space Intentionally Blank

Someday I will come back and post something here that will wow you.

But today is not that day.

I've got nothing.

What I am is tired.

Stupid tired.


I feel like I could sleep for about three years and wake up in an exhausted haze.

I've been trying to wake up and be witty and marvelous, but I've come to the conclusion that isn't happening.  That ship has sailed.  The train has left the station.

I'm not on it.

I hope everyone is having an awesome lovely day and that you aren't zombies.  I make a really fantastic zombie though if I do say so myself.

"Mmrrrmmm.  Urrrrrggghhuffooommm."*

*zombie voice

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 2015 Ipsy Glam Bag

My Ipsy January Glam Bag is about as good as I could've hoped for!  In case you didn't know how it works, each month Ipsy has a variety of products and brands that your bag is chosen from and that they often have deals and discounts with.  Your ten bucks procures about five products, many of which are full size or deluxe samples and they arrive inside a logo cosmetic bag.  Although I would've like to try the liquid liner from Hikari (who made a beautiful lipstick I received in November) and the rose lip gloss that some girls got in their bags, I'm pretty happy with all my loot.

 I love the eye shadow brush from ElizabethMott.  It is very full, plush and hot pink too.  Nothing will beat the wonder of the Mirabella eyeshadow brush from earlier this year, but this comes close.

The #Pacifica shadow is pretty and reminds me of Stila's "Kitten" which I wore today.  I'm not sure that this will be as long lasting.  I searched it and it seems very sheer.  The color I received is called Ethereal.  I think it will be a great highlight.

The BellaPierre mineral shadow is a gorgeous steely color with a blue microglitter.  I have received this brand many times from subscription boxes and I'm always happy to see it.  I'm glad this isn't black like it looks in the package.  I'm definitely wearing this to work tomorrow.

The #lafresh moisturizer is enough to try it for several days even though it is in a foil pack style tube.  I love the La Fresh makeup remover wipes I have and I'm hoping this is an equally great product.

Finally, the Jouer lip treatment feels great on although the tube is nearly empty.  i wish they would give you more.  I had thought it was tinted but it seems to be clear.   It does make my lips feel interestingly tingly and feels very moisturizing.

This month's bag was really cool.  I enjoy the Fresh Start theme and I love eye product laden Ipsy bags.  The bag iitselfis cute and I appreciate that it is easy to wipe clean.

On a small side note, I truly wish Ipsy would get new stylists.  The four they have now are carbon copies of each other.  I wish they were distinctive and had their own personal style.  All four seem to be the same age, have the same hair color and share the same eyebrows.  I would love to see Ipsy's stylists expand to include other genders or more unique personalities.

I'm so very tired.  Nighttime cold medicine one, me zero.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Toys From My Childhood

I sometimes wonder if other people remember things with the same amount of detail I do.  I was looking at a video of my niece Niah playing with a puppy stuffed animal and suddenly I was awash in memeories of toys I had as a child.  Some may be jogged slightly by photographs of a very small version of me happily playing with them, but more often than not I can just remember tiny details about these precious playthings by thinking back to a time when I was happy and content to use my imagination.   Niah will grow up and look back at all kinds of video representations of her childhood.  People from my generation don't have that same luxury, but if they're lucky they can still recall their favorite toys.

Here in no particular order are ten amazing toys I had as a kid and a few things I remember like they were yesterday...

I had an amazing rocking horse.  I think every one of my siblings played with it, but it was mine last so I call it my own.  It was a very realistic reddish brown horse with running legs that was mouted on a coppery colored frame of metal tubes and suspended on four springs.  I can still hear the "sprishtyspreek sprishtypreek" of those springs as I bounced in the saddle.  I clutches the neck and curves of the molded fiberglass mane as well as the broomstick handles for dear life as I pretended I was riding in the meadows or the Kentucky derby.

Baby Beans was a favorite doll when I was very little.  It had a hot pink body made of felt filled with styrofoam pellets and a shock of molded blonde hair.  Her face had a permanent black smudge on the cheek and her peaked hat looked like a hoodie that was glued to her face.  She was hard to clean and my mom preferred she didn't come to church with us.

My tender loving care newborn was so tiny.  Her rubber skin was scented like baby powder and she was weighted to feel like a real baby.  Her polyester onesie had a drop bottom that exposed her tiny bottom.  She had brown curls that were slightly greasy feeling and a tiny cap to cover them.

I had a red plastic apple filled with chimes.  Tinkling lovely bell sounds would tone when you rolled it or shook it.  It had a face with freckles and knowing painted on eyes.

My xylophone may have been my favorite toy ever.  If I still had it I would still play it.  It had a rainbow of metal tiles on a white wooden base and a yellow plastic mallet.  It also had a yellow cord you could pull it with.

My chatterbox telephone had eyes that would shift up and down as you pulled it on a cord behind you.  It had a squally squabble sound when pulled.  Its red plastic hand piece was hollow and always felt a little off.   I knknethe weight of a real sans set so it was far too light.

My mom bought me an anatomically correct drink and wet doll I named David.  It had the most wonderful hair that was textures so carefully onto the plastic  It felt as though it were flocked.  He had brown eyes and I shocked my neighbor Mrs. Sed into silence when she saw his plastic baby penis.  His diapers had Velcro on them because my mom was a whiz with the sewing machine.

I had dozens of Barbie dolls and I loved them, but none so much as Ballerina Barbie.  I played with her so often the white satin of her tutu's top became grey and threadbare.  I loved the tiny dots of pink in the inner corners of her eyes, her puckered lips and her blonde banana curl hairstyle.  Her plastic roses were given by Ken to her after every performance.  Her gold plastic crown perfectly fit my pinky as she spun and twifled her way through Swan Lake.

 My father made my Barbies a picnic table made of plywood and clothespins.  It was painted a reddish brown and it went to school with me every rainy day for indoor recess.  Every Barbie wanted to sit with my Barbies at the picnic table.  They are a lunch of cake shaped erasers that smelled like sweet vanilla and tiny plastic burger in plastic boxes that really opened and closed from my Barbie loves McDonald's playset.  If they were feeling fancy sometimes they used the candelabra from Sindy's dining room but they were always warned not to drop it because picnic tables were wood and we didn't have a fire truck.

My sisters passed an amazing steel Winnebago down to me.  It was my favorite thing to play with.  When I was very small I could sit on it and push it with my feet.  As I grew the plastic top was often slide up and over the side to make an awning where my dazzle dolls could sit and chat over erasers shaped like bowls of ice cream or sodas that came out of the fantastically cool vending machine bank my dad bought me at a truck stop.  Flossie, Diamond, Glisten and the girls would end their days of shopping in the Dazzle Dream mall by climbing into the camper and sleeping on their bunk beds or driving to the grand canyon.  Barbie came too, but she was a giant in Dazzle City so she usually rode on the roof so she was more comfortable.  My little mermaids came along too but only when they and their Lilly pads were dry after bath time (which was practically never since Ginger and her baby were my constant bath buddies and I took a bath every chance I got - every red haired doll I had was called Ginger because I was a big Gilligan's Island fan).

I sincerely thought of at least ten more toys while I wrote this (My Big Wheel!  The Weeble Wobble Micky Mouse Clubhouse!  The Fisher Price Treehouse with Captain!  The doll house my folks made of game boards and wall paper samples!  My Sindy stereo that really worked!  My pretend ice cream bars and popsicles!  The Easy Bake Oven!  Key lock roller skates!  My Barbie Ferrari!  My She-Ra dolls!) that I would said were my favorite.  Every toy is my favorite.  Toys are awesome.

What was your favorite childhood plaything?

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Dear Friend The Couch

I had every intention of making dinner tonight.  I had a risotto recipe pulled up at work and had organized all the ingredients in my mind that I needed to gather.  It was going to be creamy and amazing and I was going to pair it with peas and the roasted pork Andy made yesterday.

Then the couch called to me.

It sang a sweet song the moment I walked in the door.

It said "look at me, all plush and comforting.  I'm covered with all the pillows you moved from the chair and loveseat since they are covered with the Christmas decorations you never took up to the attic.  I could make you feel warm and loved.  I'll cuddle you with this Orioles blanket and you'll never want to leave me."

And for the next three hours I fell prey to its cushiony charms.

I wouldn't be lured away from that sleep when I heard Andy rustling around, fending for himself for dinner.  Adam Sandler's squeaky boy-man voice couldn't rise me out of my slumber even long enough for me to beg Andy to not waste any more hours of his life watching The Water Boy.  When I finally rose to a seated position (albeit with my legs stretched out in front of me half in repose) the couch still held me firm in its warmth.

I watched The Higlander and marveled that Christopher Lambert didn't take advantage of the technological advances that would fix his lazy eye.

I still can't get up.

I really want some waffles.

Andy has gone to bed.

The Bachelor is on.

Who wants to bet the couch wins for another two hours?

I love you couch.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

So Many Cookbooks, So Little Talent

Andy made us a delicious dinner in the crock pot tonight.  It was pork that had a wonderful flavor and was tender enough to eat with a fork.  He even put a little sauce over it that he made from his homemade blackberry jam to add a sweet and tangy element.

If it wasn't for him, we would never eat like this.

I am afraid of cooking.

 I can bake just fine.  I understand leavening and measuring and I can turn out lovely cookies and cakes.  I can make a gorgeous golden flaky crusted pie, but if you put something in front of me that has bones or used to be able to look at me I am completely at sea.

I can follow a recipe.  I know what they are talking about when they say sear or braise or any of those "dealing with meat" related terms, but I would rather tend to a pot of pasta or grill some vegetables than be intimidated by proteins that could be undercooked and make someone ill.  If I undercook pasta the world won't end, but I feel like undercooking chicken will result in me never eating chicken again.  The thought of it makes me squeamish to the point where I can't enjoy food on the bone.

Andy makes fun of me all the time for my cooking methods.  He doesn't like boxed mixes when he can make things from scratch.

The only things I knew how to make when I left home involve ground beef and frozen, breaded things like veal patties. and chicken nuggets.  By the time I was a kid my mom and dad had already raised and sent my four siblings off to fend for themselves and we ate things like hamburgers and pizza when we didn't go out for dinner at the Dairy Dip or King's.  It was awesome, but now I find myself wishing I knew how to go about making a pot roast.

I hope I can find a cooking class in the area.  It seems like the community college would offer one.  I am also going to try to make a habit of figuring out a new recipe at least once a week.  Look at all the cookbooks I have to choose from...

This is the first time they're all in one place, and this isn't including the six huge recipe boxes I have.  I went through a period of buying up vintage recipe collections because I loved the thought of trying recipes that folks had scribbled on and added notes to.  They're easy to find on eBay if you're interested in that kind of thing.  I also have a great set from my sister that was one of the recipe of the month kind of things.  I have baked some excellent cookies and pastries from those boxes and found a wonderful variety of appetizers, soups and dips to make but I really need to find recipes that won't freak me out.

I think I ought to go on the Worst Cooks in America show.  I'm willing to learn, but they would love my fear of everything that used to have eyes.  Bobby Flay would laugh me out of town.

In the meantime I'll start with things I'm not afraid of.  I recently conquered my fear of vegetables (I'm not even kidding - the only veggies I used to eat were corn, potatoes and raw carrots) so maybe I'll start with some vegetarian dishes and work slowly towards the stuff that needs butchering.  I have arborrio rice to try risotto and I have lentils to try a soup I saw that looked tasty.  Those things are far enough out of my wheelhouse that if they're susuccessful I think I might be able to try something more elaborate.  I stir fry chicken breasts and boneless pork chops comforstably, so there's always room to grow.

Do you have any fool proof recipes for me?  Any suggestions of delicious dishes that won't freak me out?  I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Why is it that even on days where I get a ton of things done I still feel like I've gotten nowhere?  I know I actually got quite a bit done, but my list of things I hoped to accomplish was at least twice as long.  I always seem to set my goals a bit too high.

I am thankful that I got as much done as I did though!  

List of things I've accomplished today:

Put in four hours of overtime at work and almost finished prepping a job.

Packed up all the indoor Christmas decorations and put them in the boxes to get them ready to go in the attic.

Undecorated the tree, dismantled it, packed it in its bag and carried it downstairs.

Put together a gift I got Andy last year of a lighted Orioles decoration that will be part of our baseball decor downstairs.

Read three more short stories in a book I'm loving.

Took a wonderful nap.

Watched a great movie called The One I Love with Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men in it.  I was weird and crazy and I think it is the best thing I've seen in the last several months, maybe longer.

Made dinner even though it was just macaroni and cheese.  

Figured out a game plan for reorganizing the cabinets in the kitchen to make better use of the space and for displaying the cookbooks in such a way that I'll actually use them for planning meals each week.

Also made a plan to display my favorite books in a cute way that when I finish it will be totally Pinterest worthy.  (A girl can dream!)

I'm hoping that tomorrow I will have some pictures to share with some of the plans made into realities.  It could happen!

Hope you all are having a great weekend.  Stay warm friends.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Does This Look Like A Mermaid To You?

When I was little my Dad would always read aloud from the newspaper when he saw an interesting fact or bit of local color that he felt we were in need of.  He basically read about half the paper to my mother and I each evening because Dad found everything of interest.  It often started with the phrase "Jane did you know...?" or "Hey Mick, listen here a second...".  I often rolled my eyes and listened begrudgingly to whatever it was, but as an adult I find myself following the same patterns and seeking out these items in magazines and online. 
My brain is packed with useless bits of trivia that will probably only help me if I ever get to be on Jeopardy (which incidentally would be the coolest thing ever and the fulfillment of one of my Dad's most sincere dreams for me).  The random facts and tiny pieces of folklore and ephemera that pop into my head spill out before I have a chance to edit them, so my conversations with people are always filled with non sequiturs and peppered with an array of everything I could possibly add to the topic that has practically nothing to do with where the story was originally headed.  I am the queen of tangents.  I have friends who have been trapped in branches of a conversation tree with me going back to the day we met.  The branches reach so high we can no longer see the ground, but I like the view from up here and I can spot lots of cool stuff.
I recently found out that the History Channel's website has a nice little feature called "This Day In History" where you can explore the kind of events my Dad used to read to me.  It just so happens that today is the day Stallone started filming the original Rocky movie in 1976.  Cool huh?  The following is another interesting fact that happened on January 9th that I've borrowed from The History Channel website:
    "On this day in 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three "mermaids"--in reality manatees--and describes them as "not half as beautiful as they are painted." Six months earlier, Columbus (1451-1506) set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or "New World."
Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Typically depicted as having a woman's head and torso, a fishtail instead of legs and holding a mirror and comb, mermaids live in the ocean and, according to some legends, can take on a human shape and marry mortal men. Mermaids are closely linked to sirens, another folkloric figure, part-woman, part-bird, who live on islands and sing seductive songs to lure sailors to their deaths.
Mermaid sightings by sailors, when they weren't made up, were most likely manatees, dugongs or Steller's sea cows (which became extinct by the 1760s due to over-hunting). Manatees are slow-moving aquatic mammals with human-like eyes, bulbous faces and paddle-like tails. It is likely that manatees evolved from an ancestor they share with the elephant. The three species of manatee (West Indian, West African and Amazonian) and one species of dugong belong to the Sirenia order. As adults, they're typically 10 to 12 feet long and weigh 800 to 1,200 pounds. They're plant-eaters, have a slow metabolism and can only survive in warm water.
Manatees live an average of 50 to 60 years in the wild and have no natural predators. However, they are an endangered species. In the U.S., the majority of manatees are found in Florida, where scores of them die or are injured each year due to collisions with boats."
Now this is my mental image of a mermaid and kind of my mental image of Christopher Columbus too although the artwork dates from much later...
The Fisherman and the Syren, byFrederic Leighton, c. 1856–1858 (Wikipedia)

I bet he was less than thrilled to see a manatee.  Columbus was awfully skillful at managing his expectations and making the best of things though, so maybe he wasn't too upset.

I often wonder what my father would make of the ability to Google the answer to nearly any questions you had about your daily life.  If my Dad wasn't affected by his Alzheimer's would he be online finding bits of news to read me?  I'd like to think he would, but I also figure he'd cling to his newspaper and books because he wouldn't want them to be replaced by the glow of a computer screen entirely.  I think of his love of learning every day and each time I read something "of note" to my husband I think "I am my father's daughter".  When I see my rolling eyes echoed in Andy's wonder at where I get this stuff, I know I am a Kilbert through and through.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blush Mystery Beauty Box January 2015

Darn you Blush Mystery Beauty Box!  Why do you have to go and send me some products I know I'll really like along with your crazy head scratching repeat products from last month's bag?  When I opened my package today I thought I accidentally got a second December bag and I was ready to call and complain until I realized the first product I pulled out was simply an identical repeat of the cleanser from last month's bag.  It got better as I kept digging but I was dismayed by the fact the big ticket item in the bag was something I just received a few weeks ago.  I don't mind a backup, but I want to actually explore a brand rather than have several of a product I may or may not like.  Speaking of backups, the SkinMedica dermal repair cream sample is also identical to the one sent in the November box and it is identically under-filled to the point of being practically empty.   *Insert dramatic sight here.*

Here is a breakdown of what's in the bag:

Full Size Products
Avene Eau Thermale Cleanser 6.76 oz. - $20
Cargo Essential Lip Gloss in Vienna .08 fl oz. - $16
GloMinerals Lipstick in Spark .12 oz. - $17
Talika Hydrating bio enzyme Mask - $15
Hydroxatone Headband - $5?

Deluxe Samples
Medicell Labs Eye Mask Duo (1 treatment) - $15.00 ($5 sale price)
CoverFX BB gel in medium .16 fl oz. - $7.50
SkinMedica dermal repair cream .13 oz. - $14

Even if you take into account the sale on on the eye mask this bag comes to $104.50 which is a great value.  I do find it interesting that the postcard accompanying the bag with the product rundown no longer says "Congrats! You've just received over $100 of beauty products!).  This may be because the headband isn't assigned a value or they don't carry the Talika masks yet and we're hesitant to claim the value.  In terms of things I will use and that I am excited about, I like the color and size of the lip products and I will definitely use them.  I will use the cleanser when I run out of my current cleanser and the full bottle from last month.  The masks are really cool looking although I always hesitate to use single use products like this that are pricey since I'm afraid I'll fall in love with them.  If I do I suppose Blush Mystery will send me more eventually!  I would love to try the bb gel because it is supposed to be a mattifying anti blemish treatment, but the medium shade appears way too dark for me.  I'm not even sure the fairest shade would be light enough although online reviews say it dries a lighter shade.  This box came with two foil packets as well of a Lorac primer and Weleda shampoo, but they are listed as free samples so I never include them in the value.

There were 2 promo codes in this month's box that are universal.  The code JAN10 gets you $10 off $75 at the trio of sites (blush, Dermstore and HairEnvy) through January 31st and MEDICELLEYE supposedly saves you 30% on the complete advanced moisture set (4 eye duos) but right now the product is 67% off at $19.95 (originally $60) on the Dermstore website.  The code says "valid while supplies last" but when I tried entering it on the site with the eye masks in my cart it took $0.00 off.  I guess it only works when it is full price.  I think it is crazy that the packaging doesn't even say where the code is honored.  It was probably a free sample sent out by the brand through Dermstore at some point, but it's still weird.  At least the website link for more product information ( is working this month.  The November link  never worked and the card was altogether missing from the December box, so at least it feels like they will be around for awhile longer.

This month's theme of Refresh & Rewind was timely and I liked most of the product selections, I just wish they would send a variety of products from a brand (like the blush, eyeshadow and lip gloss from Cargo) if they were going to feature them continuously.  It doesn't seem like a great sales tactic to send you duplicates so closely spaced.  I know I won't need to buy any cleanser or Klorane shampoo for a long time.  Still, you've got me Blush Mystery Box.  Two good lip products and some cool masks are enough to keep me holding on to see what comes next month.  I definitely got my $24.95 worth for January.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Theme Me Up Scotty!

Tonight is a night of planning and preparation.

I am thinking about theming each day of the week to help me come up with more focused and entertaining blog posts.  There will definitely be at least day dedicated to book reviews and bookish topics (probably two), one to subscription box and beauty product reviews, one to recipes and delicious treats that I'm trying out, one to memories of family and general nostalgia and one to pop culture.  Gratitude will still play a part in all of my posts here too, they'll just be themed.

Can you help me structure my daily posts?  Have a great idea for a weekday topic?  I'm all ears!

Here are a few of the topics and weekday themes I'm thinking about.

Monday - Face the Week (beauty post)
Tuesday - Turning Pages (book review)
Wednesday - Wow of the week (what I'm excited about)
Thursday - Throwback Thursday ("Remember when..." reminiscing)
Friday - Freestyle? (still thinking about what my Friday post might involve)
Saturday - Storytelling (possibly fiction possibly true stories - I'll never tell!)
Sunday - Something's Cookin' (recipes and dinner ideas)

I really need help for Friday's theme and all around suggestions about what you'd like to hear more of.  Please let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or right here in the comments!  Thanks for your help, your support, your brainy ideas and your eyeballs reading this!  Much love folks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Best and Worst Beauty Subscription Products 2014

I have subscribed to a ton of beauty boxes, bags and subscriptions in the past fewt years.  I thought it would be fun to list the best and worst finds that those subs brought me in 2014.  There were lots of products I was thrilled to add to my collection as well as a few real klunkers that I found unusable and wish I'd never even tried.

Eye Shadow
Best - Bareminerals 5 in 1 eye cream (Ipsy) a smooth perfect base with a hint of color.
Worst - Jane Iredale Eye Gloss (Blush) smeary, slidy and unwearable.

Best - Nyx Be Free Palette (Blush)/ Coastal Scents Revealed Palette (Boxycarm) 2 palettes I would never expect from a subscription that had lots of neutrals and plenty of shades.
Worst - Jessie J eye shadow palette (Ipsy) zero pigment and incredibly short lived color.

Best - Elizabeth Mott You're so fine liquid liner (Ipsy) a wearable shimmer at any age.
Worst - Cailyn liquid liner (Wantable) this burned the bejeezus out of my eyelids.

Best - Benefit They're Real (Ipsy, Glossybox) a great brush and a hype worthy formula.
Worst - Be A Bombshell (Ipsy) smelled like plastic death.

Best - City Color Cosmetics Matte Blush (Ipsy) great color payoff and fab price.
Worst - tarte blushing bride cream blush (Boxycharm) sticky and unblendable/ Julep Glow blush in peach (Julep) should be called "look at my pores!  They sparkle!".  The claim of a pore minimizing product is the biggest and most ridiculous lie of anything I used this year.

Best - Pixi subtly sun touched bronzer (Ipsy) pretty and subtle.  No sparkle!!
Worst - Cargo Beachblush in cable beach (Blush) there was no happy medium here.  It was zero or Bozo.

Best - Hourglass Veil primer (Glossybox) this even helped hide my acne scars in an amazing way.  I wish I could afford a full size.
Worst - Sarah McNamera Miracle Skin transformer (Blush) I couldn't get past the scent.

Lip Gloss
Best - Buxom lip gloss in Dolly (Ipsy) minty and pretty rose color
Worst - OCC Lip Tar Metallic Bronze (Glossybox) this made me itch and was incredibly drying.

Best - bareminerals marvelous moxie lipstick (Ipsy)/ silky long wearing color Hikari lipstick in Wine (Ipsy) works great as a stain under balm.
Worst - tarte complexion brightening lipstick (glossybox), turned a crazy pink on me and felt odd on. Be A Bombshell The One Stick (Ipsy, Boxycharm, Glossybox) I can't like this product - it has a weird texture and is huge.

Lip Balm
Best - Glominerals lip treatment (blush) heavenly.
Worst - absolute New York you're the balm in grape (Ipsy) drying

Best - purlisse pur-moist (Glossybox, Ipsy) love this, hate the sunscreen version.
Worst - Olay Regenerist (Wal-Mart beauty) made my skin feel tight and like I needed to wash it.

Best - Philosphy Miracle Worker (New Beauty Test Tube) makes a difference in the radiance of my skin but feels weird if I accidentally get any on my lips/ derma new cleansing cream (Blush) really light and moisturizing.
Worst - Garnier Balancing Daily Scrub (Wal-Mart beauty) had a packet of this and it stung badly on the driest areas of my face.

Makeup Remover
Best - Lancome bi facil eye makeup remover (glossybox) smells like roses.  Works like a dream.
Worst - Burt's Bees makeup remover wipes (Ipsy) these had an odd scent I found of putting.

Best - Jonathan Infinite Volume (Blush) great naturally derived produxt/Nick Chavez Beverly Hills plump and thick (Blush) really adds volume
Worst - Pantene Anti Aging (Wal-Mart beauty) made my hair incredibly greasy

Dry Shampoo
Best - Oscar Blandi pronto invisible (Blush) clear, lemony and fab
Worst - Batiste fresh scent (Blush) white and oddly scented

Best - Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Advanced Volume (New Beauty Test Tube) this stuff is so light and yet so moisturizing
Worst - Pantene Anti Aging (Wal-Mart beauty) grease city.

Styling Product
Best - It's a 10 Miracle Leave In (New Beauty Test Tube) a perfect leave in conditioner.
Worst - Sexy Hair Powder Play Volume (Ipsy) gritty, sticky and not fun

Shower Gel
Best - Botanicals  Your nose is rose - a bloomin' shower gel (Glossybox) if you love roses you'll adore this.
Worst - Lulah body wash (Pop Sugar) I tried to love this but it left my skin feeling right.

Best - Mirabella domed eye shadow brush (Ipsy) best ever brush in a sub
Worst - Julep angled blush brush (Julep) so dense yet so poorly tapered it picks up color only in one spot and is useless.

Best - Clean Shower Fresh roller ball (Blush) so great for work - clean and powdery.
Worst - Juicy Coture Viva la Juicy (Wal-Mart beauty) this is everything I dislike in a perfume.  I think it must be black currents and patchouli.

There are probably lots of categories I'm missing, but there were lots of cool things that showed up in the mail this'd year.  Here's hoping 2015 will be more hits and fewer misses!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sleeping The Day Away

I'm kind of surprised I can keep my eyes open long enough to type today.  I have a headache that is making it difficult to concentrate on anything.  Scrolling through posts online makes me feel ill and I can't read for longer than five minutes without getting scrambled.  I know I really need the rest, but I hate feeling so loopy even before the medicine kicks in

I was hoping to take the tree down and pack away the ornaments today or tomorrow but the tree can sparkle away for a few more days I guess.  I hope next year I'll be a little more interested in the holidays in general.

Here's hoping you made it to work today and whatever bug that I've caught steers clear of you and yours.  Andy missed his work day too and we're a fine pair of sickos.   Hopefully I'll be back soon with some interesting content.  I have three books to review, a bunch of recipes to try and other posts planned that I hope you'll enjoy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

More Holiday Clearance Beauty Buys!

I didn't pick up all of the Flower Beauty gift sets I had originally found on the 75% off holiday and after swatching the eye shadow palette I picked up on New Year's Eve I regretted my decision.  We always go grocery shopping on Sunday morning so I figured if they were still there, it was meant to be.  Luckily they had a few left and even had a set I hadn't seen yet that must've been hiding back in the beauty section.  I hope that these are available near you because the $4.96 price point for the palette and mascara sets and the $2.46 for the eye shadow sticks is pretty amazing.  The mascara is also on clearance in the regular Flower Beauty section for $3.50 (regular $6.98) along with concealers and cream blushes from the line if you are already a fab of these Wal-Mart exclusive cosmetics from Drew Barrymore.

 I initially passed on these because I seldom use lip colors in palettes, but the eye shadows alone make it a great deal.  The mascaras are both the shade "Intense Black" and I'll be trying one out tomorrow.
 All of the colors are soft and lovely.  The lip color is scented and has a mild vanilla fragrance.  I may end up giving them a go too, although I find lip products that are packaged this way a bit messy.
The purple box features the same 4 shadows that are in quad Twilight Moon.
The rose gold box features the same 4 shades in the palette Secret Garden.
 These eye pencils have a great creamy finish and the beige pencil has a subtle shimmer.  The dark pencil is a lovely smokey purple shade, and all three are blendable but I'm not sure how fast they would crease.  I can't wait to try them.  They are about 3/4 the size of the regular eye crayons.

These are swatches from the first palette I found that came with an eye shadow brush and a different mascara.  The 4 shades on the right are the same as the Smoke and Mirrors palette, but I can't find the name of the shades for the palette on the left.  The whole Smoke and Mirrors palette are beautiful matte shades that are great for every day.  I love the sparkle in they shade second from the left in the bottom row and the green at the top left.  They are swatched from left to right, top row, then bottom row.

I'm so glad they still had these available.  It will satisfy my beauty addiction for a few months I hope!  I'm going to try and make it until after Valentine's Day without buying any products that don't arrive via Ipsy or Blush beauty mystery box.  Hopefully even longer, but little goals are the way to go!  Hope you all had a lovely weekend.  I have been under the weather and had hoped to do a book review today but I want to not be so spacey because I really enjoyed this book.  I've already read two this year!  I am determined to read at least 50 books and hopefully more - like I said little goals!