Review

Revenge on ABC: I Swear I'm Not a Celebrity Stalker

My route to work include 20 miles of Pacific Coast Highway. I'll make a conservative estimate and say that 95% of the beach scenes in American television and movies are filmed along my route. Yellow production signs like the one in the photo below are commonplace. They direct the crew to the location of the shoot.

Revenge

Never before have I been so tempted to stalk a shoot as I was this morning when I saw the sign for REVENGE. It is my favorite new television show, and is based on the THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, which I have never read, but which is available for free on the Kindle. (I'll be reading it soon.) I didn't want to stalk the shoot to see celebrities. I want to see what is going to happen!

In REVENGE, Emily Thorne seeks revenge on the people who framed her father for a crime he didn't commit. I love that someone gets what they deserve in each episode, but what I love the most is that the writers don't get bogged down by the details of how she accomplishes each thing. We see little glimpses, but the fact that the writers don't dwell on the logistics helps viewers suspend their disbelief. If you haven't seen it yet, get thee to Hulu.


The Goody Spin Pin Makes a Perfect Bun

I've seen the Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin in stores for awhile, but I was always skeptical about its effectiveness until @Shopafrolic tweeted about it last month. I finally bought it at Target yesterday. You guys, it is amazing. Seriously. It's ridiculous that I waited so long to buy it.

I have thick (less thick now that I have lost a lot of hair due to the weight loss surgery) shoulder-length hair that is layered. I twisted it into a bun, tucked the ends in the best I could, twisted these two pins in, and had a perfect bun. It took me about as long to do as it did to type the previous sentence. That was five hours ago. I just now readjusted one of the pins. If I'd had my hair up in a bun the way I usually do, with a clip or a ponytail holder, I would have adjusted it three times by now.

This video give a tutorial about how to use the Goody Spin Pins.


Shutterfly Holiday Photo Cards

Every year about this time, I start to drool over the holiday cards on Shutterfly and I dream about getting a professional family portrait taken and being witty for a full page of a family newsletter. That particular dream has never come true. In fact, I don't think I sent out cards at all last year, since that was right about the time that THE WORST YEAR OF MY LIFE was starting. It's over now (I say, definitively, hoping to ward off any other bad things), and I am once again salivating over the holiday photo cards at Shutterfly. This year, I am actually going to do it. I have already scheduled the family photo session. Now all I have to do is choose a card.

Continue reading...


My 10-Step Skin Care Routine

I developed quite the extensive skin-care routine during my second pregnancy. That baby sucked all the moisture right out of my face (and left chin hairs in its place). My skin returned almost to its naturally oily state post-pregnancy, but I discovered that my skincare routine still worked and that my skin looked great, so I have kept at it. My routine has a lot of steps, but whenever I have tried eliminating one, my skin has suffered.

My skin:

  • Combination
  • Large pores
  • Prone to breakouts
  • The beginnings of fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead (but no wrinkles!)

Step 1: Remove Eye Make-Up (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I usually have to remove some more make-up from my eyes. It is impossible to get all the eyeliner off at night and still be gentle on my eyelids.

PM: Always remove your make-up!

Product: I use Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, primarily because I have three bottles of it from various "free gift with purchase" sucker deals. It's not too oily and it does a good job.

Step 2: Cleanse (twice daily)

AM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser. In the morning, I do this step in the shower, after I rinse off the conditioner so that there is no conditioner residue on my face.

PM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face once to get off the rest of my make-up, then I wash my face again to make sure it's clean.

Product: I have been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for years. I started using it in 2002 when I was on Accutane to clear up my acne.

Step 3: Lightly Exfoliate (once daily)

AM: I exfoliate in the shower because it makes it easier to rinse off all the grit from the scrub. I have tried every scrub known to skin and I keep coming back to Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream. It has a fine grit, and lots of it, in a nice cream.

Step 4: Tone (twice daily)

AM: I mostly think that toner is a scam, but I use it to make sure my face is really, really clean.

PM: I usually still see a bit of make-up on the cotton pad, so I know it is at least getting my skin clean even if it doesn't do anything else.

Product: I use Lotus Flower Ginseng Toner, which appears to be a product available for private labeling since I bought it under a salon's label. It doesn't even list the ingredients, so I don't recommend it. I got it because I had a gift certificate I needed to finish off and the bottle had "hydrating system" in the description. True to its word, it does not dry out my skin, like something alcohol-based would. Once it runs out, though, I will probably try something like Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2.

Step 5: Super Exfoliate (twice weekly)

PM: Two, sometimes three, times a week I basically have to sandblast my skin. If I don't do this, my pores start to clog up. I use a battery-powered, circular brush that I run over the surface of my face with a super exfoliating cream.

Product: I use BeautiControl Microderm Abrasion Creme & Brush because my mom sells BeautiControl products and she gave it to me. It works great, though, and I plan to continue buying the cream when I run out. The cream is pricey, but it lasts a long time.

Step 6: Moisturize, the Eyes (once daily)

PM: I try to remember to do this, but this is step I skip the most.

Product: I have yet to find an eye cream I love. I am currently using Kiss My Face Eyewitness Eye Repair Creme because my brother-in-law, who works at a health food store, got a sample for free.

Step 7: Moisturize, the Undercoat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use three layers of moisturizer twice a day because I want to look 30 when I'm 50. First, I use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. (Details here)

Product: I can't find it anywhere online. It's called Moisture Enhance and I got it at Burke-Williams, as suggested by the woman who gave me a facial.

Step 8: Moisturize, the Middle Layer (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I use a moisturizer with SPF 25.

PM: In the evening, I use a moisturizer without SPF.

Products: I use Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer for the morning and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion - Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin for the evening.

Step 9: Moisturize, the Top Coat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use a light gel lotion to seal in the other moisturizer all day and night.

Product: I love Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief . LOVE IT. It saved my skin when it was a desert of pregnancy hormones.

Step 10: I Use Even More Products (as needed)

I seriously can't moisturize too much. I use Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 instead of foundation.

I love Kiss My Face Break Out Botanical Acne Gel for blemishes, but I haven't had to use it in ages.


Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days - DVD Review

40yrs I am not going to beat around the bush with this review. I LOVE Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. It is everything I was hoping Sesame Street - Old School would be, but wasn't. I found Old School to be dated, not nostalgic. That's part of the reason I had the 40 Years DVD for over a month before I finally got around to watching it. I am so glad I did.

Watching a full episode of Sesame Street from the 1960s or 1970s is boring, but Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days takes the best segments and puts them all together. There were so many segments that I remembered from my childhood once I saw them on the screen. It just made me happy to watch it and I was thrilled that my toddler enjoyed watching it, too. (She did not enjoy Old School.)

There are a couple different options for watching. You can turn on the pop-up facts and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. This collection also comes with a little commemorative book.

Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days is a joy to own and watch and I highly recommend buying it to anyone who every watched Sesame Street as a kid.

This DVD was provided to me free of charge for the purpose of writing this review.


THE MIDDLE, starring Patricia Heaton

One night this week, I found myself with nothing to watch on TV so I checked out what was On Demand. I found THE MIDDLE on ABC. I'd heard about this show in the summer and then completely forgotten about it. One of the downfalls of only watching recorded shows and fast-forwarding through commercial breaks is that I rarely see promos for shows I don't already watch.

THE MIDDLE is a sitcom about life in the flyover states. (I only use that term because that is part of their opening title sequence. Otherwise, I HATE that term.) Patricia Heaton plays an average working mom with an average husband and three average kids. You'll recognize Neil Flynn, who plays the dad, from his role as the janitor on SCRUBS. Heaton and Flynn, while not my favorites in the past, were both charming and funny in their new roles.

If you haven't seen THE MIDDLE yet, I recommend checking it out. Verizon On Demand only had the pilot, but all the episodes are available on Hulu until 11/19.

(Speaking of middles, I caught an episode of MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE this week and laughed my ass off. I wonder why I never watched that show when it was on.)


Hyaluronic Acid for Your Skin

I added a hyaluronic acid serum to my skin care regimen about a month ago and my skin has noticeably improved. I used to have oily skin, but my skin got very dry when I was pregnant. I was barely able to keep the dryness under control with three different moisturizers. I used moisturizers that aren't supposed to clog your pores, but slathering that much stuff on my face every day, there was no avoiding clogged poors and my poor face was beginning to look rough.

Since I started using the hyaluronic acid serum under my moisturizers, I have been able to cut back on the amount of moisturizer I need to use and my skin has become smoother and clearer. Even the freckle-like spots I developed during pregnancy are diminishing.

I am definitely going to look for more products containing hyaluronic acid. I haven't mentioned the name of the serum I am using because I can't find it online and I think you can only buy it at Burke-Williams spa, which is where I got it after my facialist recommended it.

Hyaluronic acid is supposed to help with skin moisture on a cellular level. Some people advocate taking it as an oral supplement. I recommend doing more research before deciding to go that route. In my reading, I learned that hyaluronic acid also plays a role in the rapid growth of cancer cells, so I do not plan to take it orally. I will only use it as a topical treatment.


SOYJOY is No Joy

Soyjoy
I tried a SOYJOY bar for the first time today. Let me save you some money; SOYJOY bars are gross. I tried the Peanut Chocolate Chip and the Apple Walnut. They tasted surprisingly similar, but one was peanut scented and the other was apple scented. They looked like those kindling sticks you buy in bundles for your fireplace and tasted just as dry. Don't waste your money or your caloric allotment on a SOYJOY bar.

These bars were provided to me free of charge at the SOYJOY booth at the Head to Toe Women's Expo.


KEEN Sneakers Are the New Converse All Stars

Keen

Remember how I expounded upon my love of Chucks in one of my first posts on this blog? I thought my black low-top Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor sneakers gave me back a little bit of the cool I may have once had. Maybe they did, but once I noticed that everyone from tweens to Sally Fields was wearing Chucks, it became clear that they were no longer as cool as they once were. Fortunately, I had already switched to KEEN.

When I was pregnant, I needed some new shoes; ones that were roomy, comfortable, and provided adequate support. I found the KEEN Ventura sneakers. They are wider than the Chucks and don't make my feet look like boats. They also provided much more cushioning, making them more comfortable for all-day wear. I bought two pairs of the KEEN Ventura sneakers, one in black suede and the other in natural canvas (pictured above). I haven't worn my Chucks since.


Spanx Higher Power Panties Suck It All In

Spanx You don't get to be my size without having tried a girdle or two. Spanx panties are not a girdle. I was a little worried when I first bought a pair of Spanx Higher Power Panties, that they were going to be like those terrible, rubberized body shapers/sausage casings I wore for the prom, and when I was a bridesmaid, and for my own wedding. Then I figured that if thousands of women are singing the praises of these panties and wearing them every day, they can't be that bad.

I am the exact same weight I was three years ago, just before I got pregnant with my first child, but my body has changed. It's lumpier here, saggier there, and I have long since lost the battle of the bulge that likes to hang out over my waist band. Spanx Higher Power Panties turned back the clock to firmer days, smoothing out the lumps and bumps and sucking that bulge back into my waistband where it belongs.

The Spanx Higher Power Panty goes from mid-thigh all the way up to your bra. The bottom edge is legband-free, which is supposed to eliminate bulges. I did have a hint of a indent where they ended, which was slightly noticeable when I wore them with slacks, but not noticeable when I wore them with jeans. The best part about the Spanx Higher Power Panty is the double-gusset crotch. It magically splits open when you need to pee, allowing you to do so without taking off your Spanx.

Today, I bought Spanx High Falutin' Footless Pantyhose for $28 at Lane Bryant. They go from mid-calf to just below your bra. I am hoping these will work better under slacks for me. The Spanx Higher Power Panties are $36 at Lane Bryant. Because that is a lot more than I pay for a regular pair of panties, I haven't yet come to the point where I wear Spanx every day, but I seem to be heading in that direction.

(Note: I also tried a pair of Assets by Sara Blakely, the cheaper line of Spanx available at Target. I recommend paying more for the Spanx. The Assets felt cheaper, were not as comfortable, and did not have the double-gusset crotch.)


The New Sharpie Pen

Sharpie

That's right, a Sharpie pen. Not a marker. A pen. And it is AWESOME.

I have nice handwriting and I am vain about it. My writing looks best with a felt tip pen. Most felt tip pens bleed through the paper, but the Sharpie doesn't! Another problem that I have with fine point felt tip pens is that I have to hold them nearly perpendicular to the paper in order to get them to write evenly, but not with the Sharpie pen! I can hold it at a comfortable angle and it writes beautifully, with even ink distribution.

My only complaint is that the clip on the lid doesn't have enough tension. I am worried that it is going to slip off my notebook at work and I will lose my wonderful pen because you know that even if I taped my name to it, no one would return something so awesome.

I spent about $3 for a two-pack at FedEx Kinko's. I haven't shopped around at all - it was totally an impulse purchase when I went in to send a package - but it was the best impulse purchase in ages!


Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner

Suave  I have been using Sauve Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner for the past couple months and it is pretty damn awesome. The Sauve site claims that Sleek is salon-proven to work as well as Matrix sleek.look Shampoo and Conditioner to smooth dry or frizzy hair. I have never used Matrix products, so I can't attest to that, but I can say that the Sauve Professionals Sleek works better than the Pantene Ice Shine, which I had been using and which I really liked.

I have long, naturally wavy hair that is thick with a somewhat coarse texture and it tends to frizz. This shampoo really helps me keep a handle on the frizz. I found that I am having to use less additional product on my hair (mousse, anti-frizz serum) than I did before, which is saving me money on those products as well as on my shampoo and conditioner costs.

The 32 oz. size Sauve cost me $3.04 at Target, compared to double the price for the 25 oz. Pantene. When I ran out of my old shampoo and conditioner, there was no doubt in my mind that I was ditching Pantene for something new.


Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner vs. Pantene Ice Shine Conditioner

Pantene The past few weeks I have been thinking I need to get a haircut because my hair has become a bit unruly and dull. Earlier this week I ran out of the new conditioner I was trying and switched back to an old one. Suddenly, my hair looks great again.

Verdict: Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner sucks. Pantene Ice Shine Conditioner rocks (and it costs less than half as much).


Venus Embrace Razor from Gillette

Venus_embrace I used to think that the increasing number of blades on razors was getting to be ridiculous, but it turns out they actually make a difference. I recently purchased the Venus Embrace razor at Costco in a package that came with the razor, a bunch of cartridges and suction cup holder for the shower. The Venus Embrace has five blades (compared to three on the original Venus, which I replaced with this one) with a rubbery strip at the top and bottom of the razor.

This razor is magic. I didn't shave my legs for at least a week. (Get over it.) I have dark, thick hair and a lot of it. This razor shaved my legs as smooth as can be in no time flat with no problems whatsoever. If you have ever let your legs go for that long or longer, you know it can sometimes be a pain in the butt to finally shave them again. With that one shave, this razor completely justified its cost to me. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I didn't shave my legs for another week or so. (Of course that's the real reason.) It worked just as well the second time, and every time since.


DVD Reviews:
Definitely, Maybe and The Brave One

I had planned to do a full movie review for each of these but, [blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse].  We recently watched these DVDs and I thought they were great. Fantastic. Worth watching.

DefinitelyDefinitely, Maybe

I should preface this opinion by letting you know that I love romantic comedies. On the one hand, that means I was predisposed to like Definitely, Maybe starring Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin. On the other hand, that also means I know a good one when I see one. Definitely, Maybe is sweet, touching and funny. It isn't the usual romantic comedy, but it still delivers everything you expect in one.

BraveThe Brave One

I LOVE when bad guys are shot/punched/stabbed/clotheslined/waterboarded by good guys. I LOVE vigilante justice. I LOVE badassery. This movie had all of that along with excellent screenwriting, which focused on story and character. Amazingly, it did not have gratuitous violence. Jodie Foster was impeccable and I have new respect for Terrence Howard.


Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Korn

Mw_kettle_korn I love kettle corn. It is my absolute favorite fair food (meat on a stick is a close second, with funnel cake rounding out the top three). I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Korn is. I wasn't sure how good it would be coming from the microwave, but I think the fact that I just polished off an entire bag on my own is a testament to its deliciousness.

The husband wins major points for bringing me this surprise from his solo shopping trip.


Crocs: Ugly Comfort

Crocs_beach_black_8 It is an irrefutable fact that Crocs are both ugly and comfortable. For a long time, I was unwilling to look past the ugly to experience the comfort. Then I got pregnant. Then my feet swelled up to Flintstonian proportions. Then I became the owner of a pair of bright pink Crocs that had been on clearance. I figured I would wear them until my feet fit into normal shoes again, but, six months after I had my baby, I could still be seen regularly on weekends, running around town in a bright pink pair of Crocs. I was a convert, but that was no excuse for continuing to wear such an obnoxious pair of shoes.

In an overwhelming display of suburbanosity last weekend, I bought a pair of black beach Crocs at Costco, while shopping with my husband and my baby. They are too comfortable to resist.

Photo by Amazon.com.


bankrate.com

Bankrate.com is another site that has handy little calculators. I used to work at a real estate listings web site and I currently work at a consumer automotive web site and still I always go to bankrate.com for their loan calculators. I mostly use the mortgage calculator and the car payment calculator, but I also go to bankrate.com when I want to get an idea of what current interest rates are in my area.