June 28, 2010

Yes To Carrots: Beauty Review

I am always on the lookout for fantastic organic and gluten free beauty products. Going natural has been really helping to clean up my skin and really does rejuvenate the skin much better than chemicals, at least in my opinion.

Yes To Inc. has been around since 2006, and while I am just now realizing the true wonderful qualities of their lines, I wish I had known about them sooner.

Yes To Inc. has 3 unique collections: Yes To Carrots, Yes To Tomatoes, and Yes To Cucumbers. They create natural, paraben-free personal care products that combines organic fruits and vegetables with a special elixir derived from the Dead Sea to nourish and hydrate naturally.

Yes To Carrots: C Me Smile Lip Butter
MSRP: $3.69 at Walgreens; $2.99 at www.yestocarrots.com
Available at: Walgreens, Target, Duane Reade, Meijer, drugstore.com, and yestocarrots.com

I’ve been searching for new lip balms, and have found quite a few new favorites lately, this line being one of them. The Yes To Carrots C Me Smile Lip Butter has 5 great flavors including: Berry, Carrot, Citrus, Melon, and Mint. I was lucky to try all of them and honestly, I can’t pick one as a favorite. I loved them all! However, I would say that my top 2 would be Berry and Melon. They are very reasonably priced, so go ahead and try one, or two… or five. :)

Yes To Carrots: Can you C Me? Eye and Face Makeup Remover
MSRP: $9.99
Available at: Walgreens, Target, Duane Reade, Meijer, drugstore.com, and yestocarrots.com

I’ve tried many different eye makeup removers, and most leave my sensitive eyes quite red and stinging with pain. I’ve tried ones that range anywhere from $3 - $30. I hadn’t found one I really liked until I used the Can you C Me? Eye and Face Makeup Remover from Yes To Carrots. It didn’t sting and it didn’t leave my eyes red! Plus, as an extreme bonus I can also use it to remove my makeup with. This eye and makeup remover contains beta carotene, Dead Sea minerals and aloe vera. Fantastic product.

Yes To Cucumbers: Cool Calming Cucumber and Aloe Body Gel
MSRP: $9.99
Available at: Walgreens, walgreens.com, and yestocarrots.com

I try to stay out of the sun as often as I can. I happen to burn quite easily, and finding out that blondes with green eyes and fair complexions who have had five or more sunburns are much more prone to skin cancer than others, I don’t make it a habit to sunbathe. However, I do sometimes get some sun when doing yard work and such, and there are always pollutants in the air that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. The Cool Calming Cucumber and Aloe Body Gel is used for both sun exposure and air pollutants. I was a little pink (not burned) last weekend, and used this on the exposed areas. It left my skin cool, soothed, and relaxed. Well worth the price for this product, especially if you are overexposed to the sun or air pollutants. I suggest bringing this with you before going on a beach trip or anywhere you may get a little too much sun.

Yes To Tomatoes: Truly Terrific Body Butter
MSRP: $12.99
Available at: Walgreens, walgreens.com, and yestocarrots.com

I happen to quite like lotions and body butters, but sometimes after trying it out it is way too greasy for me and I never end up using it again. I am very happy to say that the Truly Terrific Body Butter worked like it says and was not greasy. It was moisturizing and after using it for a week I could notice that it did leave my skin softer. The price and quality of this body butter is well worth it!

* Thank you to Yes To Carrots for sending me the products reviewed for the purpose of the review. All opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

Casino Wiki

Did you know that there is a casino wiki? There seems to be a wiki or wikia for everything these days. I was searching for some information about casinos for that upcoming (okay, more like in a year or two) Las Vegas trip I’m planning and I found Online Casino Pedia. It is pretty interesting.

Online gambling isn’t really my thing, but there are many different online casinos available for those who want to learn to play casino games that way. In my opinion, I think they would be quite different odds wise when playing in person. It seems too easy for the computerized versions to be setup against you – not saying that the regular casinos don’t do that too, I know they do.

To get really ready for the real casinos though, I need to learn how to beat blackjack. I’ve watched the movies 21 and Casino (and various other movies based on casinos and Las Vegas), so I know I really shouldn’t learn to count cards because I like keeping my hands and not being beaten up. Honestly though, I don’t think I’d be very good at counting cards anyways. I did find this video on You Tube though which could possibly help if I decide to go that route: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHxJ_Mf9dOI

I like blackjack. It is a game I’m pretty good at without counting cards. Learning to do this, just a little even might come in handy. What do you think? Do you have any favorite casino or card games? Any special tricks I should know to win big money?

My trip is still up in the air as to when I’ll be going, for how long, and who with exactly. That doesn’t mean I’m not planning anything though. I’ve called hotels and requested stuff from websites, and I’ve been scouring bookstores for books on Las Vegas, etc. I think planning is half the fun anyways. After spending this much time thinking about going and planning for it, the climax of actually going better be with it (I know it will).

Access Tonneau Cover

My brothers love trucks. It isn’t really easy picking out a present for them on their birthdays either. They usually have everything they want already (much like our Dad). I’m also the youngest out of the kids, so I never know what to get them.

So, going with their love of trucks, I’m thinking about maybe going in with my parents to get them something they’d want: an access tonno sport cover. It would enhance their truck and be something they’d really want and use, and something they actually don’t have already. What do you think? Is it too much? Should I just stick with the same old cologne set I always get them?

* This is a sponsored/paid post. All opinions and such are my own.

June 25, 2010

Twilight: Eclipse – Premiere Fashion

Regardless of if you like Twilight or not, you have to admit that the cast (overall) has good style (at least when attending premieres).

Look at their style from the Eclipse Premiere, and tell me whose you liked the best from the girls and the boys. Did it match up with my winners?

The Girls:

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan)

Dakota Fanning (Jane) – WINNER!

Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen)

Nikki Reed and Elizabeth Reaser (Rosalie Cullen and Esme Cullen)

Anna Kendrick (Jessica)

The Boys:

Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) - WINNER!

Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black)

Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Cullen) - CLOSE 2nd!

Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen) and his wife Jennie Garth

Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene (Emmett Cullen and Alice Cullen)

I’m so excited about going to see Eclipse. I won’t get to see it on release night/day but I will be going to see it at the IMAX that is over an hour away. My Mom and I have seen all of them together so far, and this is the first time it is offered at the IMAX here. It’ll also be the first movie we’ve seen at the IMAX. Hope it doesn’t disappoint (though from the trailers, it looks like it’ll be amazing)!

June 24, 2010

Auromère – Ayurvedic Imports: Review

Auromère Ayurvedic Imports offers unique body care and lifestyle products from India. It is one of those online shops that I would so love to go visit in person as I can imagine how amazing it would be to see and smell everything in person. It also makes me want to visit India one day even more than I already did.

About Ayurveda
It literally means “the science of life” and is the ancient system of promoting health and rejuvenation with natural herbs and minerals that began over 3,000 years ago, with the great sage, Dhanwantari. As he sat in meditation in the midst of a forest, Nature revealed the curative and therapeutic properties of each tree, plant, herb, root, mineral and flower to him. These beneficial links between the vegetable, mineral and human worlds are used to promote bodily health by cultivating a harmonious balance of Nature’s three subtle energies, the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha, which are present in all life and matter.

Auromère Ayurvedic Imports was the first of its kind to bring Ayurveda to the U.S. Vice President of Auromère, Vishnu Eschner, says that their mission “is to introduce the benefits of the Ayurvedic system of health to modern-day Americans in ways that are accessible, affordable and adaptable to their fast-paced lives. In essence, to bring the ancient spiritual and traditional healing wisdom of India within reach.”

So, What Did I Think?
Thanks to Auromère, I was able to sample some of their products. First of all, I have to say that I absolutely love what they are doing as a company by bringing us affordable and high quality products while remaining cruelty-free. I’ve been interested in herbs and healing properties of them for a long time (I have a few Aunts who are very into this area as well).

The products I tried:

Rejuvenating Mud Bath & Mask – I love baths, but I’d never taken a mud bath before using this sample. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t think that it would be like what I saw on TV when people are in thick mud baths, and luckily for our plumbing it wasn’t. Instead, I had to paint it on the areas I wanted it to go and then keep it wet for about 10 minutes – not quite a bath, really more like a mask. It was fun though and I think the overall soothing and healing powers of the minerals in it was well worth it.

Neem Balm – it says that this could be used for insect bites, so after getting bit up pretty badly while outside one day recently, I decided to try my sample on a few of the bites I’d gotten. It helped to relieve the itchiness and the swelling did go down some. I’m not sure if it healed any faster than anything else would have, but I did like it.

Incense – I’m one of those people who has loved incense since I was a teenager. I don’t smoke, so I’m not trying to cover any other smells or anything like that. I just love the scent of incense and I also happen to enjoy watching it float out of my incense holder. I’m a hippie at heart sometimes, what can I say? Through the years though, I’ve had some really bad incense experiences (some makes my eyes dry and itchy, some really makes them water, some stinks awfully bad, etc). Luckily, the Auromère incense I tried only had the positive experiences of using incense, and I think it did soothe my worrying over a test (I did happen to make an A on one while it was lit). Their prices are really good too, so I will definitely be purchasing one of their variety packs once I run out of the incense I have stocked up on runs out.

Rejuvenating Hand & Body Lotion – their lotion combines deep-penetrating and nourishing properties of sesame oil with the rejuvenative action from almond oil and castor oil, and then infused with 13 Ayurvedic herbal extracts traditionally preseribed for skin preservation, conditioning and muscle tone. I used this on my arms and legs, and I have to say that it definitely goes on nice and smooth. It also did keep where I applied it moisturized and pleasantly scented all day. Very nice.

Ayurvedic Soap in Lavender-Neem – I love the smell of lavender and this soap provides just enough of the scent with out over-stimulating your senses of it. It contains NEEM which is the premiere herb for skin care as well as 16 other herbal extracts and oils prized for restorative skin care.

Sulfate-free Shampoo (Aloe Vera – Neem) – this is a gentle shampoo that cleans the hair and the scalp without over-drying it. The Aloe Vera and Coconut Oil conditions it so that I didn’t even need to use conditioner afterwards. Loved it!

Ayurvedic Herbal Toothpaste and Mouthwash – until recently I didn’t know that most toothpastes contain gluten (which, if you remember I cannot have), fluoride, artificial sweeteners, bleaches, dyes, and SLS. The Auromère toothpastes have none of those in them and instead have natural ingredients that people have been using for a long time to protect against bacteria, polish their teeth, strengthen their gums, and protect their enamel. I tried their fresh mint, mint free, non-foaming, and licorice flavors. My favorite was the fresh mint. It cleaned my teeth, left it feeling nice and I don’t have to worry about any of the harmful things like gluten in my toothpaste anymore!

The Day I Saw a Dead Body

I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology, and with that comes the option of going to the “cadaver lab” throughout the semester. My school has a male and a female cadaver which we can go in and look at. More advanced courses gets to even take samples and such. I’m not there yet. I may take that course later though.

Today we learned about skin cancers and took some final notes before we have an exam on Tuesday. After that, we had the option to go to the cadaver lab. Anyone else see the irony in discussing skin cancers (during summer months no less) and then going to see a real dead body?

I was in the first group that got to go see it this morning. We were warned not to touch the sides of the cart because apparently formaldehyde stays with you for a long time and smells, oh yeah, and we were warned of the smell of that and fabric softener. They use that to keep the body moist. Interesting, huh?

So, we go in (my group was all girls) and none of us ran back to the door or passed out. Apparently, some people in the past have just walked right back out. We all made it to the end, so I guess we’ll make it in the respective fields we seek in that sense. Did you know some people going into these fields can’t stand the sight of blood? Seriously! How could you be a nurse and unable to stand the sight of blood? Something tells me they don’t last long as a nurse…

We get to go in again later in the semester when we discuss muscles in more depth.

The test on Tuesday is going to be on different tissues and skin. Then in about 3 weeks we have a mid-term on the lab stuff. This is what I’m stressing out about because it is so much information; I really don’t know how I can memorize it all in such a short amount of time (ontop of everything else). Wish me luck!

*P.S. – I didn’t post a picture with this post because well, I didn’t think many of you would want to see what I saw. If you want an idea of it though, type “Gross Anatomy Lab Pictures” into Google under image search.

June 22, 2010

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets – Winner!

The giveaway for Babushka’s Beauty Secrets is now officially over. Thank you again to HachetteBookGroup for providing the copies for the giveaway.

I used the randomizer tool to figure out who won these books, and the winners are:


I will be e-mailing and/or posting on your blogs to let you know that you won right now. Please e-mail me your address back by this Friday so I can have the book mailed to you.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest and congratulations to the winners. Look back here later this week for another book giveaway!

June 21, 2010

Weekly Lovelist

I think I would like to start a weekly Lovelist. I am getting the idea from a fabulous bloggy friend, Andhari, who if you do not know (and I greatly suggest going to give her a visit) is a super smart, sexy and talented woman over in Indonesia.

I think the idea of having a post each week (if I can remember to do so) about what I loved that week is a good idea, don’t you? It can allow me to enter in random info about things I liked that week and share with all of you.

Starting off with last week….

My Dog!
My dog was doing really badly the past few weeks. She was getting seizures and would walk around the room for hours, bumping into things and just walking the perimeter of the room. She is old, and can’t see and hear as well as she used to. It was really scary for about 4 days with her – we almost thought she was going to pass away soon. She would hardly leave her bed, and was very unstable when walking, and wouldn’t eat much at all.

Luckily though, she got her spunk back and is acting pretty normal again. Sure, she doesn’t run around like a puppy anymore (but she hasn’t for years). She is able to walk much better, is eating and begging, and doing well. I’m soo relieved and truly thankful she is still with us.

True Blood
Season 3 of True Blood is fangtastic! You know it is my favorite series on TV, and I keep all episodes saved on my DVR until they are released on DVD. Yes, laugh all you want, but I love it. The first episode we got to see Eric Northman (played by Alexander Skarsgard) practically naked (well the backside anyways), so hot? Yes! This season it looks like we will be seeing much more of Eric, and I for one have absolutely no objection to that! Also, it looks like they are going to rush the whole Jason turning into a Werepanther sooner than I thought. At least they are going to have Tara hook up with a vampire like she did in the book series (it probably won’t go well in the TV series for her either). I wonder if they will also be introducing her fairy cousins this season?

True Blood - Eric Poster
I have a new poster of Eric hanging in my bedroom – right over my TV. It hurts so good – but, I like it. I can see how some of you may think I am really odd for having a vampire with blood dripping down his chin stare at me while sleeping. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I would invite Eric into my house any day (or um, night).

Getting Good Grades
Studying hard and making good grades is always the goal, but let’s face it – sometimes that just doesn’t work out like it should. Last week I had 2 exams, and did awesome. I made a 94 in Anatomy and Physiology and I made a 96 in Psychology: Human Development. Neither were “easy” exams either. Just because a course is in the summer does NOT make it easier to pass – quite the opposite really.

Fixing My Crashed PC
Somehow I managed to fix my old PC that crashed on me a few months ago. It died horrendously due to some awful malware and I was unable to recover it. However, after thinking about possible solutions for a few months, I decided to test some out – and it worked! It isn’t as good as the laptop though, and quite honestly I do still need a new and updated one. It is at least good enough for browsing the web and such. Running is better than being crashed into a PC graveyard though.

Shop Therapy
This weekend I really wasn’t expecting to buy anything at the mall. I went in looking for a new bathing suit and ended up with 2 sets of gold over sterling silver smoky quartz stud earrings (severely discounted) and an amazing pajama set for $50. I tried finding a picture of it at the store’s website, but apparently it is too new to be on there. I have a perfect silk kimono style brown robe to go with it too. It reminds me of New Orleans. Love it!

Surviving Father’s Day
I would love to know of a family that doesn’t have any family drama. Mine certainly has its fair share (and probably some of the dose of those lucky families that have none), so having Father’s Day go off without an argument or anything was quite nice. I even chatted with some family members more than usual, and it was quite nice and genuine (or at least I thought so). Hopefully events will continue like that, if not better.

More Reviews
I love writing reviews, so getting more reviews (even some I didn’t even have to request) really makes me happy. Thank you so much to all of the publishers and press people who make my dream of being a reviewer come true!

I love when I am able to host a giveaway, such as the one that ends today for Babushka’s Beauty Secrets (seriously, go enter it – it is a fabulous book)! I also won something this week – a build-a-bear panda (or leopard)! Yay!

So, how did you like my lovelist? I hope you enjoyed it, and if you liked it, please let me know so I will continue to do this, if Andhari doesn't mind I'm using the lovelist idea. :)

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Dicamillo

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Dicamillo is a children’s book. However, it is not just enjoyed by children. It is a book that really should be read aloud, which is often done for children anyways. This is one of those books that the adult reading to the child would probably stay up long past the child has fallen asleep to find out what happens to young Peter and his sister Adele, and of course, the elephant.

Book Description
“What if? Why not? Could it be?

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes -- hope and belonging, desire and compassion -- with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected -- and making the extraordinary come true.”
The Magician’s Elephant

My Thoughts
When the impossible is possible, yet quite impossible, it makes for a great book. Children’s stories are quite underrated sometimes, at least in stories like this.

The characters in The Magician’s Elephant are quite haunting. Peter is being raised by a seemingly terrible man who told him his sister Adele had died and he only feeds him enough to stay alive. The elephant that is impossible becomes possible, and leads many characters together in such a way that is very magical.

After reading the book, the reader is left with a sense of magic for the characters and wonder for what could be possible in their very own lives. Fantastic book.

I don’t think very many children will get the large importance of what happens in the book, but the adults reading them the story definitely will – and perhaps one day when they re-read it, they will too. It is a great story to be shared and read aloud.

The Magician’s Elephant has also won many awards including: Amazon.com Best Books of the Year, Booklist Editor’s Choice, Minnesota Book Award, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Borders Best Kids Books of the Year, Hudson Booksellers Best Books of 2009, Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Books of the Year, Bank Street College Mock Newbery Title.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Magician’s Elephant, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 20, 2010

Mardi Gras Madness: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans

Mardi Gras Madness: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans – Tales of Mardi Gras Mayhem that will not Appear in Tomorrow’s Headlines – for Good Reason, is a book of short stories based in New Orleans during Mardi Gras of 2000.

Book Description:
“What sort of creatures may have haunted the Mardi Gras festival and who may have said farewell to the flesh in a horribly unique way (and why and how) are the subjects of this collection of murder stories set in New Orleans.” – Mardi Gras Madness

My Thoughts
Short stories are a great solution for when you don’t have enough time to get fully engrossed in a book for the whole day, weekend, or week. The short stories contained in Mardi Gras Madness are easily read in 15 minutes to 30 minutes each. This makes it perfect for a thrilling read before bedtime.

Each of the stories in the book are murder short stories set in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras. Vampires, ghosts, voodoo, and of course the farewell to the flesh that is Mardi Gras envelop the stories. I love vampires, so those were my favorite short stories included.

Some of my favorite short stories included are:

“Faces Made of Clay” is quite a haunting read that really captures the emotions of losing loved ones and the dangers of not moving on from them can do to a person.

“King Corpus” reveals the dangers of giving in to too many temptations, and perhaps getting what you wished for.

“Masking Indian” is a story that is sad, yet uplifting and shows that even when you lose a loved one, you can take part of them with you (even if it is an old ghost costume).

“Sacrifice” explains how New Orleans perhaps is able to be so low beneath sea level and (aside from levvys breaking), the Mississippi River is contained. While it is a sad and terrifying experience for the woman being sacrificed, it does have a somewhat happy ending.

“Fat Tuesday” was probably one of my favorite short stories included. It is about a freelance writer who ends up writing about murders from what looks like a real vampire. He gets a little too close though and things get scary for him before he can escape Mardi Gras.

“Farewell to the Flesh” is another story about a vampire who is a hero because he is out to make the world better, and seems to only feast on evil people. It is a fun read which also brings in voodoo and the church as well.

Overall, I was really satisfied with the short stories in Mardi Gras Madness. The only drawback for me was that it made me want to go back to New Orleans even more. I think this is a great book for those that like New Orleans, Mardi Gras, vampires, ghosts, voodoo, and of course, thriller and scary stories.

* Thank you to the publisher of Mardi Gras Madness, Cumberland House and Turner Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 15, 2010

Sometimes I Surprise Myself

Maybe I am just one of those people who doubts themselves, but most of the time after I take an exam I have no idea how I did on it - and then start to think I did badly on it. Usually this dissipates when I see I actually did pass, and usually end up making an A or B (though sometimes a C).

However, science is just a little bit different for me. It is something I really have to study and because I’m planning on going into the nursing field, I really need to do well on the pre-requisite courses. This semester I’m in Anatomy and Physiology I. I also have another Psychology course, but I’m not too worried about that one.

Today I took my first exam in Anatomy and Physiology. I studied like crazy this weekend and last night, so I was really hoping I’d do well. While I was taking the test, by question 28 or so, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m awesome.” Why? Because I knew every answer with no second guesses. Near question 30 though they got a little harder. I still knew most of them though, and was really confident I got an A by the end of the exam, or at least a high B.

I was even the first one finished!

The professor said he’d have the exam grades posted by this afternoon, so I go into our online area and check to see if they are indeed posted yet…

I scored 94/100!

Sometimes I do surprise myself.

I just hope that the rest are this easy for me.

Oh, if you haven’t already entered my giveaway for Babushka’s Beauty Secrets, enter here until June 21, 2010. I get to give away 3 copies with this book!

June 14, 2010

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets – Giveaway!

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets by Raisa Ruder and Susan Campos is a perfect beauty companion for spa quality, at home, beauty secrets!

I recently shared with you a review of the book. If you haven’t already read my review, please do so here. It is one of my new favorite beauty books, and I am super excited to get to do a giveaway on the book!

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets Book Giveaway
I have 3 books available to giveaway thanks to HachetteBookGroup. They are simply amazing and have great books too!

This giveaway is only available to residents of the U.S. or Canada. No P.O. Boxes. You can only win 1 book.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly and let me know why you want to win this book.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest Ends: June 21, 2010

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life by Kim Johnson Gross is a book about how to evolve your wardrobe as you age. It isn’t just a book about what not to wear as you age, but also about how to find great style mentors and shape your closet to be what you really want it to be.

Book Description
Every woman's closet-no matter the size-is a room of her own. In that space hang side by side the special occasions and the everyday, the triumphs and the disasters, the memories we want to keep and those we should jettison. Gross helps us to reconsider our closet identity and discover who we want to be. She shares her personal journey and the intimate, poignant and often humorous stories of the dozens of women she interviewed across the country. Along with calming fashion advice about how to choose flattering clothes that will fit any woman's shape and style, Gross's engaging stories will help every woman evolve gracefully from wife to mother, from empty-nester to globe-trotting adventurer--whatever role she chooses--while letting her style express her inner beauty. – What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life

My Thoughts
The way that Kim Johnson Gross writes is engaging and entertaining, so it makes it a book that is rather easy and enjoyable to read. The book is aimed more towards the 40-50+ age group, but the author provides great tips and resources for women of all ages when it comes to fashion.

I especially enjoyed the idea of having a style wall and style mentors. I’ve been pulling out ads of my favorite designers and celebrities I like for years. I’ve never done much with these pieces of paper and ads though. This gave me a fantastic idea to actually put them to use by creating a style journal or something to do with it. I think I’m going to start with my Prada and Gucci ads (two of my favorite designers).

Closet maintenance is another topic largely discussed in What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life. I’m a big believer in cleaning out your closet and keeping what you wear often available for you to do so. Even if you don’t toss out what doesn’t fit you right now, it doesn’t have to be hanging. Storing it properly, as suggested by Kim Johnson Gross as well, saves it and doesn’t take up hanging space in the feel good closet.

Overall, I think that What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life is a book that will stand the test of time (and fashion). It is a great book to really look at yourself, your closet, and feel good in the end – it is amazing what a little fashion and closet therapy can do for you.

* Thank you to the publisher of What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life, Springboard, part of the HachetteBookGroup for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 12, 2010

How to be a Vampire by Amy Gray

Vampires. Can’t seem to beat them, unless maybe you are a werewolf or a slayer, so why not join them? In How to be a Vampire by Amy Gray, you can learn how to do just that – well, sort of.

Book Description
“For those who join the decadent realm of the vampire, eternal life holds juicy perks -- charm and strength, shape-shifting and flying, telepathy and super-powered senses. But then again, one becomes . . . so terribly hungry. Is there an etiquette for feeding without causing a scene? How do you set up your crypt? What supernatural foes will make your blood run colder? In this elegant, edgy resource, the newly immortal will find everything they need to know, including:

* a quiz to determine your true vampire persona
* ways to turn into a vampire -- or when a kiss is not just a kiss and why you should take a look at your family tree
* a transformation checklist, including canine teeth and UV sensitivity
* a makeup and fashion guide to looking damned good (or just damned)
* knowing your weaknesses, from garlic, stakes, and sunlight to an obsession with counting
* ten signs that your boyfriend is a vampire, including super coolness (body temperature-wise) and a habit of sleeping in
* a field guide to vampiric variations around the world and through history”

- How to be a Vampire

My Thoughts
How to be a Vampire by Amy Gray is a gothic gem in the vampire genre. The book is fully illustrated, and even if you aren’t looking to become a vampire (or just dress like one), if you like great photography and illustrations, you’d appreciate the book for that too.

Aside from the stunning visual eye candy in the book, it is also full of exceptional information about vampires. It explains the different types of vampires found throughout the world, how mere mortals are turned into immortals, how to tell if you are dating a vampire, what happens to your senses after you are turned into a vampire, what powers vampires have, what music vampires like, how vampires dress, and much, much more.

I also enjoyed that the author included TV and movie vampires such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, True Blood, Interview with the Vampire, and more. The images included to show each were of course beautifully done as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I love vampires, and enjoyed reading about how to become one, if that were possible. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to become a vampire, how to find a vampire to turn you, and then perhaps what to do after becoming one, or if you just like great artwork about vampires, this is the book for you.

* Thank you to the publisher of How to be a Vampire, Candlewick Press for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 9, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

When I read that there would be a new Twilight book, I was ecstatic! I obviously love Twilight and vampires and books. It was only natural I’d pre-order it and have it read the very same day it arrived.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is about a character that wasn’t in Eclipse for very long. However, Stephenie Meyer wanted to bring this character to life more and ended up with this book in the process. I love when surprise extras from favorite series are thrown at fans. Meyer even let her fans read the book for FREE on her website for a month. Not something too many authors would be willing to do. I applaud her for this!

Book Description
“Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.” – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

My Thoughts
I read the entire Twilight series in days. I read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner in a couple of hours straight through. It is an enjoyable read for those who like Twilight. I also imagine that those who haven’t read the series would also enjoy it.

The story is told through Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire. These newborns are unruly and controlled by fear and aren’t taught much of anything about how vampires really are. Seeing how the newborns that came after Bella and the Cullens were made, and why the one named Bree acted like she did does bring a more in-depth feel towards the Twilight Saga.

It isn’t much of a spoiler, it is in the title, Bree dies, again, obviously. Even though I knew it was coming, after reading her story it made me sad that she had to die. It also however, left questions that perhaps Meyer will tell in more Twilight novellas in the future. I don’t think any of us Twihards would object, right?

I also love that $1 from each physical book sold in the first printing is being donated to the American Red Cross. It is a book with a cause, and I like that!

* This review is not based on a review copy. I purchased it and all opinions, as always are my own.

June 8, 2010

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets by Raisa Ruder and Susan Campos

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets by Raisa Ruder and Susan Campos is a perfect beauty companion for spa quality, at home, beauty secrets!

All natural ingredients, using what you already have (or can purchase easily and inexpensively) to create beauty products is making a huge comeback. People (myself included) are tired of paying exuberant prices for products that quite honestly don’t even work 90% of the time.

If you feel this way too, or perhaps just want to try making a couple of the beauty recipes the all natural way, as shared by Raisa Ruder, this is a perfect book for you.

Book Description
“DON'T SPEND A FORTUNE TO LOOK FLAWLESS Esthetician to the stars Raisa Ruder learned her time-tested beauty techniques from her Ukrainian grandmother (or babushka, as they say in the old country). Now everyone can discover the all-natural, better-than-botox secrets the Hollywood stars use to shine on the red carpet! Ruder reveals her sought-after beauty recipes that can fight wrinkles, plump lips, and eliminate crow's feet and acne, using inexpensive, everyday grocery items like eggs, honey, vegetable oil and strawberries (and a splash of vodka for freshness!).” – Babushka’s Beauty Secrets

My Thoughts
Organic, natural, “green” products, you know, the “real” stuff – why have we moved so far away from that? Products that promote that they have certain things, looking closer, shows that they really don’t have very much of said beneficial product in there to do much good. Why haven’t we been demanding better?

Raisa Ruder really has me changed to making my own beauty products, well some. I won’t be going out and making my own makeup anytime soon. I however will be making my own bath salts, bath mixes, facial masks, eyelash grower, and even mascara remover from now on.

I remember reading about Cleopatra bathing in milk. I don’t remember where I read or heard this, but I was reminded of this in Babushka’s Beauty Secrets. This “Milk Bath” was the very first beauty product I tried making from this book. It is a simple method of doing it, and only takes at most 5 minutes. The results however, were amazing! It made my skin moisturized and looked as great as it felt. Seriously, this is a must try from this book!

Sometimes my hair gets pretty dry. The “Dry Hair Eraser” recipe did the trick on making it healthy, shiny and bounce back to life again. Plus, the ingredients (which I did have to buy) are so much cheaper than those expensive “treatments” sold at salons!

My eyes are super sensitive, so most eye makeup removers are too strong and harsh for them – I literally feel burning with most. However, the “Take It All Off” recipe (that is so simple and affordable) in this book saves me the burning red-eye look after I take off my eye makeup! Speaking of, there is even a recipe in here that can help you make your eyelashes better – without a prescription (and those nasty side effects).

Babushka’s Beauty Secrets is a fabulous book that shares the very real and tested secrets as told by Raisa Ruder. I love everything I have tried from this book, and look forward to trying new ones out as often as possible. If you want to be more green, save money, and go back to the basics, this is the perfect book for you!

* Thank you to the publisher of Babushka’s Beauty Secrets, Wellness Central, part of the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 7, 2010

Las Vegas: The Bellagio!

I’ve wanted to go to Las Vegas for a long time. Well, I’m kind of planning a trip there. I won’t be going for probably about a year, but I can still plan in the meantime, right?

The first thing to do when planning a trip is to pick out where you want to stay. Las Vegas has fantastic hotels (at least from what I’ve seen, read and heard about). The Vegas Bellagio Hotel is however the one I’ve wanted to go to the longest, so for my first Las Vegas trip I think it is fitting that I’d stay there.

The Bellagio Fountains is one of the main reasons. Ever since I saw them on TV, I’ve wanted to see them in person. The Fountains of Bellagio are a choreographed water performance set to light and music, including songs from Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Madonna, Gene Kelly, and Andrea Bocelli. Shows take place every 30 minutes in the afternoon, and at night every 15 minutes from 8PM to midnight. Watch this video I found on YouTube to show you what I mean:

Isn’t it amazing?

Plus, the botanical gardens and conservatory is a nice addition too. The display for the garden is changed out five times a year to display the current season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Chinese New Year). I’m not sure which would be the prettiest, have any of you gone to see the display at the gardens?

Their rooms also look quite comfortable (and not as small as some I’ve seen pictures of). Plus, who knows who would be performing there? Hopefully someone good.

I’m not a huge gambler, but I would definitely be playing some slots while in Las Vegas. I might even play some blackjack and roulette. I’m not very good at poker (I just don’t have a poker face), so that is out of the question. I’m pretty good at rummy, but I don’t think that is a casino game. Oh well, maybe I’d get lucky on one of those Jackpot slot machines and win lots of money!

Las Vegas and the Bellagio is going to be amazing! I can’t wait for my Las Vegas trip. Probably why I’m planning so far in advance, but I know it is going to be amazing and one to remember for a very long time. If anyone has some suggestions on what else I should definitely do while going to Vegas, please let me know!

Betty Crocker: Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Betty Crocker has some new mixes out that are gluten free! I bought the brownie mix because I really miss eating brownies. They also have in gluten free: yellow cake mix, devil’s food cake mix, and chocolate chip cookie mix. I’ll be trying each of these over this year too.

I was so excited when I saw this box available at the store. For people who are gluten intolerant, or have celiac disease, like me, this is amazing! Seriously, try going a week without eating gluten and you’ll see what I mean.

Apparently the people at Betty Crocker also had people that worked there with such experiences as I’ve faced recently: going to family events only being able to eat things like carrots and pineapples and feel taunted by the brownies, cakes, sandwiches, pizza, and other goodies everyone else can eat. So, they decided to make gluten free desserts, and also give back to the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Celiac Sprue Association.

Some things I’ve eaten that are gluten free that are masked as regular food just taste like awful cardboard messes. I was really hoping that this was not the case with the Betty Crocker brownies. Luckily, I was not disappointed in any way. Betty Crocker promises delicious homemade taste every time, and from these brownies I was satisfied! They were moist, chewy, chocolatey and actually tasted better than brownie’s I’ve had before! Plus, being gluten free I didn’t get sick from eating them! Gotta love that!

* This is not an advertisement at all. I bought the product and loved it so much I wanted to share it with all of you. Thank you Betty Crocker for allowing me to eat brownies again – gluten free!

June 6, 2010

27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home by Tisha Morris

27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home by Tisha Morris is the perfect starter guide to Feng Shui. This book shows you how to use the art of Feng Shui to create a more personal and inviting atmosphere into your home which will renovate your life.

“Discover how to:
Manageably clear clutter to optimize space.
Use lighting color, and simple objects to create good energy flow.
Space clear to promote good health.
Integrate the Five Elements into your home to create harmony.”

- 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home

Feng Shui is something I’ve wanted to implement into my room and home for years. For some reason though, I just never got around to it. This book made me want to get up and actually do these 27 things – and I did just that!

Here are some of my experiences with some of the suggestions from this book:

Clean Out Your Closet
Closets seem to get cluttered again shortly after cleaned, don’t they? Well, this time I pulled out everything in my closets (I have 2 in my bedroom) and completely reorganized them. Even though I didn’t get rid of too much, I did clean them and organize everything so the energy flow in them is 100% better.

The effect: I could notice a large change in my bedroom the same day I cleaned and organized the closets. It was like the heavy feeling was gone from the room!

Keep Doorways Clear
I have lots of cool stuff, and sometimes some of that stuff blocks doorways. Apparently, this is very bad for feng shui. So, I moved some stuff around and made it as open as possible (it isn’t 100% but hey, I’m not perfect).

The effect: It is supposed to be letting in new opportunities, and I’ve gotten a few more writing jobs since doing this, so I think it worked!

Clear Out Old Pictures/ Change Your Wall Art
I don’t have too many pictures of people in my bedroom, but I do love artwork. I’ve had a new True Blood poster of Eric waiting to be put out, so I hung that over my TV. I also rearranged some other items and artwork in the house as well.

The effect: I like not seeing the same thing where it was for years, moving it around seemed to help spice things up. I’m also loving my Eric poster, who wouldn’t love a hot black and white picture of Alexander Skarsgard as a vampire hanging in their bedroom? Okay, not for everyone – but for me it is the best!

Add Purple to Bring in Wealth
My room is already a nice deep shade of purple. So, not too much new with this one, but the color is very soothing to me.

The effect: Maybe I need to repaint the room to get the fresh rich wealthy feeling. Moving everything would be a huge hassle though, so I just cleaned the walls. I think it gave the same feeling because the next week – I won a prize and got more writing jobs!

Overall, I am quite pleased with what I learned from 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home by Tisha Morris. I think that if you were ever interested in Feng Shui, or just want to make the energy and feel of your home better, this would be a great starting point for learning about Feng Shui in an easily readable and teachable way.

This book is part of Turner Publishing’s Good Things to Know series which “focuses on simple, pragmatic actions that can have a strong and lasting impact in the lives of readers.” – Turner Publishing.

* Thank you to the publisher of 21 Things to Create a Better Life, Turner Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 5, 2010

Eco Lips Giveaway: Winner

The giveaway for Eco Lips lip balm is now officially over. I used randomizer.org to come up with a winner randomly and the winner is…. Turning the Clock Back! Congratulations! I will e-mail you right now to let you know that you have won.

If you didn’t win, remember that you can still get a free sample from Eco Lips – just pay the $2 for shipping and handling (well worth it though, trust me)!

June 4, 2010

Fairies and Magical Creatures: Pop Up Book Review

Encyclopedia Mythologica: Fairies and Magical Creatures by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda is a popup book like no other. This magical book captures audiences young and old just by simply opening it.

This superb popup book includes the origins of fairies, the many different types of fairies, the fairy realm, elves and gnomes, mermaids, unicorns, phoenixes, griffons, and much more! The information to go with the beautiful illustrations is a truly perfect fit for learning about the many different kinds of fairies and the lore that leaves us fascinated by them.

Book Description:
“Open this entrancing book and meet Shakespeare’s Queen Titania, springing up with her silver wings aflutter. Further on, a crystalline elfin castle rises into the clouds, not far from some scary hobgoblins and trolls. And on a truly stunning spread, a humanoid magical tree spreads its branches to reveal a face within its foliage, while flowers unfold and rearrange their petals, turning into flower fairies. Visiting mythical beings around the world, from household brownies to the merfolk lurking deep below the sea, this breathtaking 3-D book, brimming with facts and fancy, will hold humans of all ages in its spell.

Introducing a dazzling new series premiere! The world’s pop-up masters invite you to peek inside the fairy realm as it transforms before your eyes.”
– Candlewick Press

My Thoughts:
This is one of the rare diamonds of a book I’ve come across in a long time. It is an astonishingly stunning book visually and full of fairy information fully researched. It is to me, the perfect fairy book for all ages.

It is so beautiful though, I would personally not let young children too close to it. They like to grab at things too much and would ruin it. It would be best to read to them with the child (not grabbing at it) and able to look at it in all its glory while being read to. It is a very special book, and if treated properly, it would become a very special book for the child as they grow up as well.

I’ve loved fairies for as long as I can remember. They are simply magical to me, and I’ve read everything I could on them for as long as I’ve been able to read. Finding information on fairies was however, not such an easy task as a child. Sure, there were fairy tales and the most known fairy of all, Tinkerbell. I was rather smart even at a young age though and wanted to know more. Our school librarian just explained they didn’t have anything else available. There was no internet then (or amazing books like this), so googling was out of the question too.

I highly recommend this book for all those who love fairies. It is also a perfect book for someone you know who does, or a child in the family who would love this book as well.

If you are interested in Fairies and Magical Creatures, check out the publisher’s webpage for it. Under the other resources listed for it is a video which shows the popup pages of the book and the other hidden surprises in the pages. Warning: this will make you want the book even more.

* Thank you to the publisher of Fairies and Magical Creatures, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 2, 2010

Restaurant Empire 2: Video Game Review

Restaurant Empire 2 is the sequel to the popular Restaurant Empire. This time around, you get to go further into the culinary field than ever before.

You get to take part in an exciting world where you are building a restaurant empire. The customers are much like real ones where they want the best – for the lowest possible price. They’re selective too. Aside from pleasing customers, you also have to keep your staff happy and train them to please the customers.

• Brand new 16-mission campaign giving you a look at the Leboufs as they tiptoe through the minefield of marriage and the unique challenges of professional success.
• State-of-the-art graphics engine that brings life to the cities, characters and restaurants that populate the world, providing a sense of unprecedented realism. Food has never looked this good!
• Two new enterprise categories -- Coffee Shop and Dessert House -- which complement the existing Restaurant enterprise. Each new category has more than 130 unique delicacies, beverages and recipes to choose from, leading to a total of over 600 different recipes in the game.
• New theme restaurants ranging from the Aquatic Deep and Exotic Rainforest to Motor Racing. You have never seen restaurants look this amazing!
• Over 700 new interior objects, bringing the total number of objects to 1,400. There is more variety than ever when setting up, decorating and managing your restaurant.
• Introducing German cuisine to complement the American, French and Italian food categories.
• Munich has been added as a city, joining Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.
• Hire live performers to perk up your restaurant’s atmosphere; choose from concert soloists, rock bands or circus artists.

- Restaurant Empire 2

Restaurant Empire 2 is the first restaurant Sim type game I’ve played. I was quite impressed with how fast it loads and wasn’t ever laggy or gave me any issues at all.

While playing through the campaign, I loved that they had such fun characters as Don Corleone who provided starter money for Armand to run his legit restaurant businesses, if he could meet his expectations money wise. One of those restaurants in Rome was called “La Cosa Nostra.” As a fan of mafia movies and shows, I really loved this.

Another colorful character which I quite liked was the hippie guy in Los Angeles who provided the best herbs and vegetables. What can I say, he grew “herbs” and was a “supplier.”

Overall, I quite liked the game and enjoyed playing it. It was fun and because it takes awhile to get through the missions, build up your restaurant, decorate it, etc, it is something you can enjoy for quite awhile.

Some improvements I would like to see if there will be a Restaurant Empire 3: a section with real recipes for the food you’re cooking (I’d like to try cooking some of those things!), the option to price food items the same at all of your restaurants, and the ability to just type in the quantity of items to purchase instead of just clicking one up or down each item.

* Thank you to the publisher of Restaurant Empire 2, Paradox Interactive, and Gamers Gate for providing me with a review copy of this game for the review. All opinions expressed are my own.

June 1, 2010

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a fascinating tale perfect for anyone who believes in magic, or perhaps got lost once (or twice) in a series of magic books themselves.

Book Description
The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world

”Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren't black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.”The Magicians

Want more? Read an excerpt from The Magicians by Lev Grossman here.

My Thoughts
The Magicians is based around Quentin Coldwater – an absurdly smart almost-adult set to embark on ridiculously hard classes at an Ivy League University. However, he instead ends up going to Brakebills - a college of magic.

Brakebills is not like any magic school in previous books I’ve read. The students there have to study insanely hard to get their spells right and have to memorize all kinds of conditions and exceptions to even cast a single spell. Even while attending a school of magic though, Quentin isn’t happy. He goes through emotions many college kids do, drinks, has sex, etc. This is no Hogwarts. It is much darker.

Quentin was obsessed about a series of books that took place in a magical land called Fillory. Even after he sees for himself that magic is quite real, he still wants to be in Fillory. Maybe then everything can be better. Perhaps the phrase that suits this best is, “be careful what you wish for.”

The Magicians is a page turner that sucks you in – be prepared to stay up all night reading to see what happens next.

Honestly, I was a bit undecided how I wanted to take this review. I liked the novel, I liked the characters, the story – mostly. I’m not going to give away the ending, but I will say that I don’t really like where the book went. Maybe the sequel: The Magician King (set for Summer 2011 release) will perhaps make some things right again in Quentin’s world in Fillory and Earth.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Magicians, Plume for providing me with a copy of this book for the review. All opinions expressed are my own.