In progress: cooking.

I have never been one who enjoys cooking. Not even a little. I love the outcome (food!) and I dislike the prep, waiting, and cleanup. Growing up I was always lucky to have a wonderful and talented grandpa who could put things that you wouldn’t think went together and make a yummy meal of them. He was the king of food improv, and when he would use cookbooks, would often combine a few recipes if he didn’t think one would give him the outcome he wanted.

I like things to be fast and easy, and if it isn’t, I won’t bother making it. So I have been asking other people what they cook so I can feed myself like an actual adult.

So far I have found that I really like non-pasta pasta. Out of all of the interesting variations out there, I love brown rice pasta the best. I’ve been making my own sauce with (gasp) real tomatoes, and I bought a steamer so I can have steamed veggies, not frozen. Any batch of food that I make is bigger than just one meal so I’ve been freezing it (great idea from my cousin) and saving the rest for later.

I’ve also found this food blog,  Spoon Fork Bacon, with pretty easy ideas if I want to get fancy. I tried the  Baked Asparagus Fries recipe the other night and they were really good. I didn’t do a dipping sauce but  if I make these when I have guests I totally would.

I have always brought my lunch to work, except for the few and far between days when I don’t have time to grab a frozen din out of the freezer. I recently bought a cute lunch bag that came with different containers and have nixed the frozen dinners. I hate making my lunch but I like that I’m eating fresh lunches and I feel like I’m spending less on frozen items. Except for the veggies and fruits-I have to buy these once or twice a week because, well, they’re fresh and I have to buy in small batches.

So that’s my big achievement for the year so far. And it’s a pretty big one because I still have to force myself to spend the time to cook when I’d rather be doing something else.

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I don’t think beauty products should be allowed to have the following in their names: miracle, wonder, instant, lineless, wrinkle-free, laser/lift/tightening/facelift/eyelift (unless we’re talking about the real surgical procedures), and flawless, to name a few. They are loaded words that appeal to emotions and give the user false hope that the products will be miraculous. The FDA here in the US does not regulate beauty products and many promises are delivered to consumers that the hottest skin care item was “Clinically tested and 100% of testers found it to be effective”, when perhaps there were only 80 people in the clinical trial. And the clinical trial was done by the company producing the product in a controlled environment. i.e. a “side effect” of product x could be darkening of hair, and all of the testers are already brunette, so therefore 100% of all testers did not experience that side effect.

I am a big believer in several OTC* skin care lines. I’ve seen my skin go from acne-prone to gorgeous, glowing, and clear with products I’ve purchased at Nordstrom and Sephora, when things the Derm tried didn’t work. It’s important to know that OTC and even prescription treatments may not completely eliminate a skin concern. I’m a big believer in trying OTC products first, then if needed, consult a derm. I’m also big on research. Most websites provide a list of ingredients. If you don’t know what something is, look it up. Know what you are putting on your skin, be aware of any interactions or precautions to take (if you are using a 10% glycolic wash, plus a 5% salicylic treatment, you must wear SPF to prevent sunburn and damage, plus you must know if it’s okay to use other products containing these ingredients and frequency of use).

I see soo many people who end up not liking a product because they didn’t give it enough time to work, or people who are mixing ingredients that should not be used all together. Please do not use an AHA/BHA cleanser every day, a glycolic toner, a vitamin c serum, a salicylic treatment, retinol every night, chemical peels twice a month, plus exfoliate with a scrub twice a week…and not wear SPF. Oh, and then get a brow wax (and not disclose the products you’re using to your esthetician) and then wonder why your skin is so much more sensitive than it was before. That’s just ridiculous overload and entirely too many active ingredients at one time. Likewise, I’ve seen those who don’t do anything to their skin and wonder why they have skin issues. I’ve even ran into women (and girls) who don’t wash their face and they wear makeup everyday! Oy.

Following directions: To see optimal results from any skin care product or treatment, one simply must, must, must use as directed. A pigmentation brightening treatment is not going to work in one week. Same with any type of anti-aging treatment or acne treatment. A single hair removal laser treatment at the derm is not going to treat a large area (there must be a series of treatments used). It must be used consistently and long enough to see results (this does not mean skipping treatments or using when you feel like it). Dermatologists, esthetician’s, and beauty industry sales associates are not telling you to be consistent just to hear themselves talk. It’s the truth, use as directed.

*OTC = over the counter. Any product containing an active ingredient (benzol peroxide, salicylic, glycolic acid, AHA/BHA,  titanium dioxide, etc) that’s readily available without a prescription at department or specialty stores and even drug stores.

Acupuncture for Anti-Aging?

August 12, 2010

 

I ❤ Diane Lane. I have liked most of her movies and I think she is adorable. I’m also kind of jealous that at 45, she has a glow that I don’t have at 28. She can, however, afford beauty treatments that I can’t. I usually DIY it, whereas she can shell out for treatments like acupuncture facials. According to the RealSelf blog, she gets regular acupuncture facials (also known as acupuncture “facelifts”) to help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. This treatment may also help under eye bags, firm facial contours, and aid in relief from other health issues, such as insomnia. Most acupuncture facials include the use of herbs, creams, and occasionally even light therapy for a more luxurious treatment.

Personally, I’ve considered acupuncture for my migraines but can not handle needles, no matter how small. Perhaps someday if I conquer my fear of needles, I will try it out. If it doesn’t help with my migraines maybe I will see beauty benefits?

Vegan Beauty Products

July 7, 2010

As more and more ladies and gents are becoming aware of the products they use, more companies are responding by creating parabin free products and even vegan products. I’ve been trying to compile a list of such companies for my readers, but it’s been a long road because some brands will have some vegan items while others in the line are not. Also, some vegan products are not classified as natural and vice versa.

On my search today, I found a small but reliable list of vegan goodies at Beauty and The Blog  for you all to check out until I finalize my own list. It will probably be a while before it’s posted because my July and August are pretty crazy booked, and I’ll try to post it as soon as I can.

 

I purchased the Sephora Sun Safety kit  this year, just as I always do every year, to see if I can find my new holy grail of sun protection. The 2010 kit included Kate Somerville SPF 55 Sunscreen Serum, my new love. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, is great for my oily skin because it’s oil free and non greasy, and does not have a scent. I am so so so so hooked on this product that I had to go buy the full size. I had to order online, though, because my local Sephora only carries three Kate Somerville products. 

 The other suncreeens in the Sephora kit weren’t really anything amazing, though I did like the Jack Black Lip Balm in Lemon and Chamomile. I’ve been using the balm in Mint for several years and might switch to the Lemon version because the scent is uplifting. The kit also includes Bliss Best of Skintentions Moisturizer with SPF, which I have also been using since it launched. Another honorable mention goes to Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15, for its light weight formula that works well under makeup.

Bandeau swim top pictured above is from Vitamin A.

 When I’m laying at home sick in bed the last thing that crosses my mind is keeping up with my beauty routine. As of late, I’ve been feeling quite under the weather. The only thing I want to do is sleep, drink juice, sleep some more, and watch old movies. There are certain beauty items, however, that will sometimes sneak their day into my sick days and make me feel a little better or occupy my time, if only temporarily.

1. Sephora Collection Colorful Mini Nail buffers, $8 for pack of 3; Sephora.com: I am really bad at keeping my nails up. They get filed and trimmed a few times per month and maybe even a coat of clear polish or the occasional swipe of colored polish. Other than that, I keep my nails fairly low maintenance. I like to keep these mini buffers on hand for quick fixes (snagged nails, uneven nail bed). I also love whipping one out when I’m sick in bed and watching TV to pass the time.

2. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm, $6.95; lush.com: I love this moisturizing balm for sick days because it’s not sticky, greasy,  absorbs quickly, and won’t end up on my pillow when I’m napping. Thanks to a blend of shea butter and oilve oil, the hydrating formula feels great on the lips without leaving residue. It also features honey, a natural humectant, to hold moisture in.

3. Caudalie Grape Water Mini, $8 for 1.6 oz; Sephora.com: If you follow this blog, you’ll know that one of my go-to “It” brands is Caudalie. I use and adore a lot of their products. I always have a mini Grape Water on hand for spritzing anytime I feel dry or need an instant boost. I love chilling one in the fridge to mist myself with when I’m running a fever. It feels lovely, cool, and I love that I’m giving my skin an antioxidant boost at the same time. *Also great for hot summer days.* 

4. Carol’s Daughter Body Aches Bath Salts, $18 for 16 oz; sephora.com: I love these bath salts for when I’m sick or after an intense workout (especially Jackie Warner’s workout DVD’s). Peppermint, sea salt, and epsom salt help to ease muscle aches, while lavender calms the senses. I’m not a fan of the little floating lavender bits in my tub so I used an old nylon or cheesecloth to filter the salts under running water. 

5. Fresh Rose Face Mask, $55; fresh.com: Another of my go-to brands is Fresh. I love the luxe formula’s and simple yet elegant packaging. I love the decadent rose mask because it helps to hydrate and sooth the delicate skin around my nose when I’m sick. Sometimes I will even leave a little on when I’m napping to protect the area. It’s calming effect is thanks to rose, cucumber, and aloe. If I need to make a brief appearance anywhere, say a visit to the doc or pharmacy, it’s a great quick fix for the mild facial puffiness I get when I’ve been laying down for a while. 

6. Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizing Stick, $22; sephora.com: Argan oil and vitamin E hydrate and nourish the skin in a quick and easy to apply stick formula. I love this handy tool for it’s multi-tasking abilities: as a quick body hydrator (elbows, cuticles, hands, feet, knees), a quick lip “balm,” around the nose,  to slick back any stray or flyaway hair and to hydrate the ends of my hair. It’s a great on the go beauty item and also fab for sick days when you don’t want to put in much effort. 

Some favorite movies to watch when I’m sick include: The Thin Man (any in the series, especially the orginal), North by Northwest, any Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Working Out in Jeans?

May 26, 2010

I was at the gym yesterday and spotted a man running on the treadmill in jeans. I’ve seen it before, usually with guys lifting weights, and I think it’s rather odd. Working out in denim seems like it would be uncomfortable and would also make your jeans smelly. Has anyone else seen this?

Lush Figs and Leaves Soap

November 18, 2009

 Mmmmmm. I love Lush’s Figs and Leaves Soap because it smells like a little peace of heaven. The scent is light, slightly clean and also a little foody. It also feels divine and exfoliates without being messy or leaving behind a film. Figs and Leaves exfoliates with fig seeds and is scented with essentials oild of ylang ylang, orange blossom absolute, and added fragrance.I love this because it’s gentle, smells divine, feels wonderful on my skin, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. The only downside, for me, are the leaves on the top of the soap. Sure, it’s pretty decoration, but it gets mushy with use and can clog the drain. I just simply peel the leaves off after my first use. I discovered this soap thanks to a little sample that a nice sales lady added into my bag and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love it during fall and winter the most and will sometimes indulge in a bar during other months as well.This soap ranges in price in store depending on the size you get and the online quote for a 3.5 oz bar is $7.60. You can also have the lovely sales people at the store cut your very own custom bar as well.

Lush is best known for its natural approach to skin, body, and hair care. Sometimes synthetic materials (man-made) are used and they strive to use skin and eco-friendly versions. There are several locations world-wide and the online store is the only place to find “Retro Lush” items (previously discontinued products). Many items are also vegan friendly.

Fun Times: The Flat Tire

November 12, 2009

flat

I was having a marvelous day off last Monday. I slept in, got a little holiday shopping done, and was on my way to get my brows waxed when I heard a loud BOOM. It sounded as if something had hit the roof of my car and I was worried it cracked the glass on my sunroof. I pulled over, checked the top of my car and all looked fine. I also checked the rest of the car and everything looked fine so I drove on for a few miles. Nothing sounded or seemed out of the ordinary until I suddenly wasn’t able to accelerate. Shortly afterward, I started slowing down even though I was pressing the gas. I pulled over again, got out, and saw that I had a flat. I’ve only ever had a flat tire once before and also didn’t realize it was flat for quite some time (until a nice lady  flagged me down).

Even though I didn’t have many warning signs of a flat that I immediately recognized, it’s good to know what to look for. I can’t tell you how to change a flat (I know it’s supposed to be easy but I still haven’t learned how) but I can inform you of the basics of tire care:

-I always get my tires rotated on schedule. This helps them to wear evenly and it’s also a great way to know if you need any repair work done (retreading, etc.) or if your tire shop expert notices any potential problems for the future. They will also usually check your pressure (if not, ask them to). I take great care of my tires since they are pretty big investment and sometimes no matter what you do, flats will still happen. If you don’t know how many thousand miles to have them rotated, ask your local shop.

-You should also always check your tire pressure at least once a month. To do this, you can purchase a gauge, which is relatively inexpensive, at your auto parts store or any store that sells basic auto products (Target, Walmart). I prefer to have my own so that I can check the pressure anytime and anywhere. Most gas stations also have air you can fill your tires with and the hoses usually have a gauge that you can use for free. Side note for Californians: It is now illegal for gas stations to charge you for air use. To find out the desired pressure for your tires, there is often a chart on the driver side door of your vehicle, in your owner manual, or you can ask when you purchase your tires or have them rotated. The place I purchase my tires from will also check my levels for free and fill them if needed. Many places will also do this for free or a small fee.

-If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately!  If you need to pull over due to a flat or stall (for any reason), try to do so safely and pull off to a safe spot. Grip your steering wheel firmly and steer carefully, minding traffic conditions around you. Do not slam on your brakes and don’t stop in traffic as it may cause an accident. Turn on your blinker to alert drivers of your lane change. If you remember to turn on your emergency flashers, now would be an ideal time to do so. Carefully exit your car (preferably on the side NOT adjacent to the road) and stand off to the side of the road.

-If you carry emergency flares, place them 300 feet away from your car. If you have a second pair, those should be placed about ten feet from the first set. Flares are especially needed at night or in bad weather to warn other drivers that you are on the side (or middle) of the road. There are now LED flares on the market that can be re-used several times.

-If you are not able to accelerate, it’s a good idea to pull over and inspect your tires. This, for me, has always been a sign that I had a flat.

-Some people hear a flapping sound or a boom when they have a flat. It’s always good to pull off and investigate.

-If you have a cell phone, always make certain it is charged or that you have a car charger in case of emergency. It is also a good idea to have emergency numbers on hand to refer to: road side assistance or a tow company, your highway patrol, and someone you can count on for a temporary loan if you don’t have charge or cash on hand (or someone who will be nice enough to drive you to a bank or ATM).

-I believe that it is best to over prepared then not prepared at all. I keep an emergency kit in my car that consists of: a blanket, plastic rain gear (pants and jacket), a change of warm clothes, socks, old shoes, two jackets, a gallon of water, flares, bungee cords, jumper cables, a travel-friendly tool kit, a large towel, paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, and a personal toiletry bag (new disposable razor, sample packs of cleanser, moisturizer, spf, eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a small brush, extra hair pins, and a tooth-brush and tooth paste. Plus, I always carry two flash lights and I check the batteries every six months.

It’s always good to expect the best and also be ready for the worst.