Monday, April 29, 2013

Slowing Down

I know I've been trying to work out/do yoga/take fitness classes/go jogging at least 3-4 days a week. Plus blog 2x a week, stay on top of my game at work, and sleep at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Not to mention keeping up with the Mister and his all over the place schedule. It's hard when I work 9-5, and he works nights. I end up staying up late, waiting for him to get home. Let's just say it's not working out. I'm not getting the sleep I need, I'm crashing during the day, and making myself sick (although that's the ever changing weather getting to me.) So last week I gave up on fitness things. Gave the diet a brief break. I was sick and exhausted. Not going to lie, I did cave into some cravings (damn you marshmallow pies!) but I haven't been too bad. It's been a nice change of pace. But I know I can't throw all that hard work away. I lost 6 lbs since the beginning of April! It may not seem like a lot, but its a personal achievement for me. While my goal is to lose about 20 more lbs, it's not necessarily about numbers - whether it be pounds, inches or size. I more want to be healthy and fit. Feel comfortable with myself and not out of breath from running up the stairs to catch my bus/train.

I don't even want to go there with the weight that I supposedly need to lose. According to my Wii Fit Plus and the Wellness Program at my job, I need to lose a little over 40 lbs to be "healthy" according to the BMI scale. Yep. My BMI number is in the "obese" range. Dropping 40 lbs would put me at a "normal" BMI. I'll be going more into details about this in a future post because it does piss me off to no end. I know I'm not healthy, that I could shed a few pounds and tone up. But placing me in the obese category based on a formula that doesn't account for body type, muscle vs fat, male vs female. It's insane. The 40 lbs they want me to lose would make me look about as real as Barbie. I got hips, breasts, thighs. I'm not trying to look like a stick... Ugh. I'm done. There will be a rant post about this very soon.

I have jury duty this week, so I'm sure I won't be posting until that's over. Sorry for the mini rant above. I will reveal all my numbers too, so we'll get to know each other very well. LOL

til the next time,
- L

PS: I didn't forget about the giveaway. Just really lazy right now. Soon though! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In a Pinch

I get laughed at for some of my unconventional ways, but there is always a method to my madness. These are some tips I have come across over the years and actually put to use, some I just thought of randomly. Desperate times call for desperate measures. You can't always be prepared for it all, but you can try!

Makeshift dryer. I actually did this this morning, so don't laugh! My hair was a mess, left the house late (what else is new) and I couldn't deal with it. There was only so much brushing through it could do, so I wet my hair in the bathroom sink and braided it up in 2. Once at my desk, I used my heater to warm me up and dry my hair. Took the braids out, and Voila! Nice, pretty waves. Works well to dry clothes too. Don't have a heater? The hand dryers in the bathrooms can work too, just takes a lot longer to get the job done.

Dry, rough hands? You've been too busy to keep up maintenance on your manicure and your hands are screaming for justice. Whip up a quick sugar scrub on the go. This can be done almost anywhere. And I do mean anywhere. I'm guilty of this as well (shhh no judgement remember?) I find time at work during lunch or break to grab a packet of sugar from the coffee area and make amends with my hands. I just glob some lotion in the palm of my hand, pour the sugar over it (white sugar, because let me tell you the Sugar in the Raw was too painful!) and mix it up and rinse. Instant scrub on the go. My hands thank me for it when I'm done. You can use just about anything to make it work. If you're home, most any oil will do. If you're really in a pinch, just use some soap and you have a lathering scrub. No sugar? No problem! Salt will work just as well, just be careful with coarse salts.

Run in your tights? A little dab of clear nail polish, nail glue, or crazy glue will stop it in its tracks. Pull it away from your skin first if using glues. I've had a bad experience with gluing my tights to my leg. :-X

Oily, greasy face? Don't laugh at this one. Oily skinned gals there is a cheaper (and sometimes free) solution to oil blotting papers. You know the toilet seat liners? They work as oil blotters in a real tight situation. They don't mess with your makeup and absorb oil instantly.

Gaping shirt? Broken zipper? Safety pins and tape can get you very far. If none are on hand, rubber bands and paper clips to the rescue. I've made a fancy rubber band belt in my day.

No hair pins? Paper clips and binder clips can help you out. Not recommended for thick, curly, or natural hair.

Were these helpful? Amusing? Have tips of your own? Drop it in the comment box!

- L

Friday, April 12, 2013

Good Things...

... come to those who wait, work hard to get them, and deserve them. I can finally share with you all that my good thing has finally come. I was temping for this company long term - 1 year next week to be exact, and as of the 1st of the month I am an official PERMANENT employee. Yep, I got lucky. They decided to hire me. Come Monday morning I sign off on the rest of the paper work and do my orientation. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have some stability, benefits, and a salary. Honestly this is my first salaried position. I won't take it for granted. I worked too hard to get here. I also know how many people are out there struggling that would kill for an opportunity like this. I'm thankful. There are no words to really express how I feel. Relieved? Excited? Happy? Nervous? I was ecstatic when I received the offer letter, and my eyes damn near fell out of my head when I saw the salary. More than I was asking for, and more than I thought they were going to give me. I'm so thankful they were that generous. This will give me the opportunity to start get my life in order. The Mister and I recently got ourselves a little hoopty to get around in, so with the car and steady income, we can breathe a little easier. Better things are coming, I see it on the horizon!

Blessings to you all!
- L

Monday, April 8, 2013

Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Oil-Free B.B. Cream

I thought I had blogged about the original Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector, but I guess not. Oops. Anyway I had tried the first Garnier BB cream last year, but wasn't quite satisfied with it. It left my already oily skin even oilier and while the coverage was good, I couldn't handle the shine. No matter what setting powder I used, the oil came right through. It's like it never even dried, it just instantly turned to oil. So I switched back to Missha and kept the Garnier around for emergencies. I wasn't aware of the oily/combination formula until this campaign and I have to say its an improvement. The coverage is the same as the original, but is much more matte. It lasts throughout a typical work day without greasing up. The color/shade is close to original formula, but to me it looks a tad bit lighter on my face than in the tube. I think it's just me and the horrible lighting in my bathroom. I use the Medium/Deep in both the original and oil-free formula. They are both a little on the pink side of the spectrum (in my opinion) but not enough to alter skin tone drastically. I actually have learned to embrace pink tones, otherwise yellow tones make me look jaundiced and half dead.

I prefer the original tube/dispensing better though :-\

While Garnier's Miracle Perfector is not as full coverage as the Asian BB creams, it's pretty decent. I can put this on and go without worrying about blemishes or red spots. That's what I need. I'm far from high maintenance and don't like spending hours putting on makeup. This blends in well, not too dark or light, and once it settles/oxidizes, its an almost perfect match. The oil-free formula does dry up pretty quickly compared to the original, so you do have to work fast. And it is a lot runnier/thinner than the original. It makes it hard to squeeze the right amount out of the tube because it just runs out everywhere. I haven't had any issues with it streaking, but I do a quick once over with clean, damp hands to smooth and add a little moisture back to my face. The one downside to this oil free formula, if I have dry spots on any parts of my face, this will cling to it like crazy. My cheeks have their dry moments, so I use a little of the Triple Nutrition Oil or jojoba oil on the dry spots first. I give it a few to absorb and then use the BB cream. Voila, magical results. The matte finish makes me look airbrushed - a good thing in my book. After a few hours I end up with a more natural finish, without being a grease ball. A win for me.

Original formula on left, Oil Free on right
Both blend in pretty seamlessly.

Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Oil-Free BB Cream claims to "control shine, minimize pores, even skin tone, hydrate, and protect with SPF 20 sunscreen."  I can say that it manages to do most of those things. I can't say it minimizes pores, I see no difference. I honestly don't think there is a product in the world that will help with that. But it controls shine, evens out my dark spots and red areas. The key to keeping oil at bay - Perlite. It absorbs twice its weight in oil/water to control shine/grease. A miracle for me :)

Bare face on left; 1 layer Garnier on right (no concealer or anything else)
Garnier alone on my face with 4 hours of sleep @ 6:30 am on a Sat. lol

- Good light/medium coverage (is build-able without getting cakey)
- Non-greasy, keeps oiliness at bay
- No breakouts with my sensitive skin

- The squeeze nozzle it is messy, can't stand the tube on its cap
- Not enough shades to cover the whole spectrum

- contains SPF 20. Some think this is fantastic, others think its too low. For reference, my Missha has SPF 45 UVA/UVB. Depends on your preference.

Overall, I would keep using this and probably replace Missha, since I can't get that in stores, but I can get the Garnier practically anywhere. It's sold in all your typical pharmacy stores as well as Target and Walmart. Definitely worth a try if you're on the market for something quick and easy in the mornings.

- L

***I was not paid for the review. This Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector was sent to me for free by BzzAgent to evaluate and provide feedback.***

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit Review

This is a long time coming, I was supposed to write this review weeks awhile ago, but I've been lazy. There is a whole list of things I have been meaning to blog about, but haven't. I totally copped out with that Wordless Wednesday post too. -__- There just has been a lot going on at work and hopefully when it's all done, I can share with you, but just know good things for sure. Back to the review!

I have been looking into these gel kits for a little while, but I was slightly skeptical. I had only gotten gel done a few times, years ago. Even then they just used it as a top coat for my acrylics. Since I vowed never to do acrylics or anything remotely damaging to my nails, I've had to deal with a cycle of growing out and breaking until my nails were strong enough to be on their own. I had read up on gel manicures and the pros/cons and cost. I decided it wasn't something I needed. Enter the Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit. It looked interesting, even if it was wildly expensive by my standards. So I sat on it, did some research and read reviews on the various at home kits out there. Finally I decided to go with Sally Hansen. I've used their nail strips, top coats, and nail polishes before and they haven't disappointed me. They must know their stuff right? It definitely helped that there was a super sale at Target and I got the kit for $61.99! They usually retail anywhere between $64.99 to about $72.99, depending on store and location. You can get these at most Walmarts, Targets, Duane Reade/Walgreens etc. I was super excited and just picked it up right away. It was a sign from above that I had to have it. I was a little disappointed that they didn't have the color I wanted, only Wine Not and Shell We Dance. I had really wanted to try Red My Lips. No biggie. I took up Wine Not (Shell We Dance looked to pale for my tastes, although it could be pretty on others.) I will admit it still took me a few days before I broke it open and used it. I felt a little intimidated by it, as silly as that sounds.

This is everything that come in the box, full sized polishes and nice size acetone
I can tell you that once I read the directions, it wasn't that bad. I dove right in and went at it. Surprisingly easy, if not a little tedious, steps. Shape and clean nails - the nail wipes are just alcohol pads. Base coat, cure, one layer of gel polish, cure, second layer, cure, top coat, cure. Final wipe with alcohol and done. Just be careful to not get any on your cuticles or skin. I learned the hard way when I let it all cure and tried to peel it off afterwards. It ended up lifting it off my nail and I was left with a horrible mess. Some reviews I read, people were complaining that it was still sticky or wet when cured and never dried. Yes it is sticky when you finish curing, but that stickiness is what you wipe away with that final swipe of alcohol. After that, luxurious shine and hard to touch nails. Also one coat had pretty good coverage, at least in this color. I probably didn't need 2 coats.

First attempt - color is not true to the bottle/box

 Since a lot of the polish peeled off when I was trying to get it off my cuticles, I took it off after a few days. Take off was not as bad as I was expecting it to be. No where near as horrible as soaking off acrylics. I soaked some cotton balls with acetone, put it on my nails with the foil and watched some TV. I actually forgot about it and left it on for about 20 minutes instead of the 10-15 you're supposed to. But when I unwrapped them, the polish all flaked off. No scraping or buffing. I was shocked. It was a nice and welcome surprise! I used the kit again, but experimented. I used it over regular nail polish to see what would happen. I used the gel base coat, then applied 2 coats of my nail polish and 2 coats of the gel top coat. It didn't come out as nicely as I wanted, but I think I would try again using only the top coat.

ELF Smoky Brown. Excuse the ashy skin
It lasted about a week before I took it off. I got sick of the color. LOL but it lasted pretty well with minor chipping. Definitely longer than regular polish alone. It definitely wasn't as strong as the gel polish either, as 2 of my nails broke :( After I took it off, I tried the gel polish again. I wanted it to last because I was leaving for Easter weekend and I wanted my nails to look good and last through the weekend. I took my time and got it down, wrapped my edges and everything! I was so proud of myself. It lasted a good while too. I did my nails Tuesday night before Easter and took them off the Monday after. That's about 6-7 days? Minor chipping, I could have dealt with it, but the color gets tiring. And my cuticles were getting really bad from not keeping up. I will never win! But I for sure will continue to use this kit and buy more gel polishes here and there. I will figure out the best way to use my regular polishes as well.

2nd attempt. Much better. Trying out watermarks
slight chipping. horrible cuticles.
  • Easy to use, clear instructions
  • LED light is less harmful than UV light
  • Removal is painless, doesn't require scraping
  • Long lasting, doesn't damage nails
  • Color was not true to the color on the bottle cap, or on the box
Other than that, I can't really come up with any other cons. That my friends is a good thing. I am in love with this, and am not letting it go.

Have any of you tried any at home gel kits? Got some tips and tricks?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Weekend

I started to write up this post on the plane, but then I got side tracked. Typical me. >__< Anyway, I went away this weekend to visit my family in Missouri, and it was a good change of pace that I needed. It was quiet and peaceful, a big difference from the hustle and bustle of NYC. They lived in the burbs, and you needed to drive everywhere. It was a little annoying that I couldn't just walk to anything. But I guess that's the trade off. I was able to sleep in, relax, and just get some 'me' time in. The houses out there are so beautiful, it really got me thinking. I am now officially done with NY. I wouldn't go as far as MO, but I need to leave the Big Apple. MD is looking pretty sweet since so many family members seem to be moving there. But it all depends on the Mister. This is a joint decision. It also won't happen for awhile because I just got settled in at this job. The benefits are too good to walk away from. I've waited so long to make it happen. Still if everyone stays in MD, it's easier to see everybody, especially since his mom lives out there too.

I just want to be around my family more. It felt really awesome seeing them and spending good quality time catching up and hanging out. We used to be so close when everyone was still in Brooklyn. I miss it. I really do. :-/ I feel like we've grown apart and there are only a few of my cousins I speak to on a regular basis. I know everyone has their own things to deal with, their own lives, but dag I want back to the good ol' days..

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Good things are coming.