Category Archives: Misc

Weekly Updates + Summer Fun

*I’ll have a review + giveaway coming up today! I read the lovely novel, Little Black Dress, by the very talented Susan McBride that was just released yesterday! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. If you’re a lover of women’s lit, stay tuned!

I also have two new Betty Confidential articles:

Heat Resistant, Budge-Proof Makeup

10 Must-Have Make-up Brushes

 

Here are a few Healthy Living articles!

Turn off the T.V. and Get Together: Family Activities Before Summer Ends!

Newborn Tips for the Devoted Dad

How Nature Entwines Our Lives: Why is nature so important to us? 

Ok….so besides writing and reading, I can’t seem to stop throwing myself into crafts! Maybe it’s because I sense

that summer is coming to the end and I don’t want the summer fun to stop. Or maybe I’m sympathy nesting. Another sister of mine is expecting 🙂

For starters, my husband and I made two matching nightstands. Ok, he built them and I stained them. But I did help! As much as one can when their hiding from saw dust. But they turned out beautifully and I’m quite proud!

After we stood back to admire our work, we looked     around our place. We needed a new bookcase. I…umm…have a lot of books…! We drafted up a design after searching the internet for ideas and made ourselves a bookcase! This time in addition to staining, I helped nail in the backing.

What I did do in the spare time as he was measuring twice and cutting once..ish, I picked up a time honored tradition in my family: the fine art of crocheting. My mother taught my sisters and I how to crochet when we were little and it’s still something we do when we get together every winter. We make scarves, hats, and blankets. While it may not be very modern, it’s something I just love to do!

I finally finished my blanket today. And now I have the bug. I can’t stop myself. I want to make another while sipping a martini (ok maybe really coffee) and watching a chick flick. Sigh…I love summer!

I also got a new short summer haircut and I’m loving it…and so is my hubby 🙂

What will you miss the most about summer? I’m definitely going to miss the sweet scent of freshly cut grass, food being grilled, and plants and wild flowers thriving.

Oh Deer!

With fall right around the corner….who am I kidding…at my door step and each day bringing new time draining tasks, I…my husband and I decided to take a weekend getaway up to Niagara Falls. After all its only a 6 hour drive away! We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and spent the day in New York. After picking my jaw up off the ground at the sight of The Falls (it was truly spectacular), we donned our complimentary blue slickers and got drenched on historic The Maid of the Mist.

I had been forewarned that you get wet when the boat gets up close and personal with the Falls, so I had a plan. Not wanting to get my hair wet, I spent the majority of the time using my blue slicker as a cocoon, peering at the Falls from underneath it! That way I didn’t look like I went over the Falls in a barrel! Which I learned was a common death wish practice in the 1800s.

The day was magical. We walked every square inch of the park and took a few million photos. Then, we crossed into Canada for dinner. The next morning, we ate the breakfast part of the B&B and took a “scenic” route home. One hour from Niagara, we hit a deer. It jumped right out in front of me! All I had time to do was let out an ear splitting scream and slam on my breaks.

Besides considerable damage to the front of the car, we quickly noticed we were leaking radiator fluid everywhere. The car wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere. We found ourselves six hours from home, stranded on the side of the road. Due to the lovely fact that it was Sunday: nothing was open. No car rental. No auto shop. Just us and some fur.

Thankfully, the tow truck driver offered to drop us off at a nearby hotel and we weathered out the storm with a hot meal from Pizza Hut and endless amounts of Iron Chef on Food Network. We finally arrived home late yesterday after leaving our baby car in NY. We told it not to worry. We had been assured the shop will have it fixed in couple of weeks….besides, I hear they serve the best radiator fluid around, which is like hospital room jello for good little cars. 😀

I forgot to mention that we had no electronic communication. We had left our laptops at home because it was a classified “fun” weekend. Apologies for announcing the winner of the last giveaway a day late. If it hadn’t been for a series of unfortunate events, I would have been on time.

Alice in Wonderland

As a lover of classic fairy tales and Tim Burton movies, I could not wait for this movie to hit theatres. It was everything I ever wanted in an updated version of Alice in Wonderland. Now, I am forever grateful it was not made any earlier. Without the amazing graphics and CG technology, it wouldn’t have been anything special. Just like how Lord of the Rings would have been comical if it had been produce earlier. This movie is set as the sequel to the life of Alice and Wonderland of the original Disney movie. The movie took a new, dazzling role while still keeping true to the original movie’s best references.

*If you are not a fan of Tim Burton, do not be dissuaded. I actually did not see Tim Burton’s traditional influence on this movie in the least. Perhaps it is because his humor matched the true character of the movie than any other film he has done before.

The actors and actresses were brilliantly casted. Johnny Depp played a truly mad hatter that brought life to the fictional character. Mia Wasikowska was the perfect fit for a bewildered Alice. Helena Bonham Carter brought excessive laughter and a new depth of crazy as the Red Queen. Anne Hathaway took a new role by playing the white queen (the red queen’s baby sister) but I’m not sure the role was as convincing as the other characters.

Basic Plot:

The movie begins with Alice’s imaginative entrepreneur father pushing the envelope with his business partners. Of course, a little girl who had another nightmare interrupts them. In fact, it’s the same nightmare that always involves falling down a dark hole and meeting a blue caterpillar. The film fast-forwards to an adult Alice on the way to a high-class party as she laments to her mother (her father past away) that she never has any new dreams. Once she arrives, she is paired with a stuffy young man named Hamish to dance with and soon finds out that she is at her own engagement party. Surprise, Alice!

As a huge crowd gathers and Hamish asks for her hand in marriage, Alice sees a white rabbit in a waistcoat beckoning to her. She panics and flees after the rabbit where she falls down a long dark hole. The adult Alice finds herself locked into a room with many doors and she does not have the slightest trace of memory from that long time ago. As far as she is concerned, she must be having a dream that she cannot wake from.

In this new Wonderland, we find out that the Red Queen has taken over and enslaved the animal race to do her bidding. How else can she have a nice, warm pig’s belly for her aching feet? Those inhabitants who still hold any hope, drew Alice back to Wonderland on purpose. It has been foretold that only Alice can slay the Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky is a dragon like creature that the Red Queen uses as her right hand to instill fear and loyalty.

However, not everyone agrees that she is the right Alice and not even a trip to the blue caterpillar clears up the matter. The Mad Hatter is certain she is the right Alice and informs her that she lost her Muchness (her driven soul if you will).

Soon enough, the Red Queen hears of Alice’s return, tracks her down, and captures the Mad Hatter instead. In the commotion of the Red Queen’s army of playing cards, the Mad Hatter reduces Alice to the size of a pencil in order to keep her safe. What can such a small person due, especially if they have no muchness? You’re going to have watch it to find out.

This movie is truly amazing. If you’re an imaginative person, you must see this movie as soon as possible. Otherwise, I’ll start to wonder if you have lost your muchness too.

Must have Beauty Products, Part 3

When it comes to beauty products of any kind, I have tried them all. In my midst of my quest, a few of the winners have stood out. The ones I go back to get….and back….and back to buy after the fact.

Skin: Gone are the days where milky white skin was revered. Instead, you need that “I’ve been basking in the sun all day long” look to blend in these days. With the summer approaching, the topic of ways to make your skin look tan is important. In the 90’s, you literally did spend a few hours in the sun. Unfortunately, if you’re not fond of wrinkles or skin caner, everyone retreated inside to the tanning salons. Problem solved right? Nope. Tanning salons still use UV light. UV light causes DNA damage. Your skin’s cells response to this is to produce more melanin. The color compound that makes your skin darker. That means the natural act of tanning is damaging. The only solution is to avoid the sun and salon’s and get your tan from a can. The only problem here if you have tried traditional tanning creams is that they leave you looking orange. Not to mention the fact that your “tan” rubs off on your pillows and clothes and the questionable chemicals in self-tanners. But do not despair: there is light at the end of this tunnel. Organic tanning creams. The one below is used by Kristen Davis from Sex and the City. She used it to give her skin that sunglow while producing her latest movie Couples Retreat. It applies a lot of color with just one application and does not smear on your skin.

*Try: Chocolate Sun Sunless Tanning Cream

-Just a note on this one: When you apply it, it produces a “tingling sensation.” That means it burns a little which is important depending on who you are.

Eyelashes: Having the right eyelash curler is a must if you want your eyes to stand out. The problem with most applicators, especially the metal ones, is that they pinch your eyelid. Moreover, other applicators do not lift your eyelashes enough to bring out the desired effect for a long period time, making you have to pull out your applicator every few of hours. Plastic eyelash curlers do the trick. The one listed below in particular is beyond brilliant. It allows you to get incredibly close to your lashes without the pain, holds up your lashes for hours, and the company has a life long warranty on the product.

*Try: Go Curl Pocket Eyelash Curler by Japonesque

Eye shadow: On the subject of the eyes, Ulta has the best eye shadows I’ve ever seen that change depending on the season. Plus, there is always a “buy one get one free” deal when you are shopping.

*Favorite types: Lustre, Flirty, Sage, Couture Pink.

Exfoliate: To keep your skin clear, it is important to exfoliate every now and then. Why? It removes dead skin cells and leaves your face feeling smoother, fresher, and cleaner. However, if you exfoliate your skin too much you are doing more damage than good to your skin. Less is more when it comes to your delicate face. There are a lot of face creams out there that exfoliate. The problem I have always found is that they are to ruff. The solution is simple. A face brush will provide you with a soft, sweeping motion across your fragile face. The plus side of this is that you can swab your current face wash on the tip of the brush without having to buy yet another face wash or cream.

*Try: Earth Therapeutics Softouch Complexion Brush

Have any other products I missed that you love? Let me know with your comments!

Let us eat cake

Strawberry goodness in every bite

If you listen to the “news” you would think the world is ending. For one thing, we’re killing the environment. This world will never ever be the same. Ironically, that is the nature of the earth. Nothing is the same. Arguably so, we are leaving an artificial litter dent that takes away from nature’s beauty and the fellow inhabitants, including us.

Every one except politicians or policy shareholders are poor. Jobs are scarce. As if money wasn’t already tight, we found out it can always get that much harder. Now that our short term, long term future, and descendent future is in trouble, let’s move on to what else is really worrying the average American.

We’re fat. Not just overweight but an increasing number of people are becoming morbidly obese. We’re all going to be “Walle’s.” Big rolls of blubber that only exercise their arms so they can reach for more food. The best part of that movie is the new take on robots. They didn’t take over the world, we made them the housemaids. At least, it presented a view that is humorous.

By the way, we are also surrounded by chemicals and pollution in our water. Our food is chemically altered, slapped with pesticides and/or preservatives, and then shipped to a store for us. Sure you can buy local. That organic apple is now $50 which should be easy considering the fact that we have even less money.

And by the way, all of that man made stuff in our foods and the fact that we have become sloths gives us a pretty long list of ailments from cancer to diabetes to infertility to restless leg syndrome.

Yet, we’re living longer. The people who live over 100 years of age are increasing every day. Now, we’re a bunch of confused Homer Simpsons.

We’re also incredibly violent which can be seen from the basic television ads to the high crime rates. This only shows us that as humans, we have no boundaries. Maybe since we are all headed for calamity, we like to watch it on our television screen.

This is enough truly terrifying information to make a five year old experience chest pains. The sad thing is that we are bombarded every day with it. The media outlets especially like to remind everyone where the suffering is and what else we need to worry about. Do that on your Monday through Friday. But on Saturday, try something different.

“Take a break from your problems” and enjoy a slice of cake. Don’t worry about the calories. I’m not saying eat the whole cake or wash it down with five brownies. Do take the time to enjoy some of the best things in life. Hiking, reading, laughing, snow, and cake. We’re all different people. Don’t worry about the money you used to buy the cake. Instead, channel it towards other things such as the third purse you bought this month. Don’t worry if it has high fructose corn syrup or red dye #40. Just close your eyes and enjoy. Don’t worry about whether or not its dinner or dessert for you. You’ll make up your mind later. You’re ok as long as you don’t do this everyday. I promise. If you do avoid little life pleasures like these, your taking away the only thing we have left. Our humanity.

Ways to Save Money Part 2

In hard economic times, saving money is on everyone’s mind. It’s on that old priority list. However, the problem comes with the “how” part. Here are a few ways to save money in all areas of your life that will benefit your finances in no time.

Credit Cards: The Big Sister who always lends us money. They’re someone you love to hate. This is important if you have multiple cards you are paying every month. When you make a payment, remember to pay an average of ten dollars over the minimum limit. This will get your credit score healthy and is simple to do. Instead of trying to pay off multiple cards slowly, channel bigger payments to one card. When you pay off that one card, your credit limit will increase which results in an increase in your credit score as well. Keep your credit score happy.

Food: The advice always is “eat at home to save money.” However wonderful that philosophy is, it’s not practical. Instead when you eat out, split meals with your partner. Serving sizes in restaurants are bigger and bigger these days. There is enough food and calories on most plates to feed two people. Try it and you will cut that bill in half. When you do cook at home, make enough food for leftovers. The biggest problem people face when trying to eat at home is time. They don’t have the time it takes to cook food after a long day, especially not if you are already famished. A good solution is to make large quantities when you do have the time to cook so you have a few leftovers to last you at least a couple of days. Furthermore, save some of your ingredients from one dish and throw into tomorrow’s dinner to save time.

Gas: Every time you arrive at the gas station, it’s a new price. A higher new price. Not only is that personally agitating, your wallet is grumbling along side you. There a few simple ways you can help extend your gas tank and get more bang for your buck. When your driving along, it’s best for your gas mileage to accelerate and decelerate slowly. Basically, try to avoid slamming on your brakes and ramming your foot down hard every time the light turns green after a stop. This is more difficult as both of these habits can be quite cathartic after a long day when you’re on your way home. If you are driving a stick, use the clutch when you can to let the momentum of the car push you forward. You can also keep your RPM’s low by shifting gear more frequently. Lower RPM’s translate to more gasoline saved. Getting an oil change not only keeps your car running but it improves the overall efficiently of your engine. Finally, make sure your tires aired up. This increases traction to give you the best transfer of energy from the tire to the road.

Ways to Save Money Part I

In hard economic times, saving money is on everyone’s mind. It’s on that old priority list. However, the problem comes with the “how” part. Here are a few ways to save money in all areas of your life that will benefit your finances in no time.

Cable: Simply cut it off. Re-watch all those old DVD’s that you have lined up in your living room. Most television shows and sitcoms are available to be seen free on the Internet. Hulu is an incredible website that offers a multitude of movies and shows that you can view freely. Visit the network of your show to see if they have whole episodes available online. If they do not, pick up a new show that has episodes online. Cutting off your cable is an easy move that gives you extra money this month.

Cell Phone: Call up your company and check out your account. If you have an excess of unused minutes each month on your phone, you can reduce your minutes. The end result is a smaller bill. The beauty of this is that you are not changing any of your current habits. Instead, you’re trimming the fat off of your cellular account. You’ll stop paying extra money out of your pocket monthly and put it back into your hands. Furthermore, it might be time to switch networks. If most of the people you are talking to on your cell phone are all on one network, you can obtain “free in network calls” by switching to that network. In-network calls do not waste any of your minutes. You will save money by switching and can further reduce the number of minutes you pay for each month.

Insurance: From car to health insurance, you need to shop around. Call around to a number of places and make sure you know who is offering the best price for the policy you want. If you have a longstanding account, call up your current insurance provider and ask for a new quote. This can save you a few hundred dollars and will only take you a little bit of time. Insurance companies offer new deals every month. See if you strike a deal with them. You can also change policies mid-coverage. That means you can switch to a different health insurance without having to wait for your policy to expire. Shop around within your own company and outside of it every now and then to ensure you are still getting a fair price for your money.

World War II Pilots

Anyone who served the United States of America in WWII is haled as a hero. From the paratroopers to the soldiers on the ground to the pilots. All except for the female pilots. That’s right. If you’re saying “What female pilots?” you are one of many. When the local young men proudly joined up to serve their country, so did a group of women pilots. In 1942, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was created by our military due to the plain fact that they needed more pilots in a time of war. Thousands of brave young women responded to the call and just over 1,000 women became WASP’s.

On Wednesday, Congress attempted to right a wrong by honoring the WASP’s who served in WWII with the Congressional Gold Medal. Their only 65 years late and fewer than 300 of those women are alive today to see that recognition. Thirty-eight women died during their service and did not receive a military burial.

As a history buff, I was always interested to hear the events of WWII as my classes covered it. As a woman, I am shocked that these women were forgotten from history. That I was not given the chance to learn of them. A chance for all young women to be proud of their history and dent on America. What does that say about our society if the heroic courage exhibited by the WASP’s is pushed under the rug? It is a reminder that we still have a long way to go in equalizing women’s rights. I’m not simply referring to the fact that women still earn less than men. I’m referring to incidents such as these where historically significant women are forgotten and ignored by the masses. The military. The media. Textbooks. Not once have I read a passage beginning with “my mother proudly served in WWII.” “Equally brave were the women who joined…” Certainly not in my education.

Why are these women being publically honored now? You guessed it. Female Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Mikulski and Congresswomen Susan Davis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen made it possible by making it a priority of Congress.

During the ceremony at The Capitol on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Sen. Barbara Mikulski stated, “You gave America your lives, your love and your devotion and today Congress will give you the gold.” The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

The contributions that the WASP’s made during WWII stayed hidden due to the fact that the records were conveniently classified. Although the media did cover the training of WASP pilots, they were forgotten quickly. It was not until the 1970’s, that the WASP’s received full military status and a WWII Victory Medal. Why? The WASP’s banded together and lobbied Congress to grant the basic right of recognition as veterans and received military status these women were never granted in the past 35 years. Fast forward 30 more years to today. Although I am more than thrilled that their contributions are being officially recognized by America, the military, and the media, it is unsettling that it had to pursued for so many years.

Deanie Parrish, a former WASP declared at the ceremony, “We did it because our country needed us…all we ever asked for was that our overlooked history would some day no longer be a missing chapter in the history of WWII, in the history of the Air Force, in the history of aviation, and most especially the history of America.”

To learn more information on these amazing women and their stories, check out WASP on the web.

The Invention of Lying

Available to Rent!

How long has it been since you had a good long laugh? This movie is not even just about rolling on the ground with laughter until you cry. It surprises you and moves to a deeper level involving life, death, and the choices we make.

Basic plot:

Mark Bellison, played by Ricky Gervais, lives in a world in which the act of lying has never evolved. Everyone goes about their day saying anything and everything with brutal honesty. Imagine a young mother proudly showing off her newborn infant to have someone reply, “Your baby is so ugly, it’s like a little rat!” as a few people nod there heads in agreement. The main character Mark is simply a fat loser (as people keep reminding him) who is about to lose his job, have his mother die, and be evicted from his apartment. Top it off with a hot date, played by Jennifer Garner as the leading lady Anna, who immediately informs him that she’s not looking forward to tonight at all and that he’s way out of her league. She only agreed to the date because her and her mother are afraid she will wind up old and alone. Mark is about to lose it all when he learns to lie. In a world where no one lies, he can say or do anything he pleases. Suddenly, life is hopeful. Mark helps himself and harnesses the opportunity to use his power for good. Of course in the grand scheme of things some of his lies quickly become public and toss him into the spotlight as hoards of people confront him.

That’s all I will tell you! This movie has an unforgettable cast of characters including Tina Fey (as the ungrateful assistant), Edward Norton (enthusiastic cop), Phillip Seymore Hoffman (not so bright bartender), Rob Lowe (arch nemesis) and many more.

I will leave you with this scene in mind: one of the many hilarious parts of the movie is when Anna is having dinner and her mother calls to check on her date. She answers as sizes up Mark from across the table, “No, he’s not attractive at all. Nope, I’m definitely not going to sleep with him. Probably not even a kiss.”

It is brilliantly unique, funny beyond all reason, and tugs of the deeper meanings of what we do and want from this life. Drop what you’re doing and go get it right now!

*Tiny side note: The movie does have some humorous undertones involving religion. Depending on who you are that may or may not be ok. Something to think about.

5/5 stars

Wolfman

No spoilers here! Read freely!

I took a departure from my traditional chick flick movie and saw Wolfman for Valentine’s Day (to my husbands delight). To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised. It comes straight out of traditional gothic literature and mirrors the story telling of a Grimm Fairy tale. Benecio Del Toro plays a simply “gorrific” werewolf as the main character in the story. Anthony Hopkins, need I say more? Who else could they have picked for a creepy, deranged old man? The leading lady, Emily Blunt, took quite well to the tender damsel role, which is certainly an unexplored character for the Devil Wears Prada actress. To top off this amazing cast, you have Hugo Weaving, better known as Mr. Smith or Lord Elrond, portraying the suspicious Scotland Yard investigator.

The opening scene draws you in to the “bump in the night” effect and sets you on the edge of your seat, clutching the arm of whoever is next to you. What the beast completely looks like is hidden for half of the movie, which only adds to the suspense that is already mounting as you watch it.

Basic plot:

Lawrence Talbot (Benecio) is drawn back to a the home he escaped as a boy by a letter from his brother’s fiancé Gwen (Emily). She informs him that his brother has gone missing and begs him to help them search. Owing to the fact that blood is thicker than water, he returns and runs into his father (Hopkins) at his estate. For reasons regarding Lawrence’s late mother, he vowed never to return there. Lawrence is eager to begin the search when his father informs him they already found the body. Although shaken, Lawrence sets out to find his brother’s killer while he learns that the townsfolk speak of a beast. He learns that his brother’s murder is just the most recent in a line of gruesome murders that have been plaguing the town. The beast comes through town, slashing people left and right, demonstrating that whatever it is, it not capable of any form of mercy. Lawrence who is trying to shoot the animal (which he have not seen up close) is bitten. Thus, begins the tremulous road that leads to a number of hair-raising discoveries and no self-control.

Add in one grieving, young loving woman, a creepy mansion, and a noisy investigator and you have an awesome movie. That being said, I did feel the movie’s lead up to the end missed a certain grandeur. A mighty conclusion or lets say terrific fight sequence involving everyone. Unfortunately, the movie sidesteps it. However, the actual end does make up for it and stays true to the tone of the movie.

I will not say much more as to not spoil the movie but the trailers did lead you to believe that the leading lady, Gwen, somehow tames the werewolf in the end. This I think is a mistake. It would not be a traditional gothic literature or a Grimm fairy tale with such an ending. The actual ending is far better and adds to the realistic grip of what being a true werewolf constitutes. I do not want to hear any more movies that portray werewolves as fluffy little wolf pups like in Twilight or a manageable condition in Harry Potter. Instead, this movie goes back to its roots.

4/5 stars