Monday, May 30, 2011

"A Little Clinique"

Hello, dear readers,

If you've watched "The Devil Wears Prada" as many times as I have [I've lost count], you may recognize that the title of this post is actually a line from the movie during the scene where Andy meets her friends in a restaurant and shares the freebies she picked up from work.

Really, though, this post does have to do with Clinique. If you read my last post, you will know that my mother and I recently purchased "a little Clinique" in order to secure the latest freebie called Milly.

Image fromhttp://gwpaddict.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/clinique-bonus-time-at-bloomingdales-5/
I can't really say exactly how long this promotion runs, but it seems to be exclusively at Bloomingdale's. It says on the website that it ended February 27, 2011, and it also says it's not available in stores in Illinois, but that must have changed. I don't know if you can get it anywhere else, but we got it yesterday.

This isn't a review, but I thought I'd remind you what we purchased in order to get this promotion, and let you know what comes in the free gift.


Initially, my mom decided to buy me the Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 in shade 01, the lightest shade. We were still about a dollar short of the promotion, so my mom got herself the City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25, which she had gotten before as either a free gift or just a regular old purchase.

Image from http://www.reallyrich.com/ Incidentally, the color of the package is NOT the color of the product.


Image from http://us.strawberrynet.com/skincare/clinique/city-block-sheer-oil-free-daily/66853/
In the Milly freebie, you get Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 in Air Kiss. I really love the Clinique lipgloss formula because it's sticky in a long lasting way not an "ew get that hair unstuck from my lips" kind of way.

Next is a Colour Surge Eyeshadow Duo. Now none of the females in my immediate family wear eyeshadow, but I'm always willing to have a play-around for fun.

Then comes High Impact Mascara in Black. If you've seen my last post, you'll have seen pictures of me in a pajama shirt with makeup still on. I happen to have the mascara on, and all it does for me is make my lashes slightly darker. I've been blessed with long, dark, relatively curly lashes so I'm not one to do a mascara review.

Then you get High Impact Lip Colour SPF 15 in Extreme Pink, which my mom took, because she literally only wears lipstick and no other makeup. It's only fair to let her have that! After all, she's been kind enough to fund my makeup purchases when I was jobless, which was the majority of my life. Now I can relieve her of that duty. UPDATE: My mom found this to be too pale of a pink on her because she has very pigmented reddish pink lips naturally. Mine are much lighter reddish pink with almost a bit of brown in them naturally, so she gave this to me. It looked much darker and almost a vampy pink, but I love it!

The next product is Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, which my mom took after I thrust the free gift in front of her and tried to get her to take more of it for herself. It's supposed to be a great moisturizer and can be used as a moisture mask. Again, not reviewing, just describing.

Then there's the All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage. My mom thinks it's a hoax, so I, with puffy dark circles that to me are just black holes, decided to give it a go. It's got caffeine in it, which is supposed to help do something miraculous and at least temporarily reduce puffiness, so I've used it a couple times. I can't tell if it's done anything yet. 

Then you get the lovely Milly for Clinique Cosmetics Bag Set, with its lovely pink, summery floral.

Along with this, the lovely saleslady, dutifully pitching her products, noticed my skin was rather dry and threw in a sample of the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. 
Image from http://www.prontostyle.com/shop/clinique-dramatically-different-moisturizing-lotion
We'll see how that goes. I'll test it at night.

So that's my little bit of Clinique. Well, rather a lot actually for a girl who normally purchases drug store brands only and hates spending money. Of course this time I wasn't the one doing the spending. Thanks, Mom, if you're reading!

If you'd like a review of any of these products, do let me know.

To "a little Clinique" and a whole lot of beauty for everyone!

xEsther



Soft as a Baby's...

Image from http://www.districtonehospital.com/patients-visitors/dohbabies.html

...You know the saying: Soft as a baby's bottom! I just didn't think it would ever personally apply to me. I bet you didn't expect me to have a giant picture of a baby on here, did you? 

Today I learned differently. Apparently my skin is like a baby's, and I look approximately aged 12. I've got mixed feelings on this one, folks. 





Is this what a 12-year-old looks like?


Apparently so. You tell me! [And I do have tinted moisturizer, concealer, and the remains of lipstick on here. My skin's not THAT perfect!]
Today's little anecdote begins at the Bloomingdale's Clinique counter with a truly very lovely saleswoman whom I shall call "Sally." My mom was shopping with me for work clothes when we saw this lovely gift with purchase of Clinique called "Milly." We have sort of an inside meaning for the name Millie so my mom decided that I should get one of their tinted moisturizers so she could get the free gift.

We went to the counter where Sally proceeded to call me "honey," "sweetheart," "sweetie," etc. Immediately I knew she must be thinking I'm in grade school. She told me my skin is so light and was very helpful getting the lightest possible shade for me. My mother subsequently decided that we should create a custom color for me called "My Fair Lady." I quite agreed.

Sally then proceeded to tell me that my skin was beautiful and not to let anyone tell me any different and to make sure I protect it because it's absolutely gorgeous. So that was good to hear. [Incidentally, my boss this summer asks about my skin and how I get it to look so nice all the time; rather strange to hear from a boss but quite nice, I suppose].

After we decided what to get, shade 01, she asked, "How old are you?"

"I'm actually going to be a sophomore in college." 

She looked absolutely stunned and said, "Wow. Your skin is just like a baby."

So there you have it. Apparently my baby skin makes me look about seven years younger than I am. I promise I'm telling the truth when I say I'm going to be 20 this year. 

I'm sure when I'm 30 and everyone thinks I'm 23, I will feel wonderful. When I was prom dress shopping, however, and the saleslady asked my mom if I was in middle school, it didn't make me so happy. When I deal with even more patronizing salespeople, doctors, dentists, etc., it drives me slightly mad. Then there are the 14-year-old boys looking me over because they think I'm their age. Gross.

Sally was lovely, and I appreciate the compliments and know I will be so grateful when I'm older, as well as the fact that I have pretty decent skin, but at the moment it's simply frustrating. 

On another note, though, I suppose I should mention that I really appreciate the compliments on my skin I've gotten lately. I've had friends tell me I look like Snow White, incidentally my least favorite Disney Princess, and that I should never tan because my skin is so lovely. 

I used to be teased about being so fair. I would have grade school classmates ask me why I was so white ["Oh my god Karen, you can't just ask people why they're white!"] and it's taken me years to come to terms with my skin. 

Being fair-skinned is now one of my favorite features, even though I'd rather not be confused for a baby. 

I'm getting too old for that. 

To skin as soft as a baby's...you know! ;)

xEsther

p.s. If you are interested, here are some skin care tips, and more skin care tips, and my skin care routine. Oh and here's how I fake a flawless face. I'm not using the powder now that it's summer, though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm a Survivor!

Hello, dear readers,

I just wanted to come on here to tell you all, because I'm sure you care deeply, as well you should, that I survived my first day of office work.



Image from http://www.dreamstime.com/

And, no, it does not look as glamorous as the above photo. My job is basically to take payments for parking tickets, sell vehicle stickers, take water bill payments, and sell pet licenses. It's so not want I want to do for the rest of my life, as paperwork scares me and that is mainly what this job entails besides handling money, which is also one of the things I'd least like to do in my life.

The other intern in the finance department turns out to be a girl I went to elementary, middle, and high school with. We weren't actually friends, but that was just because we were in different circles, had different interests, etc. She's very nice, and I'm glad that she's someone I know and not someone I know and hate or a complete stranger.

The women in the department are all very nice, but my stress level is constantly high, making it very hard for me to just relax. I have a huge problem with relaxing because I'm very self-conscious and self-critical and am dealing with a lot of self-esteem issues at the moment. I'm hoping I'll become efficient at this job. I'm giving myself a bit of a break for today, as far as my personal performance review by yours truly, because the woman who was supposed to train us was sick and all the information was given sort of in bunches.

Wish me luck as I embark on my very first full day office job, indeed my very first office job.

To less stress and a happy work week.

xEsther

Mini Review: Wet n Wild Wild Shine Clear Nail Protector

Phew!

That's an awfully long product name. If you read my shopping post a couple months or so ago, you'll know that I bought the [here we go again] Wet n Wild Wild Shine Clear Nail Protector because I needed a clear nail polish that could serve as a top coat and bottom coat. This little darlin' was only $1, as many Wet n Wild products are.

Image from http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=safari&rls=en&q=wet+n+wild+wild+shine+clear+nail+protector&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=3205744626813247825&sa=X&ei=TGmCTY6ONdSWtwfvteHKBA&ved=0CDwQ8gIwAg#
The only description I could find of this product was not actually from the website, so I can't say for sure that the brand makes any of these claims, but here we go anyway. The following description is from this site.

Product Description:
Having beautiful painted nails can be harmful to your nails if you don't give protection! Never forget to use Wet n Wild Clear Nail Protector before applying nail polish to protect from nail damage and discoloration while preventing chips, peels and splits. Seal in color and shine with Wet n Wild No Chip Top Coat to get maximum wear. Wet n Wild Shine Nail Color is essential to get beautiful long-lasting nail colors on the outside and healthy strong nails on the inside.



As far as the claims go, I haven't found this to prevent from discoloration. Apparently it's also supposed to just be used as a base coat, but I use it as a top coat as well. This does dry extremely quickly and I find that it does actually prevent "chips, peels and splits" and helps "seal in color and shine." My manicure lasts up to two weeks with minimal to no chipping at all. 


Over the past year I've had problems with my nail polish getting dents and smashing in a bit, sort of creasing, really, when I go to bed. With this as a top coat, I've had none of these concerns. It dries so quickly, adds a lot of shine, and prevents chips. I have to add that my nails rarely chip anyway. Throughout the eight or so years that I've worn nail polish, most years a different nail polish every week or two, I seriously always had perfectly groomed nails all the time.


In all, I can't say that this actually protects against nail damage, and it doesn't protect much against discoloration [but then again my nails get more discolored than most of my friends from any amount of nail polish], but it is a decent base coat and an excellent top coat to cut down on drying time and reduce chipping. All for only a dollar!


If you're in need of a cheap and great top coat, I say go for it!


To perfect, chip-free manicures!


xEsther

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let's Do...A Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl



Hello, dear readers,

I am at it again with the book reviews. My summer job doesn't start until next week, so I've had plenty of time to read. The latest book in my summer reading is The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory. I've been wanting to read this for a while and only picked this up at the library last week. Gregory has a whole host of historical fiction novels based on royalty, and I'm actually about to start The Constant Princess, a tale about Katherine of Aragon.

I digress. Besides being over 600 pages long, The Other Boleyn Girl is the tale of the Boleyn family's rise and fall in the court of King Henry VIII. It is told from Mary Boleyn's point of view, being that she is, indeed, the other, the often overlooked, Boleyn girl.

Here's what the website has to say about the novel:

Mary Boleyn catches the eye of Henry VIII when she comes to court as a girl of fourteen.
Dazzled by the golden prince, Mary’s joy is cut short when she discovers that she is a pawn in the dynastic plots of her family. When the capricious king’s interest wanes, Mary is ordered to pass on her knowledge of how to please him to her friend and rival: her sister Anne.
Anne soon becomes irresistable to Henry, and Mary can do nothing but watch her sister’s rise. Anne stops at nothing to achieve her own ambition. From now on, Mary will be no more than the other Boleyn girl.
But beyond the court is a man who dares to challenge the power of her family to offer Mary a life of freedom and passion. If only she has the courage to break away – before the Boleyn enemies turn on the Boleyn girls…


This is a story of a family entirely driven by determination and greed for power. The women do what they are told, bed who they are instructed to bed, and may not complain. The novel breathes life into historical figures we can only dream of, and therefore the dialogues that take place are, as the historical fiction genre suggests, purely fiction. However, Gregory uses the facts that we do know about the Boleyn family, and what little we know of Mary to create a world as it may have been in the 16th century.

Mary is a sweet girl, and very obedient, and Anne is introduced as a wily and clever girl who is rather cold towards her sister. The dynamic between them is really interesting to read, and it makes me question whether they really do love each other even as they are vying for the attention of their family and pushing the other aside for each one's own gain. We cannot say what the dynamic was in real life, but the one presented in this book is fitting in the context of all the betrayals and pushing forward of Boleyn girls into the king's bed that went on.

Gregory takes theories about the Boleyn siblings, Mary, Anne, and brother George, and weaves them into a story sweeping over a decade, always making sure they fall in line with the facts that create the backbone of the novel. Each chapter is a different season, and so you are led at a rather leisurely pace through the lives of the Boleyn family, the politics of Henry's court, and the eventual demise of Queen Katherine of Aragon in the English monarchy, and of Anne herself.

It took me about a week to read this novel, give or take a day, which is quite quick for me. It is not a fast paced book by any means, so you don't realize just how much information you're being fed as you turn the pages. A bonus to the novel's narration by Mary is that she is a self-confessed slow learner, and not quick to understand the goings-on at court. Therefore the reader is treated to dialogue in which other characters explain to Mary the significance of events. This way, in case you don't catch on right away, you will discover along with Mary.

Mary, as the central figure, seems to be the only Boleyn who truly believes in compassion and love by the end, and she learns to be happy to just live with the man she loves, away from court. I don't consider this a spoiler because it's fact. She learns that for her ambition can never be as important as love for her husband and children, and she survives because of it.

If you'd like to know what is fact and what is fiction, the back of some of the copies of the novel have an interview with Gregory herself and she answers a bit of that. However, for more in-depth information, go to her website here, where she explains how she chose which bits of theory to incorporate and how much is actually fact.

[Side note: Then there's the movie based on it, which I haven't seen, and probably takes advantage of the more raunchy side of the story. It stars Scarlet Johansson as Mary, Natalie Portman as Anne, and Eric Bana as Henry.]

I highly recommend this to those of you interested in historical fiction, the lives of the royals, and those with a passion for history in general. It's great fun to get inside the head of a member of the gentry and to grow up with her for fifteen years within these 661 pages.

Happy reading!

xEsther





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here's to Real Beauty(.com)!

Hello, dear readers,

I'm not sure why I haven't mentioned this website before. It really doesn't make any sense considering how much time I spend reading the articles on there. It's called Real Beauty. I'm not entirely sure why I started getting emails from them, but I'm guessing it's because it's associated with Hearst Communications, INC., and therefore as a subscriber to a Hearst magazine the website somehow got my email from there. In any case, it's not one of the emails associated with Hearst that get immediately relocated to the Junk folder of my email. 

If you don't already get emails from this website, you can sign up in the upper righthand corner of the homepage. In the emails are lists of articles that are either new or pertinent to the current season or current events in the beauty/fashion/celebrity/health world. The articles either come from Real Beauty or the Marie Claire website. The articles are either small slide shows, Q & A's with makeup artists and/or celebrities, and your average one, two, or three page articles, which are broken up into easy-to-read sections.


Screenshot from http://whois-domain-find.com/info/www.realbeauty.com
As you can see in the image, there are sections for Hairstyles & Color, Skin & Makeup, Body & Mind, Diet & Fitness, and Shopping. It's mostly superficial fluff, but it does give some insight on new beauty products, trends, celebrity beauty and fashion, hair tips for different hair types, skincare tips, and health and fitness. It's really fun for me to go through the emails and open up all the links I want to read and just go through window by window inhaling the information.

Of course, if you don't sign up, there's no downside. It just means you probably won't get the Marie Claire links, but I'm pretty sure that Real Beauty gets some of its stories from that site anyway. So honestly you're not missing out. Signing up will allow you to take a survey on your skin type, hair, fitness concerns, and interests in general. It will then create your personalized beauty book with recommended articles. I think now if you sign up you may be entered to win some sort of Sephora prize, but don't take my word for it, and it wasn't going on that I knew of when I signed up.

To be quite frank, I never look at my recommended articles. The reason is because the beauty book is a drop down box in the upper right hand corner and is always open and in the way when I'm trying to read an article linked from my email. I always close the beauty book and ignore it because I see it as something that gets in the way.

This site is very cutesy looking and not too cluttered, I think, and I find the name rather ironic because it seems to promote, outside the health and fitness section, that real beauty is purely superficial, which we all know is not true.

So have a look and let me know what you think.

Have a beautiful day!

xEsther

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Best Dressed So Far at Cannes 2011

Hello, dear readers,

As many of you may know, the Cannes Film Festival is one of the largest and most important film festivals worldwide. It allows all of our favorite stars to come under the same piece of sky and shine as they promote their new films. It's also a time to wear pretty dresses, and let's not forget that. In fact, I'm here to remind you of the gorgeous gowns that are donned at this festival. I'd like to share my favorite dresses from the first few days. I believe the festival lasts from May 11 until May 22, 2011. Bear in mind, also, that I don't necessarily know who all these actresses/models/stars are, but I simply love their style [or their stylists!].

Image from http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/party-snaps/cannes-fashion-2011
Salma Hayek 
wore a gorgeous Gucci Première gown that showed off her wonderful figure and complemented her lovely tanned skin. I also love the way she swept movie star waves to the side and focused her makeup on her berry red lips. Beautiful! [By the way, there's nothing I can do about the extra space. It's the picture's fault].

Image from http://www.catwalkqueen.tv/2011/05/cannes_film_fes_16.html



Diane Kruger wore a sleek, backless gold Calvin Klein gown that she offset with a glamorous red lip. She reminds me of an Oscar in this number.

Image from http://theprofashional.blogspot.com/2011/05/red-carpets-cannes-film-festival-2011.html




I honestly have no idea who Bianca Balti is, but I can say she wore an absolutely stunning Alberta Ferretti dress to the festival. I like the girliness of the ruffles and the way they're draped in such a flattering way rather than sticking out like many ruffled dresses do. It's almost like a well-fitting cloud, and I love the way she wears such statement jewelry with it.



Image from http://www.robertocavalliblog.com/cannes-film-festival-2011-celebrities-in-roberto-cavalli-opening-ceremony/

I can't for the life of me remember who Julie Henderson is, but she did wear a beautiful red Roberto Cavalli gown at Cannes. I like that she kept the jewelry simple but very pretty in order to let the color and the shimmer in the dress stand out. Of course, I should probably be crediting the stylists, but I'm sure you'll wager that's who's dressing the stars anyway. 

Image from http://www.ajewelrystyle.com/the-64th-cannes-film-festival-2011-day-1-best-looks/the-64th-cannes-film-festival-in-cannes-may-11-2011/



I am most iffy about Karolina Kurkova's Armani Prive Fall 2009 Haute Couture Collection dress. I think it's a great color on her and it fits well, but I'm not sure what I think about the weirdly draped single shoulder. I'm all for one-shoulder dresses, but this one just strikes me as odd. However, I like the way it sparkles and she pulled it off well with gorgeous movie star curls to match.


I hope you enjoyed indulging in another fashion and celebrity-related post. I've written one about the 2011 Oscars here.

Sparkly dresses and movie star glam.

xEsther

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm in a Blogging Mood Today

Hello, dear readers,


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I quite enjoy surveys, such as the ones I did here, here, and here. Oh, and also here and here. Can't say I do too many of these now, can you? It's not as if you can ever have enough surveys! By now, you'll know so many random facts about me, you won't want to know any more. Well that's a sorry thought, because I'm about to do another survey for you. Yes, that's right. I saw this one over at Hello Beautiful by the lovely Hannah.


Here we are:






Age: 19
Bed Size: Twin
Chore you Hate: Doing dishes. I'm actually repulsed by the sight of someone's partially eaten food stuck on a plate. Utterly disgusting.
Dogs: I'd love to have one, but alas that's not going to happen until I'm settled on my own, as my dad is not the biggest fan of dogs.
Essential start of your day: Either yogurt and granola or oatmeal
Favourite Colour: Aqua/turquoise
Gold or Silver: I really love both, honestly, but silver tends to look better on my skin tone. I'll just wear whatever suits my outfit as far as jewelry, but going by color alone I couldn't wear gold clothing. It looks horrendous.
Height: About 5'3"
Instruments I play: I used to play piano, but I hated practicing and I hated my teacher. After a few years of it, I was done and haven't looked back. It'd be nice to play, but I prefer singing.
Job Title: Intern with the Finance Department
Kids: None. It's way too early for me to be thinking about that.
Live: In the U.S.
Mum's name: Susan
Nickname: I have many, and most are rather strange and won't be understood by anyone not in my immediate family or one of my friends. Roni, Rone, Rice, Reese, Ostra, Shveis, etc. Please don't be alarmed by the fact that they seem to have no tie in to my name. The important thing is that I respond to them, and I promise there are reasons behind them.
Pet Peeve: Bad grammar/spelling. That's just one of them. Also chewing with one's mouth open and talking while chewing with one's mouth open. Anything to do with germs, really, and incessant nagging. I sound like a right old grump, but I promise I'm not! I don't focus on pet peeves 99 percent of the time.
Quote from a movie: "My brains, his steel and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?" That was the first that came to mine. Anyone recognize it? If you don't, go right on over and rent The Princess Bride. It's seriously one of the greatest movies I've seen.


Picture break:


This is from the scene in which the quote above is spoken by the man in the middle, Wesley.
Image from http://seeingsepia.blogspot.com/2010/07/page-to-screen-top-10-most-faithful.html

Right or left handed: Righty
Siblings: Older sister, Aliza, and older brother Aaron
Time you wake up: For work, 7 am; on the weekend anywhere from 9-11 am depending on how vehemently I reject my alarm clock.
Underwear: Now that's a wee to personal for me.
Vegetables you dislike: Tomato, though that's technically a fruit, cucumber, peppers. I do eat all these vegetables if they are cooked in a dish, but on their own I dislike them.
What makes you run late: General forgetfulness and bad hair/makeup days that take forever to fix
X-rays you've had done: Thumb, nose, and either my back or stomach [it's been so long I can't remember], and then routine teeth X-rays
Yummy food you make: I make a mean brownie! [No, not that kind, naughty!]
Zoo animal: Penguins, monkeys, and apes!




Hope you enjoyed yet another wonderful survey [sarcasm fully intended]!


If you do this, let me know.


xEsther

Oh the Irony...My Morning in a Nutshell

Hello, dear readers,

While I am pondering what new and [at least somewhat] exciting posts I can make in the future, many of which will probably have to do with lipstick, I thought I'd share a quick little funny anecdote.

I've been absolutely, completely, horrifically, freaking out about starting my summer job this year, and spent much of yesterday in a panic.

The problem with me is, you see, that I hate not knowing exactly what is going to happen in situations I'm not entirely sure about. I was absolutely fine and worry-free when I went off to Peru two summers ago because I knew that's what I wanted, but this job is something I said I'd never take.

Here's one of the pictures I took in Peru. I'm quite proud of it, so here's a little shameless self-promotion.





Flash forward to this morning: I'm grumpily eating my breakfast and trying not to snap too much at my mom, who works at the same office and is doing her best to accommodate my grouchiness. We stop at Walgreens on the way over, and I try to calm myself down by looking at the makeup aisle, but I can't concentrate.

This is not my Walgreens. Image from http://www.painted-ladies.com/?p=12117

We finally arrive at work; my mom shows me to my office, and, lo and behold, my boss walks in and says, "We haven't started yet." Yes, that's right; I'm not actually supposed to start today. You see, my mom figured that since I took my drug test last week I should just come in on Monday and start working. To her credit, though, I never mentioned to her that it needed to go through and be processed before I start work.

In the end, I find out that my work doesn't begin until they get an email from the drug testing company saying I'm clear. That gives me probably another day or two to relax before working. It also means that my brother had to haul himself out of bed to pick me up, as my mom and I carpool. So much for completely freaking out about starting work today! After getting all dressed up and professional looking, I end up coming straight back home!

You may possibly guess that this is not me. It's from http://www.poorlittlerichgirls.com/tag/dress-for-work/


Now I'm just comatose on the computer because I got up at 7 am, something unheard of in a college student that doesn't seem to be capable of going to sleep before 1:30 am.

Also not me? Image from http://www.yoursearchadvisor.com/blog/seo-work-life-balance/
I'm not entirely sure why I randomly decided to link some of these, but you know I always tell you when the image is actually mine.


There's my little anecdote for the day. I hope you enjoyed.

xEsther

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Current Hair Routine/Products

Hello dear readers,

I thought I'd do an actual beauty-related post this time [shock! horror!] despite my recent lack of confidence. Please excuse yet another lousy Macbook photo below, as this was the only photo I could get tonight that actually gives you a decent idea of the shape my hair takes on naturally. This way you have an idea of how my hair ends up once I'm done with it [sounds rather scary, doesn't it?].

Insert appropriately poor quality hair shot here:

I've rather simplified my hair routine lately, not that it was ever complicated. No gels or cremes this time. So here we are:

I start out most days by soaking my hair to get out some build up, squeezing the water out and just conditioning. On the days I wash my hair, I simply shampoo first and then condition, letting the conditioner sit throughout the whole of my shower. I use Garnier Fructis, alternating among the Color Shield, Triple Nutrition, and Length and Strength lines. 


                                  
No, my hair is not colored at all and never has been. However, I quite like the conditioner for the Color Shield range. There really isn't any particular ingredient in that line that is good for colored hair, actually, so I don't think I would recommend it for colored hair based on that knowledge alone. There's also no particular reason I use these lines, because I don't actually believe that shampoos and conditioners are all that different. The ingredients are very similar, and the Length and Strength won't actually make hair grow longer. The only time I've ever used a bad shampoo was an Aussie anti-frizz shampoo that made my hair deflate completely [and that's REALLY  hard to do]. Bottom line is: I always come back to the Garnier range because I can trust any of their shampoos and conditioners to get the job done without weighing down my hair or making it blow up.

After shampooing and/or conditioning, I comb my hair and squeeze out excess water before wrapping it in a T-shirt for twenty to thirty minutes to get out some of the water and prevent a bit of frizz from cropping up. There are quite a few tutorials on how to do this, but I learned how to use the T-shirt method from the video on this website. My hair has a lot less frizz than it did with towel drying. Of course, my hair is nowhere near dry even after towel drying, but it certainly helps.

After I take it out, I comb my hair again, spray in some leave-in conditioner and scrunch. Once it's a bit dryer I use a smoothing serum. The serum I use, as you may know from my review in this post, is Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Smoothing Serum.

I love this product because it's not too slippery of a serum and it doesn't make my hair greasy. I concentrate the application on the back of my hair towards the bottom half, especially on the ends, and smooth the excess close to my roots. The only way it can make hair greasy is if you apply a huge amount  at the roots, which I never do. 

I don't have a set leave-in conditioner. The pictures you're seeing are from after using the It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product. Honestly, I think it's just an average leave-in conditioner/detangler. I don't understand what's so special about it, and there are no miracle ingredients, but you can read my rant about that here


I've also been using up my V05 Detangle and Shine Restoring leave-in conditioner, which is just as good but a little less thick as the It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product. I would like to find a different one when I run out of these, so if you know of any, do share, whether it's a creme or a spray.


I then, as I said, just comb through my hair and scrunch through the ends, following up with the smoothing serum. The following day I simply put some more serum in my hair and go, before conditioning again/shampooing and conditioning at night. Quite simple, really.

I'll insert some pictures of my hair today, the day after the first picture of me you see above. And, lo and behold, I've actually put on some concealer and lipstick, so you're not seeing a picture of me with faded off makeup! Exciting, I know.

Also, my hair looks a different color simply because different lighting picks up different colors in my hair, which I quite enjoy. Here they are:






My hair is actually longer than it looks, as I tried to demonstrate with the oh-so-graceful head tilt in the last photo, and is quite thick. As you can see, I like to rock the natural texture these days, and so my scrunching with gel-cremes days are over, at least temporarily. It's not to everyone's taste, but it is my hair, and I can always say I'm rocking the messy beach look. Now ain't that handy!

Hope you enjoyed the little peek into the world of my simple haircare, even if that peek was rather grainy and slightly pixelated. I hope you got the basic idea. Let me know if you know of any great leave-in conditioners.

To embracing the natural you [with a little help from some friendly neighborhood hair products]!

xEsther

P.S. In case you were wondering, I'm never affiliated with/endorsed/sponsored by any of the brands I talk about. The It's a 10 was given to me for free by my old hairstylist to try to get me to fall in love and buy some more! I hadn't even thought to mention this before, but I suppose I should.

Let's Do...A Book Review: Twenties Girl


Hello, dear readers,

I'm at it again, quite soon, with another book review. On Wednesday night, I reviewed Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. I so enjoyed writing a book review that I thought I'd do another. Who knows? Maybe I'll write a book review for every book I read this summer. That would be jolly good fun.

I finished Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella, author of the well-known Shopaholic series, in two days flat. It's somewhere around 400 pages, and I'm a rather slow reader, so that says a bit about how much I liked it. But first, the synopsis from Kinsella's website:

Lara has always had an overactive imagination. Now she wonders if she is losing her mind. Normal twenty-something girls just don’t get visited by ghosts! But inexplicably, the spirit of Lara’s great aunt Sadie – in the form of a bold, demanding Charleston-dancing girl – has appeared to make one last request: Lara must track down a missing necklace Sadie simply can’t rest without.

Lara’s got enough problems of her own. Her start-up company is floundering, her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, and she’s just been dumped by the love of her life.

But as Lara spends time with Sadie, life becomes more glamorous and their treasure hunt turns into something intriguing and romantic. Could Sadie’s ghost be the answer to Lara’s problems and can two girls from different times end up learning something special from each other?


I have to say, straight off, that I much prefer Kinsella's stand-alone novels to her famous series. I quite enjoyed Twenties Girl because it was about much more than Lara looking for a man to complete her. Along the way, Lara befriends Sadie and uncovers much about her past that affects her living family's future. Now, I don't actually like anything to do with the supernatural, and was quite skeptical of a chick lit book incorporating a ghost, but this is a fun, flirty ghost with a penchant for changing Lara's style and helping her be more carefree.


Girl and ghost learn a lot from each other about true love, the importance of family, and moving onward with life. Of course there is a love story throughout; it's chick lit, therefore that's the law, and I certainly don't begrudge it one. The real backbone of the story, though, doesn't seem to be the love story so much as learning what love is as well as what it isn't


The initial plot sets off when Sadie tells Lara to recover her special dragonfly necklace, but the importance of it is unclear until towards the very end of the novel, when things get quite interesting. Details of a long life that Sadie mentions in passing become extremely important towards the end of the novel, integral, in fact. The dynamic between Sadie and Lara is sarcastic and rude on the outside, but quite touchingly loving on the inside. Lara learns to relax and discovers who she can trust, while Sadie learns to open up emotionally. 


The most difficult part of this novel is the mere fact that Sadie is a ghost and Lara must pretend she's constantly on the phone. It could have gotten annoying that Lara talks to a ghost whom no one else can hear, and never tries to explain it, but it doesn't. Often I am left feeling unsatisfied when things are left unresolved in novels, but I think it is appropriate that Kinsella leaves the reader to imagine the other characters' reactions when they find out about the ghost.


Intertwined throughout the novel is the dynamic between Lara's immediate family and the family of their famous Uncle Bill Lington of Lingtons Coffee. It's really interesting to discover with Lara and her family the betrayals and broken loyalties in their family history. Really, it's quite a fun and light read, but with a bit of a deeper message than most chick lit novels. This one is warmer and with a bit more heart to it, but with the same Kinsella humor and her recurrent theme of heroines in crap jobs trying to work their way up in the world.


All in all, I'd say this is definitely worth a read if you like chick lit with a little more substance hidden between the lines. It doesn't feel deep while you read it, really, but the messages within are worth reflection when you've finished. Even if you don't like the Shopaholic series, and I must admit I never could quite finish it [the main character got too annoying for my taste], you may find yourself loving this book.


That's it for my review today. I realize these have been quite scattered and stream of consciousness, or maybe that's in my imagination, but I'll work on them. If you'd like to see more, let me know. If not, I'll probably do them anyway [muahahahahaha!]!


I'm currently juggling four books, one of which I'm unable to get out of the library right now: The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory; The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett; The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman; Harry Potter y la orden del fénix, by JK Rowling; I can't remember who translated it, but that's the one I can't get out from the library at the moment. I think it's actually physically and mentally impossible for me to read one book at a time. I've found myself reading four to five books during middle school, and possibly even elementary school. It's not even an attention problem; I just like books so much that if I get to a point where I want to put down one book I need to have another at hand, and so on. It's so pleasant to go back and forth, like revisiting an old friend and prolonging the stay. I quite like that simile, actually.


Time for me to go to sleep.


Good night/morning/afternoon wherever you are in the world, dear readers!


xEsther

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let's Do...A Book Review: Water for Elephants


Hello, dear readers,


I recently promised you more regular posts, but I neglected to tell you what they would be about. I'll let you in on a little secret: I had no idea what to write about! I think the problem is that recently I've been struggling with personal issues that have made me feel less than beautiful, therefore avoiding the camera and mention of all things cosmetic within the world wide web. This doesn't mean I won't be returning to fun beauty and/or fashion related posts at all, but it does mean there probably won't be pictures of me or much of an explanation until I feel ready. Now, on to the book review:


As you may have read in this post here, I'm very much looking forward to getting some good leisure reading in this summer. I think it would be fun to review the books I read, as I love to read and I love to talk about books.


Strictly speaking, I started Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, on the ride back to university after spring break. I finished it on the ride home from my mini vacation, which you may have read about in my last post here. You may also have heard about the book because it was made into a movie starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz. I'll be very interested in seeing the movie now.


If you're even still reading, you'd probably like me to get to the review, yes? Ok, ok, I'll stop rambling. Here's what the back of the book says, which you can also read at Sara Gruen's website:

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.
It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
Rather than repeat the summary, I'd like to say that this is about a young man learning how to grow up rather quickly when he decides he can't sit his exams for veterinary school, for reasons I'd rather not spoil for you, and joins a circus. This is not just a love story, as is projected by the giant and rather moody movie posters. It gets into the gritty details of Depression era circus politics, which sounds ridiculous but is quite fascinating.
It draws you in with Jacob Jankowski's compelling story of loss and rash decision-making, and sweeps you right along with him through the hierarchy of the circus, where workers, performers, and roustabouts must sit at separate tables for meals. The circus owner may withhold several weeks' pay on a whim, or blackmail someone into getting what he wants. The circus owner, Uncle Al, is deathly jealous of Ringling Brothers Circus, and is constantly trying to keep up with it, through a combination of blackmail, deceit, selfishness, and dirty dealing. 
There are also issues of race and religion, which I haven't yet discovered in the movie, as I've yet to see it. Conflicts between Jews and Poles and Americans play a subtle but very important role in this book. The evil August has a severe personality disorder, which makes him more complicated than your average sociopathic villain. At times, it's even possible to sympathize with him, at least for a short time.
This book is also told in hindsight, as Jacob is now around ninety and in a nursing home, remembering the past in daydreams and semi-conscious conversations. It opens with a scene from near the end of the book, which makes me even more anxious to read all the way through. Once I got to the end, I was flipping back and forth between the prologue and that scene to see if all the words matched up. [They don't, by the way, so as to keep you in suspense].
One hint for me that this is a fantastic book is that I didn't automatically flip to the end once I read about thirty pages. I often do this with girly books because they are so predictable, and I often get tired of the relationship clichés that go on before the girl gets the guy. This book is gripping enough that I actually wanted to muck through all the dark times in the middle before getting to the ending. I wanted to savor the emotions running through Jacob's head.
The ending of the story, and I mean ninety-something year-old Jacob's story, not twentyish Jacob's story, comes as a bit of a shock, or at least it did to me. It's compelling until the very last sentence. 
In all, if you're still reading my never ending post, and I find that I do apologize for long posts quite often [and my written apology probably takes up even more of your precious time, so maybe I should stop that!], then I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and won't be devastated by a book that has true love in it, but isn't focused on it. It's about a man finding his purpose in life and learning how to go from merely surviving to truly living.
Have a good read if you decide to pick it up! Let me know what you think!
To bright weather and great reads.
xEsther