Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: Shellac by CND (CreativeNailDesign)

Photo: Creative Nail Design

On Friday, May 7th I went to Creations to see the lovely Jennifer Kopolow for a VERY new product out in salons now called Shellac. This product is essentially a gel-polish that is painted on like regular nail polish, but "cured" under a specifically designed UV lamp, kind of a mini tanning bed for hands/feet. That process is vital to the product in that it's the way it "sticks" to your nails. It is also what makes the product "rock hard" and keeps it on and fairly impenetrable for 2 weeks or more. I was on day 5 and aside from a bit of tip wear (noticeable in a few instances), a few little "gashes" and "cuts" and some edge-lifting, they still looked great. You'd have to be really looking at my hands up close to see any of those issues, and this is still a record with me, gel nails and acrylics lasted all of 2 days on me before they were terrible looking and lifting enough to worry about.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ETSY CRAZINESS: I sense an addiction brewing.

I was reading my new Real Simple while I ate lunch today and as I was browsing through the "Gift Guide" I came across a listing for "This Charming Candy" and their interesting suckers. So I checked out the seller's shop and now I am having to block it out of my mind. Two different lollipop options have me going nuts. First is the Salted Caramel Lollipop shown in this beautiful photo. 

Photo: This Charming Candy's Etsy Store.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: Cleansing Oils -- Shu Uemura and DHC

Photo: ShuUemura.com

Cleansing Oils are cropping up everywhere these days...

Photo: DHCCare.com

I bought my first bottle of Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil (green) in San Francisco at the Nordstrom Westfield while we were driving the West Coast Hwy 1 in 2006. I have been using either the Shu or the DHC since. I know when I first heard of it, I thought "what oily skinned human would slather oil over their face to clean it?" and after trying it, apparently *this* oily skinned human would. Except that I mostly use it to take off the 8lbs of eye makeup I slap on every morning. For the most part it helps remove that, though I have to really let it sit for 30 seconds before I start really working it all off and then rinsing. Then I use the Alien Deathray Laser Gun with a regular foaming cleaser to clean up the rest.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and Crema Nero Eye Cream.

Photo: ArmaniBeauty.com

Most of my in-real-life friends and acquaintances know that I am very pasty white. And by very pasty white I mean that ream of paper you just bought that said Ultimate White 100% brightness. But I am not your typical pasty white. I am some gross mix of white, olive green and yellow. Like jaundice or ...sick looking. And that's just my everyday look. 

So when I am looking for a foundation, it's a battle. Not many brands cater to my skintone, and tend to stay pretty neutral, or in my language "PINK". The closest matches I have ever found are Laura Mercier Oil Free in Porcelain Ivory (actually this is dead on, if only it would just stay on my face for more than an hour), Shu Uemura Face Architect in 964 and 974 mixed, and apparently now I am pretty close in the Giorgio Armani line, with I think #2...though it is still a little pink for me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wish me luck...

I am starting with a trainer tonight, hopefully he can whip some shape into me. I'd like to be less of "a" shape, even temporarily. I have to cram myself into a bridesmaid dress in less than a month, and as of now I don't think it will zip!

How dare food be tasty and anywhere within a 30 mile drive of me at any time. It just jumps right in my mouth. All by itself. True story!

We'll see how it goes. I am extremely busy trying to finish off Summer weddings at the moment so I am really trying to balance getting that in without eating into my assembly timeframe at night, so that I can still be in bed by 10 for my 545am wakeup call (serenity now!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Correction... I was VERY excited for dinner.

Tonight is my brother's very belated birthday dinner. We are going to Wapango. The husband and I went a couple years ago for lunch one Saturday when we were wanting something new. And it was GOOD. I hope it's just as good today. I already know what I want, or at least part of it. The Columbian Arepas are what we shared last time for an Appetizer. And I think I might need them again. But for dinner I am way torn:
Yucatan Chicken Tacos
Red Corn Chicken Enchiladas
Tacos de la Calle
Black Beans, Cheese and Spinach Enchiladas
Empanadas de Pollo, Queso, y Puerco

Can't. Wait.

---UPDATE--- 821pm
We just got home from our dinner at Wapango and I can honestly say I was super disappointed, I think almost all of us were. The Arepas appetizer was the best part of the meal. I got the Red Corn Enchiladas and they were only ok. The sides were awful, the rice was flavorless and hard--completely undercooked. The "slaw" was just gross. My husband got the salmon and it was so overcooked it was a rockhard paperweight. His sides were only ok also. My brother and mom got the Cayo Chicken and neither thought it was anything special or tasty. My brother's girlfriend got the Nachos and she said they were ok, though didn't seem blown away. My dad got the slow-roasted pork and he liked his a great deal. My sister got a small chopchop salad that seemed to be well received, and then the crab enchiladas, she enjoyed them, but my husband tried a bite and got a piece of crab shell with his bite. He did say that beyond that they were good. My sister's fiance left with a nasty migraine not long after they arrived so Ill have to hear if he liked his red corn enchiladas.

For what you pay to eat at this place, it's a shame the food isn't that great. They don't have many new reviews going around that applaud it. We were able to walk right in to get a table and when we got there for dinner at 5pm, and for a good while afterwards, we were the only ones there. The service was ok, though I went without a refill for far too long several times. Mostly because I got a glass of ice and about a shots worth of soda.

Kind of a bummer, but we didn't leave hungry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: ENJOY Sulfate Free Hydrating Shampoo and Instant Reconstructing Conditioner

While I was buying a replacement bottle of Vitamino Color earlier today, I spotted some smaller sizes of the ENJOY line of products. It's a line I was hoping to try as it was sulfate free, and despite previous attempts at finding a sulfate free line that I liked, I hoped this might be a good one.

PRODUCT REVIEW: John Frieda Luxurious Volume Lavish Lift Root Booster

I bought the Root Booster by John Frieda at Walgreens one night after reading a review on another blog, I need to find it because she was bang on.   My hair is long and fine and I have about 5 people's worth of hair on it. Which in turn, makes it kind of heavy and not very voluminous.  It also won't hold a curl very long, despite using Caruso rollers. 

PRODUCT REVIEW: Loreal Serie Expert Vitamino Color Shampoo vs. Kerastase Bain Miroir

I started using the Kerastase Bain Miroir (hot pink bottle, not see through) in September of 2006ish, after seeing it on a shelf in a pretty swanky salon in Santa Monica, California.  I didn't buy it then because it would have been a pain to travel with, especially considering all the crap I already bought out there.  I used it for the most part all of the last 3 and a half years, only occasionally skipping it for either WEN or something cheaper and saving it for the first week or so after I did my roots and touchups.  I always told myself it was just Color Vive with a way steep pricetag, and while it is REALLY expensive for Shampoo, it might be worth it.  All $34 a bottle of it.   Now there is one that is even more ridiculously priced that I am dying to try since Jean Godfrey-June reviewed it in Lucky a couple months ago, (even the sample travel size is like $50!) but I haven't quite given into that. I came very close a few weeks ago to doing it but I rushed myself away from the site in favor of Perez Hilton.

PRIVATE PRACTICE WATCHERS---was anyone else...


I do not get this "monogram sticker on back window of SUV" trend.

I saw another few today, and I have to say that I think it's pretty..odd.  I started seeing it about maybe mid-summer last year, mostly on the ridiculously wealthy SUVs in Frontenac, a wealthy suburb of St. Louis. I actually recall seeing 4 in a row parked in front of Saks ALL with these large monograms in pink vinyl stuck to the middle of the back window.  It's started to expand into the back windows of the "less ridiculously wealthy" population.

Am I the only one that thinks they look silly and make no sense?  Especially if you drive like shit, which many people in this city are prone to do, why would you want your initials on your vehicle?  Aside from making sure anyone who's ever been around you in traffic to avoid you like the plague in the future.

PRODUCT REVIEW: LaRoche-Posay Anthelios XL Fluide Extreme

During our trip to NYC earlier this year, I drug the husband all around the Upper East Side to all the fancy "drugstores" to obtain all the products that are damn near impossible to get anywhere near where I live and/or impossible to find online.  One of the products on my list was the LRP Anthelios sunscreen. This stuff is supposed to be the greatest sunblock on earth for especially pasty skin, but for sun protection in general. And now I see why. 

PRODUCT REVIEW: Mary Kay Timewise Miracle Kit (Trial Size)

Photo: MaryKay.com

I have been using Mary Kay skincare off and on for at least 15 years. It started when I was introduced to it in High School by a local rep, and then again at College a girl in my dorm was selling it.  But when my cousin started selling it, that's when I really started in on it.  I know a big part of it was that I am REALLY sensitive, especially to scents, in my skincare. I am allergic to everything and develop rashes like crazy.  I almost always end up back at Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap because it doesn't give me any issues. I alternate that sometimes with Mary Kay cleanser as well, Deep Cleanser (?).  

PRODUCT REVIEW: Josie Maran Argan Oil/Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment

A while back when Moroccan Oil hit the hair salon scene it took off like a bat out of hell.  It's a serum, much like Frizz Ease, with the addition of Argan Oil, which is an oil from a nut indiginous to Morocco, that is excellent for moisturizing hair and skin and apparently pretty tasty on a salad.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Laura Geller "The Real Deal Concealer"

I bought this from QVC as well (noticing a theme here?) after a rare concealer presentation on there that I didn't immediately scream "full coverage my ass" to my television thinking that Patti Reilly or Lisa Robinson might actually hear me.   I pay close attention to those, because without concealer, henceforth known as "spackle", I look like I got the shit beat out of me.  I have had these "shiners" my entire life, and the older I get the worse they get.  I have tried every eye cream on earth, especially those that tout that they'll cure my circles, to no avail.  So now the mission has just become to find the most opaque concealer I can.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Clarisonic Sonic Skin System, or as it's known to the husband: Alien Deathray Laser Gun.

I picked this little gadget up on a 5-pymt easy pay from QVC a few months back, and have been using it nearly daily since.  The jury for me is still out.  Honestly, if it was about $150 cheaper I would probably think it was a better value, but since it's in the $225 range, I am not entirely thinking it was worth the cost.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I think I need a 'segment' about Etsy, aka holy spending trap..which segues poorly into purses..

Etsy is friggin' awesome. It's like your favorite little boutique mixed with a fleamarket mixed with a vintage shop mixed with some kind of bespoke design shop. I have purchased way too many things from various artisans, and in some cases many from the same. I have a ridiculous list of favorites and favorite items, though not enough funding to actually buy all of this stuff.  But as far as regular sellers go on there, Valhalla Brooklyn has been on my list forever, and I am dying to get a bag from her. I am hopeful she's willing to someday consider a "custom" job, because some of her bags are perfect except that I like them tall and not wide.  Her bags are just the right amount of structured with the zips and pockets (though I do wish there were sections for the interior...) and totally unstructured and dare I say Boho. Which is really not my typical look.   My "look" is pretty...non-looky.  Prior to this new job with the business casual attire requirement 4 of the 5 days, I was in jeans, running shoes or flipflops or Frye Harness Boots (or Uggs which is a recent development), and a tshirt or multiple layered tshirts and tanktops. I had quite a serious layering thing going on. Probably would count as a uniform.  My closet would make Stacy and Clinton yawn, gag and cry.  Speaking of which--anyone want to nominate me, you go right ahead. Ted Gibson seems to actually care what people want for their hair, so I am content that he will keep my hair flamingly orange and long.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Wen Cleansing Conditioner

A while back I reviewed this on my wedding forum for the girls there, and since I gave it a 2nd chance recently, I figured I'd rewrite it with an update.

I went into it thinking that it would keep my "natural" red hair brighter and redder longer. At first I really bought into it, though now I just realize I was high. Probably on the "Lavender" smell. Or what the bottle says is Lavender. There's no damn way there's a drop of Lavender anything in this bottle. It's a fakey weird smell. That is not reminiscent of anything floral. Well, maybe silk flowers. From the Dollar Tree.

GADGET-GASM: CDMA iPhone might really be coming this year...plus the first 4G phone out on June 4th--SHIT!

I read Boy Genius Report every few days because I like gadgets and despite my stunning good looks (HAH) and svelte physique (HAH HAH) I am really just a total dork. For the last year at least there have been loud rumors going around about the iPhone finally hitting a CDMA Carrier--that carrier being the big red V. (Ignore obvious off-color correlations there for now). It's gone back and forth with how long ATT (henceforth known as the debil) would really have this device exclusively. I still don't entirely believe that the exclusive rights end this year, as I seem to recall it really being 5 years, which would mean at least next year, if not the following. Forgive my math, I'm an idiot.

So imagine my surprise, and not necessarily delight but Ill go with it for now, when I see this post:

Could it really be? ...Inneresting.

My fashionable friends will totally disown me. And rightfully so.

...because I am wearing Crocs. Daily. And they rock.

To be fair, these are not your kid's, grandma's, nurse's crocs. These are actually remotely attractive. And aside from the foot-sweat thing, pretty darn comfortable.

I will start this by saying that every shoe tears up my feet, with the exception of Reef "Sandy" flip flops, and now apparently these little foam shoes. Mid-April found me starting a new position outside of my field, which required me to actually dress up. Well, this is like black-tie for me, and probably business casual for the rest of the planet. But considering that I could have gone to the Agency in my underwear and no one would probably have noticed, and as far as I am concerned, who needs pants? (Siblings, you shut it!) So as I was going through my closet which literally contained nothing work appropriate for a real office, I was "forced" to go on a bit of a spree. I say that like it was torture. Well in terms of trying on clothes in "regular sized" clothing stores, it kind of was. I have a pretty annoying body to fit, besides just being chubby that is. Normal shirts, even XL, don't fit properly in the chest, so I often have to buy plus-size shirts and have the sides taken in. My weight goes up and down like the tide, so that almost forces me to keep a set of clothes for each low tide and high tide.

An Ode to Dewey's...

Deweys is like heaven on a pizza tray. After hearing all the raves of various friends, coworkers and other random freaks on the street, I told the husband that we oughta try it for lunch one day. That "one day" was a little over a year ago and happened to be a typical Spring Day in St. Louis--meaning it had more weather personalities than Tara's United States.

We headed to the Kirkwood location that day, probably mid-afternoon, and got stellar parking, which is no small feat in Kirkwood on a Saturday. We were seated quickly, in one of the booths along the long wall. Ordered my Diet Crack, er, Coke, and started out with salads, I had the Candied Grape and Walnut, extra dressing, no cheese, and the husband had Peppercorn Ranch. He wasn't sure about his at first but it's grown on him, since he gets it nearly every time we go. Which is pretty often. For someone on WW, I am kind of ashamed to admit that.  Oh who am I kidding, I am so not ashamed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SHAMELESS PLUG: Zumba for the Cure 2010

Woohoo, it's Zumba for the Cure time again!  I know Tony Witt, ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) will be there, and for those who have never had the pleasure of being trained by him, or taking one of his classes...you are in for a treat. He is AMAZING.  He's in demand for a reason.  When my friend Jenn and I got certified last year, he was our instructor, and while it was a LONG day (thank you GM for buttwarmers) it was worth it.  I don't use my teaching cred anywhere, but I am glad I did it.  And I now have spiffy pants with silvery strings that move around when I shake my can.  (If you don't Zumba you really should check it out. It will kick your ass and before you know it you'll be blaring Pitbull songs in your car. True story!)

Anyway...ZftC is a 2 hour Zumbathon that occurs the evening before Komen Race for the Cure and benefits Komen. ZftC will again be in Grant Gymnasium at Webster University.  It is $25/per person in advance, $30 day of.

If you want a shirt or to register for the event--all proceeds go directly to the foundation--contact them through the website I linked. 

It is one hell of a time!


I had an email request today from a lovely lady wanting to know more about the Mirena IUD, which I have had for about 2 full years now.  I have a love-hate relationship with this little thing.  I love the simplicity and lack of concern I really need to have for it, but at the same time it makes me wanna kill myself some days.  

Since I have had no kids, and clearly am in no hurry to do so, that changes how my body will treat it and how it goes in. I had to have it implanted via "surgery" where she knocked me out for 15 minutes and for that I am eternally grateful because otherwise I'd have died.  

The pain afterwards, and for like 8 weeks thereafter, was hell.  The best way I can explain it is that your body wants it out. And it tries like hell to get it out.  The cramping was so bad I literally laid in bed at night for a week with heating pads and wore those Thermacare things you buy for backpain and whatnot.  I had been taking Advil like it was candy just to try to dull it.  Even now, nearly two years later, it still gives me surprise spikes of doom that are almost unbearable.  

I honestly think a lot of this has to do with the fact that , like I mentioned earlier, I have not had kids. I have a feeling the innards would take it a little differently since a woman who had a kid has a slightly different arrangement  going on. 

The cycle for me is ...odd. The cramps are actually shockingly awful, which is not something I am used to, since I was on OTC for like 18 years. For the most part on the pill, I didn't have much going on. Minimal anything. But this is multiple times a month sometimes, and long, and painful. And it might be what causes me to give up. You'd think after nearly 2 years I might be used to it. But ... no. Supposedly this is normal, but I can't believe that.  Nothing else with my body goes as planned, so why should this.

If your insurance covers it, and the pill/patch/ring/shot aren't working so well, give this a try. Everyone's different, and I really think new moms will benefit from this greatly.  The fact that it lasts 5 years is a pretty good selling point.

PRODUCT REVIEW: ShadowLiner by Smashbox

I picked up the Smashbox TSV last year through QVC (Beauty Shortcuts) and I am IN LOVE with the shadowliners now! The first one (only one I kept actually) came with a shade called Starstruck, which is like a figgy brownish shade (brownish plumish). I also bought the Shadowliner in Hollywood, which is kind of a bronzey brown color. Both came with the brush to do it, which is pretty amazing in terms of value, those brushes cost like $30 a pop usually, and QVC packages them together with the product. (PS: I love LOVE love QVC. Love.)

GADGET REVIEW: Palm Pre (Sprint)

I have had this phone now for nearly a year (!) which is possibly a new record.  I actually figure out something new on it every day.  It's pretty quick, and pretty easy to figure out.  I know a lot of the nerds that have it or want to bash it complain that the app store is not on par with Apple or the Android Market, but it doesn't have to be, it comes standard with a pretty decent array of things and within about 2 weeks the early adopters had already figured out how to create new apps, Homebrew, if you will. 

VENDOR REVIEW: GoodOldGold.com

Photo: GoodOldGold.com, Jonathan Weingarten

A few years ago I got the chance to learn about Good Old Gold and "meet" Jon through a forum about diamonds and jewelry.  That forum is actually the impetus for what became my real education in diamonds.

At the time I had no real need to get much beyond that meeting, I wasn't in the market for anything anyway, but as I stayed on that board longer...and longer...and longer...I really got to know him and more about his company, not to mention diamonds and cut quality (CUT IS KING!) especially that he carries a lot of specialized stones that not many (or in some cases, no one else) carry. 

Besides that, he was ridiculous about making sure every single stone he carried was a great performer and made sure the forum's posters and all customers knew how to identify a great performer. 

Welcome to the ultimate time waster! I mean, besides Facebook, of course!

So, I finally created one of these things, in part, due to popular demand and peer pressure. Apparently there is someone on this earth that actually thought this was a good idea. I'll have you know, I am not that person. But YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE...

Since this is the first post of maybe many, depends how much I can come up with to write about, Ill keep this one brief. Apparently I talk a lot, or should I say, I type a lot.

The whole intention of this is for me to share my (usually unsolicited) opinions about ...stuff. Products of varying kinds (probably a lot of beauty related stuff, what can I say, I love that it!), places to buy such products, packaging, design-ey stuff, wedding-related stuff, food and restaurants...pretty much anything I can talk about. Ultimately, I waste the time and money so you don't have to. And tell you why, in so many more words than you would even care to read...and probably show photos in some cases, most that will give you nightmares. I apologize in advance to your eyes. Especially since I am not one to not use "inappropriate language". And usually it's not warranted. I just like the words.

Other things about me that are completely unimportant and trivial facts: I am from St. Louis, I spent 15 years in the Graphic Design / Advertising fields working hard for "the man" and about 6 years ago I started my own design firm, specializing in wedding stationery, etc. It took a really major shove for me to walk away from the full-time job I had slaved in for that many years.  Other than that, I have a sick fascination with jewelry/diamonds, makeup, hair products, candy, TV, magazines, purses, and cell phones. Oh and I eat a lot. I wouldn't call myself a connoisseur or anything, well maybe of junk food. 

...and that, is the First Blog Post According to Ame.