Month: May 2013

Blog every day in May x2: Day 14

Share your favorite recipe. Talk about the best cocktail you’ve ever tasted. Or maybe share your fave restaurant experience. Lets talk about food!

I love a meal from our local Thai restaurant–Pad Thai noodles, pineapple curry over rice, sweet and sour veggies and tofu, spring rolls, and Thai iced tea, plus coconut “ice cream” for dessert! I also really love Italian food and I was so happy that our local pizza place decided to start offering vegetarian subs and pizzas made with soy cheese.

Ten things that make you really happy 

1. Spending time with my husband. (What a sap.)
2. When I wake up in the evening and my kitties are snuggled up close to me.
3. Getting out of a hot shower to climb into fresh, clean bedsheets. I don’t know why, this has always felt so luxurious to me!
4. A really good story. This can be a book or a movie.
5. Music.
6. Being outside in nature.
7. Chocolate. Or any good food, really, but especially chocolate.
8. That early period just before sunrise, when the world hasn’t quite woken up yet. There’s something really magical about it. Even the air smells different.
9. Feeling a sense of accomplishment about my day. If I get a lot done and have time left over later for relaxing, I feel very happy.
10. New shoes!

Blog every day in May x2: Day 13

Talk about being green, eco-friendly or ethical. What do you do to make a difference?
You guys already know from reading my blog that I try to stick to the most natural and cruelty-free foods, cosmetics and other household products that I can find. I also try to recycle as much as possible.

I think eco-friendly shopping gets a lot of press but ethical shopping doesn’t get nearly enough attention. When you’re buying certain items like coffee or chocolate, look for fair-trade options so the local farmers get a fair share of the profits from the item. There are lots of awesome fair-trade little gift items like candles, jewelry and cloth handbags that support artisans in third-world countries who use the money from their sales to better their villages with basic things like clean water and schooling for their children.
And think about the clothing you buy. My dad recently told me about a book called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline, which highlights the twin problems of cheap clothing: garment factories which exploit workers for low pay, and all that “disposable” clothing that we wear a couple of times and then throw away. Obviously for those of us buying on a budget and looking for cheap chic clothing, we are not going to be able to ensure that every item we buy is made of organic material and produced in the USA; I’m pretty sure most of the stuff in my closet was manufactured in China. It’s kind of hard to find stuff that isn’t made in China. 

However, I think there are three things you can do to make sure your financial footprint is as small as possible:
  • Buy fair-trade or USA-produced when possible. It takes some digging but if the option is there, I’ll take it. I’m trying to research this more this summer so I’ll share what I find with you guys on the blog!
  • Shop less. I still like to buy new clothes but lately I’ve been trying to limit how much money I spend at cheap-chic shops. The less money you pour into cheap retail the better, right?
  • Thrift and re-fashion. It’s probably the best way to be eco-conscious and ethical, and it saves you money, too.

Do you have any tips for me for living a more “green” life?

Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

Dear husband,

I’m sorry for all of my well-intentioned healthy cooking experiments gone wrong. I’m sorry for thinking that spaghetti squash could indeed taste just like pasta and for torturing you with spinach-covered pizza. I’m especially sorry for all of the watery sugar-free desserts I’ve tried to make over the years. You’re right, the slashed calorie count is not worth it.

I’m especially sorry for getting the bright idea to try my hand at egg-free brownies (for the first time!) a mere three hours before we had to be at the park for our post-wedding party. It was poorly conceived and poorly timed, so thank you for not laughing at the gooey mess that resulted. And thank you for running to the store at the last minute to pick up Oreos (in two flavors, no less) so we would have some sort of finger dessert to put on the table at the party.

(On a separate note, I’m sorry that I managed to book the park on the one day in August that it decided to rain, but after three straight weeks of dry weather can you really blame me?)

I’m sorry for all the times you’ve come home from work to find the house in shambles because I got the bug to clean and redecorate an entire room and, well, the madness spread from there. I’m sorry for rearranging the furniture a dozen times before I’m happy with it and for inadvertently hiding your stuff from you in the process.

I’m sorry for thinking that a hike to the beach was just the thing we needed on a hot summer day. I swear I had no idea we would get turned around in the woods and end up hiking for four hours to reach the water. It’s no wonder your old football injury acts up every time I announce I want to go hiking.

I’m sorry that the cats sleep on your homework, step on your face when you’re sleeping and run off into the bushes at night when you try to corral them into the house. I’m very, very sorry for the times they’ve thrown up on your work clothes…while you were wearing them. We all love you to pieces. Thank goodness you’re patient with us.

I’m sorry for that time I wore new heels to go to a movie and we ended up parking several blocks away and having to slowly shamble walk to the theater with me cringing in pain from the blisters. I do know better, I promise.

I’m sorry that I freeze up around new people and offend them in the process with my silence and/or sarcasm. I’m glad you can finally look back on my meeting with your stepmother and laugh. In all fairness, I don’t think people shouldn’t ask questions if they don’t want to hear honest answers. And I thought at the time that “leave them at the fire station” was a perfectly acceptable response to her persistent nagging question of “But what if you DO have children? What will you do with them?”

Lastly, I’m sorry for all the times I’ve said I’ll be done with the computer “shortly” and then lost myself in Pinterest for an hour. Did I mention how glad I am of your patience?

Love, your well-meaning and overly ambitious wife

Product review: Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream

Disclosure: free product was sent for consideration, however the free product does not affect my honest review in any way and all opinions are my own. As always I do my best to provide you with a complete and honest review!

When I was younger I didn’t realize that slapping makeup on when you haven’t been taking care of your skin serves no purpose at all. I thought the solution to dullness, dryness, dark circles and all other assortment of skin maladies was different makeup. Now that I’m a bit older and wiser I’ve realized that I’m better off spending my money on quality products to take care of my skin, and that in doing so I’ll end up needing less makeup overall. Win-win!

The main problems I run into when shopping for skincare products are:

  • Not vegetarian-friendly
  • Packed full of chemicals
  • Way too expensive
  • Irritates my sensitive skin

So with those concerns in mind, I was super happy when IFabbo and Own Skin Health sent me this sample tube of the Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream to try out. (I say “sample” because that is how IFabbo refers to it, but judging by the size of the tube and the website info this is a full-sized product, which made me do a little jig of surprised happiness.)

This product is vegan, Leaping Bunny certified, free of retinol and other harsh ingredients, and priced comparable to drugstore lines like Olay and L’Oreal.

The product: Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream; $23.99/0.5 oz.; available online through

The claim: Formulated to lift and smooth wrinkles while brightening skin with clinically proven CLA technology. In eight weeks, reduce the appearance of crow’s feet by 61% and the total number of wrinkles around the eye area by 30%. Free of retinol, fragrances, parabens, and sulfates.

I tried it: I received my tube of eye cream at the beginning of April, so I’ve had ample time to test it out and see how it works! I apply it twice daily, in the mornings and evenings after I’ve washed my face and applied my regular face cream. You need only the tiniest dab–think the size of a grain of rice–for both eyes. I just tap it lightly into place around the eye as with any eye cream. (Jasmine at Green Eyed Monster has a great illustrated tutorial on eye cream application here.)

I feel like this stuff absorbs very well and is non-greasy, but remains hydrating. It has a very light and pleasant silky texture. If you had very dry or mature skin you might wish for something more moisturizing, but I felt like this was really hydrating even after a long day. And since you only need to use such a tiny amount, I know this little tube is going to last forever. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in it in the six weeks that I’ve been testing it!

Having noted the hydration level, I must also note that this eye cream wasn’t too slippery to wear under my makeup. I have very dark undereye circles and need heavy-duty concealer to hide them; that “sheer coverage” nonsense just does not cut it with me. The trouble with heavy-coverage concealers is that they have a tendency to settle into the fine lines around the eyes and highlight them, which just defeats the purpose of trying to look fresh and rested! The solution is to wear an eye cream under your concealer, but some are so slick that your concealer just melts right off. I felt like this Own eye cream struck the perfect balance between hydration and staying power; I layered it over my moisturizer and under a primer and concealer, and my concealer’s normal wear time was not affected at all. My fine lines, on the other hand, were much less noticeable.

Now, let’s talk about using the eye cream without other products. This cream has an immediate yet subtle firming effect around my eyes, which helps disguise my bags and lines on the days I really don’t have time for makeup. I feel like this eye cream does help me look more well-rested. As far as the long-term anti-aging properties, I do feel there’s been a noticeable decrease in the number of fine lines around my eyes.

Finally, I have to point out that my skin is fickle: it handles some products with aplomb and others not at all. Many mainstream skin care products are full of chemicals that are not only icky but can also irritate sensitive skin, retinol being one of the most potent, so I’m really happy that this product is plant-based and didn’t sting my skin in the least. It also doesn’t have a strong “skin care” smell, if you know what I mean!

Here’s the ingredients list (from the Own Skin Health website), just in case you’re interested: Water, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid*, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Olivate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Coco-Caprylate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Tocopherol, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

My verdict: I love this stuff! I’m normally very skeptical of products that claim to improve your skin by such-and-such percentage so I was very happy to see such good results from this product. I’m so pleased to find a vegan Leaping Bunny-approved product at a mass retail price that works so well for me, and I will definitely consider purchasing other Own Skin Health products in the future!

If you’d like to try this product for yourself, Own and IFabbo have a special coupon code for you to use! Check out through the Own Skin Health website here and use coupon code “CLAIFABBO1” to get 30% off your first purchase of Own Skin Health products.

 Disclosure: free product was sent for consideration, however the free product does not affect my honest review in any way and all opinions are my own. As always I do my best to provide you with a complete and honest review!

Blog every day in May x2: Day 12

Are you a collector? Maybe a bit of a hoarder? Tell us about something you like to collect. Or if you favor minimalism, perhaps tell us why? 

Oscar Wilde said you could never be overdressed or overeducated, and I obviously concur, because I collect clothes and books like crazy! In fact, my birthday present to myself this year will be more clothes and another bookshelf for the living room, so I can continue buying books–even though I weed out the “meh” titles as I read through them, I’m still running out of room! 

Other things I could be said to collect: nail polish, Asian decor, coffee mugs, and penguin-themed Christmas decorations.

What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life…) 

Sometimes I miss the freedom and flexibility of the schedule I had before I had before I got married and had my “kids” (cats). Don’t get me wrong, I miss NOTHING else about that time–not my run-down apartment, or my crappy roommates, or being broke all the time because I was young and just getting started in life. I wasn’t a big dater and I didn’t get into the party scene, so I don’t miss any of that. I’m not one of those people who longs for the single life.

But my husband and I work opposite shifts (and may have opposite days off very soon), so we can’t just spontaneously go out on a date or meet up with friends. We have to plan our “couple” time carefully to make it mesh with all of our individual responsibilities and schedule demands.

Also, having pets means I can’t just take off for a weekend if I’d like–I have to think of who will feed the kitties, change the litter box, play with them, etc. And since Max is an insulin-dependent diabetic, I even have to keep tabs on my daily schedule to ensure I’m home at the right time to feed him and give him his shots. Staying out all evening and night isn’t an option unless I make a pit stop back at the house to take care of him.

So, while I love my life as it is and wouldn’t change it for the world, and obviously I love my husband and cats more than anything–I do occasionally miss the days when I could throw my things in the car and take off for the day without thinking about taking care of the “kids” or whether making plans for the weekend would mean not spending time with the hubby. I don’t understand people who gripe about being single and are in a hurry to settle down–you have so much more freedom of time when you’re single, so don’t waste it! Use it to enjoy doing all of the things you want to do, like traveling or getting an education, before you’re juggling schedules with a partner and possibly tossing kids or pets into the mix.

I think there’s also a large implicit lesson to be had here: enjoy every time of your life as it comes along, because someday, even if you don’t think you ever will miss it–you will! So don’t waste your days wishing for something different. Something different will arrive in due time. :)

Blog every day in May: Day 11

 Tell us about your favorite book. Or maybe give us a top 5 of the books that changed your life.

It’s really hard to pick out just a few books out of the many I’ve enjoyed, but here are my current “top 5” that I would recommend:

  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Yay for a female heroine like Katniss, who isn’t obsessed with boys or her weight but with basically starting a revolution and toppling a dictatorship.
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. Well, really, anything by Bryson is good; he meshes memoir, travel and humor together in a way that has both made me laugh and taught me a great deal about framing stories.
  • Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. I love this story, partly because I love historical fiction, partly because of the adventure and humor, but also because Jamie and Claire’s love story is such an imperfect one. They have their share of squabbles but work through them nonetheless.
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Can’t make the list without this one! Easily still the best romance ever, and I love the BBC miniseries adaptation.
  • James Herriot’s books on life as a vet in rural England (All Creatures Great and Small, etc.) I read these as a kid and if you love animals, I really recommend you pick one up and flip through it. From the hilarious to the heart-warming, his stories are wonderful.

Sell yourself in 10 words or less

Intelligent, open-minded, quick-witted, hard-working, funny, fierce. Am I bragging? I think I’m bragging.