Month: July 2013

Ten on Tuesday: 7/9/13

1. So first of all…I am so happy Lin’s back for Ten on Tuesday. I’ve missed her posts! Go say hi to her and check out the funny GIF she posted this week–that’s totally me when I’m “watching calories”.

2. So I had my annual eval at work and I got the good review I was hoping for. (Insert small happy dance here.)

3. BUT! My mouth got ahead of my brain and I agreed to work tonight! So on my first week back from vacay, I’m working six days and only taking one off. I know, I know, someone call the wahmbulance.

4. Baby Jiao has a new hobby: bringing cicadas into the house for her sporting pleasure. Do you know how freaky it is to find them under my rugs?! Especially when I have a phobia of bugs! Ugh.

5. There are few things quite as joyful as tucking a bar of dark chocolate in the back of the fridge, forgetting about it, and then rediscovering it at an opportune time.

6. This is basically how last week felt. Now it’s cooler and rainy, thank goodness.

7. I managed not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES to get bits of dried glue in my eye last night while opening shipping boxes. This totally killed my plan to test drive some new eye makeup items since I wound up washing it all off while rinsing my eyes out in the bathroom. Better luck tonight, I hope.
8. I think I might finally join Tumblr, so if any of you guys are on there leave me a link so I can go check you out!
9. I know I posted this in my vacation series, but it’s too strange and funny not to share again. (These are, by the way, quite tasty, even if the package is odd!)
10. I started listening to this band after finding some of their videos posted on Katrin’s blog, so here’s one for you to enjoy too. I will totally admit that I initially thought the group was actually a duo of a girl named Belle and a guy named Sebastian. Erps.

Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme

After I fell in love with my Giovanni towelettes (review here), I thought nothing else could ever compare. Once my local Target stopped stocking them, however, I had to find a replacement while I waited to order more towelettes from the Giovanni website, so I picked up these cloths from Alba Botanica. I’ve had good luck with other Alba Botanica products in the past and I remembered seeing these recommended in a beauty magazine some time back, so I thought they were at least worth a shot!

The product: Alba Botanica Natural Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme; $5.99/30 count at drugstores.

The claim: First, gentle cleansers remove makeup. Second, pore-refining pineapple and papaya enzymes break through oil and dull surface cells for a pore-deep clean. Finally, aloe and awapuhi tone and balance to refresh without tightness. pH Balanced. 100% Vegetarian. No: Animal Testing, Artificial Colors, Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Myreth Sulfate. Leaping Bunny certified.

I tried it: Same standard deal as any facial towelette: open up the resealable package, use the sturdy and well-moistened cloth to clean your face, reseal the package and be done with it. Except that in the case of these wipes, I did not feel like they’re a one-step wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am deal. They promise to be a “makeup remover + cleanser + toner”, but they left my face and hands feeling tacky and not thoroughly cleansed. I had to wash my hands after using them, and as for my face? Well…

I’ve recently become a convert to the school of using witch hazel as a natural toner post-cleansing, and let me tell you, it makes such a difference in the way my skin looks and feels. It’s also a great test to see if your “cleanser” is really cleansing. In the case of these wipes, when I used them to wipe away a long day’s worth of foundation, grime, etc., it took not one but two cotton balls soaked in witch hazel to finish the job and leave my face feeling truly clean. I’m sorry, but that is not my definition of a “cleanser”, nor am I pleased that I have to add another step to what is supposedly a one-step cleansing routine.

I want to point out one more thing as a comparison to the Giovanni wipes. If you look up the ingredients for both of these products (just search for them at Drugstore.com), the Giovanni wipes have a much more natural ingredients list. The Alba Botanica wipes also contain both limonene and linalool; limonene has been rated a 6 out of 10 on Skin Deep’s hazard chart and both of these ingredients are listed as known allergens, with linalool apparently serving as a trigger ingredient for eczema.

I am not 100% hippie natural (well, not yet anyway) and I am okay with some products being a little less “natural” if they’re just for my use, but I’m trying to rid the house of skincare products with these ingredients because my husband will from time to time pick them up to use them, and I feel like it’s just better to avoid these allergens where possible. And obviously, if you have allergies, it’s a bummer to realize that a product that looks and sounds so green and pure has something in in that can be so harmful.

My verdict: I love Alba Botanica and I’d love to love these towelettes, but quite frankly they do not even come close to cutting it for me. They just don’t leave my face feeling clean! I will definitely not repurchase.

Product review: Dr. Scholl’s For Her High Heel Insoles

(Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. I did not receive any form of compensation for writing a review and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

One of the items that arrived in my Influenster Sunkissed VoxBox this week was a pair of Dr. Scholl’s For Her High Heel insoles–score! I love these and wear them in all of my high heels, so I wanted to share a quick review of them for those of you who might not have tried them yet.

The product: Dr. Scholl’s For Her High Heel insoles; $10-$11 online and at drugstores and mass market retailers.

The claim: Slim design fits into your high heels to relieve ball-of-foot pressure. Won’t crowd toes or show in open-toe shoes.

I tried it: These insoles have a peel-and-stick backer to hold them in place, yet they can be removed easily for shoes without causing damage. They’re cut a bit shorter and slimmer than traditional insoles to accommodate heeled shoes without crowding toes. If you have larger feet like me then you may want to place the insoles in your shoes and walk around for a moment to find the best placement for them.

I like that these are clear, so you can wear them in strappy sandals without an embarrassing insole peeking out for the world to see. They do so much to relieve the pressure on my arches and the balls of my feet, and make my high heels so much more comfortable to wear for hours on end!I also feel like having insoles in my high heels relieves some of the knee, hip and back pain I feel from wearing heels, and makes it easier to walk without biting my tongue and wincing!

My verdict: I won’t wear heels without these insoles–as soon as I buy a new pair of heels I drop into Walgreens for a pair of insoles to go with! 

(Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. I did not receive any form of compensation for writing a review and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

 

Influenster Sunkissed VoxBox

Well well, look at the lovely surprise that showed up in my mailbox this weekend…

It’s the Sunkissed VoxBox! I love getting these testing packages from Influenster; it’s so fun getting to try new things and sometimes I find new favorites in these packages that I might not have picked up otherwise.

There were four products inside, starting with the big “it” summer product, Olay Fresh Effects BB Cream. To be honest I will probably not even be testing this, because a) it’s tested on animals b) it’s not my shade and c) I’m not a fan of BB creams. Also, I have three or four different bases in my makeup box already, so I don’t need another!

The Dr. Scholls For Her High Heels Insoles are another story–I love these things! I put them in all of my high heels to make them more comfortable. I’ll probably post a review soon.

The Goody Ribbon Elastics are neat. I feel like these look better than a plain hair tie if you’re doing a braid or wearing it on your wrist. I’ll review them soon.

Finally there’s a bottle of the new Sinful Colors SinfulShine Gel Tech polish. The putty color seems like an odd choice for summer–I’m wearing more brights this time of year–but it’s an interesting concept.

That’s it for now! I’ll post more detailed reviews in the next couple of weeks.

 

Birthday vacation part three: big makeup haul!

Time to wrap up the posts about my vacation! After my spending ban I was overdue for a makeup haul, but I saved it until after I went back to work so I would have something to make those first nights a little less soul-crushing. So here are the pictures of everything I got!

First up: a bunch of the Milani Shadow Eyez pencils, which I’ve been wanting since I saw them on Pang’s blog this spring. Almond Cream and Cafe Au Lait are both matte, which is hard to find on the cheap (these are $6.50 apiece), and then I grabbed Brown Deluxe and Golden Bronze because they were just so pretty. I was happy to get some individual shades instead of a palette of powders so I wouldn’t get any dupes for shades I already own.

Next is a new limited edition blush from Essence, part of the Floral Grunge collection. Be Flowerful is a silky coral blush. This retails for $3 so it’s a real steal if you can find it.

These Wet n Wild shadows were BOGO 1/2 Off so I grabbed a pan of rosy shades (they’re warmer in real life) for $3 and a jade green single pan that ended up being $1.

I don’t have a black liquid liner at the moment so I thought instead of buying another traditional liquid liner, I would try something different: a felt pen style (Milani, $7.50). The Hard Candy polish is called “Tinsel Town” ($4) and it’s the only bar glitter I’ve found at the drugstore thus far, so I justified adding it to my stash.

I kind of went nuts with the Hard Candy products! There were still a few of these mini $4 kits at Walmart, so I grabbed them so I can try a bunch of different products on the cheap. Now I have minis of face and eyeshadow primer, bronzing and highlighting liquid, a silver eyeshadow, a thickening mascara and a glitter mascara, and two glitter eye pencils in teal and purple. Pretty good for twelve bucks, huh?

This was the more practical part of my splurge. I love this Physician’s Formula mascara and Walmart usually sells it for $9 per tube, but these packages have a bonus tube inside–so that makes it $4.50 per tube, which is dirt cheap for any mascara, let alone such a nice one. The Glamoflauge Concealer ($6) has been recommended by a bunch of my favorite bloggers including Pang, Jasmine and Niki, so I finally bought that too (after eyeballing it for months!). I hope this finally solves my dark circle dilemma!

The Shadowholic sticks ($5) in Pink Lady and After Hours are supposed to last all day without creasing; Pang reviewed a couple of different shades (can you tell I stalk her blog?) and they looked awesome, so hopefully they work for me too. The All Lid Up cream shadow ($5) is called Tidal Wave and it’s such a lovely shade of bright turquoise.

Last but not least, I finally bought a can of Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak dry shampoo. Arielle recommended this one and it was only $5, so I figured it was a good foray into a product I’ve always been kind of leery of using. I do like the idea of boosting my fine hair’s volume so I’m willing to try it out!

So there’s my big birthday cosmetics haul! Going on a spending ban and shopping spree has taught me a few things: it’s easier for me to stick to a seasonal budget than a monthly one, I get more enjoyment from the occasional splurge rather than regular shopping, and I end up buying fewer, nicer items because I have time to make a list of the things I really want for the season instead of just buying something because it’s new or I “need” a treat. So now that my shopping spree is over, I think I’ll go back on a small spending ban so I can have another shopping spree when autumn arrives!

Thanks for reading through all of my birthday vacation posts! I missed you all while I was gone and I have so much blog reading and YouTube viewing to catch up on now, plus, obviously, tons of reviews to write. So I guess it’s time to get back into my routine and get back to regular work on the blog!

Birthday vacation part one: road trip and shopping

So now that I’m back from vacation I thought it’d be fun to write a post telling y’all about it. Once I started writing I realized it would be a really looooooooooong post, so I’ve split it up into three parts.

I have this thing about making a hundred lists before I leave on a trip and I’m constantly nervously vibrating around checking that I’ve packed all of my chargers and have enough socks. No surprise then that I woke up at 4 AM ready to go. It was 40 degrees and raining when I left, which suited me just fine, but it made it kind of hard to pack; I had to keep reminding myself that I wanted sundresses and shorts because it would be hot and sunny once I hit the desert.

The drive was actually pretty easy, especially during the first few hours when there were few drivers on the road. Having good music helps, even if it does necessitate the use of cruise control to avoid driving too fast:

It wasn’t until later in the day that the roads got busier and I got to deal with some of the less wonderful drivers of the west. If I ever write a book on all the ways people drive me batty, this trip will have given me plenty of material for the chapter entitled “Vehicular Shenanigans”. There are some people who drive maddeningly slow and others who scoot their noses right into your bumper and stay there no matter what. For every slow driver there’s one who will fly down these roads at 80 MPH (no exaggeration) or drive right into oncoming traffic to pass.

Keep in mind that you’re on a narrow, twisty two-lane road running through a river canyon with a rock wall on one side and a river on the other, narrow (or nonexistent) dirt shoulders, and constant road signs warning you to slow down for curves, do not pass, watch for rock, look out for deer, remember that there are no guard rails, beware of trucks for the next five miles on the 7% grade (don’t worry–there are lots of runaway truck ramps in case of emergency!), and occasionally…

Beware of Cows Falling from Mountains    It looks like a avalanche or rock fall warning, but it's not. It's a cow. In fact, it's a cow that's falling from a mountain and that's going to land on top of the car. Thanks for making me paranoid about falling cows, now.
(image via Pinterest)
Suicidal cows, apparently.

So after the first few hours of low-traffic driving, several of us wound up stacked behind two pickup trucks hauling large trailers. And by “several” I mean six eager vehicles who did not want to drive slowly, because they had destinations, dammit. These are Western roads; if you want to go from point A to point B there is one route and you don’t have the option of taking a different road to circumvent slow traffic. You can only hope that eventually you’ll come to a stretch of road with a sign stating that…

(image via Pinterest)
YES! So naturally all six of us got really excited at the prospect of being able to pass the trailers and resume a normal traveling speed. But do you think either of the trucks used the turnouts?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

They decided to proceed along as normal, while I silently berated myself for “packing light” and not bringing the shoulder-mounted grenade launcher; then there would have been no such problems. NONE. ZILCH.

We went on like this for several long miles until we came out of a canyon and into a wider stretch of road with two lovely lanes on our side of the road and a sign admonishing slower traffic to stay on the right to allow for passing. Now, I get that the lay of the land makes road construction tricky to say the least, but it’s almost as if some bored sadist built these roads using advanced math to make sure the passing lanes would end just before you had a chance to actually pass. The result being that for quite a ways as we drove, with our friends ahead refusing (again) to move over or slow down, none of us were quite able to pass.

Finally the second truck-and-trailer pulled off the road and as we all passed him, I realized…his trailer lights were not hooked up. So for the past hour or two, we’ve been watching for falling rock, suicidal cows, and all other manner of dangerous rural road horrors, at highway speeds, behind someone whose brake lights weren’t even functional. (Western drivers are nothing if not talented multitaskers!) I think that was the point where we all got really desperate to pass Trailer #1, because the cars in front started revving it to pass him at all costs.

Needless to say he did not appreciate this, and it was only through totally disobeying the speed limit that everyone finally squeezed past him. I slipped by just before rolling into one of those typical tiny towns with a 20 MPH speed limit, and got to watch the driver in my rear view mirror. He was talking to his passenger and gesticulating wildly about something–probably being passed by an Oldsmobile–to which I silently replied, That’s right, gesticulate all you want. I bet your trailer lights don’t work either.

Despite all of the nuttiness on the roads, I did make good time and got to my parents’ town late that afternoon, which meant we had time to do a little shopping and sight-seeing around town. One thing about visiting home: I have to adjust from the silence of cats to their dog, who enthusiastically howls at anyone who comes near or in the house. Say what you will about cats, but they don’t bay at guests and scare the bejeesus out of them when they try to sneak up and down the stairs.

While we were out shopping we managed to load up on goodies from Bath and Body Works (sale time!). I got shower gels and body lotions in three scents I haven’t tried before: Wild Honeysuckle, Secret Wonderland, and Rome Honeysuckle Amore.

At Pier 1 I got this awesome tree-shaped jewelry tree to hold all of my rings and bracelets, and my mom got me some peacock notecards. She got the funkiest metal bird statue that you ever did see, which unfortunately I forgot to photograph, because it was pretty darn cool. And then I got these neat earrings; Pier 1 actually has some cool jewelry if you want something with a global influence.

When we got back to the house I decided I’d better take my shopping bags straight up to my room so I wouldn’t misplace anything. Little did I know that the cream-colored dog was lounging stealthily at the top of the stairs on the cream-colored carpet, watching me come up the stairs while looking at my purchases rather than paying attention to my surroundings. I was about at eye level with her when I finally looked up and she promptly let loose with an “ARRRRROOOOOOOOOOOO” that nearly made me fall backwards down the stairs.

Welcome home!

The next day we decided to get up early and make the two-hour drive to the Big City to hit the mall. Neither of us had really put two and two together at this point and realized that it was Saturday and therefore the mall would be packed. The first store we went in was H&M. I was excited to take my mom there because she’d never been in one and when I had wandered through H&M the month prior, I had seen a lot of cute stuff. Not so here! The racks were packed so tightly you could barely pull clothes off, there were clothes on the floor, and the whole store just wasn’t that impressive. All I could do was repeat, “The one at home is so much nicer!”

That kind of summed up our run through the mall. Crowds, messy stores…overall, a very underwhelming experience. And where was all of the cute stuff I saw this spring?! I guess summer isn’t my season. Nonetheless, I did pick up a few awesome things, among them the most epic set of cookie cutters ever. I can’t wait to use these at Christmas!

These moccasins were on sale at DSW and I thought they’d be cute with denim shorts and boho tops this summer.

The striped dress is from Romy and has a soft fit-and-flare shape that makes it really flattering. The boho floral dress came from a little shop we visited after the mall (more on that below); it’s such a cool summer maxi and I love the muted grey/black/green/yellow floral print.

After the mall we decided to head to a small imports shop that specializes in art, clothing, home goods and more from around the world. It is a decidedly boho/”hippie” shop, and it was awesome. I wound up finding the above great maxi dress, a shoulder bag from the Himalayas, and some Nepalese prayer flags to hang up in the house.

I also got this t-shirt from the men’s department. How cool is this elephant?

And then there were these:

As it turns out, my mom had seen these wooden statues a few months ago and wanted to buy them for my apartment, and on the day we went in, they were marked way down. Score! Now my only challenge was getting them home. We wound up wrapping them in a blanket and buckling them into the backseat of my car. I was convinced at some point someone on the road would call the police to report I had a body in the backseat of my car, but no one did.

[My husband, by the way, is not as taken with these giant cats as I am. The tallest one is about three feet tall. When I brought the body bundle in the house and unwrapped the first one, I only heard a quiet “Oh my God” behind me. Then silence. Once they were set up I turned to see what he thought.

He looked at them for a while. “They’re not that weird,” I said helpfully.

“They’re pretty weird,” was his response. His only request: “Don’t put those things in the bedroom. I’ll never get any sleep with them staring at me.”]

When we were done shopping we stopped for coffee at a local coffee house and then, tired as anything, decided to head home. We were wandering through the downtown area when I realized my sunglasses weren’t on my head or in my bag. I thought I had left them at the coffee shop or maybe in the bathroom there, so we retraced our steps and asked the hipster at the counter if he’d found any (no) before heading to the bathroom to look on the counter.

I don’t know why but while we were standing in the hallway my mom looked at me and suddenly went “They’re right there!” I had them on the neck of my shirt, zipped up under my jacket! We both just about died laughing. I hope that barista didn’t see them while we were talking to him. A pair of gold aviator sunglasses? Uh, nope, not seen anything like that lately! We left by the back door.

When we got back to the house from shopping we were both tired and starving, so I got the bright idea to make some vegan nachos for my mom’s birthday dinner. She had mentioned that they had a case of hot enchilada sauce for me to take home and there was also some in the kitchen to use on the nachos if I wanted. So when I saw a large can of hot sauce sitting on the counter, I thought, Great! I’ll just pour that on for extra flavor.

Here’s what I didn’t realize: this stuff was fairly hot, and there was actually an open container of it in the fridge that I could have used for a less, ahem, fiery effect. The can on the counter was just a reminder for my mom to get the extra case out of the cupboard for me to take home. So as I was spooning the hot sauce on the nachos, I thought, What the hell, I’ll just pour the whole thing in, and I threw them in the oven without a second thought.

Well, you can imagine what the first bites were like…we wound up in a fit of giggles over how hot they were. Luckily the brownies and ice cream turned out a little better. But I learned my lesson: don’t trust the “medium” label and use sparingly. And maybe don’t cook when you’re that tired!

If you go check out the second birthday vacation post you can read about hiking and my mini post-vacation staycation. And then in part three I’ll show you my birthday makeup haul. :)

Birthday vacation part two: hiking and staycation

Time for the second part of my vacation post series! On the third day home my mom and I decided to hike a local canyon. It’s about two miles wide and the track to the bottom is a wide gravel path, so nothing too bad…except that it’s in full sun. Remember, I’m the confirmed vampire. I like hiking, but that sun leaves me feeling 110 years old within seconds. It did, however, make for some gorgeous pictures. I’m not sure how many miles you walk altogether to get to the bottom, but we were probably out hiking for almost an hour. Yay for SPF 50!

Believe it or not, those little “bushes” along the river at the bottom are large trees. It’s pretty far down to the bottom! These photos don’t even come close to capturing the scale of the canyon in person. It was really neat.

These clay pot things are actually bird nests, attached to the underside of the cliffs! I guess that’s a pretty nifty way to escape predators and the heat. I don’t know what type of bird builds these.

Once again you can’t tell from the scale of the picture, but those are trees across the river. The scale of these canyons is jaw-dropping. Can you imagine being one of the Oregon Trail pioneers and winding your way through the desert, when you come to one of these canyons? There’s water at the bottom, sure, but how do you get down there? And out again?

We were both kind of worn out from our flurry of activity but we still wanted to check out some small towns nearby that have interesting shops and such, so the next day we got back in the car for another excursion. Somehow, on the one day we decided to go, all of the good shops were closed, and the others were overpriced–but it was fun to wander around and look at things, anyway. The best part was hunting fruitlessly in one town for a little boutique that my mom wanted to check out, only to realize later it was in a different town…and it was closed! I guess we weren’t supposed to spend any more money. It was fun to have all of the mother-daughter time, in any case.

After that we agreed that we were both too worn out to do any more sightseeing, so we chilled at the house for a couple of days and just ate and watched TV and hung out. Finally, after a long week, it was time to pack up and come home.

For much of the drive north again, you couldn’t go around a bend in the road without hitting a construction worker or a member of the U.S. Geological Survey. It was storming again and I felt bad for them, huddled with their surveying equipment under their umbrellas. The funny thing about these guys is that they all look like what you would expect Lewis and Clark to look like if you met them today: awesome beards and mustaches, glasses, and bright yellow rain slickers. My husband says there’s a good chance I saw his old geology professor out there somewhere, because apparently that’s what the guy does for fun in his spare time. This is also the man who led his pupils in identifying types of rocks by sniffing them. You may draw your own conclusions about him.

This picture was taken a few years ago on another trip. You have to admit the country is beautiful, but this isn’t where I’d choose to stand on the side of the road to survey.

More vehicular shenanigans ensued. There was the guy pulling a horse trailer who tried to pass a semi-truck (didn’t work very well) and the minivan of out-of-staters who wanted to drive 45 MPH even on the straight, flat stretches. Whatever magic lies in a road trip disappears on the return trip; at that point, you just want to get home as soon as possible.

Nonetheless, I was already committed to make a detour and visit my grandpa, which meant heading deep into a river canyon. It was storming by the time I made it onto that road so there was no cell service, even in town. It’s usual for there to be no cell service in the canyon, but typically you can get a bar or two at the gas station. Behind me the storm was picking up, and ahead of me was a small patch of clear sky above The Grade.

The Grade is notoriously bad for driving. The mountain is only about 1/2 mile high but the road winds back and forth through a series of sharp switchbacks from the river to the top, so you probably drive about 15 miles by the end of it. On one side you have the mountain; on the other, no shoulder, no guard rail, not even a young sapling standing between you and heaven.

This is a picture from a previous trip, when my husband was driving and I could safely take pictures. This is near the top, on one of the few turns that has two lanes for passing the logging trucks; that’s the second lane and the non-existent shoulder you see there, and then the air. The clouds you see down there are concealing the nearly 2,000 foot drop straight down into the river canyon. Did I mention there’s no shoulder?

This is how Google Maps highlights this stretch of road to go from the canyon up that “half mile” hill. It’s no wonder it takes forty minutes and fifteen miles to go half a mile up that hill. You have to mentally fold up that line so it’s all placed on top of itself; it’s like driving upwards through a Slinky.

It’s dicey enough in good dry weather but there was no way I was going to be caught up there in a storm, nor did I want to be in the river canyon during the worst of it, with the potential for falling rock, trees, and flash flooding, so I figured I’d best get myself up the road to the farm as quick as possible. I could see the lightning in the canyon below me while I twisted and turned up the road. When I relayed this story to my husband, he commented that I almost beat the record time for a trip up the hill. I say I missed my true calling as a driver in the Monte Carlo, because I was owning those turns.

Fun fact: Grandpa actually helped build many of these types of roads way back when, carving them out of the mountains and paving them. As hair-raising as it is to drive on them, I can’t imagine driving the machines that built them!

Anyway, I made it up the hill just in time, because I no sooner pulled into the farm than the sky turned black and it started hailing. Apparently this weather (and the rock slides I mentioned earlier) have been plaguing them all spring. It only lasted a couple of hours and I was able to leave before dinner time, but going back down The Grade in pea soup fog made me kind of glad I live in a decently sized town with lovely straight flat roads. I wouldn’t want to drive those mountain roads in the winter time!

Here’s another older picture of the river canyon down below.

From there I had four hours of fairly boring roads to drive to get home, and then…it was over. The highway comes around a bend and through the trees and suddenly–POW!–you’re back in town. It was a weird feeling to be back in town and home in my apartment after being gone for a week. But it sure was fun.

On the advice of one of my friends, I took a few extra days off when I got home so I could relax around the house and do some fun stuff in town, too. One especially hot evening the husband and I finally decided to head down to a local river to dip our toes and relax. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some ice cream, and while we were in the health food section anyway I thought I’d have a poke around to see what other interesting things were available. And that’s when I saw…whatever these are.

Well, to be accurate–these are ginger candies. “Chewy ginger candy” the package declares, “made with fresh ginger!” They’re made for a company called “The Ginger People”. And yes, the little cartoon piece of ginger on the front of the package appears to be eating his own knuckles. The longer you look at it, the more horrifying and hilarious it becomes.

To understand why we found this so hilarious, you have to know that we have a redheaded friend whom I we torment endlessly with “ginger” jokes. This picture is not of Red, but it’s scarily close. I think he has a twin somewhere he hasn’t met yet.

So we basically just died right there in the Free From section of the supermarket, laughing until our sides hurt at this strange, strange product. And then we bought one and mailed it to Red.

Don’t forget to come back for part three and see my birthday makeup haul!

Random Thursday: My Summer Plans

Well, my biggest summer “plan” already happened–my big birthday weekend with my mom, complete with plenty of shopping and other fun stuff. So hopefully I’ll have a post put together this weekend with plenty of pictures and stories for you guys about that.

As far as the rest of the summer goes, I’m afraid it isn’t terribly exciting. I want to do some hiking; we live in a gorgeous area and it’d be a shame not to get out and enjoy it. It’d be nice to spend the day at one of the state parks and stay after sunset to see the stars come out at night; you can’t see them in town because of all the light pollution.

I also hope to spend some time just lounging on a blanket in the grass in the shade, sipping something cool and reading. That’s the best way to spend a lazy summer day!

I need to do some more painting. I really had fun making the cherry blossom print that’s hanging above my bed and now I need to do some other pieces for the rest of the house.

Hopefully I will find a bit more time to work on my German. We kind of fizzled on that right away because spring was so busy, but I hope we can get back on track with that this month.

I also have some serious summer movie watching to do. I still haven’t seen Man of Steel, World War Z or The Great Gatsby. We did finally go to see Star Trek Into Darkness last night and it was awesome.

I really want to get in the habit of working out. I know I keep saying this over and over, but now that I’ve finally got my diet on track (specifically the sugar cravings) I feel like I’m ready to tackle regular workouts. And I finally put all of my torn-out magazine articles with different circuits in a handy three-ring binder, so now I have some mini workouts to try if I don’t have time for a full exercise DVD. 
So tell me–what are your summer plans? (P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of Holley Maher’s new EP ‘Euphorics’–it ends Monday!)