Month: August 2013

Ten on Tuesday: music memories

It’s Tuesday again, which means it’s time to link up for the weekly Ten on Tuesday hop! Ten on Tuesday is now being hosted by Two-Thirds Scarlett, so please go check out her blog. :)
1. Well for starters–thank goodness it’s the weekend.


2. To really appreciate this dancing cat GIF from Hoppip’s Tumblr, you have to turn on a techno song and watch the cats do the wave to the beat. Try something from Tiesto. (Go check out that Tumblr by the way–it’s full of cute kitty GIFs and drawings.)

15 Delightful Illustrated GIFs That Will Make You Smile
Hoppip / Via
3. So apparently the big news this week is that there will be an ‘NSYNC reunion at the VMAs next Sunday. And the internet is all like…

And I’m over here like…


WHY? Is it not enough that we have One Direction running loose in the world?

4. As if that news wasn’t enough to remind me of my age, Spotify also felt the need to jump in with some musical memories. And also with a reminder that in each stage of my life thus far–childhood, teenagerdom, and now as an adult–I have been unable to escape the musical scourge that is Justin Timberlake. (No offense, “Suit and Tie” fans.)
5. I mean, really, Spotify–you couldn’t recommend some vintage Foo Fighters or something?

6. By the way, boys–the Dave Grohl look is only attractive if you are in fact Dave Grohl. If you are marginally employed and living in your parent’s basement until you “make it big”, you just look like a silly wannabe who needs to wash his hair.

7. You have to go see this Vine of a truck driving off a highway overpass. No, really, this happened. (The driver is okay, by the way.)

8. I am trying so hard to get into season two of Game of Thrones but it is just nowhere nearly as good as the books. Things ought to get a lot better once this smooth criminal shows up, considering he was my favorite character in all of book two. But I don’t really know that I’ll bother going on to season three. The TV show has just really been a letdown. :(

9. I guess you know you’ve given a cat a really good rubdown when he stops purring to give you a double head boop.

10. This note and response was written on a box in our stockroom. I don’t what’s funnier, the fact that someone wrote a note requesting garbage pickup or the fact that someone else replied to shame them and still did not take the box to the trash. This box has been sitting there for months. Months, people. It’s like something from a Dilbert cartoon.

Sunday Confessions: I am apparently a terrible person

Once again I’m linking up with Alyx for Sunday Confessions! This week I really only have one confession to make, and it’s that I am apparently a terrible, terrible person.

I have no idea what this was pulled from, because it’s floating all over the Internet and I can’t find a source. (If you know, let me know too so I can properly credit it.) Anyway, I am apparently a terrible person and headed to hell because I believe in tenets of Eastern religions like karma; practice yoga; am eco-friendly (we’ll call it “Earth Worship”–sounds catchier); like cyberpunk culture; meditate; am a vegetarian; enjoy postmodernist art; like The Lord of the Rings; watch vampire movies; play video games; read books from the D&D franchise; list to rock music and heavy metal; have seen the Twilight films; and like goth culture.

To be entirely clear I do not believe in dabbling around with things like Ouija boards, but that’s an entirely different spiel for a different day. I just think this list is hilarious in the scope of things it considers “doorways to demonic possession”. Now excuse me while I go eat a sinfully delicious salad and watch the LOTR box set extras for the umpteenth time.

What do you have to confess this Sunday?

Product review: Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics

(Disclaimer: I received the item mentioned in this blog post courtesy of Influenster for testing and reviewing purposes. However, I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Happy Friday everyone! Well, it’s Friday for some of you, anyway…I’m just going back to work for the week. (Sad face.) I wanted to share a review of the last item that arrived in my Influenster Sunkissed VoxBox last month: a package of ribbon elastics. 

The product: Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics; $4 at drugstores. Visit the Goody website here.

The claim: Soft, stretchy material that looks beautiful on the wrist or in the hair! From America’s #1 elastics brand, Goody Ouchless. Unique knot style hair ties are perfect for personalizing or dressing up your look.

I tried it: I’ve seen similar elastics cropping up for a while from other brands, so I’m actually kind of surprised that it took Goody so long to get on board. These are soft and slightly stretchy without having too much “give”; they don’t grab at my hair like regular elastics, so there’s less snagging and breakage when I pull them out.

Appearance-wise, it looks like you’ve got a piece of ribbon securing your hair–cute if you’re going for a certain look, but it would be nice to see packets of these in neutral colors too in case you’re not fond of having a hot pink ribbon in your hair. At this time I haven’t seen any neutral versions at the drugstore. On the other hand, I suppose the whole point of this elastic is to be seen, so maybe those won’t hit shelves. These look better worn on the wrist than a regular elastic, so if you’re on the go (gym, errands) they’re a little nice boost above average, I think.

Today I used my ribbon elastics to perk up a braid during a yoga session. They keep all of my layers tucked into place without any snagging and make the braid look a little cuter too.

I would say this elastic is about on par with my regular elastics in terms of hold, though I give it brownie points for not tearing my hair out at the end of the day. I do have thinner hair, and one of my friends with thicker hair tried these and said that they don’t stretch enough for her taste. So if you have a very thick mane, you might want to stick to the super-strong and super-stretchy variety of elastics, at least for classic ponytails.

My final thoughts: I wouldn’t necessarily use these for a regular ponytail, since you can’t hide them in your hair like a regular elastic. But the ribbon effect adds a cute boho touch to braided hairdos, and they are gentler on my hair than regular elastics, so I’ll probably use them whenever hiding the elastic isn’t an issue (braids, buns, etc).

(Disclaimer: I received the item mentioned in this blog post courtesy of Influenster for testing and reviewing purposes. However, I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Ethical fall fashion: ten pieces

When I first started blogging about ethical consumerism and ethical fashion this summer (click the hyperlinks to see those posts), I meant to throw together a wishlist post of fashion items that were fair trade, eco-friendly, made in the USA or vegan. Somehow that post never got put together (oops!) but now that fall is right around the corner, I thought it was a good time to put together a little list of items for that summer-to-fall transition period. The best part: everything here is under $50!

(All links below go directly to the web page for the item; they are not affiliate links.)

1. Shirred tunic, $38, One Mango Tree
2. Print dress, $48, Lulu’s
3. Shorts, $21.60, One Mango Tree
4. Sweater, $35, Tree of Life
5. Colored denim, $49, Land’s End
6. Earrings, $17, Roozt
7. Ankle boots, $45, Fashion Conscience
8. Scarf, $16, People Tree
9. Tank top, $20, Glik’s
10. Floral tee, $33, Fashion Conscience

Book review: ‘Haven: A Stranger Magic’

(Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)
Haven: A Stranger Magic, by D.C. Akers (YA fantasy fiction; paperback, 166 pages). 3 of 5 stars.

When it comes to fantasy fiction I’m not averse to picking up lighter, swifter reads aimed at the teen set. I love anything strange and different! Haven: A Stranger Magic is a fantasy fiction novella that introduces us to thirteen-year-old Sam, a boy so completely average he feels invisible and useless. However, things change for Sam when he begins having strange nightmares and a mysterious stranger appears (and disappears) in the street outside his home. Now Sam is about to find out that he’s far from average.

I wasn’t expecting to really like a book with a teen male protagonist–not really my preferred POV, for obvious reasons–but this book sucked me in. It’s fast-paced but doesn’t rush you into the magic part of things; in fact, the biggest magic “reveal” doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. I think one of the trickiest parts of writing about magic is steadily dosing your audience without dragging your feet or rushing them too quickly, and this book strikes the right balance between “hmm, things are getting weird” and “whoa, magic!”.

The only thing that really interrupted the narrative (for me) was the way characters are described; the book is written in the third person but mostly comes from Sam’s POV, and most teenage boys I know aren’t going to note, in detail, the outfit an older sister is wearing or the haircut of a friend. That little rumple aside, the story flows by really quickly until the end. If you don’t like spoilers, I recommend staying away from the Goodreads page for this book because it has what I consider an end spoiler in the description. Suffice it to say, saving the big reveal for the end and then cutting it off with a cliffhanger makes the story much more satisfying and leaves you wanting the next installment in the series so you can find out what will happen to Sam (and what those weird dreams mean).

(Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Book review: ‘Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries’

(Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries, by D.C. Akers (YA fantasy fiction; paperback, 110 pages). 3 of 5 stars.

Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries reads like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Indiana Jones for the teen set. It’s a speedy 11,000 words in e-book format, meaning you can zip through it in one sitting without trouble.

The plot centers around 17-year-old pirate Terra Vonnel, who will stop at nothing to get her hands on a pair of magical skulls said to show the location of the Orb of Time. Once Terra steals the Orb for herself, she will be able to travel through time to save her murdered mother–and plunder to her heart’s delight along the way. But before she obtains her treasure, she must battle vampires, dead souls, cursed mountain passes and other treacheries and somehow come out alive.

At first I had a little trouble believing that someone so young could be such a notorious pirate, but I guess this novella is aimed at teenagers, so in that light it makes sense to have such a young protagonist. It’s nice to read a YA novella with a teen girl who’s kicking butt instead of moping around in a love triangle. (Cough, most YA novels these days, cough…or is it just me?)

It’s a pretty level adventure all the way through. I like stories with a feisty female lead, of course, but the story still has to flow and contain well-written fight scenes or else I lose interest. Luckily this novella has plenty of action and no unnecessary lags.

If I have one gripe it’s that the story was too short; it feels like it cuts off too soon and leaves you wanting a bit more resolution. However, I note on the Goodreads page for this novella that it’s the first in a series, so hopefully there will be new additions to the story coming soon–I’d like to read about more of Terra’s adventures.

(Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Wet n Wild LE Pop Art eye shadow collection (one winner, open internationally)

I can’t believe we’re halfway through August already! Where did the summer go?! I was lucky enough to snag the full Wet n Wild limited edition Pop Art eye shadow collection as soon as it went on sale at my local drugstore, which means it’s time for another giveaway. The collection of six trio palettes features a mix of mattes and soft satins in electric colors, for a total of 18 eye-popping shades.

The collection includes:

  • Your 15 Minutes Aren’t Up!: Matte canary yellow, satin grape purple and medium pink with a slight sheen
  • A Regular At The Factory: Satin butter yellow, satin bright turquoise blue, and matte orange
  • Hard Being The It Girl: Matte soft pink, cobalt blue with a slight sheen, and satin vanilla
  • Three’s A Party: Matte white, satin red and matte black
  • I’m Seeing Triples!: Matte bright green, matte bright blue, and slightly satiny mauve
  • To Muse And Carouse: Matte apricot, satin cocoa, and matte bright light blue

The giveaway is open internationally (excepted where prohibited) to residents age 18 and older; the giveaway closes August 25th and I will be drawing one lucky winner on the 27th! Please read the terms and conditions (click at the bottom of the widget) before entering, and remember: you must complete the mandatory blog comment entry for the rest of your entries to count. If you do not complete the mandatory entry the rest of your entries will be disqualified!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recipe: cinnamon raisin bread

Today I’ve got a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread! When I was a kid my mom baked all of our bread from scratch. I was totally spoiled in the carb department. This is the recipe she passed down to me and not only is it super-easy to make, it only requires five ingredients to make the basic bread–no special bread flour, etc.–so it’s super-cheap, too. If you want to make plain bread for sandwiches or garlic toast, just go through the steps to make the bread without adding any cinnamon and raisins.

Here’s what you’ll need (makes two loaves):

  • 3 cups warm (not hot) water
  • 1 tbsp. (or one packet) yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 8 cups flour
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Raisins to taste (I use about three cups for two loaves! Don’t judge!)

Put the water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow to “work” for 10-15 minutes. Make sure your water is only warm and not boiling hot, or it can kill the yeast. Add the oil and flour and mix well; dump out onto floured countertop, knead lightly, and return to mixing bowl to rise. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm corner of the kitchen (away from any drafts) to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Flour the counter again and put a little shortening (vegan substitute) on your hands so you won’t stick to the dough, then punch down the risen dough and dump it out on the counter to knead lightly. Add the raisins and cinnamon and work into the dough as you are kneading. Cut the dough into two sections, form into loaves, and place in greased bread pans; cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes. Pop them out of the pans to cool on a cooling rack so the bottoms don’t get soggy; once they’ve cooled a bit, slice up and enjoy!

Once the loaves are completely cool, you can wrap up the second one for the freezer or give it to a friend…if it lasts that long (it never does in our house!). This bread makes great toast, too!