Year: 2016

Taking flight: Thought Questions: 316-322

Taking flight in London(Photo by Negative Space via Unsplash)

#316: What do you love to do? Read and write. I don’t even have to think about that one!

#317: What specific character trait do you want to be known for? I guess I’d like people to remember that I was kind. I try to be kind and compassionate toward everyone I meet.

#318: Are you more like your mom or your dad? In what way? I guess I couldn’t really say. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m much like either one but I definitely share some traits—I have my dad’s interest in music and a small fraction of my mom’s homemaking skills, though I’m not as good as her.

#319: What is the number one quality that makes someone a good leader? Humility. It can make up for a lot of other deficiencies because it lets you glean from those around you to fill in the gaps. For example, you might not be the smartest at solving a particular kind of problem, but if you’re humble, you’ll let someone below you take charge and solve the problem.

#320: What bad habits do you want to break? I eat way too much sugar. Way too much. It’s awful.

#321: What is your favorite place on Earth? Home is where the heart is! Cheesy but true.

#322: What do you love to practice? I’m not fond of practicing anything—I’m not very patient—but I guess I find practicing the piano to be relaxing. It’s a nice break from the chaos of life.

Product review: Keranique Volumizing shampoo and conditioner

(Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for review from iFabbo and Keranique; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always my opinions are my own.)

Keranique--did it give me fuller hair or leave me feeling flat?

You guys know how much I dislike writing “meh” reviews but sometimes it has to be done! This is a product I was recently sent for review and was so completely underwhelmed by that I put off writing a review because I struggled to come up with positive things to say about it. Ouch. It’s not terrible, it’s just…so meh. Read on for the details:

The product: Keranique Volumizing shampoo and conditioner; typically retails for $49.95 for a set of one 8-oz. shampoo and one 8-oz. conditioner. Available here through the company website. Check them out on social media @KeraniqueHair and by searching #KeraniqueHair.

The claim: Cleans and nourishes the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and provide thicker, healthier-looking hair. Adds body and volume to thin hair, strengthens breakage-prone hair, and provides shine and smoothness without weighing hair down.

I tried it: I’ve always been a little jealous of girls who seem to have naturally thick, glorious hair. Mine is pretty thin and flat and no matter how I style it I always feel like it needs a little help. So I gave this shampoo and conditioner a shot in the hope that it might boost my hair a little, even though, to be honest, I’ve always been a little skeptical of products that claim to transform your hair. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The first thing I noticed about this shampoo is that it has a very strong peppermint scent and a tingling feeling on the scalp. Some people might like that but I think lots of others might find the scent too strong. The shampoo definitely leaves your scalp feeling squeaky clean yet not stripped, if that makes sense, and I like that it’s safe for color-treated hair. However, I felt like my scalp felt oilier on the second day (when I skip a wash) than it does when I use my regular Giovanni Tea Tree shampoo, so that was a downer.

I was less impressed with the conditioner. It’s okay, but as a long-haired gal, I’ve tried tons of conditioners and have very high expectations, which this product did not meet. It did an okay job, didn’t weigh down my hair, and detangled nicely; but by the second day my ends felt much drier than they do when using my regular Giovanni or Organix conditioners. I used this product continuously for a month and in conjunction with a variety of other styling products and the result was the same every time.

Did my hair look fuller? Slightly, and it was definitely shiny and pretty, but I was incredibly bummed to go into my second day with oily roots and dry ends. It’s even more of a bummer when you consider the price tag on these shampoos versus my typical drugstore buys. The volumizing effect was nice but way too temporary, in my opinion.

My final thoughts: From such an expensive shampoo with such lofty claims, I expected really amazing results, but I was left disappointed. I think in a blind test you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this shampoo and conditioner and many other cheaper brands. Overall, it’s definitely not the worst product I’ve ever tried, it was just so middling that I would not recommend it.

Have you ever tried Keranique? What’s your favorite hair-boosting product? Do you have any tips for making thin hair look fuller?

On my mind: goals (January 2016)

On my mind: goals (January 2016)(Photo by Lee Miller via Unsplash)

Everyone is making New Year’s resolutions this month—stop smoking, lose weight, etc. etc.—and of course that has me thinking about my own goals. What do I want to accomplish this year that I didn’t do in 2015? What do I want to change? What would I like to happen in my life to alter my destiny this year, as opposed to the path I followed last year?

I wont lie, I set a lot of goals for myself each year that probably seem pretty simple—eat healthier foods, exercise more often, blog more often, read more books, etc. I don’t think of these goals as the acknowledgement of a previous year’s failure. Rather, I see the New Year as an excellent opportunity to realign with myself and get back on track with the things that are important to me.

This year, I’m also setting some larger goals. I would like a major job change, or at the very least to move closer toward writing at least part-time as a “real” job so I can move away from my current full-time job. And I’m striving to practice daily happiness, rather than be bogged down by the negative things in life. After struggling with depression for much of last year, embracing life with job and optimism is a major goal for me.

One thing that has undone me time and again as I’ve previously made goals for myself is that little inner voice that sows seeds of doubt and worry. As I move into 2016 I continue to think of this quote from Nelson Mandela: “One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.” I believe good things are in store for me in 2016, and I am determined to greet them with a positive attitude and an ambitious mindset, not a store of negativity and self-doubt.

What are your goals for 2016? Do you make New Year’s resolutions or not?

Product review: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner

(Disclosure:  I received a sample of this product for testing purposes from iFabbo and StriVectin; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner

The product: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner, $99/1.7 fl. oz. at beauty retailers like ULTA and Sephora or online through Strivectin.com. Catch up with StriVectin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @StriVectin and check out the hashtag #StriVeSTORY for more on the brand.

The claim: A lightweight treatment that combines the power of retinol with skin-soothing hydration for skin that looks smoother and tighter. No irritation, redness or peeling as with traditional retinol treatments.Reduces the visible size of pores and delivers an instant mattifying effect. Wear alone for a #nofilter #nomakeup day or use as a primer under foundation.

I tried it: It seems like ever since I passed my mid-twenties, my skin needs more attention than ever. This winter especially, I’m fighting uneven texture and dullness. It seems like every beauty magazine I’ve opened recently is shouting “retinol!” as a solution but I’ve been leery of trying anything with retinol since it’s notorious for causing irritation, and my skin is already sensitive in the winter.

So, I was really intrigued by this hybrid treatment, which promises long-term skin improvement without any short-term side effects. It layers quite nicely over other skin care products and under makeup without adding shine or making my face feel slick. Worn alone, it gives skin a soft-focus effect that blurs imperfections and lets me skip a full face of foundation.

This product has a very faint, clean fragrance but it fades quickly upon application. I experienced no redness, dryness or other irritation while using it. It isn’t a moisturizer, so you’ll definitely want to layer it—I used it over my facial oil, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

I got several compliments on my skin while wearing this product sans makeup, which surprised me, since I don’t think my skin has been in its best shape this past month. I was very pleased with what a boost I got from a teeny, tiny dollop of product. With the size of the tube and the pump packaging, this will last me quite a while, even if used twice a day as recommended.

In summary: My biggest hesitation with this product is the steep price tag, but considering that a tube will easily last you several months, and if you could snag it on sale, I think it would be a worthwhile splurge.

Anyone else tried the StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner? Any favorite retinol products you can recommend, or are you, like me, a retinol newbie? What’s your favorite skin care product for a no-makeup day?

Top Ten Tuesday: bookish resolutions for 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: New Year's bookish resolutions for 2016It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday, so what better way to jump back in then with a New Year’s resolutions post? This week we’re listing our ten bookish resolutions for 2016, and after a long two months of barely reading or book blogging,  I certainly do have a few!

  1. Read more. Period! I’ve only read a couple of books in the past month, largely due to being so busy, but I got a huge stack for Christmas and can’t wait to dig into them.
  2. Get through my ARCs faster. I tend to download them and let them sit and sit and sit. I’d really like to start doing more release-day reviews.
  3. Post more book reviews on the blog. I do monthly roundups, but I’d like to do more in-depth reviews on single titles.
  4. Do more buddy reads. I did a couple this year and loved them.
  5. Be more active in the book blogging community. Linkups, giveaways, tours, etc. I’ve really enjoyed getting in touch with my fellow book lovers around the world and need to spend more time in this community!
  6. Wrap up some of my ongoing series before starting any new ones. Though obviously I won’t be able to wrap up A Song of Ice and Fire any time soon…sad face.
  7. Read some longer books. I tend to skip over long books (400+ pages) even if they sound interesting just because the size intimidates me. I like to flutter from book to book and a book has to be very, very strong to hold my interest for several hundred pages. But I would like to pick up some lengthier tomes this year.
  8. Get through titles before they become movies. Because otherwise I end up not getting to see the movie, either.
  9. Find more Nordic crime to read. It’s one of my favorite genres.
  10. Read more. Did I mention that already?

So what are your bookish resolutions for 2016? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear about them!

Winter icicles: Thought Questions: 309-315

Winter-icicles-Natahsa-Vasiljeva(winter icicles photo by Natasha Vasiljeva via Unsplash)

#309: Who was the last person you said “I love you” to? My husband.
#310: What is your biggest phobia? Probably bugs. I can get past almost anything else but bugs creep me out!
#311: What are some recent compliments you’ve received? That I’m smart. I suppose I’m smart enough.
#312: How many friends do you have in real life that you talk to regularly? Probably two! I have a very small circle of friends.
#313: How much money per month is enough for you to live comfortably? I don’t even keep track…I try to save a big chunk of what I earn for a rainy day. Otherwise I just pay my bills and move along. I’m not a terribly materialistic person.
#314: When was your first impression of someone totally wrong? I thought my husband was your average football-playing small town jock. Obviously I was wrong, because I ended up marrying a sweet, sensitive, smart guy (shhh, don’t tell him his cover’s blown!).
#315: How many hours a week do you spend online? It depends on whether I’m blogging a lot! For those weeks when I blog every day it might be forty hours a week. Other weeks, it might be one or two. It just depends on what I’m doing that particular week.