Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow / Liner

Hot on the tails of the new year and the good old, "Out with the old, in with the [new] makeup" -- I noticed that my staple L'Oreal HiP Studio Secrets Professional Color Truth Cream Eyeliner had dried up a bit and rather than trying to perform resuscitation on it (whether by microwave or adding glycerin), I decided to use the other eyeliner that I had in my stash. 

Back in 2011, I almost missed picking up the Tarte Shining Stars holiday collection but luckily I found it at an Ulta. I didn't get around to using any of the pieces that I had picked up because at the time I was already using a full sized version of the mascara and my L'Oreal cream eyeliner was still on full duty. So now, I finally had the chance to try it out.

In comparison to the cream eyeliner or any of my e.l.f. liners, the Tarte comes off much lighter (on my face as you'll see in the swatches below, it appears almost as pigmented as anything else I have in my eyeliner bag). It came off almost like a dark gray on me and my assumption is because of my undertones. After applying it, I had to go over it with my NYX eyeliner in order to really get that black to pop out. I'm definitely not discounting the abilities of the Tarte liner though. It glides on smoothly -- application was great and it was quite easy to get the cat eye I was looking for (albeit not in the colour I wanted). The lasting power was great and while there was minimal bleeding, it wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed quickly.

If you take a look at the image on the left, I swatched it against some of the other ones I have in my bag. From left to right:

  • Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow / Liner
  • e.l.f. Essential Liquid Eyeliner
  • NYX Retractable Eye Liner
  • Stila Convertible Eye Colour
  • Sephora Nano Eyeliner
  • Sephora Smoky Kohl Eyeliner
While these are all different in nature (ranging from creams to liquids and pencils in between), I figured it would be useful to compare strokes and pigmentation. The clay eyeliner (Tarte) was applied with the brush while the others were a bit more controlled with the exception of the kohl (which I haven't gotten the hang of just yet).

Overall, I like it -- it can't replace the pure black pigments that the L'Oreal one does, but it's good on it's own (probably because it's formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrance, and triclosan which is a trade I'm willing to take (well, especially when I have so many other eyeliners that can help reinforce it).

If you take a look at the image, I started with Tarte, did a quick layer of NYX along the top and the bottom, then finished with the Tarte again. The edges of the cat eye were pretty faded before the night was up, but still, I like it because it's formulated without the bad stuff which is a trade-off that I'm okay with. Plus I have a lot of other eyeliners to makeup for the reduction of longevity in another.

Product: Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow / Liner
Price: While it's retailing at $24, I got this one through the Shining Stars Holiday Collection (2011) which retailed for $30 for the whole set.
Would Recommend? It's going to depend on you (see the notes below).
Takeaway: It's not as pigmented as others that I've found, but pairing it with other eyeliners will help it out. Since it's a more eco-friendly product than other competitors, it comes down to preference.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Black Sneakers

Okay, before I decided to wear more colours, my standard outfits were black, gray, and white shirts (or any combination of those colours) with blue jeans. For a while my custom Converses (in those colours) worked out very well except that the padding isn't very good on Chucks. So I decided to upgrade a few years ago and opted for the Nike Air Force One's in all black. They were certainly awesome, but I started to take the advice of my friend Leo who mentioned that I should try to replace them every 6 months (or a year, which ever came first). 

It came time to replace them and I wanted all black sneakers again since it was easier to coordinate with them. Since I bought my North Face Hedgehogs off of ShoeBuy, I figured I'd try there first. I ended up coming upon the Kalso line of shoes and sneakers which looked really interesting (aside from seeming to have a food philosophy).

I did check around some more and ended up purchasing the Earth Exer-Trainer 2 Sneakers from the Sierra Trading Post. Upon receiving them, not only was the "negative heel" (basically there is a 3.7° incline), I also noticed that the soles were biodegradable which made me very interested in trying to stick to more eco-friendly options. So when it came time to replace the old shoes, I looked to the Kalso line again.

This time round I decided on two: Kalso Earth Exer-Walk Shoes and Kalso Earth Prosper Shoes. Now I haven't tried out the Prosper shoes just yet but I have been wearing the Exer-Walk shoes since I got them and I love them. They feel a bit more sturdier than the Exer-Trainers -- though we'll see how it pans out in the future.

Overall, I really like the Kalso Earth line (although the branding confuses me since sometimes they are listed as: Kalso Earth, Earth, and Earthies. You can check out the website to see everything that they have and it's a pretty good selection. The Prosper shoe is actually vegan, which is nice.

Just a note: The Exer-Trainer didn't have good reviews but I still sprang for them anyway since I it matches my wardrobe much better. They were great so when I saw the reviews for the Exer-Walk, I wasn't deterred and frankly, they've been great (even better) than the Trainers.

And don't forget to check Ebates! I purchase almost all my sneakers online and I always go through Ebates*.

* Denotes a referral link.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sephora + Jasmine

I just caught this on Sephora's Facebook feed and I am so excited! Jasmine is one of my favourite princesses (I was a bit sad I didn't get to have my picture taken with her at Disney on birthday) so I'm happy to see that she's up next for this year! I can't wait!

Over to the left is one of the promotional images provided by Disney Bridal. You can also see a few shots of the collection on BeauteZine.

I hope that I can add the nail polishes, compact mirror, and eyeliner set to my collection!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blast from the Past: Calgon Get Juiced Lip Shimmer in Juicy Nude

I seem to collect lip balms and I've amassed quite a collection. So I apologize if lip balms aren't your thing but I've got a lot to get through. So here's a random but important thing about me: I really enjoy finishing products. I don't generally loose lip balms or lip glosses but I always make it a goal to finish a tube. This kind of makes my reviews a bit complex since I need to finish them before I can move on to the next. The reason why I say this is that this particular tube, albeit small, has been in use for months... I've also had it for years (just didn't get around to using it till recently).

I'm not really sure where I got it from -- I think it was a gift from Devi but my memory is fuzzy on that bit. Back when she first moved to Canada she would send nifty items that weren't really seen in the States and I think this was one of them. Mostly because whatever information I could find about them states that they were a limited edition that was packaged with other bath products and I'm pretty sure that back in 2007-2008 I was unable to find Calgon products in general. 

That gives you an idea of how old it is and to create a bit more context, I didn't start using it till late last year (2012). It actually does hold up well -- the scent and shimmer is very good. I didn't use it when I first got it so I don't have a "past" to compare it to. As a new product that just happens to be old, it works out decently enough. I say decently because I wasn't a fan of the texture as it was a bit chalky which is to be expected from a 4 year old lip balm.

What I accidentally did do one day was to leave it behind my laptop and upon it warming up, the scent came out a lot more and the chalky texture disappeared. As a result, I always leave it near my laptop so that it's not just within reach, but also so that I can get that vibrant fruity scent and an easier application. Overall, the scent and even the taste is slightly tropical and while it gives off a lot of shimmer, there is luckily no colour. In terms of moisturizing, it's not the best as I find that I have to reapply often. 

You can still find tubes of these floating around on eBay for a range of $3-$5 dollars. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Preparing for Disney World

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but... life happens. Anyhow, last month for my birthday, my boyfriend and I decided to go to Disney World. My parents were super awesome (yes, super awesome) about it and after we booked our flight and car, they actually gifted us their timeshare to use. For context purposes, we purchased our tickets in August and then I promptly spent the following months immersing myself in all things Disney.

The Tickets

We ordered our tickets online through Undercover Tourist and had them shipped to us. They arrived in a timely manner and we had no issues at all with them. We should have opted to get our Islands of Adventure tickets also from there but at the time, we were still on the fence about whether we were going to go or not. The website says that you should allow up to 10 business days if you're in the United States and a few days more if you're not within the States, so make sure you plan accordingly (or be prepared to pick them up in Orlando).

The Restaurants

We waited till September to start booking the restaurants. Truth be told, I might have skipped this step entirely (and found my hopes dashed) if I wasn't paying attention to the Disney subreddits. Around that time, news about the Be Our Guest restaurants was coming out and when the first day for reservations started, that particular restaurant was booked immediately. I decided that it would be in our best interest to book in advance and I'm awfully glad we did. 

Through the DW Dining Reservations, we picked our restaurants and since we didn't have Park Hoppers, we knew that we'd be in particular parks each day. Which meant that our picking of the restaurants dictated what parks we'd be in. Luckily we knew that of the restaurants we chose (for lunch and dinner), only two actually had a no-show fee whereas all others ask that you cancel out of kindness to other guests (rather than just not showing up and not cancelling). 

Magic Kingdom

The Crystal Palace
Animal Kingdom

Rainforest Café
Biergarten Restaurant
Coral Reef Restaurant*
Hollywood Studios*
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater*
The Hollywood Brown Derby*
For any asterisks present, that means we ran into some issues with the planning of this. Let's start with Coral Reef -- sometime after we booked the reservation, we also realized that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was happening and it was on the day of my birthday. So we decided that we'd do it (even though it's a separate entrance fee) but forgot that we had a dinner reservation that night. Well... that night we ended up eating cookies, hot chocolate, and apple slices for dinner at that party.
For Wednesday, due to some mishaps with trying to meet up with my cousin who lives in the area, we ended up switching everything to Thursday. While the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater was easily able to accomodate us on Thursday without advance notice, the Hollywood Brown Derby has a no-show fee (the other restaurant being The Crystal Palace to have the same fee) so we called them on Wednesday to try to get it switched and they were greatly accommodating. It turns out that if we tried to cancel it, we would have had to paid the fee, but switching it to another day circumvented that fee.
Pin Trading

So something I've always kind of wanted to do since my previous visit to Disney World (and subsequent trips to Disneyland) was to start pin trading. But back when I was 15, my parents either said "You're too old," or "This is a phase," or "It costs too much," which all seemed like legit reasons. Even during my last two trips to DL, I found myself saying the same exact thing. But then I realized that Stitch was a pin mainstay and he's my favourite character of all time (not really, but he's pretty up there). 
Now when I first got my Stitch Starter Set back in July, I kind of just figured that I'd be trading at DL the next time that we went. Getting started at Disney World is... well, let's just say I wasn't prepared. But then I wasn't really sure what to expect. Overall, it was a lot of fun albeit frustrating at times due to the scrappers. I ended up just purchasing whole packs such as the red version of the Stitch starter set.
Toward the end of the trip when I was able to trade for a Storm Trooper pin, I ended up giving it along with a few tradeables for my boyfriend to get started. Which made the whole "hunting down pins" thing a bit more enjoyable since we were doing it together. He ended up getting quite a few pins that really commemorated the trip.

I'm not going to talk about the souvenirs that we brought back, but rather some of the ideas that was floating around before we went (and even some thereafter). While we got a few ideas from Mouse Savers, we took great care in trying to preserve all our maps, pamphlets, and tickets. 
In addition to the basics, we got ourselves our "commemorative badges" right away. While my boyfriend got his "First Visit" badge, I got the "Birthday" badge and we wore it every single day. We also played the game of trying to see who got the most reaction out of the badges. Whereas I won that one, he won the "most compliments on clothing" one. :)
Back to that point of preserving maps though... while you can order a free planning DVD from Disney, I think the greatest thing we got in the planning phase were some customized maps. We didn't take these maps with us, but we did keep them at home and recently we found a frame for them. Now part of the problem is that they are double sided which means you'd likely have to order them twice if two of your favourite parks end up on the same side and you can only order them every 6 months. But they are quite beautiful and now we know that we have two sets (the fancy ones we got customized or the ones we actually used in the parks) if we ever feel like switching them out from the frame.

Hues of Aquaria

I figured that while I was waiting on my "Last of the Time Lords" order from Lucky 13 Lacquer that I'd give the blend Aquaria a shot. Of the Humble Indie Bundle, there's just a few I haven't tried and Aquaria was one of them (the others being Cosmos and Machinarium. Aquaria is described by Lucky 13 Lacquers as "a light blue jelly base, fine copper square, and medium teal square glitters."

While Lucky 13 Lacquers has a lot of lovely nail polishes up, the Humble Indie Bundle nail polishes only seems to be available when the actual Humble Indie Bundle (for charity) goes up since a portion of the proceeds goes to the charity.

Two coats of Aquaria over two coats of
Sinful Colours "Let Me Go."
Sinful Colors "Let Me Go" (322) is a silvery colour that morphs between metallic green and lavender. The hue of blue in Aquaria accentuates those hints of purple and really makes a strong light blue.

Jelly Sandwich: Two coats of Zoya Frida, two coats
of Aquaria, and one final coat of the Zoya Frida.

 Zoya Frida (ZP640)  combined with Aquaria is a gorgeous "jelly sandwich" blend which kind of reminds me of being near the water. I think it would make a great Bioshock background for nails.

Two coats of e.l.f. Royal Purple and two coats of Aquaria.

I love the colour purple and for this blend, I like how that very light hints of blue in Aquaria accentuate the purple.

Two coats of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Going Green
and one coat of Aquaria.

In this "mix" the hint of blue jelly and teal squares somewhat disappears into the green -- which isn't too bad but you will have to depend on the copper squares to come through a lot more.

Lucky 13 Lacquers are $8 a bottle however for this particular bottle, it is only sold in the HIB set. Both Sinful Colors and e.l.f. nail polishes costs ~$2. Zoya bottles costs $8.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

H&S Meets Pawalla

On Wednesday I got my first monthly subscription box ever and of course, it was not for me, but for my little minions. (The only other subscription box I subscribed to was for my boyfriend and that was the Loot Crate*, which maybe I'll review later). I've always kind of been on the fence about getting one for myself (even though I am around a monthly subscription all the time) and the closest I'd ever gotten was narrowing it down to the Conscious Box. But when the kittens arrived, I decided that now was the time (partially because I wanted something that could keep them occupied).

While there is a few different pet subscription boxes, there are very few intended for cats. Which strike me as odd since I'm trying to find a way of getting my kittens new toys every month or so to keep them entertained. There is Pawalla*, Best Friend Box, and Spoiled Rotten though. After I decided to try out  Pawalla and my roommate decided to give Spoiled Rotten a shot (I only mention this because when I was deciding, I didn't even know about Spoiled Rotten).

What swayed me to try Pawalla over Best Friend Box was because I don't really want treats in the box. I would definitely prefer to have a box with some foods (not a lot, but a mix of wet food and dry) but I specifically want more toys. The bright side though is that if I ended up getting things that none of the three cats liked, then we could likely donate them to the shelter. So what really made the decision a bit easier? FloppyCats. Seriously. Here's the reviews for Best Friend Box, Pawalla, and Spoiled Rotten that all feature the adorable Trig and Charlie.

As for myself, I loved the presentation on the Pawalla box -- everything is nicely packaged and it's such a great experience just opening the box. The kittens were all over the box... well, because it's a box. Upon opening it though, they were entranced. 

Now as they are still young and still unfamiliar with a lot of sounds, I was actually able to check everything that arrived before they got wind of it actually being their belongings. In the January 2013 box we received:
  • Loopies Stripes Stick
  • 4 Lotus Natural Foods Canned Pâté
  • Cat-Man-Doo Life Essentials Freeze Dried Chicken
  • Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Crunch
  • Petchup Meowstard
  • JMK Litter Bags
Impression? I love it. The kittens took hold of the Loopies Stripes Stick immediately which allowed me time to review the content of the box.

As for the food, my boyfriend and I are trying to balance the kittens diet with wet food and we are specifically looking to keep them on a grain free diet. When they got sick the closest stores that carried kitten wet food only had Iams Kitten Premium Pate Canned Cat Food which while we didn't want to give them, kind of had too. Shortly after we made a haul of canned food and ended up getting a bunch from Lotus (and a few cans of Science Diet Kitten Tender Chicken Dinner).

The Freeze Dried Chicken was an absolute hit. We've been trying to figure out how to give them treats (especially since they are so young) without allowing them to overindulge. This fits the bill perfectly.

I'm still on the fence about the Carnivore Crunch and the Meowstard. The Carnivore Crunch explicitly states that it's for dogs but I read from various places online that it's good for both cats and dogs. I'm probably going to double check with Pawalla just to be on the safe side. The Meowstard is an interesting concept that I'm kind of excited to try out but I don't know how they will react (since they seem to love their Halo dry food quite a bit). I'm not ready to try it out just yet since the kittens are still taking L-Lysine supplements and since they are just getting better from their ailments, I'd rather not introduce entirely new things just yet.

Pawalla costs $26 a month, Best Friend Box costs $30 a month, and Spoiled Rotten (by PetFlow) costs $25 a month. If you know of any more out there, let me know because I'd love to explore more options for the kittens.

* Because I'm terrible at conversions, those links are specifically referral links. But let's be real, you aren't going to click them anyway.

Blast from the Past: Almay Whipped Gloss in Wine Glass

I bought this one years ago (alongside with the Almay Pure Tints Protective Lip Care and I had high hopes for it. I'm not sure how or why it ended up in storage but it was probably because I had switched to lipsticks for a bit. (Side note: I have a preference for lip glosses). I loved the colour then as I do now but I'm not sure how well I wear it.

It's kind of like an apple red (specifically Red Delicious) than wine but at the end of the day, it's a pretty nice hue of red. The problem is though what's in the tube doesn't quite translate on my face.

As you'll note, the lip gloss is very light and while it seems quite pigmented, it's not. It's more akin to a tinted moisturizer rather than... well, a tinted lip gloss? Okay, I'm just being silly but I've had some pretty pigmented lip glosses in my time.

Overall, I rather like this one and can easily see myself alternating between it and a lip balm. It glides on well since it has a brush applicator and the formula is smooth -- not too watery, clumpy, or thick. Given that it doesn't have much pigmentation when applied, I can't speak to longevity so I treat as a tinted moisturizer.

I'm not entirely sure if this one is in production as some vendors are still carrying it but I'm leaning toward "discontinued."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Disney Notes

In a later post, I'll work more on the planning phase of Disney World (or rather some of it, because let's face it, when you plan for a trip for four months, there's a lot of details that were lost in the wind). Anyhow, one of the most helpful things I got was from Alex Blaise, who broke down a lot of information for me. I was only going to write a few snippets, but I realized that... well, he's awesome and wrote much more information that could be shared. So with his permission I'm presenting both his notes and my own. Please note that in the "Rides" and "Shows" section, if you encounter an asterisk, then that means that that was straight from Alex's notes and remain unedited (meaning that I don't have much input about it).

  • Great for exploring so if you're not a fan of rides, this is your park.
  • Every pavilion has something representing their culture. I could go on but here's a short list of some of the architecture that you could find there. It was amazing to see these things when I was younger and to go back as an adult and say, "Wow, I see what they were doing there."
    • Mexico resembles a Mesoamerican pyramid.
    • Norway has a "detailed Stave church, and the exterior of its main table-service restaurant, Restaurant Akershus namesake in Oslo."
    • China has a Paifang gate and a replica of the Temple of Heaven
    • Germany is decorated to look like a village and there's the minature train and village nearby with model trains. 
    • Italy has replicas of St Mark's Campanile, Neptune Fountain, and Doge's Palace. 
  • The firework show called IllumiNations happens every night and is pretty awesome. Definitely check that out.
  • Rides
    • Test Track*: A Chevrolet themed crash dummy ride. Pretty fun.
    • Soarin'*: They have this at Disneyland; you're in a simulated ride over the west coast.
    • Mission Space*: You get to simulate a how an astronaut takes off and lands on mars. Also pretty cool.
  • Drink Around the World: Something that's fun for adults to do is grab a drink at all the different countries which are specific to each country's pavilion and say they drank around the world. Pretty boozey.
    • My boyfriend and I did do this, but we also grabbed the Kidcot activity and got stamps for each paviliion that we... well, that we drank at. There is a Kidcot passport set but we ended up just grabbing Duffy on a stick and took pictures of each drink with the stamp. (Basically we didn't find the passport quick enough).

    Hollywood Studios
    • Rides 
      • Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster*: Disney's most thrill seeking ride in my opinion. Simply amazing. 
      • Tower of Terror*: Always amazing. 
        • Notes from yours truly: I didn't ride on it this time round but it was one of my first roller coaster rides [it was either this one or Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster from when I visited when I was 15]. Both are great rides and that's coming from someone who is acrophobic). 
      • Toy Story Mania*: This ride surprised me at how fun it was. No wonder the lines were insanely long. It's also in 3D and you shoot stuff. It's really a good time
      • Star Wars: We loved this one and while we only went on it twice, we were sure close to getting on it again if it were not for our dinner reservations. Plus in the gift shop you can make your own R2D2's figurines which we ended up doing (and we bought them as souvenirs for friends).
    • Shows
      • Beauty and the Beast* show here and it was surprisingly good. 
      • The Little Mermaid* show was also good.
      • Indiana Jones* is a classic!
      • Fantasmic* is there fireworks show but it begins with a play featuring all the Disney characters and villains. Its only on select nights so double check before you go. It gets pretty crowded for good seats so line up early.
      • Backlot Tours* where you can see how action shots in movies are done.
    • Special Event: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was incredibly cute especially with the "snow" that comes down afterward.

    Magic Kingdom
    • Straight from Alex's notes: "No one can be unhappy here. It's just too...everything you would expect Disney to be and they surely deliver."
    • Rides
      • Space Mountain
      • Splash Mountain
      • Big Thunder Mountain
      • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is wonderfully awesome and... well, any gamer will appreciate it. So says my boyfriend who trumped me in this game. 
      • Those are the thrill rides...but all the classics are great. It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice's Teacups...etc
        • Notes from Lei: PoTC, It's a Small World, and Haunted Mansion are the three rides that I absolutely have to go on regardless of which park I'm in for nostalgia purposes. 
          • Haunted Mansion: It's been a long time since I've seen the non-Nightmare Before Christmas version and I love them both. The ballroom ghosts is my favourite part.
          • Pirates of the Caribbean: Slightly redone at the WDW site and thus I expect a revamp on it at DL since it was down in 2011 during our visit. They cleaned it up a bit and added scenes from the movie along with a bunch of Jack Sparrow cameos. 
    • If you've seen Disneyland then you've seen what Magic Kingdom is about, but not what is is, so don't discount it. It might not be the same experience but they are both great.
    • Definitely need to catch the Main Street Electric parade and the Wishes Nighttime Fireworks show. Everyone loves it.
    • Special Events
      • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party+: I haven't been to this but it's on my list and perhaps 2013 is the year that I'll do it! Supposedly it's only time that adults can come dressed up to the parl.
      • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: My boyfriend treated me to this as part of my birthday. It was kind of nice to have a second shot at the park without the crowds or long waiting lines. There were ample spots for free cookies, hot chocolate, and apple slices (which is a great thing, but also a bad thing since we didn't have any dinner and had to run over to the turkey leg cart for real food). The snow was a great touch and the dueling fireworks between Cinderella's castle and Belle's castle was awesome.

    Animal Kingdom

    • Another snippet from Alex's notes: "Everyone will love the safari. Hands down."
    • Rides
      • Expedition Everest*: a nice roller coaster to go on. All thrill and non thrill seekers will enjoy it.
      • Dinosaur*: Alex's girlfriend's favourite ride. If you ever went on Jurassic Park Universal Studios and felt that the ride didn't live up to your expectations then this ride will. It's pretty much what you would expect a Jurassic Park ride to be. Its intense.
    • Shows
      • From the book of Alex: "My favorite show here is The Lion King. It's singers and dancers are really talented and it's a great show."

    In a strange twist of events, Alex asked me to compare Disneyland and Disney World. As this often comes up in the Disney subreddits, I figured I'd post my response here.

    Disneyland and Disney World Comparison

    Honestly, I like them both. I grew up with DW (visited when I was 5 then again when I was 15) and I've always had that as the pinnacle of a theme park. Since moving out to California, my friends and I try to go to DL when we go to BlizzCon. It just so happened that there wasn't a convention last year [2012], so when we were planning a vacation, my BF said that it always sounded like I really wanted to go to DW.

    While I like the feel of DL and California Adventure (the park right next door; DL itself is dry but California Adventure is not) -- they are much smaller and a lot more rides. So for someone like me that doesn't really like rides, it's almost too easy to get through the park in a day. In fact, during my first visit with my friends, I got hyper off of sugar and made three rounds throughout the DL park (and managed to ride PoTC once and Haunted Mansion twice).

    DL is comparable to MK; DL is smaller with more of a local feel whereas MK is bigger and much more of a touristy feel. In a one to one comparison, I like MK because of the high nostalgia value. I do, hands down, love New Orleans square in DL and love the whole Haunted Mansion setup along with the beignets. But MK? I nostalgia hard in there, especially since I was there with my family so I can't help but think about them when I'm there. It's a Small World is also not as godawfullong (seriously... DL's version is like 20 minutes, the WDW version was elongated and a bit empty but not as long it seems).

    DL has the NMBC version of Haunted Mansion which I think stays up longer than at WDW. The problem though, as I mentioned is that I'm not a roller coaster kind of person and it seems as though WDW is made for people like me since there's a lot more to see/do or just simply walk around in.

    My BF, who grew up with DL and visited WDW for the first time, kind of prefers DL when compared to MK. But the parks overall? WDW hella wins and that's simply because there's way more to do.

    DL doesn't have an equivalent of AK, Epcot (and I LOVE Epcot, even as a kid), or Hollywood Studios. California Adventure is like... a mishmash of Hollywood Studios and Great Adventure. Which isn't inherently bad, but just not well suited for someone who doesn't like rides (but hey, they have carnival-like games, which I like). I think they are good (if not fantastic) in their own ways and it's almost as if you need to appreciate them separately.

    Alex Blaise is awesomesauce who gave us a lot of tips for our trips. This probably because he's a runner and ends up over at Disney World way more often than we ever could. You can check out his Flickr and Tumblr is the person behind the tips intrigues you. Perhaps we can somehow cajole him into writing a blog. :)

    Sick Kittens & the Battle of Humidifiers

    The kittens are back at normal speed, running around the house and climbing all over their new cat tree. But when they were sick two weeks ago, it seemed like forever. Probably because I was also sick at the same time and let's face it, that's not fun either. Shiva had to have multiple trips to the vet to be checked out and was given lots of medication. Then he passed on that sickness to his brother, who luckily didn't get it as badly.

    Sadly, the kittens got confined to our bedroom where I had a humidifier running for them. When we first saw the signs of sickness (which seemed like conjunctivitis but it might have been something else), I started doing the research to figure out if I should have a vaporizer or a humidifier running for Shiva (since he was sick first). It didn't take much research for me to settle on a humidifier simply because a kitten cooped up in a room with a vaporizer who may or may not be attended just didn't equate to a good scenario for me.

    I ended up picking up the V3100 Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier because basically it's made for a smaller room and... well, I didn't check the reviews on it before I purchased. At this point, I will warn you... just don't. After I got it, I read the reviews but realized that it looks as though they switched the caps around so I figured that maybe they fixed the problem. Nope. For the first few days it worked out incredibly well but then the trouble started and that was mainly the leaking. No matter how much I fought with it in the bathroom to stay on correctly, by the time it back into the bedroom it would leak. There were one to two times whereby it leaked a little bit, but not enough to warrant concern. Then one day the whole gallon leaked out and you can imagine on a wall to wall rug, that it took a few days to dry.

    We ended up returning it to the store and after much research into a better alternative, we decided (well rather, it was the only one we could get our hands on immediately for the sick kittens) on "Elliot the Elephant." I personally wanted Merlin the Dragon but we couldn't wait for it to be shipped out.

    Elliot the Elephant
    Yep, so it turns out that this particularly odd shaped humidifier has some of the best reviews around the web:

    The kittens have been feeling better but as a precaution, we've been running the humidifier at night. Partially because I also feel a lot better waking up with it. So the moral of the story is that baby websites are pretty awesome sometimes when you have two sick kittens. 

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Blast from the Past: Almay Pure Tints Protective Lip Care in Berry

    In my previous post, I mentioned that I went digging through my makeup storage and I had to get through all my different shades of red lipgloss to get down to the bottom. Well, this one was one of them. A few years ago, I used to work very close to a Revlon retailer, who also carried a bunch of other products. During the time I was on the hunt for a good red lipstick and came across a lot of other items in the process. Given at the time that I had accumulated so many, several of them went into storage.

    This lip "tint" is in Berry and while there's no scent, there's SPF 25 (which probably by now has greatly deteriorated as SPF has a shelf life and when it's in makeup, it's sometimes a lot less than just the normal tubes of sunscreen). Anyhow, the shade itself is quite berry as noted by the picture on the right.

    While I do enjoy the colour since it seems like a nice shade, it seems to be much lighter when I apply it. That in itself isn't a huge problem however the formula has a grainy feel to it. It goes on smoothly and seems to be still quite moisturizing. But that grainy feel is hard to ignore. Overall, I think that while the colour and idea is nice, the tint is probably not something I'd want in my makeup bag (or storage, at this point).

    This line has been discontinued however you can still find tubes of it offered through some vendors. 

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Blast from the Past: Jaqua Caramel Cappuccino Lip Whip

    I remember when I first stumbled upon this brand back in 2005 (maybe it was then, I'm not sure) as they were Jaqua Beauty that specialized in scents that were that of candies or pastries. Basically, they are deliciously scented and happen to not taste as bad either. I think I recall seeing them at New York's Dylan's Candy Bar but my memory is a bit hazy about it. Anyhow, I managed to get one thing and that was the Caramel Cappuccino Lip Whip which I put into storage because I loved it so much.

    The problem with the storage routine is that sometimes I buy way more lip balms and end up not ever getting back to my lip glosses. So here we are in 2013 and I found it at the bottom of the lip gloss storage that I had (conveniently underneath all the red lip glosses that I've accumulated).

    Now sure, this many years later the scent is somewhat gone and replaced with a scent of sugar. Specifically stale sugar. But it still works just fine. Just as moisturizing as I remember it, the taste was a bit off (but nothing hugely off-putting, the colour is just as vibrant so the only real change is the scent. 

    Now obviously I can't issue a real review on this based on the memories I had of this tube as a teenager and compare it to what it is now. It's pretty old and that's not fair to the company nor the product itself. This product is currently discontinued as it was part of Jaqua Beauty -- they are still in operation but they are now Jaqua Bath & Body and as the name denotes, they only offer bath and body products. 

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Review: L'Oréal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stains

    When I saw these on the shelves, I wasn't sure how I felt about it but I figured I'd grab two and give them a go anyway. After all the packaging themselves look nice and the thing that sold me was that it was a stain. My boyfriend has shown a dislike for lipsticks (or tinted moisturizers) so I've been trying to find better alternatives. Stains has quickly shot up the list as an important item in my makeup bag.

    I grabbed Endless Red (on the right) and Infinite Fuchsia (on the left). The first one I tried was Endless Red and at first, I didn't quite like it. It came off a bit splotchy and I couldn't get an even application. It kind of bunched in the center making my lower lip super red and the rest just barely okay.

    I assumed that maybe it was because of the applicator itself which was unique in it's flower petal shape (click here for an image).

    A few days after the initial application, I was planning out what to wear for a friend's wedding and found out that their colours were black, red, and white. So, I decided to give the Endless Red another try. I wish I had photos of it but we were in a bit of a rush to leave and I forgot my camera.

    The second go though was magnificent. I did have to reapply 2-3 times throughout the night but overall it had a great sheen, good colour, and great on moisture. I will say that with the stains in general, if you didn't get a nice even application for the first go, try again later.  

    The Infinite Fuchsia seems a bit darker in the photos but it's a bit pinker and a slight bit lighter. They are quite comparable in colour with just a slight variation. I do like that they are both buildable though so the Endless Red gets redder with each application (please remember that they are stains, so each new coat after one dries adds on a bit more colour). I haven't tried building upon the Fuchsia just yet, but I assume it will work out the same as the red.

    I really like these -- I'm having a bit of a hard time convincing my boyfriend that it won't rub off on him but it's true. Sure if the coats are still wet then they'll rub off but over time with the application of each new coat, the red will remain and then you can switch over to just coating with lip balm.

    Product: L'Oréal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stains in Endless Red and Infinite Fuchsia
    Price: ~$10
    Would Recommend? Yes, if you like stains.
    Takeaway: Stains take a bit of patience so if you want the perfect application in one shot without much touch up then this might not be for you. They do have longevity with colour, but it might take a few applications and once it's all set then you're good to go. At first I was kind of expecting to be disappointed but I was quite happy with their performance, colour, and moisturizing aspects. 

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Review: Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream

    I'm a bit behind on my reviews -- I've got a bunch of things lined up but between moving and then adding two kittens into the mix, I've had my hands full. Not to mention that one of those kittens is sick which is creating a whole other issue which brings me to this review. A bit of context here: We have two kittens that have not been separated since birth which now have to undergo a bit of separation since one is sick. As a result, of his brother missing, he has decided that I as Momma-Kat can sustain his rough play. So he's been batting, pouncing, and nibbling at my hands at night. 

    All the cremes and lotions that I have cannot withstand kitten playtime apparently. Now I remember a while ago in a trade on Makeup Alley, someone asked if I could get them this hand creme as part of the trade and they raved about it. The problem was that almost every jar I had found at my local drugstores had been unceremoniously sampled. We worked out something else, but I did keep her raves about the product in mind.

    So after very little deliberation (once you try 3-4 different lotions on your hand and they don't work, it leaves very little room for thought about what to do next), I purchased the hand creme (which was also unceremoniously sampled, but at this point since my hands were burning I decided to forego my OCD in the matter). 

    To start, I love the scent as almond is one my favourite scents in general (dreams of marzipan). This has a strong almond scent that is mixed with a bit of beeswax which you can make out quite well. It does leave my hands a bit greasy but I'd rather that. Given the circumstances, all of my lotions were drying out too quickly leaving my skin parched. I already have dry skin, but having to wash my hands after touching the kittens or the cat each time means that my hand washing has skyrocketed leaving my skin ashen and a bit flaky. So greasy? Sure. It doesn't inhibit my work or bother me at all, plus is keeps my skin moisturized and protected.

    Now while you can just spring for a tub of cocoa butter and shea butter, which will probably do the same job they are a bit more greasier than this hand creme. So while it's a bit pricier ($9) it's still worth it, especially since I have to wash my hands so often and reapply it equally as much (which is a lot).

    Product: Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream
    Price: $9
    Would Recommend? Yes!
    Takeaway: If you find yourself washing your hands frequent, have dry skin, or notice that your kitten is mistaking your hand for a cat and attacking it, then this is a great buy. Lovely scent that is like marzipan and while it's a tad bit greasy, that's up to you to figure out if it's worth it. For me, it is.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Hiro & Shivanand Rafhman

    For almost all of my life I've wanted a cat. Or a dog. Either way, I remember as a kid I would write to Santa asking for a cat or a dog (preferably all black) and even when I found out that Santa didn't exist, I'd still write (up until my parents found out about my trickery). I had come close twice in my life to sneakily bringing home kittens but that didn't quite pan out but I'm happy to report that they are both in happy homes (well, they are in one home since my cousin decided to keep both of them).

    On the day before Christmas Eve, we were checking out Petfinder and we came across two kittens that were so adorable -- two sibling black kittens -- and we just had to have them. Given that it was right before Christmas, we anxiously awaited to hear back about them and even went as far to try to see them the next day. Unfortunately for us, Animal Care and Control is located right next to ASPCA and we didn't realize the difference and ended up going to the ASPCA who happened to be closed.

    So on the 26th we went over to the ACC (this time, the correct building) and while we didn't find the two black kittens, we did come upon sibling Siamese kittens. I signed the adoption papers but was told that we couldn't take them home right away so began my preparation for the kittens.

    Pet Insurance

    My very first order of business was to get pet insurance. Now I know that a lot of people don't deem it necessary but being the child of a former medical claims specialist, I rest more assured when I have it. Now there's a lot of insurances out there but luckily for me, my boyfriend is much better at processing this type of information. He found this nifty chart that breaks out a few different insurances and compares them by level.  (This isn't all of them, so please do your research if you opt for insurance and note that it doesn't work like normal insurance; you have to pay upfront and then they reimburse you based on the policy). By the time I came back from shopping for kitten goodies, he had selected PetPlan. Their customer service was incredibly helpful as they helped me complete my policy and within 10 minutes, both kittens were set up.

    Veterinarian & Emergency Hospital

    If there's anything I've learned from my cockatiels it was to make sure I keep the numbers of emergency hospitals on file. I can list the ones I chose, but this is very location specific. In addition to knowing your vet, where they are located, and their hours of operation, you should know where you can take them in case the vet isn't available during an emergency. If you're in the Outer Sunset area, then I'd recommend the Sunset Veterinary Hospital as the primary veterinary care and the All Animals Emergency Hospital or VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists (this one is located in the Mission) for those odd hours that your primary veterinarian isn't operating. Note: I haven't had to use either emergency hospitals, but I do keep their numbers listed in my phone as a precaution. 

    Emergency Preparedness Kit 

    If you haven't gathered, I live in San Francisco. Part of that means that for this East Coaster, there is something I never really had to contend with and that is earthquakes. I also didn't have much of my emergency supplies as I did when I was back home so after much consideration last year, I ended up purchasing a 3 Day Emergency Preparedness Kit. So it comes as no shock that I needed to get one for the kittens.

    While the ASPCA Emergency Ready Cat Survival Kit was a strong contender but then after chatting with my boyfriend about it, we thought that it might seem strange to get two of those kits since they were a bit on the pricey side and we do have a lot of those items already.  After searching for more alternatives, I found  the Quakekare Deluxe Multiple Cat Survival Kit which works out pretty well. Just as a note, as with any preparedness kit, make sure you "customize" them by adding in items that are specific to you and your pets.

    Pet Pal App (for Droids)

    I have a very specific place that I keep the documentation for our little minions -- both hard and soft copies. But one thing I absolutely wanted was the ability to access some of their information while on the go (specifically during their vet visits). Pet Pal has been great about keeping the information about the two in one solid place -- while this doesn't beat having the hard copies of their policy information or their medical history, it does help me keep quick notes about them (such as what to ask the vet or what have I learned for future reference for them). Not to mention the reminders that you can list out on your phone.


    I hesitated to add this one since the ACC automatically microchipped the cats upon adoption. I will list this out only because I do think that it's rather important and even if the ACC didn't automatically do it themselves, I likely would have taken the cats in to be microchipped. I did find a few nearby clinics that would do it for under $50 and there are also certain places that you can take them in to get it done for free.

    The items mentioned above are the things I took care of right away. Now I'm not an expert and this is my first time owning cats so obviously there's going to be a bit of trial and error. As I figure it out, hopefully I'll update the blog alongside. 

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Review: Hollybeth Organics Grits & Honey Scrub

    Let me preface this by saying that I love honey but for some reason it just never struck me that you could use it in a scrub. Well, maybe because I'm the kind of person that can eat them by the spoonful and they are a necessary part to tea, so it just never occurred to me to do that even though Maria has told me many times to just try it. I'm weird like that.

    Anyhow, Maria gave me this sample of the Grits & Honey Scrub from Hollybee Organics (which was featured in the December Kara's Way box. Based on her suggestion, I tried it as a mask first.

    Now I don't normally use exfoliates on my face; I stick with my usual mask and I tend to not deviate too much from that. I know that honey masks are good for acne and helps with glowing skin -- you supposedly need to use them for a while (so you won't see results immediately) but I can see the benefits of having this scrub around for that purpose if you don't feel like mixing them yourself.

    I don't have much issues with acne but I did keep the "mask" on for about 30 minutes. Honey isn't like a traditional mask (I know, obvious) so it ends up dripping a bit so be careful about that. After washing it off, my skin appeared to glow a bit and felt wonderfully moisturized. The grits weren't too bad (my face tends to be a bit sensitive about exfoliation) and I did make sure that I followed up with a toner afterward.

    After the mask, I tried it in my shower along my arms and legs. The grits kind of feel like sand and with the mixture of the moisturizing honey, it ends up being a complementary blend. After slipping out of the shower, the parts where I used it on my skin felt softer and way more moisturized (to the point where I felt that I didn't need to put on lotion [but I did]).

    This product was featured in the December Kara's Way box and was given to me complimentary for my evaluation.

    Product: Hollybeth Organics Grits & Honey Scrub
    Price: $25
    Would Recommend? Yes.
    Takeaway: It's a great scrub overall since it doesn't feel as abrasive with the blend of honey. It can double as a mask as well which gives it the angle of multipurpose. I know that honey is well suited for those with acne, but those with dry skin can benefit from the honey as well.  


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