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Friday, December 31, 2010

Makeup Review: L'Oreal The One Sweep Eye Shadow

What: L'Oreal The One Sweep Eye Shadow
Shade: Playful for Brown Eyes
The claim: Unique applicator applies 3 shades in ONE SWEEP to define, color, and highlight eyes. Given how much people struggle with those three steps (me included) there is definitely a market for this product.

Does it work? Kinda, sorta.

The good: This particular shade I bought, intended to enhance brown eyes, has a light purple, a darker purple, and a shimmery mid-toned purple. All nice shades, especially for darker eyes. This eye shadow gives a subtle look. The darkest shade showed up nicely. The applicator curved nicely with my eyes.

The bad: The back of the palette required directions on use. This was helpful but I'm of the mind set that you shouldn't need directions to use eye shadow. The lightest and mid-tone shades are really nothing special on my lids. It is difficult to see any contrast in these colors. It just looks like a purple eye. Nothing too exciting. I am not sure how well this applicator would work for Asian eyes or smaller eyes.

The ugly: Over-blending could end up in a really messy look.

Would I use this again? Sure, if I just wanted some quick color on my eyes.

Have you tried this product? What's your verdict? 

Disclaimer to keep the FTC people happy:  I purchased this item with my own money. This item retails for $8.99.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

I'm always amazed at how fast Christmas comes around every year. Christmas 2010 has come and gone but Santa left me with some pretty excellent presents this year. Here's a short list of some of my favorite gifts this year:

1. Philosophy Gingerbread Girl

This body wash and lotion sincerely smell like gingerbread. Someone recently told me that their resolution for 2011 is to buy less things but of higher quality. This set makes me want to adopt that same resolution.

2. My very own picture book! Brian went to Lulu and made a picture book of our pets. The pictures are high quality and you can even add text. When I finally write that children's book, I can publish it myself at Lulu.

3. Garmin If you know me then you know I have the capability of getting lost in my own garage. I needed this badly. The interface is easy to use and you can choose the accent of the voice that gives the directions. I opted for the British voice. Surprise, surprise.

4. Manic Street Preachers book I love to read and I love the Manic Street Preachers so this is a perfect gift. Many of the pictures are new to me as are several of the accounts discussed in the book. I can spend hours trying to figure out Richey's mystery.

Your turn. What did you get for Christmas?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ovens, candles, wire cutters... oh my!

I have a conflict: I love make-up but I don't like clutter. Too bad for me that the two often go hand-in-hand. Many cosmetic brands put their products in cute containers that often take up too much space. What's a girl to do?

A few years ago I decided to use empty CD cases as a means to organize my makeup. I popped the eyeshadows out of their original containers and hot glued them into the CD cases. This worked out pretty well but some of the shadows caused problems with the case closing; not to mention that the cases didn't necessarily fit into my bathroom counters easily.

Now all kinds of companies make very cute magnetic makeup cases. However, the suggestions on depotting the eyeshadows is kind of frightening. Any time ovens, candles, and wire cutters are involved I have to think twice.

Where Have I Been?

I haven't updated my little blog in a while. I am on vacation (well, almost...tomorrow is my last day!) so hopefully I will have more time to share with you all. My time has been filled up with grad school, work, baking, a cold that won't go away and Christmas!

I am excited to annouce that I have a new website for all of my baked goods here. The site just went up last night so there is more to come over there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A rose by any other name

Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm cheap. I love a good bargain and if I have a coupon that's all the better. I'm also never one to hesitate to buy off brand. However I am learning that there are a few products that are better in their name brand form. Here's the short list:

1. Face foundation. In my opinion, most cosmetics work about the same. Sure, a $30 eyeshadow is probably better than a $7 eyeshadow but maybe not better enough to justify the price. Foundation is the exception. Better brands go on my face smoother, smell better (I'm scent sensitive), and are not as likely to break my face out. I suggest Clinique foundation.

2. Cooking sprays.  For as long as I have been living and cooking on my own I have been buying off brand cooking sprays. When I ran out of my Giant Eagle brand spray, I decided that since I am baking for hire I would try Pam cooking spray. I have to admit that I'm pretty blown away by the results. My cakes are popping right out of the pan and the pan looks so clean you can barely tell it was used. I will probably keep a can of the cheap spray around for day-to-day cooking but for baking it's Pam all the way.

3. Pop. I call it pop. You might call it soda but regardless what name it goes by, it needs to be the name brand. Off brand pop tastes flat and I think it has a weird spiciness.

4. Tennis shoes. Buying name brand shoes is probably smart in general but I know from lots of experience that you get what you pay for with tennis shoes. Good tennis shoes get broken in quickly and seldom will they give you blisters or rub your feet raw. Your feet hold your entire body up so treat them right and invest in a good pair of shoes. I also suggest you go to a shoe store that will help you find the right shoes. I like Front Runner. The sales person helped me pick out the right shoe by analyzing my shoe patterns and watching me run and walk. It was very helpful. My favorite running shoe is made by Asics.

What are some items you insist on buying name brand?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Product Review: Bath and Body Works Foam Soap

I take my soap seriously and I expect a lot from it. I expect it to smell good, get my hands clean, and not dry them out. Bath and Body Works foam soap does all of this but I don't think I'm buying it anymore and here is why:

The pump itself sucks. It's stiff and it goes all over the place. This is a new pump design and the sales person at the store told me they changed it because the old design wasn't letting you use as much of the product. Well, I'm not using as much now that most of it ends up in the sink.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Diet Survived the Weekend

I have been on countless diets and I have always given up by the weekend. My latest diet, a low carb diet, survived the weekend and that's a huge step for me. Since last Monday I am down 10 pounds and I feel very successful. Here is why I think this time around has been easier for me:

1. I found a diet that works for me. There's a lot of mixed feelings on low carb diets. The diet that seems to receive the most accolades is the Weight Watchers diet. I have a friend who was extremely successful with Weight Watchers and I gave it a try last spring but it did not work for me. Weight Watchers is basically calorie counting in the form for points. As long as you don't go over your points you can allow yourself a sweet treat. This did not work for me because once I have one sweet treat, I want more and more. I have a major sweet tooth and a low carb diet is forcing me to break that nasty habit.

2. I'm ready for it. I finally got motivated enough to do something to lose weight. It takes a while. I've known for a while that I needed to lose weight but I was not quite motivated enough. Just like with any other addiction, and I do consider food to be an addiction for some of us, you have to be ready to break the habit. When you're ready, the whole process feels different that time around.

3. Head games. I approached my diet by psyching myself out. My dear friend is getting married at the end of October and I told myself that I would at least try this diet until her wedding. This provides me with a short term, doable goal.

4. Talk amongst yourselves. Talking about my diet is also helping me. By telling all of you out there that I'm trying to lose weight I feel accountable to do just that. The next time you see me or the next time I post a picture of myself I certainly do not want to have gained weight after telling everyone about my diet! But I promise not to turn this into diet central.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 2 on the Atkins Diet

I'm down 3 pounds today from yesterday! I'm sure it's water weight but you have to start somewhere, right? I'm still feeling highly motivated. Hopefully I can stay motivated through the weekend!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 1 of a Diet

 I'm going to a wedding at the end of October and I want to lose some weight for it. I'm not in the wedding but I still want to look nice. I usually perform well under pressure so we'll see if dieting works the same way for me.

Looking through different diets, I decided that my best bet to drop a few quick pounds is to go on the Atkins Diet, phase 1. I've tried this diet in the past and have never made it longer than a few days. People seem to lose crazy amounts of weight on this diet so we'll see what happens. My hope is that I can stick it out since my goal right now is over a short span of time. I'm going to report my food intake and exercise here so you guys can scold me if I fall off the wagon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ready for Fall

Now that the Summer of Jenny has successfully ended, it is time to look toward fall. Of course, the great part of summer is that I don't work but that doesn't mean that autumn can't be just as enjoyable. Here are a few things I'm looking forward to this fall:

1. Halloween. I love Halloween. I love dressing up, the scary movies, and giving candy out. I also throw a Halloween party every year and it's a lot of fun to plan every thing.

2. Pumpkin Patches. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't visited a pumpkin patch in a few year. Shameful, I know. This year, I'm going to a pumpkin patch for sure and I can't wait.

3. Apple Cider. I bought my first half gallon of the season today and I can't wait to have some. Apple cider is only around this time of year so get it while it's still out!

4. Long sleeve t-shirts. These light weight shirts are the best and I can't wait to get them out again.

5. Warm foods. I love to cook but when it's hot the last thing I want to do is heat my house up. It's nice to be able to indulge in hot soups.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gotta Get Away

I've been itching to get out of Dodge. It's been a few years since I've taken a proper trip and I think it's wearing on me. I've even been dreaming about leaving town. Just last night I dreamed I was in Las Vegas. The night before that I was traveling with Nikki Sixx. Don't ask. I have no idea where these dreams come from. So what's keeping me in Dodge?


There seems to be an outbreak of bedbugs and this is keeping me out of hotels. Nice hotels, bad hotels and all in between are getting begbugs and I want no part of this.

Any suggestions on where I can go and not run the risk of bedbugs?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wet N Wild iSparkle Eye Shadow Review

The Product: Wet N Wild iSparkle in Star Clusters. These shades are a shimmery light gold, a bronze, a deep brown, and a pale blue. The palette slides out to reveal a handy mirror and it comes with two eye shadow brushes. My picture only shows one of the brushes because the minute I opened the package in the bathroom, I accidentally dropped one of the brushes in the trash can. What can I say? I'm a klutz.

You guys might not know this but I can be a make-up snob but I happened to have coupons for Wet N Wild and Giant Eagle was having a sale so why not give it a try?

The Review: I put these shadows on and was surprised to find that they are well pigmented. The blue shade was not as well pigmented but to be honest, I didn't know where to put this shade so it could be user error. It kind of blended in to the bronze and got overpowered. Overall these shades looked nice with my dark eyes.

I wore these eye shadows to the grocery store and sweated pretty much all day. I did not wear any primers to help the shadow last because I wanted to see how the Wet N Wild held up alone. By bed time, the shadows had faded some but they were still mostly intact.

You can see she shades on my eyes. The shimmer is there but it is not excessive. You could wear these colors to work and not look like you should be at a rave.


The Bottom Line: Wet N Wild is inexpensive and has been around for ages. I remembered buying this brand when I was a teenager and not being happy with the results. Wet N Wild has come a long way. I did not expect to find strong pigments and lasting eye shadows. I'm impressed. You should also check their website out. I looked at it for this review and it's a nice site.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Things I'm Enjoying

I've been a lazy blogger so I thought I'd give you all a little update on the things I've been enjoying lately.

1. All things automatic. Thanks to some awesome couponing tips from this lady I acquired THREE of those nifty motion activated air fresheners by Glade and an automatic soap pump for practically nothing. The soap pump, made by Dial, is especially nice. I feel a little cleaner and it dispenses the right about of soap. Nothing goes to waste but you get enough soap to feel like it's getting the job done.

2. Netflix. Oh, boy. Brian has a far better entry up on our recent love affair with Netflix. Netflix is pretty awesome. I've watched classic movies, documentaries, Season 3 of Heroes (you all know how much I love Sylar), and lots of other things. We have gotten a few DVDs in the mail but we mostly stream through the XBox. The mailed DVDs are easy to receive and return and they arrive super fast. Netflix's website is easy to use and if you stream, the wait time between requesting the program and it starting is next to nothing. I am impressed.

3. Nutella. I used to laugh at people who eat Nutella. Who puts chocolate on bread aside from the Von Trapp kids? I decided to try some and wow. This stuff is seriously yummy. It tastes light and sweet but not too sweet. In fact, since I started eating Nutella I've noticed my sweet tooth has diminished some. I dig this stuff so much I entered a contest to win a year's supply. The last time I won any thing it was a year's supply of Juicy Fruit so I figured maybe that's how my luck works.

4. Farmer's markets. Today was the final day for my local farmer's market so I definitely paid it a visit. I bought some beautiful peppers and a head of lettuce that was fresh, locally grown, and inexpensive. Over the summer, I have tried to do more to support local commerce and farmer's markets are a great way to do this. I can't wait until they come back next year. In fact, I plan on renting space to sell my cupcakes next year!

5. Morrison Hotel. I've been a huge fan of The Doors for many years but Morrison Hotel has never been a favorite until recently. I put it in a few weekends ago and I couldn't figure out why I have not liked it. It's a fabulous record and I'm glad I warmed up to it---20 years later.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Privacy, Please: More Oversharing Stories

I have previously expressed my feelings on posting childrens' pictures on Facebook and general oversharing online. To recap, I don't like it. There are too many freaks out there so I think you have to be careful with what information you give out online, especially where children are concerned since they have no control over what their parents post.

Today on Facebook I was reminded yet again how stupid people can be at times. This is the question Walgreens Pharmacy posed to their fans on Facebook:

"Who can't believe their little boy or girl is all grown up and heading to school this fall?"

Something like "I can't believe how fast they grow!" would suffice here. Instead, this question was answered by 122 people who all told us how old their kids are, what grade they will be going in to, and of course the posters' full names and pictures were there for all of the people on Walgreens' Facebook page to see. Maybe I'm paranoid or I've read one too many stories about someone being killed for their baby, but I'm lost on why people overshare so much info, especially about their kids.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Weezer in Concert: A Non-Fan Look

Last Saturday, Brian and I saw Weezer in concert. I have always liked a few of their songs and while they have never really annoyed me, I don't consider myself a big fan. I went to the show because Brian has been dragged to many concerts by me. In fact, he had to stand in an alley in the middle of Detroit at 1 AM so I could get my picture taken with one of my favorite bands. The least I could do is sweat with some nerds and watch Rivers Cuomo stand like a statue on stage, right? Well, much to my surprise I enjoyed myself and here's why:
1. The audience. At a concert, the behavior of the audience is very important. A bad crowd can ruin any show. Weezer's audience consisted of kids between the ages of 5 and 60, and all appeared to be sober. The seats were assigned so no one was pushing to get in front of me, no one spilled beer on my shoes, nor did anyone make out with their significant other while pressed up against me. The only time I had to get out of the way quickly was when the singer decided to visit the audience. The nerds wanted to touch their king so I moved.

2. No dilly-dallying. I have now seen several shows at the great Ohio State fair and they all run in a timely manner. I think it is because the grounds have to close at a certain time so whatever band is performing has to get on with it. I like it that I don't have to wait an hour (or more!) for the main act after the opening act has left the stage. I also like getting out at a reasonable time. I know. I'm old. But I would have appreciated these factors just as much at 22 as I do now at 32.

3. Showmanship. Weezer put on a great show. They looked like they were having fun. The singer spent a lot of time in the audience and not just in the first few rows. He went all the way to the back of the concert hall and posed for pictures, signed autographs, and sang along with fans. Beachballs were being tossed around, a little girl got to go on stage with the band for her 9th birthday, and even the sign language interpreter got some love. I did not expect much of a show. I envisioned Rivers standing at his microphone all night, barely moving. I was pleasantly surprised.

4. The music. Not only did Weezer put on a great show, they sounded great, too. I'm not familiar with their entire catalog and I am sure they did not make everyone happy but they seemed to select a good assortment of songs from their records. I knew every song, thanks to Brian and my time listening to them in high school. They even threw in a MGMT cover and made fun of Lady Gaga.

5. Rivers Cuomo. It's no secret that I like my men nerdy. If you know me, then you know I prefer Spock to Kirk and I married a guy who gets way too excited over Hot Wheels. Needless to say, I found myself swooning over the Weezer frontman a few times during the show. The thick glasses. The bad clothes. He has it all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Clean Sweep: An argument in two or more parts

Disclaimer: I love my husband, Brian. I also do what I can do not to be a nag. That said, let's discuss the cleaning arrangement around here. I thought you'd all like this argument since many of you seem to enjoy listening to us argue every Thursday.

Shared Duties

Brian does some things around the house and I do other things. He really gets into vacuuming and doing the dishes. He also prefers to do his own laundry and he takes care of our Florida room because he has pretty much taken that room over for his Hot Wheels.

Since I'm a teacher and I get a summer vacation, I don't ask him to do as much around the house since I'm home and he works all day. During the school year, however, I expect him to pick up the slack. I think this is fair. There are some exceptions to this and he needs to clean more. Today was one of those days.


The house was not in too bad of a state but we had friends coming over for dinner so some things needed to be done in a short amount of time. I was cleaning the kitchen (which entailed washing and drying dishes, mopping and sweeping the floor, cleaning the table off, and a few other tasks) and he was cleaning the living room. Cleaning the living room meant vacuuming, putting remote controls away, and throwing away a pop can or two. A dog, not sure which one, also took the liberty of vomiting on the floor so Brian also cleaned that. Despite the throw up, I think I had more to do. I was slightly annoyed to find blankets on the chair and some other things that needed to either be thrown away or put some place else. His response?

"It doesn't bother me."

And it doesn't bother me either if we were just cleaning for ourselves. Today, though, we're cleaning because we're having company and I'm sure they don't want to move our stuff around. Am I being unreasonable to ask that a room be cleaned entirely? Is it that hard? Considering that I'm the only one who scrubs our TOILETS on a weekly basis, I think he can manage to stick some blankets in the closet. I also want to point out that he frequently does half-jobs when he cleans. Examples: He dries the dishes but doesn't dry small utensils like measuring cups. You're drying the dishes anyway, just dry everything! He will also vacuum but he skips the steps. Do those not have fur and dirt on them as well?

I've made my case

Your turn, Brian. Defend your lazy cleaning ways!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cosmetic Review: Avon gave me the blues

The Product: Avon Nailwear Pro in Vintage Blue
Price: $2.99

Avon makes great nail polish. They have a wide variety of colors and finishes, the color lasts, and is inexpensive. This nail polish, however, was a huge disappointment because of the color. Let's take a look at what Avon has advertised. The color (Vintage Blue) I purchased is circled in red.

It might be difficult to tell but Avon shows a silvery-blue shade that appears to have a metallic finish. This is what I got:

I got something that looks like blue sidewalk chalk. There is no metallic finish. In addition to not looking like the ad, this color goes on thick and streaky. As your resident Avon lady, let me say that Avon's products are excellent and the pictures are usually very accurate. This just isn't one of those times. Buy Avon nail polish but pass on this shade. Buy Avon's Nailwear Pro in Jade instead. When I wore that shade I was actually stopped by women in stores who were full of compliments. Take a look at Jade but keep in mind that the picture really doesn't do it justice.

What are some of your favorite nail polishes? Which ones should we avoid?

Monday, July 5, 2010

And the winner is...

Erica won the Avon In Bloom perfume giveaway! Congrats!

Later on this week I will be giving away lipstick so be sure to check back.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

7 Rules for the Concert Attendee

A few weeks ago I was excited to learn that the Scorpions and Cinderella were coming to my town. I like the Scorpions but I have always been a big Cinderella fan. A days ago, the Scorpions' singer, Klaus Meine got sick and had to cancel. The tickets were refunded but those cool guys in Cinderella played a free show. American Dog and The Ordinance opened for them, both native Ohioan bands. The Ordinance had some equipment issues but their singer kept going, finding microphones where he could and stayed energetic. American Dog had a stronger set with their country rock sound and many people in the audience seemed to be familiar with them.

Cinderella played a full set of their hits. Every song was spot on. Tom Keifer's vocal chord surgeries have paid off. They looked good, sounded good, but the night wasn't perfect. Why, you ask? The audience! It is time to learn the basics of concert attendance.

1. Smoke on the Water. I have no issue with cigarette smoke. Despite having allergies and asthma, it does not bother me that much. What does bother me is being in tight quarters and nearly taking a cigarette in my eye, arm, leg, or any other exposed body part. Be aware of your surroundings and the people you're sharing them with. My neighbors at the concert, for the record, were very courteous smokers. They attempted to blow their smoke up and not in my face. They also kept their cigs away from my skin. The lady in front of me, however, was nearly getting burned all night.

2. Know your audience. Crowd surfing is not status quo at a Cinderella concert and because of that fact I don't feel sorry for the guy who landed on his face when he got dropped on his face. Crowd surfing was okay at a Pearl Jam show---in 1994 but not here.

3. Hold your liquor. I, personally, have never understood the point of getting drunk at concerts. Tickets are normally expensive so why would you want to drink so much that you don't even remember the show? Just drink yourself into a stupor at home. It will be cheaper and you won't get your ass kicked by 1,000 people. But I digress. If you insist on drinking, don't get so drunk that you are infringing on other peoples' experience.

4. Be on time. Don't show up in the middle of the opening act and feel entitled to shove your way to the front. Not everyone can be in the front row so just deal with it. You wouldn't sit in someone's lap at a theatre just because they got better seats than you so why do this at a concert? Again, you're just going to end up getting your ass kicked.

5. Don't talk to strangers. I enjoyed talking to the lady last night about the time she saw Cinderella when she was 19 and the lady at the Tesla concert who who has seen them 100 times. I did not enjoy the guy who kept talking to me last night though. He was with his girlfriend and she was getting annoyed. I was also getting annoyed. If you're there with your girl or guy, don't make conversation with the opposite sex unless your partner is involved in that conversation. You're going to end up starting a fight.

6. Stay together. If you've gone to a concert with friends or family, stay together. Last night one woman was frantically trying to get to the front row to talk to her grandson. This did not go over so well. Don't expect special treatment just because your grandson, especially a near-adult grandson, is there and you are looking for him.

7. A final word. Let me just describe two girls from last night's concert: they were totally trashed, jumping up and down non-stop, spilling beer on their neighbors, nearly headbutting the people behind them while they were flailing around, sitting on the barricade resulting in being yelled at by the bouncers and nearly falling over, constantly talking to their neighbors, and asking for lighters. Several people had to yell at them. This was all before the opening acts even got to the stage. If you can avoid behaving this way, you'll be okay.

What are your rules for concerts? Share with us your crazy concert stories!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Contest Time: Reese Witherspoon's In Bloom Perfume!

Allure Magazine recently posted readers' favorite products and Reese Witherspoon's In Bloom by Avon was voted as a favorite. It just so happens that I have a full sized bottle to give away!

If you want to win, post a comment telling me what is your current favorite fragrance. On Friday July 2, I will draw a name and you'll be the big winner.

By the way, this contest is not sponsored by Avon. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day was last Sunday and I hope you all got to honor or remember your dad, your grandpa, or your mom who was also your dad. I spent a nice Sunday with my dad. I wanted to honor my dad here because he is a great guy. So, without delay, here is why my dad is so awesome:

1. He was never afraid to show his affection. Songs have been sung and books have been written by children whose dads never said "I love you." This is not to say that these dads didn't love their kids, they just never said it. Not my dad. He always told me he loves me and gave me hugs and kisses and he still does. When I leave their house after a visit now, I still get a kiss on the cheek and hug.

2. He cooks and cleans! While growing up, my dad cooked a big breakfast every Sunday and often cooked dinner. He also did the dishes and other things around the house. There was never a boundary set in our household of a "woman's job" and a "man's job". Everyone did whatever needed to be done. And sorry Mom, but Dad is still the better cook.

3. He was here when I needed him. Knowing my dad like I do, he would probably say that he worked too hard and wishes he could have spent more time with me when I was a kid. Despite the fact that he always worked hard for his family, my childhood memories are not of him being gone a lot. My memories are of the time he played Barbies with me and didn't mind when he had to be the scary Brooke Shields doll and the time he tried to fix one of my Barbie doll's legs by using a lighter and the freezer...and it worked! I remember playing Checkers with him and watching football on Sundays.

I also remember spending hours listening to music with my dad. Barry Manilow, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Aerosmith...we listened to everything and I really loved this. If you know me, you know how much I love music and how important it is to me. My love of music is from my dad.
4. He was a patient teacher. This might be hard for some of you to believe, but I was not always such a skilled driver. Once upon a time, I failed my driving test---4 times. My dad very patiently kept working with me. We practiced every weekend and after school he would let me drive home while he sat in the passenger's seat. He even had me pump our gas because he told me that it was part of driving and something I needed to know how to do. I'm thankful that my dad was patient and wanted me to be independent and capable.

5. He's a proud dad and he doesn't care who knows. In high school, I visited my dad's job to shadow one of his co-workers and I soon learned that everyone in the building knew everything about me. They knew what I was interested in, they knew about my activities, they knew I was smart and I could go on and on here. I suspect if I visited him at work, now at 32, it would be no different. He has always been proud of who I am and no matter what I did, I always felt like he loved me for who I am. Well, Dad the feeling is mutual. I love you and I'm proud to be your daughter.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What more could a teacher ask for?

Today is the last day of school and a parent sent me this e-mail:

I wanted to thank you for everything you done for my son all school year. He couldn’t have asked for a better teacher then you. You always made him feel good about himself. There are times that is hard to do. You are so very special to us.

The last day of school is so sad! :-(

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chaos at Conklin Dairy Farms

I'm not much for public protesting (I would have made a bad hippy) and I'm definitely not the violent type (that would have made me a good hippy) but I was beyond outraged by the Conklin Dairy Farm abuse video that has been in the news lately. My methods of protesting usually involve letter writing and not buying the products. The letters I can do but not buying the products might be tricky.

Despite searching on the internet, I have not been able to figure out to where Conklin Dairy Farms distributes their products. If I am going to continue consuming animal products I would rather support farms who do not abuse their animals. As a consumer, I am finding it slightly disturbing how difficult it is to find out where our food is coming from.

If you read this, I urge you not to make threats or worse, carry out those threats. Instead, contact your local media and grocery stores and hit Conklin Dairy Farms where it will hurt the most: the wallet. And be nice to your animals. In the mean time, I'm giving serious thought to a vegan diet.

"...what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." Matthew 25:45

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I May Leave Facebook and Why I Might Not

With May 31 being heralded at Quit Facebook Day, I've been thinking about whether or not I want to leave. I thought I would look at the things that annoy me about Facebook before I decide. I am guilty of committing many of these Facebook sins but they annoy me all the same. If you're one of my Facebook friends, I'm (probably) not talking about you.

1. People complain about privacy but do nothing to help themselves. We all whine about Facebook's privacy settings being complicated or that we do not even really have privacy but then we're the ones oversharing with 600 of our "closest" friends. If you don't know all of your "friends" VERY well you should probably reconsider posting your address and every picture you take of your kid.

2. Let's look at the oversharing again. No one wants to hear about your gas problems or read along while you fight with your boyfriend on Facebook. It isn't worthwhile. It isn't cute. It isn't funny. It's annoying.

3. Speaking of not caring... The posts on Facebook get mundane. I know that that is kind of the point. Tell us what you're doing and all of that but after awhile the pointless updates get annoying. Some people seem to post every thought they have and it's annoying.

4. If you're going to be mundane, at least stop after one post. Facebook users post about the same thing over and over and over again. I don't care if it's your job, your kids, or your garden; no one wants to read 10 posts about it. Change it up a little bit. I just know there is more to you than that one subject you post about non-stop.

5. Ego Alert! For the first 1-4 reasons I listed, Facebook has become ego central. Admit it, there has to be some egocentric behavior going on for us to think that anyone cares about the bottle of perfume we bought or that the dog just went for a walk. I admit that I'm guilty of this, too. I also realize that this is Facebook's point. However, that doesn't detract from the fact that we go overboard with these types of posts.

6. Coy Status Updates. We've all seen these posts. "Thanks for all the support." "I can't believe that happened!" or my favorite, "My life is falling apart!!!" And nothing more. The poster doesn't come right out and say what's on their mind so instead they type of a mysterious status update. I can only assume that the poster just wants attention/sympathy. If you don't want to tell us, don't post about it at all. Simple as that.

Since I bashed Facebook, it's only fair I tell what I like.

1. Old friends. It is interesting to connect with old friends and see what they're up to. Facebook can definitely be a great way to keep in touch with old and new friends.

2. I'm Nosy. This is no secret to anyone out there but yes, I am very nosy and Facebook can be like the ultimate bathroom cabinet to rummage through since everyone tells their whole life story.

3. Deals. In addition to being nosy, I'm cheap. There are deals to be had if you "like" companies that offer freebies. I've gotten free perfume and coupons through comapny's like Clinique and Bounce that have Facebook pages.

4. I really do care. Despite the fact that I don't want to read 40 status updates all about your new couch, I do care about how you're doing. I also enjoy looking at your pictures. It's all about moderation and nothing in excess.

Do you agree with me on any of these points? What annoys you about Facebook? What do you like about it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio

The first time I heard Dio I was about 8 and I was pretty sure it was the worst music I had ever heard. My dad had the Sacred Heart album and I didn't get the appeal. If you know me at all, you know I'm a music lover and most of that is my father's influence (thanks, Dad because Mom was no help here at all) but Dio did not appeal to me until much later.

The more I heard Ronnie James Dio sing over the years, the more I appreciated his dramatic vocal range and his fantasy-like songs that made me think about Lord of the Rings like characters and settings. I also appreciated his ability to quietly call out the establishment (a.k.a. The Man), be it organized religion or politicians. I also grew to love Black Sabbath under his vocal influence far better than Ozzy's reign.

Beyond music, Ronnie James Dio seemed like a down-to-earth guy who fully recognized that music was meant to be fun and entertaining. His interviews were always amusing and it was clear that he enjoyed what he did.

Thanks for music, Ronnie. Now go do yourselves a favor and check out RJD and Yngwie Malmsteen cover Aerosmith's "Dream On" here. You'll never need to hear Steven Tyler do this song again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Irresponsible Pet Owners

Just moments ago I was certain there was a serial killer in my yard. Roxi unleashed a ferocious bark that was only justified if an intruder was lurking around. Of course, I went downstairs to see what the fuss was and I saw an intruder in the form of a very fat white and orange tabby cat.

I see stray animals all the time and being an animal lover, I feel so sad for these lost little things. But this time I'm going to push that aside and scold pet owners. The intruder cat looked well-fed and had tags. I hate to assume but I am guessing that this cat is allowed to roam free and that makes me mad and now you're going to find out why.

1. I don't want your cat in my yard. If I had nice flowers, which I don't, I wouldn't want a cat using them as a litter box, a toy, or whatever else a cat might use them for.

2. I don't want my 80 pound dogs to eat your cat. I'm glad my dogs were inside when the visitor was in our yard. Cats are fast but if this cat had not been fast enough I would have felt very guilty.

3. I don't want my dogs getting their eyes scratched out. My dogs belong in my yard, your cat does not. If my dogs would have gotten injured I would have been beyond angry.

4. The world is filled with weirdos. I am sure you can find article after article in a newspaper or the internet about animals who get used for God-knows-what.

I know that animals can easily slip past an open door and I sympathize with all of the people out there who have missing pets. I would be devastated if any of my animals were lost but when people knowingly let their animals roam the streets that is just irresponsible and inflicting your pet on to other people. Keep your pets inside!

Quick Disappointments: Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan's Candy Bar is an upscale candy store created by Dylan Lauren, Ralph's daughter. I've yet to try Dylan's actual candy but I scored some of her lip balm on the cheap at T.J. Maxx recently.

The balms come in the should-be yummy flavors of Strawberry Licorice, Coconut Bon Bon, Birthday Cake Batter, and Chocolate Cupcake. Despite these tasty sounding balms, they really have no taste at all. Not only that, they don't stay on your lips long. If you find them cheap, go for it but I wouldn't spend too much on these.

Dylan Lauren should stick to candy. Or should she? Is her candy any good at least? Let me know if you've tried it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

It’s Mother’s Day! In honor of the day I wanted to spend some time telling you about my awesome mom.

My mom told me today that she was not a perfect parent to me and that she wished she would have done some things different. My response to this was well, who is perfect, parents or otherwise? Thinking about it, I think that some of these so-called “imperfections” were the key to my mom’s successful parenting.

My mom was the “cool mom”. One summer morning when I was 12 or 13, I woke up to find my friend Sara downstairs talking with my mom. Sara had not come to see me. She came to bring a coffee cake she had made for my mom. So what made my mom so cool that my friends would prefer her company? Did she let all the kids drink booze on her watch? Not a chance! My mom was cool because she was funny, she would talk and listen to my friends, and when you were at our house you knew she cared about you because she made you follow the rules.

My mom let me read anything I wanted. One of my 8th grade students desperately wants to read the Twilight series but her parents won’t let her. I think that this is a shame. I was allowed to read any thing I wanted when I was a kid and it made me a good reader, a book lover, and simply a more interesting person. I will never forget the time I was sitting in the hall outside my 5th grade classroom reading Testament by David Morrell (ever heard of Sly Stallone’s First Blood? Morrell wrote it.) when my principal came by and asked what I was reading. I was free to choose what I read and I still appreciate it so much. Reading took me to places I could never imagine and taught me about events and people, both real and imagined, that school would have bypassed. It isn’t the kids who are given the freedom to read what they want who push the limits, it’s usually the kids who are censored.

My mom let me listen to anything I wanted. I should start by saying that my mom should be grateful for this because my love of good music meant that she never had to endure a New Kids on the Block phase with me. You’re welcome, Mom. I was that kid you were jealous of who had Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue albums in the 5th grade. These records did not come without a conversation though. Usually it involved my mom laying it out for me that a lot of these musicians make risqué music to make a buck because it’s controversial. This meant that I wasn’t blasting it through the house just for shock value and I had perspective to see through gimmicks. I truly believe that these conversations are why I don’t fall for everything I read, see, and hear.

My mom let me be. I wasn’t forced into activities or sports that I didn’t want to do. My mom was no soccer mom and I am so thankful for that. My mom also did not dictate who my friends were. Many of my friends were having sex, drinking, smoking, and taking drugs by middle school. I never did any of these things. I was a free thinker and my mom trusted me. That isn’t to say that I never got in trouble or that my mom didn’t keep tabs on me, but I was raised to believe that there was more to life than keeping up with my friends. Most of the time, my friends thought I was pretty neat for doing my own thing and sometimes I faced exclusion. My mom trusted and respected me enough to know that I would make the right choices and I usually did. By letting me be myself, I found out who I was at an early age and had a strong sense of self awareness.

Mom, thanks for being you and letting me be me. Happy Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thanks, Emily

Despite being a huge poetry lover and an English teacher, I forgot that April is National Poetry Month. Allow me to make amends.

I got into poetry at a very young age when I found a poetry book in the trash. It had been a textbook once upon a time but it opened a new world to me. In poetry, your words could be shaped like an animal or a diamond, you didn't have to use capitalization or punctuation or proper grammar. If the poet really knew what he or she was doing they could use poetry to make you cry or laugh. A good poet can even make high school tolerable. Here are a few of my favorite poems. Enjoy.

The Bistro Styx by Rita Dove

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda

Facebook is still a choice, right?

Did Facebook become required? What did I miss? Assuming we still have a choice on whether or not to use Facebook, I'm curious as to why a bunch of bored Senators feel the need to whine about it to the extent of possibly involving the Federal Trade Commission. After all, with immigration issues, unemployment, and oh yeah, a WAR I guess this is all we have to worry about and spend tax dollars on.

My understanding is that Facebook is making some changes that would expose some information such as interests, location, and friends to places that can advertise to you. Yes, this sucks. The last thing I need is another ad for some hipster nightclub that I'd never frequent to pop up. However, if it really bugs me that much I can stop using Facebook. And guess what, Senators? So can you! And if Facebook users are not tech savvy enough as, the article states, to figure out how to set their privacy options then maybe they should not be on Facebook to begin with.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Summer of Jenny

When George Costanza lost his job one summer he declared it "The Summer of Geroge". During that summer, George set out to do the things he wanted. While I have not lost my job, this will be the first summer in 16 years that I have not worked. Here are some things I am thinking about doing:

1. Take a cooking class. My neighborhood Michael's offers baking lessons and Parks and Rec offers an inexpensive cooking class to residents. I might learn some new techniques for baking. Even better, maybe I can learn to cook something that both Brian and I will eat!

2. Yoga/Pilates/Dance. Parks and Rec also offer these classes for much less than a studio. I could use a little fitness and relaxation in my life. If I opt for a dance class, I will need a partner. Any takers?

3. Fix up the house. For a 34 year old house, my place is in great shape. We've lived here for nearly 6 years so it is time for an update on the paint. Our couch is almost 10 years old so some new furniture is also in order. I want to experiment with some brave colors, too.

4. Teach an old dog new tricks. My pups can do lots of things. Roll over, crawl, sit, shake, play dead. But German Shepherds are smart and need their brains stimulated almost constantly or they get bored and do bad things. It's time for the dogs to learn some new things.

5. Write. I love to write but admittedly I don't write as often as I should. I have good ideas that need to move from my brain to the paper.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Colby the Dog

In November, Colby went to the vet for a routine teeth cleaning. A few hours after dropping him off, I got a call from the vet saying that they found something strange with his bloodwork. His white blood cell count was around 3.5 and this was too low. And everything has sucked since. Part of me wishes I never would have taken him for that cleaning and the other part of me is happy that I did.

When I picked him up that day the vet sent him home with a prescription for an antibiotic, hoping that maybe it was just an infection. After he was finished with the antibiotics, his WBC count was still low and we began talking about doing a bone marrow aspiration. The process sounded painful so I opted to try more medicine. We also did an x-ray and it showed a seemingly healthy dog. Colby got another round of antibiotics and prednisone. The prednisone brought his WBC count back up and I was thrilled. He was scheduled for an allergy shot and a recheck on his blood about 3 weeks later. I was hopeful that the WBC count would still be high but I knew it was too good to be true.

His WBC count, as of yesterday, is 1.15 in the neutrophils and he is scheduled for the bone marrow aspiration Monday. The vet also told me that his neutrophils looked odd under a microscope. He seems doomed but he energetic, happy, loves to eat still Good signs, right?

I'm not sure what to think at this point. Is he reacting to the allergy shots? Does he have cancer? I have no idea but I hope we get some answers. In the mean time, I am going to try to make him as comfortable as I can. The whole thing has me totally depressed though. I'm anxious for some answers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Got brass in pocket

A few days ago I dug out an old coat just for a change of pace. I never wore this coat very often so it is still in good condition. Once I slid my hands into the pocket, I found a treasure trove of old goodies to share with my dear readers.

1. Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon lotion. If you have shopped at Bath and Body Works over the years then you know just how old this label is.
2. Laerdal Face Shield. I remember getting this from a fire fighter who taught a CPR class I took while working at a child care center. This face shield is supposed to prevent you from getting cooties if you have to perform CPR. I remember the fire fighter told us a good story about a stripper who tried to sue him because he had to cut her clothes when giving her CPR after the OD'd. She didn't win.
3. $3.47 I love finding money in my pockets!
4. Subway Club Card and 5. Subway Club Card Stamps. I'll have to see if Subway still does this promo. I have a feeling they don't.
6. Cough drops and 7. Cough drop wrapper. I bet I would find cough drops in every coat pocket I own. I always have a cold.
8. Three receipts. These receipts are the best part of the entire find. All three receipts are dated from 2003 and two of them are from Big Bear. If you're from around these parts then you know it's been a while since Big Bear has been around. It was a blast from the past to say the least!
9. Cryptic piece of paper with a license plate written down. No clue whose plate number this is or why I felt compelled to jot it down.
10. Postage stamps. I always hate getting 1 and 3 cent stamps. I know I'll never use them but I feel guilty throwing the away. So what do I do? Let them fester in my coat pockets.

There you have it, folks: the contents of an old coat. So go dig out an old coat and come back and tell us what's in your pocket.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You Suck

In 2 hours I see the surgeon for my first post-op follow up appointment. Rumor has it they are sucking the boogies out of my nose since I have not been allowed to blow them out myself for the last week. Having a tube stuck up my nostrils scares me to no end. In any event, things should feel better afterwards. I'm making Brian watch!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cuts like a knife

After years of sinus problems I final went under the knife and had surgery.

When I was a kid, I had horrible allergies that kept me sick most of the time. I remember the weekly allergy shots and frequently sitting out in gym class for fear of hacking up a lung. As I moved into my pre-teen and teen years, the allergies turned into sinus problems and I was sicker than ever.

Taking a job in a 100 year old school, in the basement was the last straw for my nose. I spent the entire school year plagued with sinus infections. After a visit to the ER in June with near-pneumonia, I finally made an appointment with an ENT. I had a CT scan done, at the height of my sinus infection and it showed a bent septum and sinuses that received no oxygen. Surgery for septoplasty, turbinate reduction, and sinuses was scheduled and after putting it off some, I had it done on January 7.

Brian and I arrived at the ENT hospital around 8 am and checked in. After waiting for a few minutes, I was taken to the pre-operating room and Brian was not able to come with me. I gave him a kiss then headed back with the nice nurse. I was weighed, given my lovely dressing gown and surgery cap, an IV was slapped in my hand, and I was good to go.

The surgeon's resident came by to answer my questions and had me sign a release form. He told me that he himself had a septoplasty done two weeks ago and that he was back at work the next day. I appreciate that he was trying to ease my nervousness but after having the surgery, I have to call BS on being at work the next day. I signed the form, promising not to sue and away Billy the Bad Ass resident went. A few more nurses visited me and the anetheseologist. Finally, the surgeon stopped by and let me know that surgery would be happening soon. My doctor was able to put me at ease by informing me that not only would there not be packing, but there would also be no splints. I was ready for surgery right then and there after hearing that.

The anetheseologist came back again with a new nurse. He pulled out two vials and said "here comes the good stuff!" I don't remember much after that. Apparently, the "good stuff" was the anethesia and the next thing I know, I'm waking up to a spinning room, about two hours later.

For whatever reason, the only time I run a fever is when I have surgery. When I woke up a nurse was rubbing a wet cloth over my face and chest. She gave me some ice chips and I prayed that I would not vomit. Not only does vomiting suck but it also keeps you in the hospital longer.

Eventually Brian got to come back and I was able to keep my Sprite down so they released me. I found out lots of things about my sinuses. One good thing was that the sinuses were not as bad as originally believed. However, I had two cysts that were removed. The major problems came from the septum. 90% of my airway was blocked by the septum, resulting in a lack of oxygen and a breeding ground for infections.

For the first few nights, sleeping was difficult. I needed a 45 degree angle and that just isn't comfortable. Not to mention the bloody nose. The doctor told me that by Saturday I will start feeling the pain so on Friday in anticipation, I took the prescribed pain killer. Lucky for me the pain never came. Instead of pain, I am mostly experiencing discomfort and extreme tiredness.

My nose is full of crusted over blood and shooting saline solution into my nose 30 times a day is helping with that. I'm dizzy and I have pressure on my forehead and sinuses. More or less, I feel like I have a bad sinus infection. But I'm not in pain, so I can handle one more "sinus infection". On Wednesday, I get my nose suctioned so we'll see how the pain is after that!

When I woke up in the hospital, I noticed right away that my breathing had already improved. My fear with this surgery was that I would go through all of this and experience no relief. I am already breathing better. I look forward to my progress over the next few months while I recover.