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Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 2011 Birchbox

I subscribe to two beauty subscription services, GoGoGirlfriend and Birchbox, which I have talked about before. I'm not sure that I want to keep subscribing to both, so I have decided that December would be the make it or break it month. With the holidays around the corner, I expected both services to turn out pretty good boxes for December. I haven't received my December GoGoGirlfriend box yet but Birchbox came yesterday. Let's take a peek.

ShowStoppers Designer Fashion Tape, $9.99 for 24 strips

Birchbox sent two of these to sample. ShowStoppers sticks to your clothes to hold them in place so you're not flashing your friends and strangers this New Years. Since my wardrobe consists of lots of denim and cotton, I will probably pass these on to someone who can use them. In fact, if you'd like these, be the first to leave a comment here requesting this sample and it's yours!

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional, $29 for 0.75 fl. oz.and Harvey Prince Ageless, $55 for 50 ml or $96 for 100 ml
Benefit makes great products and The POREfessional is no exception. The POREfessional will hide those unsightly pores  while providing the benefits of a velvety primer. Birchbox sent a 0.25 fl. oz. tube and this will last me a while. A little goes a long way with Benefit products.

Also in the photo is a sample of Harvey Prince's Ageless perfume. I'm not a perfume girl but this actually smells pretty wonderful. The notes are pink grapefruit, pomegranate and jasmine. Since I enjoy fruity perfumes this one is perfect for me.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, $40 for 50 ml and Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink, $20 for 0.21 oz.

I'm pretty excited to try this dry oil shimmer from Nuxe. You apply this to your face or body to give your skin a nice glow. You can even work a few drops into your hair for a subtle shimmer.

Jouer and Birchbox teamed up to create this lip gloss in Birchbox Pink. Birchbox Pink is a custom fuchsia. One coat gives you a nice semi-sheer pigment. If you're more daring, layer it for a more intense hot pink. I'm wearing this gloss right now and delighted to find that it isn't sticky.

EBOOST Orange Natural Energy Booster, $28 for 20 packets

Unfortuantely this is a product I will have to pass on due to my current health state. EBOOST promises a mega dose of nutrients with a tangy citrus taste. Be the first to leave a comment here requesting this sample and I will send it your way!

The verdict: I really enjoyed December's Birchbox. I might compare it to what GoGoGirlfriend sends out to make a final decision, but for now I'm keeping Birchbox.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pound Puppies and the Owners Who Love Them

I visit Just Another Pretty Farce and ran across an interesting article that I'm surprised I agree with. Blogger Kat advised her readers against getting shelter dogs. Despite having a shelter dog, I agree with her.

Colby, our 10 year old Husky-German Shepherd-Rottweiler, came to our home six years ago after living in an animal shelter after his family gave him up. He is our first dog and he came with some surprises.

First, he loves to eat paper. Newspaper, magazines, boxes, books...if it's paper, he will eat it. On one of his first paper munching adventures, he managed to eat my hard-to-find copy of Ka-Tzetnik's House of Dolls and a book signed by John Irving. He aims for the good stuff.

Colby napping after making a mess.

Second, Colby has some unique health issues. He has blisters under his tongue, compulsively licks his front paws, has a low white blood cell count and a seizure disorder. After spending money and visiting an expert vet or two, no one can explain why he has any of these problems. Talk about frustrating.

So why do I keep this old pound puppy with his host of medical issues? 

If you've ever met him, and many of my readers have, you know what makes him special. Despite having what seems to be a lot of illnesses, Colby is a happy dog and if he's sick, he doesn't know it. He keeps up with our 4 year old German Shepherd quite easily; tugging on toys and chasing her in the yard. He loves to play and for a hot dog, he'll do any trick he knows. Not only does he make me happy, but people around us love him as well. He's gentle to everyone. We have a list of people who have seriously told us that they would take him if we ever needed to find him a new home and children have named their stuffed dogs in his honor. Plain and simple, he is just a big, loveable dog. He even loves our cat.

Colby and Frankie, waiting for food together.

Despite my love for Colby, I still advise that you avoid getting a dog from the shelter IF you are not ready to spend extra money and possibly deal with some behavior issues. You might save money up front but, in the long run, it might be far more expensive. Too many dogs end up back at the shelter or misplaced because the owners were not prepared for the commitment. If you are ready to love and care for an animal despite the problems it may have, the shelter is the right place to get your pet.

So do I regret getting a dog with so many issues? Not even a little bit. He makes me smile everyday and I can't put a price on that.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Ballad of Bert and Ernie

Have any of you seen this petition going around to get Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street married? The original intention of Bert and Ernie was to show how two people, or puppets in this case, can get along despite being very different. I see no reason for Bert and Ernie to get married because they are busy teaching children a very important lesson. I know I'd be mighty bored if all of my friends were exactly like me! And, really, Ernie is just not mature enough for such a commitment. But should Sesame Street even have a same sex couple at all? You bet your gay pride flag they should!

One thing people at a Facebook forum pointed out is that Sesame Street should be about teaching letters, numbers, colors and shapes but not sexuality. Fair enough. I agree with that. However, how is it that a heterosexual couple (i.e. Maria and Luis) isn't teaching sexuality but a homosexual couple is suddenly teaching sexuality? Are straight married couples not having sex? Population stats beg to differ.

But why not show a same-sex couple, raising their children on the Street? They don't have to announce they're homosexual any more than we expect Maria and Luis to shout, "Hey, y'all, we're straight!" Just show them existing like the normal people they are. Sesame Street has always been about diversity and acceptance of the people around you. Homosexual and heterosexual people are part of our world.

I know some of you out there might be saying "But I think it's wrong to be gay." Of course you are entitled to this opinion, but even if you think it's wrong to be homosexual that doesn't change the fact that we often have to co-exist with people who are different. Don't we want our children to still be respectful of others and able to deal with a variety of people? That isn't a skill you can suddenly teach at the age of 10 or 13 or whatever age we think they can handle such information. Kindness, I'm not even talking about acceptance here, has to be taught at a young age.

So, let's let Bert and Ernie be the goofy roommates they've always been and let's teach our children that not all families are the same.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birchbox is here!

You know how it kind of sucks to go to the mail box. You know what I mean....junk mail, junk mail, bills, bills, BILLS! Right? Well, I went to my mail box yesterday and found this...

My first Birchbox had arrived!

If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, Birchbox is a service that lets you get make-up samples each month for a monthly or annual fee. They have a couple of pricing structures to choose from. I pay $10 per month. With the monthly option, I can cancel any time I want. You can always pre-pay for a whole year and get a slight discount. If you pay for a year, you can't cancel but you can transfer the membership. My plan is to try it for a few months to see if it is worth it.

Look at that lovely packaging. I love boxes I can reuse.

Let's get to the good part...what was in this month's box?

1. Tatcha Blotting Papers. I received three handmade sheets. I'm really excited to try this. I've been a blotting paper fan since high school.

2. Herban Essentials Orange Towelettes. I'm a messy gal, so I can always use towelettes.

3. Kate Spade Twirl Perfume. I'm not much of a perfume person so a little sample like this will last me a while.

4. Pureology Strengthening Control Zero Dulling Hairspray. This is a nice sized sample. This will last me quite a while.

5. Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Comfortable Body Cream. .50 oz. will do me a while. Perfect for sticking in my purse.

6. Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Glisten.You can never have too many lip glosses.

So there you have it, folks. My very first Birchbox. Overall, I'm pretty happy with this month's goodies. There are lots of brands in here that I've never tried and a good mix of products. I also have to thank Kaye over at Save Those Cents for letting me know about Birchbox. Kaye knows how much I love my make-up.

With next month's Birchbox, we're going to do a little contest so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge

If you're on Facebook then you have most likely seen the 30 Day Song Challenge. This is where each day for---you guessed it---30 days you tell about a song. Easy enough. While I like reading these on Facebook, I don't like to post them on Facebook. So, I'm bringing it to The Study Guide and I won't drag it out over 30 days. Here we go!

day 01 - your favorite song: Regret by New Order

This is a tough one. I go back and forth between Regret and Age of Consent as favorites by New Order. Regret has a slight edge for me in the best song department. It's well written (which isn't always the case for New Order songs), sounds fresh and even the video is still gorgeous after 18 years.

day 02 - your least favorite song: Firework by Katy Perry

I'm sure there are far worse songs but this is my least favorite song right now. I only know about this song because I teach 8th graders and they love this woman. I don't get the Katy Perry love at all.

day 03 - a song that makes you happy: Friday, I'm in Love by The Cure

Who would have thought The Cure could make such a happy little song? 

day 04 - a song that makes you sad: Vincent by Don McLean

This song gets me every time. "Vincent" is about Vincent Van Gogh and the lyrics to this song paint a clear picture of his struggles.

day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone: All the Small Things by Blink 182

This song reminds me of Brian. In fact, any song by this band reminds me of him. One night, about 12 years ago, Brian dragged me to a bad party at his work back when we were just friends and I accidently broke this CD. I loathe this band but I swear it was an accident. I was classy and sent him a new copy.

day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere: Mambo Italiano by Dean Martin

This song reminds me of an Italian restaurant in Chicago that I ate at when I was about 19. It was my first visit to Chicago and my friends and I wanted to have a "fancy" dinner on our last night. This song was playing at dinner. I only wish could remember the name of the restaurant.

day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event: American Girl by Trisha Yearwood

Every time I hear this song I think of the first time I got stopped for speeding. I was driving to the library and singing along with this song. Apparently I was so into Trisha that I didn't notice that my speed was a bit much for the suburbs.

day 08 - a song that you know all the words to: Take it on the Run by REO Speedwagon

I know the words to lots of songs. In fact, knowing lyrics might be my only skill but I can belt this song out like no other.

day 09 - a song that you can dance to: Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson

I took a jazz dance class -once- and she taught us a routine to this song. If I think really hard, I might remember how to dance a little to it.

day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep: Moonlight Drive by The Doors

I used to fall asleep almost every night listening to the Strange Days record. This is a relaxing song and still one of my all-time favorite Doors' song.

day 11 - a song from your favorite band: Send Away the Tigers by Manic Street Preachers

Powerful song that's meant to be heard in a stadium. If I lived in England, which I should, I could hear this in a stadium. I settled to hear it in a bar in Detroit with 200 people in the crowd and it was amazing.

day 12 - a song from a band you hate: I Hope, I Think, I Know by Oasis

I hate Oasis but I adore this song. I'm pretty sure I remember Bono saying to the press that Liam Gallagher had the voice of an angel but he was an asshole. That about sums up my feelings on him as well but I really like this tune.

day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure: See day 14.

day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love: Sexyback by Justin Timberlake

Confession time. I love Justin Timberlake. I like his music. I like this movies. I like him. I find him charming and funny. I can't help it.

day 15 - a song that describes you: I have no idea. If you know of a song that describes me, please chime in.

day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate: Jane Says by Jane's Addiction

I hit Jane's Addiction pretty hard in high school and early on in college. This was one of my favorite songs and now I don't care for it all that much. I probably don't hate it exactly but it has definitely worn thin on me. I blame Brian for my falling out with Jane's Addiction. He played them a lot when we started dating, resulting in me getting tired of them. I've just never warmed back up to them. Maybe I need to unearth Ritual de lo Habitual. 

day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio: Country Bone by Blake Shelton

I've been listening to a lot of country and bluegrass lately. Every time I listen to a country station I hear this song.

day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio: I would take any song by the Manic Street Preachers

Even with XM, I still don't hear them on the radio.

day 19 - a song from your favorite album: Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses by U2

There isn't a bad song on this album and it was U2's last strong effort. This song always stood out to me and how hot are Bono and Larry in the video? 

day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry:  Yes by Manic Street Preachers

I listen to this song pretty much any time I'm angry or even just annoyed, which is often.

day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy: Mint Car by The Cure

The Cure is so good when they're happy.

day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad: West Coast by Coconut Records

Great for a sad or pensive mood.

day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding: I've already had my wedding so I will leave this one blank. Unless I start prepping for wedding #2.
day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral: Changes by David Bowie

It just seems appropriate. This song feels happy and solemn at the same time, which I think often sums up funerals. And I like David Bowie so if you end up being in charge of my funeral, play this.

day 25 - a song that makes you laugh: John Deere Green by Joe Diffie

Any song with heroes named Billy Bob and Charlene is worth at least a smile or two.

day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

I refuse to tell you what instrument I can play this on. Since you know what I do for a living then you can probably guess.

day 27 - a song that you wish you could play: Just about any song would fit this category, as long as it isn't Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I have no musical skills.

day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty: ?

I'm confused by this question. Is this another guilty pleasure song or a song that illicits guilt?

day 29 - a song from your childhood: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

My mother tells tales of me be-bopping to this song at the young age of 1 or 2. It was evident at a young age that I would like good music.

day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year: Hmmm...probably something by Weezer.

I got super-obsessed with them around this time last year. I'm getting over it though.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Can you believe they let me help hire someone?

I hate job interviews. I sweat, my face turns red and I probably end up blurting out several stupid things to the interviewer. Recently my principal asked me to assist in the interview process of hiring new teachers for the next school year. For once I was happy to be on the other side of that conference table. Since I know that you probably hate interviews as much as I do, I thought I would share some insights that might help you during your next interview.

1. Who's the boss? When my colleagues and I went around the table to introduce ourselves, we gave our titles which consisted of the following: a principal, an assistant principal, a counselor and two teachers. You might think the principals were the people to impress since they would have the final say. Little did the candidates know, my principal told little ol' me that since I would be most impacted by the choice of candidate he would go with whom I preferred. When you're at a round table interview make eye contact with everyone, shake all hands and assume that any one of those people could have the final word.

2. Oh no. You just said something really stupid. Now your face is red, you're stuttering and the interviewer looks as if she might call security to have you escorted from the premises. You might as well walk out of that interview right now and write this one off, right? Wrong! All of my fellow interviewers were sympathetic to the nervous flubs because we've all been there. The key is to shake off whatever faux pas you think you made and move forward. In fact, the person I liked the best started out the weakest. He looked as if he was going to melt into a giant slime ball of sweat but not before putting us to sleep by his answers. He relaxed, moved forward with the questions and ended up impressing everyone.

3. All is not well just yet. You really can screw up and here's how:

-You know how all those job interview help sites tell you not to put down your previous employer when you're asked why you're leaving your current job? Take that advice then take it a step further. Don't insult anyone or any profession.

-Honesty isn't always the best policy. If your honest answer makes you sound like a jerk, think of something else to say

Happy job hunting! I hope some of these insights help you as you find your calling.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Netflix for Books

Brian asked me if I saw Don's tweet about BookSwim and at the mention of "books" I was instantly intrigued. Don described it as Netflix for books. Well, I love books and I love Netflix so this has to be awesome, right? Well, maybe a little awesome.

BookSwim allows you to borrow books that are delivered right to your door. If you purchase one of BookSwim's standard packages, you do not have to pay shipping. You can get 3 books per month for $23.95, 5 books for $29.95, 7 for $35.95 and 11 for $59.95 a month. If you just want one book a month, you can pay $9.99 but you will have to cough up $3.99 for shipping. Considering that a new hardback novel can cost more than the lowest price plan, this is a great deal if you frequently buy new books. For me, however, this is too expensive.

Despite being an avid reader, I rarely buy hardbacks new. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful public library system that is able to get new books very quickly. Half-Price Books is another great source for new and old books. If you do not have a strong library or a good used bookstore around, BookSwim might be a good option for you.

Another plus for BookSwim is that they have textbooks. If you're a student like me, this could end up being a great deal. Unfortunately my current $100+ textbook isn't at BookSwim yet.

For now, BookSwim isn't a good value for me. I will definitely keep checking them out to see if they change their price plans. Do any of you use BookSwim? Tell us about your experience.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's National Poetry Month!

Here it is, National Poetry Month, and I almost forgot about it. Fear not, I have a poem for you.

Today I give you one of my favorite poems, "Letter With No Address" by Poet Laureate, Donald Hall. This poem can be found in Without, a collection of poems Hall released after his wife, poet Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia. "Letter With No Address", like every other poem in Without, was written for Jane.

by Donald Hall

Your daffodils rose up
and collapsed in their yellow
bodies on the hillside
garden above the bricks
you laid out in sand, squatting
with pants pegged and face
masked like a beekeeper’s
against the black flies.
Buttercups circle the planks
of the old wellhead
this May while your silken
gardener’s body withers or moulds
in the Proctor graveyard.
I drive and talk to you crying
and come back to this house
to talk to your photographs.

At five A.M., when I walk outside,
mist lies thick on hayfields.
By eight the air is clear,
cool, sunny with the pale yellow
light of mid-May. Kearsarge
rises huge and distinct,
each birch and balsam visible.
To the west the waters
of Eagle Pond waver
and flash through popples just
leafing out.

Always the weather,
writing its book of the world,
returns you to me. Ordinary days were best,
when we worked over poems
in our separate rooms.
I remember watching you gaze
out the January window
into the garden of snow
and ice, your face rapt
as you imagined burgundy lilies.

Your presence in this house
is almost as enormous
and painful as your absence.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I stole this from another blog...

And I enjoy making lists


1. a really good book

2. something new to listen to

3. Seinfeld to be on Netflix

4. something sweet

5. graduation to get here

6. summer vacation

7. a winning lottery ticket

8. a farm

9. a pig

10. my current class to be over


1. New Order

2. U2

3. The Smiths

4. Joy Division

5. Weezer

6. The Doors

7. The Replacements/Paul Westerberg
8. David Bowie

9. Manic Street Preachers


1. brush my teeth

2. check email

3. wash my face

4. get kisses from my dogs

5. complain

6. read something

7. clean

8. work on something


1. books about music

2. singing in my car

3. a clean house

4. my pets

5. walking

6. driving

7. learning new things


1. humor

2. my dogs

3. a good song

4. intelligence

5. a good book

6. a tear jerker movie


1. The Royal Tenenbaums

2. Age of Consent (New Order)

3. On the Road (Jack Kerouac)

4. Pizza

5. Autumn


1. rain

2. cake

3. fruit

4. the inside of a new car


1. England

2. Russia

3. Alaska


1. Halloween

2. Thanksgiving


1. Already married him (...oh, and Spock from the new Star Trek movie)

Friday, April 8, 2011

What's with all the Barbie bashing?

Growing up, I was never very interested in baby dolls. I remember playing with the little dolls that came in boxes with different outfits. I confess, I just liked those dolls for all the little clothes. Baby dolls just didn't do it for me. I didn't have fun carrying them around, pretending to feed them, and who wants to change a diaper for fun? I didn't understand the appeal of baby dolls but Barbie made a lot of sense to me.

I got my first Barbie when I was about 4 as a bribe. I really, really wanted one. It just so happened that I had a nasty habit of biting my nails. My mom offered to get me my first Barbie if I would quit biting my nails. Easy enough. I got my doll and, to this day, I'm not a nail-biter.

I had all kinds of Barbie dolls but never any Ken dolls. My Barbie's boyfriends were much better than Ken. They were more attractive, had better jobs, treated her better than Ken ever could, and were all imaginary, of course. (Side note: Did Ken even have a job??) My Barbie also had several different jobs, depending on what held my interest at the time. Sometimes she was a musician, other times she was a detective or a doctor. Again, all imaginary. That's what Barbie is all about, right? Imagination? So, what's with all the articles and art projects putting real measurements and standards on a toy? Yes, a life-sized Barbie would be pretty scary but just about any toy would be equally frightening in real proportions. Take a deep breath. Barbie is just a toy.

Why is Barbie a great toy for girls?

Growing up, I never dreamed of my wedding day or of the children I was going to have. Lots of my friends did, but neither of those events held my interest. I never even wanted the bridal Barbies. Barbie dolls have been made in the image of rock stars, astronauts, doctors, teachers, and many other careers. She traveled and had houses in different places. Barbie was black, Asian, Native American, and embraced a multitude of diversity that goes beyond the blonde-blue eyed doll. And if I wanted my Barbie to have a baby, I folded up one of her clothes and stuck it under her shirt. Voila! Barbie's a mom. Barbie could do and be anything from your imagination.

Eating Disorders and Self-Esteem

Some of you know the horror of eating disorders from personal experience. Waking up every day, constantly tortured by what you put (or don't) put in your mouth is a nightmare for millions of women. Even if we're not starving ourselves, women find other forms of torture in the name of beauty. Plucking brows, waxing various body parts, high heels, plastic surgery...the list goes on and on. Are we really blaming this on a doll?

But, I hear some of you saying, Barbie will make our daughters grow up to think that this is how they should look! Do we really believe that? I believe that girls and women are smarter than this. I resent the fears that a toy will cause us to develop anorexia or self-esteem issues. This fear sends the message that girls and women are not bright enough to understand the difference between a toy and reality. I never played with Barbie dolls under the guise that I would look like her when I grew up and I bet none of my Barbie-playing readers thought they would either. If anything, Barbie is a blank slate; a vehicle for imagination. Please, give our daughters some credit.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bring it back! Discontinued foods that need to come back

Close your eyes and get ready to salivate with me because here is a list of foods and drinks I miss. Do you remember any of these?

New York Seltzer Water

I was drinking bottled water before it was cool. I remember these from the 80s when I was a kid. The lemon-lime variety was my favorite. They came in little glass bottles and the label was fun to peel off. I think they are still around in some places and if they ever come back to my grocery stores I will be in heaven.

Wendy's Pitas

Oh, that Wendy is a tricky one. She lured me to the Student Union every day at lunch for a Greek Pita then took them away from me. Wendy's had a few assorted pitas and they were all delicious. The pita bread was always thick and warm, the lettuce fresh. I remember making a mess with these. Lettuce all over the place but it was worth it. Can I start a petition for Wendy's to bring these back?


This restaurant is still around in Minnesota, which does me no good. I remember going there with my mom and dad way back when. Taco Bell replaced them in my town and Mexican food just hasn't been the same since. Zantigo had a special taste that I just haven't been able to find any place else. If I'm ever in Minnesota, this is my first stop! I can't even go to their website; it hurts too much.

Cafeteria Cookies

Only my high school friends will know what I'm talking about. The lovely lunch ladies at my old high school (Go Bobcats!) liked the food quick and greasy and so did I. The cookies were big and soft. In fact, I don't think they were cooked all the way but who doesn't like cookie dough. When I substituted at my high school several years ago I made sure to buy one of these before I left for the day.

Nestle Crunch Bars-White Chocolate!

Are you guys noticing a theme? I seem to really miss junk food. I haven't had one of these since I was a kid and I'm not sure when they went away but they were so good. It was a Nestle Crunch bar in white chocolate form. Everything is better when it's white chocolate.

Your turn! What tasty food and drinks do you wish they'd bring back?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great Make-Up Deals at CVS Today!

CVS was full of 75% off make-up today! Usually the colors/shades no one really wants it what is on sale. Not today! My local CVS had an assortment of colors, shades, and brands 75% off. If you have some coupons you might be able to do even better. Take a look at what I got. Click the image to enlarge.