Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lake Michigan

I'd never been to any of the Great Lakes before. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Michigan, Muskegon specifically, for the wedding of one of my best friends. She'd raved about the Lake Michigan and how nice it was, but I had no idea until I'd actually visited just how fabulous it actually is!

I love the beach for the sand and the view, but I don't like salt water. I love the fresh water and crystal clarity that so many lakes have, but they don't have the waves, tide, and never-ending view that oceans offer. The Great Lakes are ideal! They have the fresh water and crystal clarity of the lakes I love (such as Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire), plus the never-ending water view, waves, and tide that come with oceans. The sand actually felt softer than the sand at the beach as well. I only had a couple of hours in the lake, but I can't wait to head back again!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mad City Soap/Mad City Sue

I love to make bath and body products, but sometimes I don't feel like making them, or sometimes I want a product in a fragrance I don't have and don't want to order a bottle of fragrance oil. When that happens, I turn to stores and e-tailers. I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to trying some of these e-tailers. I once ordered from an e-tailer, who had a lot of good recommendations, and I was turned pink from the bath fizz! She immediately refunded me my money when I e-mailed her and sent her pictures, but admitted she hadn't tested the new dye.

One e-tailer from whom I've ordered several times and not had any problems is Mad City Sue on Etsy. Her products are scented strongly enough that I can smell it on myself all day, but I haven't had anyone tell me the scent is too strong. Her sugar scrubs are so moisturizing that even my super dry skin doesn't need moisturizer after using it. The scrubs are the perfect consistency to exfoliate well, be scoopable, and not make a mess everywhere. I also love her iCream (a little goes a LONG way) and her shower parfaits.

Note: She doesn't sell meltable products over the summer because they melt, so some products will be leaving her site for a few months soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Netflix Wii Watch Instantly Disc

I love my Netflix account, but if I'm honest I am more likely to use the "Watch Instantly" feature than I am to watch the actual discs. The problem with this has been that I had to use my computer to watch things instantly unless I bought a Blu-Ray that was Netflix-ready, bought a Tivo that was Netflix-ready, or a converter box. All of those options required more money than I wanted to spend when I had DVR through my cable company and a perfectly good DVD player and other things I'd rather spend my money on than a converter box.

Netflix came out with this great idea to have discs that you put into your video game system and you can use your video game system to stream the movies instantly. They are free and so easy to register! My Wii disc came in a couple of weeks ago and I'm using my Netflix more now than ever.

The video quality isn't bad. It's not as good as HD, but it's better than watching it on the computer. I'd stay it's about the same quality as a non-digital TV station. I also haven't had the buffering problems that I tend to get when I watch the Netflix instant movies on the computer, so that's a huge plus! I don't think it's a problem at all to have to use the disc in the Wii to watch the movies, but I only have one TV so nobody would be able to use the Wii while watching a Netflix movie anyway. The sound is a little quieter than when I watch TV, but it's not bad. I keep my TV at volume 13 for regular TV watching and have to bump it up to 19 to watch the Netflix movies.

Here's how it works.

1. You put in the disc and bring up the Netflix disc just as you would any disc.

2. You get a little menu while it's loading to show you how to work the remote to select titles.

3. You'll get the Instant Queue menu so you can browse the titles you've already selected. This is connected to your online account (and I have the iPhone app, and it'll load anything you've added from either of those places).

4. If you click on the picture, it'll pop up with this menu which has the rating, a summary, and buttons to click on to play the movie or remove it from your queue.

5. I just found out that you can also select new movies while using the disc! If you look at the picture in Step 3, you can see the box with the words "Instant Queue" in it. If you click on that box, you get a couple of menus, which are the same menus that you get while in the online system.

It can show you movies that Netflix things are similar to one you've recently watched (although I'm not really sure how some of them relate...)

Here's page 2 of the menu:

Page 3

6. Here's how you can add new movies or shows from the Wii: You click on the search criteria from one of the menus in Step 5 and browse through the options. I clicked on the "Television" menu and got a screen that looks like the picture in Step 3 and the second picture in Step 5. I clicked on a British show I like called "Coupling" and got this:

It looks pretty much the same as the screen from Step 4. You are told how long it is, get a review and summary, and have the option to start watching immediately or add to the queue for later. This also shows up in your online Netflix account so you could watch from your computer later.

7. Once you want to start watching a movie or TV show, you just click on the "Play" button and the movie will start.

Don't worry, that hand and those bars disappear.

8. If you want to do a scene selection, that's really easy. You just hit one of the arrow buttons on the Wii remote and you'll get a scene selector mode.

The image is a bit blurry, but you get the idea. You can just click on the scene and it'll fast forward or rewind to that point.

I'm so glad Netflix came out with this disc! I finally feel like I'm getting my money's worth out of my Netflix account!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nail Polish

I've become a bit obsessed with nail polish lately. I can tend to get obsessed with things, I've been obsessed with cookbooks, makeup, making bath and body products, and lately it's been eyeshadows and nail polish in particular.

I think I have started to love nail polish so much because it's a little thing I can do to make me feel feminine. I'm always running late for work, so I might not have enough time to do my makeup how I like it, but I do my nails at night, so they're done.

Nail polish can also help reflect or perk up my mood. I love duochromes. They are really pretty and they provide a bit of entertainment when I think I might have a boring meeting. I can keep changing the angle of my fingers and see the different colors. If I'm feeling gloomy, I have started liking to put on bright nail colors. Today I'm wearing China Glaze Heli-Yum on my fingers and China Glaze Something Sweet on my toes. I even ordered some neon colors, which I didn't think I'd want, since they are so bright. Oddly, the brightness is the reason I didn't think I'd want them in the first place!

I'm so glad I teach in an elementary school and can get away with more outrageous colors than most other careers. The kids love the fun colors. I can't wait to see their reactions when my neons come in and I wear those!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stephanie Plum

I can appreciate the classics and quality literature; I don't think I'd be much of a reading specialist if I didn't, but I love to read brain candy. I'd say 90% of the books I read are considered beach reads or chick lit. I like to read as a way to relax and have fun and most of the time that means doing something mindless. I need to get away from the stress of work and chores and it's hard to do that when you're thinking a lot about the story.

One author I love for that is Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum novels. If you've never read any of the Stephanie Plum novels, they're the series by Janet that all have a number in the title. There are a couple of novellas, but those aren't very good in my opinion. I've read two of them and the only reason I'm reading them is so I make sure I don't miss anything. I struggle through them.

The main books in this series are enjoyable to read! Stephanie used to be a lingerie buyer, but she lost her job and blackmailed her cousin Vinnie to let her be a bounty hunter for his bonds firm. Stephanie ends up in some hilarious situations, including the time a FTA (Failure to Appear) was naked and covered himself in Vaseline in order to keep her from catching him. If you like mysteries with humor, I highly recommend this series!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jodi Picoult

I love to read. I love, love, love, love, LOVE to read! I was one of those kids who always had her nose in a book. I read on the bus (and missed my stop once, that was pretty scary to look up and realize my siblings had gotten off and there was nobody else left on the bus!), at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, and really anywhere else a book can go. I love to get lost in a book. On days off, I can easily go through a book in a day. This is one reason why I love having a Kindle. I've had to buy books while on vacation before since I've run out. I've also been overweight on airline luggage because of books. Now that I'm so busy with work, I don't get to read as much as I used to, but I still love to read.

I love a variety of books. Chick Lit is my favorite for when I want to laugh and not think too much while reading. It's kind of like eating a bowl of ice cream when you've had a bad day. Sometimes I want something more substantial than Chick Lit.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors for when I want a book to really make me think about the world. The first book I ever read of hers was My Sister's Keeper. I highly recommend this book to anyone who can handle reading about cancer and wants to try Jodi Picoult. This is probably my all time favorite book of hers, even though I don't think I could handle reading it now. My Sister's Keeper is about a 13-year-old girl who is suing her parents for emancipation. She was born to save her sister, who was dying of leukemia, when no other family members were a bone marrow match and no longer wants to be subjected to painful surgeries and procedures. The ending is typical Jodi Picoult. She gives an ending that is true to how life often works, even if it's not what you'd expect. She isn't afraid to shy away from "Hollywood endings" and I admire her for that.

Some other books of Jodi's that are my favorite are: Nineteen Minutes, The Pact, Handle With Care, and Plain Truth.

There are, however, two things I don't like about Jodi Picoult's books. One thing is that she often uses supernatural events in her stories and I sometimes find it to be distracting from the main point of the story (an example being Second Chance). The other thing is that she's with a publisher that wants to delay the release of the Kindle version until about 4 months after the hardcover (although I did see a Tweet from her that maybe it'll come in April?). She's usually an author I buy in hardcover, but I have made the decision to wait until the books is available in Kindle. She has stated repeatedly that it's not her choice and she is 100% opposed to her publisher's decision. She said she feels it punishes some of her most dedicated fans, but the decision was applied retroactively and the book was already under contract. Boo, Simon and Schuster!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day!

I'm a proud Irish American and I love St. Patrick's Day. I like to take the time to remember my heritage and usually make it a point to learn more about Ireland as well. I know I should do this all year round, but I like the reminder of this day.

I don't like corned beef and cabbage, and that's more of an Irish American tradition anyway, so I usually make an Irish stew and buy some Irish soda bread to eat for dinner. Yum!

I also don't like to wear green clothes. I don't think it's the best color on me, so I don't tend to wear it, so I never really wear anything green on St. Patrick's Day. If anyone tries to pinch me, I tell them I'm almost 100% Irish and the green is in my blood. I also have a claddagh tattoo, wear a claddagh ring ever day, and make a point to wear some of my emerald jewelry, so I do have a bit of green on.

This year I decided to do my nails and eye shadow for St. Patrick's Day. The nails are Emerald Sparkle by China Glaze. I love this color! This is from the Wizard of Ooohaaahs Returns collection, which was out around Christmas time. I actually wore this with Ruby Pumps for my Christmas manicure. This is the perfect emerald green color and the glitter is perfection.

Excuse the dulled eye shadow and creasing. I took this picture at about 6pm when I did my makeup at about 7am. This should still give you an idea of the look I did. I wore MAC's Lucky Green on my lid, MAC's Sumptuous Olive in my crease, then a nude color from my Smashbox palette along the brow bone. I lined my eyes with a gold eye liner from my Smashbox palette as well. I had fun with it and it was wearable for work!