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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Teavana Honey

I'm a tea lover.  I adore the inherent richness of black teas, the delightful cleansing flavors of green teas, and the dainty crisp notes of white teas.  I adore the bounty of possibilities of the flavors of herbal teas...

My love of tea is matched only by my love of honey.  Once, about 4 years ago, I learned that there were different KINDS of honey, not just the standard clover honey available at the supermarket.  There were honeys divided by primary source type, pollen content, and level of processing.  There were honeys that could cure flesh eating diseases where modern medicines had failed.  I gained a great appreciation of honeys... and at one point I had at least 10 different varieties occupying valuable cupboard space.  My mother wasn't happy.

Now, though my adoration of the sweet liquid gold has tempered, it has not waned...and when I find a variety I have not tried... I simply must taste it.

That is how I came to purchase the honeys available at Teavana.  Tea and honey.  A match made in heaven.   The varieties I purchased were the Ohi'a Lehua and Wilelaiki options.

The first had a mellow scent, grassy and warm.  After tasting it, I found that it had deep, earthy flavor, and strangely enough, didn't taste very sweet to me.  It gave light teas more depth and made black teas feel like a meal in a glass.  It was extremely rich and had a fairly decent amount of beeswax and pollen in it.

The second I tried was the Wilelaiki honey.  This one was unexpectedly ...bright.  Upon opening the jar, you're greeted with a sharp, sweet citrusy scent, like you just stuck your face into a bowl of fruit punch with extra orange juice.  It was much sweeter than the Ohi'a Lehua and VISIBLY had a lot of sugars in it.  It gave my teas a bright, slightly citrusy finish that didn't linger on the tongue and felt... clean.

I liked both the honeys.  If they weren't so blasted expensive, I'd keep them on hand.  For now, though, I'll have to stick to my favorites, acacia, canola, sunflower, and manuka.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chinatown Snack Shopping

Back when we were in college, my friends and I would take bi-weekly trips to Chinatown for get togethers, snack shopping, and hanging out.  Everything there was always intriguing, surprising and delicious.  Back then, even though Chinatown had a touristy, campy feel to it, there were still pockets of authentic delicacies to experience.  Seasoned pork belly with fermented vegetables, roasted sea bass, tea eggs and hundred year eggs you can eat with your warm, filling soup...  So good. 

Since those days Chinatown has become more modern and feels a bit colder.  It could be because of all the construction or the fact that since my friends and I all have weird schedules we almost never go together.  Whatever the case, you can still stroll into the Chinatown Market grocery store and find some good eats. 

Left to right: Matcha kitkats, Lemon crackers, Jasmine tea, Beef udon, DIY Mount Fuji chocolates, Horn wafer candies, A different kind of Udon, Salted duck eggs, Matcha and almond pocky, Sugar cane juice, chrysanthemum tea.  YUM.

I used to buy tons of weeb crap when I went to Chinatown.  Heaps of pocky, yan yan, pocari sweat, ramune... All the Japanese junk food you could find for cheap.  My tastes have changed and I've become more open to buying new things.  For example, I've been learning to cook more foreign dishes instead of just consuming their snacks.  In fact, I rarely eat snacks and treats from Chinatown any more.  I live on tea, though. 

The filling is made from purple sweet potatoes.  Pretty good.

I'm going to save this for another day.  I don't have the patience to make these things right now.

The first "fresh Udon" soup I've had that didn't have that nasty citric acid after taste.

I'm waiting until someone can tell me the right way to eat these.

Just some green tea, almonds and chocolate.  Yum.

Lemon sandwich crackers: Some people think these are bland, but I like the combination of lightly sweet and salty

Strawberry coconut wafer cookies.  Pretty straight-forward to be honest.

Again, don't feel like fiddling with this.  This will be a rainy or sick day project.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Regal Headphones: Gothic Regency

So.  You may remember a post a while ago with a photograph of a box of Skullcandy Hesh headphones as well as a cryptic caption.  Yes?  Well, good.  I've completed the project I hinted at earlier and I'm finally comfortable with showing you guys what I made.

I started off with plain headphones of the Skullcandy Hesh variety.  I chose Skullcandy because they are GREAT brand that I trust and they aren't as expensive as Beats.  So, if I manage to seriously bork up my design, it's not like I'm out of two hundred dollars or anything.  I decided to go with the Hesh headphones because they are supposed to have better sound, a better microphone and they have more features that allow the headphones to sit cozily on your head.

The last pair of headphones I gothed up didn't have the lovely memory foam cushioned headband and the speaker cushions pressed against my head awkwardly sometimes.  The cord also presented a problem because it was permanently anchored into the headphones themselves.  That sort of design lead to the eventual death of that particular pair because the cord shorted out.  The Hesh headphones can have their cords replaced.  I managed to snag a pair on sale and avoid paying over $50 bucks for them.  SCORE!

Ok.  Here are my new lovelies.

I followed pretty much the same method as the other headphones, even included leather scraps and ribbon just like last time.  However, these headphones presented a unique problem when it cam time to clean up the residual glue and fly-aways from my sloppy E-6000 work.  Don't get on my case, my neuropathy makes my hands shake like crazy most times, so it's a miracle that I can type, let alone glue over 500 rhinestones, chain, and cabochons to a pair of headphones.

So, the fly-aways.  Because the Hesh headphones aren't made of slick, slippery plastic, but rather self-healing rubberized plastic, when I went in for clean up, my usual method of simply yanking the stray threads of glue off with tweezers meant that I peeled off a bit MORE than I intended.  I had to find a different kind of epoxy that would bond to silicone to help seal the bonds between my headphones and the rhinestones... and I'm still scared that I'll hit them against something at the wrong angle and all my hard work will go peeling off.  So far, that hasn't happened, but the E-6000/epoxy combination isn't as sturdy as I'm used to.

All in all, this was another successful decoden project.  Hopefully, it'll be another year or two before I have to make repairs to my design elements on these headphones. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Guess what I'm going to be doing.

My old vamped up headphones have broken.  I'm tired of 10 dollaring myself to death by buying cheapo earbuds, so I got me some good Skullcandy Grind Headphones with the Mic in the headseat.  Yep. 

I'm about to goth these suckers up.  *eyebrow wiggle* 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Indie Makeup Review: Fierce Magenta

I like playing dress-up.  Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a dark fairy princess, scientist, velociraptor.  Now that I'm an adult with a small amount of disposable income, well, I'm not living that dream, but I'm coming darn close to it.  The dark fairy princess thing is hard to maintain, though.  Even harder than the whole velociraptor part.  You need gorgeous, high quality make-up in non-conventional colors.  Good quality makeup in colors like blue and purple are near impossible to find.  While there are way more options these days, it's still hard to locate affordable options. 

Sugarpill and MAC are made of love, but I can't pay that much for one lip gloss or one eyeshadow pot.  I need ALL the weird colors and my budget is pretty static.  So, I opted to look for some Indie options. 

There are benefits to buying Indie makeup products.  Like most small businesses, they are someone's labor of love, their name is directly attached to everything produced, and supporting them means you are directly supporting a community of 1-10 people.  Once you find a good brand, you can get quality colors, unique blends and effects, and often times highly nourishing products that focus on using non-toxic ingredients.  Indie makeups also tend to be made in small batches, are WAY more affordable, and have higher quality because the company is not a huge corporate entity that outsources half their labor to a third world country.  Culpability falls directly on the shoulders of the people who own it.  They take pride in their work.  Well, except for Lime Crime...but that's a story for another day. 

That brings me to the brand I'm reviewing.  I found Fierce Magenta on Etsy while looking for purple lipstick to wear in support of Domestic Violence Prevention Month.  They offer a range or products, including eye shadow, lip glosses, and lip sticks.  They also offer small sizes of each of their products so you can sample them without committing to a huge pot or stick of some color that you end up not appreciating later.  Best of all, their prices range from about $4-$10.

I got 5 mini lip products from Fierce Magenta in the colors, Diamond Cluster, Luna Violet, Copper Fusion, Deep Purple, and Glacia. 

From left to right: Diamond Cluster, Luna Violet, Copper Fusion, Deep Purple, Glacia

Most of the options I picked were lip gloss selections, while Glacia was a lipstick.  Here's a break down of what I discovered whilst trying these on and swatching them. 

1.  Fierce Magenta is NOT kidding when they describe their lip products as being nourishing and hydrating. 

2.  The glosses glided on silky smooth and had really good staying power.  I had to scrub my arm to get them off, so it shouldn't be a problem with long wear times.

3.  The colors were highly concentrated.  The opacity was out of sight.  The swatches you see above were from the tiniest amount I could spread on my arm in one swipe.  The glitter/iridescence wasn't muted.  It looked no different from what I saw in the tubes when I put it on my skin, which makes it a great option for darker skin tones.  Brown folks have issues with lipstick and gloss opacities because most of them are made with the idea that it will be going on a paler lip.  

4.  There was no gritty texture from the glitter. 

5.  Glacia was by far the most difficult to remove.  Even after scrubbing my arm till it reddened, I still had Glacia faintly clinging to me.  

6.  There is SOME separation if you wear it for a long time because of the nourishing butters they make the lipsticks out of.   However, it doesn't smudge much and the color of the glosses and lipstick can be renewed by pressing your lips together a few times.

7.  There isn't a ton of silicone in their products like VS' lip treatments, so it doesn't make my lips peel after I use it.

Give Fierce Magenta a looksy.  I swear it's more than worth it.  Hopefully, I'll be able to show off some makeup looks using these products soon. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Goodal: Fun Fun Travel Kit Masks

Well, after the Wildberry Milk cleanser ruined my skin's progress, I can honestly say that the Goodal travel masks helped bring it back under control.  The kit comes with 4 masks. 

First Impression: 
The packaging reminds you of the ketchup containers they give you at fast food places when you order fries to-go.  They are small, light, and portioned so you can get at least two mask applications from each packet.  On the front of the masks, it features whatever the 'star ingredient is'. 

The instructions were straightforward and foolproof.  Smear it on your face.  Let it sit.  Rinse it off.  Bam.  That's it.  But, each mask has a different purpose.  The glacial clay mask is supposed to help with cleansing and minimizing your pores.  I totally needed that after I turned into Pizzaface.  The Brightening mask has vitamin C and citrus extracts to help remove dead cells and speed up cell turn-over rate.  DEFINITELY needed that.  The Keeping Youth coconut mask boasted thta it would supply the skin with superior moisture and elasticity.  After scrubbing my face to bits, I avoided that.  Anything "anti-aging" is really more of an "anti-drying" treatment, which usually clogs my pores.  Instead, I opted for the Aloe, moisture mask to help repair my "tired, stressed skin".

Actual Use:
I rotated the masks over the course of several days, using them in this order: Day 1: glacial mask, Day 2: brightening mask, and Day 3: moisturizing mask.  I used them at night before bed to help maximize their effectiveness. 
The glacial clay mask was very THICK and grainy.  It was good to use it as both an exfoliant and a purifying mask to help clear up my skin.  It was my first attack against my nasty acne flair up because scrubbed away impurities and squeeze the gunk out of my pores. 
The brightening mask was number two in my line up.  While my pores were still mostly clear, it acted to reduce inflammation and start to fade the lighter dark marks- and prevent new ones from forming.  The removal of the dead skin cells helped keep more junk from getting into my pores. 
The brightening mask has a certain level of acid in it and the glacial mask was actually physically abrasive. 
Following those two heavy hitters with the moisturizing mask was like curling up on silk sheets after a hard day chopping down trees and a deep scrub down in a primitive shower.  I didn't want to treat my skin with sandpaper and lemon juice without giving it time to heal in between.  The aloe of the moisture mask helped to soothe my skin and protect it after I was done abusing it.  It had a creamy texture and it left my skin plump and moisturized after a 30 minute application.

I was on vacation, away from my usual products and I had to work with what I had.  You should probably try these out individually to see if you like them instead of using them as an aggressive emergency skin repair solution like I did.  It would give you a lot more time to actually enjoy using the products yourself.  The glacial mask was like a clay mask/scrub.  If you need to exfoliate and you like to FEEL it happening, instead of passively doing it, this is the mask for you.  If you prefer gentler methods, the brightening mask will gently dissolve dead skin and treat dark spots without feeling like you scrubbed your face with ground pumice.  The moisture mask, I'll say this, it's best if you have a sunburn, really dry skin, or a recent chemical peel.  Don't use it if you have greasy skin.  You will regret your life.  Also, I apologize for not having a review for the coconut mask.  I wasn't going to touch it after my face was so wrecked. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Skinfood: Wildberry Milk Foaming Cleanser

Borrowed from

What do I say about this one other than it is HORRIBLE.

Ahem.  I bought this a while ago and just stuffed it in a drawer while I continued using my Vitaberry cleanser.  I decided to take it with me to Poland to give my skin a break from my usual routine.  Mistake.  BIG mistake.  I assumed that because I've never had a bad reaction to Skinfood's products or foaming cleansers in general that this one would do well on my skin.

I have never been more wrong.  I was in Poland for two weeks.  I stopped using this junk within a week because I had broken out with the worst acne I've had since I got blue-light laser treatment to help control my break outs.  Since the laser treatments, the worst I get is one or two semi-underground zits that clear after a week and that is if I use regular old bar soap to wash my face and no pore cleansing masks.  With this stuff, I had a plethora of fine zits, semi-underground ones, and deep, painful cystic boils that didn't clear up until, like, literally 4 days ago.  That's a MONTH. 

This caused damage to my face that took an entire MONTH to clear up and I'm still trying to fade the resulting dark marks.  Right when I was feeling happy about the clarity of my complexion. 

Oh. I thought of something nice to say.  It's got wholesome looking packaging and it smells good.  Yeah.  Let me go back to trying to fade these dark spots.