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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. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ciracle : Goodbye Blackhead Pore Control Sheets

I wasn't sure about this one.  I've tried a lot of pore strips in my lifetime, most of them had an effect, but didn't make a huge difference in the war against my awful cystic acne.  This was the first product that suggested you to just let it sit on your skin and then rinse it away.  It was a very different and much GENTLER experience than the pore strips I'm used to.  No yanking off a sticky strip that's glued itself to your face, no redness after the treatment either.

First impression:

Borrowed from
There's nothing super extraordinary about the packaging.  It's black with plain white writing in both English and Korean.  Inside the box is a flimsy instruction sheet written with use instructions in MANY languages... including Arabic and English.  It also comes with a set of tiny tweezers so you can hygienically obtain your strips from the jar without contaminating the others with your gross germ-mongering fingers.  It's a nice notion, but with almost every product that has an applicator like this, you end up spreading it on your face with your hands anyway.  I tend to forgo the tweezers because I'm impatient. 

Use the tongs to extract the sheet from the jar.  Place the sheet over the nose with your fingers; spread evenly.  Leave the sheet on for at least 15 minutes for maximum results.  Remove the sheet, then use a clean cotton swab to wipe off blackheads.  Finish by rinsing with clean water.  It is recommended to use the sheets on other problem areas of the face like cheeks and chin.

Actual use: 
At first I wasn't sure what to make of it.  I thought it would be like a wash pad with some sort of essence on it like many treatments packaged this way.  It was different.  In a good way.  I followed the instructions, placing sheets on my nose and chin.  I smashed some levels of Candy Crush Saga while I waited for it to work whatever magic or curses it would on my skin, lost track of time, and then... my face started to burn.  I pulled the sheets off fairly quickly. 
The product has a decent amount of acid in it.  It tingles and starts to burn if you leave it on for too long  However, it is very effective at extracting blackheads.  I've never had a product that opened my pores and allowed me to just wipe the blackheads off my face.  Although it didn't completely remove ALL the blackheads, it removed most of them and softened the more stubborn ones enough so that extracting them was easy and painless.  Most of them came out COMPLETELY- not just the little cap of build up that pokes out of your skin.  The whole thing, including the little tail thing that anchors it in your pores.  I don't have any redness from using the product either.

I will recommend this product to anyone with troublesome blackheads and whiteheads...or any of the milder forms of cystic acne.  It will free your pores from their persecutors.  However, if you purchase it from Memebox, like I did, don't follow the instructions on the website.  I have extremely oily skin and it started to burn after about 20 minutes.  If I had followed the Memebox instructions instead of the ones on the paper included in the box... I would have gotten an unintentional chemical peel. 
After you use this product, be GENTLE with your skin.  It's going to be delicate and dry.  Wipe gently.  If you choose to extract your more stubborn blackheads, be GENTLE and CAREFUL.  You don't want to damage your face.  Be sure to moisturize.  That is all. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

So I went to Poland

I've always loved travel and exploring since I was a kid.  I like to learn new things and meet new people.  I have had a number of incredibly diverse friends from very different backgrounds throughout my life because I love to learn about people, their cultures, and especially their food.  I appreciate the differences of my fellow humans and positive aspects of their personalities.  You can learn something important from everyone you meet.

It's sort of unsurprising that I ended up in Poland.  I have several Polish friends.  I have shared major holidays with their very Polish families... and I consider the bucket list I made when my doctors feared I had a brain tumor to still be valid even though it's clear that I'm no longer on the verge of death or permanent paralysis.

I never thought I would go to Poland for an actual, honest to God Polish wedding though.  Life is strange that way sometimes.  You see, my S/O has been best friends with a college friend of mine since high school (small world, right?) and the bride wished to be married in her home country.  So... I ended up being Poland.

At first, it was a difficult decision for me to make.  It's a huge endeavor to travel that far oversees even if you're in perfect health, which I am not.  With my neurological condition (possible MS), Reynaud's phenomenon, bronchitis, and the language barriers I was going to face, the trip was a huge risk.  I know just enough Polish to say, "Thanks grandma" but not "Help! I'm having severe muscle spasms; my medicine is in my purse!"  Ultimately, I ended up going to support the folks I care about.

I didn't expect to meet so many wonderful people or have so many great experiences.  The wedding was beautiful.  The bride's family and friends were so VERY generous.  I almost feel guilty for coming.  They helped us a great deal and the trip wouldn't have gone as smoothly as it did without their generosity and helpfulness.

Poland is much more developed and modern than most people give it credit for.  The people there are friendly and are just as curious about you as you are about them.  They seem surprised when they find foreign tourists are there for more than shopping and clubbing.  My trip to Poland was great, for the most part.  There were some scary parts: I had two pretty bad neurological attacks while I was there, an incident in Nowa Huta (Brown folks, avoid that area if you don't have a guide AND a large group.  It's actually been in international news due to the residents reacting to foreigners and people they perceive as "rich" in the same way the Puritans reacted to witches.), and a frightening number of guys trying to pick me up whenever my boyfriend left me unattended.

However, there were also some pretty effing awesome parts!  Like the wedding reception where we all danced till we were dizzy, the amazing historical architecture in every city, the lovely natural scenery, their boss, bad-assed public transportation system, and the super incredible interactive museums... and the shopping.  I'm sorry.  Shopping in Poland was like going to an after Christmas sale with $1000 to freely spend.  No.  Seriously.  One dollar is worth about 4 zloty and you can buy a whole pint of beer with that.  Most of the other goods, save electronics, are priced similarly.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Thank You to the Blue Cab Company for Helping Me Stay Fit and Save Money

I would like to congratulate the Blue Cab company of Oak Park for helping me to stay in shape AND save money.  I could not have found the strength of will to be committed to exercise and saving car fare without your remarkably crappy service, rude telephone operators, horrid, lying dispatchers, and awful drivers.  You give me motivation to buy a car and the threat of having to use your cabs keeps me driven to practice driving, even though other people's erratic behavior on the road terrifies me.

As a supporter of family owned businesses, I have used Blue Cab's service for nearly a year.  Within that time, I've been subjected to the most unreliable, unpleasant, and ultimately unprofessional service I've ever experienced from a cab service in my life.   I would like to heartily thank the Blue Cab company for living up to their two star rating on Yelp and giving me the opportunity to experience truly life changing events.

I would like to thank the drivers who texted or surfed the web on their phones whilst driving, tried to engage in inappropriate conversations with me about my personal life, or purposely overcharged and took unnecessary detours for a ten minute ride from the train station to my job.  You taught me the value of not tipping for service.

I would like to thank the telephone operators who gave me false wait times and then acted as though I was unreasonable for inquiring about updates to the cab's arrival times.  Your apathetic and sarcastic attitudes made me grateful for all the times I've had great customer service from other cab companies and for the strength of character that my parents instilled in me to always view the work that I do, not matter how bad things are, as a source of pride, rather than something unpleasant that makes me speak and behave in a manner that was off-putting to others. 

My privileged experience of trying to file complaints about your drivers and the subsequent run around you gave me taught me that I should always have a backup plan and take any opportunity to avoid climbing into your cabs because no one truly cares if I'm paying money to be treated like dog crap except for me.  This has broadened my worldview and solidified the idea that especially if I am paying for a service, I should only expect good treatment if the other party has a long history of treating others well.  I should always formulate my ideas and views of people and companies based on their track record and 'giving people a chance' is really me giving them a chance to screw up like they always do.

I would also love to thank the dispatcher/supervisor (Isn't that a conflict of interest?) who called me after I reported my cab was a no-show and proceeded to berate me, claiming that I was unreasonable and rude for using a different option instead of waiting for someone who lied about showing up.  I would also like to thank you for claiming I was "a damn liar" and how you "always give great customer service" and how you "absolutely did not hang up or yell" at me when I was trying to explain my situation to her after calling to report the no-show cab. 

I loved having you talk down to me, be rude to me, and having the privelage of hearing you and your coworkers abetting each other in the background.  It was a phenomenal experience to have you come to the conclusion that the best way to punish me for complaining, for expecting decent service, and expecting that a family owned business could be professional was to tell me, with no small amount of smugness in your voice that since I had a problem with the service, you'd just have the cabs stop picking me up.  I hope your friendship with your coworkers is as deep and boundless as your levels of pettiness and I sincerely hope it lasts longer than your company will with all the wonderful, polite, and prompt cab service competition that's suddenly moving into the Oak Park area. 

Thank you, ever so much Blue Cab.  Best wishes

Sincerely, the Snarktopus

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Foot Therapy: Baby Foot Peel

People have been telling me about baby foot peels forever.  Initially, something about it made me feel like it was a frivolous and unnecessary purchase.  I could soak and scrape my feet for free at home.  Well, I learned quickly that a baby foot peel is an entirely different beast, preferable for people who don't want to spend two hours soaking and scraping their feet.

I used the  Kocostar brand sold on Memebox (Not Urban Outfitters.  It's a dollar cheaper on Memebox if you buy the two pack!) 

First of all, the only work you have to do is your regular foot care routine.  You wash your feet, slip on the baby foot peel socks and chill for 1.5 hours, then take them off, rinse, and go about your day.  These instructions are universal for all baby foot peels.  ALL OF THEM.

Courtesy of Ebay: Forgive the poor grammar.  Language barriers

For the first 3 days, your feet are normal.  There's not even the slightest sign that something's going to happen.  By the fourth day, though, your feet begin to peel.  Soon, all the dead skin, thick calluses and even snagging cuticles peel right off.  And by the seventh day, you have soft, smooth, callus free feet.  Usually.


The things I had issues with were the unpredictable start day of the peeling and the wait time for it to finish.  The package says it should start within 4 days, but sometimes it starts earlier.  It causes problems when your feet just bust out with flaking skin on a day you decided to wear sandals.  Having your feet look like they're covered in nasty mummy skin for about a week can be quite shocking... and send an attentive S/O into a panic.  Like mine.  The poor dear thought my shoes were causing an allergic reaction. 
Also, though the package says it should be complete within a week, I've had a foot peel treatment continue for nearly 10 days.  However, I suppose it's important to note that if you have really thick calluses (like me) or thick foot skin (like me again), the product won't work the same for you and you won't get feet that are actually baby soft.  You may have to leave the treatment on your feet for an extra thirty minutes to get any effect at all.  You may even have to use the treatment 2 or 3 times before your skin is the desired smoothness.


I still love it.  It's much less effort to keep my feet smooth and my calluses don't build up as fast.  I don't risk cutting a callus off wrong and hurting myself.  I don't spend an hour each week scrubbing, scraping and buffing my feet to get them to feel smoother.  My shoes FIT better.  One application of the foot peel treatment every 6 weeks keeps my feet as smooth and supple as 6-12 hours of scraping over the same time period.  I cannot complain.  I would totally recommend this product to anyone who has thick calluses and cracked heels.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reinplatz Intensive Moisture Hand Pack

I was looking forward to trying this one, I must admit.  As a member of hospital personnel, I find myself in the unique position to have horribly dry, chapped, and cracked hands.  The air in the hospital is dry as desert sand, even when it's raining outside.  And all that wonderful, patient-protecting hand hygiene will suck the life out of your skin.  Add that to the fact that it's winter right now and you've got a recipe for bleeding fingers due to overdrying.

I knew that I wouldn't have time or inclination to enjoy this hand mask at home.  So, one night, when I decided to work a double shift (You can totally, legally work 16 hours straight in a hospital), I decided to pass the twilight hours between 1 a.m. And 3 a.m. with an impromptu spa treatment.

I figured that since I usually don't have to do work requiring great finger dexterity during an overnight shift it would be fine to wear these intensive moisture gloves under my sterile rubber gloves.  I was right.  The gloves slipped beneath the rubber gloves perfectly and, actually, wearing them like that increased my skin-to-product contact ratio.  Noice.

Courtesy of

Wear hand care glove pack after washing hands (I wash my hands about...30 times per shift..).  Wear gloves for 20 minutes.  Remove gloves and massage in any remaining essence.  Don't wash hands for at least 3 minutes after removing the pack.

Active Ingredients: Shea Butter and Jojoba oil

Initial impression:
The Reinplatz packaging is plain, straightforward and leaves no room for guesswork.  Open the pack, put on the gloves.   Since I've used foot packs before, I knew what to expect.  However, this pack surprised me.  The lining of the vinyl gloves was kinda velvety.  Also, it didn't feel like there was enough of the product in the glove to coat my hands.  I slipped them on anyway and put some extra small medical gloves on top to hold them in place while I worked.
The scent upon opening the pack was kind of bland.  It smelled a lot like plain shea butter that you buy in the canister at the beauty supply, sort of oily and planty.  That's great!  I hate overpowering scents.

WELL.  First of all, I have to admit this: I didn't remove the gloves when I should have.  I removed them like....2 hours after I put them on.  It's not like I forgot about them.  We got an admission and he decided that it was his job to wake all the patients who were asleep.  That said, my experience with this product may not match yours.

At first the product felt dry on my hands, however after about 10 minutes, I noticed that my hands were sweating.  The velvet inside the glove was locking the sweat to my hands and the product in the gloves seemed to be expanding, making a creamy coating around my skinny, wrinkly fingers.  After about 20 minutes, the gloves just REALLY moist.  As time passed, they got more and more moist on the inside.
...2  hours later they were slipping on my hands so much that I snatched them off and flung them in the trash.  I massaged my hands as directed and flexed my fingers.  They felt moisturized, the skin was supple and had a subtle sheen to them.  My fingers didn't look or feel like sandpaper any more and the skin that was peeling rubbed off the next time I washed my hands.  My usually wrinkly fingers were less wrinkled and my cuticles weren't cracking any more.

What I didn't like about it was the effect the shea butter had.  One of the reasons I shy away from shea butter hand creams is because it leaves a weird, waxy coating on your hands.  In truth, this coating is good for your skin.  It protects it.  But... I just don't like the way it feels.

After I washed my hands, they still felt soft, supple and plump and overall, less dry than they had before.  The skin wasn't tight or wrinkly.  Even after two more washes, my hands weren't as dry and brittle feeling as they were before, so it's clear that this product imparts some long term moisture. 


I would recommend this to anyone who has damaged skin on their hands from over-washing or age.  The shea butter and jojoba oils nourish and soften the skin better than thinner hand creams on the market.  You should give it a try if your hands have been suffering or, even if you just want to have a D.I.Y. manicure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Skinaz: The Kissable Lip 24 Hr Lip Tattoo

It's not often that I have a bad experience with a product... but I had a bad experience with this one.

Courtesy of Instagram

I bought it from eBay, curious about its mystical properties, after hearing of from them from the darkest corners of the internet.  I applied it to my lips with little thought.  The results were horrible.  It was thick, sticky and messy.  I didn't think a peel off lip tint would be a turn off for me.  I've used plenty of peel off masks.

It was like spreading extra thick glue.  It formed a polymer coating over my pout and adhered strongly to my lips, but this experience was horrible and uncomfortable.  It's supposed to exfoliate while it stains your lips... But what I experienced was more like having my lips glued together and then the skin ripped off them.

Once I peeled it off, it left a nice, long lasting stain, but the unexpected aftertaste was bitter...and perfumey.  My lips felt tender, and looked a bit...patchy.  I wouldn't be surprised if it actually tore off some of my skin for real. 

Maybe I didn't do something right... but for now, I'm going to stick to my Etude House Dear Darling lip jelly tiny. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

You Should Be Watching: The Babadook

Ok.  So.  You know that I'm a HUGE horror movie fan.  I love urban legends, I love mythology, and I adore films that can deliver thrills and chills with an unsettling metaphor.  The Babadook offers all of those things in a spectacularly classic horror movie fashion.  This movie.  I cannot even begin to tell you how refreshing and creepy it was.

The premise: A widow and her son are terrorized by a mysterious, malevolent entity.

Courtesy of

It's so simple, it's almost deceptive.  I watched it once at night and in the day time so I could have an unbiased look at the storyline and critically evaluate this beast.  It was so nicely done, the metaphor/monster warranted a second look.  The Babadook offers a look into the lives of its characters that drive the creepiness, the insidious nature of the titular monster into your mind.

Courtesy of Google

The Characters:  There are two main characters, Amelia, the widow and her son Samuel, who acts very much like a child with either severe psychological trauma or as though he is autistic...with psychological trauma.  These two struggle through their lives, both isolated and estranged from their peers due to the death of Sam's father.  Amelia works as an aid at a senior daycare with dementia patients.  As a person who occasionally has to do this, I can say that this job is stressful, demanding, and can wear on your spirit.  She's often late, often exhausted, and seems bereft anything but the blithe smile on her face.

Samuel goes to a private school, where he barely has contact with his peers.  He is the weird kid who is brilliant, but the others all shy away from his inventiveness and explosive anger and tantrums.  Deep down, he's a sweet kid, but bullying and isolation drive him to recognize those around him as either people to be pleased or literal monsters to be slain.  He, like many little boys, wants to protect his mother, who he witnesses in a stay of constant emotional decay.  Meanwhile, he struggles to define himself and thrive.

Baaaabaaaa Dook Dook Dook....  Finally, in the midst of everything that both main characters have to deal with, the Babadook enters their lives, first, via a chilling children's story book and finally... in a quite literal fashion that threatens to destroy them both. 

This movie explores horror in the truest fashion.  Not simply with monsters, but with a look at the human mind and heart.  It terrifies you with themes and stressors that we all encounter: the death of a loved one, a sick child, work stress, and the difficulty of putting up a brave front while feeling that every effort you have made is in vain.  The Babadook explores the terror of our own insecurities, frailties, and day to day struggles.  It gives it a face... and provides a word of caution.  There's little more horrifying than a peek into the deepest darkest parts of our own hearts and the possibility of the nightmare our lives can become if we don't peer into that darkness and recognize it for what it truly, truly is.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pastel Goth: Creepy cute

I must have slept on this one, but I swear, I'm awake now.  Pastel goth is a thing. 

As a child of the 80's, I've always liked many elements of goth fashion.  As a girl raised on Disney princesses and Barbie dolls, I've always loved things that are pretty and feminine.  As an anime nerd, I've always liked the idea that the cutest, girliest character can be the heavy hitter, have unconventional interests, or specialize in being tough.  Never, have I seen these ideas married into a fashion or subcultural movement, though.

Well, that is until I heard about this pastel goth thing.  One of the primary things I've never quite liked about many branches of the goth subculture were how ...HARD everything appears.  I understand the philosophy behind it: recognizing, accepting, embracing, and beautifying the things that most fear because they are ultimately inevitable.... but I never could get with shaving half your head, bleaching your skin, and having so many facial modifications that your visage could be mistaken for a dragon or ogre.
Courtesy of
I get that many people who associate with the trend are also members of the church of body modification (it's a real denomination that takes the idea that your body is a temple of God and seeeks to decorate that temple with as many piercings, implants, and tattoos as possible), but there's a great deal about that sort of life that doesn't appeal to me.

Finding pastel goth, which marries creepy and cute, was like finding a pretty bead.  I can blend my love of cartoons and love of dark humor into fashion that amuses me.  Further, my current experiment with colors that aren't shades of black, white, tan, and gray OR jewel colors gives me more than enough opportunity to adopt this creepy cute style and try something like this! 

I found this on Google
I can try styles like Lovely Ify, Drew Disaster, and Offbeat Look's styles.

Courtesy of Google

Courtesy of Drew Disaster

As long as my clothes match.  Haha!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Seoul Search: Memebox scavenger hunt

For Easter, Memebox had a scavenger hunt sort of event.  Sadly, I didn't get to take advantage.  However, shortly after they had another called Seoul Search.  I took part in this one and was careful not to spend too much on mystery products.

By the time I found out about it, they only had a few left.  I got a couple of each.  Iteawon, Cheongdamndong, and Myeongdong. 

Oddly enough in this picture, I recognize about 12 different Korean skin care brands.

These are all places in Seoul, Korea.  The items included in the mystery are items common to those areas, available for about 50-75% of the price they are normally.  Memebox doesn't tell you what item corresponds to what place, but this is what I got.

Now, I have no idea what I'm going to do with this pink blush because it's a little too light for me, but I was thinking of giving the extra set of mystery items I got to anyone who's interested.  Drop me a message on my Snarktopus page on FB if you would like to pick up one of these items.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Missha BB Cream in Honey Beige

As an African American, I have a hard time locating good cosmetics that match my skin tone.  Most cosmetics are too dark, too red, too yellow, or very chalky.  And BB creams?  Forget about it.

Most of the time, they don't come in a shade darker than light tan.  Which, would be fine, if all people came in some shade of bland taupe.  I would greatly appreciate a tinted moisturizer that I can throw on before going out to help protect my skin and conceal some of its imperfections without looking like a bad Walking Dead extra.  Instead, with most BB creams, I have to add more foundation, creams and powders to balance out the colors.  Since receiving a few memeboxes and various products from memebox, I've taken to exploring their selection of K-products.

Enter Missha's BB cream.  I'm totally hooked on Korean cosmetics and skincare.  I gave everyone baskets of products for Christmas.  All should know the joy of K-beauty.

Korean powders and tinted primers have worked well for me so far, so, I thought that since there was a sale and I had extra scratch from working doubles, I would splurge on a $15 face cream from Missha.  Yes.  Splurge.  I'm one of those people who feels like buying makeup is frivolous....except nail polish.  I love nail polish.

I picked honey beige because for most brands, I fall into the honey category.

Initial Impression:
The product comes in a tube with a dark golden flexible plastic and silvery lettering.  It reminds me of the packaging of Fashion Fair makeups.  It dispenses via a pump action push top.  The product is creamy and thick...and it smells.  Not bad, just really perfumey.  My boyfriend thought I was trying out a new fragrance. 

I only used the product a few times so far.  I found that it works well as a tinted moisturizer for me, but it adds a subtle, pink undertone to my skin.  It is also difficult to spread evenly, and absolute HELL to wash off your hands and face later.  I didn't have any skin reactions to it, though. 

Recommendations: I'd be reluctant to recommend this product to everyone who's anyone.  It gets the job done, for sure, but there are a couple major turn offs for me.

1.  The smell.  It shouldn't have such a strong smell.  It's like perfume ALL OVER YOUR FACE.  To other people you just smell like you've got a really nice perfume on, but unfortunately for me, it's like I rammed perfumed tissues up my nose.  It would be different if Missha offered whatever fragrance they used as an actual perfume that you mist on your body... but no.  It's in the makeup.

2.  The texture and difficulties associated with removing it.  I used two makeup wipes and washed my face twice and I was still getting brown stuff off my face the next morning.  The only thing that takes it completely off is BABY OIL.  Slathering an acne prone face with mineral oil is a great way to induce a collage of zits.  I did like that the BB cream had staying power, but my face didn't appreciate being manhandled afterwards.

Overall: This product was a good color match for my face and works well with and without my regular make up.  I'm going to keep experimenting with it until I find a way to keep it from gluing itself to my face.

Note: Since using the BB cream a few more times, I've found that layering a moisturizer underneath it helps keep it from adhering as strongly to your skin- but...that was the point of having the BB cream.  It's supposed to replace moisturizers.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Try K- Beauty Sweepstakes

Are you guys excited!?  The Try K Beauty Sweepstakes starts today, February First! For the full details, visit this post!  Like my Facebook page and subscribe!  You could win a random assortment including, but not limited to the following!

Those are moisturizing toners, lip tints, lipsticks, brow pencils, eye shadows, pore clearing strips and washes, under eye concealers and some blushes.  Oooh lala.  There's more, but I'm not taking photos of everything!

Decoden: More shots

I forgot I had these shots of my phone case.  Take a look-see at some more detailed shots of this beast.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Decoden: Part Three!

A while back, I posted some decoden phone cases that I made.  I've got another one to share.  I'll keep this brief. 
This is one I made for myself to replace the old one.  Sad to say this, but buying any old case on eBay can sometimes lead to malfunctions.  The one I bought the first time was about $12.  With all the time I spent decorating it, you'd hope that it would hold up.  It did not.  It's construction wasn't that great, so, though it's still pretty to look at, it can't really hold on to a phone. 

I got this new case for half the price of the old one and it is much better constructed.  The decorations themselves, I believe, reflect more of me than the old one.  It was more of a hodge podge.  This one is more in line with my "cautiously optimistic" and "proactively pessimistic" approaches to life.  I like to see the beauties, even in misfortune.  I hope this case never breaks.  Given how many times I've dropped it already and it's remained intact, It's safe to say that I will be able to spend a lot of time with it before it fails me. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Pure Plus Cocoon Returning Toner

Forgive the lack of structure for this post.  I celebrated my ability to avoid getting the flu during cold and flu season a bit too early, I think.  

As a rule, I don't use toners.  They make my skin feel weird.  Most toners are really astringent and irritate my skin.  HOWEVER... I found this particular toner on Memebox in their 1+1 special not too long ago.  It's called ...well, it's in the title of this post. 
Borrowed from Canyoucwhatisee because I was too lazy to photograph.  Check her out!

Pure plus Cocoon Returning Toner is actually really gentle.  It doesn't smell very strong and it leaves your skin lightly moisturized and hydrated.  It has ingredients like witch hazel and B vitamins.  It is supposed to help with fading dark marks and moisturize your skin.  I also found it to be very versatile.  Particularly because well, I ran out of make up removal wipes.  I was able to put some of this wonderful toner on a cotton pad and clean off the makeup really well, actually.  This stuff is going to be my new best friend- right up there with my Borntree Vitaberry cleanser.

Try K-Beauty Sweepstakes

Snarktopus has been up and running for a while, and I've been wanting to give back to you guys for a long time.  Since, I've been yapping about K-Beauty for a while now, I want to share some of the products that I liked most with you as well.  SO.  Introducing the....

All you have to do is like me on Facebook, Subscribe to the Snarktopus Blog (How else will you know if you won?), and Share the post on your FB or Twitter accounts.  I will randomly select a winner and ship them out their prize package.

I will run one sweepstakes giveaway each month, starting in February.  You'll have a week to enter.  After that, I will randomly select a winner and publish their name in a blog post along with an email address that you can privately share your contact information so I can ship your prize.  Each prize will include something for your lips, face, a skin care product, and some samples.   You can find the legal dialogue below.   Good luck, guys and thanks for sticking with me!

Try K-Beauty Sweepstakes:
Disclaimer: This promotion is in no way sponsored by blogger, Facebook, or any other social media outlet, nor does it reflect the views of those outlets’ respective owners or staff.

Terms and Conditions: Only open to residents of the 50 United States. All entrants must subscribe to Snarktopus Blog, like the Snarktopus Facebook page, and submit a comment. One Winner will be selected, at the Snarktopus’ owner’s discretion, from all eligible entries. The winner will be announced via blog post one day following the sweepstakes' closing date.
The winner must contact the Snarktopus’ owner within 48 hours of the announcement or another winner will be announced and the previous winner will forfeit the prize. The prize is valued between approximately $15-$30.
The Snarktopus’ owner reserves the right to substitute the original prize with a prize of equal or lesser value. The item will be shipped via USPS with a tracking number, which will be emailed to the winner. Prizes will only be shipped within the United States. All federal, state, and local taxes, insurance, and registration are the sole responsibility of the winner.
The Snarktopus’ owner is also not responsible for any delays, or lost or stolen packages. Any form of mishap resulting from the use of the prize is the sole responsibility of the winner. The Snarktopus’ owner is not liable for any fees, damages, or compensation for injuries, property damage or unforeseen dangers.
By participating in this sweepstakes, the entrants agree to be bound by the terms and conditions, the decisions of the sweepstakes holder, and the rules of the sweepstakes. By accepting the prize, the winner assumes all responsibility and liability associated with damage caused by or claimed to be caused by the prize, the sweepstakes, or their participation in the sweepstakes.
The Snarktopus’ owner reserves the right to obtain the names, likenesses, and personal information of the entrants for the sole purpose of administering the sweepstakes prize.
The Snarktopus’ owner will not distribute, share, sell, or otherwise circulate entrants’ personal contact information (email address or home address) with any third party for any reason not directly related to awarding the prize. The Snarktopus reserves the right to publicize the name and likeness of the winner.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Secret Key: Sweet Glam Tint Glow

This beauty arrived in the memebox K-style box.  I need a new lipstick ike I need a bullet in my head, but the description on the obligatory box insert peaked my curiosity.  I popped open the cute, white and pink box to see what color Puscia or Purple+Fuscia was. 

Initial Impression:
I nicked this image from Google
I didn't expect to see such a high 80's fashion looking lipstick tube.  The outer packaging was simple and sweet, but the tube itself looks like a runway prop.  A slick chrome nub marks the base of the lipstick itself while a semi-opaque bubble gum pink squarish tube forms the top.  I like it. 

The lipstick is described as being a purple fuscia.  To be honest, it looks too purple for me or anyone to wear.  I was scared to put it on.  I already have fat lips.  The last thing I need is to color them purple and start looking like a muppet.

This lipstick looked like a giant wand of purple that would instantly turn me into a big-haired, neon-lipped 80's vixen.  It fooled me.  The lipstick is just as semi-sheer as the tube!  One swipe gives your lips a healthy burst of soft mauve pink with purple undertones.  The color is buildable.  It's a semi-glossy too, with a soft, shimmery matte look.  It's not very creamy, but has a smooth glide and leaves your lips feeling hydrated. 
Right to Left: 1 Swipe, 2 Swipes, 4 Swipes

My record with this lipstick is a good 5 hours before needing to touch up.  A bonus with this lipstick is that it leaves a subtle tint to your lips, so unlike normal lipsticks, your touch up doesn't look streaky or like you scraped a half melted crayon over your face.

I would recommend this shade to folks with a cool color palette- like mine.  It will bring out the warmth of your skin.  However, I would caution against building the color to its fullest.  After about 4 swipes, it starts looking a bit chalky and a little too close to Nicki Minaj's lipcolor choices.  Using it as a tinted lip balm or with a dab of gloss to amp up the shine works best.  If you're interested in it, you can find it on eBay pretty easily.  Memebox seems to have run out.

I should start tagging these posts with the words "African American" because lots of Chocolate Children like K-beauty, but there isn't an abundance of reviews for our skin colors...