Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Beauteque Mask Maven subscription box

The last year I have really upped my skin care game. For the first time in years I have my dry skin relatively under control. There are lots of things playing into this but one of the significant factors in my opinion is the regular use of sheet masks. I had a hard time getting on the sheet mask band wagon. But after a few tries I got the hang of how to apply them use them to their full potential and now I'm hooked. There are many many many brands of sheet masks out there of varying quality and efficacy. Fortunately, most are great and quite affordable ($1 to $3 is the average I pay).

I was excited to find a subscription box that offers a monthly selection of sheet masks. The Beauteque Mask Maven subscription box starts at $15/month (plus shipping) and gives you 9 to 11 masks to try each month. I had a coupon code when I signed up so I went with the 3 month option (ALWAYS search for coupon codes before you buy anything on the internet, you'll be surprised how many you'll find).

My first box arrived this week. The masks come packaged in a drawstring bag along with a card that details everything you receive. Be sure to hold on to the card as most masks are written in Korean with little or no English information.

This month's bag included 9 masks. From most of the reviews I've seen online it seems 9 is the norm, even though the company says you could get more. I received 8 sheet masks and one "mask pack" which is basically a cream type wash off mask. Since I generally only find time to mask on the weekends, 9 will keep me stocked for a full month.
Beauteque also offers a Korean skincare subscription box comprised of 6 to 8 full size products each month. This didn't appeal to me as much since skin care is so varied based on skin type and concern. Masks are fairly generic in that most can be used on any skin type.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jawbone Up-3 - initial thoughts

I've been toying with the idea of a fitness tracker for over a year now. I like statistics and thought that the information a tracker would give would be interesting and maybe help me stay motivated. But the cost and my inability to make a decision on which one to buy kept getting in the way.

I picked up a clip-on pedometer last year and used it for maybe a month or two. I liked the information it provided. But I had to remember to clip it on my clothes and not forget to take it off when I put my clothes in the laundry. It had a tendency to catch on things which I found annoying. Plus I had to manually track my steps. So now it's collecting dust on a shelf.

Then this month I saw the Jawbone Up3 pop up on Amazon's Deal of the Day (UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist). It was still almost $100 and the reviews were iffy. Then I noticed you could get an "open box" item in very good condition for $40 so I jumped on it. Still had a 30 day guarantee so I figured I could send it back if I changed my mind.

It arrived quickly and although the box was opened, the contents were all there and in like new condition. I got it charged up and have been wearing it ever since.

I'm not a fan of the charger. It's a short USB cable that attaches magnetically to the band. There are 4 pins that have to line up with a port on the band and I find it fiddly to get the pins lined up. You know it's right when the band sits flush on the charger. However, charging is fast. The first charge took about an hour. I've recharged it once since then and that took maybe half an hour. A charge will last about a week.
The band itself is very light and comfortable to wear. There were a lot of complaints online about the band coming loose. My guess is they didn't have the size adjusted properly. I've had no problems whatsoever. I must have a small wrist because I had to adjust the clasp all the way up to the sensor (as short as it will go) but it fits securely. I went with plain black, although they have a lot of nice color choices. The black blends in nicely with the bracelets I wear so it is unobtrusive. They say it is water resistant (can be worn in the shower, but not swimming). I err on the side of caution and take it off before showering. I have gotten it wet washing my hands with no problems.

The Up3 tracks 3 things: steps, sleep and resting heart rate. You need a bluetooth enabled device with the Up app in order to see the readings. The app keeps your historical data and gives you feedback on how you are doing and what you can do better, encouraging you to meet your goals. Thanks to firmware upgrades since it was first released, you don't have to tap to move the device from active to sleep mode, it now happens automatically or you can control it manually through the app.

This time of year I am particularly sedentary. Long hours at work, glued to my desk and cold dark nights making it hard to get out and walk. So I'm not stressing too much about my low step counts. I love that you can set an inactivity alert which will cause the band to vibrate if you've been sitting longer than the designated time. Mine is set to thirty minutes. Its is an odd feeling when it buzzes you but definitely encourages me to get up and move. Since it only tracks your steps, I love that the app allows you to manually add workout statistics. So on days when I ride the exercise bike I can add the workout and the app will figure the activity into my daily fitness goals.
Resting heartbeat is pretty cool. I had originally wanted a band that gave on demand heart rate but I'm finding this method of tracking works great. The band randomly checks your heart rate throughout the day and night and provides graphical data so it's easy to see how stress, activity and inactivity are affecting your heart rate. The app also provides feedback on your readings to help you understand what it means and how to improve.
The sleep feature is also really neat. Mostly from the interesting perspective, seeing how you move in and out of the different stages of sleep. I am generally a pretty good sleeper (thanks to a bout of mono when I was in high school) but it's fun to see the graphical interpretation of sleep.
So these are my initial thoughts on the Jawbone. It's still early days. We'll see how long I stick with it and how it plays out for the long haul. I'm not very fitness conscious. I just want to be healthy and not a total lump.

Lightweight, comfortable and attractive design
Long lasting charge
Easy to use
Great statistics via the app
Feedback/encouragement based on your numbers

Have to use the app. I wish there was a PC interface for viewing statistics and manually adding data.
Difficult to attach the charger

If you are looking for an entry level fitness tracker, this might be one to look at. I know I'm enjoying it so far.

Friday, December 04, 2015

New Christmas decorations

C and I got the Christmas decorations up this week and I wanted to share our new additions for this year.

A little while back I posted about finding a bunch of old putz/glitter houses at the flea market. I got them cleaned up and re-glittered and they turned out fabulous.

I love the way they sparkle under the tree lights.

A few weeks ago we were shopping at Olde Factory Antiques in Hummelstown and scored a really lovely nativity set.

The picture is crap because it's in a niche in our stairwell, but hopefully you can get the idea. The creche has a wooden stable and eleven ceramic figures. I attached the little LED light to illuminate it. Hoping to find a better light for it since that looks pretty tacky.

I love all the vintage holiday decorations we've collected over the years and hope to add more each year.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Flea market finds - Aug 16, 2015

Yet another beautiful summer Sunday. Temps were in the upper 60s when we headed out to Adamstown this morning and we had a nice time walking through the markets. It is predicted to be hot today and it seemed to have deterred a lot of vendors from showing up. But I did find two treasures.

First was a box of random Christmas decorations for $10. I looked through it a bit at the stand and saw at least 6 decent looking Putz houses so I bought it. When I got home and sorted the junk from the good stuff I was delighted to find I had 11 nice condition houses. The church has it's steeple and the factory has it's stack. Seeing how I just paid $3 each for the others I bought earlier this summer I think I got a great deal. I found a site with helpful information on restoring these houses and I'm very much looking forward to getting these cleaned up and under the tree this year.
 At Shupp's Grove we were passing a stand that we walk by every week and a display of Halloween die cuts caught my eye. She had a large bin of die cuts in plastic sleeves and the first was a common skeleton. On a whim I just started flipping through the stack. I spotted the cat first. Further back I found the witch head and finally the pirate skeleton. The prices were marked between $20 - $28 each but owner of the stand said she'd knock around 30% off if we were interested. I knew I HAD to have that skeleton. I made a low offer on the set of three hoping for some room to negotiate and to my surprise so took it and sold the lot for to us for $40. When I got home I looked them up in my favorite reference book (Time For Halloween Decorations). All are from the late 50s to 60s. The cat is valued around $35 in good condition. The skeleton is embossed and is part of a larger set but each piece is valued between $55 - $75. The witch is known as "Creepy Alice" and features crepe paper hair (which is surprisingly intact), valued around $65. We definitely did good price wise, but I'm more thrilled to have this neat vintage pieces for our collection.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Flea market finds 07-12-15

C and I haven't been hitting the flea markets much lately but it is a beautiful day in PA today so we hopped in the Jeep and headed to Adamstown.

Renninger's was packed so we were excited for potential treasures. As usual, most of the stuff there was overpriced. We did see alot of beautiful carnival glass that was fairly priced but not in my budget!
These three ceramic pieces came from a nice old man who was selling everything for $3 or 2 for $5 or 5 for $10. I've been looking for a pheasant planter so I knew right away that was coming home with me. C liked the turkey candle holders for Thanksgiving. I had just picked up the middle one but the man insisted these were a pair (they don't even match!!) but since he was selling them as a pair I took them both. The one on the right has a chip on the tail, but it's in the back so you don't really see it.

After Renninger's we headed over to Shupp's Grove. We didn't find anything at the regular stands, but lucked out at the few new vendors that were there.
I spotted some carnival glass and knew I wanted the little blue footed dish. The lady running the stand was only asking $8 and said she'd make me a good deal if I bought more than one piece. I picked up the other piece of blue carnival glass and the little green container hoping she'd bundle them for $20. When she said $15 for the 3 I was delighted. They are smallish pieces (maybe 5-6 inches) and the glaze on the footed dish isn't real good so I'm guessing they aren't really valuable pieces, but they are beautiful and will look great on my kitchen window.
We found this Halloween die cut for $12. It's in excellent condition. It's unpunched with only some tape damage on the back. Wonderful addition to our collection. We saw a lot of neat Halloween pieces today but prices were outrageous. I'm a cheapskate with loads of patience when it comes to this stuff. If you look long enough, you generally find something worthwhile at a decent price.
 And finally we scored some vintage Christmas decorations. I've been on the hunt for the little cardboard houses forever. Dad still puts his under his Christmas tree and I've longed to have a set of my own. But they are delicate little things and difficult to find in decent condition. Even hard to find at reasonable prices. Today we managed both. The guy we bought them from actually had a bunch of pretty good pieces. These were probably the nicest of the bunch. All but the blue one still have their cellophane windows intact. The glitter is excellent on the pink house and fair on the rest. I plan to reglitter them and get cellophane for the blue house and will love putting these out this Christmas. I also picked up the glass skater ornament since I've been wanting to start a collection of glass ornaments. The whole lot only cost $15.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

2015 Garden

The garden is in and looking good. I'm approaching it a bit differently this year. Fewer plants, wider spacing. I think the last few years we've tried to cram too much in and ended up disappointed.

The long bed has onions again and tomatoes. I read an article in the local paper this week that suggested not suckering your tomatoes to increase yield and prevent sunburn. I was always taught to remove suckers and generally try to follow that practice. But I'm all about getting more tomatoes, so I'm going to give it a try. My mother in law has never suckered her plants and has HUGE yields (she also has soil to die for, but I can't really replicate that!) Excited to try the Black Krim. Everyone raves about heirloom tomatoes but I don't think I've had much luck in the past. Hope springs eternal.

The big bed is really quite spread out. The Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are prolific growers so I'm hoping I've left them enough room. Eggplant and peppers up the middle should be fine. And 3 squash plants to dominate the other third. Some people might be terrified at 3 squash plants since they tend to produce a ton. But C and I love zucchini and we've got a lot of neighbors to share with.

I decided not to put flowers in the little bed this year. The blueberries are still limping along. I put a Mountain Fresh and 2 Plum Crimson tomatoes and 4 North Star peppers. These are all kind of extras for sharing so we'll see how they make out over there.

The lilac we put in last year is getting ready to bloom. Our neighbor's lilac didn't bloom this year and I really miss the smell. Hopefully ours will be well scented.
The little bed at the end of our deck is looking so nice this year too. The burning bush is gorgeous. The bleeding hearts and columbines are really filling in too. I put a Golden Treasure Barberry in to try to fill up that last space.

Here's just a quick look at the flowerbeds at the front of our house. I have no rhyme or reason to what I plant there, just whatever looks pretty when we are looking at flowers. The mums didn't fair too well after our winter...only a few little stalks left. I'm hoping to baby them through but will replace them this fall if need be.
 We put down cocoa shell mulch this year. It is by far my favorite mulch but not always easy to come by. I love how easy it is to get in around the flowers. It smells heavenly. That does fade after awhile, but right now our house smells like Willy Wanka's chocolate factory! It is a light mulch so wind is not its friend and it can get a little moldy looking in a wet summer. Still, it is my go to when I can get it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

MoonaLisa Haul

It's time for another Moonalisa haul. My Spring 2015/Let Them Eat Cake order finally arrived this week. The wait was excruciating on this one. I placed the order February 28 and it didn't arrive until May 4. Originally she said the orders would start shipping around April 8. They only started a week after that. Then the fulfillment company changed their processing order, so even though I ordered within the first few minutes of the sale, my order didn't ship until near the end of the run. So, yeah, the wait time was a real bummer. 

I ordered lots of goodies this time.

Only one soap, Woodland Moss. I did find out from Moona that her soaps are melt and pour, not cold process. They are gorgeously done and the best quality m&p I've ever experienced. So even though I'm a soap snob, these definitely make the cut. The scent is herbal and woody. Very outdoorsy. She calls it "man-soap" and I do agree a guy would like it, but there's nothing so masculine a girl can't use it. I also got this scent in perfume and lotion.

A lip balm in Raspberry Vanilla. It takes me forever to go through a tube of lip balm and I don't keep too many open at a time so haven't had a chance to try this yet.

I picked up the L'Heroine perfume oil which comes in the pretty hex bottle. A somewhat powdery, complex earthy smell (notes listed are Agarwood, Myrhh , Frankincense, Vanilla Ab, Amber Blend, Sweet Orange). I also got this in lotion.

The other two lotions are Bees' Knees (beautiful hyacinth floral) and Freyja (light citrus). The lotion bottles are a different format than before. I think I might like these square bottles better than the round ones. Because the lotion is rather thick I store the bottles upside down. The square shape should help to keep them from tipping over.
After chatting with another Moonalisa lover about my previous experience with the hair mist having almost no scent and her telling me her's had always been highly scented, I decided my previous one may have been a fluke and I would try them again. I picked up 4 since I'm nearly out and detangler is a non-negotiable for me. Freyja; Bali Cloud is a creamy vanilla with ylang ylang, very nice; Cotton Candy Cupcake which smells exactly like it sounds (most strongly scented of the bunch); and Earth is a very softly scented orange (again, the scent is almost non-existent in this one). So I'm still on the fence about the hair mist. The product is great, I just wish there was more scent payoff.

I'm a little disappointed in my scent choices this time. The scents all sounded good when it was 30 degrees when I ordered. Now that the temps are in the 80s, I wish I had chosen more summery scents. My sister got Sea Witch soap which smells (and looks) amazing! She also got soap and lotion in Brazilian Mango Lime Smoothy. I'm not normally a lime fan, but I think that one might be perfect for warm weather.

Not sure when Moona's next launch will be. She mentioned needing to take a break and maybe just doing some small releases. Be sure to join her Facebook page to get all the announcements.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tea with Jam and Bread

Hooray! A finished object to show.

I finished my Tea with Jam and Bread sweater last weekend and was able to wear it for my birthday. I modified the pattern only by not knitting the stripes and leaving off the pockets. It was an incredibly easy and relatively fast knit. I am 100% team top down, knit in one piece sweaters now. It was fabulous not having to do all that tedious seaming at the end. The fit is wonderful. I have finally realized I'm not indeed actually as big as a house and thus should not knit my sweaters to fit one. Knitting at one's true size has a ton of benefits...less knitting, less yarn and an end result you can actually be proud to wear. I knit size M2 which gives me about 5 inches positive ease, plenty of room to throw a shirt under. I used a little over 5 balls of Caron Country yarn in Silver Service (looks blue in the picture but it is actually a pretty true silver color). I would definitely knit this pattern again.

I'm anxious to get another sweater on the needles while it's still cold enough to knit big items. I have a pattern picked out. Just need to decide on some yarn.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Knitting check in January 2015

Knitting has been conspicuously absent from my blog (and pretty much from my life) for almost or maybe more than 2 years. Life got in the way and it was as if that light just blinked out one day. I stopped knitting, stopped going to Ravelry, stopped buying yarn.

I started a sock in fall 2013 because I wanted to have some knitting on vacation. It took me a full year to finish that sock, only to find out as I sewed in the last tail of yarn that there was a hole in the gusset. I soon discovered that the whole skein of yarn (Wollmeise no less) was riddled with bad spots where the plies had frayed. Was it just a bad skein or had it sat in storage too long?

Even though the discovery of the defective yarn was a bummer, it got me thinking I should use the yarns I have in stash before they all meet a similar fate. And slowly, my knitting mojo has started to return.

I cast on a sweater (Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaier) since I had a full sweater quantity of Caron Country Yarn. It's knit from the top down, all in one piece so there will be no seaming at the end (yeah!!)

I chose to knit it all in one color, partly because I prefer solids to stripes, partly because the yarn is discontinued and it would have been difficult to get a second color. I'm about half way down the first sleeve and should have the sweater finished in time to wear it yet this season.

I decided to pull out my remaining ball of Wollmeise to see if it too was fraying. Fortunately, it is unscathed (I'm guess the other was just a flukey bad skein).

I'm just a few rows in to the Java socks pattern. Yes I'm using a toothpick as a cable needle since I can't seem to find any small cable needles in my knitting tools (maybe I never had any that small??) I've ordered a set off Etsy but for now the toothpick works fine.

And I did find a project to get onto those new Karbonz I wrote about last week. It's Brooklyn Tweed's Noro Scarf recipe. Basically just a one by one rib alternating two colors every two rows.
Bonus points for using my own handspun yarn. Thank goodness for my Ravelry notes from when I spun the stuff or I'd have no idea what they are (note to self, LABEL THY HANDSPUN WHEN THOU SPINS IT!) It is knitting up gorgeous and soft. Will look fantastic with my new wool coat.

So, hooray, I'm knitting again. It feels fantastic. I didn't realize how much I missed it. How cathartic and grounding and meditative knitting can be. Part of me feels these last 2 years might not have been so hard if knitting hadn't been so absent. Maybe, maybe not. For now, I'm very much enjoying my rekindled love.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

KnitPro Karbonz interchangeable needles

So here's the Christmas present I bought for myself this year.

I caught a glimpse of these sexy, silver tipped black needles on a picture someone posted of a knitting project they were working on and became obsessed with finding them. She didn't list the needle brand so it took me several days of searching to puzzle it out. The needles are by KnitPro and called Karbonz. The needles are made of carbon fiber with nickle plated tips. And DAMN are they gorgeous.

I treated myself to the deluxe set which includes 9 needle sizes, 4 cables, end caps, keys, size markers and case. I am thrilled with the set. The case is compact and light. It looks like I'll be able to fit more tips if I decide to expand my set. I love that the sizes are not only stamped on the needles but engraved on the end that attaches to the cables. Some reviews had stated that the tips sometimes had uneven joins, however all of mine seems totally smooth.

I can not wait to get something on these needles. I've got two projects going right now (a sweater and a pair of socks). I'm still not back up to my old speed and hesitate to get too many projects going at once. But I'm thinking perhaps a scarf would be a good choice. I'll be sure to report back when I've had a chance to test them.