10 September 2017

Just When I Thought I'd Figured It Out

As you likely know, I am an animal lover.  The Tim and I are vegetarians (though admittedly we eat fish on occasion), and we try really hard not to buy leather shoes, bags, etc. (though we still use/wear things we've had for years).  So we are not perfect - like most people - and we are not vegan - because we are ridiculously fond of dairy products.  But we do try to be conscious about what we are buying and what we are eating.

For many years, I've done my best to be really conscientious about beauty products.  I made every effort to buy and use things that were listed as being cruelty-free.  And for a while, it seemed that more and more companies were jumping on the bandwagon of wanting to be cruelty free, not testing their products on animals.  I was pleased because some of my favorite products and brands were on board, so I could buy and use their products in good conscience.

But that has changed in the past few years, apparently.  I don't know exactly when it happened (because frankly, I was going along obliviously), but at some point China demanded that any products from other countries that were sold there be tested on animals, as that is part of their accepted protocols.

I first became aware of this when I read a letter-to-the-editor in an issue of Allure magazine. The writer was bemoaning the fact that a product she had been using and really liked - Urban Decay Naked Palette - was now something she couldn't buy because they had started doing business in China, where animal testing was required.  Oh crap, I thought, and decided to do some research.  It was eye-opening to see all of the companies - drugstore and high-end brands - who had been cruelty-free, but were no longer.

From what I can determine, a lot of the companies that used to be cruelty-free still are, but have been bought out by larger companies that are not cruelty-free. Which adds another whole level to the issue.

Sigh.  Just when I thought I'd been careful enough to avoid using things tested on animals!  It's very disappointing to say the least.  Of course, China is a HUGE market for just about anything, and businesses are in business to make money.  

I've been making more of an effort than usual lately when I finish a product, to look for a replacement that is acceptable.  And that's OK, it's my responsibility to pay attention when I am buying things - be it safe food, non-polluted water, or face wash.  

But it was sure a heck of a lot easier when more companies were doing the right thing.

Thanks, China.

30 August 2017

I'm Really Tired of All of This

Seriously, people.  I don't know if it's because I'm feeling sensitive about certain things, or if it's just because I am in general a cynical and easily annoyed person, but HOLY PENCILS BATMAN give me a break!  

Rants ahead.

First up, the current occupants of the White House.  I think anyone who has met me knows that I feel that 45 is a POS, and I don't mean Point Of Service.  Yesterday, when he was scheduled to visit Houston, I read a report about how it would be interesting to see if he could prove to be a good "Consoler-in-Chief," given that he "appears to lack empathy."  Well he performed as expected, and I ask myself OH MY GOD HOW YOU CAN YOU LACK EMPATHY????  Galling.

Then, his wife.  On the one hand, you have the "Don't Reduce Her to What She Is Wearing, It's Not Important, and Women Should Stop Tearing Each Other Down" crowd, and on the other hand you have the "But She Changed Into Sneakers Once They Landed" crowd.  

My take?  This is an imperfect world, and the stiletto heels and sunglasses were a stupid choice.  It gave the appearance of trying to look fashionable rather than practical when visiting a dangerous place in a hurricane zone.  Also, why the sunglasses - it was not sunny in DC or in Houston?  And by extension, why is she always squinting, does she need prescription glasses?  I don't get her.  And how she dresses is not the most important thing in the world, but people do notice and if Michelle Obama got slammed for wearing shorts on Air Force One, we can criticize Melania for wearing stilettos.  It didn't ruin my day, but I still think it was stupid.  Also, the whole "Women Should Stop Tearing Each Other Down" thing makes me stabby.  Women are people, and if we should no more give them a pass due to gender than we should men.  When a woman acts stupid, improperly, rudely, insensitively, etc. she should be called out on it.  

The kid.  He's a kid, let him wear what kids wear.  Leave him alone, leave him out of it.  He's got enough to deal with given his father and older siblings.  God help him.

OK, next.  Yesterday morning on my way to work, I was waiting to cross the street and there were a group of four people in front of me.  One of them said, "I am so upset because my car is going to need $1500 worth of repairs and I don't know how I'm going to afford that."  Another person said, "You shouldn't be complaining when thousands of people are suffering more from Hurricane Harvey."  And that annoyed me.  Granted, if she had been upset about breaking a fingernail, I would agree.  But you know what?  People's problems and their suffering are real, regardless who has it worse in the world.  I am guessing that the first person was feeling awful about what was happening in Houston, but also worried about her personal finances.  Each is legitimate, and there are no prizes for who suffers the most.

Sharing the sidewalk.  I know that in a lot of places, there are sidewalks that are as wide as buildings.  But I live in Center City Philadelphia, where the streets are tiny and the sidewalks tinier.  When I am walking with someone else or even a group of people, and even a single person is coming the other way, I move behind who I am with so they can walk past.  It's not hard, and it's never meant that I've missed a golden nugget of wisdom from the mouth of my companion(s).  It appears that I am one of the few people who do this.  And if you DARE to say "Excuse me" and try to pass, people look at you as if you just ate a baby or something.  I've even gotten the sarcastic, "Oh excuuuse me for living" type of comment.  It's a sidewalk.  No one should have to walk in the street and risk getting hit by a vehicle because you are walking along with someone else.  To quote George Costanza, "We're living in a SOCIETY, people!"

Nazis.  'Nuff said.

If you are still reading, thanks for letting me get this off my chest.  It won't change anything, but it makes me feel better.  Because now I can take my lovely perfect self and my estimable personal behavior and move on with my day.  And that should make all of us feel better, right?  ;-)

31 July 2017

Time for Some Product Reviews

Hiya - I wanted to be sure to get in another post before the end of July.  (I know, I'm getting in under the wire here!)  We are slowly but surely getting back to normal after having to say goodbye to our sweetheart Jetsam, but as all of you who have lost someone know, it never is easy, and there is always the loss.  Thanks for  your kind comments on the post on my other blog. You guys are the best.

How's about I tell you about a couple of things I've used/been trying and what I think of them?  Not that you have to feel the same way, or even give them a try, but I know that I often read what others have to say before I decide whether or not to plunk down cash for something.

So let me tell my thoughts on two products:  Almay Intense I-Color Volumizing Mascara, and Innersense Beauty Inner Peace Whipped Cream Texturizer.   There's good news and bad news.

First up:

First let me say, I love mascara.  I am fortunate enough to have long eyelashes that are also quite full (even at my advanced age), and since I feel that my eyes may be my best feature, I like to accentuate them with mascara.  Also, since I wear glasses, I like my eyes to actually show up.  I am not overly fond of black mascara, since my eyes and skin are so pale, it can make me look ghoulish.  (Please note: I do not wear mascara all the time - only when I am getting dressed up or going to work.)

I used to use Almay mascara pretty regularly years ago.  Then they changed the formula and I moved on to other products.  I'm a person who is just as happy with something from the drugstore as I am if it's from a boutique or department store, as long as I like it and it is a good value.  So when I was at the end of a tube a month or so ago, I decided to try Almay again, since two people I know who are very picky had been singing its praises.  I bought the  Sapphire shade because I thought it would be pretty.

I am sorry to say that this product is a big fat NO for me.  First of all, a LOT comes out of the tube.  I tried the trick where you pull it out against the tip of the opening to get some of it off, and that just created a big blob on the opening, and left still too much on the wand.  I tried using a tissue to wipe the wand before I used it on my lashes, and all I got was a messy tissue.  I could probably have lived with that if I'd loved the product, but it was hard to get on evenly, and it almost immediately clumped and flaked.  Plus, after about five minutes, my eyes felt itchy and I noticecd a little burning.  It didn't look nice, and I didn't like it, no matter how reasonable the price point.  Needless to say, your experience may differ, but I was really glad bought this at CVS, where I could return it.  I tried it on five separate occasions, and not one time was I pleased with the result.

Fortunately, my next product experience was a positive one:

(old packaging, which shows up really well)
(new packaging, which barely shows up)

Years ago, I used to get my hair cut and colored at a salon that was uber-organic.  The stylist used this on my hair, and I really liked it so I purchased a jar (back when it looked like the first image).  I really liked it, as it was lightweight, barely/hardly/not really scented, and it WORKED!  Even better, you use a really tiny amount, so though it was not cheap (it was $16.00 a jar back then), it lasted a good long time.  

My hair is S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T.  It's fine and soft, but I have a lot of it.  It has no real body, and so it sits on my head, flat, and often sticking out in spots.  Again, if I'm sitting at home, who cares, but if I'm getting dressed up or going to work, I like to look a little bit more presentable.  I am not exaggerating when I say that over the past few years, I've tried hair products at every end of the price spectrum, and none have helped my hair look nice at all.  I had stopped going to the salon where I got this a few years back, since it is not really that convenient to where I live. And they were the only place in the city that carried this line of products.  

BUT - I realized that I could look online!!  And there it was - in a new container, and $4.00 more expensive, but with the same formulation.  So I placed an order, and it arrived, and to be honest, I almost hated to open the jar.  I was sure that in the intervening years, it had become strongly fragranced, or different in texture.   I needn't have worried - it was only the outside appearance that had changed - whew!

This stuff is great.  It's really lightweight, but allows even my soft hair to look better, and hold a style (OK, I am too lazy to actually "style" my hair, but work with  me here).  You still need just a small amount for maximum results.  And there is hardly any scent ... what is there dissipates almost immediately.  If your head is sweaty, or  has been under a sunhat, you only need to fluff with your fingers a bit, and things look good again.

So, yes it's somewhat pricey for the initial outlay, but I'll easily have this for a year or more.  It works.  Your hair doesn't smell, and people around you are not overwhelmed by some random scent (some of the others I've tried -WHOA!).  

So now you know. Whether or not you even care.  My opinions, for what they are worth.  Let me know if you have any other products you've tried, and if they did/did not work.

22 July 2017

Sad update

Please visit my other blog to see what the title means.  I can't write it twice.

10 July 2017

The Loveliness of Just Being

I have been trying really hard in recent years to be more mindful - especially with time.  Instead of always thinking of the next thing or place, I've been trying to make myself appreciate more the here and now.  It's not easy, as I generally have about 48 different things going on in my brain at any given time.  (Not necessarily big or important things, mind you.)  

But I have actually made a lot of progress, especially compared to when I started.  And yesterday was a perfect example of how nice it is when it works the way you would like it to work all of the time.

Here's the basic breakdown of my day:
  • Got up
  • Spent an hour or so just thinking, relaxing, reading, cuddling kitties
  • Fixed and ate some breakfast, with a cup of tea
  • Watched "CBS Sunday Morning," because I wanted to see the segment about Louise Penny
  • Check e-mail, read blogs
  • Cleaned up my breakfast stuff, and put on my sloppy clothes to do some garden work/sweeping up outside
  • Put some flowers into flowerpots
  • Put new topsoil on the planting areas in the front of the house and in the garden
  • Put decorative rocks in both places
  • Watered everything
  • Took a shower
  • Read a while
  • Knitted a while
  • Read some more
  • Walked to the market for a few things
  • Prepped a quiche for dinner and put it in the oven to cook
  • Read some more
  • Ate dinner
  • Cleaned up dishes so The Tim could wash them
  • Changed clothes to go to a concert
  • Went to concert
  • Came home, washed up, and put on my pjs
  • Went to bed
OK, so that is likely more detailed than you cared or needed to know.  But I did in fact do all of those things.  And the list is kind of long.   Even so, each thing was done with actual mindfulness.  I managed to do each thing on its own, not multitasking, not rushing through one thing because I knew others were coming up, or that I wanted to specifically accomplish x number of things in the day.  Granted, the things highlighted in blue were slightly more easily done since The Tim took a really long nap in the afternoon, so I was completely left to my own devices, but I could have done them as well if he'd been around (he's just a "let's do so-and-so RIGHT now" kind of person).  

I enjoyed my day.  The weather was really nice, so being outside in the garden was extra enjoyable.  But as I was reviewing the day in my head as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that I had been present during the whole day - the time when I was relaxing, reading, knitting, cooking, I was aware that not only was I doing it, but it was the only thing I was doing at the time.  And it felt nice, calming, and nothing felt like a chore.  

Maybe it's was the planets being properly aligned, because I have no delusions that this will be my life now.  But I have to tell you, it was really GOOD to experience just being.  And an even better feeling not to worry that I wasn't also doing ten other things, or planning all the things that should happen next.

In a word, it was lovely.  :-)

(Lake Gerar, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Photo by my niece Amanda)

*The concert, for those of you wondering (and I know I would be), was James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, and it was worth every single cent we'd paid for the tickets!

27 June 2017

I Often Wonder ...

Lots of things, to be honest.  But these things have been on my mind lately:

** How do some people always look perfect?  For instance, I have a next-door neighbor who works full-time running her own business, has a kid, a husband, and a dog, and no matter what, always looks amazing.  I don't mean, amazing as in always fully made up with her hair fixed just so, etc.  I mean, she will come back from running, and look better than I do on my best days.  Seriously, how is that possible?  I would just like to know.

** Do people still teach their children manners, and to be kind?  I am someplace where I am around a lot of kids all day long.  It seems that whether they are with their own parents, or with teachers/chaperones/other caregivers, politeness and kindness are the exceptions.  When I was a kid (during the mid-20th century), I knew that if I misbehaved AT ALL when we went someplace, that there were consequences.  And I didn't even have really strict parents, but there were still rules.

** When did being smart become something bad?  I don't mean being a know-it-all, or a show-off, I mean just being an intelligent person.  It seems that now, being smart means being "elite" and therefore not caring about anyone else.

** Why do we always hear that people who live in the Midwest are a) the only "real" Americans, and b) kinder than anywhere else?  Why don't "real" Americans live in Maine, or in Idaho?  And it's been my personal experience when I have lived in the Midwest that people there are no kinder than they are anywhere else that I've lived.  Frankly, I get pretty sick of hearing about it.

** If I had four children, people might comment about it, in that a lot of families these days are smaller than that.  But the fact that I have no children and four cats makes it open season on people declaring that I am some kind of weirdo Cat Lady.  No one ever calls a woman with four children a weirdo Kid Lady.

** How do people manage to knit so many things in such a short period of time, particularly when/if they have full-time jobs and a family?  I knit A LOT, and granted, I'm not the world's fastest, but even so, I have been feeling amazed at myself when I can knit a pair of socks in a month.  Do these other people never eat or sleep?

** Why do so many employers seem to frown upon people actually using their vacation?  Especially in the U.S., most of us get such a paltry amount (2 weeks out of a whole year??), and then when you actually ask for the time off, they act like you are some kind of low-life.   In many countries, workers routinely receive more time off, and are *expected* to take it, and somehow those countries and businesses still exist.  How shocking.

** And every day, every minute, I wonder how the current resident of the Oval Office still has people who think he's great.  I'm not sure I'll ever really be able to wrap my mind around that one.

15 June 2017

Glamour Do's and Don's

When I was a kid, one of my older sisters had a subscription to Glamour magazine.  She was all about fashion and style, and what was the latest, etc.  I would usually take a look at it, because I took a look at/read nearly everything that was in the house (seriously, my parents had no interest in censorship - I'm sure I'd be in the care of Child Services in today's world).  Sometimes I found it interesting, sometimes it was all beyond my interest or understanding, but my very favorite part ALWAYS was at the end of the magazine, where they would have the page of Do's and Don'ts.

This isn't really a good representation of what it used to look like, but you get the idea.  I used to enjoy this because, at least when I was a kid, I seldom saw people actually dressed or made up like the "Don'ts" and found it highly amusing.

I haven't looked at a Glamour magazine in many years, so I have no idea if I would have the same kind of appreciation for it.  But I'll still see people whose attire or makeup is astonishing/frightening/whatever and think to myself, "Surely that's a Don't."  But that's as far as I take it.

Today though, we have a LOT more people deciding what is or is not appropriate - in just about every category.  I am particularly fond of the ones where they inform us of what women should/should not wear/do after the age of ____ (fill in the blank).   I guess I find it even more shocking/amusing that to some, it's gospel truth!

But a friend recently showed me this item, and I was highly amused because: a) after 30??? are you kidding me???, and b) one of the items is hoop earrings!!!  When I read this, I laughed out loud, because I don't understand how hoop earrings are a problem for anyone of any age.

I'm afraid I don't get it.  Granted, I see some hoop earrings that are so large/heavy/embellished that I would never wear them myself, or I would find them uncomfortable if I did, but I've never seen anyone of any age wearing hoop earrings and thought, "Whoa, that shouldn't be happening."

Shorts where your butt is showing?  I don't personally want to see anyone wearing those.  Sheer tops/dresses/pants?  Same thing.  I mean, there are so many other things to choose from, and someone is taking a stand on HOOP EARRINGS???

If you're looking for me, I'll be taking off my hoop earrings, putting on my orthopedic shoes with rolled down  knee-high nylons, and sitting in my rocking chair until it's time for my medication.