A Day for Giving Thanks…

A Day to Give Thanks...

A Day to Give Thanks…

Whether you live in the United States or not, Thanksgiving Day is a good day to take a moment to give thanks for all the good people and things in your life, and for me that’s good health, great family and friends, a safe and happy home, and of course…. books!

In addition to some current fun I’m having in an alternate-reality, steam-punky, Victorianesque, Vampiric London (God Save the Queen), I am reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, written in 1776.

How, how was I not forced to read this book in High School History or Civics, not to mention University American History???  Apparently the work was a huge driving force behind the creation of the Declaration of Independence.  It’s not even some super-long tome — it’s a long pamphlet!  If you are a U.S. citizen, and have not read this, go ahead and do so — it’s very enlightening, and will definitely give you more Revolutionary history street cred.

NOT TO MENTION, THOMAS PAINE LOVES SOME ALL CAPS!  It’s pretty amusing actually — I’ve read my fair share of books from the 1700 and 1800’s and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use all caps.  He may have influenced e-mail and chat room shouters everywhere. Yay?

So give thanks, DONT SHOUT (unless you are fighting tyranny), and have a lovely Thanksgiving Thursday!

(Not) Time for a Coffee (it’s 11PM after all),

Maddy

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Health and Beauty Bytes: Job Hunting Depression

Holy CRAP, these jobs suck!!

“Holy CRAP, these jobs suck!!”

Dear Awesome Subscribers and Lovely Random Readers,

I am a week behind!  Had a bit of writers block actually, but as they say, the only way to get through it is to go ahead and pick up the pen (or keyboard really) – and just get to it, so here we go.  File this one under Mental Health Bytes!

 

Angst = Part-time Job Hunting
So one of the other reasons I did not post last week was that a large chunk of my time was devoted to looking for good part-time jobs online.  This happens to me periodically when my freelance graphic design business has a lull and I think how nice it would be to have a regular paycheck again(and am avoiding doing more marketing, etc.).  However, in the immortal words of Anastasia Steele, “oh my!” – through my extensive research (one extensive week, on East Bay Craigslist), I have re-confirmed that part-time jobs are just terrible!  I mean awful.  And many times absurd.

Here were the two main offenses:

Number One: They pay next to nothing. 
I am in my late 30’s and am trying to confine my working hours to when my child is in elementary school. Granted, my “next to nothing” may not be your “next to nothing.” However since I graduated college with honors a few years ago (a few + 10) and was making over $22/hr. at my last full-time gig (Office/Project Manager/Designer, pre-bambino), the thought of trudging through an enormous laundry list of office tasks for a sweet $12 an hour ($4 less than my first job right out of college!) –  just sounds demoralizing at best.   These companies who are not required to provide benefits to their part-time employees should really compensate with a few more dollars an hour, just out of common decency.  Of course I am speaking to how things are here in the Bay Area where gas is over $3.50/gallon and a small bag of organic apples is $6.
A wage of $12 an hour, minus tax and the commute cost, would not even buy me 2 bags of friggin’ apples for an hour’s work – that just sucks.

Smeagol knows what's up: "BOOKS! My precioussssss..."

Smeagol knows what’s up:
“BOOKS! My precioussssss…”

Number two: Unreasonable Demands
I see a lot of office jobs that claim to require heavy lifting.  I cannot lift 40lbs. on a regular basis unless most of that 40 is comprised of my child, and even then only barely. So right there – there goes like 40% of the part-time jobs.  Why did the Library Clerk’s job I applied to last winter list that in their criteria?  Obviously I lied, and said I could lift it, because I would love (LOVE!!!) to work at the library(cue Smeagol voice: “Books!  My preciousss!”).  However, after a 2 hour long online application process, I was eventually denied due to “insufficient library experience” – and this was an entry level position. So apparently having managed corporate offices, reading 40+ books a year, and visiting the library every week does not mean you are equal to the task of shelving books and scanning patron’s items in/out.  Not that I’m bitter.

I will also file under “Unreasonable Demands” the plethora of jobs that request only “entry level applicants” or people of a certain age apply – such as the office staff job I saw last week that said the “ideal candidate” would be under 23 years old.  What?  Really?? I just went back to Craigslist to find that job posting so I could link to it here and it appears to have been removed.  I wonder why?  Blatant ageism, perhaps?  I’m not even OLD and I’m offended! Bah humbug!

In summary, the only thing worse than looking at the current (pitiful) available jobs in the East Bay would be to get called for an interview for one of them and be asked “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”* and other equally absurd questions they throw at you these days.  So if you too are keeping an eye out for a good new job, God bless you, and good luck – it’s rough out there!

Quick Book Update
Oh I am liking Last Sacrifice SO much more than the previous Vampire Academy book! I’m at 62%. I will admit I still do a little description skimming, which is a bit naughty, but the dialogue, action, and plot-line are much better — looks like it will be a great end to the VA series.

For those that are missing my nail posts — I will debut my signature Holiday look next week — it involves a polish that  looks *exactly* like vintage glitter to me — one of my all time favs — you shall see!

And now, time for a coffee,

Maddy

* My husband was actually asked that question during an interview. Tragic.

Book Bytes: The Value of Persuasion

"Cassandra, honestly, as a sister, if you're going to draw me disproportionately, could you at least give me some longer lashes or something?"

“Cassandra, honestly, as a sister, if you’re going to draw me disproportionately, could you at least give me some longer lashes or something?”

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that mentions a famous book you have never read? Did it ever persuade you to read the book?  I read the Gothic classic The Mysteries of Udolpho because it was mentioned in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  Similarly I read the sci-fi classic A Wizard of Earthsea because it was mentioned in The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

Now did anyone watch The Lake House? There are two awesome things in that movie. One: (I’m sorry in advance…) But somehow, Keanu Reeves rocks, and I mean — rocks, a blazer and turtleneck.  It’s almost magical (Ladies?  Am I right??). I generally loathe turtlenecks, but darn it! Don’t get me started.  Fwew. OK!

And Two: Sandra Bullock’s favorite book in the movie is Persuasion by Jane Austen – which is also my favorite Jane Austen book. In fact, I heard the whole movie is a loose interpretation of the book, which seems to be very loose indeed to me.  I suppose they are both about a happy ending coming after a long wait, but I don’t see the whole crux of the major dilemma in the movie being a life altering decision that the heroine was persuaded to make in her youth, as it is in the book. Thoughts, anyone?

Furthermore, despite a turtlenecked Keanu in the movie saying the premise of Persuasion sounded “terrible” (I think, could not find quote online), the book is actually wonderful. Besides the biting social satire and clever commentary, it contains possibly the quintessential love letter of classic literature, coming after a very long and very emotionally painful separation of lovers. It reads thusly:

 “I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”
― Jane AustenPersuasion

Persuasion,  by Jane Austen

Persuasion,
by Jane Austen

Who could resist that? Can you imagine getting a note like that from someone whom you were in unrequited love with for years? Wouldn’t you just turn to goo? Like, pleasant, happy goo (not like ectoplasm or anything).

So if you are in need of some biting social satire, awesome dialogue, and just some general “aaaaaaaaaaw!” in your life, I highly recommend Persuasion. It’s free on Kindle and at your local library. Enjoy!

And now… Time for a Coffee…

Maddy

Green Halloween: Health and Beauty Bytes

Green is the New Black

OPI Shatter the Scales for accent over greenish gold polish.

OPI Shatter the Scales for accent over greenish gold polish.

So last week’s “Health” section of Health and Beauty Bytes went a little long so I didn’t get to include any fun manicure looks. Black would just be too predictable, right?  So here I’m showcasing 2 green-toned color schemes you can rock for Halloween without feeling like you have to remove them once the kiddies have passed out in sugar-comas.

First up is a shot of a pretty gold and green-toned chromey Gap brand nail polish (which has probably been discontinued!), with OPI Shatter the Scales layered over the accent finger.  You can get close to this same look with OPI Just Spotted the Lizard as the main polish color also — it’s just a bit darker and greener.

Superbass Shatter on accent over Butter London Wallis

Superbass Shatter on accent over Butter London Wallis

Speaking of a bit darker, here’s a shot of one of my favorite polishes ever, Butter London in Wallis, with OPI Superbass

Shatter over the accent finger.  I am especially happy with this color combo and contrast.  I’ve been wearing it for a week! I think this would also look great with the shatter over all the fingers, or maybe 3? As always, 2 coats of the main polish over a fortifying base, and under a speed dry topcoat was used for these looks.

10-28-13-girl

See actual photo below!

Little Girl Manicure

My little Miss is going to be a vampire this year, so I had planned a reverse French manicure look with Sally Hansen Sugar Coat polish in Candy Corn (bright orange) as the tip color over a dark base, with a light coat of gold glitter over the whole nail as a topper.  As I’ve said before, the textured polishes seem to last longer, so they WOULD BE especially handy for a kiddie manicure… however she insisted on plain black.  So here it is. :p

Book Update

So I’m finishing Chasing Magic tonight, and it’s (as usual with the series) really good.  It’s a gritty, painful, heart-wrenching “good” most times, but so good none-the-less. I’m going to need to clear the drug-addled literary cobwebs after this one though (Chess manages to finally overdose in this one – good thing her man keeps nasal opiate inhibitors in his car! Thoughtful, no? …eek?).  Last night the library did not cooperate as I was going to pick up Insurgent since Allegiant just came out a few days ago to wrap up the trilogy. So

Outpost, by Ann Aguirre

Outpost,
by Ann Aguirre

instead I went with Outpost by Ann Aguirre which is about zombies, and 2nd in the Razorland trilogy. Speaking of series, I also picked up the hefty Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.  It’s the final book of the Vampire Academy series and I wasn’t super excited with the last installment, however, I’m so close to finishing the series, I can’t stop now, right? Well I could – I dropped the Black Dagger Brotherhood series – it happens. I just prefer to finish! And with that, Happy Halloween! and…

Time for a (spooky) Coffee,

Maddy

 

And here they are! Little Miss' Halloween mani. I tried to persuade her for some glitter (at least!), but no.C'est la kid!

And here they are! Little Miss’ Halloween mani. I tried to persuade her for some glitter (at least!), but no.
C’est la kid!

 

Health & Beauty Bytes: What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About Your PPIs

Pop Quiz!

Q: Which popular prescription anti-acid medication can deplete your body of magnesium thereby causing new problems like constipation, restless leg syndrome, and chronic fatigue?

A: Lots of them!

10-21-13stomach-plush_med

“Et tu, tomato sauce?”
Many foods can exacerbate symptoms of GERD.

If you or anyone you know has GERD (like I do), you will have one or more of the following symptoms:

1)       Heartburn
2)       Regurgitation
3)       Difficulty in swallowing
4)       Pain with swallowing/sore throat
5)       Increased salivation
6)       Nausea
7)       Chest Pain
8)       Coughing

When I was pregnant years ago I developed really bad indigestion, which mostly disappeared after I gave birth, but then slowly came back over the next few years until I had symptoms 1, 3, 6, & 7 listed above.  Fun!  I was given an EKG about 2 years ago and was told “you have GERD”, given a long list of foods to avoid , and a prescription for pharmacy-grade Prilosec, twice a day.

What I was not told was that there are equally effective natural alternatives to prescription antacids like Prilosec, and that the prescription medications (and over the counter versions!) in question can severely deplete you of magnesium. For a full list of such medications(PPIs), click here.

What can happen when you are magnesium deficient? Fun things like the following:

“…agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep disorders, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle spasm and weakness, hyperventilation, insomnia, poor nail growth, and even seizures.” Source: University of Maryland Medical Center

I had a few of those too — lovely! Was I told that the medicine I had been taking until last summer could do this? Of course not, that’d be too forthright.  It may have been listed in tiny print on the drug information sheet that came with my prescription, but it certainly was not told to me by a human being (i.e., my doctor).

So I have to give credit to an episode of Dr. Oz I saw this past summer that clued me into the Prilosec/magnesium issue in the first place: “The Fatigue Solution.”  Had I not seen this show I would have never realized I was magnesium-deficient in the first place. Now, most of my magnesium deficiency issues have disappeared since I began taking a magnesium citrate supplement.

So how can you treat GERD without prescription medication?

10-21-13-8weeks

8 Weeks to Optimum Health, by Dr. Andrew Weil

The answer for me is really simple and super-cost effective: Ginger pills. I owe credit to this discovery to Dr. Andrew Weil’s book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health that I read over the summer.

So to get off the Prilosec, first I tried the licorice pills that Dr. Oz suggested.  I tried them for maybe 3 weeks, but they were not super helpful. Then I read the chapter on ginger as an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid in Dr. Weil’s book and thought I would give it a shot.

I can attest that since I started taking 500mg capsules of pure ginger I haven’t taken my prescription stomach medication since August.  Of course I am not cured, I still have GERD, but it is no longer out of control and I am not loading myself up with manufactured, magnesium depleting chemicals twice a day.  I am all in favor of taking natural, non-toxic remedies whenever possible, over side-effect-laden, unnatural, toxic pharmaceuticals any day! If you or someone you know is taking a PPI listed in the link above, you may want to try ginger capsules (or ginger tea, etc.) which are readily available at your local health food store, GNC, or online.

Ginger: Does a body good...

Ginger: Does a body good…

And for those of you paying attention, yes, coffee is on my naughty list of no-no’s for GERD!  But I get around it by having only a cup a day, and heavily diluting it with lowfat milk and chai (which also has ginger!). I’ll exchange an extra ginger pill for the caffeine if I have to! And with that….

Time for a coffee,

Maddy

Books: Fifty Shades of Grey – Top 3 Reasons I can’t finish the Trilogy

10-14-13-50shadesAaaah, Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. After finally finishing this book last weekend, I find it to be truly fascinating that this book is so popular and is being adapted into a movie.  Although I am in the main “married female over 30” demographic, I honestly don’t see the appeal. I assume it’s the BDSM component here that enticed everyone to read it in the first place, because otherwise the narrative is to me, mediocre at best. After reading the plot synopsis for book two Fifty Shades Darker, I am really struggling to understand why so many people have gone on to finish the series.

This book has been out for 2 years, so you can expect some spoilers in here. I am also attempting to keep this critique PG-13, which is no easy task, let me tell you!

So in a nutshell, boy meets girl. Boy presents girl with a non-disclosure agreement regarding his BDSM lifestyle.  Boy then presents girl with lavish gifts and a lengthier BDSM contract detailing activities (that will make your hair curl) that the girl is supposed to agree to engage in for 3 months. The lines get blurred a bit and although said girl never signs the contract, she is introduced to certain acts that by the end of the book finally throw her over the edge and have her run for the hills.  Boy’s proclivities drive a wedge between them and their budding “romance.”

Top 3 Reasons Why I Won’t Finish the Series

1)      50 Shades of… how not to treat your lady

Admittedly, BDSM erotica is not really my bag, per say. In general I love a nice action-packed Urban Fantasy, or Paranormal Romance. However the

Thank you sir, may I (please not) have another!

Thank you sir, may I (please not) have another!

severe sociological and emotional deficiencies of the hero bothered me even more than the outré sex play.  One of the best elements for me in a relationship-based novel is the distinct feelings of respect, love, and even reverence that the heroes usually feel for their heroines and vice versa (even though they do indeed want to have their way with them, many, many times).

In many of my favorite books the hero is often risking his or her life to save their love from something dire, like being beaten. She’s killing villains in 20 different ways to keep her man safe. Sometimes he is dying, and being resurrected, all in the name of love, and for the one he loves. However in Fifty Shades of Grey, our “hero” Christian Grey (gorgeous control freak/stalker/international businessman) although wanting to keep his Anastasia safe from others, wants most ardently, to spank her until she cries. But maybe first he’ll tie her up with cable ties, make her call him Sir, debase and humiliate her a little, and then, spank her ‘til she cries – then have his way with her. Even if Anastasia is enjoying some or most of Christian’s treatment – ew bugs. It just makes your skin crawl in a decidedly not fun, American Psycho-esque kind of way.

We learn a little about his issues and why he does what he does and feels the need to dominate, control, and punish, but honestly I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care why he was doing shocking things to this naïve virgin — I just kept hoping he’d stop doing them.

2)      The Writing Style

If you read my September 23rd post you know that I was annoyed at the number of times the heroine, Anastasia says “Oh my” half way through the book. Well sad to say, by the end of the book, she has said “oh my” approximately 56 times – which should clue you into the level of literary craftsmanship we’re dealing with here.

Aside from redundant exclamations, another writing issue I had was that more than half of the book is spent inside Anastasia’s head. The old writing rule of “show not tell” is pretty much disregarded here. At times the reader is just going through pages and pages of Anastasia’s thoughts.  Of course our heroine is boxed into a corner because she is not allowed to discuss her relationship with Christian with any of the other characters due to the non-disclosure agreement he had her sign, so she is constantly debating things inside her own mind. So if the author wanted a way to avoid writing a lot of external dialogue, mission accomplished.

3)      Random Unsavory/Annoying Details

Hmmm, I see a lot of medicated ointment and doughnut cushions in your future...

Hmmm, I see a lot of medicated ointment and doughnut cushions in your future…

For example, there is a scene, where Christian and Anastasia make love in the bathroom, while she is um, having her time of the month – the 2nd day of it, to be exact. In reality, I suspect very few ladies out there find that to be an ideal experience – there are just basic biological reasons why it is less comfortable at that time of the month to, go to town, so to speak, especially on day 2 or 3. But in the book, of course, it’s just a wonderful romp! OK, fine. However, then they take a bath together, and eventually have round 2 in the tub… Excuse me, what? Seriously? A bath?? How about just a shower for heaven’s sake? I mean – did this bother anyone else? I’d say most body fluids you just don’t want to poach in, especially not ones that don’t always dissolve completely, if you know what I mean. Enough said. Just, so not hot.

Here’s another annoying detail – what kind of college scholar, Pike’s Place loving, 20-something living in Portland or Seattle – hipster capitals of the Northwest –  has no clothes?  Every single non-school or work outfit was borrowed from her roommate.  She even took her roommate’s clothing on vacation with her. I mean, sure, it’s good not to be consumed with fashion, but come on, she doesn’t own a single decent dress?  Her mother had to buy her new clothes when she went to go visit.  It’s one thing if she doesn’t like dresses and doesn’t usually wear them (ala Kate Daniels), but Anastasia is constantly wearing dresses in this book, they just belong to the roommate, and we never really get an explanation why.  I think we’re supposed to gather from this that Anastasia is not interested in material things, but really, she just sounds sort of cheap. Note: We don’t even see her washing or having her roommate’s clothes dry-cleaned after all this use either. (I would so cut her off.)

In summary, there were some bits about wine and music that I liked, and that’s pretty much it.  I was intrigued enough by the story to read the synopses of books two and three to see how the series ends, but am not going to read the actual novels.

Ironically this morning I just heard the news that Charlie Hunnman has dropped out of the film adaptation of the movie. Second thoughts about portraying a deeply emotionally dysfunctional control-freak and sexual deviant?  You don’t say?! Or maybe just get a bunch of PR without actually having to play Christian Grey? If so — well played, Hunnman.  Well played.

In other book news, and just in time for Halloween, I am finally reading Chasing Magic, by Stacia Kane.  Each book seems to get a little grosser than the last with the black magic, but at least I can’t imagine Terrible wanting to belt-whip Chessie for amusement – even a drug dealer’s enforcer has better manners!

And now, time for a coffee,

Maddy

Health & Beauty Bytes

Baksshi Botanicals: Vitamin C Brightening Sheet Mask

Review: Vitamin C Brightening Face Mask

Review: Vitamin C Brightening Face Mask

I recently had the chance to test* the new Baksshi Botanicals Vitamin C Brightening Sheet Mask ($6.99 for 1 mask). Baksshi Botanicals is a relatively new brand to the U.S. but I am told has been selling in Asia for years. I was interested in trying it because the product has organic ingredients and is paraben and artificial preservative-free. It’s packed with goodies for your face like Sodium Hyaluronate (4th ingredient!!), Ascorbic Acid (aka Vitamin C), and Niacinimide.

My husband did a little discreet man-scream when he found me like this on the sofa...

My husband did a little discreet man-scream when he found me like this on the sofa…

I actually was not sure what to expect with a sheet mask as I’ve only used traditional paste/cream/clay masks before that you apply with your fingers.  As you can see from the photo, the sheet mask was super easy to apply!  It had little precut eye/nose/mouth holes making application a snap.

Before application I washed and dried my face as usual and placed the unopened pack in a bowl of warm water to warm it up.  In the meantime, I could feel my skin tightening without my usual post-wash application of moisturizer.  However I didn’t have long to wait as soon it was warm and I carefully pulled out the mask and applied it to my face, tapping it down everywhere to make as much contact as possible.  I was happy to discover that it clung well to my face and did not require me to lie down/still to keep it in place (i.e. – perfect for catching up on your favorite shows on the sofa!).

Five minutes after application, my face felt cool and tingled slightly, but not unpleasantly. I waited the full 20 minutes and then removed the mask, spritzed once with rosewater (my favorite toner) and massaged the remaining mask liquid into my face and neck as suggested.  My face felt completely hydrated and a little plumped.  I could have skipped my nightly serum but I applied it as the packaging suggests. My face felt happy all evening.

The next day my skin still felt hydrated but I didn’t notice much difference in the clarity/brightening of my face, but a rep from the company told me they suggest you use it at least once a week for a month for full effects.  If nothing else it was a pleasant little in-home spa experience I’d be happy to try again.

Bakkshi Botanicals can be found at www.bakkshibotanicals.com (coming soon), or baksshi@gmail.com.

*Note: Product was supplied free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Fun with OPI Liquid Sand  <——————————————————————————

OPI Liquid Sand Magazine Cover Mouse

OPI Liquid Sand Magazine Cover Mouse

Liquid Sand is just one kind of the many textured polishes out there right now.  My favorite thing about textured polishes is that they are super-forgiving when it comes to touch ups, and therefore ideal for a pedicure, which you can keep looking fresh for up to 2 months, or however long you can tolerate your toenails to be!

Here I am mani-modeling OPI’s Magazine Cover Mouse – this was 2 coats over a clear base coat, and no top coat.  After a week it was still looking good but, getting bored (as I usually do), I decided to do some color blocking with 3 other Liquid Sands colors: OPI Jinx (orange on tips), OPI Alcatraz Rocks (blue) and OPI What Wizardy is This?(bronze). I think I liked it with the blue best, but making straight lines on textured polish is kind of rough (pun intended), so it’s a little messy, as you can see.  Fun to play around with though.

Color-blocking with textured polish

Color-blocking with textured polish

Is anyone planning any exciting Halloween manicures or pedicures? I’m going dark this week, as you will see in the next Health & Beauty Bytes.  I will also be dipping into the world of vitamins and minerals in that article – with some unfortunate side effects of prescription heartburn medicine, and easy ways to combat them that your doctor (most-likely) did not tell you about.  Until then…

Time for a Coffee,

Maddy