Saturday, June 26, 2010

Random, But Interesting: Recycling Soap

Ever wonder what happens to those little nubs of unused soap left over in hotel bathrooms? Honestly, I hadn't before now. I'd never even thought to wonder about it. But there is a nonprofit organization that has.

An estimated 2.6 million bars of soap are discarded in hotels every day, and the Global Soap Project wants to make use of them. Located in Atlanta, Ga; this organization collects used bars of soap from hotels across the Southeast, sanitizes, remolds them, and distributes them to refugee camps in Africa. In these camps, there is a large risk of disease caused by poor sanitation. The site estimates that in Uganda alone, 76,000 children's deaths could have been prevented in a single year if they'd had access to soap and proper hand washing.

It's amazing to me that something that seems so trivial to us can make such a huge difference to someone else. Right now, the scope of their collection is limited to a few hotels in only seven states, but I hope that word of what they are doing travels so that more hotels get involved in contributing to them or that more chapters of the organization are opened to make it more easily accessible to other sections of the country.

If you'd like to learn more about the Global Soap Project, visit their website here.

*I learned about this organization in the June issue of Shape magazine.

Review: Aussie Aussome Volume shampoo

We all want what we can't have, don't we?

I have extremely fine hair that's almost always soft. The fineness is what makes it so soft - but it also makes it flat - and dammit, I would give some of the softness up just to get a little bit of volume. I lust after thick hair like none other! So, in another blind attempt at making my hair appear thicker, I picked up a bottle of Aussie's Aussome Volume shampoo. I'm a fan of some of their products, so I thought why not give it a try?The verdict? Not for me, but I can see it working for some people. Using this left my hair feeling dry (and made it more frizz prone) - even at the scalp which never happens to me. This gives me the impression that the shampoo works to "volumize" the hair by removing any excess gunk (my scientific word) that may be weighing the hair down. So, in essence, it's working like a cleanser.

If you think your hair is getting bogged down by excess build-up, I'd say go ahead and give it a try. It runs for less than $5, so you're not out much if it doesn't work. But if you don't have a problem with build-up, skip out on it because it probably will leave your hair feeling dry like it did to me. I'll be trying to use more moisturizing products over the next few days to try and undo the damage.

My quest for gorgeous, voluminous hair continues!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Book With Pictures Makes Me Happy (and a True Blood book update)

I've never really been a person who preferred books with pictures - even when I was younger.
But isn't there always an exception? Well I've found it.

In case you don't know - this book basically outlines the Sex and the City 2 movie, and it is gorgeous. I got the hardback, but it doesn't have the typical feel of a hardback cover - it's soft and plushy. I don't really know what to make of it. I don't know if it will wear as well over time. But for now - I like it.

The photos are what make this book. Not only does it break down many of the outfits seen in the film, but also some that were cut out, and some of the set designs. Amazing. Anyone who is a fan of the show (or interested in fashion) should take a look at this.

And a small update on the Sookie Stackhouse books:

I finished the 3rd book a few days ago (just in time for the True Blood premiere!), and I have to say that I did enjoy it more than I did the other 2 since I didn't have the show to compare it to.
I think this book was worse than the first two. The storyline had less depth than its predecessors, and Sookie's character got even flatter (if that was possible). And (in an attempt not to give anything away), have you ever seen a story where a big mystery came about, but when the explanation is revealed, it seems lackluster for how much the question was built up? Well there's a big one here! And I just don't believe the actions of some of the characters - the motivation doesn't seem to be there, so it seems like they're just jumping around with no purpose or drive.

I watched the show's premiere last night, and I have high hopes for this season. I'm hoping they manage to make the book into something much better as they did with the first two.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Everyone Loves a Dupe: MAC All That Glitters

Although not my personal favorite, All That Glitters from MAC seems to be one of those shadows that everyone must have. And I'll admit, I am one of those people who got it because I, too, had to have it. But how would you feel to know that there is a substantially cheaper shadow that is almost identical? You'd feel silly for having spent $11 for All That Glitters? Yeah, me too.
In the swatch above, All That Glitters is on the right and a drugstore product on the left. I didn't use a primer on either one, so you can see both have good color payoff on their own. They also have the same finish and can be easily blended. The difference? About $7.
Recognize the packaging below?

The swatch on the left came from CoverGirl's eyeshadow in Mink. These shadows retail for between $3 and $4 at any drugstore. I will say that the MAC shadow is slightly more pigmented and smoother, but I wouldn't expect identical quality at such a price difference.

I have used both shadows many times, and both have lasted all day with a good primer. So why do you have to have All That Glitters? I have no idea.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I May Have Found the Best Brush Cleanser Ever...

We all know the importance of deep cleaning our makeup brushes - it's completely necessary in order to get off any built up product and remove any germs that may be lurking about.

I'd been using Johnson's baby shampoo for about a year since it's gentle and all; and when I first started using it, I thought it seemed to be doing a good enough job. However, after a few months, I realized that the hair was slowly being stripped of moisture that wasn't being replaced by the shampoo leaving my bristles dry, sharp, and unpleasant to use. I looked around for a cleanser meant for makeup brushes, but all the ones I found seemed too pricey for what they were. But now, I think I've found the answer.

And I found it in the art store.

It's the Mona Lisa Pink Soap - meant for cleansing painting brushes. But if you think about it, what's really the difference? This bottle is 8 oz., and I only paid about $7 for it! The two things that drew me to it in the store were that the bottle said it would also condition my brushes as well as cleanse them and the smell. Yes, the smell. In my experience, a lot of artist brush cleansers have a harsh scent - either like chemicals or alcohol. This one, however, had a light sweet smell - not something that I'll mind washing brushes that I'll be touching my face with.

After a few months of using it, I can honestly say that this stuff does an amazing job of getting my brushes clean and, the best part, it has re-moisturized the bristles to where they're now softer than when I first got them, but it's never left them feeling at all greasy. It only takes a little bit - I can wash about 7 eye brushes with a dime-sized amount - so the bottle will last me forever. And for any that may be concerned, the package says that it contains no chlorides, alkalis, phosphates, solvents, or alcohol. Sounds good to me.

If that's not enough, it says this can also be used to clean oils, acrylics, and watercolor as well as greasy stove tops and carpet stains... Weird, no? But it works!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is the Book Always Better?

I am one of those people who believes that when a book is turned into a movie or show, Hollywood is not capable of fully representing the greatness of the book. In fact, if I see a trailer for a film based on a book that I think I would enjoy, I will make a point to go and read the book before I see the movie so that I know what it was "supposed to be". Case in point, when I saw the trailer for The Time Traveler's Wife, I went out and got the book and finished reading it before I allowed myself to see the film. And? I wouldn't have cared about the characters in the film nearly as much if I didn't know their extended background from the book (but you should still see it... AFTER you read the book).

I don't know why this happens. Maybe it's unreasonable to expect Hollywood to compress hundreds of pages of information into a couple hours of film. Where am I going with this?

Last year, I got really into the HBO series True Blood. I love the characters and the storyline - although I sometimes feel they push the sex to a point where it doesn't help the story's progression, but hey - it's late night HBO. So obviously if I like the show so much, I must love the books it's based off, right? Because the books are always better, right?

warning: Mild spoilers to follow.

So I pick up the first three books in the Sookie Stackhouse Series thinking that they will give me an even deeper idea of the motivations of the characters and an increased depth of plot line. I've gotten through the first two so far, and I was so wrong! The detail given in the books is like a mild skimming of the information given in the show. The characters are far less developed and the storyline is simplified - even rushed at times. The show also changes a few details from the books, which I often don't like when this is done, but these actually made the story better in my opinion.

I'm serious, some small spoilers start here, so if you don't want to know: STOP READING!

In the show, one of my favorite sub-plots is the relationship Tara has with Sookie and the issues she goes through in her relationship with her mom. This relationship also gives Sookie more depth because it shows her relationships beyond the one with Bill. Well, guess what? Tara isn't in the books. Well, actually she is, but she is only briefly mentioned and she's just another person in the town - not friends with Sookie - and she is in a relationship with a man named Benedict (Eggs), but that's the depth of their tie to the the show version. I'm hoping she'll play a larger part in later books.

I also really love Lafayette in the show. Well, if you've seen the show, you know the body hanging out of the sheriff's car at the end of season 1 where you couldn't see the face, but you could tell it might be him, but he turns out to be fine in season 2? In the books that really is Lafayette and he really is dead. Even when he's still alive, he's still a very peripheral character who isn't given much attention - he's just background filler.

And Jessica? Not there at all.

End of spoilers.

There are many other changes, but these were the ones that really bugged me. As I read through the books, I actually wondered if Charlaine Harris (the author) watches the show and ever has a slap-to-the-forehead moment where she wishes she'd thought of that.

Now I'm certainly not saying that you shouldn't read the books. It's just that they're not what I expected and hoped for. Harris' writing style is quite simplistic (but by the way, the overuse of sex is not the fault of HBO - they do follow the book on that). It definitely works as an easy summer read - especially good for those who are hoping for an adult version of Twilight.

With the new season of True Blood beginning in a couple of weeks (June 13), I've moved on to the third book in the series. I'm hoping that I'll be able to enjoy the book more if I don't have the show version to compare it to. We'll see. I'm certain I'll read through the entire series, they just won't become the favorites I had thought they'd be.

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