Oh look, more cheap stuff

I don’t know if these posts are boring or not, but I always love them, because sometimes my e-mails from my various favorite stores go to spam, but sometimes they don’t. Don’t ask me, ask Gmail’s spam bot algorithm. Also, sometimes when I am deleting e-mail, I only look at the sender and delete, never checking the subject line (normally when I need to save money!).

Anyway, LOFT is offering 50% off all their sale items, and evidently they have new markdowns. Last time they did this I got four awesome dresses for like $100. J. Crew Factory is having a skirt and dress sale — 30-40% off. I really like their clothes; they make excellent basics and staple items. Coldwater Creek is still having the 50% off everything sale I mentioned last time, and Victoria’s Secret sale is still going strong, but now you get free shipping on orders over $25! Just use code SHIPSEMI.

Beyond the Rack has China Glaze and Nicole by OPI polishes on sale. Lots of colors and varieties — metallics, glitters, shimmers, cremes. They’re all $4.49, down from retail prices of $7-8. Gilt has Clarins facial and body skincare products on sale, if that’s your thing. Looks like the products are anywhere from 20-60% off.

Today in free shit, L’Oreal is offering samples of their new advanced hair care line. Try it out and see what you like. I ordered a sample of their Total Repair shampoo. I’ll try it out and let you know what I think!

Good Stuff Cheap: Nail polish, Urban Decay, and more…

Disclaimer: Invitation links are included in this post.

First up is Gilt, one of the many discount fashion and beauty websites you see out there these days. They feature designer products for up to 60% off retail prices. Today Gilt has a great “Beauty Finds Under $50” sale, featuring Julep nail polish, Tweezerman manicure and grooming sets, Deborah Lipmann polish, and more. There are also some nice makeup brush sets on sale!

Ideeli‘s “Rejuvenate Your Skin” sale ends today. It’s featuring awesome beauty brands like StriVectin and NARS (their mud mask is great!).

HauteLook has two great brands on sale today. Urban Decay is up with a number of eyeshadows, palettes, and powders. Also on sale are their makeup setting sprays, which I cannot recommend enough! I use their De-slick Setting Spray religiously; it seriously works. I might have to review it! Anyway, the setting sprays are 50% off, so grab them while you can — the sale ends today! They also put Diptyque on sale today, a prestige seller of candles, colognes, and soaps. These retail for a lot more money than I am ever willing to spend, but I so love sniffing them when I have the chance. Lucky for me, though, and everyone else who loves these delicious products, HauteLook has them on sale for 50% off. The yummy smelling sandalwood soaps featured above are only $30 for three of them! Totally worth it.

In clothing news, you might be happy to know Old Navy’s active wear is on sale for up to 40% off. Their yoga pants? To die for — and they’re only $12 today! And they don’t come from a company who believes birth control is the explanation for the spike in divorced women — oh, and is purposefully named to make fun of the Japanese. Um, anyway, Coldwater Creek is having a massive 50% off sale of EVERYTHING, including their sale and outlet items. Best part? Everything is returnable, even items marked down to nearly nothing. The style leans toward old lady, but their staples are great. I have two pairs of dress pants from there that fit me perfectly. And of course, Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale is going on. Their Pink seamless underwear is amazing and only $3.99 a pair right now (originally $9.50 a pair!).

Happy shopping!

Review: Essie “First Base” base coat

So a few days ago when I reviewed my Julep Maven box, I included a picture of my manicure using the Boho Glam color Dianna. What I didn’t mention is that while testing out the box, I was also trying out another product — Essie’s “First Base” base coat.

So, my nails are super thin. They flake, they break, and they don’t hold polish for crap. I’ve used products to varying degrees of success to improve their strength and brittleness, but there never seemed to be anything that really worked to keep the polish on my fingers. I can normally count on experiencing a chip within a day of wear, no matter how careful I am. And honestly, it’s all downhill from there — once there is a chip, I have to remove all the polish, normally by peeling it off. Speaking of, is there a feeling more satisfying than peeling a whole sheet of polish off a nail?

ANYWAY. No amount of “chip skip” products, chip-protecting top coats, or base coats seemed to keep my polish from wearing. UNTIL NOW.

Essie "First Base" base coat
My mani is still kickin’ thanks to First Base!

Essie’s “First Base” base coat is rubber adhesive base coat that “bond[s] polish to the nail surface, to protect color wear and create a smooth canvas for color application,” according to the Essie website. First Base enjoys a 4.4/5 star rating on ULTA and 4.7/5 lippies on MakeupAlley. I didn’t even know that prior to buying! I was just at ULTA browsing the nail treatment section. The first rubber adhesive basecoat I actually saw was Orly’s Bonder basecoat, but the Essie one was cheaper, so that’s why I bought it. Lucky for me, considering Bonder only has a 4 star rating on ULTA and 4 lippies on MUA!

Applying the basecoat is very easy. The formula isn’t too thick, so it spreads evenly, but it isn’t so thin that it runs and drips. It dries fairly quickly as well. It has a slightly rough texture when you touch it — I suppose this is the rubberized adhesive property! As I noted in my review, applying Dianna wasn’t exactly easy (and I tried applying it on a bare nail as well, so it wasn’t the base coat!), so I wasn’t sure if this would be a fair test. But it has been 5 days of wear, and my mani is looking just as good as it did the day I applied it! I am very pleased with this base coat, and I don’t think I will ever use anything else! First Base is my base coat for life!

The Great Pulled Pork Experiment

So a few days ago, I became embroiled in a very intense discussion about barbecue, pulled pork, and barbecue sauce on Facebook with a group of relative strangers. The discussion originated with a status about Alabama’s “white” barbecue sauce — specifically, how it isn’t a barbecue sauce. Which is the absolute truth — mayo mixed with spices does not a barbecue sauce make. Yes, even if you destroy perfectly good pulled pork with it.

Anyway, this poor English bloke came into the conversation and ragged on American barbecue, saying, “You Yanks pour four gallons of sugar on something and call it good!” Now, we Southerners may argue about mustard versus vinegar versus tomato barbecue sauces, but we will form a united front against anyone who tries to say shit about barbecue. Anyway, it evolved into a conversation wherein we waxed poetic about a smoky pork butt, lusted over the tang of a good sauce, and sighed while thinking about appropriate side dishes.

All this talk gave me a hankering for some smoked butt coated in barbecue sauce. Unfortunately, I am currently situated in Florida, which means there isn’t barbecue worth a damn around here. We have Sonny’s, which is a BBQ chain, but saying Sonny’s barbecue is good is like saying Mickey D’s makes a great burger. Sonny’s is adequate, but it isn’t Carolina ‘cue. I ended up trying some barbecue from a food truck parked outside of a gas station. It was adequate, but it didn’t sate the hunger. For one thing, the damn pork was chopped, not pulled.

Now, any good Southerner knows the best pulled pork comes from pork butts slowly smoked over the course of a day after spending a night in the fridge generously covered in a brown sugar dry rub. Problem is, I don’t own a smoker, and they are pretty costly to buy. You can make your own, but they require more skill and space than I have. So I wondered — is there a half-decent substitute? To Professor Google!

I found a whole forum thread dedicated to the subject. The OP is a poor soul trapped in the UK where they do not ~do~ smoked pork. He was wondering, like me, if there was a way to make a suitable replica with something else, perhaps a slow cooker or dutch oven? The forum members were sympathetic to his plight, and they offered all sorts of advice for how they thought he might be able to go about it. Armed with this knowledge from a legion of barbecue connoisseurs (I knew they were, for they understood the Carolina sauce rivalry), I decided I would try to make my own slow-cooked pulled pork that would replicate smoked butt as closely as possible.

Below you will find the process and results of my experiment. Keep in mind this was my first time making it, so there is probably room for improvement. In parentheses I note some changes I may consider in the future — you can try them now, or you can use my tested recipe. Also, I am a “bit of this, bit of that” sort of cook. These amounts are rough estimates. Finally, feel free to experiment! That’s exactly what I did, after all!

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Facebook: Take Action Against Sex Trafficking Page!

Liz is a friend of mine. She sent me the link to this fan page and asked me to report it, which I happily did, because it is obviously against FB’s community guidelines… except FB says it isn’t! Photos of toddlers (yes! toddlers!) simulating a sex act on a woman apparently aren’t against FB’s guidelines! Disgusting. Please report the page and share the post, You can go to my Twitter to retweet a post about it. Be sure to tag it with #FBrape.

Liz Boltz Ranfeld

Earlier this evening I was doing some research on Kolkata and was searching for some information about sex work in the city. I did a quick search for Sonagachi, which is the city’s largest red light district. In fact, it’s one of the biggest red light districts in all of Asia. Sonagachi is also the focus of the 2004 documentary Born Into Brothels. You can read about the crimes against women and girls that are committed in Sonagachi in a variety of places, or you can watch the documentary.

While doing my research to grab a couple those statistics, I discovered something disturbing: Sonagachi has a Facebook community page. Nearly 3000 people have liked that page.

The page is full of images of young women–many of whom are likely under age, as so many of the sex workers in Kolkata are. From what I have learned firsthand from people…

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Free stuff alert!

So I kind of live for free shit, especially free beauty products. Well, today at 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT), if you are one of the first 1,000 to sign up and enter the secret word announced on Physicians Formula’s facebook page, you’ll receive a free full-size Physician’s Formula Endless Color nail trio in “In The Nude”! It’s a gorgeous three-piece nail polish set of nude colors, including a light pink, a mauve, and a taupe. These three polishes also snap together for easy convenient organization! You’ll have to like Physicians Formula’s facebook page first, and then enter your information on their Promotions page. Good luck!

Why I Didn’t Like Brave

Movie poster for Brave
Pixar’s Brave

I know I am a bit late to the game on this film. Brave came out June 2012, but thanks to grad school, I didn’t really make it a priority to see. A lot of my friends did, though, and they all seemed to love it. I thought I would like it, too — strong female character, the previews didn’t say much about a love interest, she was a little rounder than your average princess, with messier hair and a penchant for running wild.

I have one friend, though, who had a problem with Brave, the plot, and how the writers chose to handle Merida’s story. She didn’t give me specifics, which was great because it allowed me to look at it with an open mind. Unfortunately, once I saw the movie, I had to agree with her. Brave was not the fun feminist kids’ film I thought it was going to be.

Before we get into the bullshit, let’s talk about the good. For one thing, I loved how Fergus encouraged Merida’s interest in archery, even when she was a young adult princess (“Princess or not, learning to fight is essential!”), much to Elinor’s chagrin. Also, I loved how wild her hair was, and how she looked like a kid, rather than a 25 year old. I mean, Pocahontas was supposed to be 10-13, and she was not only involved in a relationship with a much older man, she looked like an adult. Another good thing was that most of the women were portrayed as quite stocky and round — with the exception of the royalty, of course. I have a problem with that, since it forces on us the whole idea that desirable people are thin.

I think the best thing about the film was when Merida competed for her “own hand” in archery and beat the pants off her suitors; that was a clever little trick. I suppose I liked that in the end (SPOILERS) Merida doesn’t have to get married, but the way that conclusion came about was filled with so much patriarchal bullshit that I can’t even be happy about it. Oh, and it was cool that Merida and Elinor-As-Bear ended demon bear Mor’du, instead of the menfolk.Read More »