Saturday, May 28, 2016

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back in the 90's I saw a movie version of the short story, but had never read anything by Steinbeck. (I didn't take the smarty pants English Lit in High School.) I had a rough idea of what happened in the book, so the plot wasn't a surprise to me. What I really enjoyed was the vernacular and jargon used in the dialogue. Characterizations were well written and thoroughly worked out in the story. There was a rough, beautiful poetry in the descriptions. A beautiful short story of the hard choices we make when we love someone.

Summary: Of Mice and Men takes us into the lives of George and Lennie, two farm workers set out to find their way to a new life. In true Steinbeck form, this short novel explores both loyalty and the transient nature of mankind.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the fact that it took me almost 3 months to read this book, I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to expect from the second book in the GoT series. There was some recap, but not enough to be boring. There were some things left unexplained that required reading the first book, and they were really memorable events.

Many familiar characters were main players, as well as some new characters. Some days reading required note taking, just to be able to keep the shifting POV and storyline straight. This is a very intelligent writer, an intelligent story, and not for an idle mind to pick up and be entertained. This book becomes a history of characters that we feel for, we want to weep for, we cheer for, and even when the line between good and evil become blurry, we find ourselves in the story.

The second book becomes more graphic in violence, rape, and battles - I struggled with it a bit, but then realized it was realistic for what is happening in the story. This is a world under duress, where loyalty only lasts until the next "king" is crowned. This is a world torn by violence, confusion, and fear.

Summary: Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Monat - Before

I have written before about my attempts to detox my hair. Kind of. I've tried lots of stuff, but haven't found anything that works. I mean, really works, so I haven't documented my failures either. I have an aunt that swears by baking soda washing and ACV rinsing, but... her hair is dull and frizzy. I also have some concern about using something that I exfoliate my face with on my hair. It makes as much sense as using sand paper as cleaning rag.

I've been slowly detoxing my "beauty" routine over the last five years and hair has been the most challenging. I mean, yeah getting my face to clear up hasn't been a cake walk (and let's not talk about deodorant), but at least there I saw improvement with (almost) everything I tried. [And yes, some day I will get around to documenting my skin care routine. I've tried a few times but, much like my India posts, I felt too much time passed to make it relevant.] My hair though... it's dull. And frizzy. Tangles five seconds after brushing. It doesn't cooperate with any kind of style. It just isn't pretty hair. As I've gotten older I've developed an itchy scalp, which is annoying. My final straw though, was looking at my daughter's beautiful mid-back length hair and seeing the same disaster.
This is the condition of my hair after one washing & conditioning using Monat.
It already looks better, but you can see how dull and damaged it is.

I was hopeful that Pangea Organics would put out a hair care line, but after two years of promising it would be out "next quarter" and not delivering, I've stopped holding my breath.

Which brings me to Monat. I wasn't looking for it, but there it was across the aisle from me at a recent vendor show. I was skeptical, but the rep sent me home with a ton of samples and tons of information. If you know me, you know I love information.
Disclaimer: Not my photo. Credit here.

I spent a few days Googling the company, reviews, and looking through the Skin Deep database (yep, I checked every.single.ingredient) and not finding anything that set off red flags, I decided to use it. Most of the reviews I found were based on the samples - I saw one that continued to use Monat, but in a rotation of other products. The downside of every review came down to price. It's expensive.

With less than optimistic expectations, I tried the shampoo and conditioner. I couldn't stop touching my hair. The very next day I signed up for VIP status (which gives a 15% discount) and decided to try it for 90 days.

The system I bought for a whopping
$88. Also not my photo.
An add on for an additional $88.
Still not my photo.
The full 90 day detox, following their (crazy?? maybe) plan. That night I used it on my daughter too. We both loved the results. I don't know if I can get her to cooperate with the whole detox plan (seriously, washing her hair twice a week is a battle so I can't imagine what would happen if I told her I want to wash it every other day.) so it will be interesting what Monat does with her hair.

I'm going to try to do this in "real time", reporting every week for the next 12 weeks.

Just because selfies are silly and I'm a goofball...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mindful May

It's been a full quarter of a year since I updated. I'd like to say "Not much has changed." but so much has. I can't really process where I am in my own story, quite possibly this is the epiphany that triggers the change and sets the story resolution into place. Possibly, but not bloody likely.

So... books... When I left off in February I was trying to do a book a week. Things were going great until I picked up Book 2 in the Game of Thrones series. This book takes longer than a week to read. It's so good, I HAVE to finish it. I'm currently at 9 weeks of reading time and 50% finished. This may drastically increase in the next week. The Diva starts swim team which is 3 hours of practice each week. I'm going to focus on book time, not screen time, while I'm waiting for her.

Other things that have happened... I broke. I was in way over my head in depression and anxiety, struck by panic attacks when I would simply leave my house. I got to the point where I was shutting everyone out - including one amazing guy - and I knew I had to do something. it took me a full month to figure out how to schedule a doctor appointment with my own doctor without making a phone call. (Yes. I was on THAT side of the darkness.) I got in, got medicated, and goodbye panic attacks. We're still tweaking the meds, but man, heading into month 3 of medication and life is so much better.

I thought I was going to have a quiet summer, but The Diva made the swim team, wants to do t-ball, has swim lessons, camp, and VBS. Add in there that I have craft shows every other weekend, a full-time job, several part-time jobs, and a life... thank goodness The Duder is low key. His only activity is a trip to DC/NY in June. After that, he's a free guy unless he goes to work at the junkyard this summer.

Other stuff on my 2016 list... well, I finished the dining room! Next on the list is getting my gutters fixed and cleaned out. Now that the last snow of the season has come and gone, I feel pretty safe calling the guy. I'll try to get that accomplished this week. Then I'll need to take a look at money and the list and decide what's next.