Friday, November 21, 2014

thoughts of the week

1. My cousin showed me this Reddit feed of horrifying implications in the Harry Potter universe and it kept me entertained for HOURS. My personal favorite discussion is when the relationship of Hagrid's parents comes up. DELETUS FETUS omg.

2. Speaking of HP, I bought the Dumbledore's Office candle from the Frostbeard shop on Etsy as a Christmas gift to my little sister. I wanted to try out more scents (Slytherin and Winterfell look promising) but perhaps another time.

3. This makes for a good conversation with friends. I tested my co-worker and sister and it was interesting to see how much different their opinions were.

4. I'm bringing up Taylor Swift. I bought her newest album and have listened to it so many times I'm not sure what my play count is. It's a fun album, I enjoy her pop sound. My favorite song is Wildest Dreams at the moment.

5. How neat is this moss graffiti tutorial? If I had a brick wall I would definitely try it out.

image source

6. I have always been a firm no-Christmas-anything-until-after-Thanksgiving type of person but for some reason I have gotten the holiday spirit so early this year. My apartment has already been decorated with lights and garland. Christmas music has even been playing. No regrets.

7. Into the Abyss and The Act of Killing are my Netflix films I recommend watching. Into the Abyss takes a look at a death row inmate and his accomplice and the repercussions of their crimes. The Act of Killing follows around the most prominent Indonesian gangsters who explain how they have killed their countless victims. Both documentaries really made question human emotions since the main focus of both films deal with apathetic people and how they deal with their demons.

image source

8. Winter is upon us here in the Midwest which means my poor hands have been zapped of all moisture and painfully dry. Any recommendations for the best unscented, heavy duty hand cremes? I say unscented as I work in a lab environment and no strong scents are allowed. Perhaps something simple from Neutrogena or Eucerin?

9. Pitch Perfect 2 trailer. YES.

10. Dining etiquette around the world.

Friday, November 7, 2014

battle of the exfoliation pads

Toning is something I have really come to love in my skincare routine. If you have kept up with my skincare routines in the past, you know I like having two types of toners on hand: one that is moisturizing in the morning and one that is exfoliating for night time. I had finished up a container of Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads and wanted to try something new so I ended up replacing them with First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. So how do they compare?

Both are at similar price points with PTR being a bit more expensive than FAB ($30 versus $36). They both contain the same amount of pads (60) which are housed in screw top containers. They also have the same type of pad texturing, with one side being smooth and its reverse having a bumpy pattern.

PTR is the stronger of the two as it took about a week for my skin to acclimate to its effect and I have pretty resilient skin. It also has a high alcohol content, with it being the second highest ingredient listed. The Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads have 10% glycolic acid and 1/2% salicylic acid as their exfoliants. The pads have a scent that is sweet and fruity. They are very saturated in that the pads are soaking wet. I felt one pad was a waste and too much for my whole face so I cut them in half and used half a pad for my whole face.

FAB is very mild but effective. My skin had no reactions and didn't need to adjust. They have a more "green" approach with their formula and do not contain any alcohol. The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads have lactic and glycolic acid for their exfoliants. The scent is not very nice, it reminds me a bit of not so pleasant liquid multivitamin my mother used to make me ingest as a child. The pads aren't very saturated and are drier than the PTR. I need to use the full pad to cover my whole face, cutting them in half was not an option.

I like both of these offerings. I think Peter Thomas Roth is focusing more on acne and pore minimizing concerns whereas First Aid Beauty is zoning in on resurfacing the skin to attack scarring and hyperpigmentation. If I had to pick one, I think I would go for First Aid Beauty's take. They are milder yet surprisingly very effective. I noticed a difference with both pads but I felt like the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads gave me quicker, noticeable results and kept large blemishes away the best. The Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads are a good product; I still saw improvement just at a slower pace. The only things I felt the PTR pads did better FAB were the scent and the saturation of the pads. PTR gave me more bang for my buck as I was able to double the amount I had by cutting the pads in half. I am unable to do this trick with the FAB pads as they have just the right amount of liquid in one pad for your face.

I wouldn't recommend Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads to the sensitive the name implies they are at a max state formula wise so some stinging and dryness is expected in the beginning until your skin gets around to its effect. I skipped every other day using them until my skin could handle it. I didn't have to do this for First Aid Beauty's Radiance Pads. These would be better suited for sensitive skin types that still want some exfoliation in their lives.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NOLA 2014

Back in September my sister, cousin and I took an impromptu trip to New Orleans. We all had never been plus we had heard the city had renowned food spots, booze happy streets, and a rich history that the residents took pride in. I mostly took pictures with my iPhone as tugging around a DSLR around became tiresome and there was so much to soak in, but here is what I have to share about my time there.

The place we stayed at was Hotel Villa Convento which I highly recommend. It was within walking distance of a lot of areas we planned to see and the staff was really helpful and accommodating. The room we stayed in was really clean and nice at a really affordable price.

We were told we had to try the Hand Grenade drink at Tropical Isle. It apparently is considered a dangerous drink as people will consume a lot of it without noticing it contains a lot of alcohol since it has no lingering after taste. I can vouch for the latter, but we practiced self control and didn't order many.

I loved the old buildings with their intricate wrought iron balconies with bushy greenery to spruce up the scene. And almost all the shutters around were painted in fun colors. Such a nice sight to see.

How could we turn down something listed as The Seafood Tower on a menu? Impossible. We picked that out at Pier 424 Seafood Market which felt a little "chain-like" so it definitely isn't a must try if you are in town. We also tried out Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs which was refreshing and not too shabby to look at. But again, not necessarily a MUST TRY unless you are a huge shaved ice fan.

I definitely recommend checking out Carousel Bar; it revolves as you sit! It was very neat. It spins slowly so you don't really notice it until you've been chatting up for a while and suddenly you are on the other side of the room. We had our first Sazeracs here, wowza that's a strong drink. If you like stiff drinks be sure to try it out. I personally needed to chase every sip with some water.

French Market was a couple streets away from our hotel so we stopped by to check it out. It was fun to see all the different seasonings, sauces, and other fares they had to offer. We walked away with some Cajun spices to take home.

Royal Street had a lot of street entertainment during the day. It also is the location of Cafe Beignet. We had some beignets and a muffaletta for the first time. The beignets were okay, I'm not a huge fan of the massive amount of powdered sugar. I did enjoy the muffaletta, though I have a sneaking suspicion that if you don't like olives (I love olives) you won't enjoy this NOLA sandwich. We didn't bother making it to the infamous Cafe du Monde this trip since we had our fill of fried dough.

So far, New Orleans has had the freshest seafood I have ever tried. The shrimp were always succulent, huge, and sweet. The bottom picture is Mr. B's Barbeque Shrimp at Mr. B's Bistro and it is by far the best shrimp I have ever had the pleasure of eating in my life. I was skeptical as this dish was heavily raved about in my food research but the hype is so real you guys.

A few thoughts on NOLA:

+ The weather is the strangest thing. It is hot and humid but it would also be stormy and rainy randomly for brief periods before clearing up and being sunny like nothing happened. And I thought the Midwest had wonky weather!
+ Everywhere you go there is ice cold AC blasting even if their doors/windows were open. I think they do this to entice you inside their business as the heat was pretty intense.
+ We didn't get to visit a lot of areas that I wanted to make it to. I definitely plan to go back to visit the Garden District, check out some jazz clubs, and to get a tour of the cemeteries.
+ If you are a seafood fan, make sure you plan to visit during NOLA's crawfish season. I didn't even know crawfish season was a thing, but it is and we missed it and were very bummed.
+ Bourbon street was not really our scene at night time. It would have been when I was in college, but I'm a bit of a grandma these days and it felt too "frat like" for my taste. We visited all the Bourbon street places during the day when we had most of the place to ourselves.