Friday, June 27, 2014

L'Oreal Too Dimensional Nail Polish Review

L'Oreal Color Riche nail polish in Too Dimensional #136

The L'Oreal Paris website states that the Color Riche Nail line delivers "intense color, luxurious shine and 10-day wear...when used with Colour Riche® One Stop Base base coat and Top of the Line top coat."

This is a textured medium purple base with assorted sizes and colors of glitter.  There are very fine particles of gold glitter, and larger silver and light purple glitter. There is a slightly gritty texture after one coat of top coat.

I got full and even coverage in one coat over Zoya Get Even base coat.  

I applied a second coat to build up the texture a bit and deepen the color slightly, and then I finished with OPI Rapid Dry top coat.

I got this bottle on clearance at Target for $2.99. I got a lot of really great cosmetics deals like this when my local store was changing its beauty section layout and shelving.  I have only bought one previous bottle of L'Oreal nail polish (Queen's Ambition, the Illamasqua "Creator" dupe) and it was fantastic so I thought I'd see if my previous luck continued.
L'Oreal Color Riche nail polish in Too Dimensional #136 swatch

Report Card: B

At first blush:  A

I had full coverage in one coat, the color looked good, it applied evenly, and dried well.  I was impressed.

Packaging: A

Pretty glass bottle with gold-colored plastic handle. Minimal type/labeling. Easy open, secure close.

Value: B

Wore well for a few days, reasonably priced.

Texture: B

It was a medium chunk glitter finish that did tend to hang on the ends and required a top coat to as not to snag fabrics and skin.

Wear: D

It chipped so badly on one hand that I had to completely remove it mid-week.  Even using extra layers of top coat to seal the remaining chipped nail polish on the other hand after that point was frustrating and produced no lasting results.  Not a good look.

Application: A

The brush fanned nicely and applied evenly.  I didn't have a problem with dragging or coverage.

Product Claims: B

It did have opaque coloring and was obviously shiny because of the massive amounts of glitter it contained, however I didn't use the recommended base and top coat so it could be a contributing factor to it's lackluster performance in the longevity department.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Have Lunch with Me: Shrimp Salad!

Have Lunch with Me: Refreshing Shrimp Salad!
Have Lunch with Me: Refreshing Shrimp Salad!

This is another light and easy lunch that this housewife adores!  It's my go-to in the summertime when I want light and cool fare.  

No hot oven or stove! Filling! No guilt! Ready in minutes!

I always have frozen shrimp on-hand for little lunches like this one.  I buy them on sale, usually buy-one-get-one-free.  I also always have an assortment of veggies since I feed a nice variety to my birds and guinea pigs.  They love when I make a salad because there's always little leftover bits that they get as a mid-day snack.

Shrimp - 1 dozen, large, pre-cooked, frozen, tail on, peeled, de-veined
Dressing - 1T Lighthouse Homestyle Ranch
Romaine lettuce - 2 leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
Broccoli florets
Carrots - shredded
Snow peas - cut in half width-wise
Sea Salt & Freshly cracked black pepper

I wash all my veggies the day I get home with them from the market so that's one step of prep that's already done!

I put the frozen, pre-cooked shrimp into a colander in the sink and rinse them with cold water for a few seconds, give them a swirl and rinse again and let sit while I continue prep.

I get the rest of the veggies ready.  The lettuce gets torn into pieces and placed in the bottom of the bowl.  Layered ontop are the snow peas, broccoli florets, and shredded carrot.

Then I rinse the shrimp some more.  By this time they shouldn't have ice on them.

I put the vegetable trimmings into the compost bin, put anything extra away and get a small plastic storage container out.

The shrimp should be thawed by now (I give them a pinch to make sure they aren't icy inside), this should be about 5 minutes after prep started.  I lay the shimp out on the counter beside the sink ontop of a few layers of paper towels and I give them a firm press with another dry paper towel.  When they seem almost dry I take a dry towel in my hand and gently squeeze each shrimp one by one and place them into the plastic storage container .  I need the shrimp to be nice and dry so the dressing will adhere to them and not be a watery mess.

The dressing is added on top of the shrimp in the container and I add a few shakes of sea salt (or kosher, but never table salt) and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.  Then I put the lid on and shake gently to coat the shrimp in the dressing and seasonings.   

Then I place each shrimp on top of the salad bed.  I definitely prefer to dress just one component of my salad instead of the whole thing so there is never a puddle of dressing in the bottom or the risk of the salad being over-dressed.  It's also handy for portion/calorie control if that's a concern.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Have Lunch with Me: Bubba Burger!

To continue the "Have Lunch with Me" series, I'll share this deliciously juicy Bubba Burger I had for lunch!
To continue the "Have Lunch with Me" series, I'll share this deliciously juicy Bubba Burger I had for lunch!
Trader Joe's Garlic Salt: The star of my burgers!
Trader Joe's Garlic Salt: The star of my burgers!

I used one of the frozen Original Bubba Burger patties and cooked it in a small nonstick skillet over a Medium flame until it was juicy on top and then I seasoned it with garlic salt and flipped it.  I toasted an onion bun while the second side of the burger cooked and then slathered it with Duke's mayonnaise ( I recently switched from Hellman's which I liked pretty well, too...I just wanted to try something different).

I added a piece of romaine lettuce and that's it! So, it's not incredibly healthy, but I had skipped breakfast and was so hungry!  This was fast, meaty, and delicious!

Thanks for having lunch with me! What did you have today?

Water Test

I have become increasingly concerned about the quality of our water here.  I knew as soon as we moved in that the water was hard with lots of minerals in it.  It's incredibly hard to clean with it and hard to clean off the scale build-up in places where it collects (like the shower).  We have a pretty thorough water testing kit for use with the fish aquariums and we used that the day we moved in, but there's only so much we can test for.  We weren't able to get an answer from the owners of this property by way of our realtor as to when the well was last serviced, but it is under a decade old.  I was a bit concerned though, because there have been a few earthquakes here in the last few years.  I feel like that's the kind of thing that should be checked out afterwards. 

After all of the problems we've had with the health of our pets that occurred within months of moving in, I thought maybe the water was the common thread between them even though the vet said that it was not likely the case.  Our 10 year old bunny, Duchess, had a calcium buildup that her kidneys just couldn't process and she passed away a few weeks ago, Ani has been sick twice with an undiagnosed & untreated malady that eventually cleared on its own (both times in the same week of spring in the 2 years we've been here), and now one of my newly adopted guinea pigs has blood in her urine which is often a symptom of bladder stones (usually caused by too much calcium) or a UTI.  We do use bottled water the majority of the time, but Ani likes playing in his water so much, he goes through a few gallons a day, so it's not really reasonable to use it in his porch water dish where he plays the most.  We also use filtered water from our Brita, but I assume it doesn't filter everything out. 

Yesterday Hubby took two water samples to Environmental Systems Service for testing; one sample is being tested for bacterial content and the other for mineral content.  It's costing us $40 to get our water tested but because we are on an artisanal well and there is no county water here, we have no other option.  We could go to the regional health and environmental services but it'd cost a few hundred dollars to have the well tested.  I feel like that's something the owners of the property should do anyway.   I look foward to finding out what the test results are.  I hope it's fine, but just knowing will be one thing I can take off my mind.

Monday, June 23, 2014

No End to the Anguish

I began cleaning The Piggals home this morning and Fancy squealed when Hubs picked her up to put her on the floor to play while I cleaned.  He knows how to scoop them up the right way and she doesn't mind being held at all so it was quite unusual and alarming for her to do that.  He handed her to me so I could check her out and her lady-parts were bleeding.  I shrugged it off for a moment thinking she must have started menses, but then I recalled having several female piggies before and they never menstruated, so I was a bit unnerved.  I finished cleaning their pen and carefully placed her back inside noting that there were a few drops of blood where she was sitting.  Then there was slightly bloody urine where she wee'd in her pen on the fresh bedding. There's been no more bleeding today and other than this momentary incident, she was not showing any signs that something was not well...although that's pretty typical of guinea pigs.  They don't show weakness until it's almost too late to treat them.  I'm always on the look out for warning signs.  I got online and read that a bloody discharge could be symptomatic of a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) or Bladder stones among other, more serious things, like cysts and cancer.
Fancy watching Lisa Vanderpump on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with me the other day

Hubs made an appointment for the vet and we weighed her and I began keeping a notebook with her daily weight and her "input" and "output".  We've just gotten over our second annual bout of undiagnosed maladies with our cat and just lost our beloved 10 yr old bunny a few weeks ago, the same week we adopted the 'pigs.

I am so mentally exhausted from worrying about the pets' health.  Ani has had the same mystery illness two years in a row at exactly the same time of year and it never occurred until we moved here to the foothills of the Shenandoah.  He was never diagnosed with anything but it did subside after about a week.  I was so scared both times that we were going to lose him.  He is always so healthy but he still hasn't bounced back.  He lost so much weight, this last time particularly, and he just isn't gaining it back.  It makes me think of how we almost lost him every time I pet him or cuddle him and I feel his bones.  I don't know if I should be disappointed with the vet, but I feel so sad that I can't do anything more to help him.

I also have worries about the money it has taken to get our pets treated since we moved here.  I feel like we had such a great vet (where I even interned in high school), but we never needed him for anything but regular checkups.  Now we are here, with a new vet that we don't know, and everything seems to be going wrong.  We lost our bun after spending so much money to help her.  The night before she died, my husband had picked up new rounds of meds for her that we never even used...hundreds of dollars that I feel were a waste.  I wish she could have been spared the pain and terror of that last week of her life.  I hope my end isn't as tragic.  I also worry for the pain pets have to go through that is probably mostly unexpressed because it is in their nature to hide pain (and weakness).  We had been saving for a downpayment on a house so we happened to have some money in the bank to cover these medical expenses, but now all that money is gone and not one pet has been healed yet.  I would give all my money for my pets to be healthy and happy, but to give it all and know they are not, hurts so much.

Hubs and I haven't even had health insurance for ourselves in over a decade.  We haven't been to a doctor or a dentist in that time even though it has been needed.  We take care of our "babies" first and until we moved here they haven't had any major medical expenses.   Every time I feel like I've gotten up from a heavy punch, I get knocked down again. We really need to buy a house and get health insurance so that we can start a family before we are forty, but at this rate, it's not going to happen and I'm kinda terrified of where our life is heading. 

Late Lunch at Chili's

Hubs and I sometimes dine out during our weekly shopping trip.  I tasked him with deciding what we'd have this time because I was mentally exhausted, so when he chose a restaurant I wasn't thrilled about, I went along with his suggestion anyway.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fireflies at Sunset

I had never seen fireflies in this abundance until we moved out here.  Warm summer nights are topped with the most beautiful lightshow I have ever seen.  

Millions of these buggers fill the trees and grass making these hills look like heaven on earth.  It's truly spectacular!  

I know my little iPhone video doesn't come close to showing the beauty.  It's usually too dark to record or too light to see them well.  A real video camera has gone onto my Amazon Wishlist, LoL!  I want a visual reminder of these moments forever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Have Lunch with Me: Corndogs!

This was a particularly lazy lunch and definitely not fact it's probably not even worthy of a blog post except that it was my first try at making these and they came out great!

Crunchy, deep fried, guilty-pleasure Corn Dogs!
Crunchy, deep fried, guilty-pleasure Corn Dogs!

It started with this:
Foster Farms Honey Crunchy Corn Dogs
Foster Farms Honey Crunchy Corn Dogs

I have never bought frozen corn dogs before, in fact I don't buy much of anything frozen except fruits, veggies, seafood, and ice cream.  I make an unattractive sour face at the thought of buying and using pre-packaged frozen meals.


I have been craving corn-dogs and I've even bought the stuff to make them from scratch, and after my husband ate all the hot dogs (again) before I got the chance to make them, I gave in when I saw these for $4.  For the mathematically impaired, that's a quarter a 'dog.  Worthy of a try.

The package had directions for microwaving, oven cooking, and deep frying.  I haven't had a microwave in almost two years so that was out (and I imagine they'd come out a bit soggy...and I wanted a crunchy-ass corndog!!).  I don't make a habit of deep frying (or any kind of frying) but if I was going to have a guilty pleasure, it might as well be a deep-fried one!

The package recommended frying 9 minutes  at 350°-375° so I added a few inches of oil, popped on my frying thermometer and turned the gas flame up to medium.  A few minutes later I dropped these puppies in and set my timer.  Using tongs, I pulled them out and set them on a towel while dolloping out a bit of Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup and Maille Dijon Mustard.

Deep frying corn dogs
Deep frying corn dogs

The payoff:  They were delish! Crunchy, lightly sweet, fully cooked, easy and quick to make, and the only cleanup was my plate and the tongs, LOL! Love it.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Have Lunch with Me: Open-faced Pintos 'n Cheese

 As a housewife, I like to use up leftovers when I make lunch for myself, and I like making it as yummy, quick, and easy-to-clean up as possible!

Here's my first meal share; I hope you enjoy the inspiration!

Have Lunch with Me: Open-faced Pintos 'n Cheese
Have Lunch with Me: Open-faced Pintos 'n Cheese

Technically, I didn't use leftovers for this; I used stuff I'd need to open for tonight's requested dinner of Chorizo Burritos. So call it an early prep :P

Fresh tortillas
Fresh tortillas
Tortilla toasted over open gas flame
Tortilla toasted over open gas flame
Old El Paso Vegetarian Refried Beans
Old El Paso Vegetarian Refried Beans
Refried Beans smeared on toasted tortilla
Refried Beans smeared on toasted tortilla
Old El Paso Mild Enchilada Sauce
Old El Paso Mild Enchilada Sauce
Enchilada Sauce covering refried beans
Enchilada Sauce covering refried beans
Trader Joe's Garlic Salt Grinder
Trader Joe's Garlic Salt Grinder
Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning
Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning
Seasonings sprinkled on
Seasonings sprinkled on
Tostitos Artisan Baked Three Cheese Queso Corn Chips
Tostitos Artisan Baked Three Cheese Queso Corn Chips
Tortilla chips crushed (about 3)
Tortilla chips crushed (about 3)
Crushed tortilla chips layered ontop
Crushed tortilla chips layered ontop
Queso Fresco (fresh cheese)*
Queso Fresco (fresh cheese)*
Used a fork to "grate" queso fresco
Used a fork to "grate" queso fresco


Open-faced Pintos and Cheese: Cheese sprinkled ontop.  Concoction baked on 350° about 12 minutes.  Lifts out well with a spatula.
Open-faced Pintos and Cheese:
Cheese sprinkled ontop.  Concoction baked on 350° about 12 minutes.  Lifts out well with a spatula.
This was a nice and quick lunch.  I loved that it was vegetarian, warm and light, but filling.  Using the queso fresco instead of a meltier cheese kept it from being greasy and gloppy.   I topped it with a bit of cilantro that I shared with my guinea pigs.

I was inspired by one of my all-time favorite Taco Bell menu items, the Pintos N Cheese.  I live out in the boonies now so it's a bit of a trek to the nearest one...not that I ever went that often for health reasons anyway, so I make my own.  I usually use leftovers from Taco Night and bake it in a bowl, but I decided to try a different way.  Leave a comment below and let me know if you've done something similar!

*Queso fresco, if you haven't seen it before, literally means fresh cheese.  You can make it at home with just milk, salt, and rennet, but it's inexpensive to buy and can be found in most markets.  If you can't find it, try your local latin market.  It has a mild milky taste and I use it in place of Parmesan when I don't mind missing out on the tang or salty flavor that Parm has.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Introducing Anakin

It was October 2001and Mike & I had just gotten back from our honeymoon and returned to work.  We were both employed in the small animal and aquatics department of the petstore where we had met.  We both had bonded over our love of animals as our love for each other grew.  We had a tough time making room for our combined pets in our new marital home together, but we made it work.  I think we had 17 fishtanks going back then!  It was a regular menagerie because neither of us could say no to an animal that needed a proper home.  Almost everything was rescued or adopted.  We even took in unwanted fish that people would bring in to the store because we begged them not to flush them or release them into native bodies of water.

So it was no surprise when a co-worker asked me to come look at what someone had dropped off at the store that I'd end up giving something else a home.  He showed me to a quarantine room that housed a little black cat.
"Oh no. I'm not a cat person," 
I protested. He asked me just to hold it as he proceeded to tell me how he didn't want to vet him and put him in the adoption center until after Halloween because some people adopt black cats for cheap near that holiday to hurt them.  I had never thought about that and I was horrified. Mike was working so I called him over to the quarantine as well.

 I held the precious kitty and batted my sad doe eyes and asked Mike if we could take him home.  Mike hadn't even heard the story or the fact that I was only considering keeping the cat until after Halloween before he said, "Well, ooohhhkaay."  He's always been a softie.  If I asked him to stand on his head and spit quarters, he would.

So after work that day, we put the kit-kat into a box, bought all of the "temporary" supplies we'd need and headed home for what I was sure would be a perilous night.  I had only had 2 barn cats when I had lived on a farm so a housecat would be a new adventure. Mike had never had a cat either.  We were warned that he'd probably find a place to hide and be pretty scared or shy for a while.  Hopefully he was litter trained!  Hopefully he wouldn't terrorize our other pets!  He was checked out by the vets before we took him home and he was in good health and had been declawed.  I would never have a cat declawed, I've interned at a verterinarian's office and I've seen the pain they go through, but what was done, was done, and we hoped for the best.

We arrived at home and quietly placed his box in the middle of the livingroom and set up his litterbox, water, food, and a bed.  Expecting him to go and hide or not come out on his own at all, we were pleasantly surprised when he peeked out of the box, climbed out, had a look 'round, and laid down in the middle of the room.  Like, "Yeah. This is my new house.  I approve."  Then he went to sleep.

We named him Ani, short for Anakin, and as a namesake for Annie, a love that we had both recently lost.

Thirteen years later and we still haven't taken him back to be adopted...he adopted us. 

Cute Guinea Pigs
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Have you tried Goodreads?

I stumbled across Goodreads today and wondered why I'd never found it before! It's a Netflix-like site (but without rentals) that allows you to rate books you've read, add books to a reading list, and explore titles that are recommended to you based on your ratings.  It has a social feature as well which allows you to see what your friends have read and what their opinions are.

I often forget the titles of books I've already read and sometimes I want to mark a book that I love so I can re-read it later or I come across a list of recommended books like this one related to "Dead Poet's Society", so this will help me organize my reading list!

Check out my virtual bookshelf!


You can sign up when you get there if you don't already have an account; it's free!It can connect to your Amazon account if you so choose and add books that you've purchased there to your Goodreads bookshelf.

And there's an iPhone app for the Apple-inclined.  So if you're like me and you want to keep track of what you've read and what you want to read next, try out Goodreads.

I just started using it and I think it's pretty great.  
"But you don't have to take my word for it" just ask your friends on Goodreads. 
(Thanks LeVar Burton/Reading Rainbow)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pig Habitat- Step 1: U-Haul Furniture Pad Prep

U-Haul Furniture Pads in Packaging

 U-Haul Furniture Pads in packaging

Cost: $7.95 each at the U-Haul retail store
Size: 68" X 85"
Material: Recylced denim (cotton)

They even come in reusable plastic zip bags. Good for storing or reusing for other household organizing or crafting purposes.
I bought two extra: one to have on hand to switch out while the dirty one is washing and one spare just in case I flub one up.
 Thanks to Hubby for picking these up for my project☺

U-Haul Furniture Pad Label

U-Haul Furniture Pad Label


U-Haul Furniture Pads Close-up

U-Haul Furniture Pads Close-up

Here I'm showing you the thickness and texture of the pad right out of the package.

Pre-washing the U-Haul Furniture Pads

Pre-washing the U-Haul Furniture Pads

1/2 Cup of Distilled White Vinegar into the softener dispenser
1 Pump of Method Free + Clear Laundry Detergent
 As you can see in the image above, I set my front-load HE washer to Permanent Press (warm wash/cold rinse), a medium spin cycle, and an extra rinse.

I prefer not to use chlorine bleach on my pet bedding as it can be harmful if there is any residue that comes in contact with ammonia (which is in urine); it causes a dangerous chemical reaction that is also known as the compound Chlorine Gas.  The vapors from chlorine are harmful to pets' respiratory systems and chlorine can also cause skin irritation.   Vinegar is a good disinfectant in the right proportion and a safer alternative. I didn't use a disinfectant amount here as the blanket was new but adding the vinegar helps to soften fabric, remove odors, and remove any residue or build up so it's a good idea to use it in every wash.

My rule of thumb is if it might not rinse out 100% or I couldn't ingest it or breathe it in safely, then I don't use it for my pets or family!


It is also really important not to use fabric softener for the fleece system bedding because it will coat the fibers of the material and prevent it from absorbing/wicking properly. It's also good not to use anything scented around the pets as they have sensitive respiratory systems.  What might be a faint and pleasant scent to you might be highly irritating and dangerous in the long-term for them.

U-Haul Furniture Pad Dried

It only took about 15 minutes to dry on medium heat which bodes well for its absorbent and quick-drying capabilities (not that I didn't believe all the piggy-parent's claims that I've read around the 'net) ☺

So now my piggals' bedding padding is ready to go into their habitat!

If you haven't met my Piggals yet, here's their introduction!
Meet the Piggals!

I can hear them squealing now! They are ready for floor time with Mama (that's me!) and new bedding for their pen.  I can't wait to see how this works out.
TTFN! (Ta-ta for now!)



 Leave a comment with what bedding you and your pigs prefer! 

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Welcome to the Family, Pig-gals!

Introducing our new furry babies: Fancy , Luna , and Buttercup 
The Piggals!

About a week before Duchess (our 10 year-old Dutch rabbit) started showing any signs that her last day was drawing near, we had contacted a family who needed these girls adopted, so it was somewhat of a comfort and a blessing to have new additions to our family at this time in our lives. We picked them up Saturday and they have been a joy.

Mike has a grand habitat in the works (designed by me, of course ☺) and I had fun taking their “Welcome to the Family” glamor shots.

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