Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles

Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles

Health, Fitness, Food
Ebook/Print (312 pages, HAY HOUSE)
In Make Your Own Rules Diet, Tara Stiles introduces readers to easy and fun ways to bring yoga, meditation, and healthy food into their lives. As the designer and face of Reebok’s first yoga lifestyle line, author of Yoga Cures and Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga, and the founder of Strala—the movement-based system that ignites freedom, known for its laid-back and unpretentious vibe—Tara has long been a proponent of creating a tension-free healthy life by tapping into the unique needs of her clients. In this new book, she teaches readers how to apply this inward-looking philosophy to themselves.
When people understand what they need for true well-being, they can make their own rules—rules that will help them become their best selves. In her rulebook, it’s no pain, much gain. In fact, Tara stresses the importance of practicing with ease—leaving the discomfort and tension behind—because what you practice is what you manifest. Readers will not only learn to create their own rules but also to understand when something isn’t working anymore, so they can update their rules as circumstances change.
Her approach takes readers from the kitchen, to the mat, to the cushion, in an effort to help them get to know themselves. After leading them through some basic guidelines about how to write their rulebooks, Tara lays out tips, techniques, and practices, including:
· A step-by-step goal setting process so readers can figure out where they want to focus
· Six yoga routines specifically designed to up energy levels, curb cravings, drop pounds, and enhance peace
· Eight breathing and meditation practices to soothe the soul
· 50 simple, delicious, plant-based recipes that can be made in minutes
· A 7-day kick-start program and a 30-day transformation plan to launch readers on their healthy, happy, radiant path
So join Tara today as she opens readers’ eyes to a new way of living well that anyone can do—no matter where they are now.

Not feeling this as a 'diet' book. (3 stars)

 While I liked the sort of hippie-ish personality of Stiles and found the approach very friendly and mindful-ness centered I just couldn't bring myself to think this book set out to do what its title implies. The focus on meditation and yoga are wonderful, if frequently repetitive. The recipes and food, however, seemed lacking in terms of long-term health. If you're looking for recipes I don't think any of them are bad, but I would not encourage anyone to follow the 30-day transformation without first consulting a nutritionist and/or physician.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Xtava Makeup Brushes

Xtava 7 pcs Makeup Brushes Set
Product Details: QUALITY CURATION: Consider this your expert essentials kit. All the tools you need, from mastering your signature "no makeup" look to experimenting with a bold smoky eye or perfecting the cheekbone contour; this collection brings you the best of the basics with 1 Powder Brush, 1 Foundation Brush, 1 Kabuki Brush, 1 Precision Eyebrow Definer Brush, 1 Eye Shadow Base Brush, 1 Eye Shader Brush, and 1 Lip Brush
MAXIMIZING MATERIALS: Finally, brushes that make it simple for anyone to apply like a pro. A strategic blend of both natural and synthetic bristles deliver enhanced coverage. The varied texture of natural fibers best attract and deposit powdered products, while smooth synthetic materials are utilized for the liquid brushes to ensure expert absorption and streak-free results
CHIC + SLEEK STORAGE: Beauty gurus on the go, delight! The soft but sturdy clutch case makes midday or late night touch ups a breeze, and provides ultimate protection for your tools with fitted brush slots and a canvas cover flap to preserve the bristles. Featuring an extra zipper close pocket perfectly sized for your daily essentials, you might just be tempted to leave your purse at home!
LIGHTWEIGHT LUXURY: The brushes are each handcrafted from ultra-lightweight wood, allowing for optimal ease of use without compromising on flawless application. Xtava brushes are truly featherweight champions!
BUILDING BLOCKS: The Xtava Classic Essentials Kit is a must-have for every savvy beauty buff, whether you're starting your first makeup collection or an expert seeking a new high-quality set of basics. These 7 brushes are the most versatile building blocks; now you can get out there and grow your kit!

An excellent starter set! (5 Stars)

I'm no makeup artist but I am a bit of a makeup brushes junkie. I love trying new ones and have amassed a pretty large collection from many different brands and levels of quality. This Xtava set seemed like a fabulous starter set so I couldn't resist reviewing it.

The 7 brushes included are wonderful basics and come in a terrific wallet style case. While I personally won't use the case those who do their makeup on the go will love it. Overall, the one brush I didn't care for is the kabuki brush. I find it a bit too stiff. But every single one of the others is great for being such a budget friendly set. I did find the Eye Shadow Base brush sheds a bit which I wasn't thrilled about but after a few washes I'm not noticing it anymore. My hands down favorite from the entire set though is the lip brush. I've never been a big fan of them before and now I use it all the time.

If you're in the market for a cost-conscious set of starter brushes I don't think you can go wrong with this set. If you're a MUA or just very experienced you might find these are indeed not quite as nice as designer brand brushes but they might make a good backup set.

Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have you tried this makeup tool yet?

Latex Free Blender Beauty Sponge

Company Site: website
Product Details: Apply foundation flawlessly with a soft makeup sponge that will leave a smooth, even application. With its teardrop shape, sponge is easy to hold while providing both small and wide surface coverage. Eliminate streaks and allow even distribution of liquid and powder foundation every time.

Still not sure it's that great... (3 Stars)

Let me preface this review by saying that this is the first time I've used this type of product. After seeing these blending sponges hyped quite a bit I figured I'd give it a try but I just didn't find it that much different from using my fingers. It soaks up so much of the foundation I found it hard to get much to stay on my face. This could be due to the ingredients in the foundation I used, I'm just not sure.

I suppose if you prefer a sponge blender this is an inexpensive option you might like. I found that I'd just prefer washing my hands and using them rather than having a sponge to clean and get dry between uses. The results were similar enough I just don't see the need to own one.

Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Make Ahead Bread by Donna Currie

Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie

Ebook/Print (208 pages, TAUNTON)
Two Steps to Breaking Bread. Make Ahead Bread de-mystifies the bread-baking process with simple recipes and easy-to-follow steps for fresh-from-the-oven bread. Plus there's an entire chapter devoted to baking ingredients and equipment. Follow home baker Donna Currie's simple two-step process to baking delicious, fresh, yeast breads:
Step One – mix and knead the dough, then let it rest for 1-2 days while you enjoy life
Step Two – bake.
Yes, it's that simple.
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Breads. Your home will smell amazing while you bake any of the 100 recipes inMake Ahead Bread, including all of these:
Loaf Breads – Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Loaf; Maple Sugar and Walnut Loaf
Buns, Rolls, Breadsticks – Slider Buns; Cheesy Breadstick Twists
Flatbreads – Chicago-style Pan Pizza; Semolina Focaccia
Pastries – Breakfast Sausage Danish; Traditional Croissants, and more.
Now, you're never too busy to bake bread! Yeast bread isn't complicated to make, but because it needs time to rise, it’s not always easy to fit it into time available - that’s until now. Make Ahead Breadgives inexperienced bakers and busy home cooks the information you need to make flavorful, freshly baked bread on a schedule that works for you.
Leftovers? Just in case you have any leftovers, this book also features many recipes for your extra bread like Almond Butter Bread Pudding; Artichoke, Olive and Tomato Strata; and Overnight French Toast. Plus recipes for scrumptious butters and spreads are included, such as: Chunky Apple and Cinnamon Spread and Chocolate Butter to name a few.

A wonderful place to get started! (5 stars)

If there's one thing I've been missing since my spouse was diagnosed with a bunch of food allergies it's breads. I had picked up a copy of this book last fall in hopes of tackling homemade bread in the new year and sure enough my husband is allergic to wheat, yeast, corn, and a bunch of other basic ingredients found in almost every recipe in this wonderful book.

So it's become a bit of a comfort book for me. Instead of baking the recipes here I page through it and fantasize about the recipes instead. Because most of them look like even I could tackle them! Maybe once we get a handle on his allergies I can try some of them but for now we're trying to keep the foods out of our home as much as we can. I love that these are the kind of recipes you can divide the work on. As a busy mom and blogger I just do not have time to spend all day in the kitchen kneading and prepping. If you're in much the same boat I do recommend picking up a copy.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Review: Jupiter's Legacy

Jupiter's Legacy Volume 1

Graphic Novel, Superheroes
Print (136 pages, IMAGE)
Comics superstars Mark Millar and Frank Quitely reinvent the superhero epic for the 21st Century! 1932: Sheldon Sampson's dreams about a mysterious source of power lead him, his brother Walter, and a group of loyal followers on a quest around the world. What they discover sets them on a course that will wrench a family apart and alter the world's political stage! Decades after their journey, Sheldon and Walter are superpowered legends, world renowned for their heroism. But the offspring trained to live in their image have fallen desperately short. Rocked by one public scandal after another, Chloe and her brother Brandon are a dishonor to the generation before them. The rift reaches its breaking point when one branch of the family overthrows the government and struggles to rule at any cost - while the others must flee for their own safety. But when the failures of the corrupt leaders catch up to them, the world hovers on the brink of collapse - and the hidden heroes must emerge to take back their legacy! Collects Jupiter's Legacy #1-5.

Loved the overall concept and yet... (3 stars)

I really wanted to love Jupiter's Legacy because conceptually it's brilliant. Who hasn't wondered what the kids of their favorite superheroes and villains would be like? In this case they're spoiled, fame whores and drunkards without much in the line of redeeming qualities.

There's a lot of set-up here and the story happens over three different time frames. But what I think pulled the story down for me was that there seemed to be no middle ground or morally ambiguous character in the entire group. Without spoiling anything I was left wondering why it came down to an all or nothing situation.

I can't say I don't recommend it, the art and story are very much worth the read, I just found myself feeling pretty ambivalent about it.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Brio 2800 mAh Power Bank Portable Charger

Brio 2800 mAh Power Bank Portable Charger
Company Site: website
Product Details: The LS-2100 power bank has a compact design, lipstick size, super lightweight, feel nothing in your hand when playing with the power. Easily fits into your pocket or bag. Grade A cells high quality Lithium-ion battery ensures reliability; 500 + recharge cycles over the life of the battery. 1A Output and 2800mAh battery capacity can charging more than one full extra battery life for your iPhone 6, 5s, 5c, and most other smaller smartphones and devices 
external battery pack - powerbank - power bank - power bank charger - external battery charger - portable power bank - external charger - portable charger 
• This mini external battery has a compact design, lipstick size, super lightweight, feel nothing in your hand when playing with the power 
• Easily fits into your pocket or bag 
• Grade A cells high quality Lithium-ion battery ensures reliability; 500 + recharge cycles over the life of the battery 
• 1A Output and 2800mAh battery capacity can charging more than one full extra battery life for your iPhone 6, 5s, 5c, and most other smaller smartphones and devices. 
• When designing our BRIO Power Bank Series, we fully consider your safety in use. 
• This model involves Security Protection Design which provides: over-charging protection, over current protection, over discharge protection and short circuit protection.

Compact and reasonably fast. (5 Stars)

I've got a few power bank chargers and I've yet to find one that I didn't like but I'm really loving the Brio. In terms of speedy charging and size it's perfect for my personal needs. It's a bit bigger than the lipstick size that's suggested but is still compact enough to fit into a clutch purse if you so desired. Mine will primarily be an emergency backup for my husband who is notorious at letting his phone wind up dead when we're away from home together. Now he'll have no excuse to borrow my phone when I hand him the Brio. lol

So how fast does it dump? I did a test with my Samsung Galaxy S4 a couple of nights ago and this was my result. I plugged the Brio into my phone at 9:55PM when it was at 63% charged and set it next to me while I read on another device. At 11:10PM my phone alerted me it was fully charged. So depending on your device I'd bet 3-4 hours for a full charge from being dead. Which makes it a very reasonable option for those situations where you've left your charger at home and wind up low on juice.

Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Got pets? Beat the springtime shed with this handy tool!

Pet Deshedding Comb for Dogs and Cats
Product Details: Get a grip of your pets hair! Super effective solution for your pets shedding at an amazing price. Remove excess shedding and improve your furry freinds hygiene while keeping their coat shiny and beautiful.
PETTOOL is a one size fits all deShedding tool designed for Small, Medium & Large- Cats & Dogs, that have Short, Medium and Long hair.
Ergonomic and durable handle that wont break is a perfect tool for removing loose, dead hair, while gaining a shiny top coat in minutes.
For best results, we recommend deShedding your pet immediately after washing and drying. Use only on a completely dry coat. Use the deShedding tool much like a brush and gently stroke across the pet's coat in the direction of hair growth, angling the stainless steel teeth of the deShedding edge toward the coat.

Really tackles that undercoat! (4 Stars)

I've got a long-haired GSD with a crazy thick undercoat, a short haired tuxedo cat who loves to be brushed, and a Russian Blue that has the world's worst undercoat. But I'm also on a budget so buying a bunch of brushes until I find the right one is just not possible. If you're like me and don't want to buy a dozen brushes I can say that I really like this one both for its effectiveness and for the price.

Seriously, it takes one heck of a brush to tackle my dog's coat and as you can see by the photo, she's a hairy beast. I took her outside and brushed her for about 10 minutes and my yard looked like we had a tribble infestation there were so many big balls of fur everywhere. Surprisingly she also tolerated it a lot more than previous attempts to tackle her undercoat with a slicker style brush. The Russian Blue cat can be a nightmare because he loves getting his belly brushed (he's weird that way) but not his back and sides where the undercoat can mat really bad. But I've been deshedding it with this comb and he's looking so much better. He's even tolerating more brushing than he usually puts up with. My tuxie—as you can see in the photo—thinks the comb is the best thing since canned tuna.

Happy pets. Happy pet parent. I'd recommend it.

Notes: I received a discounted product in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review: Sentey Nebulus Gaming Mouse

Sentey® Nebulus Gaming Mouse
Company Site: website
Product Details: 
You're now part of an elite brotherhood of gamers whose sole purpose is to effortlessly dominate the competition! Along side your elite gaming brethren, wielding only your cunning wits, heightened senses, and your Nebulus gaming mouse from Sentey, you're about to embark on a journey to conquer every corner of the gaming universe!!
Fear is not an option with Nebulus! Rest assured that it is more than properly equipped with all the features you could ever need to seize control of the gaming galaxy! Including: 4 software configurable DPI levels (up to 3200dpi each), up to 3600FPS, 3D two-way scrolling, 9 adjustable weights, low fricton PTFE feet for quick movement on just about any surface, and fast acceleration and polling rates, all built on the Pixart chipset.
Hard Case Multiuse / Led Lights on - Off / Multi DPI Button Selector and Software Configuration / 5 Buttons / 500hz Polling Rate / Acceleration Speed 30g / Heavy Duty All Braided 1.8 Meter Cable with USB 2.0 Gold Plated Connector / Low Friction Ptfe Feet for Better Gaming Experience / 3d 2 Way Scrolling

Great for heavy clickers. (5 Stars)

I've gotta preface this review by noting that I wasn't in the market for a gaming mouse for myself, but rather, my spouse. But since I'm the reviewer in the house I gave it the first run and he'll get it now that I'm writing my review. He's primarily a gamer while I'm a mix of needs from photo editing and blogging to gaming and I think a review for those with similar needs to mine is important.

For gaming I was very happy with it. The Nebulus is light—even with all 9 weights inside—and agile, glides like a dream, and I found the overall shape very comfortable. But outside of gaming I've found it a pain in my backside. You've got to be a heavy clicker, which I'm just not. Curse you delicate fingers! I've had nothing but trouble with it in Photoshop and while doing basic tasks like copying and pasting text. So for those of you who have smaller or lighter hands considering this one, you might find it's going to require adjusting the oomph behind your clicks as you get used to it. 

The interface and configuration on the Nebulus is nice. It has plenty of options and I was really pleased to see that the lighting in particular could be adjusted both in intensity and pulsation or turned off altogether. If you've got a seizure disorder like I do chances are a fast pulsing light in your peripheral is a no-go. 

Overall, this is a phenomenal mouse for gaming that won't break the bank. It's sleek design and adjustable weight are sure to be a plus if comfort is important to you. I'd recommend it for those who use their computer primarily for gaming and that are heavy handed, I honestly think this is going to be perfect for my husband and will update my review once he's had it for a couple of weeks.

Notes: I received a complimentary product in exchange for this honest review.
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