Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rave of the Day: Big Star Jeans

Big Star Jeans
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Big Star Jeans because they fit extremely well, stretching to accommode my proportionately wide hips while being snug enough around my waist that there is no gap in the back, AND they are long enough that I can even wear heels in them!  They're stretchy and offer plenty of give, so that dreaded fat roll by the back of your hip that can be created by some jeans (you know what I'm talking about) never appears. Best of all, they're super cute on.  Ah, it was a struggle to find the perfect jean for me, but I've finally done it!  Never again will I have to dread jean shopping.  

I spent the day with shopping with my cousin a few weeks back and noticed she was wearing them too and she said told me they were all she wore anymore.   I think you can say they are a favorite among the "hippy" girls (which would be all of us) in my family!  

Here's an excerpt that wrote about the brand:

Big Star Jeans are inspired by western and vintage themes, with updated treatments and details that appeal to the modern consumer base.  Successfully defying categorization by creating specialized fits, intricate washes and trend conscious designs that appeal to all taste levels and lifestyles, Big Star Jeans has revitalized the jean industry.

Big Star Jeans come in a wide variety of sizes and inseams, in women's and men's European sizing.  I purchase mine at The Buckle and love that they offer free hemming.  Because of my height (I'm 5'8"), I get the extra long inseam, 35", and then get it hemmed so they're just right for me.  (The 33" long inseam is almost there but just misses the mark, especially after a washing or two.)  I've seen a few of their jeans have inseams as high as 37", so there's hope for even the tallest of the tall ladies. 

Prices for women's jeans range from $85 to $150, and the majority are in the $100 range.  If you're lucky, you may also find a pair you love on sale!  

Go try a pair on today and see for yourself!  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rave of the Day: A Great Hand Cream Disguised as a Foot Cream?

Cucumber Heel Therapy by Creative Nail Design
This rich foot cream was introduced to me during a pedicure. Apparently my nail technician was (rightfully) horrified by the ginormous calluses on my feet, and let me tell you, this stuff works wonders. 

But I'm not writing about this as a foot cream, even though it's amazing in that realm.  Nope, I've found another use for this holy grail product.  

Each winter, my hands become painfully dry and sensitive.  The smallest thing like unlocking a door or struggling with a zipper leaves me with little red abrasions that are tender to the touch, and pretty soon my fingers become covered with the painful buggers!  Youch!

A friend of mine that had also discovered this wonderful foot cream mentioned one day that she used this in the winter as a hand cream too.  Genius!  As soon as I got home, I tried it, and within a couple of weeks, the little red bumps were completely gone and became a thing of the past.  A little of this stuff goes a long way, so not much is needed.  I now just keep it by my bedside table and put some on before bed and apply a little more before I head out the door in the morning.  They also make an adorable little travel size, perfect to keep in your purse to use during the day as needed, and again, a little goes a very long way, so it lasts a lot longer than you think it will.

Here are some other great finds for dry hands:
Decleor Nourishing Comfort Hand Cream - I've used this too to treat/prevent my winter dryness and *love, love, love* this hand moisturizer.  It sinks right into my skin without feeling greasy and leaves them soft and supple.  My red bumps be gone with this lotion too.  Did I mention I love this stuff?  The essential oils used in this smell heavenly!   If cost were no issue, I'd personally exclusively use this hand cream, but the Creative Cucumber Heel Cream is a much better value and hey, in this economy, I'm all for saving a few bucks. (Decleor is $18 for 1.7 oz versus $20 for 4 oz of the cucumber cream, AND I've found even better deals for the cucumber cream online.)  

Still, this is le creme de la creme, and I like to give (and receive! hint, hint) it as a gift.  Decleor is made in Paris, so it scores instant points for being luxurious.  I personally think the professional size has a better presentation (it's a pump in a clear bottle, not a bright yellow tube that you squeeze the lotion out of), but the yellow tube works great too and is easier to throw in your purse and take with you. 

One Minute Manicure Spa Treatment Moisturizing Scrub - This is a great exfoliating treatment that makes your skin feel silky silky silky. Just massage the sea salt/essential oils mixture into your hand for a minute, rinse, dry with a towel, and rug the remaining essential oils into your hands to let them sink in to your skin.  You will not believe how soft your hands are!  This is a must-have product for winter dryness, and I also like it as a foot scrub in the summer and an all-over body scrub before applying self tanner.  I prefer the flip-top packaging because I find it easier to use than scooping it out of the jar.  Great fragrances too and well worth the $9.95.  

What are your favorite hand treatments?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rave of the Day: The Best Meal I've Ever Made - A New Spin on Meat and Potatoes

Pork Chop Dinner
I made this for dinner last night, and it was so good there was no doubt in my mind that it HAD to be today's rave.  Seriously...     
It's. That. Good.  My mouth is still watering.  The juiciest pork chops ever, great flavor, AND it was easy to make.  

4 pork chops
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 Lipton Dry Onion Soup Mix packet
1 large sweet potato (or yam), sliced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
salt to taste
garlic salt to taste

Place the pork chops on tin foil on a cookie sheet with high edges.  Salt and garlic salt both sides of the pork chops. Place the slices of onion and yams on top of the pork chops.  Combine soups, and spoon on top of the chops. Wrap in tin foil, and place in 350 preheated oven for 90 minutes.

My honey said this was one of the best meals he's had in a long time.  I was so happy to hear that, I did a little happy dance sitting at the table - hey, you know you've done it at one point or another!  I agreed with him, and was quite proud of my sudden mad cooking skills.

Another plus with this meal: clean-up is a *snap*.  The soup leaked out of the wrap as it cooked a little bit (that's why I recommend a cookie sheet with edges), but we were done cleaning up after dinner within 5 minutes.  

Hecks Yes!!   Gotta love old 4-H cookbooks for stuff like this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rave of the Day: The Best Treatment for Rosacea & Acne I've Found!

Purple Emu Redness & Blemish Control
I discovered Purple Emu three weeks ago while searching for effective and gentle treatments for rosacea, and only wish I would have found this product years ago.  

Let me begin with a disclaimer: my rosacea is mild, just in the initial stages, and I had small raised red bumps on the apples of my cheeks, and my nose had a consistent red flush.  I've had these symptoms for several years, and found that avoiding products with parabens, and sticking to products with natural ingredients worked better for my skin and didn't leave me with the irritation that synthetic products caused.  I also have a pretty consistent [read: annoying] history of breakouts along my chin and jawline.

I dedicated a day to learn more about rosacea and its suspected causes, treatments, and which specific ingredients have been shown to be effective, etc.  One of the best resources of available treatments I found was The International Rosacea Foundation.  They list several treatment options on their website, and Purple Emu's Redness and Blemish Control really caught my eye because it included all of the ingredients I was looking for: Jojoba Oil, Zinc Oxide, Sulfur, Tea Tree Oil, White Willow Bark Extract, Camomile, Aloe Vera, and Green Tea.  This also includes Dromaius (Emu) Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Arnica, Marigold, Burdock, Camphor, Eucalyptus, and Vitamin E. [This is the full list of ingredients.]

I purchased the .5 oz jar for $25.95, and that will probably last me 6 months.  Nettie, the owner of Purple Emu personally called me and answered my questions about how much product to use (just enough to sink into the skin, applied with the fingertips - more is NOT better with this stuff) and recommended that I use the product every night until my rosacea and acne subsided, and then to move to just using it every other night as a preventative treatment. 

By the way, how awesome is it that she personally called me?  I was blown away that she took the time to do that; it really speaks to her passion, and how much she stands behind her product.  She recommended that I use this with emu oil (which I happened to already have, but that they also have available) to help the product absorb into my skin better, making it even more effective.  Update: I've found that I like jojoba oil even more than emu oil; it's more moisturizing for my dry skin.

When I received my package, I was pleasantly surprised that she had also included a free sample jar of the Super Rich Moisturizer - a generous 30 day supply.  I really like this in treating my super winter-dry skin (along with a hydrating serum by Phytomer), but that's another rave for another day.  :)  

Just as Nettie said it would, my skin broke out a little more than normal during the first week of use.  Stubborn acne that had been just under the surface for years started to come up and heal, and my rosacea bumps began fading away.  After 10 days, my skin looked the best it had looked in a long long time, and it only continues to get better.  I'm not completely acne-free yet, but now when I do get a breakout it's very small and heals quickly.  The best part though is my rosacea has almost completely disappeared!  

I gave myself a great Christmas present this year: clear skin.  If you have the same issues I had, you should definitely check out Purple Emu's products!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rave of the Day: The Best Mineral Makeup I've Found!

Lumiere Cosmetics
I've been using mineral makeup for almost 5 years, using everything from Bare Escentuals Minerals to Jane Iredale to Alima. Hands down, the best mineral makeup I've used is Lumiere Cosmetics because it provides natural looking coverage, it lasts all day, AND best of all, it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.  I love that it just looks like I have great skin, not that I have on great makeup. 
I found this line during an online search for "best mineral makeup".  I came across a forum and several people were raving about this all natural mineral makeup (it does not contain bismuth oxychloride like some other popular brands, which left redness on my cheeks), and because they are a smaller company, their prices are low - i.e. you're not paying for marketing - and Kim, the owner, is amazing. 
Lumiere offers several foundation formulas customized for different skin types. I've tried all of them, and my favorite is Cashmere.  Samples are available for as little as $1, so I recommend trying them all and see which formula and shade works best for your skin.  (My skin is dry and sensitive, and I like the really subtle glow Cashmere gives. Some formulas provide heavier coverage, others help control shine and all of that is outlined on the website to help you figure out which type will best suit your skin's needs.)

Here is the
best advice I'll probably ever give on this blog...are you ready for this?  Really, it's brilliant. Brilliant! My personal tip for finding the right makeup shade for you, based on my own accidental aha! moment: 

I took a digital picture of myself with no makeup on, and uploaded it to my computer.  I compared that picture to the foundation shades on the monitor to try to find the closest match, and narrowed it down to 4 shades; (I originally thought I was Warm tone, and was going to just order the two lightest shades, but when I compared my picture, the Golden tones were a better match.)  The picture didn't lie, when the colors arrived, I experimented, and it was clear that Fair Golden is my shade. Now, anytime I'm looking to try new makeup shades - blush, eye shadow, all-over face colors, anything really - I have a recent digital picture of me up on the screen and compare that to the color swatches.  I only go with colors that *pop* with my coloring.  This has introduced me to colors I would have otherwise never considered trying, like deep red blush, coraly pinks, lavender eyeshadows and I ALWAYS love the results! (Lumiere makes this easy, because they provide HUGE color swatches on their site, and they are accurate, at least on my monitor.)

Here's a picture of me from a couple of weeks ago: all Lumiere makeup, except my mascara.  Excuse the poor quality of the picture, but hey, it's better than nothing, right?

I exclusively use Lumiere for my primer, foundation, blushes, all-over color, bronzers, etc.  (Basically, if it touches my face, it's Lumiere makeup.)  I've used their eye shadows too (which are great), but like all mineral-based eyeshadows, I've found they work much better when used with a sticky eye primer like Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance to keep the color rich and avoid creasing.  

So, if you're looking for some new makeup, check out Lumiere Cosmetics.  You won't regret it.  A jar of foundation lasts me 9 months (and I wear makeup pretty much daily), and costs $18.00.  Seriously: $18.00 lasts 9 months.  It's the best makeup I've used, and I've tried a lot of high end brands. How can you beat that? Sales! Kim is usually offering a discount or free shipping, and she often posts the code(s) right on the site.

What's your favorite makeup?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rave of the Day: Blast those Dark Under-eye Circles!

Teamine Eye Complex by Revision
I've been fighting dark under-eye circles for years, and decided to try this eye cream out after reading this glowing review on 

Everything Patty says is true.  Within a week, I noticed my dark circles fading away.  I've been using this for three weeks now (morning and night), and although my dark circles haven't disappeared completely, they are much less noticeable, and I can get away without concealer if necessary, which is something I never would have considered before this miracle cream. Wow! 
The best deal I found for Teamine is $43.50 with free shipping at  I'm guessing this jar will last me 4 to 5 months, and I think it's worth every penny!

I also wanted to share this great tip about applying under-eye concealer I came across this week: warm the cream concealer on the back of your hand before applying.  It blends much easier and prevents it from looking cakey.  

I hope you find just as good of results as I found with this wonderful eye cream!