Powder Dip Nails

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I recently got addicted to manicures for the first time in my life. I liked the gel nails because they didn’t chip like polish, but they really sand down your nail each time before applying the gel polish 😦 As a result, my nails were about 1 molecule thick after four manicures in eight weeks. I decided to try SNS dip powder nails instead because it uses a completely different method.

It cost a little more ($40 vs. $25), but stayed nice for four weeks instead of two. After that, I had it removed and decided to grow my nails out completely from the bottom up. They STILL buffed off the top layer again even though they were just removing the powder nails before sending me on my way! 😡

Anyway, when my nails were finally grown out, I wanted to get powder again before a wedding I was planning to attend. Browsing FB one day, Zuckerberg must have creepily read my mind as usual, and I came across an ad for DIY powder nails… ooooh boy! If you know me, I looooove DIY and will stupidly try to do anything and everything myself instead of paying an expert to do it.

Even though I ordered it 2.5 weeks out from the wedding—plenty of time for anything to ship that I’ve ever ordered—it still didn’t come in time, so I had to slap some ugly polish on. Turned out it said “7-18 business days” for shipping. It came almost a MONTH after ordering–arggghhh!

But anyway, it finally came yesterday, so last night I tried to apply in poor lighting. I did 3 coats, and granted, painted the base layers a bit sloppy. What you need to know here is that under NO circumstance is there any room for error with getting it on the skin around your nail. When I put the sealant and top coat on, I realized my grievous error.

The photo is AFTER I took a rough file to the edges (sides & bottom)–still sloppy overspill. Other than that, I love the natural color and how strong my nails feel. Jury is still out as to whether I’ll be able to stand this for a couple weeks before soaking it off or if I’ll just re-do the whole thing shortly to try for better aim.

EDITED TO ADD: After less than a week, I decided to re-do them. It took nearly an hour of soaking in nail polish remover to get them off–note to self: this method sucks, don’t do it again.

Last night I re-did the nails, being MUCH more careful with the base coat and not going to the edge until the 3rd coat. After each powder dip, I waited a few minutes and then dusted off the excess powder with a brush. This kept the base coat brush from getting gummed up with powder. And voila! No sloppy edges, almost perfect result. A few nails got hilly bumps that I filed down, but otherwise I did not sand before top coat. I did a 2nd coat of top to get a glossier shine. Very happy with this!

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What kind of nails do you like to do? Polish, bite them off, pointy claws, etc?

Book Review: What to Expect When No One’s Expecting

what-to-expect-when-no-ones-expecting

This book captivated my attention for lots of nerdy and personal reasons. For starters, I’m a childless only child, so low rates of reproduction are a near and dear topic to me 🙂 Secondly, having studied population ecology as it relates to animals, learning how differently it works in humans is fascinating.

During Chapter 1, I almost hurled this book out the window, because the white, middle-class male writer seemed really judgey, blaming women’s rising rates of college education, participation in the workforce, delayed childbearing, and the Pill for America’s sub-replacement fertility rate, as though those were all really terrible things. Barefoot and pregnant! It’s your duty! But I read on mostly out of curiosity.

The Magical 2.1

Let me backtrack to define “fertility rate” – it’s a snapshot of the average number of children per woman in a given area. “Replacement fertility” is considered 2.1 – replacing the woman and her mate, with 0.1 extra to replace those who die early. Anything below this rate results in a population that will eventually die out, and anything above this means a population will grow.

It may surprise you to discover that the U.S. fertility rate is only 1.8. A little ditty called “The Population Bomb,” written by Paul Ehrlich in 1968, hyped up a big scare that the world population was going to continue growing exponentially until hundreds of millions of people died of famine in the 1970s.

Although he was wrong, this idea of a rampant population explosion took very strong hold in the collective psyche. I see it in article comments all the time – “The world is way too overpopulated already!” But yet here we are. Plenty of food for everyone (although it does not get distributed to everyone – totally separate topic).

If you take the time to look at fertility numbers, particularly since 1960, what you see will shock you. It certainly did me. Here’s a list of every country’s fertility rate in 1960 and 2015: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN/

As it turns out, “modernized” countries are universally below 2.1 now – some well below, and falling quickly. From the link above, comparing 1960 vs. 2015:

  • World, 5.0 vs. 2.5
  • USA, 3.7 vs. 1.8
  • Mexico, 6.8 vs. 2.2
  • Brazil, 6.1 vs. 1.7
  • China, 5.7 vs. 1.6
  • India, 5.9 vs. 2.4
  • South Korea, 6.1 vs. 1.2 (current lowest)
  • Singapore, 5.8 vs. 1.2 (tied for lowest)
  • Kenya, 7.9 vs. 3.9
  • Rwanda, 8.2 (!!) vs. 4.0

I didn’t mention Japan or any European countries because their trends are remarkably similar: two-point-something in 1960 vs. one-point-something now – so their fall hasn’t been as dramatic, but their numbers are certainly below replacement.

Japan has the added constriction of near-zero immigration; their population is already shrinking, with a rapidly aging population and young people hyper-focused on careers and not super interested in dating. I think anyone can agree that’s a crisis for a technological superpower.

Practically the only countries clocking in well above replacement these days are in Africa – although they have also declined significantly. Can you imagine 7 or 8 children on average for every single woman? It’s mind-boggling.

What Does it Mean?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Modern life itself seems to be driving down fertility for the reasons mentioned above, plus many others that are outlined in the book if you’re curious.

As a thought experiment, following out the trend lines for a few hundred years means people will quickly go extinct in Europe, China, and the Americas. If modernization continues and fertility trend lines continue downward in Africa, India, and elsewhere, they’ll be on their way out eventually too. My brain is exploding here.

Why Did Old-Timey People Have so Many Kids?

“Back in the day,” you needed a small workforce for your farm. Plus a few were likely to die in infancy. Boys might go off to fight wars and never come back. Women really could not go out and get a job hundreds of years ago, so young marriage and poppin’ out 6 or 8 kids was life’s business (fantastic if you’re into it – eeeeek! if you’re not).

Also, before Social Security came around in the wake of FDR, children were your retirement program. You quite literally HAD to have them so someone would care for you in your old age.

Changing Attitudes

As the world modernized, life became more about fulfilling your personal dreams as opposed to fitting into and caring about a community. As the author, himself a father of 3 puts it, kids are a lot of work – and they really do not increase your happiness! But “things are more important than happiness,” he says.

Hmm, I am starting to see why some people would rather pursue their goals and happiness than come up with $1,000/month for daycare and $100k for college for the reward of having offspring. I love kids, I really do, but there are some hard sacrifices to be made if you plan on having one.

Fertility Bribes

There is a long section in the book about various countries with perilous low fertility, from Sweden and Russia to Japan and Singapore, that have tried providing healthy monetary rewards to get people to have more babies.

Everything from cash bonuses that increase per child ($9,000 for the second! $13,000 for your third!), to free state-run daycare, to a year-plus of paid maternity leave … none of it made enough of a dent to get above 2.1. I was actually quite amazed that you can’t bribe people into having kids they don’t want.

Immigration

A seemingly obvious solution here is immigration. Maybe now you can see why a shrinking Germany, desperate for healthy young workers to prop up their economy, let in 1 million Syrian refugees in a year’s time, although it was certainly not a universally popular move.

From this perspective, we should just about be begging immigrants to come to America before their own countries can’t afford to spare them. Social Security is about to go over a cliff as Baby Boomers age into the program with so few tax payers supporting each one. In 1960, there were 5 workers for every retiree collecting. In 2010, the number was 2.9 and dropping fast.

No matter how you slice it, the math does not compute, unless in a few decades our taxes get hiked to  50%+ of our income. Current figures estimate around half of Americans have zero retirement savings. Guess all the old and childless in 2050 will just have to starve to death in the streets or find the next Dr. Kevorkian? That’s a legitimate question with so many moral implicatons.

The Environment

Depending on on how you feel about people, the human race dying out is either a great thing or terrible thing. Personally, I am super concerned about protecting the environment from modern-day pollution, plastic trash, etc. So, it seems a hefty cut to human population in the next 50+ years would go a long way toward decreasing those things.

HOWEVER. The reason I care about the environment is exactly because I want there to be a habitable earth for future generations of people to live on! Even if I don’t have kids, I want YOUR kids and grandkids to have clean water to drink, temperatures that aren’t too hot for crops to grow, etc.

In conclusion: Future parents, do not be shamed that “the world is already overpopulated!” If you want to have ’em, have ’em. Also, please reduce your use of plastic, recycle what you do use, drive the most fuel-efficient car possible, and avoid buying tons of disposable crap for no particular reason that will quickly end up in a landfill.

I would love to know your thoughts on fertility rates in the U.S. and the world! What do you think? Welcome more immigrants? Cash & prizes for babies? Discuss.

Can We Please Just Stay on DST All Year?

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I’ve seen this cartoon going around a lot lately, and even shared it myself a year or two ago. Let me start by saying: I think Standard Time SUX. I was so happy when they extended Daylight Saving Time (DST – no “s” on Saving if you want to be technically accurate) around 10 years ago.

As an equestrian, all the other riders I know really appreciate having extra daylight after work to see their horse and ride. Us outdoor sportpeople/working stiffs have a really hard time fumbling around in the dark and cold. I’ve also recently learned from Facebook that parents HATE the time change because it messes up their kids’ sleep cycles for a long time.

Personally, the winter “fall back” absolutely knocks me on my butt. It’s been a few weeks and I still feel like death in the evenings and can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything at all other than fall asleep too early.

Since California is on the eastern edge of the time zone, we already have about an hour less of daylight in the evening than I did living in Kentucky, which while at a similar latitude, fell on the far western edge of the Eastern time zone. It’s pitch black by 4:30 p.m. on the shortest day of the year here vs. 5:30 p.m. in Kentucky.

I just discovered that California made a move to pass a bill this July that would keep DST going year-round in the state! (http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/05/daylight-saving-time-is-here-to-stay-in-california/) Wuuut?! How did I not know about this? It’s one of my dearest-held beliefs. Should it ever pass, the U.S. government would have to “allow” it, however.

I won’t bore you with the history of DST, which goes all the way back to Benjamin Franklin before being instituted throughout [most of] the USA in the 1960s. There was a brief flirt with year-round DST from Jan. 1974 – April 1975 during the oil embargo to save energy, but it’s been seasonal since then, albeit with two extensions, so that we now observe from March-Nov. instead of May-Oct.

PROS: DST has proven to be good for business, since people prefer to go out shopping after work if it’s light out. Of course there would be health benefits if people are more motivated to exercise when it’s daylight after work. It would be safer for pedestrians and drivers after work to navigate in daylight. Plus, the mere act of changing time in and of itself causes a rise in heart attacks, traffic accidents, and general lack of productivity while your body undergoes the “jet lag” period.

CONS: I always see people who say they “hate” the summer time change… I’m not sure who these people are. People who want daylight at 4:30 a.m. in the summer, maybe? It’s been proven that there is negligible energy savings in winter by having morning sunlight. Most of us wake up in the dark no matter what during the winter. The most legitimate downside I can see is children having to walk to bus stops in the dark … although I’m also a fan of later school start time to let growing bodies get much-needed sleep (separate rant).

What say you? Year-round DST, year-round ST, or leave it alone?

Cast Iron Pan, Why I Love Thee

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Two recent developments led to my discovery of cooking with cast iron. The first was some rather horrifying reading on the carcinogenic chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used to make Teflon. Although it’s found just about everywhere (dust, drinking water, the bodies of 98% of all people), I’d prefer not to gobble it down when my old Teflon pans start getting scratched. Thankfully after a class-action suit against DuPont, its use was recently phased out of all pans.

The second is my turn from cooking basically never to almost every night. I need a pan that is easy to use. The first one I tried after tossing all my scratched-up Teflon was a stainless steel skillet. After turning it permanently a nasty brown and chiseling everything out of it even after oiling, I decided to investigate cast iron.

I looked online a bit and ended up just buying this 10″ Lodge skillet at Target for $20. It comes pre-seasonsed, meaning it’s non-stick right off the bat. The worst I can do to it is probably steaks, which leave a bit of charred crisp on the bottom. To clean, I soak it for less than 5 minutes in very hot water and everything comes right off, either with a hard plastic scraper (Lodge brand purchased from Target for $2) or Dawn soap and a regular sponge. I pop it on the stove at a medium heat immediately to dry thoroughly so it doesn’t rust. If I use soap, I’ll rub a small bit of cooking oil into it with a paper towel while still warm and – voila! Ready for next use.

You can literally use this for everything … meat, liquids, veggie stir fry … the rest of my cookware has been completely ignored since getting this other than my pasta-boiling pot.

I recently got the reversible grill/griddle, also Lodge brand from Target. I am super excited to get fancy grill lines on meat now that we no longer have an outdoor grill.

Pros: Wonderfully non-stick – try a tiny swipe of butter and scramble your eggs – not a molecule will stick to the pan! And tastes so good. Potentially adds some iron to your diet, which most of us are deficient in.

Cons: HEAVY. Tipping the pan one-handed to pour out something saucy is almost impossible. It does have a handle on each side, but they get too hot to touch so you need to use potholders. Needs occasional re-seasoning; I just did my first one after about 6 months of use – lightly oil and stick in the oven for 1 hour to bake to a hard shine. Easy!

 

Let’s Talk About Home Chef

home-chef

Anyone who follows me on Facebook probably knows by now that I’m addicted to food delivery services. (Pictured above: Thai turkey lettuce wraps from Home Chef.) I’ve always wanted to learn to cook, but I HATE meal planning and grocery shopping. Food delivery solves both problems.

Pros: Pick 3 meals from 8 available. Since I don’t eat pork or seafood, we stick to chicken, beef, turkey or veggie. All ingredients portioned out and ZERO food waste.

Cons: Not insignificant plastic waste – lots of ice packs in crappy plastic that leaks (i.e. hard to reuse), plus plastic packaging on most of the individual items. But… compare this to grocery shopping or going out to eat – lots of plastic and trash.

We alternate between Blue Apron and Home Chef depending on who has the best menu that week. Both charge $59 for three dinners of two servings each. This is the same or slightly less per portion than we spend on takeout, but more than grocery shopping & cooking from scratch whenever I’ve re-made the meals.

I admit to leaving out the kale, spinach, broccoli, etc. if they go all-in on a veggie I hate. Most of what we pick has potatoes for the side 😉 I love salads, but it is fairly uncommon to just get lettuce as the side to make a salad!

I have lots of coupon codes if anyone wants to try it and get a discount. Do you use a food delivery service? Which one, and why? I love to hear about the different ones.

Birchbox Has Arrived

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Got my first Birchbox today! Have you heard about this? For $10/month, they will send you samples of hair/makeup/fragrance/beauty products based on your personal profile. I haven’t tried anything yet, but I’m excited to.

The box itself is very cute, and you can (of course) buy full-sized products on their website if you like anything. I do wish you could tailor it a little more to your preferences. For instance, I’m a skincare consultant and have PLENTY of products, so I really don’t need those! I also don’t wear fragrance, and the minimum you can get is 4x/year. I’m a big makeup junkie so I’d like to get more of that … except primers, what is the deal with those? I have at least three or four sample-size primers on my sink right now.

BUT I’m willing to ride it out a few more months to see if I come across any gems. In the mean time, I’m going to post about a few of my favorite makeup items – hard-fought finds with billions of drugstore rejects in the wake of each! Think of it as kind of an “Oprah’s Favorite Things” … minus the Oprah.

A Salty Tale

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Folks, salt is important for your horse. Unlike us heathen humans, horses self-regulate their salt intake quite well. They don’t get enough to meet requirements naturally occurring in their feed, so make sure you provide some. Here are a few options.

Trace mineral block: My horse quite likes these, but I give him a vitamin/mineral supplement, so I worry about any mineral toxicity issues it could cause.

Himalayan salt block: He likes these pretty little wheels a little too much, disposing of one in about a week.

Redmond Rock: Had one of these sitting in the trough for a while and he won’t touch it. Sad.

So, we’re going to try the PLAIN WHITE SALT. This is still second best to a feeder of loose plain salt, which I hear is the closest to ideal, but I don’t have a feeder or a source of a gazillion pounds of loose salt. We’ll see if it does better than “the rock”!

The Perfect Body Wash

 

So a weird thing happened. We were on a layover at Heathrow Airport in London, and I got to peruse my first Boots store. Of course I’ve heard of it – it’s kind of like the CVS of England – but so, so much better. I got right to exploring all the beauty brands.

Realizing I forgot to pack body wash, I picked up a cute pink bottle from a brand called Soap & Glory. I admit the packaging sold me. #sorrynotsorry

I loved it. To my surprise, I realized when I got home that Target was now carrying the brand. I invested a hefty $8.99 in the full size, but it was sooo worth it. This isn’t one of those lathery, drying deals. It feels nourishing, gets you clean without the stripping cleaners, and smells amazing.

Even the back of the bottle is cute! Turns out it is a U.K. brand. Look at the copy about getting it in your eyes. Genius.

Pros: Everything

Cons: Nothing

Go get some!

Body Clipping Time

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Here in Southern California, it doesn’t get very cold. Don’t listen to the people who say they’re “freezing” when it hits 54 degrees – either they are exaggerating (guilty) or have never left the 25-mile radius.

Thus, if you ride your horse a lot in the winter, he will sweat. A lot. Even though I have an assortment of lovely blankets for my horse, I confess to being a tiny bit lazy about the whole rigamorole of blanketing. I need my horse to cool out faster but stay warm when he needs to.

Introducing… the trace clip. People probably think I am a horse abuser by not blanketing in the winter with a partially clipped horse, but this guy made it through zero and below living outdoors before we moved here. I figure if it drops to 42 once, he’ll survive. Say it with me… “Just because I’m cold, it doesn’t mean my horse is cold.”

Critical temperature for healthy horses in proper weight with a full winter coat is around 20 degrees F (assuming no precipitation/wind). My horse has shelter if it does rain, so this will be our third winter rocking the partial clip, no blanket. THE HORROR! But I think he looks pretty cute 🙂

Makeup review: bareMinerals BarePro

 

BarePro

Confession time… I haven’t used a liquid foundation since high school, and back then it was cheap Cover Girl or something that got stuck in my smile lines, even as a teen! I graduated to chalky powders in college, but they still looked fake and cake-y. Finally, I settled on mineral makeup, which was much more natural.

Recently I went to Sephora and got sidetracked (as one so often does), and ended up bringing home a liquid foundation. At $30 it was not cheap, but the bottle is big and they had so many shades I was able to find an excellent match – not easy when my skin tone falls between Geisha-pale and yellow-y/tan. Usually there’s not much for us fair but cool-toned types after the bright white shade.

As you can see from the pics, I have really pink skin thanks to rosacea. It gets even worse if I get hot, angry, upset, embarrassed… you get the picture. So I like to have on something, preferably with SPF.

Two pumps on a makeup sponge (they’ve come a long way since the old days, although I didn’t spring for the $20 “Beauty Blender” that is in every YouTube video), and I was in business. You have to work quickly before it dries, but that just means your makeup goes on quickly!

Pros: Covers well but not too heavy.

Cons: Still got a little dry by the end of the afternoon, but if you have oilier skin this shouldn’t be a problem.

Recommendation: Give it a try if you’re looking for a good but natural coverage. Sephora will take returns on anything if you get home and the shade looks wrong when you see it in better lighting. Happy shopping!