What I Love: Sally Hansen Salon Effects

Oh, Sally Hansen Salon Effects… I love you so.  (Incidentally, if anyone from Sally Hansen is reading this, you have me to thank you your recent surge in sales in the Connecticut area.  You’re welcome.)

Have you seen these at your local drug store?  Have you, like me, thought they looked like the 2011 version of the icky Lee Press-On Nails?  Well we need to stop being so judgmental because THESE THINGS ARE AWESOME.

I saw a woman at a recent gallery event with the most amazing leopard nails which I assumed had to be airbrushed.  I complimented her on her fantastic manicure and she said, “you’re never going to believe it: they’re stickers!”  For serious.  Sally Hansen Salon Effects stickers.  I went out the very next day and bought three boxes because I couldn’t decide on which I liked best and I’m here to tell you now, they are the best thing ever.  I may never paint my nails again.

They come in solids and patterns, my favorites have been the leopard print (Kitty Kitty) and the gold background with the fishnet patten over it (Misbehaved – pictured up there on my toes) and next I want to try the zebra print (Wild Child), the houndstooth (Check It Out) and the cool-looking black and white flower doodle (Cut It Out).

So the basic gist is you open the packet of assorted-width nail stickers and decide which would fit each of your individual nails the best.  They’re long rectangles, rounded at both ends so I cut my strips in half because my nails are short.  This means that I now have twice as many stickers. Win!  You peel the protective top layer off, peel the sticky backing off, then position the sticker on your nail. Pres down, smooth with the wooden stick that comes with the kit, and then use the included mini file to gently file the edge of your nails to burnish the tips and trim off the excess.  That’s it!  Your nail is done, it’s instantly dry, and you can do all ten nails in less than half an hour, once you get the hang of it.

What’s even better: they last FOREVER.  The first set I applied (Laced Up) stayed on for almost three weeks of heavy dishwashing, gardening, and careless hand use before they began to chip a bit and grow out.  The second set (Kitty Kitty) lasted two weeks before I was itching for a change, and the last set I tried (Misbehaved) stayed on my hands for over two weeks until they looked grown out.  The ones I applied to my toes are still going strong three weeks later.

I get so many compliments everywhere I go, especially from ladies with gorgeous, expensive airbrushed manicures.  They’re stunned when I tell them that they’re only stickers that you can get at any CVS for $10 for a pack of 16.  So in closing, Sally Hansen Salon Effects, I love you, and Sally Hansen corporate execs, if you feel like thanking me with free things or bags of money, please do.

No go buy them now. What are you waiting for?


What I Love: Bar Keepers Friend

Is  it lame to love a cleaning product so much that I feel the need to write about it?  Probably, but I don’t care.  I’ve loved a mop and a magical mint pain patch before, so why not a cleanser?  My name is Lisa, and I can’t live without Bar Keepers Friend.  Neither can you, you just don’t know it yet.

What is Bar Keepers Friend, you ask?  Well first, because I’m picky that way, Bar Keepers Friend is a product in need of an apostrophe.  I keep wanting to write Bar Keeper’s Friend or even Bar Keepers’ Friend, but no.  It’s just Bar Keepers Friend.  Missing apostrophe aside, Bar Keepers Friend is magic in a can.

The Bar Keepers Friend website (yes, they have a website) says, “Bar Keepers Friend is a premium all-purpose cleanser that works without chlorine bleach for everyday cleaning and tough stains including lime and rust.”  (They’re also on Twitter, which I find hilarious for some reason.)

For the sake of my sanity and for fear of wearing out the keys on my keyboard, I will now refer to Bar Keepers Friend as BKF.

I had heard several people talk about BKF as a great product for cleaning tough stains, like the crud that burns on your glass top stove, and the black stuff that develops on the outside of your stainless steel cookware.  It sounded like something I’d like to try as I have both an evil glass top stove and dirty stainless steel pans.  I was waiting in line one day at Lowe’s and happened to notice a container of BKF at the checkout priced at a not-too-hefty $1.99.  I brought it home, I sprinkled it on my dirty stove, and I fell in love.  Man, that stuff works!

I’ve cleaned my glass top stove, my stainless steel pans, the white rubber on my Chucks, the nasty toilet bowl, paint that had been stuck on the bathroom floor for seven years, sugar that burned to the inside of my favorite saucepan, rust off the formica counter top, and my most recent favorite, rusty stains on the gas tank of Luke’s 1970 Kawasaki Avenger.  This stuff cleans EVERYTHING and it doesn’t scratch a thing.

It’s very much like Comet.  Same round, cardboard container with the holes in the lid to shake it from, same white, gritty texture, but BKF is somehow just the right amount of scrubby without being scratchy.  You know what I think it is?  I think it’s the magic that’s in the Magic Erasers.  I use it for everything I used to use Magic Erasers for, only now there’s no crumbly bits of used eraser foam as I clean, and I get a whole can for $1.99 instead of two erasers for $5!

Check out the BKF website with its quaint logo and adorable clip art for more ideas on what you can clean with BKF, and keep an eye out for it the next time you’re in the grocery store.  You won’t be sorry.

You Know, For the Kids

Have you seen The Hudsucker Proxy? If not that title won’t make much sense, but we can just subtitle it “What I Love: Hula Hooping“.

I have a tough time with my hips and lower back always being tight.  I realized one day in my yoga class that the move that felt best for me was the hip circles that mimicked hula hooping and I began to wonder…  What if I just bought a hula hoop?  I found a cheap one near the checkout at Old Navy and brought it home–but let me tell you–not all hoops are created equal.  Kids’ hoops tend to be light and small.  They’re nearly impossible for an adult to spin around, which is, in turn (no pun intended) incredibly frustrating.  I found another kids’ hoop at Sports Authority that was slightly bigger around and filled with water and my love of hula hooping was born.

I hula hoop watching TV, while I wait for water to boil, while I talk on the phone, and really any time I’m standing still.  I love it and I swear that it’s helping to loosen up my tight hip muscles.  I’ve used my poor water-filled hoop so much, it’s no longer round.  It’s a hula ellipse.  I told Luke I wanted an adult-sized hula hoop for Christmas.  Did you know there was such a thing? There is, apparently it’s a craze.  There are big hoops, there are weighted hoops, there are even workout videos.  I won’t go that far, but I certainly will keep hooping.

My name is Lisa, and I love hula hooping.

What I Love: Cheap Prescription Eyeglasses

I’ve mentioned my love for Zenni Optical before.  Many times, actually: here, and here, and here for starters.  Well move over, Zenni.  There’s a new place on the Internet with cheap prescription glasses stealing my affections: Global Eyeglasses.

This fabulous pair is called Stardom SD 403 (which appears to no longer be available on the site.  They’re very much like these but without the blingy letters on the temples.)  They’re comfortable, they fit perfectly, the prescription seems to be spot on, and they arrived just one short week after I ordered them.  Best of all?  With shipping they cost me $24.97.  I want to wear them all the time and pretend I’m a move star.

Next I’m getting these.  I love you, Global Eyeglasses!

What I Love: Not Being Carsick

Are you one of the lucky people who can go for a long ride in a car without feeling like you want to die from the motion sickness?  If so, consider yourself lucky.  I’ve always had a little trouble traveling in the car, but in recent years it’s gotten much worse and sometimes I can’t manage a twenty minute ride without feeling queasy.  If I drive I can avoid the sick feeling, but I really don’t like driving, so mostly I just try to cope.

Over the years, I’ve found that Pepsi and pretzels help, as does riding in the front seat and not looking out the side window.  Last year I found some ginger flavored hard candies at a shop in Maine that were painfully strong but that helped with the sickness, but this year I found the mother of all remedies: Altoids Liquorice. (“Naturally Flavored With Other Natural Flavor Sweets” What exactly does that mean?)


Now, generally carsickness and the taste of black licorice would have to battle it out for The Thing That I Hate The Most, but I knew that along with ginger, licorice is a great natural remedy for nausea.

We were on our way to Maine, not even out of Connecticut yet, and I was feeling a bit green.  We had stopped to get gas and I went into the store for Pepsi.   At the counter I saw the Altoids and figured that if I could let ginger hard candies burn a hole in my cheek in the name of not feeling sick, I could choke down a couple licorice candies.  Well, let me tell you.  These things are magic.  And by magic, I mean that they made me feel instantly better, AND I kind of sort of started to like the taste of them.  They’re not as abrasive as black jelly beans, they’re slightly sweet and minty and almost sort of good.

If you get any sort of motion sickness, I would highly recommend these miracle mints.  I’m thinking of stocking up just in case they’re a limited edition mint.  Actually, just now I went onto the Altouds site to check – go there now, that’s one trippy website – and saw that Altoids makes a ginger candy, too.  Hmm… I might have to hunt that one down, too.

Altoids: Curiously Strong, and Magical, too.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

farmers market

After Christmas and my birthday, there’s no other day I’ve looked forward to with such excitement as the day the farmers’ market would reopen.  Since the end of last October, my Sundays have seemed empty.  I would drive past the marketless Hale Homestead and feel sad.  But sad no more!  This Sunday the market opens again and I’ll be there with bells one.  OK, maybe not bells.  More like flip flops, but I’ll be there!

(Heather will be there, too, selling her lovely wares and I’m working on my social anxiety breathing techniques right now so by Sunday I might have the nerve to actually introduce myself.)

This year’s market promises to be even better with new vendors selling diary, fresh granola, coffee and pastries, and Cato Corner Farm cheese!  This Sunday there will also be an extravaganza of baby animals, sheep shearing, lessons on seed planting – and much to Luke’s chagrin – a workshop on starting and maintaining your own flock of CHICKENS!

Stay on top of market happenings by following the Coventry Farmers’ Market on Twitter at CoventryFM or subscribe to the newsletter here.  See you Sunday!

What I Love: Motorcycles

So yesterday I was a teenage girl, today I’m a teenage boy because I’m publicly declaring my love for motorcycles.  I would shout it from the rooftops but I wore the wrong shoes today for climbing onto the roof.

This motorcycle, above, is the one I usually ride.  It’s Luke’s old Buell that he lets me ride but which I cannot call my bike because it’s not mine.  It’s his.  But I ride it, so it’s mine.  (Shh, don’t tell Luke I said that.)

I’ve been riding now for about seven years and each time I get ready to go for a ride, I feel a mixture of excitement and nausea.  I love riding – it’s a feeling like no other – but I live down a long dirt driveway and the motorcycles are in the garage on the back of the house.  In order to go for a ride, I have to ride the bike up and around a winding, sandy hill, then through an obstacle course of firewood to get to the gravel parking area in front of our house, then I have to drive down a potholed dirt drive to the sandy end near the road just to get to the asphalt.  The hardest part of every ride is getting to the street.  Once I’m on the street, all feelings of apprehension are gone and I get a rush of adrenaline, because twisting that throttle and feeling the bike respond as I take the first turns – there are no words to describe that feeling.

Learning to ride has not been an easy path for me.  I’m married to a man who seems to have been born atop a motorcycle.  He can ride a motorcycle blindfolded with one arm over an icy road.  While holding a beer.  He has complete control of every motorcycle he rides and he has this sixth sense that allows him to understand what to do in every situation he comes across.  This skill was not transferred in the marriage process.

Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to get my license so I took the motorcycle course because I wanted to stay married.  Trying to learn a skill from someone who “just knows” how to do something and can’t really explain how he does it is not fun, I found this out while learning to drive a stick.  I took the course, got my license and started riding.  Looking back, it’s frightening to me that with a total of eight hours of seat time, we motorcycle course grads were just let loose onto public roads.  I had no clue.

One of my first times out, I was riding Luke’s old Nighthawk (we miss that bike so much) and in my head I was following the steps of a turn – push the bars in the direction you want to go, turn your head in the direction you want to go, smoothly twist the throttle as you enter the turn – but I had neglected to also notice that the corner was filled with loose gravel.  I went down, banged up my leg, and put a hole in the side of the motorcycle engine case.  This was classic book learning with no practical skill.

Years later, after screwing up some more, logging many miles on many long rides, riding in any weather condition, and riding any bike I can get my hands on, I’m now in a much better place.  A place of confidence.  A place where I absolutely love to ride and will ride anything, anywhere, anytime.  Well almost anytime.  I still don’t like to be cold, so riding in the snow is out of the question, and there are just some times when I’d rather arrive at a place without biker hag helmet hair.

This weekend was our first ride of the season.  It’s was embarrassingly late, but a bike needing repair and a busy husband conspired to put off our ride until mid-May.  We went for a short ride Friday night and then a day-long ride on Saturday through some of the prettiest parts of Eastern Connecticut.  We found curves, dirt roads, farms, beautiful orchards… it was just perfect.  I couldn’t stop smiling all day.  I forgot how much I love to ride.  Now we’re going to have to make up for lost time this weekend.  Sorry, if you need me, I’ll be out riding.