My First Influenster Box

I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world. Clothes left in the dryer for days. Clothes left on the floor where I took them off. I can’t blame it on my kids (don’t have any), husband (don’t have one of those either), or my busy, busy lifestyle (nope). Usually I would prefer to read a book rather than do chores. I’ve even left a sink full of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink for what seems like forever. It’s a MIRACLE that I haven’t been overrun by critters by now. (Don’t worry, it’s not bad enough to get me on a reality show.)

Well, the folks at Influenster must have a secret camera set up in here, because the very first box I received from them contained 2 full-size bottles of Palmolive Soft Touch dishwashing liquid. One is Aloe based and the other has Vitamin E. To top it all off, my apartment complex installed a brand new faucet a day earlier. All signs pointing to getting my dishes washed, yes?


So I rolled up my sleeves and dived in, so to speak. I had been using a store brand liquid before and after a couple of days using the Palmolive Aloe, I threw it in the trash. The difference in my how my hands felt afterward was the main reason. I keep an industrial size bottle of lotion next to the sink because my hands would feel like sandpaper after washing dishes (probably why I didn’t like doing it). This isn’t an issue with the Palmolive, however. I haven’t needed to immediately moisturize since I’ve started using it. And, yes, it lathers up well, cuts through grease, and leaves dishes sparkling, but my hands are important to me, too.

Oh, and I stopped in the middle of writing this post and washed my dinner dishes. I may be reformed…

I received this product complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster in exchange for my honest opinion.

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My Top 20 Books of 2011

As of this writing, according to Goodreads, I have read 266 books this year. That’s a lot. A good number of them are romance novels that only take a few hours to consume and since losing my full-time job in May, I have lots of extra hours in the day. None of those appear on my “best of” list, however, so those of you who don’t read that genre don’t have to worry.


This list is in no particular order and consists of the books that I gave 4 and 5 stars this year on Goodreads. I have included links to the full reviews on my blog. Here goes:

Zone One by Colson Whitehead





My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due





Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones










Hurricane by Jewell Parker Rhodes





Pym by Mat Johnson





Surrender the Dark by L.A. Banks





Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
A very clever novel about an man who aspires to leave the corporate world and be a great American novelist. Unfortunately, his father has already achieved great notoriety as just that. Lots of funny anecdotes about the workplace.

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
Exactly what the subtitle says. Interesting stories about teens who have emigrated from all over the world and the lengths they have to go through to get an education in this country.

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools by Steven Brill
Outlines the real problems in our schools today and gives a great history lesson on how they got that way. Especially eye-opening was the information about teacher’s unions and the power they wield.



The Gift by Elle










The GQ Candidate by Kelli Goff





The Shopping Diet by Phillip Bloch




Voice of America by E.C. Osondu





The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate





Peace From Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant





 If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary





Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston
An easy way to ease into the vegan lifestyle.













So, there you have it. Sorry it was so long, but I just couldn’t limit it to just 10. 


The Shopping Diet

by Phillip Bloch


Because of my chronic underemployment, I’ve never had a shopping problem. I am definitely not a shopaholic and upon initially reading this I thought this book wasn’t for me. But I think that this book can be helpful for anyone.


Phillip Bloch is a fashion stylist to the stars and regular people who can afford him. As a professional shopper he is more than qualified to offer advice on curbing your overspending and cultivating a closet that works best for you. Written like a diet book including sections called “Digest This” and “Battle of the Bulge”, Bloch even has a clothing pyramid based on the FDA’s old food pyramid.


Unlike other books on shopping and fashion, Bloch doesn’t bog you down with a lot of glossy photos of clothing that may be out of style in a season or two. Instead he packs real world advice on being stylish without landing in debtor’s prison.

Fabric Purchases

A few posts ago, I talked about creating a core wardrobe including some nice boring pieces for work.
Right after that Fabric.com had an incredible sale and it just so happens that it was my payday as well.
This is what I got:

Nice and plain, right? The top piece is 5 yds of black wool stretch suiting material that I think was about $5 a yard.  The second piece is 5 yards of a Ralph Lauren chino fabric that I have been stalking since they got it in a few months ago. It had been marked down to $1.95/yd! There is still some left, but don’t everybody take it all!  The third piece is about 2 1/2 yds charcoal grey wool stretch suiting – same as the first piece.  The last piece is a couple yards of black poplin probably for a button down shirt.  I only wanted to spend $40 and with a 30% off coupon and free shipping under $35, I was able to stay within budget!  I ordered it on Friday and received it on Tuesday – even with that Monday being a holiday.  Plus they send you some motivation:

Help Wanted

Position – Target Chaperone

Rate of Pay – internship
Duties – Accompany me on shopping excursions to Target.
Make sure I only buy what is on my list.

Backstory – I went to Target Wednesday to buy B12 vitamins (I eat a largely vegetarian diet and humans only get vitamin B12 from animal sources).
This is what I walked out with:

and no B12 vitamins.

What I’m Not Sewing

This blog, if you can’t tell by the title, was originally meant to be a sewing blog. Unfortunately, because of my current body image and fit issues, I haven’t been sewing at all. I am hoping to change this soon. But in the meantime, take a look at:

WHAT I’M NOT SEWING
I am not sewing any of this fabric that I have painstakingly organized in this fabulous, ghetto shelving system (cardboard boxes):

I am not using any of these patterns (I have more; these are just the ones in my current size), to sew the above fabric:

I am not using these machines to sew the above fabric using the above patterns:

I am not using this “Wall of Inspiration” to inspire me:

I am not finishing these U.F.O.’s (unfinished objects, for the uninitiated):

I am not turning these jeans into a skirt:

I am still buying patterns:

(off subject – I got a signed copy of the latest Alexander McCall Smith book from Susan, it came the same day as these patterns from Vogue)
I am still buying fabric, too, but there are no pictures.
So, hang in there with me and I promise to have at least one completed project before the summer is over!

20. Bringing Home the Birkin

My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag
by Michael Tonello
started 4/27 finished 5/5

I have developed quite a handbag fetish in the last 5 years or so. When I was in college the main goal was to somehow get a Lo.uis Vuit.ton purse, and my boyfriend at the time was able to come through with that one (Thanks, Todd). Then maybe ten years later I wanted a Coach purse, and my friend who worked at a department store at the time was able to help out in the discount department (Thanks, Melody). In between those purses and after that, I carried a succession of manly, but attractive backpacks and totes bought mostly from the G.ap. They were big and had lots of pockets & compartments and because I don’t have a car, I carry a lot of stuff and they were perfect.

But then the purse market started to realize that there were a lot of women were like me and they started making purses bigger and bigger, with lots of pockets & compartments and they were attractive and still feminine. I started to take notice. The Grandaddy(Grandma?) of them all is the Hermes Birkin bag.

Michael Tonello stumbled upon them by accident. A successful business owner and hairdresser, Tonello decided he wanted a geographical change in his life. When a friend offers him a job with a new company he was starting, he moves to Spain. As luck would have it, the friend doesn’t get the financing he needs and now Tonello is jobless and in a multi-year apartment lease in Barcelona. To earn some cash he sells a Hermes scarf he only wore once on e-Bay. The response was so immediate and lucrative that he begins buying up scarfs all over Europe and reselling them on e-Bay to customers in the U.S. (where most of the designs are no longer available).

One of his regular customers lets him know that if he can get his hand on one, she would be very interested in a Birkin. See, you can’t just walk into an Hermes store and ask to buy one (as Tonello would soon find out). In most stores they aren’t even on display and if they are you will be told that they are reserved. If you are lucky and connected, you can be placed on a waiting list and maybe get one in 2 or 3 years. Always up to a challenge, Tonello was able to come up with a system that netted him lots of bags for resale by traveling to Hermes stores all over Europe and even South America and Japan. He sometimes enlisted the help of others and even wrote a small field guide to the different type of Hermes employee that you will encounter and what strategy to use to ensure success.
Humorous and at times touching this is a good compliment to the Simon Doonan book,
Eccentric Glamour and Deluxe.