Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Lip Smacked

Winter has finally hit and we're all dreading the chapped hands and chapped lips problem.  A friend of mine sent me a message yesterday asking me what were some good brands of lip glosses and balms for him to use.  Living in cold climate for the winter could really take a toll on your skin, especially parts that naturally are moisturized.  I gave him a list of suggestions, but I figured I should list my top 3 balms, glosses, and lipsticks so everyone can get some information on what you can use to soothe irritated, chapped lips.  I have sensitive lips, so only certain formulas and products work for me.

Lip Balms and Treatments

Nivea Lip Butter - $2.99 at Target and Ulta; this lip butter is probably one of the best and most affordable glosses I have ever bought.  They taste great and the balm itself is very moisturizing to the lips.  Your lips will heal on its own from the shea butter, glycerin, and seed oil.  The best part about this gloss is that it doesn't have any petroleum jelly, which usually leaves a sticky residue.  They come in 5 different flavors (my favorite is the Vanilla and Macadamia Kiss) inside small easy carry tins.  These small balms also add shine on top of its soothing capabilities.  If you are ever near a BJ's, they do carry this balm in a pack of 5 for $9.99.

Caudalie Lip Conditioner - $12.00 at Sephora;  The French got it right with this balm!  Apricot oil and grape polyphenols saturate this formula and give your lips a very soothing treatment.  It is a very lightweight balm that leaves a matte finish, giving you the luxury of putting a lipstick or gloss on top without that sticky finish.  If you're looking for a higher end, but effective product, this is the one to purchase.  The balm itself is easy to apply due to its lipstick-like shape.  I personally liked the light scent of the balm.  There was really no taste and you won't have to worry about feeling overpowered by the smell of perfume on your lips.  Don't worry animal lovers, this product is not tested on animals and does not contain any animal ingredients.  Overall, this is definitely the product to try if you're looking for something different.
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 - $22.50 at Sephora;  This particular lip treatment is different from the ones I mentioned above because it contains natural sugars that help restore and revitalize the lips.  Upon use, it leaves a buttery soft feel and slight gloss.  What's great about this balm is that it comes in various colors and flavors, so you can pick and choose what you like.  I enjoy the berry flavored one, but the original tastes just as good.  The original has this citrus, almost lemony scent.  Each flavor is a different tint, so if you're looking for something with more of a color, this is definitely the one to choose.  What's also great about this lip balm is the SPF, so your lips are protected from UV rays.  Most people use sunscreen or sunblock on their face, but always miss their mouths because most glosses don't have an SPF, but this one is convenient so you don't have to worry when you go outside.  Sephora is currently having a Christmas gift set sale, so you can head on over there to see if they have what you're looking for.  They have a few sets of the different Fresh scents.  

I have a few other balms I love, but some have been discontinued.  Honorable mentions include Lotta Luv's Hostess Twinkie lip balm (yes, it smells and tastes like Twinkies) and Tarte's fRxtion, which unfortunately has been discontinued.  I loved this balm because it was a dual-sided lipstick shaped gloss and one side was for nourishment, while the other side was a sugar scrub.  The moisturizer was similar to that of Caudalie's, but a bit more slick.  It came in a compact lipstick case with an attached mirror.  I wish they still made these, because they were amazing.  Maybe if there's a high enough demand for it, they'll bring the product back.  One last product I'd like to mention is the Hurraw! lip balm at American Apparel.  I'd have to say this balm is not only great, but it's also natural and vegan.  Try out the Green Tea flavored one!


Loveable Lip Glosses

I have a big thing for lip glosses.  I love many formulas, but because of my allergies, I can only use a select few.  The ones I have tried, however, are worth purchasing because of how they satisfy my individual needs.

Bare Escentuals 100% Natural Lip Gloss - $15.00 at Sephora;  I'm not too sure if this product is discontinued yet, but this gloss in Pomegranate is probably my favorite gloss out there.  I've never had a problem with break outs, sores, or chapping with this gloss and it leaves such a high shine that it gives me the perfect pout to complete my look.  The wand has a brush at the tip for easy application.  I've stocked up on these from the Bare Escentuals outlet, and they come in a variety of colors.  They may have updated the formula and changed the name to Moxie, because I haven't seen these glosses in a while, but I hope the upgrade is just as good as the original.  If you're looking for a natural gloss with a lovely tint, this is the one to get.
Liplicious Dazzle-licious High Sparkle Lip Gloss - $10.50 at Bath and Body Works;  This particular lip gloss is loved by all my friends because of the glossy pout it gives to its user.  Not only does it have a non-sticky, shiny, glossy feel to it, but this gloss is packed with glitter to make your lips sparkle and give that sun-kissed glow.  When you apply this gloss, there is a wand applicator with a sponge tip to apply it evenly.  Not only does it smell delicious, but the gloss also tastes as decadent as the names.  These have almost a sheer to medium coverage and come in a variety of different colors.  They don't leave your lips as moisturized as the balms, but they will definitely be a hit for every day use or even the night out.  A few of my friends are obsessed with the Jeweled Coconut flavor, mainly because of the nude color and the iridescent sparkles.  I personally chose a darker shade, Brilliant Berry.  It brings a dark pink tint to my pout, but not enough to be overbearing.

MAC Lipglass - $15.00 - $25.00 at MAC Cosmetics; MAC has created a lip gloss line for all sorts of occasions.  They have their lip stains for tints, cremes, high gloss, high shine, etc.  You will not be disappointed with this gloss because these glosses are really for long-wear use.  They have full coverage and are tinted in any color you desire.  The wand sponge application applies the gloss evenly and smoothly.  Jojoba oil is used to keep your lips moisturized and perfectly kissable throughout the day.  It's a great buy if you're looking for something that almost equals the color of lipsticks.


Lipstick Appeal

Every person should carry their favorite shade of lipstick for those evenings out on the town.  My preferred colors are wines, plums, and even bright reds.  I've found some formulas to be better than others, and a few of them are even more long-lasting and worth the extra money.

Rogue Dior Couture Color Voluptuous Care Lipstick - $34.00 at Sephora;  This lipstick is long-lasting and provides full coverage to the user.  Don't let the price shock you.  It's worth the money because of their perfect formula.  Dior's lipstick has been known to have the right amount of moisture on top of its creamy texture, leaving the lips rich with color.  I use this shade in #728 Mauve Mystere, which is almost like a plum color and it stays on for a good 4-5 hours before I have to apply again.  When applying this lipstick, you don't get the small cracks and creases you get from other brands.  It also has a lovely scent and packaging to make it as "couture" as it sounds.  Overall, this is the #1 lipstick I'd recommend for anyone out there.  There are a variety of shades for you to choose from for both day and night.  I probably need to go back and pick up a new one!

MAC Lipstick - $15.00 - $25.00 at MAC Cosmetics;  I personally enjoy MAC's lipsticks because the wear on them is amazing, especially for the price.  I can't complain about the creamy texture of the lipstick because it glides on easily and stays for a good 3-4 hours before having to reapply.  I'm not really a fan of matte lipstick because I really love shiny, pouty lips, but Viva Glam I's matte formula makes me fall in love.  My lips look great with this lipstick and I don't have to worry about too much smudging or having lipstick get into my teeth (because we all know how embarrassing that looks).  They have other types of lipsticks you may like as well, some being long lasting while others were created by stars like Rihanna or Lady Gaga.  I'm a huge Hello Kitty fan, so I have the poppin' pink lipstick from that line... and I love the Barbie pink tint!

NYX Black Label Lipstick - $7.50 at Target or on;  Don't be fooled by NYX's cosmetic line.  I love their lipsticks because they're much more affordable than the ones I've previously mentioned and they still give you the same result as compared to something you'd buy elsewhere.  NYX created a great variety of tints and shades for you to choose from.  They all leave a silky, satiny, feel against the lips and will last at least 3-4 hours until you have to reapply.  I use the shade BLL133 Wine, which appears to have a dark fuchsia undertone and light shine.  Try this lipstick out and you won't be disappointed.

I hope my top 3's helped you pick out your next lip treatment or brand.  I'm sure there are many other great brands out there, but these are the three I'll stick to because I know they will last me quite some time.  If you're trying to figure out the right color for you, go to the store and test them all against your arm to find your perfect shade.  You can always have more than one!

Disclaimer:  I am no way endorsed or affiliated with any of these brands.  I do this for my own enjoyment and my own free will.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fandom Cosmetics Lacquer Review!

Leigh, Annie, Liz, and Olivia of Fandom Cosmetics

I've had the opportunity to meet the ladies of Fandom Cosmetics at New York Comic Con this past October.  Annie was actually a friend of mine from a while back and she started her own nail polish company.  She sold her first company and created a new one with Leigh, and their joint partnership created the indie brand, Fandom Cosmetics.  Fandom Cosmetics not only sells nail polish, but jewelry, body care items, makeup, and bath salts as well (which smell divine).  Their polishes are made in sets, and each set holds a specific theme that geeks and nerds will love (not to mention everyone else).  Many of their polishes contain glitter, so you can have the glitz and glam with a touch of nerd.  I have four polishes to review today.

Each of these polishes are from different collections of Fandom's line.  The polishes are in square bottles with a simple black cap.  They are embellished with the line's initials, "FC."  All polishes are 5-free, Vegan, and cruelty free.

We first have Moon Runes, which is from the "Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old" collection, inspired by The Hobbit.  It is an opaque silvery base that glows in the dark.  The formula for Moon Runes was very smooth and easy to put on.  Inside the base were small flecks of blue and iridescent glitter dust, followed by blue moons and holographic glitter hex.

The brush size was a standard brush that easily glided through the nail without a problem.  As you can see, the lacquer has a loose consistency, but doesn't clump on the brush.

Here are some of the photos close up.  These swatches have two coats of polish, which is enough to cover the whole nail with glitter.

I wanted to try to add this to some color, so I swatched to coats on top of Essie's Licorice.  The outcome was a gunmetal polish with a semi-matte finish.

One coat of Essie's quick drying top coat is enough to add shine to the nail.  I didn't have too much of a problem removing the glitter, as most of it comes off with the base coat.  Overall, it was a great formula and the simplicity of the polish left me wanting more.  I think I'd use this polish if I were cosplaying as the White Queen from XMen.

Next on my list is Burn Book, from Fandom's collection "The Plastics.  This particular collection was inspired by the movie Mean Girls, where "On Wednesdays, we wear pink!"  You can guess that the polishes from this collection are pink and pretty, packed with a touch of mean.  Hot pink and white glitter overtakes the polish, with some medium sized light pink glitter circles and black hearts hidden and scattered throughout the bottle.  I swatched this lovely glitter lacquer over Essie's Licorice and here was the outcome.

One coat of glitter over your base coat is enough to make a statement.  Two coats makes everyone's heads turn.  The only problem I really had with this polish was that the brush was bent out of shape.  This most likely was a manufacturer's issue, because I remember Annie getting upset with the quality of brushes her distributor sent her.  The lacquer glided smoothly and evenly throughout the nail and I didn't have a problem with the consistency either.  The brush was only a small setback that can easily be fixed.

I really enjoyed the playfulness of the polish because it brings the nails to life.  Upon drying, the coat was very smooth and I did not have a problem removing it.  Here are a few more swatches.

The only thing I really didn't appreciate was the brush and the lack of hearts and circles.  I wish there were more black hearts in the polish because I wasn't able to swatch any on my nails.  I don't like to go "fishing" for polish glitter.  Removing the polish wasn't really much of a problem because the small spots came off with the black polish.  No foil needed!  Overall, I thought it was a great color.  I'd definitely wear it to my next high school reunion, where I can revisit "The Plastics" in my school.

Lil' Asskicker is from the Walker Bait collection, inspired by my favorite show, The Walking Dead.  This glitter bomb is swarming with teal, fuschia, red, and black hex glitter suspended in a clear base.  I feel the base was a bit thicker than normal consistency because applying it was almost like toasting a piece of bread with jam.  I layered it on top of Essie's Trophy Wife so you can see the full effect of this gorgeous glitter.

Like Burn Book, the brush has a bit of a problem.  It was not bent, but there were a few hairs sticking out of the sides, so I just turned the brush in order to streak the nail properly.  I believe she had a bit of the problem with the consistency of the polish because Annie was making them on the spot, underneath the table during the Con.  That's a lot of dedication!

Here are a few more swatches of Lil' Asskicker after two coats.  

This polish was a little annoying to remove because of the amount of glitter that adheres to your nails.  I had to foil my nails in order to remove the polish.  As long as the consistency of the polish doesn't thicken over time, I'll continue to use this polish until the last swatch.  I would definitely like to try more polishes from the Walker Bait collection.

Son of Jorel is the last polish on my list for the day.  This polish in particular was my favorite.  It is from the Justice League collection, inspired by Superman.  Holographic blue hex, royal blue hex, medium sized yellow circles, and large red circle glitter were suspended in the clear base.  I swatched two coats of Son of Jorel on top of Essie's Licorice.  It looked like the sun and the moons were colliding in the stars in the universe.

I had a bit of the problem with the consistency, as this was the thickest of the four.  You can see the base almost appears jelly-like, where it clumps near the end of the brush and around the rim of the bottle.

Regardless of the consistency, the application of the polish to the nail was not difficult.  One coat of glitter would be enough to make a statement, but two coats would call Superman back to earth.  The brush had a bit of fly aways along the side, but not enough to interfere with my swatching.  Here are a few more swatches.

I wanted to see how this glitter bomb looked on top of blue, so I swatched it over Essie's Aruba Blue and this happened.  I apologize over the poor quality of the photograph.  I didn't realize it blurred when I took the shot.  Regardless, I loved the outcome.

I love how the red and yellow stands out from the blues.  The primary color scheme is simple and effective, and there is just the right amount of red and yellow circles within the base.  Upon removal, the base really stuck to the nails so I had to use foil to lift the glitter off.

Fandom's creativity really moves me because of their ability to showcase our beloved shows in a single bottle of nail polish.  I'm glad I got to run into them for Comic Con and I can't wait to try their upcoming products in the future!  The only problems I had with these polishes were the brushes and the consistency of a few of them.  I only feel this was an issue because the company was shipping the bottles from Texas to New York, and they had to make polishes on the spot because you can not fly boxes of nail polishes across the country.  The amount of air exposure to the base may have been a factor of the thickness.  The brushes had a few minor fly aways or bent issues, but otherwise worked well.  Other than that, I loved the glitter bombs and I'd like to get more.  You can never have too much glitter.  Feel free to take a look at their website and other social networks.  I've linked them below.

Fandom Cosmetics Facebook Page:  here.
Fandom Cosmetics Website:  here.
Fandom Cosmetics Twitter:  here.
Fandom Cosmetics Tumbler:  here.

I hope you enjoyed.  Until next time!

Disclaimer:  I am no way affiliated or endorsed by this company.  I do this for my own enjoyment and my own free will.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Food For Thought

I've been experimenting with cooking lately and I've realized I have a real knack for it.  I suppose you can say in a way, cooking is like art.  You have to have that special touch to make it taste just right for you.  I have always loved cooking food and eating it, which is ironic since I'm a personal trainer.  I should be creating healthy meals, but instead, I'm making pastries for the holidays for my side business. If I didn't work out every day, I'd probably be a very heavy lady.  It actually wasn't supposed to be a side business, though.  I was just baking for fun... until someone told me I should really sell my food.  Of course, my mom didn't like the idea of me selling homemade baked goods, but after she tried my cooking, she realized I could actually do it.  Who knows... maybe I'll open my own bakery one day.

In the meantime, here are a few of the cakes and pastries I've created.  I don't like my pastries too sweet, but the right consistency will play well on the tongue palate... and you can even accompany it with some white wine!  Let's get fancy!

This is the cake I am holding up in the photograph.  It's a dulce de leche swirl cheesecake with a vanilla pudding/fresh cream topping.  I topped it off with raspberries for decoration.

This is the first time I've ever made a pie... and it's an apple one, for that matter.  I took different types of apples and created an apple filling with the right amount of spices.  I let it cool for a day and made a homemade crust.  I layered the pie together, baked it, and used an egg wash to make it shine.  Not bad for my first try!  The only sad part was that I couldn't even try it.  Sadly, I'm allergic to apples... but I'm glad everyone else enjoyed it!  It was a big hit!

These are little white chocolate cheesecake bites, layered with fresh cream and raspberry filling.  They're good for a bite-sized snack if you don't want to eat a whole slice.

I baked this mouth-watering cake for my boyfriend's holiday party.  It's a chocolate marble cheesecake with a chocolate ganache pudding topping.  I finished it off with fresh strawberries to add a little bit of color.

As you can tell, I've been having a lot of fun with my time and these desserts are as decadent as they look.  My desserts were inspired by my love of foods and various restaurants in the city.  However, what really got me started was my best friend, Elena (find her here on her blog).  She is always so talented and creative.  Every time I come over her house, we're always baking her addicting chocolate chip cookies and I manage to take home half the batch.  Of course, the cookies don't last too long since my entire family gobbles them up... but they're still amazing when I get to have them.  I think one of the coolest things she's ever done and shown me was her hot chocolate pops from last Christmas.  She made these chocolate lollipops that had a marshmallow attached to it so you can just dip them in hot milk and stir them to make hot chocolate.  How innovative!  They were definitely on my "try to make it" list and I made some for my Christmas favors.  I can't wait to see what she's making this year!

I'm probably going to make some homemade cookies this year, which may include my white chocolate  cranberry walnut biscotti, peppermint pinwheels, chocolate chip cookies, and red velvet crinkle cookies.  We need some holiday cheer!  

If any of you would like to contact me about buying something for the holidays, please feel free to contact me here.  Please give me at least 5 days notice so I can have enough time to make it.  Same day or day before orders will be an extra $8.00.

Prices are as follows:
9-inch round cheesecake - $25.00
24 cupcakes or cheesecake bites - $20.00
Pies - $15.00
Regular 9 inch cakes (buttercream frosting) - $25.00

Cheesecake Flavors:
White Chocolate (with raspberry compote filling)
Dulce de Leche
Apple Toffee
Red Velvet
Milk Chocolate
Dark Chooclate
Marble Cream

Pie Flavors:
Coconut Cream
Key Lime
Chocolate Mud Pie

Okay, I have to get back to baking.  Have a great day, everyone!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Residual Imbalances

Hi everyone!  I'm sorry I've been away for a bit.  I've been preparing for my state board exam and life hasn't been as fun as it usually is.  However, I did manage to have a jam-packed October, filled with events such as New York Comic Con, life changing decisions (like the one to change gears and switch entirely to thinking about art as a career), and learning to cope and live happily.  We'll talk about all of that later.  The one thing I've always wondered about was whether or not your past affects your present and future.  I've been thinking about this lately and sometimes, I feel like I have relapses to be who I was, which is not someone I want to be... or ever bring back from the dead.  That weakness from within affected me in such a way to become stronger.  I suppose I'm confusing you, so let's take a step back and talk about my past... and this is one thing that's very difficult to talk about.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was in love with a guy.  This guy meant everything to her and she thought things were going to end perfectly and they'd live happily ever after.  One day, life got in the way (and so did other people) and kicked her in the face.  From there, that girl fell down and couldn't get back up.  She made the wrong decisions in her life and all the way, her "perfect guy" tore her ego and intellect apart.  This strong happy young lady became weak, sad, and even pathetic.  She isolated herself from her friends and turned away from her family, in hopes to make the wrong person happy.  It took A LOT of people, a fantastic support system, and love from many random people to push her through all the pain and let go of everything and the person hurting her.  She found things to do on her own and learned how to exercise to release endorphins and stress positively.  She had to learn and think positively and let everything go so she could start all over again.  It took a very long time, but she finally is the woman you see today.

For the most part, I am happy and enjoying my life.  I still work out twice a day and I'm a personal trainer.  I work hard at everything I do and I have made great friends.  I have a boyfriend who constantly looks out for me and cares for me.  My only issue is the fact that every once in a while, I'll have dreams that haunt me about my past and I'm always afraid the same things will happen all over again.  I'm terrified of being dropped off and being left behind and alone to find my own way home, I hate when people press the "ignore" button when I call (especially if I need to talk to that person about something important), and I can't stand being called a liar.  If it's one thing I've learned not to do, it's to lie to someone you care about.  Once you do that, there's no trust left in your relationship and that means there isn't anything else to hold onto.  I guess you could say I have some sort of "post traumatic stress disorder," except it wasn't from a war.  Instead, it was from a hurtful relationship that took a toll on me emotionally.

I've come a long way from those days.  I used to sit in my room, brood, and pity myself.  I'd call my friends and complain about how depressed I was about my life and how much it sucked.  I used to think there was no one in the world who could understand the way I felt.  I always wondered what life would be like for everyone without me in the picture and at one point, I really just wanted to get away from it all.  I'm so glad I didn't.  I'm glad I kept fighting and struggling to keep my sanity, even after all the pain kept creeping back into my mind.  I took all I could take and I finally snapped.  I've become this witty, independent, social being who can be polite and outspoken all at the same time.  I've learned that professionalism goes a long way and that it can help you greatly in the future when it's needed.  I know I've also been a great partner for my significant other and I do my best to stay level headed at times, but there are days when I just lash out and get upset.  I try not to get upset too often, but there are times when I just want to punch things.  I know that being upset doesn't give me a reason to act out or become violent, but that's something I continually have to work on because it's one of my greatest flaws.

I've always been an overly emotional person.  I have learned to hide many things from people so many people don't know what I truly think because I never want them to use it against me.  However, my vulnerability comes back whenever I experience something traumatic that brings my past back to my present.  For example:  if I call someone and they don't pick up and deliberately ignore my phone calls for no reason, it leads me to believe they're angry at me or upset and I NEED to know why.  They may have not picked up the phone because they were busy or they weren't near their phone, but in my mind, things happen because of my own doing and it might have been possible I did something to upset that person.  If my boyfriend does that to me, I won't be able to sleep until I figure out why he is doing that. My mind makes me think I have a problem or he has an issue with me, rather than just letting me relax and calm down.  It's at times like these where I feel like I need to find a place to relax and think... and I guess that's why I'm writing about all of this now.

I've never really opened up my thoughts and feelings on this subject because I always wanted to seal up the bottle that brought those emotions upon me.  However, these feelings are coming back to me every day (partly because my boyfriend and I are having a few issues) and I've started becoming insecure about myself again.  I know I can do better and figure things out, but I somehow have to get through this.  Does anyone else experience this?  I wonder if I'm the only one.  I hope not.  Maybe someone can lend an ear and chat.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Body Juxtaposition

I have been on a gym spree lately.  Ever since I joined UFC Gym, I've been working out non-stop.  My previous gym wasn't doing it for me anymore.  I was working so hard and I wasn't seeing any results.  Plus, the drama at the old gym to get into the classes was getting ridiculous so I'm glad I left.  UFC has such a different atmosphere;  it feels like they're pumping endorphins and adrenaline into the air to make you want to work out.  I've been at the gym for 5 weeks and the top picture has shown my progression thus far.  I'm working out to get my body back down to the size I was prior to my relationship (not that I COMPLETELY blame my relationship for my overeating, but relationships DO make you gain weight).  I'm actually quite embarrassed that I let myself go a bit.  It's funny because I didn't look 157 lbs. in my clothing, but I sure did feel it.  I can't even believe I stopped working out.  As a personal trainer, I shouldn't have even thought about becoming lazy!  I was so stressed over working and studying that I took exercise out of my schedule.  The end result was a lazy slob who could not run or work out.  Luckily for me, I began pushing myself because I began to love the gym more and more each day I came.  Let me break all of this down for you.

Week 0 - Aug. 5, 2013/ 157 lbs.

I look at this picture of myself and I'm so embarrassed about it.  I can't even believe how disgusting and wide I looked.  I thought I looked great before I took these photos and realized how wrong I was.  I was working out at my old gym once every 3 weeks or so and I thought it was enough to keep me going.  Apparently, I was wrong.  I was also training clients and giving them advice while not taking any of my own.  I wasn't watching what I was eating and I just indulged on everything and anything.  Wafels & Dinges is my favorite spot in the city and I think my boyfriend and I had it every other week. My legs weren't toned and I hated running.  This photograph of me was the turning point of my lack of physical activity throughout the month.  This first week was the first week I'd start training again every day and taking every single class that appealed to me.  I knew it would be really hard to get back into it, but I had to try.

Week 1 - Aug. 12, 2013 - 156 lbs.

After the first week of training, I noticed my stamina increasing and my body starting to SLOWLY slim down.  I lost a pound and you could see the size of my body starting to take shape.  My legs are slightly more toned in this photograph and my arm drastically decreased in size.  The fat on my face was shedding, which was nice to see... but I still had a lot more work to do.  I cut down on the sweets, but I did have an ice cream sandwich or two because it was warm those days.  What I hated in this photo was the fact that my "love handles" were wrapping over my shorts, and muffin tops aren't pretty sights to see.  My first week at the gym included cardio classes (20/20/20), some plyometrics, hip hop dance, circuit training and calisthenics, yoga, and a ton of push ups.  My eating habits weren't up to par yet, but I did have less carbohydrates than my normal intake.  My sugar levels were also decreasing a bit because of my deal to myself about not having sugary foods.

Week 2 - Aug. 12, 2013 - 156 lbs.

My stamina has started increasing and I started seeing more muscle definition in my hamstrings and quads.  I still haven't really shaken off the muffin fat, but I've been noticing a difference in front.  The upper part of my abs were starting to shrink from all of the core conditioning.  It didn't really look like it, but I was sort of starting to feel better about myself.  At this point, my boyfriend and I were going to the gym every day and we were incorporating all different types of work outs, until we were offered a deal we couldn't refuse.  It was during this week that I upgraded my membership to the "Ultimate Package," which opened a brand new door for me.  My body was so used to regular circuit training and class conditioning, so doing this was like leaping off a cliff into uncharted waters.  I took my first Muay Thai class with a great instructor that Friday.  I almost died and I loved it.

Week 3 - Aug. 19, 2013 - 155 lbs.

Not much has changed because I didn't really start my MMA conditioning until that week, but diet seemed to be getting better.  My butt was lifting up nicely and I began to see a lot of definition in my legs from squatting and jump roping.  I think UFC really likes to jump rope during their classes because that's what they usually do for a warm up.  Moving on........

Week 4 - Aug. 26, 2013 - 154 lbs.

After one week of the new conditioning routine and trying new classes, I started seeing real results.  Muay Thai and boxing started whipping my arms into shape and the abs we do in those classes are killer.  We really work on obliques and try to flatten them out.  Crunches, burpees, and push ups are always a must so I sweat and get my butt kicked every single time.  My shoulders also have broadened since I started working out and punching.  Learning form and how to kick properly through the hip has been developing my "rectus femoris" muscle and my glutes.  My calves are the size of footballs.  I guess I won't be wearing any knee high boots this winter.

Week 5 - September 2, 2013 - 154 lbs.

I actually didn't work out much this past week because I was sick and having stomach cramps, but since I've changed my diet, my body has started shrinking more.  What I did notice, though, was that I was not actually losing any weight, but gaining more muscle.  My stomach has flattened out but I still have a bit of a "pooch."  My legs, thighs, and glutes are toned and muscular from the running, squatting, and jumping we do in class.  My arms have been sculpted to look more toned.  Disregard the funny icy hot patch on my foot.  I kicked too hard in class and bruised the top of it.  All in all, things are looking pretty good.

Week 6 - Sept. 9, 2013 - Current Weight - 154.5 lbs.

My body has taken shape nicely.  I really love what that gym has to offer.  I'm currently going to the gym twice a week and working out for about 4 hours a day, mixing in various workouts to keep my body guessing about what will come next.  I still have a little way to go before I hit my ideal goal, but in the meantime, I'm happy I don't look like that slobby mess from last month.  I've cut out a lot of sweets from my diet and carbohydrates.  My meals are looking colorful, with leafy greens and whole grains.  I injured my right wrist in class last week, so I'm keeping it light in case I have to do push ups and spar with other members at the gym.  The trainers are always around to help me in case I have any issues or problems, which is great.  They are so knowledgable and I aspire to become like them.  Joining this gym was probably one of the best decisions I've made thus far and I'm going to keep working hard and pushing myself to become a better example for others.

If you want to try any of my workouts, you can find them here.  I'm always looking for new followers and people who are willing to keep up with me.  UFC Gym is probably the best gym I've been to thus far.  They have trainers who are exceptional at what they do and how they train.  I'm just excited to train among some of the coolest people around.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Yesterday was a very fun day to remember.  I had the opportunity to meet the creator behind the LA based clothing brand, Poprageous.  Poprageous came into my life in the beginning of the year and was introduced by my friend Patricia.  She told me about a girl who liked Black Milk Clothing, but decided to make her own leggings.  There was a secret release coming out for a special pair of leggings that I knew I had to get.  I bought them and immediately fell in love with them.  The waistband was comfortable, the fabric was shiny and stretchy, I loved the design, and it wasn't too long around the ankles.  I didn't feel like I was suffocating with these leggings as I did with other pairs.  I ended up ordering two more pairs and I was quite content with what I received.  Even though I was happy, I still wanted to know the person behind the company... so I reached out to her.  Surprisingly, she gave me her hand.

Cher Park is fun, down to earth, and very upbeat.  She's a Korean American who resides in Los Angeles, CA and holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University.  She worked in finance for three years in NYC before returning to LA to do what she loved to do - fashion.  She worked in both Shoe Dazzle and Forever 21's headquarters before realizing she could create her own clothing brand and run it as her own.  She bought some fabric and attempted to make her own leggings by cutting out a pattern and sewing it properly.  Once she was done, she ended up posting it to the Black Milk California group to show her finished product to the other girls.  They all started giving her positive reviews by commenting, "Make me one too!"  She decided to find a way to make the ideas swirling around her head into reality.  Cher ultimately quit her job and started working to create clothing full-time, roughly about 7 months ago.  Upon doing so, she's created a fan base of up to 15,000+ people on facebook and over 31,000+ followers on Instagram.  Not bad, if I don't say so myself.  Throughout it all, she's gotten quite a few haters claiming she's been stealing ideas off of Black Milk since she was also a Sharkie, but after having a few conversations with her, that is obviously not, and ever will be, the case.

It started one night while I was having insomnia and I couldn't fall asleep.  I decided to message Cher about wanting to buy a pair of leggings that were out of stock and I was interested in finding out when she'd restock them in my size.  She was nice enough to message me back quickly to tell me she'd be getting them in soon.  We somehow got into the conversation about where her ideas for her work came from and what she was interested in doing with Poprageous.  She told me she wanted to create a balance between craziness and normal, so her clothing line would attract all people - not just one group in particular.  She wanted to see her fans and people all over the world wear her leggings because she thought of them as little works of art.  Each article of clothing had a story behind it.  She gave me the stories of how and why she chose those prints in particular... and I was very excited to see that she wasn't just doing it for the sole aspect of making money.

Cher has an artistic way of thinking - she doesn't just say, "This pair of leggings will be $75 and it will make me a profit," but instead says, "This legging pattern was inspired by Banksy's work with a boy holding flowers and a girl who couldn't trust him, which is why she holds a bat behind her back.  My rendition of it wanted to give the illusion of what happened next.  I wanted the boy to save the girl floating away from him, grasping on to show he cared about her."  I told a lot of respect for someone who thinks out of the box and who could tell a story through her work.  As a fellow artist, I know the cut-throat views of the art world and I know what it feels like to have people criticize you because they don't understand what you see.  Someone who owns a clothing company may just see future dollar signs after they've created their work, but she sees something more and that's the beauty of her fashion. It isn't just something to wear; it's art.  This is a girl I saw a lot of myself in and I knew I wanted to be friends with her.  We almost think and act alike, and I love that about her.

Last weekend, she called me to let me know she was coming to NYC to visit some friends and she wanted to know if I wanted to have lunch.  I agreed and I invited some of the Black Milk girls from the East Coast to come along because they too were also fans of Poprageous, but most of them couldn't get out of work.  One girl, Jonna, was able to come down and meet with us, so the more the merrier.  The three of us finally met up and we had lunch over at Freeman's, which was this small "hole in the wall" place that had some pretty good food (the burgers were a bit rare and salty though).  We discussed what were the next steps of Poprageous and what were her plans for the upcoming seasons.  We talked about how we hated customs fees and how we could avoid the problems of shipping costs and how she wanted to see Poprageous grow.  Jonna talked about her home country, Germany, and how different it was from the states.  We were like old friends catching up.  It was nice.  Once we were done, Cher STOLE the bill from us and paid for lunch, even though we tried to argue.  We then took some pictures outside on a graffiti wall and walked to Wafels & Dinges for some dessert.  After dessert, Jonna had to go back home, so Cher and I took the train back uptown to find some fabric she could use.  She got a few more ideas in her head and is planning on getting ready for the fall season.

I can say with confidence that Cher is a fantastic person and I think Poprageous is in amazing hands.  She knows what she is doing and has a good head on her shoulders.  She will be able to carry her team and take them to the top of the fashion world.  I'll be around to help her every step of the way.  All the haters can just shove a sock in their mouths because she really isn't trying to copy anyone.  She's trying to get things done her way and she plans on doing anything she can to get it right.  If anyone complains about her pieces looking "similar" or "identical" to Black Milk, they shouldn't complain because Black Milk's "original" patterns were actually just designs from iStock or fabrics from stores in the city like Spandex House.  Cher's artist series is also coming along nicely, where she collaborates with many artists and puts their work on her leggings.  I can't wait to see what she'll be coming out with within the upcoming months.  You might see some of my work up there too (**wink wink**).  I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of a few things, so some exciting things are coming up along the way!  Get ready for it!  Keep a look out for this lovely lady!  She'll be popping up all over the place soon enough.

Visit Poprageous' website here.
Add Poprageous to your facebook likes here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Black Milk Blues

As some of you may know, I am a big fan of a certain clothing brand called Black Milk.  They have been around for at least the past 5 years and I was acquainted to them by a friend last year.  When I found the world of Black Milk, everything changed.  I wanted to be the girl with the cool shiny nylon leggings.  I wanted to have all the different styles and colors, especially since it brought edginess and color to my otherwise normal wardrobe.  My friend showed me what it was like to become a "Sharkie," or the term used for girls who wore Black Milk.  My legging and dress collection grew very quickly over the past 6 months, which brought me from one piece to 50.  I don't know what came over me, but I wanted everything.  I was dubbed the "Frankensharkie" by my friends because of my need to have all the leggings.  As fads go in fashion, I thought having printed leggings was the "in thing."  If you saw a girl in the city walking around with Black Milk leggings, you'd usually call them out and compliment them because that's just the way it was.

Black Milk created an atmosphere where girls all around the world who enjoyed their clothing spoke and interacted with each other.  They created many groups where each country could interact with their fellow Sharkies, and even other ones to help motivate each other to do certain things (ex:  Black Milk Get Fit and Healthy Exercise Motivation Group).  The United States has a few groups and I'm in some of them.  The girls are quite lovely there and I've been blessed to meet some of them in person.  When James Lillis (dubbed jL - the creator and owner of BM) came to NYC to visit, an impromptu meet up was formed and I found out about it through the East Coast BM page.  I was so excited to meet him and my other fellow Sharkies.  It was a great night.  He was very attentive to what the girls wanted and he listened to each of our thoughts.  After I met him, I knew BM was special and I wanted to know more.  It was quite a different atmosphere.

I will explain the normal process of how BM operates to better understand the Black Milk World.  Black Milk is an online-based company who works and operates out of Australia.  They ONLY do online business and they have created a giant clientele of ladies to buy their clothing.  Once a month, they come out with a release of 10-20 specific items that can either be related to each other (ex: Star Wars) or may just look cool.  There are regular pieces that will be in-store for a while and they also come out with limited pieces, where these pieces are only made with a certain quantity due to the limited amount of fabric they have, if they believe the product will sell, and the amount of girls interested in it.  Once they are sold out of the store, you can not get that particular pair of leggings anymore.  Black Milk usually has a release date and time scheduled through Brisbane, Australia, so if it's 9AM there, I'd have to be on a computer at exactly 7PM to catch the release.  This also goes for the ladies around the rest of the world.  No matter what time it is in their country, they will still have to be on the computer at 9AM Brisbane time.  When you buy your clothing, you also have to watch the cost because if you make it over $200, you get free shipping... BUT the government makes you pay customs fees, which can range from $40-150.  That isn't fun either.  If you only buy one pair of leggings, shipping costs $12 for regular international flat rate and takes about two weeks to get to you, or you can FedEx it for a higher cost.

A friend of mine told me to join the Black Milk Buy, Sell and Swap page, which was a page dedicated to girls selling off their unwanted Black Milk leggings, rather than putting them up on eBay.  They have a very strict policy on how they run the page, so all the girls are screened and are obliged to abide by the rules.  I asked to join the group and after a few weeks, I was let in.  I mostly bought leggings from other girls that were either slightly cheaper or discontinued from the Black Milk page.  One pair of leggings originally costed me $75AUD, or $80.76USD from the Black Milk site.  A dress would cost $99AUD, which was equivalent to $106.61... so to find a place where I can get some designer clothes a little cheaper was great.  I bought clothes here and there, mainly from Black Milk's mainland, Australia.  The girls were really nice and I never had a problem... and when we had to give feedback, they would always give me positive ones so other Sharkies knew who to deal with.  The admins are based in Australia, and they helped Black Milk maintain "order" by making sure the girls were all following the rules.  Black Milk wanted to put their groups in good hands, so these girls made sure they knew what they were doing.  I know Black Milk didn't get any money out of this, but it was nice for them to have a place where girls can still enjoy what they don't sell anymore.

After 52 pieces and blasting at least $1500 of my paychecks on Black Milk, I realized it was time to sell some items.  I would post the items I didn't want or need anymore and sell them for $70USD, which was a bit lower than the RRP (recommended retail price).  I sold them a bit cheaper because I only wore them once or twice for the most part.  The buyer usually asks for pictures and covers the price of shipping, and I'd mail it out later that day or the next one.  I'd send them the tracking number and make sure to add a little something extra as a small thanks for buying my leggings.  I am happy because I get my money back and the buyer is happy they have something new to wear.  I've always taken great care of my stuff, and I make sure to let anyone know if there are any defects.  This has gone on for quite some time and I've never had any problems selling on the BSS page.  It made my life so much easier because I didn't have to deal with listings, bidding, eBay problems, etc.  Plus, I got my money right away and used it to pay my bills off.  Over the course of time, I stopped buying a lot of Black Milk products because of the weather change to summer, the cost, and because I was always short on cash to pay my bills.  I used the BSS page to help me gain my money back since my job was currently lacking hours.

This is what an average swap post looks like:

"My collection is way too big for its own good. Going through some of these and doing some summer cleaning...

All prices are in USD.  Shipping is $6.00 for USA, Int'l at your own expense.

"SELL/SWAP USA (pref)/INT'L://
  • M Zen Leggings (worn once PC) - $70
  • M Leg Bones 2.0 Leggings (BNWT) - $75
  • M Phoenix Leggings (a fuzzy patch by the left thigh, worn a few times) - $65
  • M Chill Out Leggings (worn once) - $70
  • M Great Wave Dress (BNWOT never worn/old cut) - $90
  • M Shark Girl Dress (BNWOT - never worn, just ripped the tags off to try on) - $90
  • M Le Cafe Leggings (worn twice PC) - $70
  • M Glass Lorikeet Leggings (worn twice PC) - $70
  • M Junkfood Blue Leggings (worn once PC) - $70

PM me if you're looking to buy anything.  Thanks!"

Everything has been going smoothly up until recently.  A few weeks ago, I had one girl post on my page, "Prices have to be under RRP."  I asked her how I should do that if I'm posting under what I paid for and she told me to get a currency converter.  I took a look at the currency change and it turns out that a pair of $75AUD leggings now costs $67.27USD.  I was annoyed so I stopped posting on the BSS page and sought advice from some of the BM girls on the east coast.  Apparently, I'm not the only one who got annoyed.  Some of the other ladies were complaining about the currency exchange and saying it wasn't fair for us to change and lower our costs because the economy changed.  I don't believe it's my fault to have to lower the price of something that is literally almost brand new, or even something NEW with tags still attached because of "the economy."  I paid at least $80USD per item and I intend on getting my money back out of them.  My reasonable asking prices didn't even include the original cost of shipping and extra fees for packaging.  The international girls were also having problems with their items because they always have to pay customs fee if they get international packages.  Some of the ladies gave me advice to contact an admin if there was really a big problem, but I don't see how there could have ever been a problem if I'd been doing the same thing since I'd joined the page... so I let it go and I forgot about it for a week or two.

I started back up again last night and this time, I decided to write a little disclaimer at the top in case something were to happen again.  I wrote:

"All prices are in USD, and these prices are lower than the original RRP I got them for. They are all discontinued items and I am keeping the costs as is. Shipping is $6.00 for USA, Int'l at your own expense."

As usual, ladies were asking to buy some of my items and were willing to swap their stuff... until THE SAME GIRL commented on my post once again, telling me I was breaking the rules.  I was so aggravated because I've been following the rules all along and she had the nerve to do this to me once again, making other ladies think I was trying to rip them off because my prices claim to be "higher" than RRP.  So... this is how it went...

My response was cordial and polite, but I wanted her to know that I KNEW what the rules were and that I've been following them.  She responded by telling me she was "reporting me to an admin" and she gave me a copy of the "rules."  At this point, I'm beyond aggravated and I'd beat her to the punch about reporting her.  A ton of US Sharkies came to support me because they didn't believe in the Australian monarchy within the BSS page either.  They all complained about how unfair it was for us to lose money over the currency exchange and how we aren't asking for anything more than what we paid for.  It took over an hour of arguing until an admin finally addressed the situation... and she wasn't really much help.

The Australian girls started getting in on arguing with me about how they have to pay "so much more money" when the USD is stronger.  Are we international Sharkies supposed to feel bad over their slight overpayment?  I think not.  There should be no double standard.  AT ALL.  What's worse about all of this is that the United States has absolutely NO representation in the Black Milk BSS community... and neither does any other country, for that matter.  European Sharkies have to sell their items a certain way to at least get their customs fees back.  All the admins on the page are Australian, so they only cater to the Australian demographic, screwing the rest of the world over.  I've noticed in recent months that many US girls have been upset over the way the admins carry out their "duties."  On top of that, jL and Cam give them special treatment and privileges because of the way they run the page.  I can understand that, but that doesn't mean the admins can completely ignore everyone else and cater to their own.  If everyone else had some form of representation, it would make things a little easier on us all... but alas, we aren't Australian, so we don't get a say in the Black Milk Monarchy.

At the end of all the ranting, my question was never answered on if I would be able to use my post the way I had it.  Just because Shakirra posted an excerpt from "the rules" doesn't mean my questions were entirely answered... and many other girls had unanswered questions as well.  I'm fed up with the petty nonsense from the Black Milk Community and I'm petitioning to create a NEW BSS page strictly for the United States.  If that isn't possible, then I want Cam and jL to listen to me and realize what they're doing is really destroying the community.  It wasn't fair that I got harassed for sticking up for myself on the BSS page.  I am not going to allow myself to be a victim of libel just because people THINK I'm doing the wrong thing, and they aren't even admins.  Chances are, I've probably been on the page longer than some of the other newbies there and if I hadn't been messaged by an admin, it probably means I'm not doing anything wrong.  I don't know where these girls get off thinking they are administration and they can go about by bullying everyone else because things don't cater to their likings.

I'm writing for every single girl that's either been bullied or harassed on any of the Black Milk pages, especially the BSS one.  Black Milk Clothing needs to do something about this and they need to listen to the international ladies around the world.  It's ridiculous for us to have to follow a set of rules that only pertain to one continent.  It isn't fair that we have to pay so much money for something girls can get for a cheaper price... and don't even get me started on the "AUSTRALIA ONLY SAMPLE SALES."  We can save that rant for another day... but Black Milk has really lost their magical touch.  I'm so upset about this that I'm not planning on buying anything from them until they address this situation... and chances are, I'm not the only one who's mad.  I can and will speak up - that is my right for free speech... and if the BSS girls don't like it, then that's tough cookies because here in America, we say what we want.  That's the beauty of the internet... you can get all your information from here for free and find out the TRUTH behind all the sweet, sugar-coated lies.

If you would like to help and sign my petition, you can do so HERE.

If you'd also like to be heard, leave a comment below and we'll make sure we get our representation.  If I get kicked out of the BSS page or any other Black Milk page, then so be it... but I'm not going down without a fight.