Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm obsessed...

With Twilight!

And with reading in general, for that matter.  As absolutely depressing as this is, I haven't done any reading for fun (aside from blogs and magazines) since LAST SUMMER.  And even then, I only found one book last year that I love-loved (and the ending was only ok - but even still, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle=great read).

So Twilight.
I watched the movie when it appeared in our local Redbox last fall.  I liked it.  I saw the more recent movie more recently (J slept through it; clearly I liked it more than he did).  Vampires have never really been my thing.  I really enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula in my undergrad Irish Lit course, but I've never really read any other vampire books (or had any interest in doing so).

This was all my sister's fault.
Her friend was shocked that she hadn't read Twilight.  So shocked that she went and bought my sister a copy of Twilight.  My sister devoured it and then anxiously awaited the arrival of New Moon through PaperBackSwap (which she blew through - during finals week).  On Friday, she coerced my mom and I into picking up a copy of Eclipse at BJs for her.

"What's the fascination?" I asked her.
She handed me her copy of Twilight.  I started reading it way late on Saturday night (I guess it was really Sunday morning) after getting home from a night out with friends, hoping it would put me to sleep.  On Sunday morning, I woke up and kept reading.  And reading, and reading, and reading.  I'm on page 441 today and slowing down because I hate reaching the end of books.
Granted, the audience is clearly geared to someone younger than I am - but I still love it.  It is an enjoyable story, much like Harry Potter (I'm an HP addict), and I am just so happy to have a book to read that I really, really enjoy.

Have you read Twilight?  Are you obsessed?  Or have you been like I was - rather ambivalent to the whole Twilight fascination?

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  I've been pretty busy with a bunch of things - and staying at my parents for the holiday weekend - so I have a lot to catch you up on.  But I'll save that for another post, because today I want to wish everyone a very happy Memorial Day!  I hope you all are doing something fun (or at least eating ridiculous amounts of pasta salad).  Any family picnics today or this weekend?  Any swimming?  Oh goodness, I wish I had a pool, or at least a pool membership.  It is SO INSANELY HOT today.  Ever single year I forget how hot it gets during these warm-weather months.  Tonight my family and I are having a Quorn cookout, complete with pasta salad, three bean salad, potato wedges, and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.  YUM!  Now on to the Memorial Day mani :)

Nicole A New Kind of Blue, OPI Catch Me in Your Net
Nicole Yum-egranate, Kiss Nail Art stickers

I used all kinds of polishes for this take on stars and stripes.  I started with two coats of Nicole A New Kind of Blue (which is GORGEOUS!), then painted stripes with two coats of OPI Catch Me in Your Net.  Next I made dots with Nicole Yum-egranate and then pressed Kiss Nail Art rhinestones into each one.  I topped it all with Seche Vite.  The rhinestones didn't photograph too well for some reason, but the overall theme was, obviously red, white, and blue.  I made stripes and ended each one with a star for a different take on the stars and stripes.



So what are you all doing for Memorial Day?  Or what have you done so far?  I was hoping to go for a bike ride today but my sister refuses to venture out in this heat (which is probably a good idea).  So instead I'm going to do a little yard work, some reading, some job apps (yippee), and then some cooking.  Have a great day!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Babbling Brooke's Favorite Things - Foundation

Ah, the great foundation search.  I have spent many, many years searching for the perfect foundation.  It needs to be the right formula (long-lasting, not greasy, lightweight) and the right color (natural looking).  I spent a good many years wearing the wrong foundation, so I am insanely happy to finally have found the RIGHT foundation.

My favorite foundation:
 in Organic Ivory

What I love about this foundation:

*It's super lightweight - I never feel like I'm wearing foundation
*It lasts all day, even all day through graduation festivities (in 90 degree heat)!
*It is easy to apply.  I need primer or lotion underneath most foundation in order for it to apply smoothly, but I can apply this without anything underneath to help blending and it goes on great.
*It smells nice.  It has a very light floral fragrance that smells great.
*It looks totally natural - like I just have perfect skin naturally!
*It is organic, natural and NEVER tested on animals
*It covered the crazy breakouts I had all over my skin on graduation day.  Seriously - you couldn't even see them (and I was having major stress acre).

Look at that!  Acne hidden, skin looking perfect and, most importantly, natural :)
(I should also mention that I got five hours of sleep the night before this.  My Perfecting Foundation brightened me up and hid my dark under eye circles).

I like that it is an easy-to-use pump - one pump is the perfect amount to cover my face.
It is also loaded with antioxidant rich fruits and anti-inflammatory agents, so it is great for my skin and not only smooths out my imperfections but helps heal my skin.
Like I said, it is loaded with rich, organic ingredients and Juice Beauty NEVER tests on animals, which is super important to me.  Our skin absorbs what we put on it, so it is very beneficial to put natural, organic ingredients on our skin.


Juice Beauty's Perfecting Foundation comes in three shades (Ivory, Sand, and Tan).  Ivory is PERFECT for me - I have never found a shade that matched my skin tone so well.  It sells for $35 at JuiceBeauty.com.

This is my absolute favorite foundation ever.  I am so happy I have finally found the perfect foundation.  I wear foundation daily because I have uneven, acne-prone skin, so having a great foundation is really important to me.  That is why Juice Beauty's Perfecting Foundation is one of my Favorite Things :D

I had planned on posting a picture of me wearing my favorite foundation today, but since I've had two fillings this afternoon, I'm currently sporting a dopey Lee DeWyze half smile.  But I can't complain about the numbness - my mouth is going to HURT when that wears off!  On the upside, I really liked the new dentist!  It turns out my friend, Melanie, goes there.  She actually knew who I was talking about from my cryptic blog post (impressive, eh?).
Did anyone else see the Crystal Bowersox and Alanis Morissette perform together last night?  That was AWESOME!!

I hope everyone has had a fabulous Thursday!!

Want to buy my favorite foundation?
You can purchase it at JuiceBeauty.com - just click HERE

(PS: I have 777 followers!  Lets all make a wish on that lucky, lucky number!) 

Product was sent to me for review purposes.  I refused to do a regular review.  I totally fell in love with this stuff - it is amazing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Babbling Brooke's Favorite Things - Gadgets

Hello everyone!!  I had hoped to post this yesterday, but I was going from job to job from 7:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night, so when I finally got home and weighed my options (write a blog post vs watch American Idol and eat dinner), blogging lost :( Sorry guys!  (but, on the upside, Idol was really enjoyable!)  So lets pretend this is a Tuesday post!!

So, first order of business, I'd like to wish a VERY Happy Birthday to J's mom, Debbie!!  Yesterday was her birthday - J's mom and dad have birthdays one day apart - how cool is that?  Happy Birthday, Debbie!!

Much, much less exciting than birthdays... one of my fillings fell out (ugh! & ouch!).  My dentist is seriously inept.  She is a really nice person (and my parent's neighbor at that), but it is time for me to find a new dentist.  Nearly every filling she has put into my mouth has fallen out, and I'm neurotic about brushing!  I assume they just weren't bonded right.  So I'm getting this fixed tomorrow at a new dentist with a really funny name.  Fingers crossed that all goes well and I can sign him up as my brand new dentist!  For now, I have a super ouchy tooth and I'm a very hungry (and thirsty) Brooke because everything I try to eat or drink hurts :(

So on to my favorite gadgets!!


My Camera
Sony A300K

I love my camera.  It makes photographing everything more fun - plus, it has 10 megapixels!  Kind of awesome.  It has a live view screen, which is one of the greatest features alive.  It saves me so much time, because I can see what my photos look like as I'm taking them and immediately after.  And, in general, I'm pretty happy with the picture quality.  It is super-easy for the camera-inept like myself to use and, in general, quite intuitive.  My biggest gripe is that the flash is set too low, so taking pictures at night isn't ideal, but for outdoor pictures my Sony is awesome.  I chose to get a Sony as opposed to a Nikon or Canon because a) it was significantly cheaper, and b) I was already accustomed to using a Sony.  I really, really want to get a new lens for it.  When I come into some money (or acquire a job where I'm no longer paid hourly), one of the first things I want to get is a lens for my camera and a new battery for my computer.  Almost every picture you see on this blog is taken with this camera.  For the photography I do, this camera works great.


My Computer
MacBook Pro

Oh do I love my MacBook Pro.  I never thought I'd be an Apple user.  When the iPod first came out, I turned my nose up at it (who needs that?  I have a Walkman).  Ahh, but eventually I came around... and it was only a few short years before I became infatuated with the glorious MacBook.  I chose the MacBook Pro because the screen is larger - but the price was bigger too.  There is absolutely no way that this computer is worth nearly $2,000, but in my opinion, computers in general are overpriced.  That being said, I have used this computer daily for two years.  It runs pretty fast, it looks amazing, and I like it significantly more than my previous PCs.  It also plays Civilization quickly, which my previous PCs did not (a slow Civilization game is torture.  It is like progressing through time at actual speed.  Not cool).  It has started making a strange airplane-taking-off kind of noise, won't play DVDs, and it has reached max capacity more than once (serious lack of storage.. major issue).  Even if it is slowing down, the battery is shot, and it refuses to play youtube videos, I adore this computer.  This is where I write every single blog post, and I have never loved a computer the way I love this thing.  MacBook, I heart you.


My Cell Phone
Samsung Rogue

The fact that my phone wears a pink case makes me love it twice as much.  I had an ancient phone before this one - a flip phone that barely made phone calls, wasn't much for texting, and was slowly spliting into two pieces.  Oh, and it wouldn't hold a charge.  This phone is AMAZING.  I adore it.  I can go online (OMG!) and check my email, I can text with a FULL keyboard, I can make phone calls, it holds a charge for days, and the games rock (I never thought I'd be a Need for Speed fan, but you drive by tilting the phone - ahh!).  It was only $50, plus an extra $10 each month for a pitiful little data plan that requires I check it daily to make sure I haven't gone over my limit.  But even though Verizon blows and is trying to suck me dry financially, I love this little phone.  I never thought I could love a phone so much.  J and his whole family just got a slew of Droids, which although way more high-tech, faster, more powerful, and in general just better than my phone, my phone is still #1 to me.  I just love it.  The keyboard is easy to use, the touchscreen is fun (and look at that picture of Delilah - it takes crazy good pictures!), and people can hear me on the other end.
The biggest downside?  There are like, zero apps.  I didn't realize how big of a deal this was until I saw the plethora of apps (free too!) that the Droid has.  I want apps!  The other downside is that the charging cord is hilariously short.  I can't even charge this phone in my room because the nightstand is too far from the outlet - yet the lamp on my nightstand can reach it just fine.  Short cord, lack of apps - whatever.  I adore my pink phone.

Ahh, electronics.  What would be ever do without them?  This camera and this computer (and maybe even the phone) make my blog possible - plus I love using them!

What are some of your favorite gadgets?


PS: I will post the winners of the Hana Pro Flat Iron and the KOR on Friday :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Babbling Brooke's Favorite Things - Polish

Welcome to day 1 of my favorite things!!  I'm being all Oprah-esque and showing you all my favorite things (although, unfortunately, unlike Oprah, I don't have a free gift for every single follower - sorry!)

Today I have my absolute favorite polish to show you, and I have the unbelieveably sweet Jessica from Polished Lyrics to thank for it.  Not only did she take note when I sent out a desperate plea searching for it back in February, but she actually went to the trouble of finding it for me and sending it as a gift.  I am so impressed by her kindness, generosity, and overall thoughtfulness and I am so thankful that she has united me with a polish true LOVE.  My original bottle of this was my first-ever store-purchased OPI.  I used mine like a maniac for a few years (I was addicted!) and a few month ago pulled it back out and was sad to discover that what little remained had dried up.

But Jessica has reunited me with my all-time favorite polish!!


OPI Lifeguard Makes Me Blush
Very blue-based medium hot pink with loads of blue shimmer - ahh, it is so gorgeous!!  Look at that shimmer!!


I used three coats for perfect coverage.  It dried surprisingly quickly and applied beautifully.  It goes really, really, really well with my fair skin.  It is perfect :)  I have hunted high and low for so long (about six months after buying it, I knew it was my signature color and I needed more) - I am just shocked to actually have a FULL, brand new bottle of this gorgeousness.  I love it so much!!!

Jessica, thank you so much for reuniting me with one of my favorite things!!
Tomorrow I'll have another favorite to show you all.  Have a great evening!!

PS: another favorite thing?  Puppies.  I love these crazy dogs!


Happy Birthday, Gary!!!  I hope you have enjoyed your day!!

intro to: Babbling Brooke's Favorite Things Week (and graduation pictures!)

This week I'll be sharing some of my absolute favorite things, like my favorite nail polish, some of my favorite beauty products, and more.  Check back later today to see my all-time absolute favorite nail polish!!

Also, in case you haven't seen, Babbling Brooke is on Facebook and on Twitter!  I post all of the blog posts on Facebook, so you can follow along there too - just click HERE.  Links to all of my posts come up on Twitter too, plus you can read some of my unblogworthy ramblings.  Just click HERE to follow Babbling Brooke on Twitter :)

Today is the very, very last day to enter to win the Hana Professional Flat Iron from Misikko.  Make sure to enter by midnight right HERE!

On another note, my horse, Breeze, is doing really well.  She injured her leg, but she is moving nicely and only favoring it a bit.  Thanks for your thoughts and concern :)

Another little housekeeping note: If you have a blog you want me to follow, leave me a comment with your link.  I'm sure I've somehow forgotten to follow some awesome polish blogs, so please don't be offended if I'm not following you.  Leave me a comment here if you want me to follow and I'll come by your blog :) Thanks!

And now for some graduation pictures!!

My sister took this picture.  It looks professional!  She's awesome.

My family

J's family
Today is J's dad, Gary's Birthday!!  Have a very Happy Birthday, Gary!!

Some of my grad school friends (on the right is fellow blogger, Liz!)

my adorable little sister, Kelsey

Have a great day!!  Stop by later on to see the first day of favorites :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

You can't stop the red!! OPI Dear Santa

So UMD Red Week is coming to an end today... but I can't stay stay away from reds!  You guys know I'm a pink polish ADDICT.  Babbling Brooke and Pink Polish go together like peanut butter and jelly (a delectable combo!).  But all of these reds lately have me going gaga for red polish.

I've always been kind of weird about red polish.  It felt too sexy or too vampy or just too... 'not me' for me to wear.  Yet going through all of these reds this past week has me kind of red obsessed.  Who would have ever thought?  I've realized that some reds are just NOT for me, like this one:

OPI Dear Santa 
While this is a gorgeous bright, glittery red, it just doesn't work for white-as-a-ghost me.  The undertones are too yellow (as opposed to the blue tones that look so good on me) and the orange glitter just fights with my skin tone.  The formula was also thick and kind of a PITA to work with.  This one does look A LOT like China Glaze Ruby Pumps (which I love), but it has orange glitter - which I don't adore, but I can see this looking awesome on darker skin tones.

While this shade isn't for me, I've discovered that reds like ALL six from the past six days go great with my skin tone.  This has been a great exercise for me to learn what red shades work for me.  Plus, it's always so fun trying new polishes :)

I'm off to take care of my horse; she injured her leg yesterday rolling too close to a fence.  I'm really hoping it won't require a vet visit...  I got in a great ride before she injured herself.  I hope she isn't hurting :(

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  It is always so sad seeing the weekend draw to an end - but at least next weekend is extra long, so we all have something to look forward to.  Have a great Sunday!


QVKKG2MAQWER

Saturday, May 22, 2010

UMD RED WEEK - Bye, Bye UMD

Happy Saturday!!

Today we're saying bye, bye to grad school with Buy, Buy Tokyo.

OPI Buy, Buy Tokyo

Buy, Buy Tokyo is a deep, dark merlot with a moderate amount of microshimmer.  It applied nicely and covered with two coats.  This one isn't as shimmery as some of the reds earlier this week, but I love the dark red (it seriously reminds me of wine.  Glittery wine).  This picture makes it look lighter than it actually is, but it shows you the shimmer nicely.


Here it is with no flash, outdoors.  This picture really shows you how dark this red is.  It is really pretty and unique to my collection.  Who knew there were so many variations of red?

Yesterday I discovered that a few of my fellow grad school buddies follow my blog - which was shocking (and here I thought I was all annonymous-ish).  But I REALLY appreciate that they read my blog - even those that could care less about polish.  Thanks for letting me know :)

Hope everyone has a great Saturday!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Graduation Day!! UMD Red Week

I graduated today!!
The weather was gorgeous, the ceremony was quick and enjoyable, I got to spend time with many good friends, and I had my wonderful and supportive family there with me.

I haven't had the time to post all day because I'm just now getting home, but I wanted to show you my UMD-fab polish pick.


OPI Affair in Red Square
The name has nothing to do with graduation (we have a red 'M' but not a red square at UMD), but I love the color and chose it based on the suggestions you all gave me.  I love that it is a dark, shimmery red.  I'll take a better picture of it tomorrow morning and add it to this post soon.  On my toenails I wore OPI Pretty & Privledged, which looked great :D
(ps: my ring was my 5th grade graduation gift.  Appropriate, no?  It is amazing looking back at that day.  At that point I could have never imagined I'd be here today.)


During the graduation speeches, I began thinking back to the first few weeks of grad school.  The uncertainty, the expectations, the fear, and of course, the excitement.  We all felt it, and some of us showed it more than others.  It was new and different, and all of us 'first years' were doing it together.  The first semester was deceptively easy; the second semester was, I thought, the toughest semester of my life; the third semester reminded me why I love English; the fourth semester was truly the hardest semester of my life.  We became friends during these crazy, fun, difficult, entertaining, and on the whole, educational courses.  My greatest fear was never not graduating; my greatest fear was not graduating with the strangers I began school with - with the friends I hoped to end graduate school with.

Listening to those speeches, I thought back to the Brooke two years ago who sat, nervous and scared, in her first graduate class.  The Brooke who on that day began to doubt if she was anywhere near as smart as everyone else (and worried she may have left half her brain back in undergrad).  The Brooke who suddently wasn't sure if she could really do it.
I'm glad I'm not that Brooke anymore.  I'm glad I've grown, not simply intellectually, but as someone who truly believes in herself.  I've grown so much as a person, and that is truly the greatest achievement I am taking away from graduate school.

So here's to us, English Masters.  We mastered this degree program and I know we all have the spirit, intelligence, perserverance, and overall gumption to master life.  Congratulations.

PS: Happy Birthday, Josephine!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

UMD RED WEEK - Joyful, Toy-ful Red

Ah, the joys of graduation.  (OK, so maybe I am choosing these polishes based on name alone!) :D  Today was have OPI Joyful, Toy-ful Red, a lovely bright, glittery red.



OPI Joyful, Toy-ful Red
Applied nicely.  Medium bright cool-toned red with gold and silver shimmer.  A little too bright for my skin tone, but still a gorgeous, shimmery red.

And for your viewing pleasure (and because black and red are an EXCELLENT combination), here is my widdle Abby cat snoozing on a dog bed.


Happy Thursday, everyone!

Simple Green Naturals Giveaway

On Monday, a big box of Simple Green Naturals cleaning supplies showed up on my doorstep - and not a moment too soon!  J and I have our house turned upside down in preparation for his parents' visit this weekend for my graduation.  So cleaning supplies are EXACTLY what we need.  Seeing as how we are cleaning every inch of our house, I had the chance to try out ALL of these awesome products.  Check them out!


Simple Green Naturals are made from 100% naturally sourced ingredients, are NEVER tested on animals, and are non-toxic.  I refuse to use household cleaners that have been tested on animals because there are much more evolved and humane was to determine if a product is safe to use these days - and Simple Green knows that.

I also love that what I'm using to clean my house - the place I spend so much of my time - is ALL NATURAL.  If I'm using chemicals to clean, there will be chemicals leftover, and those harmful chemicals can get on my food, get into the air, and get on skin.  I want to keep myself and my pets safe, especially inside of our own home.  As someone who suffers from asthma, I also like to make sure that what I am using in my home isn't going to make my asthma worse.  The ingredients in Simple Green Naturals are things I can actually understand, like "coconut and palm, salt, and lavender oil."  These aren't mysterious chemicals with unwieldy names that mean nothing to me; these are real ingredients that I feel comfortable spraying and keeping in my home.

ALL Simple Green Naturals products are certified with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.  Good Housekeeping products go through very rigorous testing; they only put their name on products they stand behind 100%.  Simple Green Naturals have been made in the USA for more than 30 years and they are all available at Lowe's Hardware & Home Improvement Centers nationwide.


Multi-Surface Care
This is the one I used the most - the Multi-Surface Care got a workout in my house!  I cleaned all of my appliances, my counter tops, my sink - I even used it to wash the doggie paw prints off of our doors.  It powered through the grease on my stove and left everything clean and shining.  It has a very light natural lemon scent (half of the ingredients are natural oils and essences!).  It worked really well to clean my white counters and cleaned up old food stains quickly and easily.

Bathroom Cleaner
Ah, the dreaded bathroom.  There are a lot of things I'd rather do than clean my bathroom, although during the past few months, I discovered that I would rather scrub my toilet than revise my Master's thesis another time.  So luckily, our bathrooms didn't need much cleaning, but I still used Simple Green Naturals bathroom cleaner to wipe down the walls and floor of my shower, clean off the sink, and even to scrub the floor.  This also has a lemon/citrus scent, but it was stronger than the kitchen cleaner.  It worked great to shine up my entire bathroom.

Glass & Surface Care
I used the Glass & Surface Care spray on all of my windows, dusty televisions, mirrors, and the many glass-topped tables we have scattered around our house.  It has a light citrus and floral scent (smelled great!) and left an awesome streak-free shine.  I've been so impressed with this that I've started using it on my eye glasses every day too.  I have used other brands of glass cleaner before with only OK results, so I was REALLY impressed with Simple Green Naturals because it left all of my glass surfaces looking fabulous.  Not a streak in sight!

Carpet Care
I have a love/hate relationship with the carpet in my home.  Mainly hate.  We have two big, black dogs that seem to shed more than any dog I've ever met.  This means that our white carpet is typically a hairy grey, complete with *interesting* doggie upset tummy stains that I try in vain to scrub out.  Simple Green Naturals has made me love my carpet a little bit more. I sprayed the Carpet Care spray onto the offending spots, left it to sit for ten minutes (it only says it needs a few), and then rubbed and blotted away.  I did this one more time later in the day and then left it to dry.  And the unwelcomed stains?  History.  And that makes me very, very happy.
As for the ingredients, check this out: "water, hydrogen and oxygen, sugar, mineral, palm kernel."  That's it!  I like that because Cara, my older dog, has a habit of licking the carpet in her spare time.  If I put chemicals on it, she will end up ingesting those chemicals.  Now my carpet stains are history and my carpet is still safe for my dogs to live on.


Floor Care
I have much more of a love/love relationship with my hardwood floors.  Simple Green Naturals Floor Care can be used on hardwood floors, tile, laminate, and any other hard floor surface.  I used this all over my hardwood floors and WOW, was I impressed.  I'm picking up a few more bottles of this to share with my family because it left my floors looking AMAZING.  I sprayed it on my floors, and then used a damp mop to clean everything off.  It has a slight woodsy scent that made me think of Vermont; the scent is called Sparkling Spruce and is created from fir, orange, patchouli, oakmoss, rosemary, and amyris oils.  I really liked the smell, and this stuff worked really well.


Dilutable, Concentrated Cleaner
This stuff is like that jack of all trades friend.  It can do everything!  Use this to mop floors, clean counters, wash off walls, and make those trash cans shine.  I can see this being great for cleaning off kids toys, washing off play surfaces and indoor/outdoor climbing toys, and keeping plastic pet toys clean.  To use in your laundry, pour 1/4 cup into a water-filled washing machine with your usual detergent to boost the cleaning power.  This has a light citrus mint scent.  I have only used this in my laundry so far, but it worked great.


Liquid Hand Soap
Simple Green Naturals liquid hand soap is, like all their other products, 100% natural, therefore it is also free of Triclosan.  Be careful about antibacterial hand soaps; Triclosan, the antibacterial agent, has been linked to skin cancer.  A safe, natural hand soap like Simple Green Naturals is free of Triclosan and instead contains all kinds of natural cleansers to keep your hands clean and healthy.  It is nice and sudsy and smells sooo good - just like my Grandma's herb garden!

Dish Washing Liquid
I wash all my fruits and veggies with dish washing liquid, and I also use it for scrubbing out our pots and pans that don't fit in the dishwasher.  Simple Green Naturals Dish Washing Liquid has a delicious grapefruit/citrus scent that I love, plus it was super sudsy and powered right through that olive oily/portabello mushroomy mess from dinner last night.  

When J and I first met, he had no concept of natural products, animal testing, etc.  So when I visited him in Michigan for the first time (where he was going to law school), I coerced him into buying all natural cleaners.  He worried that they wouldn't work as well, but he was willing to try for my sake.  Now he is, quite possibly, an even bigger nut about using all-natural products.  J spends a lot of his free time reading about the harmful effects certain chemicals in our water, household products, and in our air have on our bodies, causing cancer, disease, and illnesses.  Because of that, he avoids all unnatural products.  We want to keep ourselves safe and healthy, and to do that, we lead a more natural lifestyle - and a big part of that is making sure that we aren't using chemicals to clean our homes.  Instead, we use natural products that are never tested on animals - just like Simple Green Naturals great products.

Simple Green Naturals are all natural, non-toxic, and never tested on animals.  I love their entire green cleaning system and I am so happy that all of their products meet the Green Seal environmental standard for household cleaners.  Simple Green not only makes awesome household cleaners, but they are a great company too.  Simple Green Naturals are also certified by the Good Housekeeping institute.

All Simple Green Naturals products can be purchased at Lowe's Hardware & Improvement stores.


*   *   *   *   *


Do you want to win this ENTIRE 
collection of Simple Green Naturals?

One lucky winner will receive all 8 Simple Green Naturals products!!

You can earn up to 7 entries:

1.  Follow Babbling Brooke & leave a comment with email address (1 entry)
2.  Post this giveaway & picture on your blog (2 entries)
3.  Read this review and tell me one way I used Simple Green Naturals to clean my home (1 entry)
4.  Follow Simple Green & Babbling Brooke on Twitter (1 entry)
5.  Tweet about this giveaway using this sentence (1 entry):
Win the entire Simple Green Naturals collection http://tiny.cc/96vdi @BBabblingBrooke
6.  Fan Simple Green & Babbling Brooke on Facebook. Leave a message at Simple Green telling them you entered the Babbling Brooke giveaway! (1 entry)

Giveaway is open until 11:59 PM June 18, 2010.

This giveaway is open to US residents only; sorry my international buddies :(
You must be over 18 and be able to provide a street address (no PO Boxes).
Thank you to Simple Green Naturals for sponsoring this giveaway!

Featured products provided by the company or PR for review purposes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

UMD Red Week - Day 3!

Happy Wednesday!  I love Wednesdays because they are my midweek break day.  Yesterday was my party with my class, which was fun but also sad.  They've been great.  One of my students even gave me a gift and a thank you card, which was so sweet of her.  I miss them already!!

On an exciting note, yesterday I picked up some polishes for an upcoming giveaway :)

So today I have another aptly named new-to-me OPI for UMD Red Week...

OPI Thanks So Muchness!

Not only is this color AMAZING, but the name is great for graduation.  And I do have a lot of people to thank.  First and foremost my parents have supported me so much through these past two years of grad school.  My sister has always been there for me, and J has been so helpful.  My friends have been a huge help and the grad school friends I have made have truly kept me from going over the edge.  I have a few professors who have been awesome, and, quite honestly, my pets have been a great support (plus, it is always nice to snuggle up to an understanding kitty or pup when things get tough).  But I'm also thankful for my blog, because I truly do think that having this fun, creative outlet has helped keep me sane.  I started this blog right before I began graduate school, and having the opportunity to write, polish, and just have fun here - and have people read it! - has been such a great retreat from grad school.  So thanks so muchness to everyone for helping me get through grad school :D I couldn't have done it without all of you.


But enough about why I love the name; this polish rocks color-wise as well.  Although the great Maryland May Monsoon of 2010 appears to be taking a break right now, the skies are still quite overcast, so my pictures were taken outdoors with flash.  The color is spot-on (that first picture is 100% color-accurate), but the polish appears more glowy than it is IRL.  Thanks So Muchness is a rich, blue-based red with a moderate amount of very fine magenta and purple microshimmer.  It applied really smoothly and covered well with two coats.  It also dried very fast (love that!).  Yet another prize winning red - I am absolutely loving this one.  I was going to wear Crimson Carol today but I couldn't get the bottle open.  Seeing Thanks So Muchness, I'm glad I ended up switching to this one today!  It is such a gorgeous red.

I was originally only intending to have five days of red, but I've gotten a little, um, obsessed with red polish as of late, so there will be seven days of UMD Red Week, going straight through Sunday.  (Hip Hip Hurray!)  I'll be back tomorrow with another lovely red for you all.  Have a great Wednesday!!

PS: only a few more days left to win a Hana Professional Flat Iron and a KOR Hydration Vessel!!

Oh, and a quick question for you all... I have been breaking out a lot from all the end of semester stress and I'm considering buying a Zeno Hot Spot - that little $40 Zeno that lasts for 80 uses and (supposedly) zaps blemishes.  Has anyone tried it?  Is it worth it?  Thanks guys :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UMD Red Week!! OPI Pretty & Privileged

In celebration of my upcoming graduation from the University of Maryland, I'm rocking UMD red nails all week long.  Yesterday I had the gorgeous (and awesomely named) I Don't Do Dishes and today I have a polish with a name along the same lines...


OPI Pretty & Privileged
I was LOVING I Don't Do Dishes yesterday, but I am absolutely smitten with Pretty & Privileged.  This color is HOT!  It is a brighter blue-toned red with LOADS of red and pink microshimmer, which gives it a hot, dark pink/red look.  It is a little brush strokey and my bottle was pretty thick.  It covered with one amazing coat (yes!) and seriously makes my heart skip a beat.  I hope I love my Friday polish choice as much as this one :)
Again, MD is in some kind of monsoon, so no sunlight to photograph this gorgeous red for you.  It is more magenta than it looks in these photos.  Same shimmer and all, just imagine a little more pink in there.  I'll try to take another picture tomorrow morning before I do my next red if the sun is out.


Aside from being day two of UMD Red Week, today is also the last day of the college class I am teaching.  Cue sad music.  I'm amazed by how quickly it went by and devastated that it is over.  It was such an incredible experience and I am really going to miss working with this great group.  We're having a pizza party today to celebrate the end of the semester.  I can't wait to start teaching a new class; I have learned so much this past semester :)

Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

University of Maryland Red Week!!

It's University of Maryland Red Week here at Babbling Brooke, so I'm breaking out five brand new red polishes in celebration of my graduation this coming Friday!  I will be wearing a new red each day of the week, capped off with my UMD graduation red nails (color chosen with your help!) on Friday.  Get red-y for some major reds this week!

Today I'm not going to empty the dishwasher because I'm wearing OPI I Don't Do Dishes (I absolutely LOVE this name!).


OPI I Don't Do Dishes
I Don't Do Dishes is a darker, blue-based red with lots of gorgeous microshimmer.  It dried FAST, which really surprised me, since this is not a new polish.  I believe it came out in 2006 and was part of the OPI & Whirlpool collaboration collection (rather odd collaboration, IMO).   This looks kind of similar to I'm Not Really a Waitress, which I just gave to my mom.  I'll have to do a comparison of the two soon.  No sun out today, so the pictures are with flash - although still pretty accurate (my flash only distorts them when there is little to no natural light).  I need to get or make a lightbox for these kinds of days.  Any tips on making on (or finding one somewhere to buy)?

Look at that shimmer!!

Check back tomorrow for another gorgeous red!

Japanese Rose Garden, Dreams, Roses, and Harry the Dog

Last night I dreamed about blog layouts.  That is... weird.  If I was a blog layout designer, I'd say that dreaming about layouts is totally normal.  But as someone who occasionally thinks "I really need to do something about this layout," it is kinda strange I'm dreaming about them.

I find it really weird when I dream about something that I only considered in passing, or something that was simply a blip on the radar of my day, or even things that happened weeks prior (and which I didn't think I was pondering upon).  Dreams are funny things.  I love that some people keep dream journals - I think that can be a really cool way to discover more about yourself.  I think I may do that this summer, when work has ceased.  Right now I wake up and leave for work less than five minutes later, so I don't have much time to dwell upon my dreams.  But I think it would be a really introspective and pretty cool 'task' (I use 'task' lightly since I'm hoping this will be fun).  Have you had any weird or interesting dreams lately?  And do any of your keep a dream journal?  Have you learned anything?  Or have you just realized how bizarre your dreams really are?

On a non-dream related note, I have OPI Japanese Rose Garden for you today!

OPI Japanese Rose Garden
I used two coats for complete coverage. It applied really smoothly.
The first time I ever used Japanese Rose Garden was in October 2000 at a nail salon in lovely Keyser, West Virginia ("The friendliest town on earth!").  I remember it being much more purple, which I assume was just because a lot of salons mix polishes when they get low, thus creating fun Frankens. Although I liked that Japanese Rose Garden more (from what I remember), this is still a gorgeous pink.


I've been having a bit of a bird... I guess 'issue' is the correct word.  The birds have been stealing my plants!  My mom, the Queen of Coleus, gave me a ton of Coleus plants, which I happily planted all over the place.  Apparently the birds wanted them for themselves, because the next day I came outside and more than half of my Coleus were gone!  I later watched as a bird yanked another from a pot and flew off.  I guess they are building nests with them?  Or they despise Coleus and are redecorating.  Either way, the recent plant thefts and OPI's Japanese Rose Garden made me think of a childhood book: No Roses for Harry.  In the book, little Harry the dog sheds his silly rose sweater only to discover that a bird has used it to build a nest.  Thinking about the way these two things made me remember one of my childhood books reminds me of the way dreams are formed.  Two totally bizarre things (missing Coleus, Japanese Rose Garden nail polish) happen in one day and I end up thinking about No Roses for Harry.  Very dream-esque, eh?

My house Coleus - safe from the birds

And my (little) American Rose Garden!

Have a great Monday, despite the (at least in this part of the country) rather dreary weather.

No Roses for Harry image copyright Harpers Collins
 
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