Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lumosity.com






We all know how important it is to keep our bodies in the best condition possible, which includes regular exercise of various kinds. But how often do we consider giving our brain a regular "workout" to keep it functioning at peak performance, throughout our lives?

I recently took advantage of a 2 week trial offer for "brain training" with Lumosity.com. I was surprised and pleased by what this company has to offer.

Lumosity.com provides a progressive series of brain exercise programs, tailored to each individuals needs and also to provide ongoing challenges to improve.


From the Lumosity.com site: Improve Your Brain: Lumosity.com has been clinically proven to support brain health. Our users report profound results: faster name recall, greater attention to detail, better concentration, and quicker problem-solving skills.

                         
Areas addressed include: speed, attention, memory,problem solving, flexibility. In each specific category, online games/exercises are offered that are not only helpful and challenging  but a lot of fun too. Progress is individually tracked for each member so that you can monitor where you are doing well and also where there is room for improvement.

I thoroughly enjoyed most of the games I've tried so far, especially the Route to Sprout (helps with navigation skills when driving etc...), Bird Watching (for improving peripheral vision) and Lost In Migration (helps with focusing on one specific task at a time) to name but three of dozens of games to choose from.

What has been really exciting for me is that after only a couple of weeks of training, I have already noted improvement in real life tasks such as: easily remembering names, being more focused when working on a specific project, being able to perform calculations of all kinds quicker and more accurately...it's been significant.

Lumosity  has millions of members from around the world. Their easy to navigate and attractive website and simple sign-up process makes it easy to give their program a try, without risk or with no long-term obligations required.

They also don't swamp your inbox with a lot of emails you don't want. You can choose to have a weekly or daily reminder to "brain train" sent to you if desired. And their support team has quickly answered any questions I've had, with a personal email, not a form reply or the ever-popular "q and a" list. (don't you just hate when they offer those by way of reply?)

Two minor negatives about Lumosity. There were ongoing technical issues with one game I tried to play several times: Penguin Pursuit which last I time I checked still seemed to be acting a bit wonky. Also, the Assessment exams offered to also track progress should in my opinion record a member's latest scores and dates of exams taken. But these are minor in comparison to all the positives I have found over at Lumosity.com.

Definitely worth signing up for their trial offer. Monthly, yearly and family plan rates are all very reasonable too should you decide to become a long-term member.

Brain training can be fun and very rewarding too, thanks to Lumosity.com. And isn't exercising your brain (not just your body) important too?

Overall rating for this product/service: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Live Clean Argan Oil Restorative Conditioning Mask (for Hair)



A couple of months ago, I wrote a review for: Live Clean Apple Cider Clarifying Shampoo. Since I was quite pleased with that product, I recently decided to give another Live Clean product a try, this time: Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioning Mask. And I'm happy to report that this was another winner from this company's hair care product line.

Over this past winter, my long, (very) thick hair had become very dry and hard to style. Normally, I don't have problems like this, my hair is usually quite healthy and shiny looking. Regular conditioners were not doing much to rectify the problem so I went looking for an more intensive hair conditioner/mask to try.

Live Clean Argan Oil Restorative Conditioning Mask delivers on it's claims of long-term conditioning and shine. This is a very  thick, rich conditioner/mask and it is applied after your hair is shampooed, combed through and left on 5-10 minutes before rinsing out.

It has already made a noticeable difference in the appearance and feel of my hair (I've used it about 4 times so far). And not just immediately after washing and styling my hair either. Even a couple of days later, my hair is much easier to style. The condition of my hair seems to be consistently improving and staying that way, which I am very happy about.

This product has a very pleasant mild fragrance and contains Argan Oil which contains a natural source of concentrated vitamin E. You can read more about the properties of Argan Oil here.

One tip when using this hair mask: take the time to thoroughly rinse your hair after using this product. It is very thick and rich as I mentioned above and a quick rinse of cool water wasn't enough to get it all out. A few extra minutes of rinsing does the trick. I didn't find this a disadvantage though. The conditioners that rinse out quickly are usually the kind that don't do much either!

Here is some additional information about this product:
From the Live Clean site: exotic nectar - argan oil conditioning mask

Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioning Mask with certified organic grape seed and olive oils is a rich, creamy formula that revitalizes hair and restores shine, softness and manageability. Regular use can help restore elasticity and re-build.

And do stop by the Live Clean site to read more about all of their products and more about their company and it's environmental initiatives etc...

Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discover the Gift by S. Aziz and D. Lichtenstein



Discover the Gift. It's Why We're Here is co-authored by Shajen Joy Aziz and Demian Lichtenstein, who are a brother and sister.

I borrowed this book from the local library. After getting it home and starting to read the book, I was glad I hadn't shelled out any of my own cash for it.

It appears that the spin-offs and knock-offs of The Power and The Secret are continuing to be churned out, judging by this book. The similarities throughout are hard to miss. First of all, the presentation. This book is printed on smooth, heavy stock paper (recycled content of any kind, I doubt!) and with bright blue text and glossy photo page additions. So much for honoring Mother Earth!  That kind of (or lack of) regard for the environment does counts these days. And in this case of this book, against. And it certainly does brings to mind the glitzy presentation of The Secret and The Power. (click to read that book review).

Then there are the celebrity quotes sprinkled liberally throughout. Some of these quotes had some merit but again, filling pages with the thoughts and opinions of other people, is that really authoring a book?

I found the brother/sister tale that they had to tell, rather strange to say the least. All about resentments and sibling bickering that in later years magically transformed into peace, love and harmony when the two patched things up and started working together on this book, other projects and I'm guessing making a fair bit of cash for their efforts along the way.
                        
So many things didn't ring true, reading through their personal stories. Parents and family members portrayed as such loving, caring individuals and then a bit further along leaving both of the authors (as children) in need of security and love. It got to be all a bit too much to waste my time on but again, the lack of consistency is what came through.

So what in a nutshell is The Gift suppose to be for the rest of us? Here are some quotes from the book by way of example:

"If you take away every thing and you are left with no thing,then what is possible? Anything."

"Unity consciousness. It's a quantum physics concept reflecting the idea that we are all just part of a unified field of energy. Put more spiritually, we are all part of a divine essence, and once we realize this we are one step closer to discovering our Gift and sharing it with the world."

"To release the shackles around my heart and unchain the extraordinary miracle of my existence, I had to be open to the possibility of experiencing my life as a Gift."

Oops sorry, nodding off again......Enough said. And on and on and on....A lot of double-speak that's been rehashed and re-written, again and again.

I don't know who is taken in by this kind of self-help book. I think it's sad to realize that so many people still are. As I said at the beginning of this review, I'm glad I only borrowed this one from the library. It's going back on the shelf very soon.

Overall rating for this book: Bad. 0 out of 5.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs

                                                               

You know those days when you've already put in a busy, busy morning and happily, the afternoon is free? The sofa beckons invitingly, to curl up for the afternoon with an entertaining book. And one with a story that's not too much work by way of  plot twists and turns.  Well, I had one of those days yesterday and I completed: The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs before it was time to start supper.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons: Ms. Wiggs  has a true gift for bringing her characters and their surroundings to life adding to the story with each turned page. And I have always loved quilts and the (idea of!) making one. A very special quilt plays a key part in this story of a middle-aged mother (Linda Davis) and her teenage daughter (Molly) who together embark on a trip across the U.S. to arrive a week later at the college town where Molly will soon begin a new and exciting phase in her life. It was an engaging read that continued to entertain to the last page, complete with a happy ending!

A lot of memories and thoughts from the past came back to me, reading this book. Some good, some sad... My own relationship with my dear mom when I was in my late teens. The "I know it all and so much more than you do" attitude that we (my friends and I) all seemed to have in regard to anyone over 30, our parents especially. The gentle coaxing (to no avail) of my parents when they could see I was heading in a direction (I left university to get married) that I would live to regret years later. It all came flooding back as I came along for the ride with Linda and Molly.

If I had to pick out the strongest point of Susan Wiggs' writing style, it would definitely be her ability to breathe life into each character and make them believable throughout the book. One downside: I did feel that the repetitious "whinny" tone of daughter Molly a bit much by the end of the book. True to life I'm sure, for many families with teenagers but it did get to be a tad tedious.

I know that Ms. Wiggs has a large fan base of readers and I can understand why. I plan to check out some of her other novels in the future too.

If you are looking for a light read that will especially appeal to empty-nesters, soon to be empty nesters and quilt-lovers too, you might want to check this one out.

                               
From the Amazon product page: Linda Davis's local fabric shop is a place where women gather to share their creations: quilts commemorating important events in their lives. Wedding quilts, baby quilts, memorial quilts—each is bound tight with dreams, hopes and yearnings.
Now, as her only child readies for college, Linda is torn between excitement for Molly and heartache for herself. Who will she be when she is no longer needed in her role as mom? What will become of her days? Of her marriage?

Mother and daughter decide to share one last adventure together—a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm. As they wend their way through the heart of the country, Linda stitches together the scraps that make up Molly's young life. And in the quilting of each bit of fabric—the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume—Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come….

Overall rating for this book: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Patons Pure 100% Organic Cotton Yarn


                         


This is my new favorite organic cotton yarn to knit and crochet!

I recently purchased 3 skeins of this yarn: in Fern, Sea and Blue Grass for a project I'm including in the beginner's crochet book I am currently working on.

Sea



Blue Grass


The photos do not do this yarn justice. It has a beautiful sheen. Doesn't fray, split or shred when working with it. It is soft but not too soft as some cotton yarns tend to be. It has a nice stability when working with it.The texture of this yarn is exceptionally nice.  A definite stitch definition (and I was only using a simple single crochet stitch for the most part). And another bonus: it's organic cotton which is always my preference. Very, very pretty!

I plan to make a short cardigan or shrug in this yarn too, as soon as I can.

The only downside I just noted online was that several sites selling this yarn only have limited color choices available and others have discontinued it. I've included the Amazon link on the left sidebar here to one of the sellers I did find. Local stores may have this available too. I bought mine online some time ago from Herrschner's Canadian site but today I didn't note this yarn available there. This yarn is definitely worth looking for!.

Here are some of the basics about this yarn:

Weight Category: 4; 100% USA grown cotton; 2.8oz.80g; 117yd/107m. Gauge: 20st x 26r = 4in/10cm on size 7/4.5mm knitting needles and H8/5mm crochet hook. Care: hand wash; tumble dry low or dry flat; do not bleach; do not iron; do not dry clean.

Re: care instructions. I'm guessing that if a garment or other item made in this yarn was put in a laundry/lingerie bag or pillowcase on delicate cycle it probably could be washed by machine. I haven't tried this yet. I do know I've gone this route before with other "hand wash only" yarns and it worked fine. But again, it would be a test to find out, in your own washing machine. I wouldn't chance it on a larger, irreplaceable item though!

Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Happiness Is...Prize Winners!


                                       
Here's the link to the Prize Winner's List for the Happiness Is...Contest!

               


Congrats to all the winners!


All of the entries were wonderful. If you missed them, well worth stopping by to check these out too.

I'll be back with some new reviews very soon. I'm working on several right now.

Happy Week! G :<)
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