Current Giveaways at Reviews by Cole

Date Fri, November 30 2012


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Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

Date Mon, November 20 2017

I’ve read over 100 books this year, and of those, only a handful received a 5-star rating for me. Girls & Sex is one of those books and one of the most recent books I’ve read.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This 5-star rating doesn’t mean that the book is perfect, but it is very important. I hope my high rating will help to draw attention to this book by Peggy Orenstein. But I am far from the only reader who agrees that this book is necessary and useful: 200+ Amazon reviewers have given this book a 4.5-star rating out of 5 stars.

The premise is this. Peggy Orenstein sent out a call to girls between the ages of 14 and 20 for a survey about their sex lives. She had them fill out surveys and performed interviews with some of those girls and young women (whom she refers to as girls throughout the book). Orenstein uses the results of her survey as well other sexual studies to make her points.

One point that is evident is that many girls wish to speak about their sex lives but don’t know where to find a nonjudgmental and guiding ear. Both parents and schools (as well as religious institutions) have failed these girls. Sex is discussed too little and too late, and a young woman’s pleasure is rarely the topic of conversation because it offers nothing in terms of procreation. Girls are left not knowing about their pleasure, not encouraged to explore it and certainly without the tools required to receive it in partnered interactions.

The author discusses this as one of the several main points in the book Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. She also talks about hookup culture, virginity and its modern meaning, consent and rape culture art length, which might be the reason this book has garnered some ire for being too negative, a point I’ll touch on later.

You might think that such topics make Orenstein a feminist or that this books is written for feminists. Certainly, some people will find this book to be too extreme or controversial. And some of those people will have those feelings because of their antifeminist views.

But the author doesn’t come across as a person who has a feminist agenda — to me (ironically, several reviewers railed against her feminist agenda, haha). Indeed, there are a few places where she admits to not understanding the brand of feminism that the girls and young women she interviewed have adopted in a way that doesn’t necessarily seem unfeminist. It just seems.. dated. It was enough for me to raise an eyebrow, but not enough for me to remove a star in my rating. The book is full of other information and opinions that far overshadow the sparse weaknesses.

In these pages, Peggy visits college campuses, high schools, and purity balls. If it has to do with the sexuality of girls in high school or college, she touches on nearly all of it with one exception. While Orenstein dedicates a chapter to lesbian, bisexual and asexual respondents. I was glad to see the inclusion of an oft-forgotten minority group in this book. However, I have to admit I was disappointed to see a lack of discussion about or with transgirls.

The book wraps up with Orenstein painting a picture of what sex-positive, honest, and helpful sex education might look like for girls — and boys. The last second isn’t an instruction but more a suggestion of how we can talk to young people, give them the right information, encourage them to ask questions, and set them for positive sexual experiences throughout their entire life. It’s no wonder Girls & Sex has received such positive attention.

Not all of the reviews are positive. There are a number of reviewers who felt that this book fell short on its promise to help the reader (or the girls in their life) to navigate the complicated new landscape of sex. Perhaps they wanted more guidance and less generalized information. I expected Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape to be more of an expose, however, so I wasn’t disappointed.

The other criticism is that Girls & Sex paints too bleak a picture of the currently sexual landscape, but with this, I must fully disagree. It’s alarming, certainly, but it’s not driven by panic. It’s simply a realistic look at how girls and young women are engaging in sex.

One reviewer went as far as to say that Girls & Sex is sex negative but, try as I might, I cannot see how you could make that argument. Orenstein never claims that anyone, let alone girls, should stop having sex. In fact, she makes a pretty comprehensive argument against abstinence-only sex education because she knows that they will. The author often reiterates that while girls ignore their own pleasure, they should explore it and negotiate — if not demand for it — within their sexual relationships. Peggy Orenstein never dictates what she believes these relationships should entail (although she does seem, at times, perplexed with the younger generation’s reluctance to experience emotions with sex) and instead lays out suggestions that will help girls have sex that they won’t later regret.

Most of that advice is just as good for teenaged boys who are navigating the same landscape, albeit while receiving different messages. Orenstein ends her book on that note, and I feel secure ending my review in a similar vein. Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape may very well be vital to getting the conversation — the right conversation — about sex rolling with our daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, and every person to come. Read if it you’re a parent. Give it to your daught or son if you think it will be helpful. If anything, it will encourage some much-needed discussion.

My Organic Zone Dead Sea Mud Mask

Date Mon, November 6 2017

Can you believe I made it over 30 years (31, actually) without using any sort of facial mask? I’ve never had a spa day, so this isn’t such a big surprise. I was willing to try one, however, when a brand offered the chance to try a dead sea mud mask.

The brand is called My Organic Zone, but I am not sure what ingredients are organic or even what ingredients make up this mud mask other than natural silica. The minerals listed on the product page aren’t actually named.

The instructions say this mask should be used on a clean dry face, so I used it out of the shower, after drying off my face. I’m not sure if this mud mask can be used as your only cleanser, however, it would be nice it if could. I don’t want to add too much time to my routine unless the results are guaranteed.

The mask is thick and grey: you can definitely tell it’s clay based. It’s a little messy to put on. I suppose you could use a spoon or some type of tool, but I just used my fingers. It can feel a little heavy when it’s on, but I really wanted to make sure I used enough. Apparently, the instructions call for only a thin layer. Oops.

There’s a slight cosmetic scent, but it’s not overwhelming or bothersome while you have the mud mask on.

Once you apply it, you leave it on for 20 minutes max. It dries and becomes less moist but doesn’t really feel tight or make it impossible to talk or use your face. I did find that I had to be careful to avoid getting it in my hair (a headband is definitely a good idea) or my neck and shoulders.

You can simply wipe it off with a wet washcloth or even rinse the clay mask from your skin. I experienced no negative side effects. My skin can sometimes be sensitive, so I was glad to notice this.

My skin felt immediately softer, and there was no uncomfortable tightness after using the My Organic Zone Dead Sea Mud Mask. But what about longterm effects? I used this once a week for a month to see how my skin would react. The description says it can help with acne and wrinkles, among other problems.

Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced any reduction in acne. Nor has redness or texture seemed to improve. My pores definitely haven’t increased in size, so I’m stuck with the same oil generating properties. I really wish I had seen more longterm effects, but I didn’t.

One thing I noticed as I used this product was that it tended to make my skin sweat a lot. It started when the product was on and continued for a while after I washed it off, so I needed to cool down before I could do any of my makeup. This means I was adding even more time to my routine.

I might be okay with that if it did something for me other than a little initial softness.  It’s not like my face doesn’t feel soft after using my regular cleanser. It could just be that mud masks are more about the spa-like experience, and I prefer my home routine to be quick and easy. If you enjoy mud masks and the whole experience, My Organic Zone Dead Sea Mud Mask costs less than $15, which might make it worth considering the next time you check out from Amazon.

And if you want to buy 2, save 10% with coupon BUY02MOZ.

Simple Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes

Date Wed, November 1 2017

I don’t wash my makeup off as much as I should. It’s such a hassle if I’m not in the shower, so I keep wipes on hand for the moments when I remember to remove makeup. I don’t always use them but like to have them on hand.

In my experience, some cleansing wipes can sting around the eyes, so I was looking to switch brands when I bought new ones. I opted for Simple Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes because they were on sale and because oil has been such an issue for me these past months.

According to the description, they’re designed to help you battle shine from oil as well as cleanse your face gently. The latter is certainly true, and I had no sensitivity, even around my eyes. These wipes have no alcohol, which is actually in a lot of makeup removing products.

I felt clean, and my makeup was gone, too. So they’re at least on par with other wipes I’ve used. There was no residue, and my skin felt super soft afterward.

I don’t know if other wipes usually have oil, but these don’t leave me feeling oily. The ingredients list includes Zinc PCA, which is supposed to moisturize and help to control how much sebum your skin makes. Witch hazel can also help tone pores, which become larger when your skin produces more oil. I’ve definitely seen this happen as oil production has increased. However, the effect doesn’t necessarily extend through the night when I use them at the end of the day. Perhaps the effect will increase as I keep using the wipes.

Simple Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes have a generic cosmetic scent. It’s not strong. In fact, it reminds me a bit of my foundation, which I don’t mind. Simple adds no colors or scents to the products. The wipes are made with triple-purified water, however.

Although Simple advertises these wipes as convenient, the packaging is the default for other wipes. If you don’t close them up tightly, they might dry out. But you can keep a pack in your bag (they’re available in a small 7 pack, too).

For a pack of 25 wipes, you’ll pay under $5 from Amazon and similar retailers. If yo use the wipes a lot, I would consider buying a 4-pack for under $22. This makes them about the most cost-effective wipes on the market. That makes Simple Oil Balancing Cleansing Wipes worth checking out.

Derma E Makeup Remover

Date Tue, October 31 2017

Most makeups removers have an oil base, and you can tell. They’re thin and leave a greasy residue on your skin, perhaps with a sheen that’s easy to see. I am not a big fan of most makeup removers, if you can’t tell. I typically prefer to wash my face with cleanser or use a wipe to achieve that fresh-faced look before I go to sleep (I just use a cleanser during my morning shower).

In fact, I have at least two bottles of oil-based makeup remover that aren’t getting much love at the moment. But I was looking forward to see if Derma E did anything different with their makeup remover. And.. they do!

Rather than a thin, oily product, Derma E’s makeup remover is a thick, clear gel. I wasn’t expecting that when I squirted it onto a cotton square. in fact, the thickness means I didn’t have to worry about squirting product all over, which happens more frequently than I would like to admit.

There’s no scent to the makeup remover, even though it’s described as containing cucumber. I certainly don’t mind this, however. In the future, I might try using it just with my hands more like a cleanser.

Derma E Makeup Remover seems to do a good job. The product description says it can tackle waterproof mascara, long-wear lipstick and other makeup that typically sticks around. I found this to be true, but it does seem to take more product and effort than other makeup removers. If you have a routine that’s quicker and effective, Derma E’s makeup remover may not be a better solution for you.

I was pleasantly surprised how finally it took care of my mascara, which I had layered with a top coat. Usually, there’s a residue beneath my eyes even after using makeup remover and cleanser. This wasn’t the case! It may have been because I reapplied product several times, however, and don’t typically spend so much time removing makeup.

And I was glad that my skin didn’t feel oily after using this product (although, it was pretty red from the scrubbing). It was free of makeup and felt pretty clean. Score! Dema E says the clean and tight feeling is thanks to the chamomile and cucumber extracts in the makeup remover. They seem to be doing their job. Other ingredients include:

Eyebright extract shields skin from irritation. Bilberry extract promotes healthy looking skin. Green Tea delivers vital antioxidants.

Derma E designed the makeup remover to be good for all skin types and compatible with contacts, too. It doesn’t sting at all, which is something I’ve experienced with some makeup removers. If you’re looking for cosmetics that are vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free, then this brand might be up your alley.

Now, I have the older bottle of the makeup remover, which has a wide magenta band while the new design has a magenta cap and a mostly white design with a floral motif. They’re the same products, however. According to the site, there is a package transition, so you might wind up with new or old when you order.

You can pick up Derma E products from a variety of stores. I’ve seen some of them in CVS, but the makeup remover is specifically available from the Derma E site, Amazon and


The Ringing of Bells for the Jingle of Pennies

Date Mon, October 30 2017

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Yep, the holiday season is upon us. I guess I can no longer avoid it.

Of course, it’s not a bad thing if you like shopping, singing holiday songs and seasonal arts and crafts. With a stop at Dollar Tree, you can shop for the things you need for your crafts without breaking the bank, too!

Of course, you know that Dollar Tree sells affordable vases, candle holders and frame. Craft goodies such as wire frames for wreaths, faux floral, fillable tree ornaments, and bows help you fill your home with holiday cheer (check out the ornament idea below), and I personally buy all my LED tealights and replacement batteries for the holidays from Dollar Tree.

Don’t forget about setting the table. For just $1 each, you’ll find glasses, plates and other serving ware that you don’t have to worry about the little ones breaking. After all, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg!

You can even buy towels, oven mitts, and an apron to play the jovial host or hostess. And do you know what they’re selling new this year? Santa chair covers! I’d certainly be impressed with anyone’s attention to detail if I saw their dining table outfitted with those!

Now, you might not be ready to start holiday shopping. After all, we still have Halloween to contend with. But you know where to go when you are!

The Ho-ho-ho-lidays Are Coming Soon

Date Fri, October 27 2017

I will receive a small commission for any sales made after clicking links in this post. Thank you for your support.

I cannot believe that October is almost over. While I am excited for Halloween, the year’s end is nigh. Soon, we’ll all be shopping for holiday gifts and sending out cards — if you aren’t already.

It’s even more difficult to believe because we finally got summer temperatures on the first day of fall. This late summer has me totally thrown off. So when I am browsing Minted for holiday cards, the images of wintery wonderlands seem misplaced. I guess it might take a little bit to feel excited and inspired by Christmas trees, reindeer and the like.

Don’t get me wrong, Minted’s 2017 holiday collection is certainly worthy if you want to see a card that will really stand out.  And if you’re a fan of the family photo card, then Minted has you covered as well. There are plenty of non-photo options, too, and Minted makes them easy to find. I don’t send photo cards. If y’all want to see pictures of my cats, you can just log on to Facebook. LOL!

I’m a big fan of Minted’s foil cards, which have just a texture. Most of the designs many to be sleek and sophisticated, even when they depict cute designs. You can also find unique square and even round cards that can be gifted as ornaments. As you customize your card photo, colors, and fonts, you can choose the card shape. Pretty neat!

Some of my favorites are below (most of which are foil designs!).

Well, I guess I am getting ready to be in the holiday spirit a little more after writing this post. Though, I better check how many cards I need before I wind up in an avalanche of pretty paper and foil!

If you find something you like and order by October 30th, you’ll be able to save 15% off your order with code HOLCARDS. Plus, orders over $125 qualify for free shipping. This is unlikely to be the only deal you’ll find from Minted in time to send out holiday cards, but the sooner you order, the better, right?

Minted doesn’t just do holiday cards. If you like their designs, you can use them for your other greeting cards and invitation needs. Can anyone say ‘Wedding?” You can even host a wedding website built with Minted’s help.

Some of their lesser-known products include home decor (including pillows placemats and shelves), prints, picture display bars, tree skirts, party accessories, oven mitts and towels,. You can even have your menus printed at Minted to really blow your guests’ expectations out of the water! And when you’re sending our “Thank you” cards to everyone who visited or gave a gift — or both — Minted to the rescue, again!

Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets

Date Tue, October 10 2017
Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets

Little blue sheets to remove oil

Have you ever had something in your purse for just about ever? Perhaps it’s moved from purse to purse when you got a new one, even though you don’t really use or need it (check out this post about 7 things every purse needs)? I am guilty. The two main things are about $1.25 in yen from when I lived in Japan. It’s pretty hard to trade coins and obviously not worth it. The other thing? A pack of Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets that I think I’ve had in there for well over a decade. Yea, seriously.

See, I discovered this product at my very first “adult” job, but I was hoping they would do something that they didn’t. So they wound up in my purse. Then another purse. And another. Pretty much all the purses I’ve ever owned! LOL

Summer 2017 rolls around, and my skin suddenly decides it wants to be pretty oily. This is a new problem, but I’ve got an old solution just lying in my purse, so I finally break out a packet of 2 or 3 Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets to see how well they do me.

Now, these packets contain little blue blotting sheets. They’re not like tissue paper (and I’ve used a couple like that.) They’re more of a plastic, soft and silky — almost stretchy. They bend well, which is great for using around your jaw or nose. And while they remove a bit of makeup, it’s not much, and they don’t smudge.

Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets Used

Once used, the sheets become translucent

They do pick up oil, however, and pick it up well! The material soaks up oil and almost becomes translucent. You can clearly see that it’s working and where you’ve already used to get the most out of your blotting sheet.

The wipes come in a small packet that’s purse for carrying in your purse; although, you might want to wait less than a decade to use them up. It’s really small enough for your pocket, too.

The going price for these sheets is about $5 per 50-pack. That’s not a huge investment for their value. But I have good news for you: several stores have their own store brand version of these oil blotters, so you can save even more. I currently have CVS brand in my possession. They were on sale and I got $3 in ExtraBucks when I bought two packs. But both Walmart and Target have their own brands, Equate and Up&Up, respectively, with more product per pack than Clean & Clear’s packet. The store brands are just as highly reviewed, so you’re in luck no matter where you prefer to shop.

You can also buy Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets online at Jet and Amazon. Both sell these for $4.47, and they’re a handy add-on if you’re trying to get free shipping from Amazon!

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