Happy Holidays from Firmoo: a Giveaway!

This was originally posted on QueenCicada.com, but I wanted to extend the giveaway to my readers here too–

The holidays are a great time to give and to receive, but wouldn’t it be nice if some of those gifts were functional as well as stylish? Well, the lovely team over at Firmoo is offering you guys a chance to win a $20 voucher for your choice of glasses! Their wonderful selection of frames starts as low as $8, so $20 can buy you a whole lot of style.

Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter–leave a comment here with a link to your favourite pair of Firmoo frames and “like” Firmoo on Facebook. For two extra entry-points, use Firmoo’s digital try-on feature and post a screen cap of you “wearing” your favourite pair! 25 lucky winners will be chosen on December 11, 2012. Vouchers will expire on December 25, 2012 so shop around early and narrow down your choices while the giveaway runs to avoid missing out on this awesome opportunity!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember! Firmoo also does vanity frames (no prescription) and sunglasses as well!

Showing a Little Love

A few weeks ago, the absolutely awesome Bekka of Glostix tagged me for the Liebster Award. Being a deadly combination of flighty and forgetful, this has sat as a draft on my dash since then. A lot of the content on this blog does that, actually, which I intend to remedy soon.

Rules:

1) Post 11 facts about yourself.
2) Answer the questions the tagger has set for You.
3) Create 11 questions for the people You’ve tagged to answer.
4) Tag 11 people.

Bawww, this looks labor intensive. Alright, it’s ok, I’ve got this…

Eleven Facts

  1. I was raised by animals. Sure, I had human parents, but I was an only child for the better part of nine years and spent more of my time with our ever-growing menagerie or at the local zoo or park than I did around other human beings. After more than two decades in human society, I still feel more of a kinship to animals than I do my own species.
  2. I’ve been in college since I was 16. Because I was home schooled through high school, I was able to get my GED and start college earlier than most. I’ve been hopping schools and majors and programs since then.
  3. I think in sentences. My thoughts occur exactly as I would speak or write them: while there is often a visual accompaniment, it’s rare I think entirely in images and I absolutely never think in abstract concepts. Everything has a word and sometimes a picture to go with it. I’ve been told this is an odd way of doing things, but I’m really not sure how it’s done otherwise.
  4. As a kid, I had a morbid fascination with monsters. I read every book in my school’s library about urban legends, monsters, magic, the supernatural, and aliens. In first grade, I chased classmates around with a picture-book of Universal’s Dracula, and in third I tried to perform a ritual that would turn me into a werewolf by screaming at the moon and refusing to cut my thumb nails. The only “call home” my parents ever got was in forth grade, after I staged a seance in the woods behind the school at recess. Eventually, the obsession evolved into alien abductions, then angels and demons, and finally vampires. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever shaken it, but I’ve learned to hide my crazy.
  5. The only colour I haven’t dyed my hair is green. At least, not on purpose–I had some turquoise that faded to a sort of odd sea-green for a while.
  6. I’m really not a movie person. I know so many people who know so much about so many different films, some of them even able to recite scenes line by exact line. I’ve never really had the interest. Maybe I don’t have the attention span to take two hours out in order to sit down and watch a movie, and forget flipping channels and catching one in the middle. I have to be in a very specific mood to even begin a movie, let alone watch one all the way through. It’s a little different at a theater, but in my own home it’s rare I’ll pop one on.
  7. I’ve had a lot of different kinds of animals in my home, but to me fish are the most stressful pets. They’re so delicate and their environment requires such precise levels of good and bad chemicals to be maintained that I worry myself sick over them. If they become aggressive, you can’t coax them into more relaxed states and if they’re injured or sick, you can’t just take them to the vet and get them a prescription. It’s trickier. I have a lot of nightmares about my fish tank.
  8. I’ve been meatless for almost 20 years. Even as a small child, my parents had a hard time getting me to eat meat: I hated the fibrous texture and made too many connections between what was on my plate and what it was “before it got dead.” Several years ago, I developed a sensitivity to milk products and coupled with my genetic predisposition towards high blood cholesterol and heart disease, I decided to simply cut animal products all together. I’ve been completely vegan for about three years now and I can’t envision myself ever going back.
  9. I hate winter. While I love the styles of fall and winter, winter weather makes my heart sink and wither in my chest. My extremities go numb easily and I shiver uncontrollably in the cold, so I spend the November to March stretch ruing my geographic location and cursing science.
  10. Many of my dreams don’t include me. At least not the human “me” writing this right now. I’m often an animal, unable to think or feel anything except the drive for survival. It isn’t until I wake up that I can rationalize the dream in any human sense. Other times, I’m a completely different person with completely different values and completely different goals.
  11. I’m pretty sure if monsters listened to music, they’d be into dub step. Back to my monster preoccupation.

Tagger’s Questions

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up (did you do it)? Well I wanted to be a mermaid, so safe to say no, I didn’t do that. I also wanted to be a novelist and illustrator, which I’m working on. I had brief flirtations with Broadway stardom and the music industry, but realized my penchant for drama was best served elsewhere.
  2. In what format did you purchase your first album (vinyl, cassette, etc)? The first album I ever bought for myself was Queen’s A Day at the Races, and it was on CD. I was pretty proud of myself for hunting it down.
  3. Of all the things you cook, what is your “signature dish”? Pasta with veggies. I’ve certainly cooked plenty of other things for occasions that people would recognize as mine, but if you drop by unexpectedly or I need to make dinner in a pinch, this is what you’ll probably get. Pasta with sautéed spinach or broccoli rabe, garlic, olive oil, probably some form of bean and mushroom. Maybe I’ll even get creative and throw some marinated tofu in there. Another quick “signature” is the tofu scramble.
  4. What is an odd scent that brings back good memories? Cooked milk. I have a lot of scent memories involving cooked milk–between the years I spent as a barista slinging lattes and the years I spent slaving over pastry creams and crème anglaise, cooked milk features strongly in a lot of “homey” memories.
  5. When was your first encounter with makeup? Excluding face paint, I think I was about eight years old. One of my classmates had invited me to her birthday party and in her goodie bag she had included Wet ‘n Wild lipsticks. The one in my bag was supposed to be a sheer shimmer, but actually applied a chalky sort of white that nearly cancelled out my lips all together. I wasn’t sure if my parents would approve, so I would apply it and then run to the car and hide in the back seat hoping no one would see or notice. Little did I know that the weight of the heavy formula on my face forced me to contort my mouth into the most horrible duck-face–I fooled no one.
  6. What is the most terrible thing you have ever consumed? Terrible in the sense of horrible-for-you, should-be-inedible, or tasted-really-bad? I’m pretty sure the answer on all accounts would be something expired, or found in the back of my car.
  7. What do you do to cheer yourself up? I put on lipstick. It’s really amazing what a bright lipcolour can do for one’s mood.
  8. What motivated you to start blogging? Ever since I found my first blog, I knew I needed to create my own. Although the first blogs I ever read were lifestyle or personal blogs, reading more like photo journals with the occasional thoughtful advice piece, but I wanted a more cohesive blog for myself. At first I considered starting a makeup blog, but figured no one would want to see my rather un-orthodox looks and decided I should do book reviews. I considered food blogs, fashion blogs, pretty much anything I could make words about and finally decided to document the process of becoming who I really wanted to be. That’s how Metamorphosis was born. It sort of devolved into a cosmetics blog anyway, but the act of writing it and interacting with other bloggers and communities did achieve the original goal.
  9. What was your proudest moment? Completing the state board test and hearing my prompter say, “enjoy your new careers, ladies!” I worked so hard to put in my time and learn the material, let alone execute the techniques required to pass the test. I hope to accomplish even bigger and better things in the future, but I feel like I rocked that test.
  10. If other planets could support life, would you move? I don’t know if I could answer that question without more information. No, probably not. I’d need to know there was a thriving civilization, complete with art and music and theater. I could never move to a new planet without knowing that there would be a community there to find my place in. It would need metropolitan areas and a sense of culture. And no long-term health risks.
  11. If you were born the opposite sex, how different would you be? If I was raised the same way, not very. But my father is the type of person who would insist boys be raised as boys–I’d probably have more gender-related stigmas and identity issues. When I was a teenager I used to imagine myself as a boy like a pint-sized Bowie, with flaming red hair and glitter-rimmed eyes–essentially me at 19-21, except as the opposite sex.

From Me To You

  1. What was your first perfume and how did you acquire it?
  2. Do you prefer bar soap, shower gel, or something else for bathing?
  3. If it could be any colour of the spectrum, what would your “natural” haircolor be?
  4. What was your favourite childhood movie and do you think it influenced your development?
  5. What is your favourite museum, or if you’ve never been, which would you like to visit?
  6. If you could domesticate any animal, which would you keep as a pet?
  7. Do you think your name suits your personality?
  8. If you could do it all over again, what career would you pursue?
  9. Where is your “Happy Place?”
  10. What was your least favourite “required reading” book in school and why?
  11. Did your family have any odd traditions growing up?

Tagging

  1. A Rainbow at Night
  2. The Painted Knitter 
  3. Karmic Dreaming
  4. Claire’s Beauty
  5. Painted
  6. Tits, Hurrah!
  7. Prettymaking
  8. Siouxsie Law
  9. LaDandyzette
  10. Midnight Posey
  11. Everyday Opinionista

I know this has been going around for a while, so some of you might have all ready completed this–don’t worry about it! Don’t want to do it? It’s okay! If you weren’t tagged and want to answer the questions, go ahead! Link me your post in the comments!

An Eye for Style: Accessorizing with Firmoo

As an eight-year-old with rapidly-developing near-sightedness, my glasses were part of my identity. I remember the day I picked them out–a pair of giant oblong frames in a purple tortoise-shell finish–considering how they could change people’s perception of me, what they would say about who I was. I wore them day in and day out, content with them and their effect on my image. As a teenager, however, it occurred to me that I changed my clothes every day. I wore different makeup, different shoes, even carried different purses if it suited me. Why should I have to wear the same glasses all the time? Of course, I was oblivious to the exorbitant cost of a pair of glasses. It was expensive enough to change the lenses in one pair each year.

When I was contacted by Firmoo about reviewing a pair of glasses, I had flashbacks to that first time I ever picked out a pair of glasses. My most recent pair was selected more for comfort than style: I experience chronic photophobia and selected the largest, blackest frames I could to reduce the amount of light that came through. However, I find my large frames and tinted lenses to be an obstacle while working. They interfere with my sense of colour and space, which is not acceptable while working with hair and makeup. Firmoo offered me my choice of frames as well as lenses in my prescription in exchange for my honest review.

The task was honestly a little daunting–Firmoo has thousands of frames to choose from. Luckily, you can break down your search easily by materials, colours, shapes, sizes, and any combination thereof. When selecting frames in a doctor’s office, I usually end up trying on a dozen or more pairs before settling on one over another, so I was uncertain how shopping online might turn out. However, if you create an account on Firmoo’s website, you can use their handy “virtual try-on” tool by uploading a photo of yourself, selecting your pupils for accuracy, and allowing the tool to superimpose an image of your frames over your face.

After agonizing over five or six different pairs for what seemed like days, I settled on the frames above: a dainty pair of black-and-lavender plastic, much lighter than what I was used to but still bearing enough black for me to feel like myself. Inputting my prescription information was simple enough, but my doctor did not give me my Pupilary Distance, or PD. This is a measurement taken before fitting a pair of frames and is not usually written on a prescription. Luckily, I did some quick google-fu and found this handy online tool that measures your PD using your webcam a basic credit card for measurement. I did this a few times to get a solid number and came up with a number of 62, a fairly average PD for a normal human being.

My glasses shipped within a week and arrived quickly, along with a sturdy leather case, a cleaning cloth, and a tool to loosen and tighten the screws as necessary. The frames fit perfectly without any adjustments–my last pair needed to be re-molded several times before they sat evenly on the bridge of my nose. My prescription was correct and the lenses were clear. However, like many glasses I’ve had in the past, I did notice a bit of distortion around the periphery. It could be my prescription, it could be the shape of the frames, I’m not sure, but I have had many pairs of glasses in the past that had this same sort of warping around the outermost portion of the lenses. It usually takes me about a week to adjust to it and then it becomes less noticeable. I found the same was true of these glasses. I don’t feel it has anything to do with the quality of the lenses as much as it has to do with the sensitivity of my eyes.

All in all, I am very satisfied with my experience with Firmoo. Even if these glasses had not been free, they would have been well worth the money: the frames with basic lenses would have cost about $8.00 plus shipping–my last pair of glasses cost me over $150 for the frames alone, and lenses were an additional $200. The most expensive pair of frames Firmoo offers is $55.95, which is still far less expensive than what most places ask. If you require more than just basic lenses, that’s fine: for less than $30, your glasses can be made into bifocal or progressive lenses. Prescription sunglasses can be polarized for an additional $20, and for no extra cost you can select your own level of tint.

If you’ve never purchased from Firmoo before, make sure you check out their Free Glasses offer. As a new customer, you can receive a voucher for new glasses when you share your favourite eligible pair through Facebook, Twitter, or email. Even if you have a pair of glasses, this offer allows you to snag a spare pair for backup, or even just a departure from your norm!

Thanks to Firmoo, I have a great, functional addition to my fashion arsenal. Now that I have the option to choose which eyewear I’ll be sporting each day, I wonder how I got by for so many years with just one pair.

(cross-posted to QueenCicada.com)

FotD: She’s Got Her Head in the Clouds

There was a time in my life when I bought nothing but green eyeshadow. I was a 16-year-old redhead with the odd notion that redheads wore nothing but green shadows, likely planted in my head by the absurd number of pinups and vintage illustrations I surrounded myself with. At one point, I had the same shade of grassy green from five or six different brands. These days, I own just about every colour in the visible spectrum and wear them all fairly regularly–but I’m still a sucker for a good green.

When I saw Femme Fatale CosmeticsMistress of Dreams collection, the green-loving center of my brain lit up. Consisting of four fabulous greens and a green-shifting purple, it’s a beautifully coordinated set. I used all five shades for this look, patting the Dreamer on the inner half of my lid and blending it into Planeshift before sweeping Emerald Dream into the outer V. Eternal Trance was tapped into the crease to deepen the shade. I used Emerald Dream again on the lower lash line, blending the color with the Nightmare towards the outer corner.

Full List of Products Used:

Lancome Teint Idole 24H Foundation in 140
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Light
Detrivore Cosmetics Blush in Concubine
Detrivore Cosmetics Primer in Original
Femme Fatale Cosmetics Eyeshadow in the Dreamer, Emerald Dream, Eternal Trance, Planeshift, and the Nightmare
.mark Walk the Line eyeliner in Violet Eyes
Lancome Definicils Mascara
Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in Pomegranate Punk (brows)
Black Rose Minerals Eyeshadow in Styx (brows)
OCC Lip Tar in Ophelia, and Hush (blended 60% 40%)

In the process of growing out my mane, I’ve started experimenting with ways to style it without looking like I’m too lazy to cut it. So far, I’ve found my favourite way to do it is to make it appear as if I’ve done absolutely nothing–a controlled chaos, if you will.

 

Separating second-day hair into large sections, I sprayed Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray generously at the root and blow-dried with my fingers, twisting sections into coils. With the hair about 80% dry, I smoothed a small amount of Bumble & Bumble Grooming Creme onto the lengths and then blow-dried the top back and the bangs forward. Using one squirt of Bumble & Bumble Invisible Hairdresser’s Oil dispersed between my fingers and palms, I fluffed the hair upwards and outwards before spraying with Michael O’Rourke 3-Way Hairspray on the lightest setting.

Dewlap Valentine: a Reptilian Love Story

I was raised by animals. Don’t get me wrong, I had great parents, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by animals of all kinds: cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, hamsters, frogs, turtles… My family and I have worked in rescue for years and opened our hearts and home to countless animal companions, some of whom have left for forever homes and some of whom have made their forever homes within our walls. I’ve learned something from each of them and loved every one.

Bob hugs in the hospital

Bob hugs in the hospital

Bob came to me as a baby barely longer than my little finger. His eyes were eager, his feet quick, and his scales impossibly green. He had a calcium deficiency that required a sweet-smelling syrup spoon-fed to him with each leafy meal for the first two years of his life and left him a little more sluggish than most iguanas his age, but it gave us even more quality time together. As he grew, he would sit on my shoulder while I watched television or surfed the internet; we sat together on the back porch in the hot summers; he even maintained a live journal in his younger days–many of the entries read “alkjdskllllllllllllll,” but he still acquired more friends than he had long, spindly toes.

Bob loves dinner

Bob with a favourite meal

We knew each other well: Bob knew when I got home from school or work, crawling off his Throne of Rocks to wait by the food bowl while I chopped up leafy greens–collard, mustard, dandelions–along with a finely-chopped strawberry or melon, all sprinkled with vitamin and mineral powders. His golden eyes would go wide, ringed pupils dilating as he stared down the bowl before his sticky pink tongue would dart out to taste the day’s offering. His preferences were red and yellow foods: berries, yams, squash, but above all bananas. Simply seeing a banana on the counter beyond his enclosure could send him into a fit, shaking his head, paddling at the tank, trying to lunge open-mouthed on it despite the glass between them. Yellow shopping bags, purses, flowers, and knick-knacks had the same effect.

Bob's insides and a bladder stone

Bob’s x-ray and removed bladder stone

It was the day before Easter when I noticed something was wrong. He was drinking excessively, moving as little as possible, drooling. My family vet had never seen anything like the x-ray image we took and we were referred to an emergency specialist who instantly identified it as the largest bladder stone he had ever seen. He went into surgery the next morning and had the stone successfully removed. A few weeks later, however, he suffered some complications of his condition and passed away at the emergency vet. I was fortunate enough to visit with him the night before he passed away, and I know he received nothing but love and care from the wonderful staff. I was heartbroken. He had fought so hard and come so far and even the doctor had expected him to fully recover. At that time, I was working towards my state board exams and graduation and I felt as if Bob had set the ultimate example for me: he just kept going.

Bob makes a swan friend

Bob makes a swan friend in the hospital

I wanted to hang on Bob and his determined survival instinct desperately. While he will forever live on in my heart, I needed a physical memento. Enter Darling Clandestine. Owner Evonne knows what it means to love a lizard or two, and she worked tirelessly with me to create a blend I know Bob would have loved, appropriately named Dewlap Valentine. In its glimmering green bottle, it smells like ripe, fresh strawberries and yellow banana tossed with dark leafy greens. It’s bright, it’s fresh, it’s delicious. But applied to the skin, Dewlap Valentine comes to life. The greens grow darker, the fruit goes riper, and something beautifully animal comes through. It becomes musky, salty, organic-smelling, like bright green noses and spiny toes and stripy bellies, all smeared with fresh fruits and leaves. It is one of the most complex scents I’ve ever smelled.

Dewlap Valentine by Darling Clandestine

photo from Darling Clandestine

They say scent is one of the most powerful triggers of memory, and Dewlap Valentine is all of Bob’s scent-memories bottled. I know he would be proud to have inspired this scent–he’s even smiling on the bottle. I can’t thank Evonne enough for creating this wonderful scent and making it available to her customers. It touches my heart to think that people might wear this perfume and look at the little green bottle bearing Bob’s grin and smile themselves, imagining all the love and warmth that this cold-blooded companion contributed during his lifetime. I know I do every time I put it on.

Mind Your Mane: Bumble & Bumble’s Color Minded

As a beauty professional, I’m always amazed by the number of people who don’t know what they need. Hair and skin can change over our lifetimes, but for the most part the hair you have now is the hair you’ve worked with for years. I’ve met countless people with fine, straight hair who are heartbroken because they think they have thin hair, or women with gorgeous, thick curls who label themselves with coarse, unmanageable locks. Simply put, most people don’t know what they’re dealing with and therefore don’t know what kind of products they need to be using.

I thought I knew my own hair: it’s on the finer side, but its significant wave pattern can make it look puffy and fizzy at times. But rather than buy products for fine or wavy hair, I often find myself trying to combat the damage I’ve done through years and years of bleaching. Trying to take my naturally near-black hair to a state as close to white as possible has wreaked absolute havoc on its integrity, so I moisturize and reinforce as much as possible. Now that I’ve stopped bleaching, my hair has bounced back almost completely, but I still use my products for fragile, damaged hair daily.

When Klout offered to send me Bumble & Bumble‘s new colour care line, I considered my hair carefully: would stepping away from my protein-infused, deep-moisturizing products spell disaster? I had been curious about Bumble & Bumble for a while–as a prestigious professional brand not sold in my salon supplier, I always wondered about the quality of the line. When the KloutPerks box showed up on my doorstep, I was incredibly glad I took the chance.

I was expecting little foil packets with maybe two good applications of product, but Klout and Bumble & Bumble sent full sizes of not only the new Color Minded shampoo, but also the UV Protective Styling Balm and Polish. The line also has a corresponding conditioner, which was not part of the Klout Perk, but can be purchased at Sephora, Bloomingdale’s, or Bumble & Bumble salons.

The Color Minded Shampoo boasts a sulfate-free formula and gentle-cleansing action, both buzzwords in the current haircare market. According to the bottle itself, it promises clean hair without colour washout or fading while preserving shine. If I had a dime for every shampoo I’ve used that made the same claims, well, I’d probably have enough dimes to buy this product at retail value (that’s 290 dimes, by the way). The ingredients all checked out: aside from the sulfate-free cleansers, it has components to adjust hair’s pH and seal in colour during the washing process. The texture is pleasant and lathers nicely, both chief complaints I hear from people switching to sulfate-free formulas, and the scent is light and clean. When used in my hair, it did not tangle, pull, or leave my hair feeling “squeaky”–all things I’m particularly conscious of before conditioning. I began testing this product after coloring my hair with a demipermanent formula to start with a fresh slate: I noticed that the lather initially took on the orange-pink cast of my colour, but after that first wash the lather remained clear.

I followed the shampoo with conditioners I had on hand since I did not have the corresponding conditioner to test, but used the Color Minded UV Protective Styling Balm as a leave-in conditioner in my clean, damp hair. Formulated with proteins, humectants, and even a few hair-stimulating ingredients, this is a very thick preparation with a texture like sour cream or greek yogurt. A dollop about the side of a nickel is enough to work into my not-quite-bob-length hair.

After blow-drying, I used a pump of the Color Minded UV Protective Polish to seal out environmental damage to my colour and keep my hair shiny. I was taken off-guard by how light this polish was compared to most other silicone-based shine serums: rather than the super-viscous goop that many brands produce, this polish is almost runny by comparison and applied correctly (rubbed between the palms and dispersed into the hair beginning at the ends), it will not weigh down fine strands or look greasy.

The following shows my freshly-coloured hair alongside my hair after about five shampoos (four weeks) using the Color Minded system, first in direct natural light, then indirect.

As you can see, the fading is minimal. Previously, my colour would fade to a shade more pink than red just days after coloring between washing, styling, and simple environmental factors. Even friends and colleagues have noted the difference (and trust me, hairstylists notice every little change in a person’s hair). Honestly, I really wanted to hate these products–since Bumble and Bumble appears to be privately distributed, my only hope of getting them wholesale would be working a Bumble salon–but I can’t. They’re wonderful, well-formulated, and do exactly what they say. I might be able to get professional grade shampoo for less than $7, but I would definitely consider spending the $29 retail for more Color Minded shampoo when I run out. The Styling Balm and Polish each retail at $28, and great for summer styling when the sun noticeably leaches colour.