Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Farewell Summer (and my blog)

Well, it looks like my summer came and went faster than I would have thought. It seems like just yesterday that I was sleeping in till ten in the morning. Now, summer is over. My first day of junior year is tomorrow... Well, at least I have a summer full of fun experiences behind me.

As promised, here is my update on Proactiv. It has actually helped me quite a bit.

The only thing that made me concerned was that I started breaking out again after the fourth week. I don't know if it's been because of my eating habits or something else, but at least it's starting to go away again. I was hoping my skin would be clear in time for school, but it seems like that isn't going to happen. Overall, I think the Proactiv was adequately effective.

Well, I think this photo sums up a good portion of my summer. I don't know about you, but I think this summer was pretty great. After all, just about anything is an improvement over sitting alone in my room for hours on end watching the minutes go by. I kid, but this has been an incredible summer. For once, I feel like my summer is pretty much complete with no regret whatsoever. However, with the start of the school year looming in the horizon, I must bid this wonderful summer and my blog adieu. So long and farewell.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Let's Be Proactiv

About four or five years ago, I started to have acne. It wasn't so bad at first, but it gradually became worse. Ever since that time, I have tried many different acne products, and it's been hard to tell which ones work and which ones don't. I'm honestly pretty tired of my acne.

The first acne treatment cream that I ever tried was probably Clearasil. It wasn't this Rapid Action Treatment Cream though; it was just plain old tinted Clearasil. This product seemed adequately effective. I don't really remember why I stopped using it. It was probably because of my fear of benzoyl peroxide (I will explain why with the next product), and for a while, Target stopped carrying it. As a result, I kind of just forgot about it.

I believe that the next treatment that I tried was this set of Neutrogena products. At first, I thought that this was what was going to get rid of my acne. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to find out because my face became red and irritated after the first day of using these products. Needless to say, I stopped using them immediately. However, I somewhat recall that this set came with a sample of acne eliminating spot gel that was pretty effective.

The next product that I tried was this Clean and Clear toner. I don't really think that this had any effect on me whatsoever. The thing about acne treatments that it is hard to tell if they work because you need to determine if the the product you're using is making your skin clearer or if your skin is clearing naturally. In this case, my skin was more or less the same either way.

The next product is this Clean and Clear acne treatment cream. I think that this was somewhat effective. It's hard to tell if it was effective because at the time that I was using it, I was not sleeping very much and I probably wasn't washing my face as much as I needed to. (Yeah... it was not a good time.) I probably would have had better results if I was more diligent about using it, but it doesn't seem like it was going to work miracles or anything. The reason why I tried this acne treatment cream was because this one contains salicylic acid rather than benzoyl peroxide, which I believed that I was allegeric to judging from what happened with the Neutrogena acne treatment cream. However, I believe that salicylic acid is less effective than benzoyl peroxide.

Finally, we get to "America's #1 Acne Treatment System", Proactiv. This is the product that I am currently trying out. I received this set of products a few months ago, but I felt that I was too busy at the time to dedicate ten minutes a day to taking care of my face. (I know that it sounds ridiculous, but at the time, those ten minutes seemed better spent studying or sleeping.) Now that it's summer, I decided to see if it lives up to its reputation. After all, I've seen enough commercials advertising it, and it was even recommended by my pharmacist. So far, it has been a week, and I've been using it once a day since I wanted to make sure that I wasn't allergic to it. (From the looks of it, I seem to be okay although my skin has been a bit irritable this week.) I'm planning to start using it twice a day next week. I suppose the key to this product and with any product is daily use. So far, I can't really say how effective it has been. Maybe it's better if you tell me. 

From what I can tell, the acne on my forehead is getting better, but the bottom part of my face... not so much. I'll keep at it for another few weeks before I make up my mind about it. In the meantime, I'll make sure to update weekly on how it goes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Crocheting Capers

Along with baking, I have also done some crocheting over the past year. I didn't have a chance to make too many things, but I managed to create a few.

I used this pattern for the Minnie Mouse hat shown above. I made this over my winter break for my niece since she loved watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at the time. It was too bad that she never liked wearing the hat. Oh well. I'm sure it will find some use somewhere. Making this was pretty fun for me even though I was sitting on the couch for several hours, endlessly crocheting in the round.

I used this pattern for the penguin shown above. I also made this over winter break for one of my close friends. This was an interesting project for me since I got to use my new size D hook. I admit that using a hook that small takes some getting used to, but it can make some pretty cute and detailed stuff.

I used this pattern for the Umbreon above. The person who designed this pattern, Linda Potts, is actually one of my favorite designers because she creates crochet patterns that help you to create some good quality plushies. She has made patterns of things such as Pokemon, Mario characters, and Madagascar penguins. This Umbreon was something that I had meant to make almost a year ago but didn't get around to till a few months ago. In a month, it will become my friend's birthday present. (In the picture above, it will look like the stripes are white, but I assure you that they are just a pale yellow. I know that they are actually supposed to be a bright yellow, but I was trying to use up what I had.)

I used this pattern for the Pachirisu above. This pattern is also designed by Linda Potts. I made this because one of my friends requested it, although I had intended to make it at some point anyways because it was cute. In case you don't recognize it, this is a Pokemon.

Baking Bonanza

Over the past year, I've had several baking escapades which involved baking sweets such as cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and cream puffs.

It seems like the most popular desert that girls like to bake at my school are cupcakes. They are at every bake sale, and people make them for their friends' birthdays all the time. The cupcakes shown above are a batch of vanilla cupcakes that I made a few weeks ago for a "fete". I used this recipe for the cupcake batter and this recipe for the frosting. The first time that I made these recipes, I followed them almost exactly. However, I tinkered with the recipe a bit this time. For the cupcake batter, I substituted the shortening for butter and added only a cup of sugar. For the frosting, I only made half the batch because I learned that you only need the full batch if you are piping the frosting. If you are planning to frost using a knife, make only half the batch. I also chose to add about a fourth teaspoon of vanilla rather than a full one seeing how the cupcakes were already vanilla flavored. These actually turned out quite well, and I liked them because they were not too sweet as many cupcakes are.

Butter cookies were the first things that I baked on my own. I made them the first time towards the end of the first semester during freshmen year. My sister was there to supervise my that time, but the batch shown above was one that I made on my own during Christmas time using this recipe. I recall making these as part of a gift to a friend. These butter cookies can be made in two ways after the dough is mixed. You can either roll the dough up into a log and slice it, or you can roll out the dough on a flat surface and use cookie cutters. As you can see, I used a tree cookie cutter for the batch above. I used the extra dough that was left at the end to make a star. It looks nice considering that I made that by hand. These cookies turned out a little crisper than I would have liked, but it was more of an issue that I with my oven than the recipe.

I remember making these brownies because there was nothing tasty to snack on at home, so I decided to make myself a little treat. Although I don't recall brownies being made from scratch at my house, it wasn't too far from dumping some powders and liquids into a bowl and mixing them together. I used this recipe since it seemed to be getting pretty good reviews. They were called "Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies", but I decided to stick to a plain brownie mixture. I actually really enjoyed these brownies since they turned out moist and fudgey at the end and stayed that way for several days afterward.

This is the point where I would have created a collage featuring the cream puffs that I made, but I unfortunately did not take any pictures because I was preoccupied at the time. I used this recipe because I happened to already have all the ingredients at home. However, I did choose not to make the chocolate glaze in this recipe. Making the batter for this recipe was fairly quick and simple, but dropping the right amount of batter onto the baking sheet was not nearly as simple. Since this was my first time making it, I had no idea how this was supposed to be done. The recipe said to use a fourth cup of batter for each puff at least three inches apart from each other. I really should have used a measuring cup, but instead, I tried to estimate it using a spoon. Because of that, I ended up with some large cream puffs. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I wish that they were smaller. It would have made the next step in the recipe much easier. While the puffs were cooling, I started to make the cream which basically involved me standing there for ten minutes, beating heavy whipping cream. After the puffs were done cooling, it was time to pipe the cream into them. The cream can actually be inserted into the puff in two different ways. You can either slice the puff in half and put the cream in between the two halves, or you can create a small hole at the bottom of the cream puff and pipe the cream in through there. I felt ambitious that night, so I decided to try piping the cream in at the bottom. The way to tell that the cream puff is full is when you start to see the cream bursting out of the puff. This was not an easy task, and by the end of the night, I never wanted to see cream again. I actually ended up with a tub of extra cream after I was finished, but I think it was due to the fact that my cream puffs were too big, thus using less of the cream as there were fewer cream puffs to distribute it through. Except for the fact that I made them too big, they turned out quite well. I might even consider making them again.

The next things on my list of things to bake include Oreo cupcakes, tarts, and peach cobbler.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hello Summer

Another school year has come and gone, and it's now time for that two and a half month period of relaxation and unproductivity. After disappearing from the blogging world for over half a year, I suppose I owe an explanation to the readers. Over the past year, I experienced this period in life called sophomore year, the year that everything starts to hit you. In between all the homework, tests, and projects, there were clubs and... that was pretty much it. I'll never understand how I made time for anything else.

In terms of school, there were several fun aspects and events to it that made life have it's ups and downs. On the funner side, there were football games in the autumn, the ISA Charity Basketball Game featuring Wong Fu and friends during the winter, and a whole bunch of banquets in the spring.

In terms of baking, I actually did pretty well. I made quite a few butter cookies, cupcakes, and even cream puffs (yeah... maybe I'll talk about that in another post). In addition to that, all of them turned out well. Mission success.

In terms of crocheting, I also did adequately. I only had time to make a few small things like penguins, and I made a Minnie Mouse hat over winter break. (Hopefully, I'll put up pictures soon!) Recently, I have been crocheting Pokemon and anticipate trying to make other things like a beret or maybe even a cardigan. The possibilities are endless, and there is still an entire summer ahead of me.

In terms of astronomy, there was very little stargazing or research. I went out once and other than that, I only noticed whenever the moon was full. Staying up late did not equal stargazing. I'm hoping to rekindle my love of the night sky this summer, but that summer unproductivity is hitting me hard.

Well, that pretty much covers my year unless you want to hear about how I suffered slept did in my classes. With the summer before me, I am looking forward to working on my hobbies, looking at colleges, and... studying for my SATs. Oh gosh, don't hit me yet junior year. I was only a sophomore just a week ago. Anyways, I'll try to keep this updated. Happy summer!

Image courtesy of