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Reviewer Dr. Beth (Ph.D.) RSS Feed (Upstate NY USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (#1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

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Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
by Judith Lasater
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.16
56 used & new from $7.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book about bringing the teachings of yoga into everyday life, August 23, 2015
I have been aware of yoga instructor Judith Hanson Lasater for some time and in fact own all of her practice-related yoga books. However, it wasn't until I entered a yoga teacher training program that I became interested in this book of hers as well, and I picked it up at a used book sale this past spring. (Note: I actually have this version--Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life Living Your Yoga--which was the original edition, not the second edition featured here.)

I'm actually glad that I waited until now to read this book, as I don't think it would have resonated with me to the same extent at an earlier point. I have been practicing yoga for close to 14 years now, but it's only really been in the past few years that I have been searching for ways to be more "yogic" in my life OFF the mat. This is the focus of LIVING YOUR YOGA. The subtitle is "Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life," which may feel off-putting to some--what does it mean to be spiritual? To put it very simply, it is taking some of the philosophical teachings of yoga and applying these teachings to the challenges that we all face in our lives. That is all. Lasater helpful divides these teachings into sections on self, others, and the world, as her book is organized into three parts: "Awakening Awareness: Yoga within Yourself," "Widening the Circle: Yoga and Relationships," and "Embracing All Life: Yoga in the World." Each has seven chapters, and each chapter includes its own "Practice Suggestions" as well as "Mantras for Daily Living."

What is particular wonderful about this book is Lasater's easy, accessible writing style. Personally, I've found some yoga teachers to come across as beautiful people, peaceful and serene, yet seemingly without flaw, totally unlike you and me. Lasater is not at all afraid to show her own flaws, and she does so with great thoughtfulness and much humor. Virtually every chapter includes at least one anecdote from her own life. For example, in the chapter on Self-Judgment, she talks about noticing her own negative internal self-dialogue; she also admits that her son caught her engaging in this dialogue aloud. In Control, she shares several different ways that she struggled with this issue, even suggesting that she has been a "control freak" at times.

When people describe books as "life-changing," I always think that's a bit much; I don't think one's life can be instantly changed by reading any book. That being said, I think that if I follow through on some of the suggestions that Lasater offers in this book, there IS have the potential for positive changes to my life. I am hoping that the teachings of this book will stay with me and that I will in fact "live my yoga" as best I can.


Powerstrike 5
Powerstrike 5
Offered by Fitness Fusion
Price: $27.00
8 used & new from $8.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun moves, but combinations not broken down well, August 23, 2015
This review is from: Powerstrike 5 (Misc.)
I love kickboxing--in fact, it's one of the few forms of cardio that I truly enjoy. Unfortunately, I found this DVD to be disappointing. The moves themselves were fun and the combinations were mostly interesting, but I did not click at all with the teaching style of the instructor, Ilaria Montagnani. In this workout, Ilaria teaches very LONG combinations of punches and kicks. Although she teaches in an "add-on" style, starting with a few moves and then adding on new moves, each time she goes back to the beginning, she does NOT cue the moves! For example, she will simply say "let's start again," and then the reviewer is expected to recall all the moves up to that point WITHOUT Ilaria saying what they are. This is made even more difficult by the camera angles--e.g., sometimes the camera is focusing on Ilaria from the waist up only, so you can't see the kicks that she is doing.

If each combination was short and repeated many times, this might not be such an issue, but as noted above, the combos are quite lengthy. I have described each below. To make matters worse, the combinations are DIFFERENT on each side of the body--in her Introduction, Ilaria says that this does not matter, as you will be doing about the same number of punches and kicks, but it definitely felt uneven to me. All times listed are approximately.

WARM-UP (5 minutes)
Mostly alternating punches front, including jab, cross punch, hook, and upper cut. The front push kick is included as well, but no other kicks are practiced in the warm-up. I set of push-ups is performed at the end.

PUNCHES (7 minutes)
Here Ilaria introduces a long punch combination. The combination is performed for many sets (12-16?) on one side, then repeated on the second side. These are the punches (slashes denote where each piece is added on):
jab-jab-cross / hook-cross / upper-cross / fast 3 right-fast 3 left / jab-cross

KICKS (10.5 minutes)
This was more drills than combinations and was easier to follow. Ilaria begins with a front chamber/front kick. Next is a side chamber/roundhouse, building up to three roundhouse kicks. The third kick was the crescent, starting with alternating knees to the side and then adding in the crescent. Finally, the side kick was performed with a chamber/side kick, then moving on to a double knee/side kick/squat.

COMBINATION #1, LEFT SIDE (6.5 minutes)
knee-double front push kick / opposite knee crescent / walk around, opposite knee roundhouse / squat-roundhouse-knee / double roundhouse / jab-cross hook-cross upper-cross

COMBINATION #2, RIGHT SIDE (6 minutes)
jab-jab-cross / front push kick, 2x / opposite leg crescent / walk around, opposite leg roundhouse / squat, roundhouse x3

COMBINATION #3, face forward (10 minutes)
hi level block to side / mid level block to side / alternating sides with side kicks / karate punches

STRETCH (3 minutes)
This is a very brief segment that includes a low back release, a lunge for the hip flexors, a standing side stretch/backbend, and a standing triceps stretch. It did not feel adequate given the overall length of the workout (over 50 minutes).

I actually liked the moves in Combo #3 the most, but I also found this combination to be the MOST frustrating! Ilaria's cuing seemed almost totally random here, as I could never figure out which side she was going to next; I don't think she worked the sides evenly at all. It didn't help that the music sometimes would drown her out (and on top of that, I found her accent sometimes difficult to understand as well). I will say that Ilaria DID give excellent form pointers throughout the workout. Personally, however, I wish she would have spent more time actually cuing the moves themselves.


Totina Women's Deep-V Neck Elegant Cap Sleeve Pleating Work Dress
Totina Women's Deep-V Neck Elegant Cap Sleeve Pleating Work Dress
Offered by NewSilkRoad Store
Price: $28.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Would likely be an attractive dress for the right person, August 23, 2015
NOTE: I received a free sample of this dress for review.

This is not a bad little dress, but I wound up having mixed feelings about it. First of all, I'm not sure why it is labeled as a "Vintage Bridesmaid" dress--unless you are having a VERY casual wedding, this would not be an appropriate bridesmaids dress at all! It is a simple polyester cotton blend dress (note that although the item description above says that the dress is 95% polyester, 5% Spandex, the tag on the inside of my dress states that it is 65% polyester, 35% cotton). I think that it would be appropriate for most work environments as well as social occasions, depending on your preferred style, but I will say more on that later.

I first want to comment on the sizing of this dress. This dress is described as "slim fit" and "above knee length." Also, it is made in China, where the sizing tends to run small. Given these factors AND following the sizing chart, I ordered a medium, which was supposed to be equivalent to a US Size 8. This is in fact my usual size in pants, although because I am smaller on top, I often wear a smaller size in dresses that are fitted only at the waist and NOT otherwise form-fitting. Well, it turns out that I SHOULD have ordered a size small, as the medium was definitely too large for me. It is hard to tell from the attached pictures, but the dress was large around the torso--in fact, I slipped it over my head without having to unzip the side zipper--and it was BELOW knee length (I am just shy of 5'5" tall).

Next, I want to mention the color. I ordered the dress in Purple, which appears as a nice, bright, saturated purple in the item description. How the dress appears in the photos I have attached is true to color after a SINGLE washing. (A second note: although this listing says that the dress should be hand-washed, the materials that came with the dress indicated that it could be machine-washed, and I did so in cold, via the gentle cycle.) Finally, I'll address the style. I did like the pleating at the bust and the waist, and the v-neck was flattering. However, the overall effect of this dress seemed somewhat matronly to me. I'm not sure what it was--I'm sure I would have liked the dress better if it had fit me better and wasn't too long, but I think that the stand-up collar and the cap sleeves also added to the matronly effect.

I will probably still wear this dress to work, as it will be an easy choice for a workday that will look fairly polished. But I would feel too dowdy wearing this dress socially or for other occasions. For others purchasing this dress, I would recommend choosing size carefully and keeping in mind that the color might not be exactly as it appears on screen.
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Taste Well Home Kitchen Tools - Stainless Steel - Manual Can Opener
Taste Well Home Kitchen Tools - Stainless Steel - Manual Can Opener
Offered by ZALO
Price: $59.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed with the performance of this can opener, August 12, 2015
NOTE: I received a free sample of this product for review.

Although I already own a manual can opener that I like very much, the Oxo Magnetic Locking Can Opener, Stainless Steel, I agreed to review this one. I work in a large department that has its own kitchen, and I thought that having a multi-function can opener could be an excellent asset that I could share with my co-workers.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this can opener upon first use. It was not nearly as ergonomic as my OXO brand opener--although it has a large turn knob, it is a hard, uncomfortable plastic, not cushioned like my OXO. I could live with this, but I was unhappy with the can opening performance itself. Going around the can, the open skipped THREE times, requiring me to re-position it each time. This has NEVER happened with my OXO can opener.

I think the main reason to purchase this can opener would be if you needed the multi-function capacity. Otherwise, I would definitely recommend my OXO or another product over this one.


Suave Professionals Soufflé Mousse, Luxe Styling Infusion Volume 9 oz
Suave Professionals Soufflé Mousse, Luxe Styling Infusion Volume 9 oz
Offered by Jessie's Garden 12
Price: $4.98
10 used & new from $4.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Great product for adding body and thickness to fine hair, August 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have fine, thin hair that needs product added to it, or it just hangs limp. After trying many different options over the years, I have found that mousse is usually the best option for providing my hair with some addition body without weighing it down. At present, I have been bouncing between several drugstore brands of mousse but do not have one I really love, so I was interested in trying this Soufflé Mousse from Suave.

I was a bit wary when I received this product in the mail. First, this was no cap on the bottle (from the product photo, it does appear that this product is supposed to have a cap), and likely because of this, the nozzle was detached from the bottle. I was able to re-attach the nozzle, although it was loose and shaky, and when I first used the mousse, it was overly liquid-y and disappointing.

Luckily, this product did wind up still being usable; although the nozzle was loose, I was able to dispense the product correctly upon subsequent applications. I have found this mousse to have a thick consistency while still being airy--I do think that "soufflé mousse" is an apt description. One good-sized dollop works well for my hair, which is currently about chin length. I have found that this mouse helps my hair to feel thicker as compared to when I am not wearing any product at all. I also like that the mousse isn't too wet, so it doesn't add to my blow-drying time (an issue I have found with other products). Finally, if I let my hair air-dry, it doesn't seem to leave my hair with that "crunchy" feeling, another problem I've sometimes had with other types of mousse.

Overall, I have been very satisfied with this Soufflé Mousse. So long as I can find it in stores for a reasonable price, this will be my new daily styling product.


Dove Advanced Hair Series Silk Crème, Youthful Vitality 3.3 oz
Dove Advanced Hair Series Silk Crème, Youthful Vitality 3.3 oz
Price: $6.19
4 used & new from $6.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice product to give a bit of extra body, control, and thickness to my fine hair, August 8, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Honestly, I was curious about this project being for "aging" hair--I'm not sure if I quite fit that category at age 47, but given that my hair is very fine and straight, it can always use help! I am a bit wary of trying new products, as they can easily weigh my hair down. At the same time, my hair really NEEDS product, as it winds up limp and lifeless without anything in it.

I expected this Dove product to be more of a mousse, but that was my own misconception. It's called a crème, and that is in fact what it is--I would describe it as a styling cream. I saw that some other reviewers noted that the product was greasy, which concerned me, but I actually found this crème to be very clean and light. Since Dove calls this product a "1-step multi-tasker," when I first used it, I decided to use ONLY this product (after shampooing and conditioning). To be honest, I wasn't very hopeful, as I generally need something more substantial in my hair, like mousse. What I found was that this crème added a little bit of thickness to my hair and definitely made it easier to style. It worked very well for letting my hair dry naturally and/or days when I was going to be pulling my hair up.

That being said, I did NOT find this product to be sufficient to use alone for days when I was styling and blow-drying my hair; on those days, I still need to use a more traditional mousse. Even then, however, I have found that a bit of this crème works very well as a finisher to control fly-aways and to give my hair a more polished look. Given this, I would give this crème 4 1/2 stars overall. I will definitely consider re-purchasing, although I expect this small pump bottle to last me a long time, as I don't need to use much.


Lunch with Buddha
Lunch with Buddha
by Roland Merullo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.48
32 used & new from $10.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel to the compelling BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA, August 4, 2015
This review is from: Lunch with Buddha (Paperback)
Last summer, I was luckily enough to stumble upon a gem of a book at a used book sale, Breakfast with Buddha. As I noted in my review of that book, being a regular practitioner of yoga likely made me more open to the Buddhist-like concepts and philosophies discussed in the novel, although I personally do not follow any religion. However, I found BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA to be a thoroughly engaging and frequently delightfully funny read.

Given this, I was thrilled to discover this sequel, LUNCH WITH BUDDHA. This is again a road trip story, and most of the main characters reappear, with one notable exception. The novel opens with resident skeptic Otto Ringling boarding a plane with his son and daughter; they are flying west, where they will join his sister, his famous brother-in-law--the spiritual master Voyla Rinpoche--and their six year old daughter, Shelsa. The family member who is missing is Jeannie, Otto's wife, who has passed away of cancer, and the family trip is in fact to fulfill her wish to spread her ashes.

Once the ceremony has been completed, Otto and Rinpoche are off on another road trip. Although Otto had made some lifestyle changes after his initial encounter with Rinpoche, including meditating regularly, when his wife became ill, many of his old habits prevailed. Feeling bereft after Jeannie's death, Otto is desperate to find some kind of meaning to his life and eager for the teachings of Rinpoche. Although his old friend is more than willing to help, of course his lessons are not always clear cut. For the reader, however, Otto's frustrations often mean a healthy dose of merriment.

There is some darkness in this book as well, definitely more than in BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA. In his discussions of Shelsa's fate, I thought that author Roland Merullo presented an eerily apt analogy for the state of the current world. He also more clearly sets this book up for a sequel, and in fact Dinner with Buddha was just released earlier this summer. I will not be able to resist continuing along the paths with these remarkable characters, so I will be sure to read that book as well.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2015 9:29 AM PDT


Dove Advanced Hair Series Shampoo, Youthful Vitality 8.45 oz
Dove Advanced Hair Series Shampoo, Youthful Vitality 8.45 oz
Price: $4.48
14 used & new from $4.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely scented shampoo works well for fine hair, August 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was intrigued by the idea of trying a shampoo specifically designed for "aging" hair. I'm 47, so I'm not sure if I'm the intended target, but my fine hair, which was always quite oily when I was younger, has a tendency to get dry at times now (although it will still become greasy if I don't wash daily). Also, I definitely have grays popping through here and there.

This is a smaller-sized shampoo that comes in a squeeze tube, not a large container, so you are only getting about half as much product. It has a very pleasant, light, fresh scent. The formula is quite creamy, more like a conditioner than a shampoo. I usually avoid creamy shampoos, as I find that most tend to weigh down my fine hair. However, that was not at all an issue with this Dove shampoo, which seemed to do an excellent job of cleansing my hair WITHOUT leaving it feeling weighed down.

This product claims that when used with the corresponding conditioner, it will "double" the fullness of the hair. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to purchase the conditioner, so I have not been able to test this claim. However, my fine hair--which definitely tends to be flat and thick--does seem a bit fuller and more manageable when using this shampoo. The one thing that might stop me from re-purchasing this product is the price, as it is more than I would usually pay for shampoo, especially for the smaller size. Otherwise, I would not hesitate to recommend this Dove shampoo.


Suave Professionals Body Conditioner, Sea Mineral Infusion Moisturizing 28 oz
Suave Professionals Body Conditioner, Sea Mineral Infusion Moisturizing 28 oz
Price: $4.48
12 used & new from $4.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully scented conditioner that does not weigh down fine hair, August 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had seen this product in the store, and was interested in it, especially given that it was labeled for use with fine hair. I also had smelled it--I won't use hair products if I don't like the scent!--and I really liked it. It is a light, clean scent, reminiscent of a bubbling creek; it really does have a "sea mineral" feel to it.

This particular bottle of conditioner is HUGE, the extra-large size. Although some people think that fine hair does not need conditioning, I find that my hair responds best to a moisturizing yet lightweight conditioner. This Suave product worked pretty well in that capacity, as it did moisturize my hair without weighing it down. The one problem I had with it is that it did not de-tangle my hair quite as much as I prefer. After my shower, I comb through my weight hair, and I had some difficulties doing that when using this conditioner--which is not a good thing, as my fine hair is prone to breakage.

In all other respects, this conditioner worked well for me. Given the lovely scent and great price, I probably would be likely to purchase again.


Colgate Total Daily Repair Toothpaste, 5.8 Ounce
Colgate Total Daily Repair Toothpaste, 5.8 Ounce
Price: $3.47
6 used & new from $3.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Good toothpaste that claims to have additional advantages, August 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Colgate is my preferred brand of toothpaste, and I prefer the paste form. In addition to the usual claims--e.g., cleaning and whitening teeth--this toothpaste is also supposed to help with weakened enamel. I haven't been using it long enough to know whether it is actually beneficial in this area. However, I inherited porous teeth from my parents that have become more prone to cavities as I have gotten older, so I figure that I need all the help I can get! Given this, this toothpaste seems like a good choice to me. If I have anything new to add after my next dental visit, I will update my review.


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