Hair Raising Reviews!

I’m getting quite behind on my review type posts so expect a some more in the next few days!

I’ve been using these two products, both from beauty boxes – Wen Sweet Almond and Mint Cleaning Conditioner from the July JulyBox, and C:EHKO Intensive Care Shampoo from my July GlossyBox.

Let’s start with the Wen conditioner.

Now, I must say that I took it literally when it says that it’s conditioner – meaning that I used shampoo before using this. I guess I’m not so good at reading instructions… You’re meant to use a small amount, add a splash of water and massage it into your hair, then comb through and leave for up to 5 minutes.

Now it could be because I used shampoo before this, but it really made my hair dry. It made my hair dry and frizzy and it’s not been in such a bad state in years and years. The smell was ok… Kind of fresh.

Because I wasn’t having much luck with it, I decided to give it to my friend Candy, who has gorgeous hair (which deserves its own blog) and he looks like a boy from a manga he’s so pretty. Candy used it correctly, because he’s not doof like me, but he also said that it didn’t work so well in his hair and wasn’t any better than the normal stuff he uses. He said he liked the smell, but it didn’t last so long.

Considering that this product is pretty expensive, neither of us would buy it.

Now onto the shampoo!

C:EHKO seems to be a German brand. On the English part of their website, they say of this shampoo -

Intensive Care Shampoo with a deep-penetrating formula provides care even while shampooing. High-quality active agents and the AMICONE®-COMPLEX give new vitality and freshness. The hair is left smoothed and reconstructed. Adds a marvelous shine.

The first thing I noticed about this was that it’s pretty thin. I know a lot of haircare products are trying to cut down on the crap in them right now so I assume that’s the reason behind it. It doesn’t lather up very well either. The second thing I noticed was that it smells like Tutti Fruity sweets! SCORE! It does kinda make me happy to smell that in the shower.

As for making my hair shiny… when used (incorrectly) with the Wen conditioner it didn’t do so well. But paired with a hair mask (to undo the Wen mess), someone asked me if I’d had a hair cut because my hair looked so good. I reckon if used with a decent conditioner, it would be really good.

According to the website, it’s a good 14 euros, so I don’t know if I’d repurchase it – but the shampoo I’m using right now was 20 euros so I guess it’s not out of the question to spend that much! If I did, I’d buy the whole set, though.

Have you used either of these products? Let me know if you have!

 

Karaoke for Dummies

Last week I was kindly invited to karaoke by a a friend at work – from a group I don’t usually hang out with. It was super super fun and I’ll do another blog later about the different places where you can do karaoke in Frankfurt but I thought for starters a post on karaoke itself might be useful.

I was sat with a few people who hadn’t been to karaoke before, so, as karaoke queen (I LOVE it…) I gave them a few pointers, which I want to share with you in this post.

Now, you’re thinking I’m being silly. Karaoke is karaoke. Get up, sing. That’s it, right? Wrong. Karaoke is an art. You need to follow very delicate rules to ensure that it’s a success. And with these, I’m not talking about pub karaoke – this is your typical Asian karaoke place, where you have your own room.

1. It’s not a singing contest.

In my experience, the people who can sing really well – I mean, really well – are the ones who are the most boring to hang around with at karaoke. They’ll usually choose obscure songs that no one has heard of (more on this later) just so they can show off their voice. When this happens, everyone in the room will be doing something else and no one will be paying attention. I’m not saying don’t pick songs you can sing well – I’m saying put enjoyment of the song over how well you can sing it.

And for those who aren’t that good at singing – it’s no big deal. I can’t sing very well either (at stage school as a kid I was the worst student in my singing class…) The key is to find good songs to fit your voice (which sounds contradictory to the previous paragraph  …) that are still fun to sing. Try to find songs that you can sing with someone – so you can guarantee at least one other person in the room will know that song and it’s not just you being on X Factor. For me, my “warm up” song is actually a song very few people have ever heard of, but the nature of the song is that I call on people while I sing, which involves the people around. The songs I can sing well are the Frank Sinatra- type songs. These also tend to be crowd pleasers as well as suiting my voice.

2. Pick your songs wisely.

This is a tricky one, especially if you don’t know the crowd very well. Sometimes the group will be a ‘modern songs’ group, sometimes 80s hits will be better. Sometimes you’ll luck out and get a group that has a really varied musical knowledge so you can sing loads of different stuff – the guys on Friday knew a load of stuff so it was nice to pick older songs and have people appreciate them. If there is a song you really love then by all means try it out on your group. I have discovered many songs I now love from people singing new songs there. But if people are playing mainly 80s pop and you whip out some Adele, you can expect the mood to be broken a little.

3. Don’t alienate people with too many foreign songs.

You can sing some Japanese/Korea/whatever songs? Awesome. If you are living in that country then it’s a nice way to up your language skills and share some of your adopted country’s songs with your friends. However, if you are not in that country and you are the only person in the room who understands that language, it can be very boring for all your friends.

4. Don’t hog the mic.

This is easier said than done sometimes. Especially at the start of the night when no one is putting in songs. It was easier in Japan because we could pass the little machine around and everyone was forced to put something in. Here it’s often the case that you have to go up to the machine, so it’s easier to pop 3 songs in at once there.

5. Learn your limit and respect others’.

Karaoke is fun. But there gets to be a point in the night where it’s just groups of people shouting. It’s usually around the 1am mark. That’s when I leave. There are other people who stay until 4am. I have one tantrum-prone friend who often gets really upset if people leave before the first train in the morning. I cannot do this. 2am is probably my limit. Deal.

6. Bohemian Rhapsody is for late in the evening, and is for everyone.

There are some songs that are not “your” song to sing. You put it in, yes. But put that mic down. There are some songs that are for everyone to sing equally. Sit back, join in with everyone and enjoy.

As I read back through this, I realise I sound really mean and bitchy. I take karaoke seriously. We used to be *so* good at it in Japan, and used to do themed karaoke all the time – like 90s only, Christmas only, or ‘shiritori’ (a Japanese game where the last letter of the word before has to be the first letter of the next word… so with karaoke you could have – Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Tubthumping, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Nothing Compares To You…)

Let me know if you have some karaoke rules that you and your friends follow!

Barry M Wink Marker Eyeliner

When I was back home a few months ago, I went to Superdrug and just ran round there like it was Supermarket Sweep. One of the things I grabbed was this Barry M Wink Marker Eyeliner.

Now, here’s the thing. I suck at makeup, but in particular I suck at eyeliner. I just can’t ever get it right. I can’t get the thickness right, or the angle at which to hold the eyeliner.

Until I bought this. This changed everything.

This is what “they” say about this product -

“Barry M’s Wink is a liquid eyeliner pen that is set to revolutionise your makeup routine. The thick felt tip nib enables you to achieve varying thickness by adjusting the pressure and the angle of the pen, giving you a professional look”.

I completely agree with all of the above. This is the eyeliner for people who are crap at using eyeliners – ME! It’s so chunky that it’s not totally fiddly or anything, and it’s build-able too, so it’s easy to layer for a more striking look.

I bought this a few months ago and it’s just coming to the end of its life now. Luckily, I’m back in London on business the week after next so I can pick up another one!

Barry M was just starting up when I left for Japan, so I don’t really know many of the company’s products, except for the pots of loose powder. Can anyone recommend anything else I need to pick up from the brand?

 

Bubble Tea – Lilly and Willy

 

We are slowly running out of bubble tea places to try, but I remembered that there is one up at the top of My Zeil shopping centre – Lilly and Willy.

 

Tiny bit blurred, sorry about that.

They had quite a few choices here, which was nice. But it was obviously aimed at children – not the “fun Asian” type of place, nor the “healthy choice” kind of place either. The man serving (a big burly man in a girly apron) let us taste test our drinks to see if they were sweet enough first, which was a nice touch.

I had coconut and tapioca (my favourite combo) and Dove had mango milk with passionfruit bubbles.

Here are our scores for Lilly and Willy (rated /10)

Price – 8

Range – 7

Taste – 7

Drink – 6

Bubbles – 7

I think this is actually the lowest scoring place we’ve been to yet. BUT there is one thing that will make sure we go back – INNUENDO! From the “Willy size” drink size, to the girl with the “I love Willy” t-shirt… this is a place to go back to!

 

You can find Lilly and Willy on the top floor of My Zeil shopping centre.

GlossyBox July (Germany)

 

My GlossyBox came super early this month! Yay go team!

However, when I opened it… I wondered if half the contents had fallen out along the way somewhere… Here is what my box contained -

Figs & Rouge Lip Balm

This is the only thing I’ve really used from this box so far. I love the packaging (though it’s hard to open) but the product is pretty nice. I’ll do a full review hopefully some time this week.

Kenzo MadlyKenzo perfume

A tiny sample. I tried it and it’s very strong… I’d say it’s more of a winter smell than a summer one. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Lancaster After Tan Maximizer

After using their SPF 50 cream from last month I don’t really have any tan to maximise… Like I said before I don’t like tanning so much. I guess I’ll get round to using it some time…

OPI Nail Polish

This was hiding in all the paper in the box, and it’s barely visible in the box since it’s a dark colour. This is a sample of one of the shades in OPI’s new Germany Collection. It’s a dark grey. I’m not sure how or when I’ll use this, either…

Sans Soucis Brilliant Every Day Lip Gloss

GlossyBox keep giving me colours that are very dark… I wonder if I told them I prefer dark colours by accident… This is a dark red, which would be awesome normally but I have a very small mouth and thin lips so this is not the thing for me at all. I did try it though, and it smells nice, and has a nice quality to it. Maybe I’ll use it for one of my Mutiger Montags!

Overall

Apart from the lipbalm, there was nothing from this box that I wanted to use right away. There’s nothing to get excited about. I’m going to give GlossyBox one more month and if it’s another disappointing box next month, I’ll switch over to Pink Box. Glossy just don’t seem to be thinking along the same lines as me when it comes to beauty. It may be a cultural difference, but it’s still not what I want to be spending out on each month.

Scenes from Frankfurt 26.08.12

The old Hako shoe shop is currently being pulled down. It’s kind of scary to see such a damaged building in the middle of town.

Free hugs from Korean Christians.

It always makes me laugh that “black music” is a kind of music in Germany. What happens if a white person were to sing black music? Would it still be black?

Some street artists on Zeil.

Lazy day watching the goings on along the river.

The cutest little puppy dog!

The beer bike is in full swing!

More Balcony!

 

The weather has heated up this past week here in Frankfurt, so my plants are a LOT happier! This chappy above (I don’t know what it is – I threw away the packet for the seeds – but actually I’m cool with it being a surprise!) is probably my most successful plant right now. I put him in a much bigger pot as well and he’s doing really well.

 

I have two other mystery pots – one is strawberries and one is another kind of flower. Both have tiny little shoots right now so I’m really pleased.

 

I put the daisies and another plant into this long pot. The daisies are not happy and are slowly dying. I hope they pick up (daisies are pretty strong, right?) but the one in the middle is really strong.

 

I planted these ages ago and they are just starting to come through now. I hope they play nicely with their neighbours!

My little urban garden is going pretty well I think. I just hope they progress enough by the time it gets colder again.

As I was taking these, there was a proper commotion going on below. There was an ambulance, this fire van and emergency doctor as well as 2 police cars downstairs. Surprisingly, I hadn’t heard any sirens – they LOVE putting them on along my road.

 

More Fish! Leib and Seele Restraurant

 

After the walking tour, we were all pretty hungry so I suggested going to Leib & Seele – a German restaurant near to Hauptwache that I’d been to once before.

You can find it behind Sports Arena in town, so it’s pretty easy to get to. Despite this, it’s never really a go-to place, and I think it should be!

 

The menu is pretty varied – last time I was here I shared a fish platter with my friend. This time I had the shrimp schnitzel, which is (believe it or not) my first schnitzel since moving to Germany a year ago. I was imagining the shrimps to come on top of the meat, with some sauce maybe and some salad. But, as I always fear, it was a big plate of stodge… of well! This IS Germany! The shrimp was inside the meat. My friend had the baked potato which looked lovely. They also have various other things like chili con carne, meat dishes and other German favourites.

They had my favourite beer, as well – fruit Schofferhofer. This time I went for the prickly pear.

I am all for campaigning for this to be the new go-to German restaurant. It’s mostly outside seating so it’s awesome in the summer, the staff are pretty good, the food is great, and the prices aren’t that bad. What more could you want from a German place?!

 

“My city. My beer: Binding” – given the number of expats here, is Frankfurt really anybody’s city?!

You can find Leib and Seele at Kornmarkt 11 60311 Frankfurt, behind Sports Arena.

Strange Questions from Japan

As you may know, I used to live and work in Japan on the JET programme. During my few years there, I lived in the countryside – nothing but rice fields and mountains. The most beautiful place. But I was the only white person in my village – there was a Brazilian family and quite a few Chinese who worked at the factories nearby.

I just read a really interesting blog post by new Frankfurter Roots, Wings, and Other Things about questions American people ask her about Germany. I really hope that some of the things on that list are exaggerations!! It made me think back to my time in Japan and the funny things my Japanese friends and coworkers used to ask me.

Though it’s not a cultural question, coming in 3rd is this one exchange that happened in a class I was teaching along with my favourite Japanese co-worker, Mrs I. She’s retired now, but has so much passion for English – as soon as she retired she went back to university and started studying English again! Anyway, this happened in a 2nd grade class – kids around 12 years old. Mrs I was explaining all the different ways the work “by” can be used… “get this done by 2pm”, “I went by train”… when one boy put his hand up.

“Mrs I, my dad says that ‘by’ means when a man loves women but also men as well. Is this true?!”

Mrs I looked bewildered – she’d never contemplated such people existing before – and turned to me, expecting a reply. Luckily I was saved by the bell…

In at number 2

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the students of the school have to take out 20 minutes to clean the school. I say clean… it was mainly lazy, useless efforts of general doing-stuff and rarely benefited to how clean the school was. There isn’t any hot water in the school except for the one hot water tap in the teacher’s office, which is turned off in summer. I have another funny story about how I had to explain to my current 30 year old Japanese roommate about why we have to clean things with hot water, because Japanese people just don’t get it… They wash their hands in cold water after going to the toilet, they clean things with cold water… even their washing machines use only luke warm water at best…

I digress.

So one day I was helping the children sweep the teacher’s office. Mr S, the humanities teacher who was the only non-English teacher who ever bothered talking to me, came over and said -

“Say, Charlotte! You’re pretty good at sweeping!”

I looked confused, and said thank you.

“Especially since you don’t have brooms in England!!”

After a massive face palm, I tried to explain to Mr S that we do, in fact, have brooms in England – he had thought that because we have carpets, we use hoovers and not brooms. I said that my home back in England is over 300 years old and has oak flooring… definitely not hooverable!!

In first place for the most outrageous thing I have ever been asked, ever, in my life is…

In Japan I was so very, very lonely. After about a year of rolling around complaining about how lonely I was, I decided to go pro-active and go out and find friends. I used the Japanese social network Mixi, went to bars by myself, even went to singles parties and other events that foreigners aren’t exactly welcome to. It was at one of these singles parties that I met a guy called Mi-chan. He was there just because he was the organiser’s friend and not really looking for a girlfriend (the friend who came with me fell for him – a nice guy who baked cakes like a dream AND played the piano like a pro?! Japanese girl’s wet dream!!!)

He invited us (much to my friend’s delight) to his house for dinner the following week. When we got there, we met his lovely fiance… (haha, sorry friend!) and we all made dinner together. After dinner, we were sat down by a motherly woman in the group, who had brought along with her a white board and pamphlets. It was an Amway meeting.

After that first meeting, I didn’t see my friend again, but I made a few friends there in the Amway group and became a solid member of their gang. They knew full well I didn’t appreciate their spiel at the end of the activities they planned. But I was always happy to go along and learn cooking with them or have them do my makeup, and then I’d just go and help clean up the kitchen or something when they started to talk the members of the group into buying ridiculously expensive pans, or average makeup products. In return they got to be a classy section of the Amway club – they had their very own foreigner!

At one of these meetings (actually, it was the one where we all had our eyelashes permed… yes, this is a thing…) I met a woman who turned out to be the mother of one of my students. We became quite good friends, and I went over her house a few times for the meetings, and we were often at the same events together (much to the embarrassment of her son). After knowing her for about a year, we were at a BBQ together when she came to me and said -

“You know, I’ve wanted to ask you something ever since we first met… is it ok if I ask you? Uhm, so, you know how Japanese noses are very small… and foreigners’ noses are very tall… and you have that ridge thing in between your eyes at the top of your nose that we Japanese don’t have? Well… because of that part of your nose, do you have blind spots because it blocks your vision?!”

Japanese people are very conscious of the differences between their noses and western people’s noses. It’s one of the things people are commented on the most in Japan. But this…

I never minded when people asked me stuff like this – after all, it was my job to interact with normal people who wouldn’t get the chance to speak with foreigners. I just find it so funny to see myself as a foreigner through their eyes.

If you’ve ever been asked something crazy paving by people from other countries, I’d love to know!