Saturday, June 06, 2015

Gambling With Magic Cards - My Modern Masters 2015 Experience So Far

Good morning, dear readers!

Here is another MTG post.

So this spring Modern Masters 2015 was released.  It was a very hyped up set, from the beginning.  Eldrazi?  Awesome.  Elesh Norn?  Sweet!  Bitterblossom, Vendillion Clique, Daybreak Coronet, Karn Liberated, Tarmogoyf, Iona, Cryptic Command... a super awesome bunch of cards.

Then, when all was said and done and the whole set was spoiled for us to see, there was a lot of "meh" from the fans.

There were a lot of rares that would not get you your money back, and the chances of getting those was high.  (I know that not every Magic fan views the game from such a financial standpoint, but this article is more about that side of things.)

I know that is the case with pretty much every Magic set, but the thing is, (while it depends on your location), each pack of MM2015 costs about three times the price of a normal pack of magic cards.

So while, say, a pack of Dragons of Tarkir will sell for $5 Can. or so, Modern Masters 2015 sells each pack for $15 Can..  And sure, you are guaranteed a foil in every pack (and so an extra card), but most of those will be commons or uncommons that aren't worth a whole lot.

A while back The Mana Source did a video unlike most they have done, where they reviewed the value of the set and whether or not it was worth it to buy a box.  While the math isn't perfect as cards fluctuate wildly and they aren't taking into account the teensy chance you have of getting a foil mythic that is worth hundreds of dollars, basically it boiled down to about 19% chance of actually making your money back in pulls for each pack.

Those are terrible chances!  Not only that, but I heard that the quality control wasn't so good for this set, so one man opened two boxes and had one that was repeats and repeats of junky cards, and the other had a bunch of good ones.

But!  Like the Magic fan I am, I like to gamble now and then and buy packs to see if I would get something spiffy for trade, sale, or altering.  (Believe me, this is NOT always the best idea.  But it can be fun now and again!)  And this time it actually paid off!! :O

I bought a total of 5 packs over the past two weeks, three of which I gave to my Dad, and two that I opened for myself.  So that is a hefty chunk of change right there.  My Dad also gave me two packs, so in total I opened 4.  The first pack sadly had a junk rare that I can't remember, as I opened it last week.  The three packs I got my Dad had junk rares.  The three I opened yesterday for myself:

Pack 1:
First had Indomitable Archangel (worth about $0.85)
Gorgeous card, but yiiikes!

Pack 2:
Tarmogoyf (worth about $174.99)
SAY WHAT!

Pack 3:
Ghost Council of Orzhova (foil) (worth about $4)
Fulminator Mage (worth about $20.45)

Needless to say I was pretty ecstatic over the Tarmogoyf.  I don't usually have the best luck in pulling amazing cards, but this time I was very lucky.


You rarely will make back what the card is worth, so while it would cost you $175 in store to buy a near mint copy, if I sold it to a store I would get around $125-130ish tops.  So, I am selling it to someone else in the community for a solid $145.

I know this isn't a foil Tarmogoyf (worth about $350!), but I am still making back what I spent on those packs ($75) + $70.

A part of me says: use the money to buy more!  And the more rational side of me says, "no, you aren't going to get any more great cards, don't waste your money!!'  The chances of me pulling something that great again are pretty much non-existent.

Should you buy into Modern Master 2015 as a collector?  It depends what kind of collector you are. If you are looking for only some of the cards, it is a risky gamble. It's a gamble that I was fortunate enough to benefit from, but if I continued trying my chances I doubt it would be worth it.  You'd most likely be better off just going and buying the particular cards you needed than trying to open them, and packs of MM are very expensive.  If you are trying to collect the whole set, then it makes sense wanting to open some packs as every card in the whole set is one that you want to have.  However it will still be an extremely expensive set to collect.

Is it worth it to try and get money cards?  I don't think so.  There is such a minute chance of getting something that you are much more likely to be throwing money away than making it.

Now if you are drafting, that is a whole other matter.  But that is also a $35+ draft, so it's not for everybody.  If you are my friend Mike, it's worth it, because he aaaaaaaalways pulls the best cards.  Aaaaaalways.  It really is uncanny!

I know that probably most of my readers don't play Magic, but for those who do, what are your thoughts on Modern Masters 2015?

Take care and have a beautiful day!

-Ash


Friday, June 05, 2015

Lush Love Lettuce Fresh Face Mask Review

Good morning, dear readers!

Today I'm going to be reviewing Lush's Love Lettuce fresh face mask.



This retails for $6.95 for 60 grams (or you can bring in 5 empty Lush black pots and get it for free!).

"Balancing mask for all skin types

Love Lettuce is our exfoliating ground almond mask that scoops up dirt, oil and debris and washes it all away. Exfoliation is an important part of good skincare, as it removes the buildup of dead skin that can clog your pores and cause impurities. Love Lettuce is a great example of how just a few ingredients can make a fresh, effective product for the skin. We blend calming French lavender oil with seaweed and honey to nourish and soften skin, and to balance oily T-zones." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Agar Agar Gel (Gelidium cartilagineum) , Kaolin ,Honey , Fullers Earth , Glycerine , Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Ground Almond Shells (Prunus dulcis) ,Ground Almonds (Prunus dulcis) , Lavender Oil (Lavandula augustifolia) , Chlorophyllin , *Geraniol ,*Limonene , *Linalool , Fragrance



This has a delightful green colour to it, which makes me happy as I think of it as a classic face mask colour.  XD  You can definitely notice the scrubby bits in it, and you can exfoliate your skin while applying it (and removing it).


(You can see my bottom snaggle teeth! XD)

You leave this on for 5-10 minutes, then remove it.  I used a yellow face cloth; it could very well come out with more scrubbing, but I think there was a wee bit of green staining on the cloth when I was finished.  Again, this could come out in the wash, but to be on the safe side I recommend using a cloth that you don't mind getting a bit stained in the worst case scenario.

The lavender fragrance is lovely, and the added notes from the other ingredients really help to bring about even more of a relaxing spa feeling.

Afterwards, my skin was soft and dewy.  It wasn't dried out at all (which a lot of masks can do), and it had a moisturized look to it.  There was a bit of redness, but I attribute that to the scrubbing, and that my skin is really sensitive.

I quite enjoyed this mask and my skin feels clean and refreshed!  I will enjoy using this again, and if you want a really relaxing mask that can exfoliate and doesn't strip your skin, I recommend it! :D

Have you tried Love Lettuce?  Are any other Lush fresh face masks your favourite?

Have a lovely day! :D

-Ash

Thursday, June 04, 2015

MTF Forest Alter - The Unicorn in Captivity

Good morning, dear readers!

A few weeks ago I did a forest alter for Magic the Gathering, and I wanted to do the Unicorn in Captivity tapestry that I have loved for a very long time.  So here she be:


The whole painting took about 5-6 hours if I remember correctly.  

I took progress photos while I was working on it:

There are things that I didn't add, like the chain and the initials around the tree, and there are differences because there was only so much detail I could fit into the card and copying exactly would have taken me months.  But I am happy with how it turned out! :D

I am actually working on another one and I sold this one shortly after finishing it.

I hope you have a wonderful day! :D

-Ash

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Face Shop Sseal Escargot 24K Gold Cream Review

Good afternoon, dear readers!! :D

Today I have a slightly more unusual review for you: The Face Shop's Sseal Escargot 24K Gold Cream.  (Whew, that was a mouthful!)




Last year around Christmas The Face Shop was having a really great sale, so my sister and I picked this up while we were there.  It was actually my sisters Christmas gift to me, as I really wanted to try it, and it was bloody expensive.  Not as expensive as so many other products that are available these days (La Prairie Cellular Cream Platinum for $1000+?  Nuuuupe!), but still pricey enough with a hefty around $100-ish price tag for 50 ml. (I am seeing it listed online for cheaper now, but I don't know if those are legit.  Anyway, it was that expensive in store.)  Thankfully they were having a half-off sale, so it wasn't as bad.

I'd heard things about snail cream for facial care, and I love trying all sorts of things to get my skin in better condition.  So, naturally, I really wanted to test it out (yay snail goo!).



This cream consists of 60% filtered snail mucous, and then there are the 24K gold flakes. Fancyyyyyy!  (I admit, I like feeling fancy!)

Along with the jar, you get a small plastic scoop, which is great in that you don't have to scoop the product out with dirty fingers and contaminate it.  However, I lost mine.  >.>



The cream (although I'd call it more of a smooth gel, than anything) has a lovely fragrance!  I know that a lot of people aren't fond of fragrance in skin care, and I don't blame them.  It really is an unnecessary additive that can cause skin irritation.  I do like a good fragrance though *shifty-eyes*.

The gel-like texture has visible gold flakes in it, that disappear into your skin when you rub the cream on.  They are preeeetty!

 (I tried to zoom into a photo to show the flakes more, but it's kinda blurry)



INGREDIENTS: SNAIL SECTRETION FILTRATE*GLYCERIN*WATER*CYCLOPENTASILOXANE*DIMETHICONE*DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL*BETAINE*PROPYLENE GYLCOL*SORBITOL*CYCLOHEXASILOXANE*BUTYLENE GLYCOL*PANTHENOL*SODIUM HYALURONATE*GOLD*SPIRAEA ULMARIA EXTRACT*THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) EXTRACT*AMMONIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYLTAURATE/VP COPOLYMER*CITRUS PARADISI (GRAPEFRUIT) EXTRACT*HYDROGENATED LECITHIN*CAPRYLYL GLYCOL*POLYMETHYLSILSESQUIOXANE*LAURYL DIMETHICONE/POLYGLYCERINE-3 CROSSPOLYMER*ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER*STEAROXYMETHICONE/DIMETHICONE COPOLYMER*XANTHAN GUM*POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE*DISODIUM EDTA*FRAGRANCE

From what I could gather with research:

Snail secretion filtrate = filtered escargot mucus
Glycerine = hygroscopic (attracts water molecules from surroundings) simple sugar alcohol compound, used to improve smoothness, provide lubrication and is a humectant
Water = aqua!
Cyclopentasiloxane = slip agent, emollient
Dimethicone = silicon oil (polymerized siloxane), silicone based polymer, emollient, slip agent
Dipropylene glycol = fragrance carrier, viscosity decreasing agent, solvent
Betaine = an amino acid which functions as a humectant and anti-irritant
Propylene glycol = slip agent, humectant
Sorbitol = sugar alcohol (while obtained from fruits, most comes from corn syrup), humectant, thickener
Cyclohexasiloxane = silicon based polymer, emollient, solvent, skin-conditioning agent
Butylene glycol = organic alcohol, humectant, skin-conditioning, solvent
Panthenol = alcohol form of vitamin B5, moisturizer, lubricator
Sodium hyaluronate = sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, humectant, skin-conditioning
Gold = gold
Spiraea ulmaria extract = meadowsweet extract, skin-conditioning agent
Theobroma cacao extract = cocoa extract, skin-conditioner
Ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate = emulsion stabilizer
Citrus paradisi extract = grapefruit extract, skin-conditioning
Hydrogenated lecithin = surfactant - emulsifying agent, skin-conditioning, suspending agent
Caprylyl gylcol = skin conditioning, emollient, humectant
Polymethylsilsesquioxane = opacifying agent
Lauryl dimethicone/polyglycerine-3 crosspolymer = surfactant, emulsifying agent, solubilizing agent, viscosity increasing agent, skin-conditioning
Acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer = emulsion stabilizer, viscosity increasing agent, film forming
Stearoxymethicone/dimethicone copolymer = viscosity increasing agent, emollient, skin-conditioning
Xanthan gum = sugar based polymer produced by bacteria, emulsion stabilizer, binder, skin-conditioning agent, surfactant, viscosity increasing agent, gel forming
Potassium hydroxide = caustic inorganic base, pH adjuster
Disodium EDTA = viscosity controlling
Fragrance = mystery smells!

It sounds like this would be pretty moisturizing!  However, on me, it isn't.  :/  It doesn't dry me out, but it doesn't really do much in the way of adding moisture into my skin either.  There is a film on the skin right after application, but within the hour it is pretty much absorbed.  And while my skin is a little softer to the touch, it doesn't feel super supple.

After application it adds a slight sheen to the skin making it look more moisturized:



I don't feel that it is drawing much water into my skin.  I find that when I am using the cream, my skin gets a tiny bit flushed on the apples of my cheeks, almost as if I applied a bit of blush.  (It doesn't show up in flash photos well but in my bathroom mirror it is much more obvious.)  Maybe that's the 'radiant' I get with this? XD

I also don't find that it plumps my skin up much, and my fine lines look pretty much the same before and after application.  It really doesn't say that it is an anti-ager, but creams that really moisturize your skin do tend to make them look younger.

Continual use of this product (more than one day) causes my skin to start breaking out in those tiny pimples, so I can't say how well this helps the skin in the long term. :(

Overall I'm very glad I got to try this, and if I use it only one day at a time and not several in a row I am fine, but I don't find that it provides the benefits necessary to justify the price tag.  While it is certainly possible that I could get much better results with continued use, my skin won't allow me to do that.  Also, the regular moisturizer I use provides results even after one application!

Have you tried any snail creams before?  What are your thoughts?

Take care and have a wonderful day!

-Ash


Monday, June 01, 2015

Sun Awareness Week

Good morning, dear readers! :D

I was recently contacted by Oscar Insurance (whom you can find more about here), and was informed of National Sun Awareness Week (June 1st-June 7th, or June 1st-8th depending on the organization).  

I think sun protection is extremely important, so after some conversation with them, a blog post was created to bring more information available to my readers.

Even though we all know that sunlight can be very damaging, many of us still disregard these warnings and do little to protect ourselves from ultraviolet radiation.

I like using the longer term, as the shortened "UV rays" doesn't sound as bad as the reality of what it is: radiation.


(Image from here.)

Skin cancer is a very scary and very real danger, and I personally know at least two people who have had it.  One of my family members is one of those people, and while he was lucky and had the non-life threatening kind, he still had to have surgery and now has scars on his face from where they had to remove it, and from where they removed and added skin grafts.  Not only that, but it's actually come back since then :(.

It's easy to go about life thinking that the terrible things that can happen in the world won't "really" happen to us, or those close to us.  But I've personally known at least 5(!) people who have had different types of cancer, several of which are family, and extremely sadly, one of those people (my grandmother) died from it.  I don't know a huge amount of people, so having that many diagnosed with cancer out of the relatively small group of people I know is really saying something.  This is a very real and very serious risk that is only getting more and more prevalent in the world today.

Not only do we have the life-threatening risks, but ultraviolet radiation promotes skin irritation, premature aging (wrinkles! sunspots!), and cataracts.

So what can we do?  Work on things to make ourselves healthier, and at a lower risk.  I know this sounds funny coming from someone who has had a history of smoking for 16 years (don't even get me started on that), but that's even more reason for me to protect myself from the Sun's rays, as I've already exposed myself to the ridiculous dangers of that horrible habit.

Some of the ways I avoid sunlight is by wearing big hats and sunglasses, sunblock/sunscreen, and taking my daily walks either in the evening, or really early in the morning instead of when the sun is at its zenith, and when the ultraviolet index is at its highest.

I'm not a saint, I've been known to be lax on wearing sunscreen, and I know that I need to improve that.  Last summer I didn't wear it, and even though I didn't go outside in the sunlight very often, the times I did resulted in a big influx of freckles! :O  If it did that to my skin, enough that its effects were that visual, what else was it doing in invisible ways?

One of my favourite sunscreens is Banana Boat Sport Performance 50+ spray (the one that says Powerstay Technology TM).  

(Later edit: I saw the EWG saying that several sunscreens have bad ingredients, and some of the Banana Boat ones were on that list.  For the main two ingredients listed as being dangerous, retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone, those are not present in this particular spray (at least not here in Canada where I purchased it).  

I know there are mixed reactions for EWG's reviews as some believe that they have a political agenda or that they don't investigate things as well as they should and are quick to slap a hazardous tag on things.  I'm not sure either way as I am personally not a chemist and do not have all the information on studies.  I suggest doing your own research to tell what products and ingredients are good for you and you are comfortable using.  

An example for EWG's rating system would be "fragrance", which is listed at a very high hazardous rate of 8.  While I know that fragrances can be made with dangerous ingredients, not all of them are, and as companies generally don't have to list exactly what they use in their fragrances there is no way of telling how hazardous it is without the recipe.  So while they could definitely be made with hazardous materials, they aren't always and automatically putting the "danger" at a level 8 without actually knowing the ingredients is incorrect.  While I understand that it is important to be on the safe side, they could be mislabeling perfectly good cosmetics.  

Another reason they listed the spray sunscreens as hazardous is because of the higher possibility of inhaling the product, and I do agree with that.  It is very easy to do, so if you do use them, I suggest using them outdoors and while holding your breath/walking away after spraying to get out of the "cloud".)

For those of you who hate thick and sticky sunscreens and sunblocks, Japanese brands tend to be a lot more watery and lightweight, and I would suggest giving those a try.

More things you can do:

If you have noticed any changes in moles or skin, don't hesitate to bring it up with your GP, who can recommend a dermatologist.  Early detection is a literal lifesaver!  

Keep an eye on the weather network, as it uses the ultraviolet index to inform the public about when UV rays are at their highest in the day, and if possible, plan around spending long times outside at the peak.


(Image from here)

When you buy sunglasses (protect those peepers!  Cataracts and cancer are NOT fun!), make sure that they protect against both UVA and UVB.  Did you know there are UVC rays as well?  Luckily, these are filtered by Earth's atmosphere (in particular the ozone layer), so right now none of the UVC rays reach us.  



(Image from here.)

Make sure that you are applying the right amount of sunscreen to your body (most people don't apply enough).  According to skincancer.org, the proper amount is about "two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimetre of skin" which is "the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body - a  nickel-sized dollop to the face alone.  If you are using a spray, apply until an even sheen appears on the skin.  Remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently after swimming, heavy perspiration, or towelling off."

Be sure to protect yourself at all times of the year.  You may be covered up in the winter, but especially for any skin that is exposed, the UV rays can still reach you.  In fact, they bounce off of snow and ice and then you get more from all sorts of directions.

What do you like to do to prevent sun damage?  What are your favourite sunscreens/sunblocks?

Have a wonderful (and safe!) day! :D

-Ash

Products I'm Really Enjoying Right Now

Good afternoon, dear readers! Today's post is about some of products that I've been enjoying lately!  Swatches (where applicable) ...