My Lipstick Collection: October 2016

As far as natural lipsticks go, they don’t last for an extremely long time – 18 months to two years – and I like it this way. There are so many opportunities to use the beautiful colors I own, and I’d rather have perishable lipstick than lipsticks bathed in chemicals to preserve them which last for years. Frankly, I’d be weary of using these. You put these colors on your lips, ladies.

Hence, I wear natural and as-non-toxic-as-possible lipsticks. These are all the lipsticks I own and wear, not counting samples:


Burt’s Bees Lipsticks

Juniper Water

 

 

 

 

Magenta Rush
Magenta Rush
Lily Lake
Lily Lake
Ruby Ripple
Ruby Ripple

Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick

Vintage Merlot
Vintage Merlot

Pure Anada (old formulation – now they are formulated with rosehip seed oil and castor oil)

Sienna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silk Naturals Velvet Matte Lipsticks

 

 

Red Apple Lipstick

 

Mayberry
Mayberry
Back to the Fuchsia
Back to the Fuchsia
Coral Crush
Coral Crush
Wine & Dandy
Wine & Dandy
Ravishing
Ravishing
Plum Sexy Crazy
Plum Sexy Crazy
After Hours
After Hours
Ooh La La
Ooh La La

On My Wish List: Lily Lolo Filthy Rich Eyeshadow Palette

Lily Lolo's new Filthy Rich eyeshadow palette - just in time for fall
Lily Lolo’s new Filthy Rich eyeshadow palette – just in time for fall

As far as non-toxic eyeshadows go, many people immediately think of colored powders in tiny jars and a bit of a mess as far as application goes. Although I do like the eyeshadow samples I’ve received from Pure Anada and Silk Naturals, I not-so-secretly prefer the ease and convenience of pressed. (On a side note, Pure Anada does offer pressed shades you can customize into your own palette, and Silk Naturals offers a pressing kit which is not for the faint-hearted.)

However, pressed natural, non-toxic eyeshadows are not as ubiquitous as non-toxic lipstick, and if you do happen to find them, many times prohibitively expensive (ahem, Kjaer Weiss), especially for a mother of three ready for a steady writing job.

After some research, you can imagine my joy when I discovered Lily Lolo’s eyeshadow palettes! Lily Lolo is a natural and non-toxic cosmetics company based in the UK.  I’ve been eyeing Laid Bare and Smoke & Mirrors since spring. At $34 for 8 little shadows, they’re a bargain, especially when you consider the quality of the ingredients. From the description:

“Organic botanicals, Pomegranate oil acts as an anti-oxidant while Manuka oil is anti-bacterial.  Silky and creamy consistency   Oil free, Non-drying, comfortable formula suitable for all skin types.  Non-comedogenic, allows skin to breathe easily.   Winner of the Green Beauty Bible Award.  Does not contain chemicals, bismuth, talc, or dyes (FD&C, Lake).   Vegan Friendly.  GMO-Free.  Gluten Free. Organic.  Preservative Free.  Fragrance Free.  8g”

This is quality stuff, gals.  I was game, but I couldn’t decide which palette to choose. I contacted Lily Lolo and I received a quick response.  Happily, the company was coming out with new palettes for the holidays.

Luckily, fall 2016 is here, and Lily Lolo features a brand new palette: Filthy Rich.  Oh my shadows, this palette is just what autumn ordered. Aptly named, it contains rich bronze, copper, sumptuous chocolate, and gold.

Compact enough to stick in your purse
Compact enough to stick in your purse

These colors are beautiful and versatile. I find this comparable to Laid Bare, only better for me, as my skin is medium-deep tan. I can see pulling these off for daytime as well as glamming it up for those fall and winter parties.  Some reviews claim these eyeshadows are not extremely pigmented, but Lily Lolo offers an eyelid primer to increase both wear time and depth of color.

Check out the swatches on a fair hand – gorgeous, no?

Lily Lolo Filthy Rich eyeshadow swatches
Lily Lolo Filthy Rich eyeshadow swatches

 

Analyze My DNA, Please – Part II: Results Are In!

When people look at me, they can’t quite tell where I’m from. Most people guess I’m Hispanic, but my parents are not Hispanic. At least not for a handful of generations. Quite a few people have guessed I’m Indian. I’d never heard of any of my family members I knew of which were from India. A few even assumed I was a vegetarian, which I’m most definitely not.

Then I received my Ancestry.com DNA results. The company had been good at communicating every step, and my results were no exception. I received an e-mail which looked like this:

 

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-34-06-pm

 

I was thrilled! I couldn’t wait to see what my heritage was. As far as I can remember and listening to family histories, my family has been from Aruba. Aruba is a Dutch Caribbean island, with a wide variety of mixed populations. As a result, we were all mixed so much we were not all one ethnicity or race. As my father, who sometimes got mistaken for Japanese, used to quip when Americans asked him what race he was, “the human race.” It never was and continues not to be an issue where I’m from. As far as family histories go, I suspected Native American (South American, that is), European, and African origins. I had no idea in what proportions.

Ancestry has a professional and crisp presentation where you can see a pie chart and see the breakdown of your DNA percentages. The map on the right shows you the locations where your ancestors came from.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-53-39-pm

The bulk of my DNA, as it turns out, is 58%. I’m 58% European, which I find interesting. This is further broken down into percentages as follows:

  • 16% Western European (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany are in this admixed region)
  • 12% Iberian Peninsula (comprised of Spain, Portugal)
  • 11% Irish (this was a complete surprise!)
  • 8%   Great Britain (Yes! I’ve always been somewhat of an Anglophile)
  • 6%   European Jewish (I wasn’t aware of this either. Region includes Poland, Belarus, Lithuania)

The ones I don’t really count, as they’re 2% or less, are:

  • 2% Scandinavia (you would never tell by looking at me)
  • 2% Italy/Greece (my son was really thrilled about this – he’d love to visit Italy)
  • <1% Finland/Northwest Russia

All this and we’re only on Europe! I was somewhat disappointed with “western Europe”, as this group can be so many countries, including Switzerland, Austria, Germany, etc. I suspect I have Dutch and German on this side, but I was curious to see if I had any French, for instance. Apparently this particular region is so admixed, it’s difficult to discern the countries – as per Ancestry.com. I’m thrilled and happy to see all the others – I was surprised to see I was only 12% Iberian Peninsula, especially when I’m confused so many times about a Hispanic heritage. I insisted I was not considered Hispanic (I did learn Spanish in school and on TV as Aruba almost touches the northernmost coast of Venezuela), but I wasn’t entirely sure. I thought maybe 20%, but it turns out the Iberian side is much smaller.

Next is Native American. I’m 26% Native American, which I’m super excited about! I’ve always been intrigued by and sympathetic towards Native Americans, whether in the US or South America. Ancestry.com cannot break this down further yet, so unfortunately all I have is an enormous region which spans North America all the way down to South America – the information Ancestry gives you about Native American is as follows:

“Your genetic ethnicity estimate indicates that you have ancestry from the region that is home to the indigenous people of the Americas. This vast region stretches over two continents to include the rugged territory of Alaska and Canada, mountains and plains of the United States, dry valleys of Mexico, tropical jungles of Central America and South America, and the Patagonian steppes of southern Argentina and Chile.”

Considering my geographical location combined with my limited family stories, I deduce I’m from South American heritage, and likely descended at least partly from the Wayuu [tribe] in the Paraguaná and Guajiran Peninsulas.

Next one up is my African heritage, which I’m proud of.  It’s so cool to be made up of many different races! I have 14% African heritage. This percentage is further broken down like so:

  • 7% Benin/Togo
  • 5% Nigeria
  • <1% Senegal
  • <1% Ivory Coast/Ghana

I had no idea of this breakdown! All I knew is my great-grandfather was half black. It’s fascinating to see the specific countries in Africa which tend to have a match for my particular African strain.

Lastly, I have only 2% Middle East. A fellow passenger on a plane once told me the last name Eman, which belongs to one of my great grandfathers, comes from the Persian “Imam”, which means something like leader. It’s exotic to think I could have Persian origins. Albeit only 2%, it’s cool to think he was right and it’s in there.

At least now I know I’m not from Indian heritage. I do enjoy Indian food, though.

The Magnificent Seven Movie – More Like Terrific Seven

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt leading the cast of this year's Magnificent Seven
Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt leading the cast of this year’s Magnificent Seven

It takes guts to remake a classic movie, and Magnificent Seven (1960) is the classic western with Yul Brynner as the leader of the band and now legendary badass Steve McQueen. The Magnificent Seven itself is a western version of the iconic film Seven Samurai (1954). The latter is considered one of the best movies of all time. The late Roger Ebert sings its praises here.

The question is, did we need another remake? Sure, it’s fun to see who is who if you’re a fan of the 1960 version. Antoine Fuqua sure had some big shoes to fill. Did he succeed in superseding the previous version? No. However, this was not Fuqua’s goal at all. In fact, as a fan of westerns, he has directed The Magnificent Seven as if the other never happened, in the 21st century, which places it right where it should be.

The Magnificent Seven was entertaining, quite violent, had some tense moments and heart . It oozed charisma and bravado, and the cool factor was present. However, it had two flaws – two major flaws.

One, some of the violence and action, although technically well-executed, felt forced and unnecessary. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet (watch it! It’s entertaining), spoilers ahead.

Why did the main baddie save time and money and instead of hiring 200 men use the Gatling gun to begin with? It would have been far more effective and with infinitely less loss of life on his side. Scores of guys fall dead in one shot, and Chris Pratt’s Faraday gets shot repeatedly and still doesn’t die. This was pointed out to me by my thirteen-year-old son.

Secondly, going back to 1954’s Seven Samurai, the film is a piece of art and a part of its culture and time. It’s a story of honor and sacrifice for the greater good – in short, the collective is more important than the individual. The Magnificent Seven is based on this story. It also has its heart honor and sacrifice. Although the 1960 version is less about the collective and more about the individual, it was all about the honor. Doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do, not because it involved a reward or revenge or satisfaction of some sort.

This leads to the major flaw in Magnificent Seven. The whole time you’re watching the movie you’re admiring these men for their bravery and self-sacrifice;  then Denzel Washington’s Chisolm tells the main villain Bartholomew Bogue as he’s about to do justice  kill him, he’s also responsible for murdering his mother and sisters.. Nobility apparently needs a reason in today’s day and age – does it?

Clean Dozen: My Current Top 12 Nontoxic Beauty Brands

I’ve recently gotten into natural, non-toxic make-up -henceforth makeup for ease and convenience. In my quest for truly non-toxic products, I found natural means different ingredients to different people. Others are concerned about being cruelty-free – a worthy goal – but without caring much about the safety of beauty products for general health. Others are the opposite. Ideally, all beauty products would be cruelty-free and non-toxic, but until Monsanto gives up its hold on US agriculture and Trump’s hair looks great, we have to settle for sleuthing each and every product we encounter.

I also learned natural doesn’t mean products are going to be good for skin or not toxic for you. There are plenty of toxic, natural ingredients in nature – poisonwood oils anyone?

As a result of my research, I came across multiple brands I had never heard of. I also saw some familiar ones. Origins is not as non-toxic as I’d thought previously. This is a brand I’d been using for years, albeit sporadically as just recently, at the ripe old age of 39, I started using makeup regularly again. Why, you ask? Why the sudden interest in makeup when I wasn’t interested, since my first makeup experiences in early adolescence? (With the nasty smells and icky applications of the early nineties, that past interest died a quiet death.)

It all started when I received Origins trial skincare sets for my birthday. So exciting! I’d mentioned I loved Checks & Balances frothy face wash and I was only too glad to start using it again. It’s the best face wash I’ve ever used. It leaves my skin feeling clean, refreshed, not dry, and a little goes a long way. I bet that trial size is going to last me six months.

My Origins gift also includes Andrew Weil skincare products, which smell fine with essential oils, but stings my skin. After washing my face every day, I felt so clean and moisturized. There was this ball coming up soon and alas, my Origins makeup was too old. Off to get new makeup. The subject of my budget-conscious (hastily made) natural make-up choices is best left for another post.

This post is about the natural, non-toxic brands I was exposed to and I either ordered (first three) or I’m ordering samples from in the near future (the rest):

  1. Honeybee Gardens (ordered samples, currently using several lipstick colors, including Burlesque, and the mineral pressed foundation)
  2. Red Apple Lipstick (several sample shades, including Back To The Fuchsia, plus the Rallye Lip Balm)
  3. Pure Anada (ordered several liquid foundations and two lipstick colors, including the shade Sienna)
  4. Lily Lolo (haven’t ordered yet, but intrigued by company – and it’s British!)
  5. Alima Pure
  6. Pacifica
  7. Silk Naturals
  8. 100% Pure
  9. Axiology
  10. Zuzu Luxe (eyeing the eyeliner – see what I did there?)
  11. Nudus (Dirty Diana lipstick shade is to die for)
  12. Burt’s Bees (drugstore brand with an organic line and some good products)

Analyze My DNA, Please: Ancestry.com DNA Kit

Registering

What’s my background? Analyze my DNA, please. As a person of a veritable cornucopia of mixed ancestry and a family history with sketchy records, I’m really curious about my heritage and what ingredients make up me. I’d seen results telling people percentages of heritages all across the world, and I wanted in. I’m also curious if my background includes every single major race out there.

I had registered with Ancestry.com years ago, but only managed to turn up a few records as most of my family’s archives are from another country and at a time and place when officials kept sloppy records.

Coming back years later, I see Ancestry.com has more capabilities and a much wider international reach. I had decided a few years ago I’d have to check my DNA. The process was simple – I went on the site, logged in, clicked on a few buttons, and ordered the $99 DNA kit. When you order the kit, you also get a discount on the Ancestry.com general website. International costs quite a bit more and right now, unfortunately, I don’t have much time to dedicate to unearthing my complete family tree, so I opted out.

Receiving

The DNA kit got here fast – in just over a week, I received the package. Inside, there’s a collection bag, a small test tube, and instructions. It was exciting to open it!

ancestry

The instructions boil down to this:

  1. Register your number on Ancestry.com so it knows your identity when you send in the DNA kit. You’d have to register with the site if you haven’t created an account yet.
  2. Do not eat for 30 minutes before you begin collecting your DNA sample.
  3. Produce plenty of spit (I mean it) to fill up to the black line on the test tube.
  4. Shake the test tube to release the blue liquid encased on the top of the tube into your sample, which will preserve your DNA’s integrity.
  5. Insert tube in collection bag.
  6. Insert collection bag in included mailing box.
  7. Mail box back to Ancestry.com
DNA
Can you see the tube? Now my saliva looks a bit blue because of the solution

Waiting

I’m supposed to get my results in 6-8 weeks. On August 15, I received an e-mail from Ancestry telling me the company had received my sample and encouraged me to add branches to my family tree.

Update

DNA2
It’s all in the bag: DNA all set and mixed up with solution to preserve it

 

Yesterday, August 31st, I received an update saying Ancestry is busy running my DNA through the lab. It also provided a link where I could log in and check on my progress. There I see the lab has been processing my DNA since yesterday. There are tabs indicating: Activated – Arrived – Processing – Done. Only the last tab is unmarked, so all I have to do is wait. While I wait, there’s another link that takes me to a video which shows you what’s happening to your DNA as you wait.

 

 

Processing DNA

 

 

On My Son Turning Thirteen: A Note

Son, I’ll keep this brief as I know though you like to read very much, you vastly prefer tales of dragons and adventure, and I’m afraid what I have to say won’t be as exciting – but just barely.

You see, you are turning 13, and although I can blink and see you as a toddler with hand dimples instead of knuckles firmly grasping a Little People figure, you are transitioning into a (very) young man right before my eyes.

Although thirteen can be and is a wonderful age, it can also be a bit heavy. The weight of thirteen shouldn’t just be yours to bear. Know your mother and father are here not just as parents and not merely friends but confidantes and coaches to support you through this sometimes baffling stage named adolescence. Don’t be afraid, be not ashamed, but be assured that, for millennia, these changes have been happening to millions and millions (and millions) of people. You are not alone. Whether you like it or not, you are.. not alone. In fact, we have braved these changes ourselves and son, all the adults you see have experienced these changes themselves.

Let the inside changes always command your attention more than the outside. Watch your thoughts, guard your affections, your attention. Hold fast to your values as you explore other points of view. Grow upwards, but maintain roots deep into the soil you were born into. This is where your character is nurtured and where you cut off the parts which are no longer desired and no longer needed. Let this sacred gardening be your main purpose as you mature and become the human being God intends you to be.

Happy Birthday, B. Mama loves you so very much.

 

Planning for the New School Year – The Fourth Grader’s Schedule

What would I do without my trusted Mac laptop?
What would I do without my trusted Mac laptop?

August means hot, sticky weather, and planning for the new school year. The cicadas and I have been abuzz, but for different reasons – I’ve been researching, choosing, and formulating plans and schedules.   This is what our fourth grader’s  schedule is shaping up to be for the 2016/2017 year*:

Mondays – Thursdays

  • Breakfast poetry and literature read-aloud
  • Math drill
  • Math explanation + 2 worksheets
  • Geography
  • English
  • Science
  • History
  • Independent work (while I work with her older brother, who’ll be in 7th grade this year)

Her independent work today consists of:

  • Poem memorization (same one I introduce at breakfast)
  • Spelling City with lists I prefilled
  • Duolingo Spanish
  • Rosetta Stone Spanish
  • Penmanship practice
  • Reading for 45 minutes minimum
  • Play US History app and Stack the States app

Fridays-

  • Literature discussion at breakfast
  • Poetry recitation
  • Math drill
  • Math on the computer plus one worksheet
  • Science
  • History
  • Art

Extracurriculars-

Monday afternoons she  has Music enrichment class at the local public school.

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons she has taekwondo. She’s working on attaining her green belt.

Wednesday afternoons she has STEM class at the local public school.

Saturday mornings she has horseback-riding.

Sunday mornings she has religious education on the computer.

 

I’m excited about this school year! Are you?

 

*disclaimer: I don’t operate by time, just approximate times. As long as all the work gets done we’re terrific.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation Samples Are In!

The Opening Ritual

Few things are as electric to me as receiving a package in the mail with samples. It’s like Christmas in August! I ordered Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation samples a few days ago – they came in quickly, and I’m pleased as a peach. As soon as I’m safely in my locked bedroom inner sanctum away from the kids and the noise, I open up these beauties. I like the packaging already – neat and cute, with the a-P distinctive of Alima Pure:

DSC_0452

Here they are outside the packaging:

DSC01019  DSC01021

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation Find Your Match

Pretty, aren’t they? Alima Pure has a vast array of Satin Matte Foundation shades, 45 to be exact! How to choose? The site is easy to navigate and Alima Pure has a couple of choices. You can order a special 10-shade set which the company has procured for you for $24 when you click “Find Your Match” – below. You choose from the sets, which are numbered 1 through 8. When you order a set you get a kabuki brush and $10 off on your full-sized Satin Matte Foundation when you have determined which shade is your match. 

Find Your Match

 

 DSC01023  DSC01025

How I’m Going to Find My Match

Alima Pure also sells individual samples for $1.75 each. Since each full-sized satin matte foundation is $28 and I was already close in determining my shade, I chose the latter option. I took my time picking out the right shades. I have medium-deep olive/neutral tan skin which means it can be tricky to find the right foundation. I am from very mixed ancestry, which I’m exploring. Ultimately, I selected six shades:

Beige 5, Beige 6, Neutral 6, Neutral 7, Olive 2, and Olive 3

The other reason I didn’t go with the $24 offer was that curiously, all of these I had selected were not included in one 10-sample Alima Pure curated set. For instance, with my complexion, I would have picked either Set 5 or 6. These are what is included in each set:

Set 5:  Cool 5, Cool 6, Neutral 4, Neutral 5, Beige 5, Beige 6, Warm 5, Warm 6, Olive 3, Olive 4

Set 6:  Cool 6, Cool 7, Neutral 5, Neutral 6, Beige 6, Beige 7, Warm 6, Warm 7, Olive 4, Olive 5

I know I’m not of a cool undertone, so the two cools would have been wasted on me. I’m not warm either, as warm in other foundations I’ve tried tend to look orange on me. I’m either neutral, olive, or beige. I selected beige if neutral or olive wouldn’t work out. It’s sort of my backup plan.

Since last week Alima Pure had a sale coupon, I used this to get 10% off on my sample order, which brought my own carefully selected six-shade set to $9.45.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation Samples

Trying Out The Mineral Powder Foundation

I can’t wait to try all of them out. So far I’ve already tried Beige 5, which has lasted all day and miracle of miracles, my face has not shone all day! I’m usually slick as an oil well by midday, but so far, so good. Must be the kaolin in it. My skin looks polished and sophisticated. I didn’t even use finishing powder as I wanted to test the actual foundation’s staying power.

The samples are cute and generous, and if I have to guess, I could use each sample at least 5 times.

Beige 5 Shade

As far as color is concerned, I feel I can find a better shade as it looks as if it’s slightly off in color, but it remains to be seen when I compare it to the other shades. The change I saw while putting it on was ever-so-slight, but I’ve been squinting my eyes to really see which foundation will be my perfect match. To offer a comparison, I’ve been using Pure Anada’s Niagara Fawn shade, but I feel my shade is closer to something between Pacific Tan and Niagara Fawn, if this only existed in pressed form.  The closest match to date has been Pure Anada’s Medium Pressed Sheer Matte Foundation.

Why Alima Pure?

In my quest to only use non-toxic and truly natural products, I’ve narrowed down a set of ingredients which I avoid. Alima Pure has none of those, and I’m happy to see it uses only high-quality ingredients.

Conclusion of First Look at Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation

Anything with matte in a foundation’s title is going to get my attention. I appreciate Alima Pure’s choice of 45 shades as women of mixed ethnicities (as I am) most often have a hard time finding the right shade.

Five Things You Should Consider Before Buying A Planner

Planner Time

Remembering things have never been my strong suit. As my life gets busier, I know I needed more than the nearly constant beeping – mostly ignored – of my cell phone. Digital has its advantages, but it’s not for me. A big picture gal, I need:

  • to see everything in front of me – writing, chores and errands.
  • place to journal about how the day went
  • plenty of writing space
  • a long section for a to-do list
  • paper planner

Being a homeschool mom of three kids of varying ages and starting a freelance writing career, I’m busier than I’ve ever been.

A quick Google search and there’s a whole universe of paper planners: from scrapbook style to bare-bones day-of-the-week from thirty years ago. What I thought was going to take half an hour turned into an epic quest rivaling Indiana Jones’. Days and many hours later, I have found my planner.

I found searching for the right planner involves more than choosing from one list at one site. The first step is to consider what kind of planner you prefer. This involves asking yourself some key questions and visualizing what you’re going to be using this planner for.

Here are five things you should consider before buying a paper planner:

1. Which style suits you best?

Ring-bound with refills, wire-bound, book-binding. Does a gorgeous cover and personalization à la Erin Condren matter to you? Could you care less about decorating your planner, do you just want some empty lines on good paper? Do you want to buy a whole new one, or keep reusing a cover and just buying refills like Franklin Covey?

2. Which format?

Monthly at-a-glance style planners, weekly vertical, weekly horizontal, plenty of space for to-do lists? Maybe you need to pare down your to-do list and need more space for appointments. Perhaps you’re a free spirit and don’t mind customizing your own bullet journal?

3. What budget?

Some planners sure are pretty, but they can cost you a pretty penny. How much are you willing to pay for a paper organizer? Is it worth it if you are motivated enough to use it day in and day out? If it’s going to frustrate you because it’s so expensive and you’re not using it nearly as much you thought you would, you’d be better off starting off with something simpler. Remember, presumably, you’ll need one yearly. Sometimes it takes a few years to find out which one is your ideal planner.


4. Wait, do you already have a cover lying somewhere in your house?

Chances are, you may have bought one in the past – Day Timer covers and others work with other refills just fine. In my case, after searching around in my own home, I found two covers – one compact one and a Franklin Covey Classic (5.5″ X 8.5″). Looking at how small compact was, I knew I couldn’t use this. My handwriting is large, and I like to write plenty of notes.

The Classic is nice – dark brown and leather, and more importantly, the right size. I decided I needed to at least seriously consider the possibility of using Franklin Covey refills.

The best part is, you don’t need to commit to your cover’s manufacturer. You could search on Etsy and google “printable planner refills” to build your planner the way you want to.

5. Search on YouTube for planner videos

You’ll see people giving reviews of their planners and showing you how they use it. Short of seeing it in person, there’s nothing better for size and style comparison than seeing someone holding the planner you’re eyeing. Oftentimes, the reviewer will show you how he customizes it to fits his own needs. She will show you her categories, how she organizes the planner, and sometimes how to break the rules. Hint: You don’t have to write neatly in the space provided, and you can use the margins to jot down quick notes.

All these tips helped me in my discovery of my chosen planner. Let me know if they help you.