Tag Archives: review

Keystone Conference 2016

SeleenaK_2011-10-21-14.38.17I’m home from yet another fun Keystone Conference and thought I’d share my feelings on this one.

The Good:  The weather in Harrisburg PA was almost summer-like.  The drive, both ways, was nice and it was great to go out each night with just a light jacket or sweater.

Once again, the nice people at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel treated us very well.  I booked a room on the Club Floor, as I always do, because of the little perks available up there and it was fabulous as always.

Friends!  Got to hang with my best event friend Dianne.  She’s made a marvelous recovery from back surgery and was rocking the heels once again.

My Kim and I got to spend a lot of time with our newest friends, D and C! Wanted to bring them home with us and keep them forever .. haha! … but instead we’ll just look forward to seeing them again soon.  (I’d love to post a pic of Dea and I here but will seek her permission before doing so. Update: ‘Permission Granted”!! Photo below)

And that hot chick from Kentucky was there.  It was a pleasure, and fun, to hang with Barbara Ann again.

I got to see Scarlett, from Scarlett’s Makeovers, again.  Should have had her do my makeup but I didn’t.  But I got the word that Scarlett’s Maine Event is on again this September.  But more on that in another post.

with my friend Dea. She’s a hottie, huh? Yes!

The conference lunches in the ballrooms each day were fabulous.  They just get better every year.

The dinner restaurant selection was excellent and the transportation to and from the various restaurants was wonderful.  Carrabbas Italian Grill in Mechanicsburg, watchng the thoroughbred’s race while dining at  Mountainview Restaurant at Hollywood Racetrack and Casino, and gourmet pizza at Bricco … enjoyed them all.

The Not So Good;  Keynote speakers each day were almost intolerable for someone like me.  Who do they think they’re talking to?

US politics was on everyone’s mind and discussing it was unavoidable.  I understand the passion, but not the presumption that everyone there is bend in the same direction.

That feminization lady from New York (I won’t mention her name), who I had spoke so highly of in the past, was snotty to me.  It appears we’ve gone from being on a first name basis to completely voiding eye contact.  I can only assume it’s because I’m not viewed as a potential revenue source.  Oh well.  Everyone comes out of her makeup sessions looking like clones anyway.  haha!

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In Conclusion:  I’ll very likely go again next year,  but I suppose it depends on if my friends will be there.  As much as I love this conference, I’m starting to feel as though this event, like most of the others, needs to work harder for someone like me if they hope to continue receiving my registration fees.

I need a keynote speaker to stand up there and tell us, without being patronizing, that it’s okay … no, more than okay .. it’s fabulous to NOT go full time and to NOT have surgery.  To thank us for keeping our shit together while the few try to push their way into society via legislation.

But I’m going off on a tangent, aren’t I?

Keystone is a wonderful event.  And, in my opinion, one of the best of the big  ones.  You should go!

The dates for the 2017 Keystone Conference are March 22-26.

Secret Lift – Facelift Without Surgery

As the years go by, our appearance changes.  Sometimes the change is barely noticeable and sometimes it’s a little more dramatic.

I keep feeling like the years are not being kind to me but when I look back at photos that are 10 or 15 years old, I become aware that I really haven’t changed all that much.

I have a few age lines, very few actual wrinkles but the thing that has bothered me a little for the last few decades are my jowls.  That droopiness in the cheeks beside my mouth.

I had read about how to minimize the look of jowls, had discussed it with a makeup professional and learned the basics of using the medical tape solution.  But getting the effect “just right” was always a challenge.

So at a recent conference I attended, the topic came up in casual discussion.  A friend (thanks Cynthia!) recommended a product called Secret Lift so I thought I’d give it a try.  “Easy to use and very adjustable” she said.

Her suggested supplier was  Cosmesearch.  Upon investigating, I discovered they had  two versions.  The “original” and the “pro” version.  I ordered the original, and in a shade for those of us with dark hair.

SeleenaK_3021What It Is

Secret Lift  is basically two elasticized face-lifting bands with barbs on the ends and a hook to connect both sides and a bunch of adhesive tapes with a hole for the barbs.  There is also a single lifting band for the neck.

How It Works

While looking at yourself in a mirror, place your index fingers on your cheeks just in front of your ears and gently push your cheek back or up.  Note the effect.  Move your fingers up and down, forward or back and watch the changes to your overall face.  This is basically what Secret Lift does.

My Experience

I spent a minute or two trying to determine my sweet spot while looking in the mirror.  That sweet spot is the spot on my cheek that will give me the most flattering look when pushed back a little.

Once I found that spot, I wiped the area with rubbing alcohol to remove any lotions or skin oil that might negatively affect the adhesive tapes.  Before attaching the tapes, I pushed the barbed end of each of the two lifting bands through the small hold in the tab  part of the tape.  Next I peeled the backing off the tapes and pressed them to my face in the spot I had previously determined to work best.  Getting the tapes in the right spot with the lifting band attachment tabs pointing in the right direction wasn’t easy for me and will likely become easier with practice.  I think I was very close on my very first attempt.

As instructed, I pressed firmly and  rubbed the tapes for 30 seconds.  I didn’t connect the lifting bands together to attain the lift just yet.  Instead I went ahead and did most of my makeup.  When I was almost done, I pulled  the lifting bands together at the top of my head and noted the effect it had on my face.

Pulling too tight looked gave my face a stretched look; not tight enough minimized the effect, but somewhere in between I found the right amount of tension.

Wig cap, wig over the lifting bands and a quick touch-up to my foundation and powder and I was all set.

How did I look?  I looked marvelous! It really did knock a few years off my appearance!

The manufacturer’s short instructional video can be found here.

Now I didn’t go into great detail about the lifting band connection but suffice to say the bands are easy to connect and there’s a lot of adjustment.

The kit also contains a lifting band for a neck/jaw lift.  I’ll try that at some point too and will report back to you on it’s benefit.

That first day, I wore Secret Lift for about 5 hours and was mostly indoors in a very controlled climate.  The next time I used it was while attending an outdoor garden party.  It was a very warm day and I was outside into the evening; about 9 hours in total, and the bands stayed where I put them and there was no issues with the adhesive.

I removed the adhesive tabs when I got home and they had been quite kind to my skin.

The cost of the kit was around $20 including shipping from their Amazon checkout.  The kits included three lifting bands (two for the face and one for the neck) and 40 adhesive tapes.  So that’s 20 wearings when using it for the face only.   Tape refills are $12.95 for 40.

Although the product sheet shows women with their hair pulled back wearing Secret Lift, I can’t comment on how detectable the adhesive tapes would be.  But for a shaggy, hair-in-the-face girl like me, no one would have ever suspected I was wearing it.  And it’s comfortable.  After 10 minutes, I really wasn’t aware it was there working it’s magic.

Just how perceptible was my overall change created by Secret Lift?  When I came down from my makeup room, my darling spouse raised her eyebrows and gave me a “wow! You look fabulous!”

Note:  Next time, I’ll likely try Secret Lift Pro.  The tapes are permanently attached to disposable bands.  About double the cost per unit as the originals and less available adjustment but I do expect them to be even easier to use.

The Ultimo OMG Plunge Gel Bra

SeleenaK_3019crop

I’ve been looking for one of these bras for a long, long time – I just wasn’t willing to pay the UK price (converted to $US and then to $CDN), plus shipping, plus import tariffs without knowing if it would work for me.  But I recently found a listing on eBay and it was in my (rather small) size too!

These bras are designed to provide maximum cleavage (hence the name OMG!) and add up to 2 full cup sizes.  They would typically sell in the UK for the equivalent of around $50 USD.  So I was thrilled, and quite surprised, to find a listing that included,  not one but two, new (with tags) 34AA’s in black.  I bought them both for $9.95 USD plus shipping from New England.  Not that England, this one!

20140715_163136After examining the bra and trying one on, the reason they work became very obvious.  First off, there is no stretch to the band.  If you’ve ever worn a vintage bullet bra, you’ll know what I mean.  It fits tight enough that it will remain exactly where you position it and no flesh can escape past the band.  Had I known this, I would have probably looked for a 36 but by adding one of those bra band extenders, it became quite comfortable.

The cups contain quite a lot of liquidy gel and, although it can move around in the cup freely, gravity tends to cause it to fill the lower part of the cup.  The gel feels cool at first but warms to body temperature quickly.

When I tried the bra on, the third brilliant feature becomes obvious.  The cups are attached quite close together compared to most other bras.   In my case, this pushes a little of the fleshiness that’s just in front of my underarm into the cup.

Update:  It appears Ultimo has discontinued the liquid filled gel bras in favour of an OMG version with regular padding so the discontinued gel bras are on sale!

I’ve never been one to use tape or any type of banding to create cleavage and this bra does a wonderful job creating cleavage all by itself.  So I’m able to wear it with no added “enhancement” at all.

Does it add two cup sizes in my case?  I would say it does not, but it does create ‘plus two cup’ cleavage.  Not ideal when a busty profile is desirable but for the small-boob low cut top look, it’s perfect.

Emma Clark’s MaxCleavage.com‘s “Oomph Guide” rates this bra a “3 – Maximum Cleavage Boosting Power” and I agree.

My breast tissue has only recently grown to the point where I could even consider wearing just a bra so this is my first experience with this type of bra; I’m sure there are other mega cleavage styles out there that work on th20140715_163003e same principle.

The OMG is heavy compare to a standard padded bra;  in my case, 255 grams compared to 60 grams for one of my standard padded bras.

So if you’re a a small-breasted woman or t-girl (or even a large breast person, I suppose) looking for some serious cleavage enhancement, maybe give something like this a try.

Consider going up one band size if you usually wear your bras tight, but be prepared for something quite impressive.

I’ll add a couple more photos to this post when I can so you can see the profile effect but regardless how impressive it  looks from out there, the view looking down from up here is fabulous!  *giggle*

Gal’s Spring Fling

an early morning walkWhat is it?

Gal’s Spring Fling is the premier transgender event  in Canada.  It’s primarily a Gender Mosaic (Ottawa ON) event, with assistance from Xpressions (Toronto ON).  I’m a member of the latter.  It’s more of a social event and less about support and education (which is perfect for this girl) than some of the other events.

When is it?

It’s an annual event held late in May.

Where is it?

Gananoque (pronounced gan-a-NOK-way) Ontario, or “Gan” to the locals, is the host city for this event.  Gan is known as the Canadian Gateway to the Thousand Islands, a scenic area where the Great Lakes, and more specifically Lake Ontario, empties into the St Lawrence River, which connects the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

sitting outside my room

My Thoughts

Although this is closest trans event to where I live, the timing has always been difficult for me.  But this year, the planets aligned and I was able to attend.  And what a pleasant surprise it was!

What really set this one apart for me were the people .. the attendees.  Around 60 of us were in attendance including a relatively large number of significant others.  Friendly?  Yes!  This was, by far, the most approachable group I’ve encountered at a trans event.

Of those in attendance, a couple were friends, I had met a couple more and had chatted online with another two so it wasn’t like I was among strangers, even on the first day.

The town is just starting it’s tourist season so it was pretty quiet.  I sensed almost everyone we encountered were locals, and they were quite welcoming.  A couple of the girls mentioned hearing comments they didn’t exactly appreciate but none were humiliating or confrontational.

The Ramada Provincial Inn was quaint.  Motor Inn style.  Park outside the room; enter the room directly from outside.  The rooms were on the small side of average size but were comfortable and clean.  Not exactly SCC-luxurious outside restaurant at the hotel but they were fine.  The room rate was very good and a full breakfast was included.  Grouping of fifteen or twenty attached rooms were scattered around the rather large property so depending where your room was, the walk to the restaurant or bar  could be substantial, especially in heels and bad weather, but it certainly was not a problem for this girl.

The weather this year included mostly sunny, mild days with rain showers late in the afternoon or evening.

I arrived the day before the event started, got checked in, unpacked and met a small group of girls in the lobby area.  We all went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in town called Riva.    Although dinners were included in with the conference registration, Tuesday night’s dinner at Riva was not but it was fabulous!  In my opinion, the nicest dinner I had all week.  Classy, a wonderful menu with fabulous food and top notch service (although a gentleman a few tables from us suffered some type of medical emergency during dinner and required EMT’s and transport to the hospital.  Hope he’s okay!)

The other (included) dinners were good too, but the service wasn’t exactly impressive at either the Glen House or Ivy Lea Club.

The 1000 Islands boat tour was awesome.  Dinner on the boat while traveling around a gorgeous part of Canada was great fun andtook up most of a sunny and warm afternoon.  Just perfect!

Although I didn’t attend, the free makeup sessions in the cosmetic department at Shoppers Drug Mart were well received.   And the fashion show girls had a great time selecting clothes and getting fitted at Sear in Kingston ON.

Side note about the fashion show;  the organizers like to get first time attendees to participate in the fashion show.  I was to be one of the eight but while talking with a girl I had just met, I sensed that, although she was on standby (the 9th girl in an 8 girl show), she seemed more keen than me to get involved.  So I spoke to Amanda, the organizer, and opted out so the other girl could jump in.  And it worked fantastically well.  She did a great job and had a lot of fun.

Besides .. the event I really wanted to participate in was the Best Legs Contest.  And guess what?  I won!  Quite an honor considering thegetting the Best Legs trophy from Samantha other leggy entrants but my leather short shorts, Wolford hosiery and Santana stilettos surely helped.  I get to keep the trophy at home until next year’s even when I’ll get my name engraved on it for posterity.

The other conference event that always gets a lot of attention is the evening at the Legion.  Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92 puts on a big dinner and dancing evening for us every year.   It’s our best opportunity to mingle with the locals.  Dinner was good and so was the band but honestly, I can’t really get into an evening of dancing and drinking.  And having to drive back to the hotel afterwards adds another challenge.

Finally, the Gala.  The big dinner dance on the final night.  This one was held at the host hotel and is was wonderful!  Food was great and a wonderful slide show during dinner reminded us of the fun we had all week.  And I was able to have a whole lot of adult beverages but again, didn’t dance much.    And, of course, dance music makes it difficult to chat (Listen to me?  Do I sound like an old lady?  haha!)

But honestly, playing footsy under the table in a dark piano bar is more my speed these days.  Did enough dancing when I was young and even survived the disco years so Iwith my friend Pauline‘m just not interested in that anymore.

To this event, I wore my long black skirt that’s “slit up to here”; a sheer black turtleneck under a purple satin bolero jacket  and black sheer to waist pantyhose from Stockingirl.com.  I know .. stockings and a garter belt are my usual legware but there would have been no way to hide my stocking tops with the rather extreme slit skirt and it just didn’t seem like the slutty look was right for this one.

In Summary

GSF is a fun event!  Relatively inexpensive; extremely friendly people, a nice laid back feel, a good motel and held in a beautiful little town.  I came away from this event with more new friends than I ever have at any event in the past.  Did I mention friendly people?

early arrivals group photo after the boat rideYes, if transportation between events was provided I could have hit the wine a little harder.  Yes, registration was a little confusing.  And yes, me and a small handful of others would have preferred a little less dancing but, all in all, this event is a great time.  Although attendance growth is usually a sign of success, I hope this one continues forever and never grows.  This size was just perfect.

My spouse accompanied me to this event and she had a wonderful time too!  So if you’re thinking of attending, and have a supportive spouse, please bring her or him along.

A Special Thank You

It appears that circumstances this year left a single girl with the responsibility of organizing and planning the entire show.  Amanda Ryan, your selflessness and organizational skills were greatly appreciated.   Not only did you do so much yourself, you were totally sweet during the whole event.  I’ve never come away from an event in the past where I felt like I needed to hug an organizer (and never let go) but I did this time.  You’re a special lady and I hope you have the energy to continue to do this forever.

And to my non-Canadian friends, come to Canada!  You’ll have a great time.

 

“Fresh Look” Invisible Stick-On Bra

Cleavage in photo not from the bra being reviewed
Cleavage in photo not from the bra being reviewed

Being a tgirl has it’s advantages (haha!) when it comes to style and the creating the appearance we strive for. We have no life long attachment to our girlish physique and therefore can be very flexible without it feeling weird (lots of irony in that statement!).

I’m a girl who’s always felt we have the somewhat unique opportunity to make the boobs match the outfit .. not vise versa.  Wearing a top or dress that could use a little more “fullness”?  No problem!  Use larger breastforms!  Front buttons about to pop?  Smaller boobies!

Unlike many women, I don’t identify with a particular cup size.  Sometimes I’m a D, sometimes I’m a C and sometimes I’m just me (barely an A).   So it surprises me that I hadn’t paid much attention to those self-stick cup-only bras made famous by Nu Bra and their ads in the media.

But while at an event recently, a discussion about these little wonders and their ability to assist in cleavage creation came up.  “But don’t pay $70 each for one.  Walmart sells them for $20”, I was told.

Harris K Telemacher (Steve Martin): I could never be a woman, ’cause I’d just stay home and play with my breasts all day. – L.A. Story

So shortly after I came home,  the Fresh Look version appeared on my favorite designer sell-off site at 2 for $19.99 (beige and black) so I bought the pair.  Not Nu Bra .. Fresh Look.

Not knowing what to expect and how they really fit, I had no idea what size would be right for me.  Could I wear the bra over breastforms? Were they a me-only deal?  I decided to try a C cup.

Well, it turned out that the entire cup is adhesive inside and quite sticky (at least when new) so I don’t think I’d risk sticking them to $200 forms.

So here goes!  Right after my shower, no lotion this time, I separated the cups, peeled back the protective plastic film on the beige one, turned  it inside out as recommended and aligned the center of  the cup with my nipple. Smoothed it into place.  Did the same with the other cup and connected them via the center clip.

And voila!  Cleavage!  Not my best ever (like in the photo above) but “all me” cleavage without any silicone.  I’m not sure how much of this is due to the fact that my breasts are quite “10 o’clock  – 2 o’clock” but the bra pulled them nicely together.

These little darlings certainly haven’t made me a C cup but for times when a less boobalicious look is preferred, these will work nicely.  They`ll also be perfect under a totally sheer top. No more visible straps or band across the back.

Next time I wear them I`ll be sure to measure them for cup size and will post the results in an update here.  I’ll  also let you know if I get anywhere near the 50 wearings the manufacturer suggests.

And in closing, I lifted my top and showed them to my sweetheart.  She approved, tried to `tweak`my nipples through the bra and bingo!  I got that all-to-familiar hugely erotic feeling that makes me purr and  makes my knees weak.

But that’s a story for another day.