Saturday, November 29, 2008
Bath & Body Works - A slew of products on sale, including four packs of anti-bacterial hand soap for $10. Ends Sunday, Nov. 30.
Cherry Culture - 20 percent off everything with the code TG20. Ends Sunday, Nov. 30.
Kiehl's - 20 percent off online with the code FAMILY or by printing out this flyer and bringing it in-store for the Kiehl's Friends and Family discount. Ends Monday, Dec. 1.
1-800-Flowers - Free shipping (within the U.S.) or no service charge with the code FreeShp25. Ends Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Friday, November 28, 2008
After trying on four or five decent-but-not-fantastic dresses, I came upon this:
It might not look like anything super special on the mannequin but it looks great on me. All three of my friends sitting on a bench in the waiting area agreed, and they have very varied senses of style so I trust the collective judgment. It accentuates my hourglass figure without making me look too busty and smooths out flaws. Plus, I had no little black party dress! This will be great since I can wear it to many different types of functions.
Online at Overstock.com it's listed for $42.50 in a Black Friday sale (normally $49.99). But I got it for $25 + tax, not even on sale! I thought it was a good deal in the store (without sacrificing quality or fit) and this is just icing on the cake.
Now all I need to do is accessorize. Since I don't want to wear all black to a wedding I'm thinking a jewel toned violet shawl with gold paisley detail on the bottom and some metallic shoes. Or...something else. Luckily I have a few weeks to make a decision. Any suggestions?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
And it didn't disappoint. It was a quiet Thanksgiving with important people in my life. This year I have a lot to be thankful for: My close friends and family, my lovable doggies, starting a career, new opportunities presenting themselves, overall prosperity.
It hasn't been the easiest year, and I know the road ahead has many challenges and tough decisions to make. But for the moment, I'm just going to sit in bed with Bon Bon, my Boston Terrier, and be content.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"The Institute calls the calendar "Pretty in Mink," and includes Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and other well-known conservative women. According to the CBLPI's website, the calendar harkens back to a time when "women were a little more feminine, the men a little more charming - and the world a little less politically correct."
The pictures try to evoke the glamor of a bygone era, but personally, I don't think you need mink to do that. I'm not going to stop people from wearing fur coats if they please, because I certainly wear animal products -- specifically, suede jackets and leather sneakers. But there are a few things that seem off to me about flaunting fur.
First, wearing mink strikes me as a very old-person thing. My grandmother has some decades-old fur coats in a downstairs closet, and her mother had some, and my own mother might even have one somewhere in storage. But who invests in a fur coat nowadays when a winter coat from the Gap is as functional, and will leave you enough money to invest in a flat screen TV or pay off some of your mortgage?
I think part of it has to do with changing symbols of wealth and status in this country. A fur coat was a sign that you'd made it back in the day. Fur isn't how people -- other than pimps on TV? -- flaunt wealth today. "It" bags, fancy cars, designer duds, sparkling jewelry...that's more like it.
Secondly, fur smells musty after a while and is susceptible to picking up scents from things like food and smoke. Plus it's difficult to get stains out of and physically heavy. Have you ever tried on a fur coat? It must give those little old ladies wearing them to the supermarket quite a workout!
Third, you're literally cloaking yourself in the pelt of a dead animal. Even as a meat-eating, leather-wearer, it strikes me as a bit weird when I stop and think about it that way. I understand though that there are places where animals pelts are a key part of keeping warm in winter, or where people still hunt and make use of all parts of an animal (more worthy than just hunting for sport, in my opinion), or where fur is part of a long cultural heritage. This concerns me less than photo-shoot fur.
Lastly, I don't think real fur coats give most people a slim silhouette. They may look stylish on a runway or in photos, but they are so bulky to normally wear. Give me a slim wool trench coat instead! Washington doesn't get super cold. (That's a $250 rouge trench from Banana Republic.)
The blogger stresses that this isn't a symptom of everyone who subscribes to conservative politics, though.
"Before anyone slams all Republicans or all conservatives, keep in mind that Richard Nixon publicly praised wife Patricia Nixon's choice of a "respectable Republican cloth coat" over a fur coat in 1952, and that PETA asked animal activists in 1989 to thank Barbara Bush for refusing to wear a fur coat for her husband's inauguration. Animal issues cross party lines, and you'll find quite a few Republicans with high marks on the Humane Society Legislative Fund's Humane Scorecard.
...The decision of the CBLPI and these women to promote fur is clearly a attempt to push buttons and raise the ire of animal activists. By attaching the phrase "politically correct" to the current attitude against fur, they are flaunting their callousness and trivializing animal suffering."
Ouch, harsh. Props to her for calling out what I agree is probably just mostly a stunt to get attention. But as I've outlined earlier, I think there are plenty of other reasons why fur coats probably won't be returning as a major trend in the near future.
Friday, November 21, 2008
-CoverGirl liquid foundation
-Wet 'n Wild lipliner 717
-Red lipstick from a YSL Gold Celebration Palette/"Expressions of Love"
-NYC eyeliner duo in black and gold
-Champagne-colored Revlon cream eyeshadow as base from the Precious Metals quad
-Beige Revlon Colorstay powder shadow from the Blushed Wines quad
-Milani blush in Luminous
-NYX lipgloss in Sunrise
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I usually don't watch much television, particularly on television itself. Shows that are streamed online, however, I can get into. Like ANTM, whose episodes are online at the CW's Web site. This way I can watch shows when I want, when I have time.
Anyway, Top Model is a guilty pleasure of mine. Does anyone else watch it? Elina, the Angelina Jolie-esque, tattooed, Ukrainian-born beauty, and Marjorie, the nervous and super slim girl of French heritage, were my favorites. I didn't even like Marjorie that much at the beginning but she grew on me toward the end. I liked seeing how she transformed from awkwardly shy to starkly intense in front of the camera. Elina was just really beautiful to me, I think she's got a great face, body and style. Too bad she couldn't give her all to the camera.
Personality-wise, Sheena and Jocelyn were two of my favorites. (Check out this WPIX video interview to see Sheena sharing some interesting info about what we didn't see on the show, and elaborating on some issues featured. ) Oh, and I liked seeing Isis featured. Sure, it's a show and they need to push some envelopes for ratings, but even if that's the case, I think it was pretty progressive to have a transgendered woman and address some of the unique challenges she faces while not turning it into a spectacle.
I wasn't overly impressed by the top three though. Analeigh is so pretty and seems sweet - and I kept getting frustrated at Paulina for dissing her face in that subtle, trying-to-be-nice Paulina way - but that appears to be Analeigh's niche, lacking the edginess of a top model.
Samantha, I never fully understood. When she's glammed up or in front of a lens she looks amazing. Her pictures are awesome. When she spoke though...um...That didn't connect for me. I realize there are thousands of hours of footage and of course for the sake of understanding, the show can only explore so much of each contestant's personality, but there were a lot of green, almost dopey comments from Samantha. I liked seeing her pictures but wasn't won over by the way she spoke or carried herself.
McKey, on the other hand, just didn't translate into having a lot of personality for me. I wish the editors would have developed her storyline more -- tomboy boxer who turns into a breakout star? Something like that? She had the most striking and unique look, in my opinion. But other than that, I wasn't captivated by her. Too bad.
And yes, if there's another season I will probably watch! ;)
Monday, November 17, 2008
This photo is of an interesting feature in the Nov. 2008 Cosmopolitan en Espanol. The pictorial is called "Genre Fusion," though 'gender fusion' makes more sense to me since it shows how you can take a handful of pieces and make them work for menswear-inspired looks as well as feminine looks.
I've seen plenty of features on how to repurpose a few items to make several outfits - I really like those, btw - but nothing quite like this, at least not in a while. It really struck me because I love menswear-inspired pieces like suit jackets, vests and shoes, but I also love to dress up and be super girly sometimes. So it makes sense that I'm drawn to a feature showing how to meld the two with some of the same pieces, because I have some from both categories in my closet.
I don't think I'd wear all these specific outfits - for one thing, a frilly-chested tank with a thin belt wouldn't be flattering on my short frame - but the idea is definitely something I can work with. (Outfit titles like "masculine charm," "feminine mistique" and "girl in control" give me something to aspire to, you know?)
Oh, and at the very bottom of the picture you can see my Russian Navy-wearing nails! Great color. It's a dark purplish blue with super tiny red sparkles in it, I mean so tiny you can harly see them unless you look very closely. It's vampy pretty, in the way muted, brick/brownish red lipstick on fair skin looks pretty. It's dark enough to almost look black on first glance but it's way more interesting than black. And I used a Sally Hansen basecoat and the color didn't stain my nails at all. I am glad I purchased it - thanks Maayari for suggesting Trade Secret, I'd never been to one before - and I will definitely wear it again.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I really enjoy painting my nails. As someone who has trouble relaxing, it's a great way to make me relax because it takes attention, care and focus to do a good job. Which is why I make sure, as often as possible, that if I'm going to paint my nails I'm going to try to do it right.
Start with clean hands and nails. This sets the canvas for your new lacquer. Definitely take off old polish. Cotton balls work well, but I prefer using a nail polish removing jar -- the kind with a sponge inside that you just dip your fingers into one by one. These are available in drugstores and will only set you back a few dollars, which is worth it to me because of the ease of use and how they cut down on mess. The bottle to the right costs $2.49 at drugstore.com.
*Acetone vs. non-acetone remover: Acetone is a strong solvent and the fastest way to dissolve your old polish. It's especially good if you're trying to get off very stubborn lacquer or remove acrylic nails (which is a whole 'nother long process that I know little about, but there are plenty of online resources to fill you in. It seems to call for using pure acetone!) Personally, I prefer for non-acetone remover, even if it takes longer to get things off, because it's more gentle on the skin. If you have dry, brittle or acrylic nails, it's probably the better choice for you too.
Shape your nails. Of course, start with a nail clipper if you need to adjust for length. Once you have that, whip out the emery board! I'm partial to those big, $1-2 cardboard ones that are at drugstores and beauty supplies. They are more sturdy than the package of eight flimsy ones you can get for a buck, easier for me to grip and use to shape, and more sanitary/gentle than metal files. Plus, I don't lose them as much as the super cheap ones! For natural nails a finer grit should do the job. I've never used a glass file so I can't speak to that.
How to file? Gently. Try going from the outside of your nail toward the middle, using strokes that only go in one direction. Imagine the file in your left hand. Place the board against the right side of your thumb on your right hand. Glide the file upward, toward the middle of your thumb nail. Then place the board on the inside section of your thumb and file from the right side of your thumb to the center.
The crude Microsoft Paint drawing shows you what I mean. I find when filing is done this way, it's easy to be gentle and not have to tug a lot on your nail. This is an effective way to shape a rounded tip, which is what I like to wear.
Once this step is done, soaking your nails in some warm, soapy water will soften the cuticles and help get out any remaining dirt around the fingers.
Base coat. Important for several reasons: It fills in ridges in the nail to provide a smooth surface onto which the colored lacquer can adhere, helping your manicure last longer; and it protects nails from staining due to chemical reactions with ingredients like formaldehyde or after the application of dark colored polish. I also find that using base coat makes nail polish easier to remove once the time comes, since instead of sticking directly to my nail it is attached to the clear base coat.
The moment of truth -- your color! The best part and the one on which I feel least qualified to opine. Take your time, don't worry about putting too much color on in the first coat, use long, vertical strokes...most of you can probably run circles around me when it comes to this art! Polish applying has become so second nature to me, it's hard to think about verbalizing all the moves.
Top coat. You went through all that trouble and won't seal the deal? Shame on you. Slap on some top coat and call your beautiful manicure a day!
*P.S. Give yourself time to dry. This always gets me. Once I'm done with my manicure and snapped out of the zone I feel the need to go back to doing my normal five billion things, thus putting my nice nails in danger. No no no! Take your time after the manicure. Thirty minutes or an hour is minimum to keep your nails out of harm's way...and 30 is even pushing it, because though the polish might be too dry to transfer onto other surfaces, it is probably still soft enough to be dented by accidental bumps. When I'm careless and my polish is still tacky, I tend to end up with a lot of texture impressions (especially from fabrics). That ruins all the hard work I put in to keep my nail polish smooth, so really, devoting the extra time to being careful is worth it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Victoria and Jason work intently...
I personally had never made spaghetti before...and I really didn't this time. Jason brought his dark blue Kitchenaid standing mixer, for which he has a spaghetti roller attachment and an attachment that cuts the dough into linguine. He did that while Victoria and I made the meatballs.
Flour, water and eggs, baby! Yeah, that's a hanger from my closet.
As for the meatball recipe...Meatballs are very easy and fun to make. Not only that, but the recipe is flexible for varying tastes. The recipe I used this weekend was taught to me by my mother and originally adapted from the recipe of a family friend's Italian grandmother, who brought it over from the Old World:
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- A teaspoon of salt
- A handful of chopped curly parsley (to taste)
- Seasoning such as oregano and black pepper (to taste)
- 1.5 - 2 regular sized jars of tomato sauce
- Half an onion, diced
Don't be afraid to get messy, mash it all up between your fingers! The consistency should be solid enough to form balls that won't slip apart or lose their shape, but not too dry. Even though I list amounts of ingredients above, when it comes to the dry ingredients and parsley it's not paramount that you measure everything to a tee. More important is to eyeball it for texture. The one rule I'd stick with is that you should use one egg per pound of meat.
Heat oil in a medium to large sized frying pan - enough to entirely coat the cooking surface. I'm partial to olive oil. Roll 1 to 1.5 inch-sized balls from the meat mixture and drop them in the hot pan, leaving about half an inch or an inch between each. (You need enough room to flip them all over.) Cook until they are browned on the outside but not totally cooked all the way through.
As the meatballs are done browning, transfer them to a large pot on a separate range filled with the tomato sauce. Turn this pot onto medium heat. You can either brown the meatballs and then put them on a plate with paper towels to soak up some of the olive oil, or you can transfer them immediately from the frying pan to the sauce-filled pot.
Once all the meatballs are finished, saute the diced onion in the frying pan until the pieces are slightly transparent and beginning to caramelize. Add to the tomato sauce and meatball pot.
Fold the meatballs into the sauce. You want to have enough sauce to almost entirely cover the meatballs. Cover the pot and let sit for about 10 minutes, to give time for the sauce to heat and for the meatballs to finish cooking through.
So good!! Paired with cold cream soda....yum. Looking at the photo is making me hungry now.
Notes: You're not married to using pork and beef. Flavor-wise, I like using two different meats with at least one of them being beef, but you can also try ground turkey, ground chicken, ground veal, etc. You can also stick to only one kind of meat, though I'd really suggest using two, it gives a much more unique taste.
Same goes with the seasonings and with the cheese. I like Romano, but Parmesan is just as good. You don't even necessarily need to use cheese, though I like the slight flavor it gives and the way it helps the consistency of the meatballs.
Pick ground meats with a higher fat content if taste is your first priority. I used 90/10 beef in this recipe, though being somewhat health conscious, I usually cook with more lean packages. Ground turkey is a good way to make the meatballs slightly healthier while keeping tasty.
Friday, November 7, 2008
*Just so you know, I'm that person in the store who likes to open bottles, test them on my thumb nail, and then wipe the swatch off on my opposite palm or any appropriate/won't-be-noticed paper surface possible. (Today some polishes were in a wicker basket with tissue paper....um, yeah, that became my impromptu napkin.)*
I was having a love/hate relationship with Siberian Nights in the store. It's a dark, matte purple that's both rich yet dull. All Lacquered Up has great swatches of the entire Russia collection which I suggest you check out to get a feel for the whole line. Her pictures make me drool over Russian Navy but that wasn't in store today. Maybe I can get it online?
I didn't end up getting Siberian Nights...I thought about it a lot though. I might go back and pick it up. Hmmm...
Koala Bear-y, a pretty pinkish berry, and Brisbane Bronze, a rich sparkly bronze, are two of my favorite Australia-inspired shades and were available in-store. For nail polish I tend to be drawn to pinks and purples or wild colors like blues, greens, etc. I also have plenty of reds. I wear a lot of berry colors but not much brown or tan when it comes to my nails. (When I am not lazy and actually paint my nails!) Maybe I should try expanding out though.
Alas, I didn't pick up either of these polishes either....I was feeling too indecisive! Plus, I was going to stop by the bank to cash a check after my CVS pit stop, and since I've been paying for all the little purchases I can with cash, reality quickly sets in when I spend money on non-necessary items.
Instead of nail polish I picked up a Physician's Formula Organic Wear kit with a blue/gray eyeshadow duo and black eyeliner. Until tomorrow you can get 40 percent off all Physician's Formula cosmetics at CVS -- my purchase was on a display with a $2 off coupon too, so I ultimately got the set for under $5. I'm not a huge PF fan so I'm not necessarily encouraging you to run out and try the brand, but if you like it or if, like me, you just want to try a new product, now would be a good time to do your shopping. I'll try to write about that soon, and post if I end up going back for some of the O.P.I. lacquers.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
That happened this week.
I had some CVS extracare bucks to use on Monday before they expired and decided to splurge on cosmetics. The coupon was worth just a bit more than $5 and there was nothing in particular I needed, nor any enticing BOGO sales, so I thought I'd try a bunch of little random things.
Error 1: Normally, drugstore pantyhose is just fine for me. I have horrible luck with stockings (and even tights) ripping, but other than that, few complaints. Well, let me tell you, don't try On The Go!-brand stockings. For $2 or $3 I got a pair of navy stockings and some black knee highs, which were attached in some special promotion.
First off, the package looks like it was left over from 1983. Second, the pantyhose is super rough (95 percent nylon, 5 percent spandex) and the color looks dreadful on the skin. I'm also not accustomed to wearing pantyhose that is stiff and has a very defined shape, as opposed to being very stretchy and conforming to your own shape like most pantyhose. The minute I put it on and saw how it looked on my legs, I was kind of horrified. So much for wearing that pantyhose with my navy blue and cream skirt...
My friend brainstormed a new use for it though: a funny hat for his cat! (Progress pending...)
Error 2: $2.99 Black Radiance liquid eyeliner in navy blue. (Guess I was in a navy mood?) For an extra dollar I could have sprung for waterproof, but I was feeling cheap. I got what I paid for. This stuff sucked so much upon first application I'm thinking about throwing it out before a second use. The applicator itself isn't bad, but the formula is so wet that as soon as I opened my eye after lining it, I got blue residue on the overhanging lower part of my brow bone. I could have gotten over this (by, say, keeping my eye closed for a few more seconds) if the formula also didn't run out before I could finish lining half my eye. Maybe I need to press harder while lining...but that would have made it even more wet and left more unsightly residue.
When I tried to do a cat-eye look, it smudged off the sides of my eyes within a few moments. And when I tried to remove the stuff, despite not being waterproof, it was very difficult to get off. I took a shower, used eye make-up remover, and still had blue residue that accumulated on my lower lash line which proved very hard to finally take off. Plus nasty blue bits that got caught in the liquid on my eyeball. Ewwwww.
Maybe I'll try it again, but I think in the future I'll stick to brands I know and trust when it comes to eyeliner. I'm a bit wary of putting sketchy substances so close to my eyes.
A friend of mine really like L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner, so I think I'm going to try that soon. I'd like something that works for a thin, subtle line, and also to be strong for a sexy, smoky eye.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I saw it at a store at my local mall. Whipped out my camera to snap this blurry photo while trying to not be conspicuous, lol. It's kind of like a uniform you'd see in a campy '70s sci-fi movie, complete with go-go boots, perhaps? Or does someone know how to rock this and make it look stylish for 2008? If so, please share.
And...here are seven more random facts about me, as tagged by the lovely Crystal:
1. I enjoy all sorts of crafting and like making greeting cards in my spare time.
2. I am moderately proficient in speaking/understanding Spanish and Russian.
3. I really like the color orange. And oranges, the fruit.
4. My secret television guilty pleasures are America's Next Top Model and The Hills. I don't usually watch them on television, though, instead I watch them on my computer on my own time schedule!
5. I own many pairs of socks with silly patterns and designs.
6. I disliked the beach as a kid -- ewww sand and too-hot sun -- but it's grown on me.
7. I've known since elementary school that I wanted to be a writer. And now I am one (?). Woot!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Anyway, I have a lot of stuff I'm working on posting -- cute clothes, make-up, maybe some recipes, and being tagged again for more random info about myself. (I won't lie, I enjoy those things sometimes.)
The problem now is that my home Internet crashed! Phooey.
At least it gives me time to pull things together offline. I should be back very soon, in the next day or two.
Hope you all had a fun Halloween. It's so weird that stores have already cleared out of all the spooky festivities and are on to Christmas. What about Thanksgiving? Probably my favorite holiday of the year. I'm stoked to be going home to New York to see my high school friends and family in just a few short weeks.
Last random thing -- I like election night too. I'm definitely going to be watching TV all night (if that works and my computer is still down) to find out the results. Hard to believe that in 48 hours we will (hopefully) know who the next American president is.
Time moves forward, whether we like it or not. Right now, I'm feeling pretty pumped for some change myself. Figuring out what that change should be feels so difficult sometimes, but as I said, time moves forward either way.
Okay, I'm done being deep lol. Time to leave work!