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Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite Things 2007

I can't believe that it's already been a year since the three of us decided to jump into this blog. 2007, you have been a pretty neat year, and I know I'm looking forward to 2008, too. After all, it's going to be our year!

I know we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the amazing beauty blog community that's taught us a lot of things this past year, and so it's incredibly exciting to be included in Blogdorf Goodman's Favorite Things 2007 list. Thank you!!

So with that, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite beauty finds for 2007!

- Firespot Eyeshadow from MAC Moonbathe: This is the eyeshadow that made me realize that yes, I can wear bright vivid colors on my eyes as well as make them extra-green. I never would have guessed that sizzling orange would be a stand-out color for me, as orange isn't a color I wear on a regular basis unless I'm going to a baseball game. But Firespot is truly an incredible color. The Moonbathe collection in general was great for my coloring -- more spring and summer collections in warm tones! More! Like the Non-Blonde says, do more for olive skin!

- Bigarade Concentree from Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums: I originally reviewed this perfume in March after my first trip to New York. I still love this perfume and its tangy citrus qualities. I'm still learning about what I like in perfumes, and while sites like Now Smell This are definitely helping me learn more about perfume in general, there's still a lot of shooting in the dark. I never know what to say when I get asked by perfume sales assistants what I like, so managing to find this between my hemming and hawwing and "Well, I like citrus?" was a blessing.

- Clog-Dissolving Cleansing Milk from Bliss: I think that one of the best things I've done this year is realized that I don't have oily skin -- I have combination skin. After years of, well, being a teenage girl and a college student, I finally realized that my skin is really not as bad as I thought it was, and that bringing out the big guns to try and zap everything was just making it worse. On a trip to Seattle this August, I stopped at Sephora since I was running low on face wash (plus, hello, I love Sephora). I snagged the Clog-Dissolving Face Wash and I love it. It smells great and keeps my skin soft. (I will say, however, that it wasn't as effective at taking full geisha make-up off as I wanted it to be. How often one will be wearing a full face and neck of geisha make-up, I don't know.)

- Russian Navy from OPI: I have always loved blue nail polish, and so learning that navy was going to be the hot color for fall was even more awesome. I found my bottle of Russian Navy in a beauty supply shop this July, back when the buzz was just starting. I adore this color, and I'm so glad I have it. I've had it on my toes since September, and wore it for Halloween, too. I actually managed to get some street cred on this one ("oh, that's the one from all the magazines!" "Yes, it is!").

- Charm Factor from MAC A Muse (2006): Here's a little story about me. For over seven years, my hair had gone back and forth from shoulder-length to bobbed, and I was ready for a change. In July 2006, MAC released the A Muse collection, the first MAC collection I sat up and took notice of thanks to this blog post. And that kickstarted me into the MAC, make-up, and beauty blog addict I am now. I darted to Bloomingdales and picked up what I needed to recreate the signature look -- the duo eyeshadow, the Fluidline eyeliner, and the lipstick: Charm Factor. In December, I took in a picture of Sienna Miller and got my hair chopped off. This July, I went even shorter. Charm Factor stayed in my make up drawer until I said, "That's it, I'm doing this, I am going as a mod for Halloween, at the very least." And I did. And it was awesome.

- Butterball from Lush: Kati just wrote about this little guy, but it's true -- this is one of the best (and most basic) things from Lush. It smells great, moisturizes, and it's fun to just roll around in the bath water with it. I can't survive in a place without bathtubs. Just can't do it.

- Feline Kohl Power Pencil from MAC Smoke Signals/McQueen: I really do love this eye pencil. I wrote about it in a joking manner, but it is truly out of love. They just moved it to the Goodbye section in the MAC website, so go get it. Seriously. I've also been using the Orpheus pencil for holiday wearin', and I'm hanging onto my Jealous. I will be so very sad to say goodbye to this pencil once it's gone.

- Pucker Tendertone from MAC Tendertones: This is another "why, why, why do you introduce such awesome things and take them away from me, MAC?" item. I don't know; I just kind of have that sort of relationship with MAC, I guess. The Tendertones are lip glosses that come in a little jar, which is usually my least favorite kind. I don't like putting my fingers in a jar, I also don't want to have to carry around a lip brush, and I also don't want to carry around a jar instead of a little stick I can pop in my pocket. That said, I will put all of that aside for Pucker. It's the perfect sheer raspberry lip balm, and it has SPF in it. And it smells and tastes delicious. Because that is also important.

- Supernova mascara from Fresh: My ultimate black mascara; I'm really surprised more bloggers aren't writing about this one. I will say that I did buy a mascara in Japan that I'm looking forward to trying out -- it's Rose of Versailles mascara, Oscar-style (Oscar being the protagonist of Rose of Versailles). That said, I'm also apprehensive about trying mascara that I can't find easily again, especially since it's, hello, mascara based on a manga character that I bought in Japan, and you're not supposed to keep mascara after three months, and wouldn't it be sad if that suddenly became my favorite mascara and I couldn't get it anymore. So knowing that I can pick up Fresh mascara from Sephora or Beauty.com makes me feel better about declaring it my favorite because it will never go away and leave me.

In addition to my picks, here's Kati's favorites from 2007:

- #55 nail polish from Sephora: While this year was all about the navy blue for Jeanne, I was all over the turquoise. I spent all spring searching for the perfect matte shade, and it wasn't until I was down in San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend that I found this little number. I've been wearing it on my toes pretty much ever since. J'adore!

- Lip Service from Napoleon Perdis: Okay, so everyone I know would've expected me to pick Stila's It Gloss here, but that's a last year's find for me. Lip Service was something I picked up this year, and hello, this is my favorite gloss ever. Clear and tastes like vanilla cupcakes, perfect for a simple tastes girl like me.

- Angelica eyeshadow from Boots Botanics: This has been my workhorse shade all year (sensing a theme with my color palate this year?) and bonus points for it a) being drugstore cheap, and b) looking remarkably similar in the package to MAC's Parrot, the infamous shade that I bought last week and have yet to try (blame all the at-home family time and not wanting to share with my sister.) I'll let you know how it holds up in comparison to the Parrot, but so far, this is my favorite eyeshadow ever. And I'm not just saying that because I wore it for my University graduation and it was super flattering in the pictures.

- Crush on You Sugar Scrub from Product Body: I don't think it's really a secret that the most important weapon in my beauty arsenal is my skin. I don't wear a full face of makeup every day, and I don't want to. I'm a low maintenance girl and I like it that way. Crush on You is hands down my favorite exfoliator, and without it, I am itchy and sad from my eczema. [I gave her a sample after I read about Crush on You in last year's Favorite Things round-ups! - Jeanne]

- Dream Cream Moisturizer from Lush: Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat, since I've known about this for more than a year, but it and Butterball (see above) are my all time favorites for moisturizing. Dream Cream has a bit of an odd scent in the tub, but the scent fades very quickly (good for you perfume addicts who want to layer, and good for me, who just likes smelling like soap or vanilla or a citrus farm). Plus, I have yet to find another moisturizer that is as non-irritating for all over.

So what will 2008 bring for us? And what goodies from 2007 will we find from this amazing list of bloggers? Click around and see if you can guess what we'll be aiming to get our hands on...

  • 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic
  • Afrobella
  • All About The Pretty
  • All Lacquered Up
  • Beauty 411
  • Beauty Blogging Junkie
  • Beauty Talk
  • Beautiful Makeup Search
  • Beauty Hatchery
  • Beauty Jones
  • Blogdorf Goodman
  • Canadian Beauty
  • C'est Chic
  • Coquette
  • eBeautyDaily
  • For The Love of Beauty
  • Give Me Your Eyes I Need Sunshine
  • Getting Amped
  • Grayburn
  • HauteMommaStuff
  • Koneko's Beauty Diary
  • Makeup Bag
  • The Makeup Girl
  • Miss Whoever You Are
  • My Life,My Words,My Mind
  • Legerdenez
  • Perfumista
  • Periodic Style
  • Platinum Blonde Life
  • Product Girl
  • Shop Diary
  • Slap of the Day
  • Steeping Beauty
  • The Beauty Alchemist
  • The Daily Obsession
  • The Life Of A Ladybug
  • The Non-Blonde
  • Urbane Girl
  • Victoria's Own
  • We Love Beauty

  • image from blogdorfgoodman.blogspot.com -- thank you for including us!!

    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Science Fair for December 24th-30th

    It's a short one this week, since a) holiday week, and b) too many family members visiting for me to have time to troll the internet beyond my bloglines subscriptions.
    Sorry guys. I shall make it a resolution to give you a more researched Science Fair next year. ;)

    -On Things I've Bought that I Love, Mindy Kaling rounds up her favorites of the year. My favorites among her favorites: J.Crew (they have gone insane, and yet it is fantastic! Look at those shoes on her post!), and Paul Rudd (who doesn't love Paul Rudd? He should always be the winner of best of posts.) Not mentioned on her list? HERSELF. She's certainly on our lists.

    -Blogdorf Goodman overviews the spring L.U.C.I. line, which includes the pale pink lip of my dreams (Jeanne and I have been searching all fall for a good replica of this shade, and here it finally is!)

    -Author Maureen Johnson bids Brotherhood 2.0 adieu in a sentimental (and steamy) fashion, all while wearing some pretty excellent lip gloss. For those of you not inclined to follow antics of young adult authors (I know, I'm weird, I gave up celebrity gossip to make time to read ya author blogs. Clearly, nerd.) Brotherhood 2.0 has been an on-going project between brothers John and Hank Green, where for the entire year they've communicated sans text, and done alternating video blogs back and forth. Check them out if you've got some time. They are made of awesome.

    This is it until next year for me, but stay tuned for Jeanne's Favorite Things 2007 post! (I know I'm excited!)

    Double your pleasure, double your fun

    Something magical happens at this time of the year for me. The fall semester has finally wound down, I am all pumped for my upcoming move to the Big Apple, the hectic holidays are behind us, and all is quiet. It's this quiet time during which I always remember how to read for pleasure instead of what I call "reading" during the school year--that desperate middle-of-the-night skimming and searching for the key ideas so you can raise your hand in class in four hours and say something approximately intelligent. Not that I'd ever do that, of course. I am a studious little bee when it comes to pleasure reading, I devour every word and phrase with the utmost gusto. If you are descended from librarians, telephone operators, writers (Interesting fact: my great-grandmother was Marg Nelson, author of many young adult novels about the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s. Her books consisted of a lot of magazine-reading on beds, sailing in fishing vessels/love boats, and thinking about the latest Paris fashions.), and fishermen as I am, relaxing with an engrossing book is just about the sweetest respite in the world.

    Once upon a time, I dove into 100% fiction, with nary a glance into that scary, dusty, heavily-bound section of the library assigned to non-fiction. My tastes have changed since college: I want to learn about disease, genetics, history, all that good non-fiction stuff. I want to read about the craziest non-fiction things that you wouldn't even believe...if it weren't true. I am talking about TWINS. Multiples. Twins separated at birth and put into studies. Conjoined twins. Thalidomide babies. Thank goodness I'm not going to be pregnant any time soon, because all three of the books I've inhaled over the past two weeks would make me absolutely freak out.

    Before Christmas, I spotted a summary of Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein's Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited in my girl-college alumnae magazine and knew I had to have it. This rarely happens to me with books. Knee-high black leather Victorian-detail boots, yes, tart pans and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, oh hell yes, but a book?
    The title really says it all, but this story is so unimaginable, quirky, lovely, and poignant that I had to share it. Paula and Elyse were born as identical twins, put up for adoption and lived in a foster home as infants until they were adopted separately by two different families, specially chosen by the Louise Wise Adoption Agency for their suitability. Thirty-odd years later, Elyse embarks on a quest to find out about her birth mother and in doing so, finds out that she has an IDENTICAL TWIN. They tell the story of their reunion, "twinness," and post-adoption information search, switching off narrative duties and sharing every intimate detail of their thoughts and feelings through the process. You can't make this stuff up. It's rare that I cry while reading, but the last two chapters saw a few fall onto the pages, I'm not embarrassed to say. I'll also admit a certain affinity for the author's shared love of auteur film, but that's a different story.

    After finishing Identical Strangers, I got a hold of Dr. Nancy L. Segal's Indivisible by Two: Lives of Extraordinary Twins and dove headfirst into it. Dr. Segal, like me, is a fan of Oliver Sacks (who isn't? For real.) and presents stories of twins lost, twins found, twins with seletive mutism, sets of identical twins married to identical twins--their children are all full siblings! what!--exploring the unique connection between identical twins throughout their lives. It's the kind of book where you read each chapter, your eyes go wide and you have to read bits of it aloud because you just can't believe it. It's fascinating, engrossing, and touching.
    I was 100% invested in Dr. Segal's stories of twins until the very end, when a stray chapter all about cloning and "intergenerational twins" threw me for a loop. That said, I strayed even further from my twin objective with a book I picked up yesterday at a used buy-sell-trade bookstore:

    Armand Marie Leroi's Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body I've only just tucked into, but it's equally fascinating, in a P.T. Barnum/Carnivale way. When you think of the human genome and all the little variants that we can't control when making babies and whatnot, it's amazing to think of the genetic variety in our single species. One split ovum makes identical twins, but what makes skin discoloration, babies born with two mouths, or without thumbs any more of a miracle? I love it, and I want to read more, but I am conflicted. I started out reading Elizabeth A. Fenn's Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 before this whole twin obsession, and I hate reading two books at once. What do I do, follow my original allegiance to contagious disease or explore genetic mutations until my eyes fall out? What a terrible reading life I lead.

    Note: Images and links from Powells.com.

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Pilates DVD reviews: get those abs back in shape!

    So you gained some holiday pounds? What's a girl to do?

    Well, besides running, which is not for everyone, I've been checking out my library's collection of fitness DVDs. Some of them have been downright laughable, and some of them I wish I'd found years ago. Like these three pilates DVDs: Pilates Beginning Mat Workout and Pilates Intermediate Workout with Ana Caban, and 10 Minute Solutions: Pilates with Lara Hudson. Pilates is definitely my favorite way to workout my abs, and just doing it once a week can give you great posture and maintain your abdominal muscles.

    Pilates Beginning Mat Workout with Ana Caban
    This is the DVD I wish I'd found when I first started doing Pilates. It's really straightforward, with both the modified poses and the actual poses shown on screen at the same time. Caban is a good instructor who manages to be upbeat without being super annoying. The only complaint is that after a couple of weeks it takes too long in between exercises, which just means it's time for:
    Pilates Intermediate Mat Workout with Ana Caban. This workout is definitely a step up from the beginning workout, but still shows the modified poses for all the moves. It adds in a few new moves that are trickier, and keeps my favorites in (like The Seal! Ark-Ark, indeed!) It's definitely tough though, so save it until you've done some pilates; I would not recommend starting with this, or even starting with it after a long break from pilates. Your abs will thank you.

    10 Minute Solutions: Pilates with Lara Hudson
    This is a great DVD for when you're pressed for time. While it's not all pilates, the other workouts are unique and really effective, so I'm not going to complain. The Pilates for Abs is the closest the classic pilates, if you're just looking for a quick session of pilates. The pilates for flexibility segment is a genius stretching routine. I've used it after running instead of my standard stretches, and I love it. It focuses everywhere. And the pilates sculpt set is really just arm toning, and is one of the most effective 10 minute arm sets I've seen. I usually use 5 pound weights for all my arm stuff with little problem (yes, I'm considering buying heavier weights,) but with this routine, I have to put them down halfway in. It's really clever. You can also customize your workout like on all the 10 minute DVDs and order the segments however you want, while doing as many as you want. This one is great if you want to spot-train or only have 10 minutes to get something done in.

    image from amazon.com.

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Taking a break and giving back

    We are taking a holiday break until the 27th or so! After that, you can expect some more posts, some resolutions for 2008, and us asking you for advice.

    And if you're still scrambling for something to give, consider donating to Rocket Dog Rescue in someone's name. Rocket Dog Rescue is a rescue organization that takes dogs who've run out of last chances in the shelters and finds them homes. What's more, the founder of Rocket Dog Rescue, Pali Boucher, has rescued herself from homelessness and addiction for the love of these dogs.

    On Friday the 21st, there was a fire at Boucher's home in San Francisco, killing the three dogs she was fostering, a wounded pigeon she was tending to, and her beloved parrot Chester, who she had raised from the egg.

    I donated on Saturday night, and at that time they hadn't yet set up the Fire Emergency fund, but they have now. Even if you're not directly donating to the Fire Emergency fund, you'll be helping dogs who need help, hope, and love, especially more so now. So please, donate to Rocket Dog Rescue if you can. Good deeds are always in style.

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    Oh, but it's cold outside!

    It's officially the first day of winter, even though it's been both chilly and cheery around these parts lately. Today there was frost on the grass, and today is technically the shortest day of the year (yet, being the last work day before Christmas, feels like the longest day of the year).

    Warm yourself up from the inside-out with some hot spiced wintery drinks! I've looked around the 'net and found some neat recipes, so check them out.

    - Apple cider is a classic holiday drink around my house. We actually tend to serve it more on Halloween (it's cold trick-or-treating!), but I can't say no to hot apple cider. Greenjeans, a Brooklyn boutique, has been serving customers with mulled apple cider, and they're kind enough to share the recipe. That's a guaranteed way to get me into your store and buying something, I can tell you that. Traditionally my mom threw whole spices into the pot along with orange halves, but we've been using Williams Sonoma mulling spices recently. And, in an even more convenient format, Martinelli's makes mulling spice teabags.

    - Hot chocolate is another classic winter drink. I've given up on coffee, so hot chocolate is a good way to have something warm and sweet and milky in the mornings, too. Chocolate is also a great cough suppressent, and drinking milk is good for sore throats, too. So it's good for you! There's a great round up of hot chocolate recipes at Slashfood.com, with some additional ideas in the comments as well. I do like the spiced hot chocolates, but only so much! I am not so gung-ho on my mouth getting burned, either temperature-wise or spice-wise. For some more information on chocolate, and some more hot chocolate recipes (including a Mayan hot chocolate that requires you to wear gloves while deseeding hot peppers!! and a whole vanilla bean, mmm), there's a really neat article on WhatsCookingAmerica.net. Hooray, learning something! And if you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, stop by one of the Bittersweet Cafe locations for some delicious chocolate drinks both hot and cold.

    - I have stopped drinking caffeine, which makes me sad because that means I have barely had any of one of my favorite drinks ever lately, which is chai. (Kati is also a fan of chai, except for when it attacks her pants or her cell phone.) I still drink lots of green tea, though. I think, however, that I might like to use some of the chai spices in apple cider to give it a bit more of an interesting flavor -- adding cardamom and ginger (and maybe some peppercorns) to the basic "cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg-citrus" of apple cider would make things a little more kicky. I found a huge variety of masala chai recipes at Veetea.com, including one for a chai milkshake. Ooooh! Maybe when it's warm again...

    - Finally, the classic "hunker-down-and-drink" drink, the hot toddy. Leave it to my forefathers, the Scots, to perfect the "ach, it's cold and I am NOT going out!" drink. It's so simple -- honey, lemon, hot water, maybe a little spice... and some good whiskey. And so I found a recipe from ScottishRecipes.co.uk, which has the awesome phrase "a wee dram of whisky" in its grown-up toddy recipe. Excellent.

    Snuggle up, everybody -- winter's only just begun.

    image from martinellis.com

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Gift Guide 5: Last Minute and Crafty Gifts!

    Christmas is almost here, and oops, Hanukkah was over last week! What's a girl who hasn't finished all her shopping to do? We've got your last minute gift finishing touches here!

    -Target has some great Burts Bees gift sets in their stores right now. Normally I'm more of a Softlips fan for my chapstick needs, but I've been using Burts Bees Lip Shimmers a lot lately, and I'm loving them. Plus for last minute one stop gift shopping, you can't beat Target-- they have everything! (If you're looking for the gift sets online, Amazon is easier to find them on.)

    -Don't forget magazine subscriptions: they're super simple to order, and they keep giving all year. Amazon's a great one stop shopping place for these.

    -If you can knit, the bulky handknit hat never goes out of style, and who doesn't like a handknit hat? I'm working on one for myself right now and it's just flying off my needles. If you're looking for a simple pattern, this one from chicknits is straightforward. Plus, hats on 10.5s? Take like two hours. Awesome!

    -Have some free time after the holidays? Take them to an event or to get a makeover! A pair of tickets to a show never goes amiss, and makeovers are the most fun when you're with a friend. Most people I know don't really want a ton of stuff they can't use, so giving them the gift of your time can be the best gift of all!

    -While a good mix cd takes awhile to craft, the great thing about them is that you can give a great mix to more than one person. Nobody cares! I'm always just happy to get a new mix and hear some new songs. It's cheap, it's easy, and it's a great way to share some of your favorites with your friends. (Just keep in mind what kind of music they like- don't put all poppy upbeat songs on a mix for your friend who only listens to Radiohead and Mazzy Star. That won't go over so well.) Mixes jazz up a small package or basket without spending more!

    -And if you want to give something homemade and delicious, here's a recipe for one of my family's traditional holiday cookies. Holly Wreaths are quick and simple to make, albeit messy (but that's half the fun!) Plus, they look fantastic in a package with other gifts- very festive and cute.

    Holly wreaths recipe:

    You will need:
    1/2 cup Margarine or Butter
    35 large marshmallows
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 1/2 tsp. green food coloring
    4 cups of cornflakes
    red hots
    and wax paper.

    Melt the margarine and the marshmallows on the stove. Add the vanilla and the food coloring after melted. Then add the cornflakes, stirring until all the cornflakes are coated in the green marshmallow mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and start shaping the mixture into wreaths on wax paper. The trick is to do it while the mixture is still hot. For smaller, denser looking wreaths, roll some of the mixture into little balls and then poke a hole in the middle. Then decorate with the red hots!

    Makes around 2 dozen cookies. Everyone likes cookies with their gifts, right? I do.

    -And don't forget about the all purpose gift card: Sure, they may seem impersonal, but who doesn't like using them? I know I've never complained about a stack of gift cards under my tree!

    Images from amazon.com and allrecipes.com.

    Gift Guide 4: Books!

    You know it's inevitable: it's down to the wire and you find yourself standing in Borders, looking around desperately for books or DVDs. Well, I'm taking a stand against DVDs this year and supporting the WGA in their strike, so I'm not buying or asking for any DVDs this year. This, of course, makes things more difficult for me when it comes to "oh god, oh god, what do I do for so-and-so" presents. (And I'm sure made things more difficult for my family, since I usually get a healthy little stack of DVDs from my brother. Sorry, dude!)

    Thus it all comes down to books this year. Fiction tends to be really hard to pick out for gifts, or at least for me, and literary non-fiction is pretty fascinating to me currently. I've written a guide to short fiction before, which I may repost here at some point if there's a desire for it, but here's some of the things I've read and loved, some of the things I'd like to read, and some delicious recipe books.

    I will say this: I'm leaving the prices off because everywhere's different -- you can pick up books anywhere from Amazon to Borders to Powells (if you're lucky!) or the used bookstore of your preference. Some of these are new hardbacks, so keep that in mind.

    - Persepolis I and II by Marjane Satrapi. Yeah, I'm starting you off with a graphic novel because I'm a bit of a comics nerd. But this is one of those graphic novels that you can give to your non-comic-reading friends, as it's a fascinating story in itself. Originally written in French, it's the autobiography (although perhaps with some embellishment; who knows?) of the author's childhood growing up in Iran, then her growing into adulthood in Europe. It's very well-done, and I learned a lot from reading it. It's coming out as an animated film this winter (Christmas for major markets, early 2008 for the rest of us), and I'm super-excited about it all around.

    - Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody. I don't know if I should be uber-jealous of Diablo Cody or make her my newest girl crush. She got the book deal for Candy Girl on the power of her blog about being a stripper (the original is down, but she now blogs at Blogspot), then got a screenwriting deal, which produced the new film Juno, which I totally want to see a lot, and now is a columnist for Entertainment Weekly. Basically, she is pretty much everything I want to be. Except for maybe the stripper part. Anyway, when I bought the book, I didn't know any of this. I brought this on my trip to Japan and lent it to my traveling buddy on the flight back... and kept peering over her shoulder. I was so intrigued by these over-the-shoulder glimpses that I devoured it as soon as she was done. It is an awesome book, and I am sorry, Kati, that I forgot to stick my copy in your package.

    - This is Not Chick Lit by Elizabeth Merrick (editor). Don't get me wrong: I like chick lit! At least, well-written chick lit. I have recently come around to it after years of creative writing classes where everyone's writing about divorce, drugs, or death (or sometimes all three). So I do enjoy the happy release of chick lit. But that's not all that women write, and that's not all that women read. This is Not Chick Lit is a powerful collection of short stories that happen to be primarily written by and about women. If you or the person you are buying for lean more towards the short fiction side (and if you do, let me know!), this is definitely a good collection to pick up.

    - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin. I am considering getting this for my dad, as he is very hard to pick books out for, as he's not really a recreational reader -- if he wants a book, he will let me know specifically what book, and he will only read the books he wants to read. But Steve Martin is well known for his writing as well as his comedy, and a memoir of his early stand-up career sounds really promising. It got a good review from Entertainment Weekly a while back, and it sounds like it would be something my dad (and my mom and I) would really enjoy reading. Edited 12/20: I did purchase this last night.

    - The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy by Bill Hayes. I just read an intriguing article on the author of this book in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, with a short selection from the text. And I am so, so interested in this book, just from reading that excerpt. It's the story of the medical reference book Gray's Anatomy and the men who put it together, Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter (the illustrator). In addition, it's also the story of Bill Hayes learning about anatomy itself through classes at the University of California San Francisco medical school. I really want to read this book, just based on this article and excerpt alone. And I think this would also be a good fit for my dad or my mom, just based on their shared interest in health and science. Edited 12/20: I went to the bookstore last night and asked the information desk about it when I couldn't see it on the shelf. This book won't be released until 12/26. Alas!

    - Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery by Rose Carrarini. I did not make it out to the Rose Bakery when I was in Paris this spring -- it was on my list, but I didn't make it. The best next thing, I suppose, is this recipe book, which I've only flipped through briefly at the San Francisco Ferry Building (another foodie destination, just not in Paris). The photos are beautifully done -- this is a recipe book you could leave out on your coffee table. And if you know bakers, this would be a great gift for someone who wants to branch out and try something new. It also has many vegetarian and vegan options as well, according to an Amazon reviewer. Here's the Rose Bakery recipe for carrot cake with beautiful pictures at BigCityLittleKitchen.com, in case you want to see for yourself.

    - The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cooks Illustrated. How many times have you made an apple pie using different breeds of apples, different spices, different flour? Probably not all that many. But if you're familiar with Cooks Illustrated, you know that they have an amazing test kitchen where they do go through every single variable for every single recipe. I love the Libby label pumpkin pie as much as anyone else, but we've never had a better pumpkin pie than when we started using the recipe from The New Best Recipe. I remember disagreeing with their choice of cheese for the best macaroni and cheese, but that's their (and ultimately my) choice too. An excellent reference for any cook. However, I will say that if you're more of an improviser in the kitchen, it may be a little too precise for your liking.

    If you find yourself wandering in the wilds of the bookstore this weekend (because I know I will be), good luck, fellow soldier. Good luck.

    images from amazon.com and powells.com

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Gift Guide 3: Quick, to the cosmetics!

    It occurred to me that maybe it's a little late to be linking to online stores, what with the clock ticking down (remember: regular and Priority mail by Thursday, express mail by Saturday!) on the post office. So here are a few (okay, a lot) of cosmetics picks that you can pick up at your local Sephora (if you are lucky enough to have one!), and one very special gift that comes out at MAC counters tomorrow.

    - First of all, I love the name of this: the Dior Detective Chic eye palette. Because what is more chic than a lady detective? I can't think of anything, can you? Great subtle warm colors, particularly for those of us with green, brown, and hazel eyes. It's also very useful for traveling, if you're willing to risk putting such a lovely little palette in your luggage. I don't know if I would be! It may be too nice for that! Dior has several other travel kits as well that are just as desirable. $49.50 at Sephora.

    - I love Urban Decay, and Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a great, great eyeshadow (as are Midnight Cowboy and Midnight Cowgirl). So it's awesome that they've put together a Best of Urban kit with the amazing Primer Potion, a gorgeously shiny 24/7 eye pencil (one of my favorites!), and some extra blingy glitter eyeliner, if you are into that as well. This would be great for New Year's Eve, and in general -- Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a perfect going-out eyeshadow. $32 at Sephora.

    - It's also pretty well known how much I like the products from DuWop. We actually have this DuWop Discovery kit at home -- last year it was a QVC exclusive, but this year it's at Sephora too. (My mom adores QVC; what can I say?) I have the full-size Amber palette and the Lantana gloss, both of which are lovely and valuable additions to any make-up kit. And if you don't have Lip Venom, you're missing out on a beauty cult classic. (But as I said in March, I really do like 2nd Sin more.) These are a great introduction to DuWop's products. Just be careful -- my mom dropped the eyeshadow and it shattered. $38 at Sephora.

    - Fresh Cosmetics has this question for you: Are You A Sugar Lover? It's a quick kit of their Sugar Lover lipgloss and Supernova Mascara. I am a huge fan of Supernova Mascara -- I even like it better than Diorshow (the overwhelming fan favorite). I've already got long lashes, but the Supernova really makes them show up and applies really easily. The new Sugar lipglosses are also really fab; I own Sugar Flirt, a sheer raspberry. (I feel like I've written this part before; do I really need to sell you on a delicious shiny lipgloss that smells like lemon drops?) Sugar Lover comes with Sugar Shag, a lovely shiny red, and you can also buy Are You a Sugar Fairy, which has a sweet sparkly pink Sugar Fairy gloss. You know me -- I always go for the red. $42 at Sephora.

    - This is one of those times when I'm glad my mom doesn't read this blog (that I know of!), because this is what I got for her. (I'm also going to get her something else, but this is one of her gifts.) My mom and I both use Bare Escentuals make up, but her much more so than me. She also has the bad habit of buying things for herself (from QVC, again) right before Christmas. What to do? I bought her this Blendable Eye kit in Tahitian Sunset, since they're colors that I know will look good with her green eyes, but that she'd probably never think to pick up on her own. Coral and tangerine will both make her eyes greener, as will the warm copper. Bare Escentuals has a lot of other color kits as well, but this is my pick for my mom. Awww. $36 at Sephora.

    - Finally, the Final Great Beauty Gift. This comes out at MAC tomorrow, so be ready to either buy it immediately online and get 2-Day or Overnight shipping (enter code 2DAY by 11 am EST Thursday for free 2-Day and OVERNIGHT by 11 am EST Friday for $5 overnight) to get it by Monday, or head to your local counter or MAC store (check the store locator at MACCosmetics.com). Because guess what? Parrot -- the myth, the legend, the extremely expensive eBay auctions -- is back. Tomorrow. Do I need to say more? $14 at MAC.

    Even if you don't know what your friend uses, cosmetics-wise, these kits will be a good introduction to different brands and new products that will definitely be appreciated by any level of beauty fan, from the hardcore to the beginner.

    images from sephora.com and maccosmetics.com

    Gift Guide 2: A little bling in your stocking

    Have you noticed all of the diamond and jewelry commercials going on? I listen to sports radio in the morning and afternoon (I carpool with my dad, what can I say?), and there are always ad spots about buying your lady "a unique gift" of a diamond bracelet or pendant or whatnot. Hello, if you're telling me, on the radio, how unique this gift is, there are probably thousands of other people listening who are getting the same idea. Not so unique anymore, is it?

    Anyway, here are some lovely shiny things that are the right size to fit into a stocking, or could be a gift all their own.

    - Pequitobun is my most favorite Etsy seller, period. [Seconded! Love her! -Kati] I love all of her pieces, and have gotten tons of compliments on the earrings I bought from her. One of my favorites are these, the "Space Age Betty" earrings -- I love the color of the stones and the clever repurposing of vintage jewelry (a Pequitobun signature). $65.

    - I love colored stones. I really do. I almost regret that my birthday is in April (diamond) instead of one of the months with a stone like sapphire (September), emerald (May), or ruby (June). I should have held out for a few more days, dang it! And if I'd been born in December, I would have had blue topaz as my birthstone. CharmingSam.com has some gorgeous London blue topaz jewelry available, including this beautiful blue topaz and heart necklace. I've seen her work in person and it's stunning. $68.

    - I sure do love dangly earrings, but I'm also a fan of cute posts. Sometimes a big dangly is just too much, and all you want is something simple, cute, and colorful. CaraLyndon.com is your answer for cute, colorful vintage posts. I've bought a couple of pairs from her, including some for gifts this year. I very nearly bought these Japanese glass rose earrings as a giftie, but ultimately decided on these instead. So those glass rose earrings could be all yours... $24.

    - I love washi paper so much. I am totally a sucker for Japanese papers and textiles. In case you aren't familiar with ShanaLogic.com (formerly PixelGirl.com), it's a great boutique site with lots of different artists. One of them is Blend Creations, who make marvelous one-of-a-kind washi pendants. The circular ones and floral ones are all very cute, but I gotta say my favorites are the nature ones with ladybugs (ladybugs!! Ladybugs are to me what Boston terriers are to Karen.) and the gorgeous goldfish. (I totally bought a whole bunch of fabric in Japan featuring goldfish. And bunnies, but not on the same fabric.) I've always put this one up to wishful thinking, though, as they are a bit pricey. $93.

    - And finally, glitter! Glamscience.com is the place for your glittery stationery, jewelry, and baby clothes needs. I bought some of her glitter bobby pins at Maker Faire in May, and then proceeded to chop my hair off even shorter. Sad! It also looks like her glitter jewelry is currently all sold out. Also sad! But if you know a knitter who likes to give knitted objects, these tags are a great gift. There's a space for the knitter to write down what fiber it is and how to care for the object (always important -- unless they tell you it's okay, don't throw your knitted gifties in the washing machine!!), and your choice of colored glitter! Super-cute stuff all around. $10.

    So don't listen to that guy on the radio, even if you do now have "a friend in the diamond business". I'm your friend who's telling you that if you really want a unique sparkly gift, think a little more creatively. And you don't have to look all that hard -- I've got some ideas for you right here. And even if these come a little later than the deadline (a week away -- aiyee!), they'll still be appreciated.

    images from pequitobun.etsy.com, charmingsam.com, caralyndon.com, shanalogic.com, and glamscience.com

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Science Fair for December 10th-16th

    How's everyone's holidays treating them so far? I'm feeling extra fabulous, since I am almost done with my presents (one more trip to the post office!) and finally got a chance to exfoliate last night. Mmm, pink grapefruit Crush on You (favorite exfoliant ever), followed by sweet vanilla mango Product Cream (yay free sample!); I smell delightfully like a pina colada now. It's been a busy week for me!

    Here's what everyone else has been up to:

    -Sex and the City Trailer! Sex and the City trailer! I am sort of ridiculously excited about this. Some of my best college memories are watching Sex and the City with my friends (which is ridiculous, I know, but it watching it was totally an event in my dorm.) It looks quite good from the short trailer, so I'm anxiously awaiting May.

    -In other movie news: John Green's book An Abundance of Katherines is optioned for a movie and he's gets to write the screenplay... once he's done striking in his jammies. Oh John Green, why are you so adorable? Nerdfighers!

    -The writers in L.A. are still striking too(although I think most of them are wearing actual pants,) and Pamie gives us our week six update: Television writers continue to be underpaid for their magic and thus have turned to using their magic to make real Peter Krause appear out of Peter Krause lookalikes; Road Joggers continue to be menaces. (Seriously. I know the road is often flatter than the sidewalk to run on, but come on. There are running trails everywhere. Stop being dangerous!)

    -Speaking of sporty activities, Enell's released new low impact sports bra. I have one of their normal sports bras which basically compresses the crap out of my chest; great for running and my other cardio, kind of annoying for strength training. I'm definitely curious to read more reviews on the new one!

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make like this adorable guy and work on my own Christmas tree!

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Oh, the cubicle cuteness!

    Congratulations! You've got the style, you're looking pretty, and now you've got a brand new cubicle all your own! And it's bare, beige, and bland. What to do?

    One of my favorite ways to decorate is with fun postcards. I'm a fan of the vintage pulp fiction postcards at PulpCards.com -- they have a great selection with hilarious covers. ("Her job was to keep the bosses happy, and it wasn't by taking dictations!") Postcards are also a great way to sample out artists' work, like Susie Ghahremani's adorable illustrations. Plus if you buy a set of postcards, you'll have extras to send out to your friends! I also pick up free postcards with designs I like when I go to museums, bars, etc., since you can't beat free!

    From Modish's Handmade Gift Guide for Workaholics, what about a beautiful wall pocket from Sally Shim? Granted, if you're crafty, you could make one of these easily yourself, but I can always appreciate having extra bulletin board space, as I get overwhelmed with sticky notes stuck all over my desk.

    Speaking of crafty, why not buy some adorable fabric and tack it up to your cubicle walls? Find something you like and stretch it out over the walls, using T-pins to hold it in place. You can add ribbons or pockets if you want it to hold papers or goodies, or you could just hang it decoratively to add some color. SuperBuzzy.com and ReproDepotFabrics.com both have great selections of fabric. SuperBuzzy is primarily Japanese imported fabric, while ReproDepot also has some great vintage-style fabrics if you want some pin-ups or cowboys or psychedelic flowers to brighten up your day.

    When you're inside all day, it's also nice having green things growing around you, as long as you remember to water them (oops!). Depending on your style, you can find something easy at the nursery, at Target, or you can go exploring on Etsy (my favorite thing to do). I love both this elegant lavender planter from jjceramics and this sassy turquoise owl from fruitflypie (he comes in other colors, too!).

    Ever get loaded down with change at work? I do, and it's a pain to have it jingling around all of the time. I have a pug bank at home, but I'd love to have a bank at work too. Check out these classic piggy banks in all sizes and colors.

    I get kind of tired of fluorescent lights all the time, how about you? I adore this bright little lamp from Bright Lights, Little City. Three words for you: TIKI UMBRELLA LAMPS. It is always party time when the tiki umbrella lamp is on. (I found this site by looking at the vendor list for the San Francisco Bazaar Bizarre, which is tomorrow!) Even if I didn't actually use it as a lamp, I think this would cheer me up mightily every day. ("I love lamp!") The whole collection is totally clever, and if I weren't totally incompetent at hanging those dangly cord lamps, I would look into one of those, too. Many a battle was fought in my dorm room with dangly cord lamps, and gravity always won.

    Finally, even if you're like me and you have both a datebook/planner you keep in your bag and Google Calendar running on your computer, there's no arguing with a beautiful wall calendar, especially since we're just about to start a fresh new year. Once again, Modish has a great guide to 2008 calendars. Is it totally obvious that I really, really like Modish? I have the Good on Paper calendar from Modishoppe, which is now unfortunately sold out. And if wall calendars aren't your thing, there's always the 2008 Cupcake-A-Day calendar. HECK YEAH. (Another decorating tip -- buy wall calendars and cut them up just for the art.)

    And now, as I look around my cubicle, with its postcards and its calendar, I need to resist the urge to sass it up more... for now.

    images from pulpcards.com, superbuzzy.com, and modishoppe.com

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Fashion of Gossip Girl Part Four: Shopping Guide

    hey people!

    Gossip Girl here with some tips, tricks, and suggestions for grabbing a little UES -- that's Upper East Style.

    For B.:
    The Pearl and Moonstone Cluster Necklace from Dasha Boutique is reminiscent of Blair's birthday necklace from Chuck (the one she wore to her debutante ball!), while this Regal Prussian asymmetrical necklace from t8designs on etsy would look great with one of Blair's blazers and buns looks. The Asymmetrical pearl necklace from mcfarland designs on etsy are (vegan) pearls with a bit of an edge, just like Blair. We can definitely see Blair rocking these large glass beads from the MoMA Store with one of her high necked dresses and some colored tights, and this great Golden Floral Drop from divinerose on etsy would look great with Blair's Thanksgiving dress.

    Remember, girls -- handmade means no one else can have it.

    As far as headbands go, Erin Fetherston did a simple and chic white headband for Target (go target!), while those of you looking for something a little sassier should check out this necktie hairband or this hairband with floral accent from Nancy Gamon on etsy. And of course, this adorable fascinator from cottoncandycorsage on etsy is perfect for Blair.

    For S.:
    Black Flat Boots from Chinese Laundry-- these are the black version of the grey pair Serena wears in Poison Ivy and I just bought myself a pair. Whoops! There are also these Braveone and Buckup from Nine West-- cute black low heeled knee boots, definitely up Serena's alley.

    Flat so you don't trip on your way out of somebody's bedroom window.

    For J., K., and I.:

    Deux pointelle Beret
    from Urban Outfitters looks like something Blair would wear(pretty and classic, while this Leopord Mohair Beret (also from Urban Outfitters) suits Jenny's younger trendy side. And these cute cable knit berets from Anthropologie come in three different colors for bestie matching potential! Also, if you can knit, this beret pattern from ysolda is absolutely adorable and comes in three different styles -- definitely easy to do a matching (but not too matchy) look with your bestie that way.

    And as far as tams go, Hector Russel has a great selection. They've got a tartan search, where you can look up various tartans, and there's even a tartan called Blair!, which you can get in a tam over at the Scotland Yard.

    My pick? Black Watch. Always classy, always watching.

    Miscellaneous picks:
    Sockdreams.com has the best selection of socks, thigh highs and tights to recreate any of the girl's hosiery looks, and American Apparel has Blair's red tights from Hi Society.

    Dogeared has the golden wishbone wishbone "Mischa" necklace (and is just a great place to shop for lucky charms and everyday necklaces-- Jeanne and I both have tiny pendants from there that we wear constantly!), which is a great pick for Jenny, who loves all things golden and pendant-y. Although if Jenny were to actually wear Marissa's necklace, then my theory that Nate is the Man-rissa of the show might have to be revised. (Chuck clearly is the new Julie Cooper; we're just waiting for him to start running the male prostitution ring out of the burlesque club.)

    Check out FredFlare.com for some of Jenny, Kati and Is's accessories! Kati and Is wore these earrings in Seventeen Candles, and these sunglasses in Poison Ivy. Jenny's been rocking their bags in three separate episodes too! (they've sold out though, sad!) FredFlare also has free shipping this week only, enter the code: staffpicks.07 at checkout for 7.95 off shipping on your order!

    And if you're looking for something a little more fun, something a little more MY style, check out this necklace. Ring ring ring, it's Gossip Girl on the line.

    And for more on the fashion of Gossip Girl, Stiletto Jungle's and Fab Sugar's Gossip Girl tags have a lot of great posts detailing the actual items worn on the show, as well as recreating some of the looks for us. Love it! For more general style posts, check out Ykfashionblog, the fashion blog for youknowyouloveme.org! They've discussed the masquerade ball outfits and the ivy week look so far on their blog. She Finds details some of the fashions from the pilot, and Gala Darling shares our love of Chuck's power suit and anything Blair in her Gossip Girl Style post.

    That's all for today! You know you love us, XOXO!

    screencap from youknowyouloveme.org.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    The Lush Bathing Life

    I know Jeanne's posted about Lush's line of makeup (sadly, only sold in England, and why is it the makeup I love the most is from England or Australia?) and their solid perfumes before, and I've expressed my love for Lush's moisturizers, but today I want to talk about Lush's staple products: their bubble bars and bath bombs. I've been a huge fan of Lush ever since my friend Jennie gave me my first sample of their great moisturizers, but my love for them was really cemented when I discovered that their bath products didn't dry me or make me break out. Imagine my joy at being able to take a bubble bath, after years of breaking out into a itchy rash at even the sight of a bottle of Mr. Bubble, or drying up with most bottled bubble baths I'd tried.

    Make sure your bathtub is relatively clean before popping one in though! Some of the colored ones will leave a colored film on a dirty bath tub, so I hear.

    Bath Bombs:
    Run a bath and then chuck one of these in and watch it explode!

    Butterball: this little guy isn't much to look at, but man oh man does he moisturize. The scent is mild and slightly vanilla-y, and the little flecks of cocoa butter do wonders for the skin. I always make sure I've got one on hand to do dry skin damage control. This is my all time favorite bath product, and the first thing I'd recommend to anyone looking to try stuff out from Lush.

    Champagne Supernova: This bath bomb is HUGE, you guys. One lasted me for three baths, is all I'm saying. Loved the citrus and cognac smell and the pink-tinted water. I was less of a fan of the rice paper confetti bits, but then again, I don't see the point of stuff that doesn't have a function and is just there to look pretty. Give me colored flecks of cocoa butter any day.But it was especially awesome combined with a bit of a Karma bar- EXTRA CITRUS FUN. I was delighted with the combo.

    Bubble Bars:

    Break off a hunk of your bubble bar and crumble it under running water. The more water pressure you have on the bar, the better the bubbles!

    Karma: This is my staple bubble bar. It's big, has great bubbles, and ORANGE. My only warning is to make sure you get some of the orange in every bath. One time I broke off a hunk to throw in a bath that only had the yellow swirl, and I smelt delightfully of Patchouli the entire night. Not so great when you're hanging out with your ex and his new girlfriend. At least I live in Hippiesville, so it's not like I smelt any different than anyone else. Make sure you've got some of that orange in there, and you're golden.

    Creamy Candy Bath: For anyone with a sweet tooth. It's super moisturizing, but the bubbles aren't quite as big. Mixing with Hot Milk gives great results!

    Hot Milk: Great Bubbles, but the smell is completely mild. Mixing part of a Hot Milk bar with a Creamy Candy bubble bar gives a great smelling, extra-bubbly and moisturizing bath though.

    Next things on my list to try: The Ma Bar and Twinkle Bath Bomb.

    Images from lush.com.

    A quick and dirty guide to business casual

    As you may recall, back in September I wrote a post on wearing make-up at work. Since my friends and I have been in that post-college, need-a-grown-up-job boat, here's a couple of tips I've picked up along the way for "business casual" and interviewing. (And hey, I got an awesome job, so it works! I am off that boat!)

    1. If you aren't sure what's allowed and what's not, ASK. Always, always ask about the dress code and what it includes. When I accepted the temp job in August, one of the first things I asked was "what's the dress code?" Business casual in one office may mean "jeans on Fridays only, but khakis/cords are all right on other days", or it could mean "jeans are allowed every day". Even when I started at my temp job working in the video game industry, I asked about the dress code. I got some funny looks.

    2. Have a few pieces you know you can rely on. I mean, this is a basic for any working wardrobe, really. This applies to both interviews and working, because sometimes it's just easier to roll out of bed and put on your workin' pants. (This stops being so easy when you realize you've been wearing your workin' pants every day that week. And the week before. Except for Fridays.) Basics for me would include black non-denim pants, black leather flats, solid color tops, and a nice black cardigan. For casual Fridays, replace the work pants with a dark denim. My fallback interview outfit has generally been black pants or skirt, a nice top, a cardigan, and black heels or flats. Once or twice, though, I've gone directly from Casual Friday to an interview, so the dark denim came into play (and was acceptable, thank goodness).

    3. Keep in mind where you're interviewing. I've been to an interview where the dress code was universally understood and hammered into our heads (or so I thought) as "wear. a. suit." All of the guys there were wearing suits and looking rather dapper, as guys in suits tend to do. But the girls wore things ranging from khakis and knit tops to white pumps with khaki minis and a girl wearing something that looked like a party dress. I felt my standard cardigan-nice pants-heels would have been too casual, but apparently not everyone else thought so. Needless to say, I was in a black suit with my (now) go-to black heels, pantyhose, the works. I didn't get the job, but I felt pretty good about how I had dressed for the interview, anyway. And now I have a black suit and some nice heels.

    4. Have fun with your accessories. I like to wear earrings -- long dangly ones, in particular, but just being able to wear fun earrings in general is a way for me to still express myself when I'm wearing black pants, black flats, and a different plain solid-colored-or-striped shirt every day. This isn't so great if you spend a lot of your job on the phone, so pick out something that will be fun and easy and not get in the way (like bangles will). Try fun necklaces or neckscarves if your job keeps you from wearing our beloved headbands and earrings. I love the Juxtapose necklaces at Artschool Dropout -- her store is currently closed, but you can see some of her work on her Flickr. Gorgeous.

    5. Get a five-minute face down. I know that in my previous post, I talked about eyeshadow and what make-up to wear to work. I've got a whole little plastic drawer full of make-up, but I'm not going to do a full-on MAC eye every morning. You might! That is okay too! But just your basic face is the most important thing to get down, and often the hardest to achieve. So practice, streamline it, and highlight what you want to highlight.

    Here's my basic 5-minute face!

    - Step One: Foundation. I use Philosophy The Supernatural mineral make-up since I can pat it on with the sponge applicator instead using a brush.
    - Step Two: Concealer. I use DuWop's Surface concealer because it's in a lipstick-like tube -- I swipe it on under my eyes, then blend with my fingertips.
    - Step Three: Powder. I use Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil with a kabuki brush for this; it helps even out my foundation and my concealer.
    - Step Four: Brows. For brows, I use DuWop Brow Wow in Lighter. It's a shame they don't make the highlighter separately, since that would be a great eyelid color. (Hint, hint!)
    - Step Five: Eyeliner. I've talked about my eyeliner before, and my standard daytime eyeliner is Benefit in Sable.
    - Step Six: Mascara. Any mascara will do; I've been trying out different types, but I think Fresh SuperNova is still my favorite.
    - Step Seven: Cheeks. I use Benetint (again, as you know) and then I'll usually top it off with a powder blush. I've used BeneFit's Dandelion, MAC Mineralize Skin Finishes, Stila, etc. I've also used bronzer, too.

    All of that in under five minutes! I've seriously set my watch and timed it so I know it's under five. (I put my SPF on before I brush my teeth, then start my make-up after I've brushed my teeth so that my moisturizer is all soaked in. So keep that in mind, too!)

    If you need help, try going to a BeneFit or Bobbi Brown counter, as they tend to be the most casual-make-up-wearer friendly, but any make-up counter will be able to help you out, generally. As you can see, I rely pretty heavily on stuff I can get at Sephora, too.

    Naturally, business casual is a popular issue around the blogs, so here are some links for more info on What To Wear to Work.

    - Susan Wagner is one of the fashion contributing editors at BlogHer -- she also has a great blog called The Working Closet. It's not just for moms! Everyone can find really good information there, and if you have questions, she can definitely answer them.
    - Pretty, Preppy, or Polished is in the same sort of boat -- no more flipflops! She's got a good eye (love the headbands!) and I wish I had the same sort of discipline when it comes to shopping for clothes. (I really need a fall/winter wardrobe, you guys; I am very much a summer shopper.)
    - Faking Good Breeding posts fairly often about work and interview clothes -- just today she wrote about "dressing for your boss", including this link on Fashionista. She understands working with a budget (she's still in college!) and posts up all sorts of themed finds on Fridays (one was all Target coats! Yay, Target!).
    - For bonus info, Gala Darling wrote about business casual back in May. Her advice is more of the "grimace and bear it" sort, which I definitely have felt pangs of at times. Plus, she's Gala Darling and she is awesome.

    Now go out there and get 'em!

    images from jcrew.com and artschooldropout.net

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Paranormal State

    I'm sitting here eating chocolate-covered peanuts from Trader Joe's and watching this new post-Intervention A&E show, Paranormal State. This being a semi-scientifically-nerd-oriented blog, I can't help but comment on this new show. It's fascinating and yet completely untrustworthy at the same time, pretty much exactly what paranormal phenomena always are. I've never been a big believer in ghosts or spirits haunting houses, call me a skeptic, but I don't think the human brain, spirit, what-have-you is so strong and enduring that we leave a presence behind after death. That's what oral tradition and history are for, to preserve what is essentially human about each and every one of us in a real way.

    Still, there is something to the national X-Files obsession we've only just recovered from. Even I got super-excited to hear rumors about a second movie being made. I was as shocked and traumatized by The Exorcist as anyone else, demonic possession is absolutely fascinating, but I have to say it's just like the Salem witch trials--if anything, an outpouring of human emotion and an outcry for attention.

    So, Paranormal State seems extremely oriented towards religious solutions to the supernatural, all holy water and crosses and prayer. This "investigative team"'s leader, Ryan, has all the markings of a well-spoken, handsome, sensitive (to the extreme) manipulator. I'm curious to know what he's getting his degree in from Penn State, and why he doesn't think having his ears pierced detracts from his professionalism and cred as a psychic investigator. Maybe I'm too irreligious to enjoy shows like this, maybe TV reality shows have become too dramatized to be truly enjoyable. Let's see how long this show lasts.

    Gift Guide 1: Things we totally want but keep forgetting.

    Sometimes there are things that are so expensive and yet so awesome that I have to remind myself, "Oh yeah, I want that someday." But then payday comes around and instead I'm buying more eyeshadow or yarn or something like that, and I still can't justify dropping $250 on something, even if I've been wanting it for a while. So here are some cool things that I would totally buy, and absolutely appreciate, if I could only remind myself when I have the money. And then justify it.

    Also, I confirmed this with Kati: these are things we totally don't think about, but would be thrilled to receive. Well, except for maybe the last one. That may just be me.

    The first is the no!no! hair removal device from Sephora. I hate shaving my legs. I just hate it. I griped about this a little in June when I reviewed two scrubs. So letting a little machine do it? Heck yeah. And if it comes in pink? You bet I want it! And with a charm point of "you know if it's working if you can smell burnt hair", how can you resist? It's smaller than my cell phone and kind of looks like an iPod had a baby with a spring and a comb. This has been on my wishlist since they announced it was coming out and I keep forgetting about it. $250 at Sephora.

    Second is the Clarisonic Skin Care Brush. I've got a Sonicare toothbrush, which is the same sort of thing. But apparently this brush is supposed to be awesome for cleaning out your pores and exfoliating and it massages your face and I think you can probably take it into the shower with you if you're someone who washes your face in the shower. If you've got more sensitive skin, it also comes with a gentle brush attachment. I think that pairing this with Bliss' Clog-Dissolving Milk (which is excellent, by the way -- I know I'm fickle when it comes to face washes, as I've been like "BEST FACE WASH EVER" on this blog about four or five times now, but seriously now, it's really good, no lies) would be a good match. $195 at Sephora.

    Third up are Bose Noise Cancelling headphones. I am not someone who walks around with my iPod earbuds in, hanging like the status symbol that they are. For one thing, I hate things that go in my ears. For another thing, I like to actually listen to what's going on around me, just in case something important happens. I take the train a lot; I like to be able to hear when the train is coming, what stations we're going by, and important things like "we're running late", "the train ahead of us is broken", and "we're now a rescue train!" (This has happened.) But when I go on an airplane, or on a long car trip, I do pull out the iPod and listen to it. And so noise-cancelling headphones, particularly high-quality ones from Bose, would be a great investment for someone who does a lot of traveling. These are the QuietComfort 2 and are $299 at Bose.com (siiiigh).

    Finally, and this is totally random, TAIYAKI MAKER. If you haven't tried taiyaki, they are little fish-shaped pastries (tai being the Japanese name for snapper) that are filled with sweet bean paste, custard, chocolate, etc., and they are delicious, especially when they're fresh and hot. I have no idea how to use this pan, but I would assume it's like a waffle iron except you have to heat it up on the stove or something. Still, being able to have taiyaki at any time of the day would be awesome. It is always a good time for taiyaki. $26.40 at Amazon.com. This is probably just me. Don't buy this for someone who does not know what taiyaki is, because otherwise they will be very confused.

    Now I really, really want to eat fresh taiyaki, and the closest fresh taiyaki is too far away. Curses.

    images from sephora.com, bose.com, and amazon.com

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    Science Fair for December 3rd - 9th

    Yes, it's a little late on a Sunday night, but I'm stepping up to the plate!

    - Have you heard of Jonathan Coulton, the official Troubadour of John Hodgman? Both were Nerd Man of the Month at The Park Bench (May and April, respectively). Other awardees include Joss Whedon and the Flight of the Conchords. Anyway, back to Jonathan Coulton: his song, "Flickr", is a multimedia experience which you can watch here. I agree: thumbs up for Slurpees! He has also written songs about zombies ("Re: Your Brains"), working in a cubicle ("Code Monkey") and PANTS ("Mr. Fancy Pants").

    - Every year, we have a neighborhood family that makes and gives out Chex Muddy Buddies (with chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar) for the holidays, and it's something I look forward to every year (because Muddy Buddies are the best). From BlogHer, here's a great list of homemade food (and booze!!) gift ideas gathered from blogs all over. Homemade limoncello? Yes please!

    - I know I'm not the only one who loved Heather on ANTM this cycle. Here's an article in the New York Times on Heather and Aspergers.

    - Okay. I admit it. I kind of love the Spice Girls, and I'm sad I missed them when they were in town this week (I didn't know they would be! I thought the closest they would be would be LA or Vegas! I didn't know they added more!!). So here they are on YouTube. But if you miss the old Spice Girls before they all got, well, kind of scary (besides Scary herself), Comcast On Demand is offering Spice World as a free movie until Valentine's Day. This was back before Posh married Becks, you guys! (In the credits, she's Victoria Adams.) Cameos include Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry (!!), Roger Moore with lots of adorable animals, Meatloaf as their bus driver, and Richard O'Brien (Riff-Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the bad guy from Ever After that Drew Barrymore CUTS IN THE FACE) as the villainous paparazzi Damien. I had a good time. So hush.

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Fashion of Gossip Girl Part Three: Jenny, Kati, and Isabel

    Happy Friday everyone! It's time for part three of our Gossip Girl style guide. Today I want to talk about the rest the ladies of Gossip Girl: Jenny, Kati, and Isabel.

    Jenny, being the youngest gossip girl has the most accessible style. She generally keeps it simple, although occasionally she'll go a little over the top, like any other 15 year old girl. She's rocking all the latest trends, and hasn't defined her own personal style as much as Serena or Blair.

    Kati and Isabel, on the other hand, definitely have their own personal style: Whatever their friends are wearing. They're often seen in adorable complimentary outfits, ones that often pull from what Blair or Serena is wearing.

    Exhibit One: Keeping it on Trend

    Top Left: Wild Brunch, Bottom Left: Blair Waldorf Must Pie, Right: Daredevil.
    With these three outfits, Jenny's displaying an admirable grasp on this season's trends. With the outfit from The Wild Brunch, she's rocking the mini-dress and the random belt trend. Not sure how I feel about the belt OVER the cardigan, but the dress is definitely cute enough to make up for it.

    The Puffed Sleeve dress from Blair Waldorf Must Pie is just adorable in general, but it's the puffed sleeves that give it the edge. I must say I'm a fan of puffed sleeves; most likely it's from reading Anne of Green Gables too many times as a kid.

    And Jenny rocks the indiekid hipster look in this outfit from Daredevil. It is only fitting since the Humphrey's are from Brooklyn, after all. Skinny jeans, basic black flats, and the layering of the cute tops with a simple necklace for accessorizing. Jenny's got this season's trends mastered.

    Exhibit Two: Dress I Covet!

    Polka Dot Dress from the Handmaiden's Tale

    Adorable! The jacket is very cute too, and the bag keeps it from getting too old (because seriously, I would wear that jacket/dress combo out any day of the week.) If I was seven years younger, I'd be rocking that bag too.

    (Also, how much does Taylor Momsen resemble the actress that plays her mom in the second shot? Well done, casting department!)

    Exhibit Three: Tams and Berets

    At Left: Jenny in an adorable little crocheted beret from upcoming episode.
    Top Right: Kati and Isabel rock matching Tams in Victor, Victrola.
    Bottom Left: Jenny is in a Tam from Hi, Society.

    If I had to pick one thing I love about being a knitter, it's the current ability of the knitting community at large to pick out upcoming trends a year before the malls get ahold of it. Last year I knit myself a little knitted beret, and loads of patterns had the adorable puffed sleeves, and voila! This year, it's all about the berets and puffed sleeves. Love it!

    And it's not just berets that are in this winter! Tams, with their jaunty poms on top are in too! Personally, I feel a little silly wearing a tam, so I'm sticking with berets; but tams are great for anyone who doesn't look seven years younger than their actual age. (Seriously. I get asked what high school I go to all the time by actual high schoolers and carded at R-rated movies. It's a little bit pathetic, and I think I'd look about ten years younger than I actually am if I wore a tam.) But tams are definitely fun for those of you who look around your age. They're youthful and the poms make me happy every time I see one.

    Exhibit Four: Matching Your Best Friend.

    How many of us have ever gone out and ended up wearing pretty much identical outfits as our friends? I know my roommate and I used to do that all the time, because after all, great minds think alike. But Kati and Isabel take it to a whole new level.

    Oh, Kati, I may have to love you two because we share a name (if not a pronunciation,) but I also kind of love you for your commitment to the best friend theme. You guys dress like twins, and it is always hilarious. Do you call each other every day to coordinate outfits? It is new levels of codependency and it is so over the top that I love it.

    Also how much do I want Serena and Blair to do this again, but with actual clothing they own, rather than with stolen clothing that doesn't look right with their coloring? A lot.

    Stay tuned for Part Four: our shopping guide. We're combing the net for ways to get the look for less, pointing out some other Gossip Girl Style Guides, and picking out some pieces we think the girls would wear.

    screencaps from youknowyouloveme.org

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