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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Escape and Evade

As I've mentioned before, David Mamet's "The Unit" is one of my favorite shows. The episodes showing how to drive evasively were particularly inspiring for the hour-and-a-half car trips I make between home and school during the year. Let's just say I like to pretend one of the cars behind me is the pursuer, and I must escape their evil grasp! It's a self-training exercise, really. In terms of general safety provisions and evasive tactics, I'm sure many ladies have been in a situation they wanted to get out of--say, you're out alone at night, can't seem to get away from that creepy staring man at a bar, chased by a team of Mossad agents, that sort of thing. It's a terrible thing, but danger lurks in the world, and ladies, we have to be prepared for any eventuality.

A former Green Beret taught me that there are three ways to successfully escape and evade, particularly in a city environment: keep moving, change the way you move, and wear reversible clothing. The first, keep moving, is a no-brainer...if you stop, you let your pursuer catch up with you. Keep moving and be unpredictable. The second, changing the way you move, can mask any tell-tale or identifying mannerisms (the example used was the way you swing your arm if you've been injured, the pursuer can hone in on that and find you even in a crowd). Changing the way you move when wearing heels is a bit of a problem, but I have a solution: just make sure you're wearing shoes you can run in at all times, and don't trust those actresses in movies who can run in stilettos, that is a load of bull. Flats or kitten heels could save your life in a pinch.

The third and final factor, reversible clothing, is more important for creating a disguise and blending into a crowd when trying to keep under the radar. At this point in the lesson, my mind started to wander and I wondered if there was any kind of fashionable reversible clothing for ladies in need of multipurpose outfits. Remember all those times when Sydney Bristow had to create disguises for herself in Alias, like in the drugstore with the sorority girls and the blonde wig and new makeup? That was awesome, but sometimes a girl has to rely on what she's got at hand. (Click on the pictures below to see more photos of my suggestions.)

This purple/black reversible silk jersey mini-dress frm Bodyamr seems like a good choice for a night out: Change from chic purple to stealth black, come on, now! Still, it seems to take up a bit too much fabric to be supremely stealthy. Next!

Triple Five Soul's purple and white striped zip-up hoodie is definitely street-ready. Unfortunately, you're going to have to be extraordinarily long-waisted and waifish to pull of that look with the horizontal stripes, awkwardly placed pockets, and juniors-department length (what is up with that nonsense, anyway?). Third time's a charm, ladies?

Nordstrom has a Softwear brand reversible jacket that looks warm and utilitarian: Maybe it's a little bit middle-aged. Nice, but not quite as becoming for a young, spicy woman as it could be. I shall continue to look!

Finally, we have a winner! AngelRox's reversible halter wrap dress: Hello, nurse! The high-necked halter top is alluring, feminine but not skanky (something I avoid like the plague, thanks), nice length in the skirt, and the whole thing reverses from heather grey to black and back. Couldn't you just think of a million things to do with that waist tie in the wee hours?

Just don't wear shoes you can't run in.

Images from net-a-porter.net, 80spurple.com, nordstrom.com and ravinstyle.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You light up my life!

I love supporting independent artists, whether they're local or afar, so it's no surprise that one of my favorite blogs is Modish. I used her holiday gift guide this year for some gifties, and I've bought from several of the artists she's featured -- my wallet, several pairs of earrings, and I'm always looking to see what goodies she's found. I'm especially looking forward to seeing what she finds at Makerfaire's Bizarre Bazaar this weekend, as I plan on spending some quality time and money there. I also know that Natalie from Coquette will be there as well!

One of the gifts I bought this past year was a candle from Beccalights, an independent candlemaker featured on Modish. I bought the Tannenbaum candle in glass for my mom and the Chai Tea (in the Autumn scent section) candle tin for myself. Due to a shipping mix-up, I also got some additional candles. Kristin's handling of the whole thing was really exceptional, which definitely made me want to buy from her again.

Recently, on reading Gala Darling's article on candles in jars, I remembered that I had my Beccalights candles and thought I ought to burn them. But on smelling them, I realized that all of my scents, while delicious, were a bit too autumnal for what I want right now. (Gala is totally my newest hero, by the way.)

I ordered two candles from Beccalights: Olive Blossom, which is a lovely floral, and Tomato Vine. Now, one of my most favorite perfume companies of all time is Demeter Fragrance, and, of their perfume library, my number one scent is Tomato. Sounds odd, but if you've ever picked a homegrown cherry tomato off the vine in the summer, you know how good that is. On opening the Tomato Vine candle and breathing it in, it was exactly that scent.

For lovely candles with amazing service, check out Beccalights.com and support independent merchants!

image from beccalights.com

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keeping the suitcase light!

I have returned from Europe, having lugged a nearly-50 pound suitcase around Paris, Belgium, and London -- long story short, I found I only really wore one pair of shoes (lesson learned: break in all shoes before traveling!) and all of the make-up I toted around went unworn except for the following essentials. What's more, they're all great for summer. (Did spring just not happen this year?)

1. Jonathan Product's Redo Freshen-Up Mist for Hair & Skin

I must admit, I do not much like showering in places that are not my own shower or sitting in bathtubs that are not my own. Having short hair, I can get away with not washing it every day (sounds gross, but it's actually better for you -- overwashing strips your hair of natural oils and kicks it into over-producing oil. Vicious cycle!). But sometimes you need to freshen up your hair without jumping in the shower, like when you're heading out the door. While I also bought some delicious-smelling hair powder to blot my hair, I found that I've really been relying on Jonathan Product's Redo spray at home and on the road. Sometimes I wake up with my hair going every which way and there's just enough time to spritz my roots and smoothe down my hair.

2. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser Makeup Remover

When I'm home, I tend to have a set routine for my face if it's a good night and I've got time to scrub, tone, mask, and moisturize. But sometimes, when you're coming home too late and you've got make-up on and all you want to do is wash your face and go to sleep, you've got to have a back-up plan. This was the only cleanser I used, morning and night, in Europe, and it's increasingly become my reliable buddy on my make-up-wearing nights. Just put it on your dry face (hooray! one more step you don't have to do!) and rinse it off. Sometimes I've found that I need an additional eye make-up remover for mascara and eyeliner (I use Almay pads), but it takes care of everything else. Easy and quick!

3. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15

Let me tell you about my friend, Sam. Sam is the most well-put together girl I know and has been for as long as I can remember. I was walking up the street in Paris, on my way to her apartment, when I saw a girl from behind with such jaunty hair and such a swing in her step that I thought, "That girl reminds me of Sam." Sure enough, when she turned around, it was indeed Sam. When Sam asked for a care package from home, this was in it. This has been my daily moisturizer (except for days when I need more coverage, then I go for DuWop's Revolotion Face) for almost a year now. It's noncomedogenic (hooray!) and has a slight bit of shimmer to give you a bit of a glow. I put this on, let it set in while I brush my teeth, and then put on my cheek stain for the day.

4. Tarte Cheek Stain for Cheeks, Flush

Speaking of cheek stain, this is my travel buddy cheek stain. When I'm at home, I use Benefit's Benetint, but when I'm jaunting off, I don't like carrying around a little glass bottle (my first Benetint was knocked off the counter and smashed) with an easily breakable lid (if you try to twist it too tightly to prevent spilling, it can snap) and what is basically liquid dye. Probably not the best thing to put in your suitcase, right? But Tarte's cheek stain is a fairly-solid gel, so no spilling, no worries about security, and the color is great. It's easy to apply and blend (though you may get some under your nails!) and, of course, easy to pack. It also comes in lots of colors, versus the one pink of Benetint, but I find Flush to be the one I like best.

5. Mascara, eyeliner, and tinted lip balm

I brought so much eyeshadow and lip gloss that I wound up not needing, it's a shame. While I wanted to look good in Paris, I also discovered that I didn't need to overload on the product, and that a simple, fresh look with only mascara, eyeliner, and tinted lip balm (plus said sunscreen and cheek tint!) worked best. While you may find you need more product, summer's coming and nothing's worse than a melting face, especially if you're taking lots of pictures. I use Fresh's SuperNova mascara, but an equally good (and much cheaper!) mascara is CoverGirl Lash Exact. Yes, the one that Joanie, Danielle, and Jade had to do their commercials for. ANTM made me buy it. Besides, would Queen Latifah lie to me?

I've already talked about my Benefit sable eyepencil before, so there's nothing new there. And I've already told you that the one problem I have with Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers is the lack of SPF. Luckily, TerraTints from Alba Botanica are practically the same thing -- right down to the peppermint -- but with added SPF. Hallelujah! I've been using Bloom, but there are six shades in all.

Keep it easy and light this summer, both in your bag and on your face! All of these products can be found at Drugstore.com/Beauty.com.

images from beauty.com/drugstore.com and albabotanica.com

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Does This Make My Butt Look Bodacious?

Way back before there were magazines for women's fitness like Prevention or Women's Health, the only good resource for workout tips I looked to was (shockingly enough) Men's Health. Of course, never being the hardcore gym fiend that I always hoped to be, those tips on how to get six-pack abs were never really put to use. Maybe if I ate rare T-bone steaks and tree bark for every meal, I would look like the female Incredible Hulk the fitness industry wants women to be, but I do love the carbs, as I'm sure all of you do, too. So, in my Great Quest to Get Fit these past six months, I've fallen into a work-out rut, despite all those nights of giggling over Dad's back issues of Men's Health (their "Ask the Girl Next Door" column is actually genius).

Luckily, the fitness industry makes beaucoup bucks off of hopeless women like me who don't lose pounds, despite working out until their lungs collapse day in and day out. I fell into the trap of women's magazine advice a few weeks ago and tried out a "Functional Strength on the BOSU" class at my local gym, and sweet baby Jesus, it was like HELL. HELL, ON WHEELS. (Wheels that are bouncy, made of rubber, and with aerobics instructors who make you jump up and down in the least fun way.) There is something to be said about staying in your comfort zone when at the gym.

Magazines like Prevention sell to women with families and jobs and things that I don't have (houses, free time, etc. etc.), so although their advice is quite good and interesting reading come treadmill time, it's hard to relate to. It's always "your husband" this or "making gluten-free cupcakes for your kid's fourth-grade class" that, tidbits that I'll probably need eventually, but give me the "10-minute fat-ass-blasting workout for sedentary students" any day and I will gladly try it. This article on how and why men lose weight faster than women caught my eye on Yahoo!. You see, I have a brother who, like me, grew up with a mother whose idea of an after-school treat was Tofu Surprise and shredded carrots. In a ridiculous twist of fate, we both ended up as slightly blubbery young adults--he lost thirty pounds in a matter of months after his wedding, while I have gained and maintained a good twenty pounds since then (thanks a lot, college). What's a girl to do?

Back to the elliptical for me tomorrow, I guess. Maybe a jog down by the beach?

Image from answers.com.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

Until recently, Tuesdays were my favorite day for television. Primetime Tuesday nights are pretty much packed with three of the greatest shows on television right now: House, my perennial favorite Law & Order: SVU, and the sort-of new but totally endearing kid on the block, David Mamet's The Unit. Unfortunately for Tuesday, Wednesdays have a much bigger draw, and that is namely Hustle on AMC and a whole twenty-four hours of old Westerns on the Plex channel. Westerns, I say!

The secret's out, I am a yankee girl who loves Westerns with all her heart. Some folks like slasher films, some like romantic comedies, but hot-damn, Westerns are the greatest and most under-appreciated genre of films ever made. Tonight had me glued to Jesse James vs. the Daltons, The Fighting Frontiersman, and The Golden Stallion (starring the one and only Roy Rogers and featuring a totally awesome square-dancing scene!). There is just something about classic Westerns, even these pulp-ish ones, they showcase a piece of American history when so much was still undiscovered and boundless--perhaps an innocence and a joy that we have lost since the 1950s. Cowboys roaming the range, always on the move, holding on to an ephemeral sense of home and belonging in the midst of ever-encroaching modernization. Maybe it's the loss of the American hometown spirit, the slow death of the American farming and ranching industry, who knows? Still, I find it fascinating that these 1940s and 1950s Westerns reinterpreted the frontier lifestyle (and you know I love the New Look-ish prairie costumes), the adventure of ranch life and gold prospecting, all with a glorious zest for color and movement. Take a look at the first part of the original Wild West depiction, The Great Train Robbery--the cross-cutting! The parallel action! The awesome!

I have to say, I am sorely disappointed in the fact that today's movie industry has all but abandoned the Western genre. (Brokeback Mountain does not count. A case could be made for Dances With Wolves and The Missing, which is essentially a remake of the below-mentioned The Searchers) The last great Western, as far as I'm concerned, was John Sayles' Lone Star, easily one of the greatest films ever made, and even so it's a mystery-crime drama-romance-flashback-Western. Don't get me started about my deep love for that film. I guess the Wild West is just in my blood: my maternal grandmother once met Wyatt Earp, or so she claimed, and my father was named after Gary Cooper. Seriously.

If you are suspicious about the greatness of Western films, start out slow, with a couple of Clint Eastwood (who, coincidentally, lives but a short drive away from me) spaghetti Westerns, then move to John Wayne-John Ford collaborations like the classic, if somewhat excrutiatingly long and politically incorrect The Searchers, or another one of the landmarks of the genre, Stagecoach. If you're like me and embarrassingly into the kitschy, schlocky 1950s Technicolor Westerns, check out The Guns of Fort Petticoat or Johnny Guitar (Joan Crawford is GLORIOUS.) Yippee-ky-yay-yo, yippee-kay-y-yay, go out and watch a Western today!

(With apologies and much respect to Patsy Montana for today's entry title.)

Image from peggylee.com.

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