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Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweet and simple: Cream Eyeshadows

I'm a big fan of keeping things simple when it comes to my beauty routines: I've talked a gazillion times about getting the five-minute face down, easy beauty staples for traveling, etc. etc. And so cream shadows are a great little product for quick application, especially when it gets closer to the summer and you don't want to pile on the product. (Would you really be piling on the product anyway?)

Today I'm testing out Shiseido the Makeup Hydro-Powder Eyeshadow (that's quite a mouthful!). Specifically, I'm wearing the new Lemon Sugar from their spring collection, and it is a gorgeous pale gold. I like the consistency and the color, but alas, it's creasing after about five hours of wear (I put it on around 7:30 this morning and checked it around 12:30). I primarily bought Lemon Sugar to use as a highlighter, so I'm sure it'll work well for that purpose, but as a lid wash, it's pretty creasy for me. That said, I've also ordered Tiger Eye, which looks like a gorgeous orange-y bronze (awesome for hazel-eyed me!), which I'm definitely looking forward to using this summer for a super-easy smokey eye. (I ordered it before announcing the product diet, so it's okay!)

I've also used BeneFit's creaseless cream shadow/liner, but as I've said, it has creased on me in the past. I even told the make-up artist this at the Viva La Rebel event last month, and her solution was to add a matching powder eyeshadow on top. Still, I love the colors (I've got Skinny Jeans and Birthday Suit -- pewter and platinum, respectively, but I've been awfully tempted by RSVP, their champagne-pink), and I'm also a fan of the Talent Brush that they created specifically for their shadows. Before I picked up the Talent Brush, I just used an angled eyeliner brush; it's up to you what you want to use.

There are a couple more creamy eyeshadow products that I haven't tried; in the same package as my Shiseido Tiger Eye, I've got a Stila Shadow Pot to try out. Like BeneFit, it says it won't crease, but I'm both apprehensive and hopeful. I've tested out their colors at Sephora (on the back of my hand), but things always change when they go from hand to face. It does look like their Shadow Pots aren't really something they're putting a lot of effort into developing anymore, though... Still, I hope I like it!

Finally, everyone has been raving up and down about MAC's Paint Pots since they came out last year; some of them are claiming it's just as good or better than UDPP (Urban Decay Primer Potion) as a non-creasing primer. Wow. That's a high, high claim. I have yet to try out the Paint Pots, if just because I'm very happy with my UDPP, but I've been intrigued since their launch. I don't know if any of the colors are really jumping out at me, though -- Delft (teal) looks really gorgeous, but how often do I wear the teal shadows I already have (hint: I don't)? And I passed up on the one Fafi paint pot I might have worn, Nice Vice (plum), which is now sold out and I'm on my no buy, so no go there. It's something I have to think about for when I'm ready to buy again. Luckily, most of the Paint Pots are permanently in the MAC collection (which is a rarity for MAC; love you guys, but come on!), so I can take my time and think about it.

What cream eyeshadows have you tried out and liked? Do you find that even the "creaseless" ones crease, like they do on me, or are you lucky and don't have the same greasy eyelids I do? Are Paint Pots really that awesome and I'm just a fool for not giving them a chance? Let me know!

images from sephora.com and benefitcosmetics.com

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Science Fair for March 24th - 30th

This week's Science Fair is very fashion and beauty heavy, because there have been some awesome posts up and about on these topics this past week, and I've just been saving them left and right for sharing with you!

- From Jezebel, Women Who Love Fashion Are Not Inherently Idiotic. I always love reading the comments on Jezebel, and there are some good ones about women, fashion, feminism, and how there's nothing wrong with being a smart woman who likes to dress fashionably, so don't let anybody make you feel otherwise.

- From Susie Bubble, a collection of favorite tactile moments in clothing. Just reading this post made me happy and want to play with some grosgrain ribbon.

- In the New York Times, the day after I posted my mascara experiment update, they published an article on girls performing science experiments on cosmetics. I really want to try the lipsticked-paper into acetone experiment...

- It seems like everyone is getting ready for weddings! Kati is going to be a maid of honor in her sister's wedding (yay!!), and I've been following EmilyStyle, a San Francisco blogger who's preparing for her wedding! Then Wendy Brandes posted her unique engagement rings. Gorgeous! (Check out her incredible painter's poison ring with watercolors inside!) And since we can't talk about engagement rings without talking about diamonds, she also covered the conflict diamond issue, which, as an April (diamond birthstone) baby, makes me feel a little better.

- Finally, Violet Blue, the famous sex podcaster and San Francisco Chronicle contributer, confronts what it's like to be a woman online when everyone feels they have the right to tear you down for what you look like (guess what? they don't). And her conclusion is that when you step away from the critics and their razor-thin spectrum of beauty, and you appreciate who you are and what you do with your body, that's what's beautiful and sexy: you as you are. And really, isn't it sad that they can't see how beautiful everything and everyone and life itself really is?

So with that, here we go into April, everyone! Spring is here in California; it's lovely and so are you.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cute Cheap Spring Dresses

I've had a one track mind lately. I've been playing a ton of pupe.jp lately (I blame Jeanne!) and all of my uploads have been giving me adorable spring time dresses (go here if you need a primer on pupe.jp!) So, I figured, why fight my desire to talk about cute dresses all the time? Clearly the universe wants me to talk about them. So here's a couple of cute dresses, all under 50 bucks.

Bow Tie Dress from Charlotte Russe
I wore this dress in red to a formal, but I was ridiculously underdressed, and hello, SO CUTE IN GREEN. It's also super comfy to the point that I didn't care that I was underdresssed.

Polka Dot Dress:

This dress is very 50s housewife meets 70s acid tripper, and I love it for it. The polka dots are insane! I love the detailing on the bodice too, and the wide waistband.

Floral Halter:

For everyone who likes their clothing a little more sedated, this dress is perfect. Adorable white halter with an elegant floral pattern coming up from the hem.

Cute Cloud Dress from Urban Outfitters:

This one is slightly more spendy (but still under 50 bucks, as per my requirement to be featured on cute cheap dress posts) but I can't resist the adorable clouds on this dress that look like something out of a Japanese woodblock print. The braided straps are fun too. If it wasn't a babydoll dress, I'd buy this in a second flat (as it is, I'm still very tempted.)

Now I just need to pick which one to buy!

Images from charlotterusse.com and urbanoutfitters.com.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Great Mascara Experiment: Update #1

Ah yes, did you think I forgot? I didn't! You might have, but I didn't! Need a quick recap?

For seven weeks straight, I wore Maybelline Great Lash in the shade "Soft Black" every day. Even if it was 11 o'clock at night and I'd forgotten to put it on in the morning, I would put it on for about ten minutes before washing it off. The important thing was that the brush hit my lashes every day starting February 1st and ending March 22nd. (The original plan was to just do six weeks, ending March 14th. But since I didn't have enough time to put together the petrie dishes the weekend of the 14th, I did them this past weekend.)

I also had a second tube that I bought the same day, same color, same batch code (at least I didn't need to buy fifty, but I did want to be sure they were as identical as possible), and left in the package until I was ready to swab it.

This past Sunday, March 23rd, I put together my bacteria-growing kit from HomeTrainingTools.com. I followed the instructions in the kit on how to prepare the agar (boiling 1/4 cup water with half of the provided agar) and poured it into the two petrie dishes, labeling one "brand new" and one "after seven weeks". I swiped the respective mascaras into the petrie dishes and set them in my dresser where it's dark and not too cold so that the bacteria can grow.

After two days, I haven't seen any change. However, it usually takes about a week for significant bacteria growth to show up, so I'm not surprised. I mean, after all, it took seven weeks of mascara-using to get to this point, so what's one more week?

And I am taking pictures, obviously, so you can expect the result some time in April! (And by some time in April, I mean next week!)

Now that my daily mascara has been retired to the World of Science, what am I using? I'm trying out CoverGirl's Lash Blast, with its big fat rubber brush (seriously, that thing could be a weapon and I am not sure how I feel with it being something that goes that close to my eye!). I was pretty impressed with Lash Exact, so it's worth, uh, the experiment. What can I say? I watch a lot of ANTM.

And a lot of Mythbusters, of course. (My favorite part of that website? The phrase "hat-throwing robot". I don't know how or why I would use one, but I want one.)

images from www.adamsavage.com and www.covergirl.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saving up this spring...

So I had a little heart attack last Friday where I logged into my online banking and realized that there was a problem. A problem named "Jeanne's shopping habits".

Scrolling down my bank statement and looking at how much I'd dropped at Sephora or MAC or H&M... it was embarrassing and frustrating. I'm a sucker for limited editions and new collections and I'm a softie in the makeover chair, so I've got a lot of stuff that just gets added on top of everything else I have.

So I need to knock it off. No more shopping sprees. When Kati and I were doing the knitblogging thing, it was called a "yarn diet": use the yarn you have, stop buying new yarn! For me now (as the yarn buying has, well, pretty much stopped), that means "stay out of Sephora! stop looking at Specktra! avoid the beauty supply store with OPI and Essie on the way home from work!"

It is, of course, very hard, especially when your Bloglines is full of chatter about what's new and hot for spring and summer and it's all so incredible and so tempting. But the truth is, I have a lot of awesome stuff that I have never used or tried more than once because I've already moved onto the next thing. And I've spent a good chunk of change on it, because everything I've got, I paid for myself.

Just like before I left for Europe and Japan, I have a set goal to achieve this summer that I need to save money for: I'm moving, and since I'm going to be moving up to San Francisco, it's going to be expensive not just to start up, but every month after that. And so I've got to sock away as much money as I can towards that goal, and then keep socking it away. (And no, I do not need to buy myself a new cute piggy bank to do so. THAT IS NOT THE POINT.)

So no more stops at Sephora. No more "well, I'm at the drugstore anyway, might as well grab this and that and this too" buys. No more impulsive Etsy buys. No more new nail polishes. No more "I'm just going to LOOK in H&M, I swear" or "Hmm, I'll just stop in at American Apparel before the gym". I'm going to use what I have for as long as I can. I've already done an awesome job of not buying a new swimsuit since '06 -- last year all I wanted was the perfect simple black retro-esque one piece suit. I didn't find it, I didn't buy it, and while I'd still like one, I didn't (and don't) ultimately need one.

There will be, of course, some things that I'll allow. In the next couple of months, I'll be having my birthday and I'll be getting some tax returns (not to mention that "save the American economy and buy! buy! buy!" incentive). Odds are that yeah, I'll be putting that money away as well, but Naughty Nauticals is coming out in May, and not to mention Marimekko for H&M... NO. STOP IT, JEANNE.

But I will still be attending events, including ones that charge cover, and (naturally) I'll still be eating, going places, and getting haircuts. And I'll be rediscovering (and writing about!) the things that I have in my collection and my wardrobe, which will be fun, like falling in love again. (Right? Right.)

Anyone else in the same dilemma I am? How do you decide what to buy and what to walk away from? What are you putting your money towards this spring?

image from banksbanksbanks.com

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Science Fair for March 17th-23rd

How was everyone's week? I'm sure some of you are tucked out from the two holiday week!

-In holiday related news, All Lacquered Up gives an overview of green nail polishes, and over at Blogdorf Goodman, there are some great pastel easter egg shades featured!. In more edible holiday news, PastaQueen discusses the Cadbury Creme Egg conspiracy over at Half of Me, her fitness/weightloss blog. Oh Cadbury, secretly shrinking the eggs? Possibly worth it for the pic of B.J. Novak though.

-So, when I got my wisdom teeth out, hopped up on vicodin and ibuprofen, I decided to watch the first season of Laguna Beach.

I have been a tiny bit in love with Lauren Conrad ever since. The Wall Street Journal doesn't seem to need the vicodin to fall in love slightly, as they've profiled her on Friday, and NY mag reviews her new fashion line.

-Speaking of questionable fashion, Fug madness has started! I have always enjoyed the idea of brackets, but basketball is not at all my sport of choice. I am super excited to watch the tournament of fug though!

-Here's a look at some exceptional older folks: 101 year old Londoner aims to run a marathon after finishing a half marathon, and over in Japan, Reuter's has an article on Jakucho Setouchi, a popular Romance writer and a nun.

-And finally, TV is starting to return, thank goodness! I watched How I Met Your Mother this week, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much I missed watching new shows! And tomorrow night, Britney Spears and Sarah Chalke are guesting on HIMYM, leading to rampant speculation that one of them might be the titular mother. Me? I'm just looking forward to another enjoyable half hour.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Vintage Fashion Expo

For years, I've always meant to go to the Vintage Fashion Expo. But it's one of those things that kind of pops up in your conscious as "Oh yes, I wanted to go to that... when was that again? Oh, I missed it?"

So when I found out that it was coming up last week, I contacted Elle and asked her if she'd be interested in going with me just to go check it out. Needless to say, we wound up walking up Nob Hill (!!!) on a lovely San Francisco day to check out some amazing vintage vendors.

As soon as we walked in the back door, we discovered a huge table full of loose earrings, pins, pendants, and rings with bowls to fill with found treasure at 25 cents a piece. Knowing we'd get sucked into it, we did a full circuit of the exhibit hall before returning. (If anyone knows the name of this vendor, I don't! Heartbreaking!)

The variety of clothing and pieces was amazing, ranging from Aubergine's selection of vintage European exports (including awesome fedoras and slips in the most incredible colors) to Bakelite jewelry (including a gorgeous pair of "apple juice" stud earrings that I just couldn't justify spending $95 on) and incredible hats. In addition to selling vintage clothing, Anna Newman Vintage runs an Etsy store full of vintage patterns sorted by bust size (super-helpful!!).

The things I loved most at the expo? Seeing all of the designer pieces, including a stunning vintage Vivienne Westwood sleek pinstriped dress, was definitely at the top of my list. The amazing array of jewelry, from costume to estate, was incredible. (The juxtaposition of me wearing my Pancake Meow cupcake necklace while cooing over estate rings amused at least one vendor.)

I will say, though, that the one thing that truly made me gasp and squeal with joy (besides the Vivienne Westwood) was the Allyn Scura booth full of deadstock glasses frames. OH. MY. YES. I had a blast trying on glasses, and nearly fell in love with a pair of sunglasses (not these ones, but they sure are great!). I've been thinking about going to the Alameda Pointe Antiques and Collectibles Faire ever since I read about it in Apartment Therapy San Francisco, but now that I know that Allyn Scura is a regular vendor there, I will definitely have to make the journey out to Alameda, especially since Fashioni.st has been taking amazing photos there. And even the San Francisco Chronicle is writing about it, which only means that more people are going to show up at the next one...

The next Vintage Fashion Expo is in Santa Monica on May 10th and 11th, then returns to San Francisco in September. It's definitely worth checking out if just to see the vintage outfits that a lot of the attendees and exhibitors are rocking -- I saw the coolest apple green wedges on a girl in the Aubergine booth. (Speaking of which, I need to scoot up to Sebastopol/Occidental and check out the shop!)

In short, totally inspiring and a lot of fun, even if I only came away with some photographs and a lot of business cards and things to check out (Alameda and Aubergine, mostly!). Elle got a rad fedora and three earrings from the Jewelry Pile, so we didn't leave totally empty-handed. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday in the city.

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last minute greens!

I've been there before: all of a sudden it's March 17th and you're not wearing green, and everyone thinks it's an awesome idea to tease and pinch you. Keep your hands to yourself, if you please!

Technically today's not St. Patrick's Day -- it was switched to this past Saturday, the 15th, but that doesn't stop the celebrating... and the enjoying of green! It's always a great color for spring, and this year's no different.

So if you didn't manage to snag something green when you were getting ready this morning, here are a few things you can do to avoid those pinchers. (Seriously, people, STOP PINCHING. IT'S NOT FUNNY.)

- Got time to paint your nails? All Lacquered Up has a fantastic round-up of green polishes. I was planning on painting my nails with Rescue Beauty Lounge's "Recycle" yesterday, but didn't manage to. (I've also got "Tree Hugger" in the mail!)

- Irish eyes are smiling when it comes to green eyeshadow and liner. I'm wearing Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil in "Covet" today. Urban Decay has lots of fantastic shades of green, including "Graffiti", their bright green Deluxe eyeshadow (and now in Loose Pigment), and, if you're feeling super-fancy, they have Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner in "Mullet", which is more of a lime green. If you need some more inspiration, Cory Kennedy's look for Urban Decay features both "Covet" and "Graffiti".

- Need something quick and cute that will last all spring? Snag an Old Navy tank top in "Green Empress". While you're at it, grab one in "Blue Corsica", too -- I'm crazy about that blue. And if you're expecting it to get cold, you could always go for the pointelle sweater instead of the tank.

- Thinking of jewelry? There's always Claire's Accessories for cheap jewelry you can pick up quickly and wear once or twice (or more, if you love it!). Check out the green star earrings or your classic green bead necklace. Granted, everyone else will be wearing green party beads, but if you're in a pinch (!!!), the price ($5.50 for the necklace, $4.50 for the earrings) is right.

- One last option? There's always the MLB Irish baseball cap. While not every team is represented there (like the Red Sox, who are famous for their green caps and uniforms), it's a quick fix... but a bit of a pricey one, especially if you don't plan on wearing it more than once -- how often are you going to wear a $36 baseball cap with shamrocks on it? Still, it's an option, and you may get someone at the bar asking you about your team, so pick wisely if you go this route. (Disclosure: I don't like non-standard baseball cap colors, because then you don't know from across the room what team they're supporting until you are too close and it's too late.)

As for me, I'm wearing lots of green today, including Japanese Green Tea perfume, one of CB I Hate Perfume's green accords. I may have slacked on putting on my green nail polish as planned, but no one's going to be pinching me today!

images from urbandecay.com and oldnavy.com

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Science Fair for March 10th-16th

-A co-worker introduced me to the British, video version of Wiki How-To, Videojug. They have instructional videos on everything you might ever need, including make-up, fashion, sex and dating tips. My favorite is presented below: "How To Be the Perfect Girlfriend."

How To Be The Perfect Girlfriend

-In other video news, the Chinese government has blocked YouTube videos showing the violent protests in Tibet. Activists are staging protests all over New York City, calling for the UN Security Council's condemnation of China's actions in Tibet. They're banging gongs and waving "Free Tibet" flags everywhere! News source: Bloomberg.

-I've been frequenting my neighborhood Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian bakery/cafe with the most delightful open-faced sandwiches and of course, bread. They'll bring you a metal tray with almond and praline butters if you ask nicely, and when you're a girl who's just woken up at three o'clock in need of coffee and something delicious, it's perfect. Their delectably crunchy-soft baguette a la ancienne has been recreated here.

-Do you ever have those tragically uninspired fashion days? I do, a lot. I find myself schlepping around town in my same old brown pants, sneakers, long-sleeve tee, wondering what happened to my fashion spirit. On those days, I utilize one of my favorite resources, the Duke University Libraries Digital Collection of vintage advertisements. This week, I've been perusing their collection of cosmetics and beauty ads from the 1940s--enchanting! In college, I took an art history seminar on the Bauhaus, and it changed my life for the better. The ad below for Botany lanolin is such a wonderful amalgamation of the post-modern graphic text and nostalgia for a simpler, more transparent time.

Check out the lipstick-pink backdrop, the crazy beady eyes of the French Revolution lady and her awesomely anthropomorphized dog! It has NOTHING to do with beauty products whatsoever, but it's so telling as to our lifestyle and beauty ideals. Who doesn't want the natural simplicity of a French peasant girl, the luxe grandiosity of Marie Antoinette, and the sleek lines of a 1940s femme fatale?

Have a wonderful week, everyone--may your protests be vigorous, your bread fresh-baked, and your life macaron-pink.

Video courtsey of VideoJug, image courtesy of Ad*Access.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Periodic Style Exclusive: Interview with Julie Teel, NYC Make-Up Artist, Part III

Today is the final part of my interview with Julie Teel, NYC make-up artist. You can find the previous parts of our interviews here (part I) and here (part II). Today she talks about her latest projects, some of which are now on your TV, coming soon to theatres and featuring two of my favorite actresses/writers/comedians/women, period!

What has been your all-time favorite project you've worked on? What project are you most proud of, if it's not the same as your favorite?

Hmmm, my all time favorite thus far will have to be Canterbury's Law because I got to work with my best friend Christine Fennell, who is a hairstylist. Work was always a hoot and we brought joy (perhaps even annoyance on occasion) to the set (I would like to believe). But it's also a great cast and crew to work with. I put my best foot forward and all my efforts into every project I work, whether it be a day or 6 months, so I am always proud of any project I've been lucky to be a part of. It's fun for my family and friends having me point out the different characters I made up for the various projects I've worked; I think they are proud of me, which makes me happy.

What do you think is the most powerful tool in a beauty arsenal?

Good skin care products. (Jeanne: Her emphasis!)
Having a well cared-for and primed canvas to paint is the greatest joy and makes things easier for all involved.

What is the best piece of advice you've received while working as a make-up artist?

BREATHE. ...Hmm, I don't really recall anything pertaining to make-up in general, though, only personal stuff concerning the actor's or director's preferences.

According to your IMDb profile, your most recent project is Baby Mama with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Are they as awesome as they seem, or even awesomer?

EVEN AWESOMER! As of this interview, I just worked on some reshoots with them and got to experience the fun again. They are both soooo very funny. Tina has a sophisticated humor that can be surprisingly smarmy and Amy, well, she's so kooky and does more charactery (is that even a word???) stuff, and I think she's more physical too. They are so very down-to-earth too. LOVE that! There's a trailer! It looks good! I am glad I got to work on this -- it's a favorite project for sure!

Thank you again, Julie, for sharing your time and your knowledge with us! I know I'm looking forward to Baby Mama and to seeing a lot of your work in the future!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Changing seasons, changing clothes

As always at this time of year, I’m a little over excited for the coming of spring. Finally, I can ditch the coats and step out in just a hoodie (spring showers!) or a cardigan.

I hate wearing coats. I love to look at them, love the idea of them, and I’d probably have a closet full of them if I didn’t hate wearing them so much. For me, having to wear something for three months out of the year that I have to take on and off constantly? I just don’t have the patience for it.

And accessorizing an entire outfit that has to look good both with every possible permutation of the outfit? Ugh.

So for me, Spring is all about simplistic wardrobe choices- bright colors, catchy patterns, and less layering. Here are the wardrobing things I'm most looking forward to wearing with the warmer weather.

Blue and Green Toes: I have been obsessing over color lately, as I'm sure faithful blog readers have been able to tell. So is it any surprise that colored nails are on this list? I've been rocking the blue nails all winter, and this weekend it's time for green (celebrating my tiny bit of Irish while avoiding pinches? Awesome.) But Spring is definitely my favorite time to wear the vivid shades. Everything seems new and fresh, and maybe that's just because it's the first time seeing anything in the sunlight in six months. What I've been wearing? Sephora's #55 (pictured,) Chanel's Blue Satin, and Rescue Beauty Lounge's Recycle, and I'll be testing out China Glaze's For Audrey soon! (Thanks Jeanne!)

Open toed shoes and sandals: These are on my to find list this season. I haven't had a pair of good sandals since my beloved rainbow flips died (yes, I was in high school when I bought them, and yes, they lasted well into college.) I've been wearing converse year round, with the occasional stopover into flats. While there's nothing wrong with flats or Converse in my opinion, (Jeanne will disagree,) sometimes I just want to throw on a cute sandal and be out the door. My toes want to see sunlight too!

Skirts and Dresses: Now obviously, tights mean you can wear your skirts year round, but I so rarely see anyone rocking them in winter. And tights don't look great with open toed shoes, which go great with dresses. I am loving Target's selection online of cute spring-y dresses-- sometimes their clothing section is hit or miss, but I think it's hit this season! Pictured is a Jovovich-Hawk for Target Floral dress. Other dresses from Target I'm digging? This cute wrap dress from Converse and this fun tunic dress from Mossimo.

I am also excited to see what crazy fashions they're going to throw our way on the Sex and the City movie (although if they're anything like this dress off the set of Shopaholic... do not want!) and whether Blair's going to keep working the headbands on Gossip Girl or start some new trend. What are you all most excited about for spring, fashionwise or other?

Images from Sephora.com and Target.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

She's a Rebel: BeneFit's Viva La Rebel event

As I mentioned about two weeks ago, BeneFit Cosmetics held their Viva la Rebel! spring event at Sephora on Powell Street in San Francisco this last Saturday, where they were giving makeovers and had entry forms to win a dragon red (!!) Vespa.

I have had many a BeneFit makeover before, but it's been a while -- I think the last time was in summer of '06, when Karen and I went to a local Obon festival afterwards. Needless to say, BeneFit's had a lot of new products come out between then and now, and so it was neat to see what was new and to get to try some things that I was curious about.

One of the products I bought from my makeover was That Gal, a pale pink primer. I've used a couple of primers before, including Philosophy and Napoleon Perdis (which Kati swears by -- I'm not fully convinced). And when it first came out last year, I thought, "a primer stick? What? How is that going to be useful at all?" But it's a creamy liquid primer -- you crank the bottom and it comes up through little holes, much like a click-pen lip gloss or concealer. (Which, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't like. Probably because they click up and through a brush, so it's harder to see if how much, if any, is coming out.) It smells like berries, which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you like fragrant products (the scent goes away after you apply it). My only concern is with the packaging -- again, not a huge fan of clicking products, and there's only 0.37 ounces in that little "stick". Aiyeeeee. A little goes a long way, but that's not a lot of product for $27.

I also picked up You Rebel Lite; last spring, when I was shopping for tinted moisturizers, I considered the original You Rebel, but figured it would be too dark for me. Really, a tinted moisturizer that's supposedly one shade fits all? I wasn't sure about that, so I opted to go with DuWop's Revolotion instead. That said, I'm glad that there's now a lighter option for You Rebel. I haven't worn it enough to truly compare it to Revolotion, but so far I'm digging it. It doesn't have that straight-up sunscreen smell that Revolotion has, but the true test of time will be if it separates out like Revolotion into lotion and an orange-gold oil (which is... kind of gross, actually).

Finally, I picked up California Kissin', the blue peppermint lip gloss. It really is bright blue, but you can't tell when it's on unless you're looking directly at your lips in close-up -- then you can see the shiny blue particles. Does it make my teeth look whiter, as promised? Maybe! I definitely can see how it would, but I didn't pay enough attention. But I can say that it's very pretty when layered over Benetint, and surprisingly long-lasting and moisturizing (which is good for using with Benetint, which I find to be pretty dry and comes off easily on its own when used on the lips).

So does it all come together? I'd say so; I tried out my new products the next day when heading out to the ballet, and I got compliments on my skin ("flawless!" which, I assure you, it's really not) and my lip color ("perfect").

Will I get that shiny red Vespa? I don't know -- there are two more events, one this Saturday at Sephora Times Square and one next week in Aventura, Florida, so if you're in the neighborhood of either of those Sephoras, that Vespa could be yours instead of mine...

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com and benefitcosmetics.com

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Science Fair for March 3rd - 9th

Sorry so late today -- I just got back from the ballet!

We've recently put up an About Us page where you can find out a little more about us, about the blog, and (probably most importantly) how to contact all three of us in one go if you want to say hey through email instead of commenting.

So, with that, here's today's Science Fair!

- The language of perfume from Now Smell This - because we all know I'm not so good at finding the words to write about perfume ("it smells like banana? but maybe it's gardenia?"). But I'm working on it! In addition, I picked up Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent yesterday at my local bookstore; I'm very much looking forward to sitting down with it.

- Speaking of writing about perfume, one of my new favorite reads is Invisible Magnet. It's a great blog about perfume, and how personal it really is. Plus the two authors are both incredibly funny and incredibly good writers -- they remind me of Jessica and Heather from Go Fug Yourself, but about perfume. The post about being stuck with a bad perfume all day really struck home. I spritzed a perfume I really, really wanted to like yesterday afternoon, decided I don't like it, and I can still smell it on my skin. I don't smell like an erotic dancer on hour eleven, but I definitely know the feeling of "get this off of me already".

- Project Runway ended this week (any opinions, dear readers?), but you can recreate the Project Runway experience with Gridskipper's map of New York a la ProjRun. Please do not stalk Tim Gunn, tempting as it might be.

- Have you heard about the documentary Girls Rock!? I really want to see it. It's about a girls' rock'n'roll camp in the Pacific Northwest where they're taught by female rockers like Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney (hell yes!). Considering that there are only three female-fronted songs in "Rock Band" (what the hell is up with that?), I'm all for more female rockers. I only pray that some day I can go to Ladies Rock Camp.

- I really do love Gala Darling, as she really knows how to tap into things that need to be said, and always expresses herself in such a lovely and positive manner. So her post on being happy and being positive was really something that I needed to read, and really need to share.

- I know Kati has strong feelings about music choice in TV shows, so I think that this post on the history of the song Hallelujah and its constant use in pop culture is fascinating and often hilarious. The entire thing is brilliant ("It gets used in scenes more obviously soundtracked with songs called, say, "We Are In a Hospital And Everyone is Dying Or Facing Difficult Choices.""), but my very favorite line is an aside: "There is an entire paper to be written about the Gilmore Girls teen-drama diaspora, what with all of Rory's boyfriends that have gotten their own shows." Someone needs to write that paper.

Enjoy your week -- it's time to start getting ready for spring!

Friday, March 07, 2008

WorkWear Daily for March 7th, 2008

Today's outfit looks better on the digital, fake mannequin below than it does on me. Thank you, mirrored elevators at work, for letting me know that. I tried mixing shades and patterns in grey rather than adding a third color to punch it up. Thoughts?

Well, truthfully, I've lost my red quilted leather Swatch watch and thus, the outfit lost its great potential for punchiness. Still! The highlight of today's ensemble is the skirt, which is underrepresented by Polyvore...I snagged it for a song at one of those outlet malls with a Banana Republic, and the best part is the big brass buttons on the front. What could have really made this outfit pop was if I replaced the dinky lame plastic black buttons of my cardigan with tiny vintage brass buttons. Shame, for I have baggies full of vintage pearl buttons at home in California! The best place to get these are flea markets, large but crumbling antique malls (mine in California has great big Mason jars full of them), and estate sales. This skirt's buttons are a nice burnished brass, like Civil War-era Army pins and Roman coins.

The scarf is similar to the one above but tied close and high up on my neck, it's an old Echo light-grey herringbone patterned number, probably purchased for about $0.50 at a local vintage shop. I tend to gravitate to the silk-scarves section of used- and vintage-clothing stores, not to mention the hats and brooches! I adore and underutilize accessories. The sunglasses are an old pair of tortoiseshell Kate Spades with prescription lenses, of course, that I wear around to feel a little incognito in the big city.

The tanktop you can't see is horizontally striped in grey and black to keep with today's somber palette and contrasts (clashes?) with the geometric-patterned grey tights. I like the play of line and form in this, culminating in a soft, business-y high ponytail and side-swept bang, all the way down to the fabulous Jeffrey Campbell spectator heels. If the skirt were a wiggle skirt and all that black replaced by fuschia or peacock colors, it would be reminiscent of the super-chic, super-fabulous Joan from AMC's Mad Men (see photo).

I could just be saying that because I caught up on the first season, and let me tell you, that show is PURE GOLD FASHIONSPIRATION (fashion+inspiration=FASHIONSPIRATION). Look at how cute they all are!

In summation, I will say that thank goodness it's Friday finally, and wish everyone a fabulously glamorous weekend!

Note: The Periodic Elements of Style knows that smoking is hazardous to your health, and does not encourage the smoking of pipes or cigarettes. It's just that everyone stylish seems to do it, and we're looking at the clothes, not the tobacco. Thank you.

Images courtesy of Polvyvore.com and AMC.com.

Periodic Style Exclusive: Interview with Julie Teel, NYC Make-Up Artist, Part II

Last week, we introduced you to Julie Teel, the make-up artist in NYC who's done work on lots of our favorite shows and movies. This week, we're talking straight-up products!

What are some of your favorite must-have products and brands in your kit? For every day?

The products I choose to work with MUST be LONG-LASTING, BLENDABLE (melting into the skin), and feel weightless. The brands that dominate my kit are Chanel, Smashbox, L'Oreal & M.A.C. There are many others tossed in there, as the following list of MUST HAVE products will reveal...

- MaxFactor 2000Calories Mascara
- L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara
- Prescriptives mascaras; they're easily applied and don't give that raccoon fallout.
- Sephora's Fiberwig Mascara is also a favorite; it just takes a bit of practice to learn the speed of application because it is a tubular formula, which prevents the raccoon fallout

- Yves St. Laurent Touche Eclat lasts without needing to be set with powder, which is great for the undereye of the mature woman
- Maybelline Coverstick; they are so creamy and blendable, come in a perfect range of colors, and are waterproof!
- Philosophy Supernatural blends seamlessly and the palette come with 3 colors to custom blend

- Chanel's loose powder is finely milled, which is GREAT for setting any undereye work
- Sonia Kashuk's loose powder, which has the slightest almost-not-even-there sheen which mimics the gentlest glow of natural skin
- L'Oreal True Match Pressed Powder for a natural look; it comes in a great range of colors that are easily matched
- Rimmel Pressed Powders have a great finish that really cuts the shine naturally

- Chanel has some delicious colors with just the right amount of sheen for a healthy glow.
- L'Oreal HIP crème blush: intense colors that adapt to all skintones and easily applied
- Make Up Forever blushes come in such a wide array of colors; great for playing and expressing your make-up personality

- Smashbox lip glosses are great because they have no perfume & the glossiness is tasteful, so they can be used on a wide age range.
- Sally Hansen Lip glosses are very moisturizing and are lovely natural-looking colors with high shine
- L'oreal HIP lip glosses have so much pigment; they give great coverage! Also, their regular line of glosses are fab too.
- Lancome Juicy Tubes smell delicious and come in fun colors.
- M.A.C. & Chanel lip pencils; they both glide on easily and have a great range of colours.

- Chanel
- Smashbox
- Sonia Kashuk & MAC have great eyeshaows with fab colors and finishes
- Smashbox Crème Liner is rich and blendable and sets to last a long time, and it comes in tons of colors too.

I get most of mine wholesale, because I am a professional, but many great brushes can be bought out on the market. I have brushes from Sonia Kashuk, Sephora, MAC, artstores, and drugstores. It's a matter of feeling them and knowing what products you will be using them with. I am always looking for softness and pliability and construction quality for the money I am investing. The care of your brushes is also a huge factor of their lifespan.

For Everyday:

I say keep it simple until you get the hang of things. So, for everyday, I say DEFINITELY use:
- Mascara (curl the lashes to really open and create a longer lash look; this can be done before mascara is applied or after BUT ONLY when mascara has DRIED COMPLETELY! Touch it, then you will know.)
- Concealer/Powder if you really need to cover any dark circles or blemishes and cut any shine
- Lipgloss/Lipstick (colored) or Blush/Bronzer just to add an element of color... If you opt for blush/bronzer, then use a clear lipbalm/lipgloss to keep the lips kissable(!) and moisturized.

My personal make-up kit includes, for my basic look for every day:
- ProMinerals loose mineral foundation by Serious Skin Care
- MaxFactor 2000Calories/Fiberwig Mascara(s)
- Rimmel blush
- Neutrogena Lipbalm tube
- Laura Gellar Eyebrow Marker
- Shu Uemura Eyelash curler

Other brands/products I love :
- Philosophy (Supernatural Concealer/Loose Powder foundation)
- Giorgio Armani (foundation and cream blushes)
- Shu Uemura (concealer , blushes , eyelash curler)
- Nars (concealer, lipsticks, foundations)
- Black Opal (stick foundation, pressed powder, concealer)
- Laura Mercier (foundation, concealer)
- Make Up Forever (body make-up, eyeshadows, specialty)

What a great list -- the majority of these products are easily available to everyone! Check back next week for the conclusion of our interview, where Julie tells us more about the projects she's been working on, starring some amazing women...!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Extra Credit: Top Ten Basics

I do love a good challenge! And so when Susan Wagner asked for bloggers to contribute their top ten basics, not only did I have to answer with my list, but I asked Kati and Karen to contribute their favorites, too. So technically it's thirty basics... with a ton of overlap!

Jeanne's Top Ten Basics:

I approached this by thinking about what I packed to wear in both Europe and Japan this past year -- in looking through my photos, you can definitely see what I picked to wear. (Check me out by Big Ben!)

These are things I'd wear to the office and basically every day; I also considered the factor of mixing and matching, like if you're on a trip and suitcase space is at a minimum.

- solid color tops -- sleeveless, short-sleeved, or long-sleeved. I have several of the "Perfect Fit" tees and tanks from Old Navy in various colors and various sleeve lengths. You can always get them in white and black, but I like colors like navy and raspberry, too.
- tunic-length or longer tops -- I have a couple of long striped shirts from the Gap (as seen above, naturally!) that I wear all the time. While technically not a tunic, and really a mini-dress, I have a deep love for the American Apparel fine jersey leisure dress, which is basically a very long polo shirt. Great for wearing over jeans or, if you're feeling bold, over tights. I also like gauzy tops for the summer; I know Karen's not a fan of tunics, but I love them.
- dark jeans -- particularly if they're black/dark denim and skinny or straight-leg. I live in my jeans, and if they're dark, they're easier to dress up. I do like the skinny jeans look, but again, that's my preference.
- black sneakers -- I wear Saucony sneakers, but it used to be Converse. I'm not a huge fan of white running shoes (I think they make my feet look big!), so I go for more of the dark casual sneaker look.
- cardigans in basic solid colors -- I covered the need for a cardigan in my quick and dirty business casual post, but just to reiterate: solid cardigans are awesome.
- black sheer jersey shirred knee-length skirt from American Apparel -- I'm not a big skirt wearer, but I love my jersey skirt from AA. It's soft, comfortable, and cute; it's like wearing yoga pants, but it's a skirt! I wore this all over Europe and to Japan, including to Nara, where I was antlered by a deer while wearing this skirt. True story.
- nude or black camisoles -- Always good to have on hand, especially if you're wearing a gauzy tunic.
- black heeled Mary Janes -- Dresses up the dark jeans, goes with the skirt, and pretty much go with everything.
- opaque tights -- Do I really need to tell you how much we love our opaque tights, particularly the colorful ones? Great for under your leisure dress or your jersey skirt.
- flats that aren't sneakers -- these can be ballet flats, can be sandals, but they MUST be comfortable for walking in. I brought so many cute shoes in my suitcase to Europe, thinking of how cute I would be walking around Paris, and wound up in Converse the whole time because my feet were so blistered. For Japan, I brought my navy Saltwater sandals. I know, I know, both the Manolo and FabSugar have declared them ugly, but if we're not allowed to wear flip-flops as our casual sandals, what are we allowed to wear? Either way, comfortable casual flats are on my list.

Kati's Top Ten Basics: (Jeanne: Remember, Kati covered her travel must-haves in July!)

- Black v-neck anything (sweaters, tees, tanks, you name it, it gets worn.)
- Purple/grey striped wrap dress from Charlotte Russe (this is my favorite day-time dress, I wear it a lot.)
- Hoodies, esp. of the zip up variety (it rains a lot here, hoods are vital)
- My turquoise 3/4 length sleeve cardi. (it goes with all the black and makes my skin and eyes pop!, works for work and casual time.)
- Headbands (easiest way to look like I care about my clothing ever.)
- Enell sports bra (I don't know how I worked out before I had this.)
- Jeans that fit
- My trusty Old Navy black tights (I have had these for YEARS and they are still not dead.)
- Boots (flat, heeled, ankle, knee, black, brown, whatever. Love them all, and they can pull together an outfit like no other.)

Karen's Top Ten Basics:

- A great pair of glasses, plus sunglasses for the horrible light of day. Other accessories need not apply -- sometimes a necklace will slip through the cracks.
- Ribbed cotton tank tops (mostly from Old Navy, oh the colors!) for working out and as undershirts.
- Long sleeve, solid saturated color crewneck shirts (Target's Mossimo line has a good rotation of varying styles and colors).
- Warm but light cardigan or V-neck sweater for colder, almost-spring days.
- A-line skirts, too many in black and a few in colors or patterns. I have a kooky vintage grass-green A-line wrap skirt with white rick-rack trim and white lace pockets on the front, purchased of $5 at the Garment District in Boston. Simple A-line skirts are a nice, safe way to spice up your casual wardrobe.
- Solid tights in brown, black, and grey. H&M puts out passable "hipster" black tights with a nice soft, low waistband -- I've already worn through about six pairs this winter.
- Straight-leg slacks in brown, black, and grey. I vary on the straight-leg theme by going with wide-leg for a more Annie Hall look.
- Comfortable non-athletic sneakers. These can be some cutesy-wutesy sugary sneaker-style flats, Converse, or even just some grimy old gym shoes you schlump around to the grocery store in when you have the flu. Your feet, knees, hips, calves, and back will thank you in twenty years' time, I promise!
- Sturdy, low-heeled pumps. It has been said that I sometimes dress like a World War II-era German schoolmarm (see above: A-line skirts, black, brown, and grey, etc.), but nothing works for a lazy office outfit like 1.5-inch wooden heeled shoes do. Always helps to be able to walk those ten blocks in an emergency because of a subway shutdown without blisters and arch spasms.
- UNDERWEAR. Hello. How basic, am I right? If I have cash to burn, I'll do a little splurging at the Gap Body store and get their black cotton hipsters, so comfy! They're a little pricier, but worth it for their durability and kind sizing -- who knew I was a size M in undies?

We're all different girls in different places with different bodies, but some things are clearly universal -- and that's why they're our basics!

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com and store.americanapparel.net

WorkWear Daily for March 6th, 2008

I've had a week of strange proportions, and I mean that in a clothing sense, not in the magnitude of greatness or badness. Today's is one of those oh-lord-do-I-have-anything-clean-to-wear, throw-something-on-and-hope-it-works days. Case in point, see below:

I think I worked it hardcore. What can I say? I just adore the combination of blue and brown, it looks like teddy bears and birthday parties, all warm and safe. Today's experiment turned into a study in shades of brown, but lucky for me, a downward progression of medium to dark brown, going from jacket to pants to shoes.

The blouse is so cute and polka-dotty, which I love. The neckline is slightly troubling due to its low-cut nature, thus necessitating the use of a jacket. All in all, I'm quite pleased with this outfit, it's playful. Sure, the top is low-cut, it peeks out about five inches from under the jacket, as do the sleeves. I like to think that it's charmingly non-matchy-matchy with a fun peek-a-boo of the polka dots.

The real highlight of today's ensemble is the mysterious mass of pearl buttons you see above. They represent a beautiful necklace, made by Camenae Jewelry in California. My father kindly gave it to me for Christmas this year, Mom got a matching one with two strands (obviously, to represent her older age/wisdom). Camenae doesn't have it on their site, but the Button Mosaic collection is very representative of this little dainty darling. It's a string of glass beads and tiny brownish-silver pearls, with a pendant made out of a carved white pearl button in the shape of an upside-down heart and another carved brown shell that looks like a flower. I just adore her simple, almost earthy designs--the Fleur Peche and Deco Oriental carving work reminds me of tiny netsuke, very Californian, very close to nature.

Image from polyvore.com

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spring Trends: Colored Smoky Eye

The teal smoky eye is one of my absolute favorite eye-makeup looks on me. I love teal in general, it's a great color for my skin and eyes, but wearing MAC parrot alone on my eyelids can be a little terrifying. It's a bold color, and I'm a fan of a more natural makeup look.

And smoky eyes? I love them, but I can't pull off a pure black smoky eye. I have to use grey shadow in place of the black so I don't look like a five year old who popped into her mom's makeup drawer and went at it.

The solution? Colored smoky eye. Love it. For me, a teal eye with brown mixed in, paired with brown liner and mascara works best, but teal with black also looks amazing. Check it out over at The Makeup Bag-- she's got the backstage report from Lela Rose here, with gorgeous teal and black smoky eyes.

Here are some other suggestions from the runway: NYmag.com covers the Pinky-Red smoky eye, while Fashiontribes dishes on the Purple Smoky eye at Rag and Bone. For a classic update, check out the brown smoky eye and tutorial at makeup and beauty blog.

My picks for teal shades?
Mac Parrot or Boots Organics in Angelica (pigment isn't as intense, but far cheaper and easily accessible-- go Target!)

And to play around a bit, layering Stila's Kitten with a darker brown shadow would make a cute shimmery brown eye, great for a day to night look.

Pair your smoky eye with a pink lip for best results (red lips with the teal just look a little too Christmas tree for me.) I like MAC's Utter Pervette or Lancome's Pixel Pink with this look, but a nude or clear lip also works well.

What's your favorite color to rock the smoky eye with? Let us know in the comments!

Image from maccosmetics.com.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Basta Pasta--the Japanese Style Italian Food You've Never Had

Now that I live in an apartment with a laughable and somewhat crippled kitchen situation, I find myself straying away from the posting of recipes and increasingly attracted to writing restaurant reviews. It's an adventure, really, discovering and testing the lows and highs of Manhattan's restaurant industry. Lucky for me, I have several girlfriends-in-arms (or rather, in-forks) who would go to the ends of the earth, or maybe Brooklyn, to sift through the muck of culinary mediocracy so prevalent these days. Miss S., companion numero uno, has lived in the city for almost six years, yet was flabbergasted by my newest discovery. Miss C., my faithful sidekick in all adventures which are inherently lazy and reward-laden, is slowly becoming more of a risk-taker when it comes to new foods. Our mission last weekend was a jaunt downtown-ish to the New York location of a Japanese-style Italian restaurant, Basta Pasta.

In 2004, while attending university for a time in Tokyo, I fell in love with the stroke of genius that is Japanese-style (or wafuu) pasta. You will never have such delicious spaghetti carbonara as they make it in Japan. My god, it is delightful. Maybe it's my unbeatable savory-tooth, as opposed to a sweet tooth, that I crave combinations of fish roe and soy sauce with herbage AND cheese on pasta. There are some texture-flavor combinations that are so ingrained in your taste-buds, like crunchy peanut butter and banana, or your mom's grilled cheese and tomato soup, that when the craving strikes, IT MUST BE CONSUMED. Wafuu pasta is that magical combination for me. As indefinable as it is, wafuu pasta incorporates a number of key ingredients that are consistent replacements, or innovations, in more traditional Italian cuisine. Using fresh green shiso in the place of basil in a pesto sauce, soy sauce and fish stock rather than cream or chicken broth, and flying fish roe instead of truffle shavings are some of the most remarkable flavor and mouthfeel revelations you may ever experience.

So, in search of that elusive, "authentic" wafuu pasta, my compatriates and I set out for Basta Pasta. Somewhat hidden away down the street from Union Square in the Flatiron District, on an otherwise dead street off 6th Avenue, waits a heaven of simple, perfectly portioned, aesthetically remarkable Italian cuisine. The space itself is small, bright, and tastefully decorated in an industrial aesthetic with huge freezer doors greeting customers, and the open-air kitchen right smack in the middle of the restaurant. When we went, the walls were covered with the kind of tastefully non-offensive, but unremarkable nature-based abstract art, all for sale in the grand tradition of Japanese boutiques doubling as bars and hair salons playing with jewelry sales. Despite billing itself as a ristorante Italiano, you can be assured that Basta Pasta is entirely staffed by Japanese people, and appeared to be a favored destination for well-to-do Japanese patrons and their families. Our fellow patrons who came in expecting to soothe their urban sorrows in a vat of meatballs and marinara sauce were shocked into silence when their plates of delicately dressed and tastefully deconstructed, but hearty, salads and pastas arrived.

We, however, were prepared. We were also hungry, which led to a bit of a kerfuffle over the ordering of appetizers--S. is a longtime vegetarian, while C. always goes the safe route, while I have to reject anything that is just trying too damn hard to be "Japanese-y." We ended up with Caesar and young mesclun salads, and the three kinds of mushrooms en papillote in addition to the mounds of bread, cups full of cheese-y, crunchy breadsticks, and the otooshi of mascarpone on tiny baguette slices. The mesclun salad was classic balsamic and light greens, nothing special, and the Caesar's dressing was deemed to be a bit heavy-handed by all. Fortunately, the baked mushrooms really saved the day--wispy enoki, meaty eringi, and snappy white button mushrooms came out a-steaming, dressed at the table by yours truly with a bit of herbed olive oil, sea salt, and lemon. Oh, YUM. It's a vegetable treatment I have tried and failed to recreate at home many times before, thanks to my inferior origami skills. Basta Pasta's mushrooms were just perfect, simple, and summarily devoured.

For our second course, C. went with the house-specialty spaghetti with parmeggiano reggiano and prosciutto, a theatrical and gorgeous surprise. They wheel out a giant, well, WHEEL of parmesan cheese on a trolly with your bowl of hot cooked pasta, various intimidating tools, and a hidden plate of paper-thin sliced prosciutto. It's almost a primal fascination as you get to watch your pasta tossed into the pits excavated in this giant wheel of cheese, tossed and dressed, then tucked in a blanket of prosciutto. The few minus points allotted during the meal were unfortunately mostly for this dish, as the presentation hid a tragedy--pasta that was too hard! Not inedible, of course, but a little too al dente for all the effort they put into it.

Moving on, both S. and I partook of the spaghetti with tobiko and shiso. Yes, this is the same tobiko you get on the outside of sushi, with that wonderful bite and snap. We are big, BIG tobiko fans. If you are unfamiliar with shiso, or beefsteak plant, it is often described as Japanese basil, but its flavor is much more complex and widely applicable--I would say it is a combination of basil and mint, but refreshingly bitter and sour. I've had it in pasta, with pickles, wrapped around mackerel and sushi rice, on hot rice, in cocktails, pretty much every which way 'til Sunday. The combination of the tobiko, shredded shiso, and hot pasta was absolute perfection. Salty tobiko balanced with the bitter-sour shiso leaf, all on a delicious and decidedly non-neutral bed of pasta. The serving sizes, at first glance, seem meager (the high-rolling Japanese couple next to us had two pasta dishes each in addition to main dishes), but once we had savored every bite, it was on to dessert.

As I mentioned before, the minus points are mainly for the hard pasta in C.'s dish, but the dessert menu deserves mention for its singular unremarkable-ness. We ordered the most Japanese-influenced item on the menu to share, an overly complicated and doll-sized portion of baba au rum with chocolate-liqueur dipping areas and a strange combination of chestnut-flavored pudding (the highlight of the dish) and again, the liqueur flavor. It was tiny and heavy--overall, dessert is not Basta Pasta's forte. I would go back for the pasta dishes and the mushrooms, maybe get two appetizer-portions of pasta each instead of going for dessert. Definitely take your parents or out-of-town visitors looking for a light, refreshing, relaxed meal after shopping or walking around Union Square. As a bonus, on your birthday the staff comes out with ukeleles and sings!

The verdict? 8/10, with two points off for the poor dessert performance and hard spaghetti. I may have to stick to my old wafuu pasta standby, S&B brand tarako pasta sauce with nori: just toss with hot, drained pasta, and voila! Instant deliciousness.

Photo of tarako pasta above from Chikyumaru Publications.

Letter to My Body


So, here we are. It's early March, and I think it's a good time to check in on how things are going.

Remember, back in January, I made it a goal to work on our legs so that we'll be ready for shorts and skirts. It's getting to be spring, and I've been buying up a whole bunch of cute dresses and skirts, including the star print tunic from Jovovich-Hawk for Target, which, okay, is technically a very long shirt and will have to have something like tights or leggings underneath if we are going to be brave like that (which we should be! why not!). So we've got things to wear once it warms up and I feel more comfortable with you. I realize that it's not 100% your responsibility to be ready, so I'm working on it. We're going to the gym regularly now, and we'll probably establish it at three times a week. That's cool, right? We're hanging in there! Yay, the gym! And soon you will be seeing sunlight (and bronzing lotion!) again, I promise.

Remember when I broke up with Chuck for you? What kind of hipster girl gives up her Converse? You forced my hand there. Do you know how long it's been since I've been to a show and not worn Converse? I don't remember, either! Things are much better now, but if you prevent me from wearing cute shoes period, we're going to have problems, major ones. We've gone into the "comfortable shoes" store before and it made us sad, remember? I'm doing my part and trying to buy better quality shoes (didn't you notice how I put the adorable yet uncomfy ballet flats back on the shelf? They had LADYBUGS ON THEM!!), but it's all about the give and take here. Don't make me give up cute shoes, I beg you!

Skin, I'm actually pretty happy with you lately -- we've come a long way. Thanks. I'll keep my hands off of you as long as you behave, and I'll take you back to the spa eventually (every six weeks? yeah, no). I'm trying a new eye cream since we're running out of the one we've been okay with, and so here's hoping that things improve there (and yes, the sunglasses are on the way). I'm keeping you sunscreened up every day without fail, so yay! Let's keep up the good work.

Hair, that was really not funny when you tricked me in February. You're just lucky that we have a light-colored dog and that I have short hair. And, you know, yeah, eventually some day you will start sprouting grey hairs. It's inevitable, and I know that. I haven't decided how I'm going to handle this just yet. I don't think I'm going to dye you, and if I yank them out there'll be five more sprouting up in their place, but can we put off crossing this bridge for a while? I know things are stressful lately, and I know that every day I get a little bit older, but please, please, not yet? Also, FYI, there are some plans in the works for you. Be prepared.

Body, overall, you are pretty awesome. I've taught you to dance and I've taught you to fight in our defense, and it's really cool that you can do so. I'm really incredibly lucky to have you.



BlogHer: A Letter To My Body

image from target.com

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Science Fair for February 25th - March 2nd

Did everyone have a great leap year day?

- An interesting look at body types and vintage fashion at liebemarlene vintage.

- PopSugar reports on Blake Lively and Leighton Meester (stars of Gossip Girl) in Vogue! So cute!

- Speaking of Gossip Girl, Mischa Barton is not joining the cast of Gossip Girl despite rumors to the contary. We really just want the OTHER Cooper sister on the show, so this news doesn't bum us out too much. Seriously, Schwartz, please find a way to put Willa Holland on the show.

- Pequitobun talks about some of the problems on Etsy.

- Scrubs might be moving networks to ABC and filming an 18 episode season!

- Susie Bubble muses on more people decorating their heads-- have you noticed an increase in people wear headbands/hair adornments in your town? (Does not count if you know me.)

That's all folks, have a great week!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Following Up: The Daphne Perfume Comparison

So my random musings on trying to capture the scent of daphne have inspired me to see what I can find. And, judging by the Google searches we've been getting for daphne perfume, I'm not alone.

Thus, in the interest of science, I went out and bought three different daphne perfumes to try them out. I then sat outside with our daphne bush and sniffed and compared. (My methods are super-scientific, in case you can't tell!)

For the sake of clarity, our daphne is the Daphne odora "Aureomarginata", or variegated winter daphne. I'm going in holding this as my standard of daphne; however, because there are so many different types and breeds of daphne, your perception of daphne (and the perfumers' perception!) may be different than mine.

- On my left inner elbow, I sprayed Laboissiere Daphne Eau de Toilette. I went and visited Jacqueline Perfumes in Union Square -- what an amazing place! Beautiful vintage perfume bottles, and lots of fragrances that I've seen sighed over in the blogs. The sales associate was very kind and very French, so much so that I felt it necessary to finish the transaction with a "Merci", as if I were in Paris again.

Laboissiere's Daphne is a very powdery warm scent, which isn't what I really associate with daphne. It's a lovely scent, but it feels more like something that one would wear in the cold days of winter; it's not light and floral, and lacks that almost citrus note that daphne has. I still bought it, as it's still very nice, but I'd save it until next winter to wear with a nice coat and cold rosy cheeks.

- On my left inner wrist, I dabbed Cielo by Napa Valley, which I'd bought a sample of from LuckyScent.com. Compared to Laboissiere, it smells much more like daphne, but has a note that rings a little more tropical to me -- it's almost similar to one of the notes in Kai. There's no question that it's a floral, and it's certainly a nice scent. At $60 for 50 mL, it's not much of a price difference from the Laboissiere, and is definitely more in tune of a spring fragrance.

- On my right inner wrist, I tried the Demeter Daphne fragrance again -- I bought the $5 cologne splash in the hopes that maybe my previous judgment of it was wrong. Once the initial alcohol-y smell of the Demeter dries down, there definitely is the strongest scent of daphne among the three perfumes. However, it then becomes very sweet, almost to the point of not being floral anymore. It's very girly and not very strong; I would recommend it if that's your sort of perfume, but not if you're really looking for a true lasting daphne scent. I've found that Demeter fragrances vary in their lasting power; Tomato lasts for a long time (and I love it), but Ginger Ale isn't half as strong or as lasting. Daphne doesn't seem to be one of their longer lasting ones.

So what's my final judgment? All the perfumes have their good qualities, and I can see what they're trying to pull out from the daphne scent. Laboissiere is a very adult, warm, almost powdery fragrance that works well for the winter; I've heard daphne described as "spicy", which I don't really agree with, but maybe we're thinking of different types of daphne. Cielo is the closest to achieving the actual spring-y floral scent of daphne, but does have that odd little undertone of something else (I want to say banana, but I'm not that good at picking out notes!); I'm assuming it's the honeysuckle, as Cielo is a blend and not just pure daphne, but I may be wrong. Demeter's Daphne is cute and light, but not quite the same as the flower itself, and would need a lot of reapplying to maintain the scent.

...Which I guess means that my final judgment is that it all depends on what you're looking for in your daphne perfume. Ultimately, if I had to pick one of the three as the best daphne perfume, I would pick Cielo.

Are there any other daphne perfumes you know of? Have you tried any of these three? Let me know what you think; what am I missing from this list?

image from greatplantpicks.org

Lab Accident: "You Know You Really Were The Bomb"

This is the first of a new regular feature here: A monthly mix cd! I'll be posting mix playlists the first Saturday of every month, and today it's a themed workout mix. It's inspired by the fab song "The Bomb" from New Young Pony Club, and all the songs are playing off the dual nature of the word. (Thanks due to palmsout.blogspot.com for posting the remix of the song that inspired this mix, see link below!)

This was an interesting mix to make-- I've played around with themed mixes before, but never on a workout mix, and it was tough finding enough up-tempo songs that fit the theme! Hopefully this isn't too slow overall, I'm taking it for a test run this afternoon!

16 songs, 56 minutes (includes warm-up, cool-down and stretching.)
A-Side (The Bomb)

1. The Gorillaz, "Kids With Guns" (stretch/warmup)
2. Gwen Stefani, "Danger Zone" (stretch warmup)
3. The Killers, "Under The Gun" (moving into cardio)
4. Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"
5. Metric, "Monster Hospital"
6. Moby, "James Bond Theme"
7. New Young Pony Club, "The Bomb"

B-Side (You Know You Really Were)

8. O.K. Go, "You're So Damn Hot"
9. Arctic Monkeys, "You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights But You Were Looking Straight At Me"
10. The Faint, "Desperate Guys"
11. The Veronicas "Untouched"
12. Bikini Kill, "Capri Pants"
13. Dandy Warhols, "Bohemian Like You"
14. New Young Pony Club, "The Bomb (Phones Edit)" (cool-down)
15. The Promise Ring "Best Looking Boys" (stretch)
16. Explosions in the Sky, "So Long, Lonesome." (stretch)

image from periodicstyle.blogspot.com.

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