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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Alternatives

I've always had a rather, well, strained relationship with turkey. Sure, I'll eat it roasted and sliced on bread with some mayo, just as long as someone else has done that roasting and slicing. Maybe it's my genetic predisposition to obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I just cannot abide by the thought of that much turkey carcass in my kitchen, covering everything it (and I) touch with salmonella.

We've tried other proteins. A whole salmon. Guinea hens. Tofurkey at my aunt's house (awful! Just awful.). Dinner out, at the Left Bank Brasserie. I've made two pumpkin pies for a family of five, one "regular" and one low-fat, whole-wheat, less-sweet version that burned black in the oven and tasted like nothing. Every year for the past four, I've yelled, cursed, cried, and fought with family members who take a hands-off approach to the kitchen and then try to micromanage our Thanksgiving.

This year is going to be different. No burned fingers, no last-minute runs to Safeway for whipped cream, no pre-made gravy mixes. Most important of all: NO TURKEY. I have officially declared a moratorium on whole turkeys. There will be nonesuch fowls sitting around raw or cooked in my house, thank you!

So, of course, I have had to devise an alternate plan for the family meal. Our shared cuisine is usually Japanese, truth be told, but I can't even hold a candle to my grandmother's cooking, and she has put the kabosh on cooking for over four people. My mother couldn't cook an appetizing meal to save her life (sorry, Mom, you know I love you), let alone figure out portions for six. This is where I come in. I'm taking the best hints I've learned from Grandma, the Food Network, and the piles upon piles of cookbooks and blogs I read to help me out on this most stressful of food-related holidays. Below is my planned menu, and a few ideas for your last-minute meal!

Roasted beet salad with goat cheese: I got three beets (two red, one golden) the size of my head at the weekend farmers' market, and I am determined to convince my family that beets are much, much more than the canned kind. The beets will be wrapped in foil, roasted at 400 degrees for an hour, and allowed to cool overnight before being cut into wedges and tossed into a salad of greens with goat cheese.

Garlic-rosemary new potatoes: The very thought of mashing potatoes to a smooth, creamy texture makes me angry. I love a crispy-skinned, smooth, garlicky potato that hasn't been adulterated with cream and butter. Tyler Florence's recipe is so easy and consistent, you can do it with your eyes closed. If potatoes don't offer up enough carbs for everyone, I'm serving dinner rolls on the side--store bought.

Pot roast with whole mushrooms and onion: I have never actually made a pot roast before. My grandmother, Alton Brown, and Gourmet Magazine all tell me it's pretty easy. I plan on adding whole mushrooms and a couple of roughly chopped onions to the pan when there's an hour left to go, just to up the deliciousness factor. Is cornstarch enough to make gravy out of the resultant liquid?

Green beans dressed in lemon juice, olive oil, and grain mustard: This is another farmers' market find, there is a bag of piles and piles of fresh, snappy green beans sitting in my crisper drawer, dying to get out. They're just going to be blanched quickly in boiling water and tossed with a quick dressing. Lemons from my backyard are free, so what the hey--may as well capitalize on those!

Kabocha pie: the piece de resistance. Kabocha, as I hope you now know, is a Japanese pumpkin--green rind, hard as a rock, and small, but DELICIOUS. My grandmother (why is this post all about her? I don't know!) remembers having to eat green-fleshed, unripe kabocha during World War II on her uncle's farm, because everyone was so desperate that they would come in the night and steal all of the pumpkins. Now, sixty years later, she's learned to love ripe kabocha, and I think she'll love this updated pumpkin pie. Kabocha flesh is somewhat drier than your regular canned pumpkin or sugar pie pumpkin flesh, so it takes more moisture added to create a smooth paste for pie/custard, FYI.

Now, the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is always the side dishes and pie. I've pulled together a list of mouth-watering alternatives to the traditional yams and stuffing from our friends at other blogs--enjoy!
-From the Food Channel, the addition of bacon and cheese to creamed corn sounds like heaven in my mouth. If you wanted a mac'n'cheese variant, this one sounds like a winner to me!

-Brussels sprouts with pearl onions, one of my favorite vegetables to pan-roast and serve with pasta. Try it drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or tossed with walnuts for extra crunch.

-Potatoes au gratin. Got to love the cheese+potatoes+butter combination. Scalloped potatoes are also a super-classy mashed potato option.

-Japanese sweet potato, baked in the oven. These gems have papery, rust-colored skin and a golden flesh that will literally melt your tongue off if you eat it piping-hot. Poke holes in the imo (potato) with a fork and oven-roast right on the rack, with a tray underneath to catch the sap that dribbles down. Yes, they're that sweet!

-Cave Cibum has a lovely recipe for scones with bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions that sound like the perfect breakfast in bed, midnight snack, or clam chowder indulgence partner to me. God loves a terrier, but God also loves scones, I bet.

-Featured on The Kitchn, a savory kabocha and tofu pie. This recipe piques my interest because it uses firm tofu, when often in tofu-baked-goods recipes you'll see silken tofu as an egg substitute. I love this one, because it's like a quiche you wouldn't feel so guilty about eating half of. Did I just write that out loud?

-For pumpkin pie "haters" (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU), the Food Gal has a solution. Pichet Ong's kabocha cheesecake looks divine, and if there is anyone who does a better "fusion" dessert than P*Ong, I would be pleasantly surprised.

-The Recipe Girl made her mark on Ina Garten's Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart, a recipe I've always thought would be a good way to use up that half-can of pumpkin puree and brown banana languishing on the kitchen counter.

That's Thanksgiving to me this year. I'm thankful for my family (my grandmother, obviously!), for having a good, steady job at this time of upheaval, and that I'm back in California. It may be raining out here, but at least it's not snowing when I have to trudge out to the grocery store. It's the little things we have to learn to be thankful for, right?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: For Your Favorite Foodie

For this installment of our holiday gift guide, we're cooking up great ideas for your favorite connoisseurs of cuisine, the epicurean elitists, and the hopelessly kitchen-inept! Enjoy~


- Everyone loves a gorgeous salad bowl and utensils to toss with, it makes otherwise boring salad dinners a little more fancy and fun. Bamboo is a simple, renewable, elegant option for the kitchen, or a lovely glass serving set can double as a punch bowl. Obviously in my mind, the recipient of your gifts is a huge fan of tiki style. Punch and bamboo for everyone!

- Delight.com also has stylish, eco-friendly and artisan options for the home and kitchen, like this serving set that looks like branches sprouting leaves. Why not throw in a few simple recipes while you're at it and add a little touch of healthy encouragement?

Photo from Modcloth.com- We love ModCloth and their chemical elements salt and pepper shakers. How cute are they? Cooking is really just delicious chemistry, right? I am a huge sucker for adorably twee kitchen items. Check this one out, it's a salt and PEEP-er shaker! Love it.

- For your favorite dinner party maestro, the always adorable Fred Flare has the most amazing finger food plates. Just don't gesticulate too much with one of those perched on your mitts, or dinner will go flying everywhere! They're so dainty, I just can't stand it.

- Once upon a time, Jeanne gave me a copy of the best gosh-darned book on entertaining ever written: I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by my personal heroine, Amy Sedaris. It is quite possibly the best gift I have ever gotten, and so useful! Amongst the many and varied things I've learned from Ms. Sedaris since Strangers with Candy, seriously, exfoliating before shaving your legs to get a closer shave ranks up top. I highly recommend it. (Jeanne: Kati gave me this, too! So I think we all have a copy, except for maybe Kati. Karen, obviously this is what you need to get Kati to complete the circle.)

- Often at California's best antique malls, you'll see walls packed with vintage produce advertisements. Local restaurants have labels framed as wall decoration, and if you're a design nerd, produce labels offer a real plethora of font styles and a different kind of pin-up girl. The Antique Label Company has prints already framed and categorized, so get searching! How about some twins with lettuce, or a fun Pop Art cucumber?

- Make your own personalized cookbook for that special someone. Base it around a theme, like the recipient's favorite flower, a special meal you shared, or foods that trigger memories. I love the idea of this recipe from Wandering Chopsticks: Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Base Stew) for your relative/friend/associate with Korean connections. A similar recipe for those with a fondness for Japan is our perennial favorite here at the Periodic Elements of Style, nikujaga. A personalized cookbook is also a great way to encourage an adventurous palate. Why not nudge your "regular" meat-and-potatoes giftee towards a little bit of Bamboo Shoots with Ground Pork the Japanese Way to share? This year, I'm making a batch of Panamanian empanadas for my grandmother who has complained about the lack of authentic empanadas since she left the Panama Canal zone in 1974. (Shh, don't tell her!)


My family loves cookbooks; my late grandmother had an entire library of cookbooks that she collected over the years, and some of them made their way to me. She always had the right cookbook, and so I always love looking at them and discovering new things, even if I'm more of a "boil it! microwave it! whatever!" cook.

- Of course, the new cookbook is the internet, especially since there are some amazing foodbloggers out there. Not only does Karen have a bunch in her blogroll here on PeriodicStyle, but there's also the new BlogHer Food Blog search widget, where you can type in a recipe title or an ingredient and find something amazing to read and eat. Awesome.

- Last year, my brother and my two male cousins (both college students) received these cookbooks from my mom: A Man, A Can, A Plan or A Man, A Can, A Microwave. Besides the initial laugh of "oh, ha hah, cooking with a can and a microwave because I can't really cook anything without using can of microwave", they're put together by Men's Health magazine and actually look like something you'd want to eat. If you're trying to wean someone off of fast food and into the kitchen, this would be a good first step. (That said, I give everyone, dude or lady, full credit that they can definitely cook whatever they want if they put their mind to it.)

- The San Francisco area has the most amazing food and incredible restaurants, especially those that focus on local produce. I visited the girl & the fig in Sonoma a few weeks back and loved it, so I was excited to see the the girl & the fig cookbook in a cooking supply shop after leaving the restaurant. I didn't get a full look at the book, but I'm sure it's amazing. Another legendary restaurant in San Francisco is Greens, the vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason. My mom gave me a copy of Everyday Greens, the most recent Greens cookbook, last year, and (again) while I haven't had the chance to make anything from it yet, the sandwiches and salads all sound delicious and incredibly realistic to make.

- Maybe you have a little cook, or just the imagination of one. As a kid, I loved cookbooks that tied in to the stories I loved, whether it was fairy tales or the Boxcar Children. (How many hours did I spend pretending I lived in a boxcar? Many.) So while there's a whole range of childrens' stories cookbooks out there, two we particularly want to highlight are Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes (highly recommended by Karen) and the Little House Cookbook featuring recipes from the Laura Ingalls Wilder canon for those of you who always wanted to eat a roasted pig tail or a bear's drumstick. (Related: Have you seen HalfPintIngalls on Twitter? Hilarious!)

- Finally, the final course is my weakness, desserts. From San Francisco's Citizen cake comes Demolition Desserts, head chef Elizabeth Falkner's guide to amazing desserts. Again, I haven't poured over this one yet, but the cupcakes at Citizen Cake are amazing. (Alas, Citizen Cupcake, the satellite location in Virgin Records, has closed!) And then, of course, there are the amazing Paris Sweets, a recipe book that collects recipes from the finest (and most famous) Paris bakeries. I popped "paris sweets" into the BlogHer Food Blog search and found this amazing-looking black and white cake, eclairs with lavender white chocolate mousse, opera cake, world peace cookies (chocolate with fleur de sel salt!), and punition cookies. Oooh.

- Not related to cookbooks: tea. Buy tea. Buy Mariage Freres tea (there are more varieties here, but I can vouch for Marco Polo) and a nice teapot and you will not go wrong. I promise you.


Despite having cook in my job title, I don't actually cook that much when I'm off work. Why? Well, one of my main problems is I never seem to have all the ingredients and I have little desire to go out and procure foodstuffs to make things after work, when I can just go out and procure prepared food.

- Apparently Mark Bittman's cookbooks, How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian are amazing. Good to know!

- But what if you want to create your own recipes? Etsy has some adorable recipe cards, including these (kitties!) or these (bunnies! squirrels!) from BoyGirlParty and these from nutandbee.etsy.com.

- Need a spice rack? This one rotates and comes pre-filled with twenty different spices.

- After all of your cooking, you'll want to keep your leftovers and eat them later. Here's a set of Pyrex containers, which are microwavable (yay!).

image from modcloth.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Science Fair for November 17th-23rd

Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving here in the U.S.? I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, but I must persevere, for the cooking responsibility is all mine come Thursday afternoon! The big news at my house this week is that we acquired a gigantic jar of buckwheat honey from the farmers' market, and our hearts are breaking over rumors of Pushing Daisies getting cancelled. Lee Pace, my darling boy, you can always come live in my heart if you are out of a job!

On that note, here's your Science Fair!

-Speaking of honey, I have a lot to use up. The ever-useful National Honey Board has some nifty beauty tips and tricks using your favorite honey. Who knew why it works so well as a moisturizer? I'll never pay money for drugstore beauty products with honey in them again!

-As a big honey fan, I am always concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder, it makes me want to start keeping bees in my backyard.

-From World Changing, check out this hilarious but adorably animated video chiding Japan on its food security and wasteful ways. I find the fact that Japan wastes so much foodstuff most deserving of highlight, considering that the way my Japanese grandmother uses every little bit of everything she buys!

-Also out of Asia, dudes need to stop trying to play with wild animals, zoo or not. Wild animals are still wild, remember, and even if you're bitten by a neighborhood dog, make sure you get your rabies shot! Last year around this time, a local boy was mauled and killed by a tiger at the zoo, it was quite the tragic debacle.

-Onto brighter topics, THANKGIVING!! The Environmental News Network has tip on how to green your Thanksgiving all over. Having made the mistake of trying to thaw and cook a whole turkey in a single day, I have personally sworn off of cooking large fowl for national holidays, and will be making a pot roast for my table of six. If there are complaints, I will knife them in the hand.

-Coming right up is another national holiday you've probably forgotten about: the end of Prohibition! We'll be out celebrating (aka, drinking--safely) in San Francisco, dressed as flappers in our best backseamed stockings and cloche hats. Is there any better way to remember our national history than to drink to it? I think not.

-For historical fashion inspiration, we've turned to public resources like the brilliant New York Public Library Digital Gallery and the new archive of LIFE Magazine photos from the 1750s onward, hosted by Google.

Coming up on the Periodic Elements of Style, you'll get a peek of my Thanksgiving table and some tips from the make-up trailer on Twilight! Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where balms and lipstains meet!

I love the idea of a lipstain in theory -- lipcolor that lasts all day, even through eating and drinking! But they can be drying if you don't wear a balm over them, and still can come off on your office mug or napkin when you're eating at your cubicle all day. (What? That's the best way to test these things, right?)

You all know that Benetint is my stain of choice for my cheeks, but I originally wanted to wear it on my lips. But its lack of portability in the liquid form, and the fact that the Benetint balm comes in a pot and not a stick or a tube so I have to stick my fingers in it (or carry around a lip brush, which is a pain too) isn't ideal for me. So when I got the chance to ask Jean Ford if there were any plans to make my dream product, a Benetint balm in a lipstick or lip gloss form, she said no and I was sad.

But there is a bright side: Poppy King, the Lipstick Queen, made my dreams come true with Medieval.

I first spotted Medieval at Product Girl, where I immediately pinged Kati and said, "Look at this post! I want this!" The next day I was marching downstairs to Barney's cosmetics department. The same day I was picking it up, Blogdorf Goodman wrote about Medieval too.

It's totally the same sort of thing as Benetint -- the universal sheer rosy red, but in a lipstick. I heart it so much, you have no idea. And, you know, if BeneFit still decided to make one (with SPF!), I would snap it up too. But until then, I am more than thrilled with Medieval.

And then I found another one! I went to the local Japanese supermarket and of course started poking around the beauty and cosmetics aisle. There I found a lip balm that loudly proclaimed, "No Need for Lipstick" with the color name of "Nadeshiko Pink". Hmmm. Since "Nadeshiko" is a phrase that means "ideal/perfect woman", I had a feeling it was supposed to be another universally flattering color. And so I bought it.

Opening up the balm, it's white, like a regular Chapstick. But on applying, it turned hot pink. I even took before and after pictures for all to see. The before picture has no lip balm on at all, while the second is about a minute after applying two or three swipes of the balm.

The balm is nice and moisturizing, and the hot pink color lasts for hours, even when the balm itself has worn off. I even woke up the next morning with pink lips.

I believe it's the same sort of concept as Smashbox's O-GLOSS, where it is initially clear but then turns pink against your skin, as demonstrated by the Beauty Brains. (Apparently there's a JK Jemma Kid Lip Gloss that does the same thing.) I don't have the packaging in front of me, but I'll definitely check to see if it's got Red 27 when I get home.

So those are two stainy balms I've been playing with lately! Sheer red and hot pink, yay!

What have your latest beauty discoveries been?

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

Science Fair for November 10th - 16th

Quick and dirty this week, but full of comics!

- After attending the Alternative Press Expo earlier this month, I helped the Lovely L., who created the banners for both PeriodicStyle and PeriodicBeauty, set up her adorable minicomic The Littlest Elle on Wordpress! Go check it out at elle.mysky.net!

- Because of APE, L. and I were featured on Pirate Cat Radio last week, talking about our trip to Japan last September. The ginormous podcast is available here -- it's 110 MB, and L. and I come in around 39:30 on the 11/14 podcast. We talk about Godzilla and Nara deer (the true menace in Japan).

- In addition, I'd like to introduce you to Corinne Mucha, who is an excellent storyteller and an all-around nifty person. Her comic blog is here. In particular, I would like to direct you to Procrastination, because it is true. As are the comics she has for sale. The one about her apartment is my favorite. (Heads up for language if you are sensitive to the swears.)

- Going off of Procrastination, which places some blame on puppies, I give you live-streaming shiba inu puppies. You guys have already seen them, right? And you love them, right? (And if you don't love them, we can't be friends anymore. Sorry. It's harsh but true.)

- Final proscrastination comics, I swear: Kate Beaton has hilarious historical and autobiographical comics for the truly geeky of us. My favorites include Girl's Best Friend, Jane Austen Comics, and pretty much all of her nonsense cartoons, particularly For Better And Also Worst and Another Dang Garfield Cartoon. (Another language heads-up. I'm only looking out for you.)

Have a great week!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: Homemade & Handmade

For our first weekly Holiday Gift Guide, we thought it would be awfully nice and quaint to start out with a handcrafted, homemade from the heart theme. Homemade for the holidays, for each and every loved one! We've dug up a bunch of great, easy projects for even the least crafty of ecumenical gifters. I remember being absolutely thunderstruck when my sister-in-law, adorable as she is, brought Christmas presents in homemade, reusable drawstring bags--made of sale Christmas-themed flannel, so they only get softer as you reuse them! So simple, and ingenious. Here are a few more to whet your appetite for the coming week, since OF COURSE all that free time you have must be going to waste!

-This five-minute gift bag will make the humblest of presents shine, and if you have little girls to give to, you can rest assured that that little bag/basket shape will get a lot of use.
-Juicy Bits' felt "birthday" crown reminds me of tissue crowns for Christmas in the UK or King's Cake from New Orleans, all about celebration and making the day special for your friends and family! It would make a great stocking stuffer, or addition to anyone's favorite costume box.
-For the fashionista in your life (aka yourself, hello), try simply recreating a piece they've been admiring. Par exemplar, a skirt with appliqued polka dots, or one of those so-simple-you-would-smack-yourself-for-buying it embroidered full skirts from Anthropologie. Take a favorite t-shirt and stencil or silkscreen a special message or image--during my last few months in college radio, a friend and I made t-shirts for the entire executive board commemorating our year(s) of service together, and we all still wear them today!
-Everyone seems to have a jar of box of old buttons somewhere, right? Our grandmothers used to cut the nice buttons right off of those clothes they wore to shreds back in the day and kept them, just in case. As a proud vintage button junkie, I can tell you right now that there just aren't enough things you can do with a button collection other than pick through them fondly, but Peptogirl has proven me wrong with her delightful little stacked button rings. One size fits all, heirloom vintage pieces with a modern twist, what's not to love?
-For the home chef and/or dainty kitchen-lover, Marilyn of Simmer Till Done has an idea for molded cinnamon-chocolate sugars! You can pick up the most amazing butter/sugar/pastry molds for cheap at your local antique mall or thrift store, they're often sold in sets. I took my mother out to high tea for her birthday last weekend, and the tea shop had colored molded sugars in the shape of maple leaves for fall--try a theme with yours if you find appropriate molds, the recipients will love it!
-Speaking of my mother, despite having an extreme allergy to housework and domesticity in general, she collects aprons like it's her job. For the domestic goddess, kiddie chef, grillmaster, or incongruous collector in your life, there's a plethora of homemade apron options out there. Think of it as encouragement in their favorite hobby, housework or otherwise!
-Lastly, with all those days off from work/school and guests coming for the holidays, don't you want your place to look in tip-top shape? For those who hate having to drill and attach a real headboard to beds, Good Housekeeping (of all websites!) has a headboard wall stencil tutorial that is just too cute not to try out.

As some of you may know, Kati and I originally got to know each other and started blogging together as knitters, so I will always be ready with a dozen knitting patterns. If you need help getting started, FreePatterns.com has videos on how to knit all sorts of stitches.

One of the best knitting resources online since 2002 is Knitty, the quarterly knitting magazine. I've pulled some of their scarf patterns here as a sampling of some of the cool things you can do.

- Exchequered is a double-knit (so doubly warm) checkered scarf that would be supercute for ladies or gentlemen. (I might just do the regular checkered pattern, myself.)
- Wavy is a variation on the ribbed scarf that ripples back and forth in, well, waves.
- Danica uses the entrelac technique, which I have never learned but am intrigued by.
- If you're looking for a cowl like the ones featured on Punky Style, then you might want to play with Aibhlinn. (I am considering it, but possibly with leaving the bobbles off...)
- For a lacy scarf or wrap that can be sized up or down easily, take a look at Cozy. I knit a lovely scarf using this pattern and some yarn I bought in Kyoto.
- Finally, no guide to handknit scarves/wraps can be complete without the (in)famous Clapotis. Ah, Clapotis. I shall say no more. But it is much less complicated than it looks.

From all of us at the Periodic Elements of Style:
Have a wonderful, fun, and safe holiday season! We'll be back next week with another gift guide, all about our favorite subject--food!

Meeting the Founders at Sephora University

So if you remember, and I think you do, I went to the first Sephora University event back in April, when they hosted a Bare Escentuals master class. And if you recall from that post, I said, "Gosh, if they have BeneFit or Tarte or one of my other favorite brands, I'll totally go!"

Thus, when the invite to two nights of Meet the Founders came in, and Jean Ford of BeneFit was coming one night and Maureen Kelly of Tarte was coming the other, I did what I had to do: I signed up for both nights. For a $40 entry fee (redeemed as a Sephora gift card), I got two really fun nights.

The events were organized differently from the BE night -- we gathered around in the classroom for Q&A with the founders, then went into separate brand rooms for makeovers and personal time with the founders. (Yay!!)

Day One:

Day One featured the founders of five different brands, all of which you can see here from left to right: Too Faced Cosmetics, Oscar Blandi, Make-Up Forever, Carol's Daughter, and BeneFit. (You can click on it to get bigger.)

The Too Faced room featured cupcakes (yay!), makeovers, and a chance to say hi to Jared Blandino, the founder of Too Faced. I asked him about his eyeshadow primer, Shadow Insurance, which he said he developed for Britney Spears, Madonna, and Gwen Stefani. Sold! (We also got samples of it, and I am excited to try it out more.)

Carol's Daughter's founder, Lisa Price, made rose-milk bath for everyone while chatting about her line, her life, and was incredibly sweet. (I have yet to try out my rose-milk bath; it is currently in the refrigerator where it's probably freaking my roommate out.) I was also thrilled that in our swag bag, we got a full-sized Love Butter, which smells amazing.

I went on to Oscar Blandi, and since I have such short hair, there isn't really much to do with it. That said, they did try out a root touch-up and highlighting pen on me to show how I could make my roots much less stark. (I'm officially letting the blonde go.) There was also the Dry Shampoo, which we got in the swag bag, and which lazy me will probably put to use.

Since BeneFit is one of my favorite brands that I've been a cheerleader for for years, I particularly wanted to talk with Jean Ford and ask her if she was ever going to put a Benetint balm in a stick or wand-gloss form. Alas, she said no! Which made me sad, as a stick or gloss Benetint balm would be my most favorite product of all time. Still, the new BadGAL plum mascara looked really pretty on me. (I totally don't need any more mascara, though, which you will hear more about in my summary...)

I didn't spend as much time in the Make-Up Forever room, but everyone was getting amazing false eyelashes applied. Since I came in so late, there weren't very many left, and since I would love a totally over-the-top pair with big feathers or swooshy things, they'd just be smacking into my glasses all night. So I opted out, but I loved watching everyone else get their lashes applied.

Day Two:

Day Two only had four founders, which made it a little easier on us for dividing up our time. From left to right, Cosmedicine (standing), Tarte, Korres, and Fresh.

First we (I say we because I paired up with the awesome Nancy, who had also attended the first night; it's so much more fun to chill with someone at these things than go solo!) went to the Tarte room, where we met with Maureen and learned that her favorite trick is to line the inner rim of the eye with black pencil. We got the EmphasEYES high definition eye pencil in our bags to try it out for ourselves. (I've already tried it out, and apparently I fail at lining the inner rim, but I could have told you that anyway. That said, it comes in purple and green, too, which is mighty tempting...)

Next we went to the Fresh boutique room, which was a lot of fun because I love Fresh and so I got to blab at Nancy about all the things I love -- the face wash, the fragrance, the make-up, etc. etc. etc. We also got to chat with Alina Roytberg, the founder of Fresh, who is absolutely an awesome woman and has more than solidified my affection for the brand. I got my "makeover" (Alina said she doesn't like that word) done here, using the Imperial Bedroom palette. Lucky for me, I already had the Imperial Bedroom palette (I am a sucker for Fresh's pretty palettes), so it was fun to have someone show me how to use something I already had. The next day, I turned around and used it for my Little Red Riding Hood look. We also got to test out the new Sephora exclusive Fresh scent, Strawberry Flowers.

We then went on to Korres, where I fell hard for the body butter in Vanilla Plum. It's that warm spicy yet slightly fruity scent that I've been really finding myself drawn to more and more. (Could it be I'm narrowing down my signature scent??) I loved it and I am also mighty tempted by the pomegranate make-up remover wipes, which smell amazing and not at all like babies.

To end the night, we finished up at Cosmedicine. Skin care is always tricky for me, since I've gone through so many brands and I think I've found what I like in Bliss, but it's always interesting to see what people have to say. I'm curious about Medi-Matte, which is a tinted mattifier, but I honestly haven't gotten around to trying my Cosmedicine stuff yet because I'm so gun-shy about trying new skincare.

In conclusion, once again I had a really good time at Sephora University. The campus remains amazing and the Sephora staffers I met were all extremely nice, even when there was a small snafu with my registration (I wasn't on the list! but they found me all the same, which was nice). Everything I got was worth a lot more than the $40 I paid to attend, which was surprising. It was really nice to get to meet so many cool people, from Nancy to the staffers to the founders to the camera guy (you know, the one who kept taking pictures of me without make-up at the BE event).

I wound up walking away with five brand-new full size mascaras, which is kind of hilarious and a little frustrating at the same time. Guys, I know you all have awesome mascaras, and I know that mascara is one of the few universal things (not everyone can wear the same lipgloss/blush/etc.)... but now I have five brand-new mascaras and don't know where to start. (That said, I am totally not complaining about getting free SuperNova or BadGAL mascara!) But now I'm set for mascara into 2010 if I follow the three-month rule!

The answer to the question, would I go to another Sephora University event, remains yes. Yes, I would! Even if I have to wait another six months (because I know how long it takes to organize these things!), I would go again.

For more pictures of the Sephora University event, including the Too Faced cupcakes and pictures of me with the founders, you can check out my Sephora University set on Flickr.

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Friday, November 07, 2008

Halloweenie Jeanne

So yes, I've moved into my new apartment and I think I'm all settled in except for lacking a bookcase (I have nowhere to put my books!!) and a need for more art (which I'll be posting about, oh, eventually). I also finally busted out my tripod, which had been hiding under my bed for a very long time (almost a year, maybe) and set it up so that I could attempt to start taking more wardrobe self-portraits with my camera and timer. (Right now it is currently hosting a cardigan on top of it, which makes it look a little creepy at night, like there is a person right by the foot of my bed. I realized this last night when I turned out the lights and realized there's a dark ominous shape about four feet high right by my bed. Yikes!)

Thus, I have some pictures of me in my Halloween costume! Because it was already so dark, though, and there was no sunlight to be had, the pictures aren't as bright and pretty as they should be. Alas!

Dress: niceface.etsy.com
Tights: Danskin? (they're dance-quality tights, bought when I was taking ballet)
Boots: Urban Outfitters
Black long-sleeved top: Old Navy
Headband: Sweet Rococo
Necklace: Brookadelphia vote. necklace

People were confused that I a. did not have a wolf b. did not have a basket ("go steal one from her! why does SHE have a basket? Who is SHE supposed to be?" "That's Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz." "Whaaaat. Really. She did not have a basket." "Yes. Dorothy had a basket." "Noooo, what." "Yes, she did.") and c. was wearing a vote necklace. ("Are you Democracy?" "No, I'm Little Red Riding Hood. But I encourage you to vote.") Maybe I should go with something a little less, um, obvious next year?

The dress is totally comfortable and awesome, and I love it and can't wait to incorporate it into my wardrobe more. I could very well wear it to holiday parties this year with some snazzy jewelry and fancier shoes, perhaps...

Oh, and in case you're wondering about my wall decoration, it's a little birdie from emiliefriday.etsy.com. Karen showed me her shop and I fell in love with her adorable felt birdies, so I ordered one and it is the cutest thing.

What did you do for Halloween? Do you have pictures? Let me know!

images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Want to Be A Mommy-Blogger When I Grow Up

As the daughter of a mother who was overjoyed to "give up" work to be a stay-at-home mom, I am absolutely in love with mommy-bloggers. I'm serious. I. Love. Mommy-bloggers. Not because I love kids, necessarily, but because I see the mommy-blogging movement as an incredibly empowering and powerful development in the way mothers interact with their children and the world. When my mother was a new mom in the 1980s, she was living in Lubbock, Texas, far from home and without the traditional social network of sisters, aunties, and grandmas to help with her first baby. She felt alone, isolated in her experience of leaving the office to stay at home all day with a baby who demanded more of her than any paid job ever could. When I read the blogs of new mothers today, I can hear her voice, and wish that my mom could have had that outlet and network to support her.

By the time I came along, it was a different story--I was a preemie. Preemies run in my family, you see, but I took it to the extreme (don't I always?). I weighed just under two pounds at birth after 27 weeks of gestation, all wrinkly and red, and lived in a NICU incubator for three months before I could go home. Doctors gave me a 50% chance of survival, and most preemies succumb to infections or sepsis, even in incubators. I was incredibly lucky to survive with zero infections, zero disabilities (unless you count ear infections and nearsightedness), and a general joie de vivre. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of what my parents went through, holding my teensy little hand through sterile rubber gloves and hospital gowns, seeing their baby girl with tubes and monitors all over her. My mother still can't stand to hear the songs she sang to me in the hospital, let alone look at photos of that tiny wrinkly little mess.

So, as you can see, my love for mommy-bloggers comes not only from the close relationship I enjoy with my own mother, but the fears I have about my possible future children. What if I have a low-birth-weight baby, or a preemie? How are women actually able to balance careers and motherhood, when I've been told all my life that I can do and have everything? Can I succeed at preserving Japanese language and culture, plus a proud sense of identity in my inevitably mixed-race children like my parents did? I shouldn't worry about these things now, obviously. I think of reading my favorite mommy-blogs (love the Kimchi Mamas) as advance research. The first guard, the exploratory mission, if you will.

Like discovering strong female role models in your mother, your boss, your sisters, your aunts, your grandmothers, your neighbors, your teachers, and friends, the mommy-blogging community is truly a support network for the modern age, full of strong, well-spoken, sharp-witted women. Mommy-blogging is not just entertainment for idle housewives or bored mothers complaining about their rotten kids and all that damn housework, it's active, involved mothers sharing their experiences with all of us. Like Jeanne, Kati, and I, even if you aren't a mother or even thinking about having a family someday, mommy (and daddy!)-bloggers provide proof positive that raising children doesn't sap your brain power and turn you into a gurgling baby-speaking moron.

We live in exciting times these days, and especially in post-election America, it there is an electric charge in the air--change is coming. Babies born today have the best chances of survival with the most advanced medical care. We can recognize and treat post-partum depression without stigma or forced isolation. American women retain and hold dear the right to choose given to use by the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973. It's never easy being a mother, daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, granddaughter, grandmother, auntie, co-worker, fighter, leader, supporter, teacher, student, anything, but we do it all out of love and human kindness. That's what mommy-bloggers and my mother taught me, and I can only hope to pass it on to other young women.

What have you learned from the mommy-blogging movement, how do you think it will change with Gen-Yers (Jeanne informs me that WE are technically "Millenials," thank you very much) maturing into parenthood? I know my brother, a consummate Gen-Yer, is settling down and thinking about starting a family--maybe Auntie-blogging will take off soon! I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

worth a thousand words

Yes, I owe posts on Halloween, Sephora University (!!), and some PBR posts. (If you really miss me, you can go read my BeautyHacks post -- I'm the new perfume blogger there!)

But this is what I need to say most of all:

(necklace from brookadelphia)

image from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Science Fair for October 27th-November 2nd

For this week's installment of the Science Fair, let's go ahead and get all our Halloween ya-yas out, shall we? At my house, we were absolute grinches. I put out a bowl of mini Snickers bars with a nice, festive sign for the kiddies welcoming them to take some, have a happy, safe Halloween! ...Aaaand then I went to the gym. After hearing of Jeanne's exploits in the big city on Halloween night, I'm regretting my decision to be a holiday humbug! What should I dress up as next year? Louisa May Alcott, a French pierrot, a badass steampunk Victorian lady, or a sexy Rubik's cube? Of course NOW I have costume ideas, on November 2nd!

-Steampunk took over the Bay Area this weekend with the first annual convention right in our backyard: STEAM POWERED. I was, in fact, at a Japanese restaurant in Sunnyvale enjoying pork-kimchi stirfry when about seven steampunk-alicious individuals traipsed in, it was glorious! Article linked above from the Silicon Valley Metro Active.

-If you're still in a spooky mood, MSNBC had an interesting article about a whole realm of ghosts and ghouls new to the Western hemisphere: yokai. Yokai are seriously the stuff of (my) nightmares. I grew up watching GeGeGe no Kitaro and reading Lafcadio Hearn's interpretations of Japanese ghost stories. If you're interested, there's even a live-action version: Kitaro! Digital Monster Island can help you explore the world of Japanese monsters and ghosts to your heart's content, my friends!

-Moving on to the cute and cuddly, the LA Times's set of reader-submitted PHOTOS OF PETS IN COSTUMES had us tearing up with joy. The puppies! The kitties! The costumes! My favorites are, of course, the Boston terriers--check out Wonder Woman!

-Even Jezzies got into the Halloween spirit with amazing childhood photos. I think I was an "old-time" girl for the majority of my childhood Halloweens, because I had a super-awesome American Girl dress that matched my Kirsten doll's (Swedish-Americans, represent!) and little booties. One year, I absolutely demanded to dress as a businesswoman so I could be just like Daddy, and here I am an adult businesswoman. Maybe someday I'll be an adult old-time-girl?

-This has already been big news around the beauty blogosphere (alliteration!), but Goth is back. All the little moneyed boys and girls can class up their Hot Topic goth looks into something a little more stylish, and less runny-eyeliner now...maybe I need one of those FIVE shades of white foundation? My goodness. Thanks, pop culture, for making what once was a Crow-loving subculture into a mainstream fad!

-Back in the day, I was on the radio a couple of hours a week, spinning the tunes and trying not to laugh on air (laughing/giggling on air makes you sound like an idiot, FYI). If you're a lucky college radio fan/DJ, you get to attend, once a year, the College Music Journal Music Marathon in New York City. It is insane. You drag yourself from bar to club to burger joint to the gloriously beer-soaked human stain at the Bowery Ballroom for a week, an all-drinking, not-sleeping music festival of the greatest bands just on the verge of making it bigtime. CMJ provides a summary of the best Brit-pop to come out of this year's Marathon--enjoy!

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