I’m leaving for Paris this weekend (!!), and you’d think that would satiate me in terms of wishlist items, but you’d be wrong. What would this blog be without a seemingly endless wishlist? Just a few things that have caught my eye recently, most of which will likely make their way onto my bank statement at some point (except for “The Bettencourt Affair,” which I’ve responsibly requested from the library!).
Years ago, I did one of these posts for a summer vacation in La Ciotat that takes place early on in my book. My inner French girl takes the train from Gare de Lyon to Marseille, spending the three hour train ride reading. Well, how’s this for life imitating art: I’ll be making the same trip in real life in just a few months. I booked my train tickets (€44 round trip!) and hotel, and am already mentally packing my suitcase. Doubtful I’ll look this chic, but a girl can dream. I’m already excited about the uninterrupted reading time.
I’ve used Clinique for more than half my life. For my 13th birthday, my mom handed me the Clinique 3-Step system and said, “Here, use this.” I didn’t need instructions on the how-to, I’d been watching her to use the set twice a day, every day, for my entire life (she still does, and she doesn’t look even close to her real age). Over the years, I’ve modified the routine to fit my finicky, hypersensitive, pale skin, tweaking the products as needed –my dermatologist recommended Cetaphil cleanser instead of Clinique’s Step 1 face soap, I’ve swapped in an oil-free lotion and added a night cream, and I use an spf20 moisturizer in the mornings, all from Clinique– but the one product that I’ve never wavered on was Step 2: Clarifying Toner. I’ve described it before as being nail polish remover for your pores. It’s a sharp, tingly liquid you soak a cotton ball with and swipe over your face after washing & drying, before using your lotion, and it cleans out pores and removes any traces of residue or leftover makeup or dead skin. I love it. I don’t, however, love the packaging. Purple and green? A little much.
Enter these amber glass apothecary bottles. At $9 for a set of two on Amazon, I figured I could inject a little bit of subdued, French-pharmacy style to my bathroom. And who wouldn’t like to look at one less label while you’re getting ready? They’re a substantial weight but not heavy, and they are easy to hold without feeling like I’ll drop them (I was worried about glass). The amber color protects against UV sun damage, so the liquid inside will stay stable longer. The mouth opening is larger than the Clinique bottle, meaning I get more product on my cotton round in one pass. And they’re pretty.
I realize it’s silly to complain about labels when I store my q-tips in a Diptyque candle jar, but whatever. There are a million empty glass bottles on Amazon in different sizes and colors (cobalt! frosted!) and with different tops. It’s making me want to transfer all of my products over to nicer packaging, even my lip balms.
I am so sorry for the continued, lengthy lapses between posts here. Whenever I think about the heyday of this blog (and blogging in general, it seems) a few years ago, I am awe-struck that I was able to somehow churn out 3-5 posts per week while working full-time. How? These days, I am writing like the wind, it just isn’t here. I’m making progress on my novel, every day, but I still feel guilty when I neglect this blog for weeks at a time. I do have things to share with you! I am still reading your blogs, too! I promise to be better at blogging. Maybe not as good as I used to be (seriously, where was I getting all that free time?!), but better. I miss you, kiddos.
I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the season everyone affectionately refers to as “the best of the year,” while I instead call it “hell.” That’s right, I’m talking about you, summer. Everyone’s all, “I love the sun!” “Woohoo the beach!” and meanwhile I’m over here in the lone patch of shade in the fetal position, scratching at my 38 mosquito bites and trying not to turn into one giant greaseball. I miss winter! I miss the cold and the darkness and scarves! (Yes, I am basically a Scandinavian vampire). I’ve long relied on two things to make summer a little more bearable, though, at least in terms of my vanity: that face wash and scrub are the antidote to my dreaded summer breakouts. I use the face wash every night, and the tea tree oil really helps soak up all that extra oil. It also feels like you’re applying menthol straight to your face, so tingly and refreshing as it feels. I use that scrub once or twice a week just to slough off the inevitable layer of oil build-up. So attractive, I know. Park me in front of an air conditioner and come get me in four months.
Another summer staple? Those sandals! I ordered a pair last year to take with me to Paris and wore them into the ground. I went through two pairs last summer, and this spring ordered a new set to take with us to Italy. Without any breaking in, I walked over 10 miles in them the first day and didn’t have a single blister or moment of pain. They are heavenly. I just ordered my fourth pair to finish out the remainder of the season.
I finished “The Hotel on Place Vendôme” last night and loved it. If you’re a fan of historical non-fiction, specifically the German occupation of Paris, you should add it your Goodreads list immediately. I just started “My Paris Dream,” and so far I’m feeling ‘meh’ about it. It’s all very ‘poor little rich white girl’ who went to Choate and Princeton and runs off to Paris after graduation to “find herself” on her parent’s dime and still finds things to complain about. But, Paris.
And this weekend I completed my descent into domesticity as a Write At Home Wife and bought a steam mop. Mopping is the bane of my existence, which is why I put it off as long as possible and get by solely using Swiffer wet pads. But then I looked at the bottom of a pair of socks and was horrified, so off to Macy’s we went (armed with a coupon, of course). It’s just natural steam, and it sanitizes up to 99.9% of germs and dirt and bacteria. No chemicals, just water, and oh man did it clean my floors to a squeaky clean shine. I might be looking forward to doing it again today.
I had brunch with my darling friend Lyndsey at Parc yesterday, after which we went to Sephora for a bit of retail therapy/excuse to be indoors somewhere warm. While she was consulting with one of the sales associates over BB creams or CC creams or some other cream she doesn’t need because she is naturally flawless, I wandered around the store spritzing myself with various perfumes with completely clashing scent profiles when I happened upon this collection, from Nest. My jaw hit the floor. I’ve never seen packaging as gorgeous or as meticulous; sure, perfume, of all things, generally comes in beautiful bottles, but these? These are on a whole different planet, one where packaging design is just as important as the scent combination, if not more. These bottles are stunning, and if I hadn’t already smelled “like a baby prostitute” I would’ve sprayed all of them on my wrists and neck. The designs are works of art. The spiny green fronds and striking flora evoke a cross between “Opulent Oceans,” a large coffee table book from the American Museum of Natural History, and a Severin Roesen still-life, no?
I think on name alone I’m most intrigued by the scent of “Midnight Fleur,” but truly, I’d take any of these and use them as display pieces rather than their intended use.
1. This delightfully (intentionally) retro music video from Stromae:
If you can watch this video and not end up charmed and dancing happily in your seat, I pity you. Filmed on an old VHS-loaded camcorder in Cape Verde, set in an indeterminate decade, at what appears to be an afternoon cocktail party, the camera follows (changing hands and perspectives!) everyone from children to the waitstaff to the cooks taking smoke breaks and people on the dance floor. Everyone except for Stromae himself. It is a wonderfully conceived and smartly executed concept for a music video, and it leaves me beaming every time I watch it.
2. And, on a related note, Stromae’s new-to-me clothing capsule collection:
The quirkiness cannot be overstated. I only lament that the line is not available in the states, and that the socks (adorable!) are €17.
3. Paranoid Parrot!
There was a time a few years ago when I had one of these Paranoid Parrot memes taped to my monitor at work: “Make one tiny mistake at work, assume I’m getting fired.” It sort of became my “thing” in the office, how paranoid I was about getting fired; I interpreted any conversation that occurred behind closed doors or in hushed tones as one of my impending dismissal. Thankfully, I got past it (likely when my boss held my job for me while I took a two month hiatus in Paris), until this past Tuesday, when I couldn’t immediately log into our company SharePoint site. I’d sloppily mistyped my password, but for a brief moment, I had a full-on Paranoid Parrot melt down. SO THIS IS HOW THEY FIRE ME. Some of them are hilariously accurate!
4. This SNL skit from last weekend that I’ve been laughing about ever since:
SNL has been so hit or miss the past few years (dare I say decades?), and hit its peak for me during the Andy Samberg era. I haven’t even watched the show for a few years, mostly because staying awake until 11:30 (even on a Saturday!) is outside the scope of my abilities, but I happily caught last week’s episode and, in particular, this sketch. It seems like an obvious “Shawshank Redemption” spoof, until you get to the reason he’s in jail. “One man.” Seriously, try not to laugh.
5. Finally joining the ranks of women who swear by eyelash curlers:
I bought an eyelash curler on sale at Sephora, and ladies, I am hooked. I’m not exactly a “makeup girl”; yes, I wear mascara and blush, but I can’t blend eyeshadow or figure out airbrush foundation, and in general, my makeup routine takes about three minutes. The idea of adding tools and gadgets to my makeup bag seemed foreign and unnecessary. And then one of my best friends got married and as we were getting ready that morning, her sister-in-law kept espousing the virtues of what, truthfully, looks like a modern day torture device. I’m supposed to put that thing near my eye? But damn if it doesn’t make a noticeable difference, especially in the morning, when I could use a little oomph to fight off the sleep still lingering in my face.
Fun Erin Fact: I am the most moisturized human being you’ll ever meet. Seriously. I have a day and night face and body lotion routine that takes half an hour and leaves me feeling like I could bob sled on an ice luge using nothing but my body (or, more accurately, like this Boy Meets World scene with Cory’s silk sheets). So it’s no surprise that I’ve now added an eye cream, from Clinique, to my regimen. Say what you will about the futility of using an anti-wrinkle cream when I don’t (yet!) have wrinkles, but to the naysayers, I refer you to this brilliantly apt scene from the short-lived BBC series “Coupling,”:
Sally: Death is the best argument for moisturizers.
Patrick: You can’t prevent death with face cream.
Sally: Yeah? That’s what everyone thinks, but no-one’s ever used it in the quantities I do.
I can also be found applying hand lotion roughly eighty times a day, an estimate that more-than-doubles in the winter, when even the slightest exposure to the elements leaves my hands cracked and raw. I stopped into L’Occitane over the weekend, and fell madly in love with their peony scented line. It is non-greasy and the smell is heavenly, not overpoweringly cloying or floral.
In other news, I’ve decided to give “The Goldfinch” a second chance. I know, I know. I was pretty firm in my original assessment last January (and in my end of year book review) that the book was overrated, but I read Tartt’s earlier work, “The Secret History” on our honeymoon a few months ago, and I’ve been ruminating on it since. All of the characters in that book range from “Not Entirely Likable” to “Downright Reprehensible,” but I think you’re not supposed to like any of them, and that’s part of what made it so good. I wish I’d read “The Secret History” first, as an intro to Tartt’s writing style, as it would have colored my initial read of “The Goldfinch” differently. As it is, I’ve been thinking more and more about the plot and characters of “The Goldfinch” in the last few weeks, and I figured I have nothing to lose with a revisit (except, of course, hours and hours of my time. Again). I’m coming at it with a new appreciation of her writing voice, though before I even started it I’ve realized she reuses several of the same character archetypes from “The Secret History.” I’ll delve into that more in a separate post, when/if I finish this for the second time.
Maybe it’s the anticipation of our first snow storm, expected to hit later today, or falling madly in love with that cashmere wool coat and snatching it up weeks ago, but all I know is that I’m dying to really get into winter. My current winter style arsenal consists of a big puffy down coat and duck boots, which, while keeping me reliably warm and dry, doesn’t do much in the way of making me look chic and sleek; because my coat is brown, I tend to resemble Mr. Hankey. Not cute. What is cute, however, is that beanie hat, with its quirky Magritte reference. I do love a good art reference. Also: that bag! I’ve been searching forever for a black leather tote that’s lined (nothing is more frustrating than having to pick bits of black shedding leather dots off of everything I own; with the last unlined leather tote I had, the lining stuck to the rubber viewfinder guard on the back of my camera, meaning that every time I took a photo, bits of black leather fuzz stuck to my eyebrow) and I might have to splurge on it in the upcoming weeks. This whole outfit together would guarantee the chicest winter wardrobe, though maybe not the most practical if this winter is anything like our last. We hit a record for the 2nd snowiest winter in Philadelphia’s history last year, and honestly, when you’re trudging back and forth to the bus in 18″ of snow, a pun-y Magritte beanie hat is the last thing on your mind. Ceci n’est pas un chapeau!
A little over a year and a half ago, I posted a few Paris Street Fashion photos that included this photograph of a striking young French woman:
The response in the comments of that post were overwhelmingly flattering, as all of you thought there was some resemblance between her and I. Now, I’m as vain as the next person, but even I’m not quite so self-adoring as to think I compare remotely with how gorgeous this mystery girl is. And she is, truly. I can’t tell you the wonders those comments did for my ego (even though lolz, no. you guys are blind)! I’d pinned her photo all that time ago, but her face has been burned into my memory ever since because of how breathtakingly beautiful she was.
A few days ago, the mystery was solved and I finally figured out who she is. Her name is Marine Vacth, and she’s a Parisian actress and model. I found a photo of her while googling “French girl hair” for my (long overdue) haircut Wednesday evening, and realized she looked familiar. Sure enough, when I compared it against the original photo I’d pinned, it was unmistakably her, only she’s somehow gotten prettier. Behold, proof:
Who are you crushing on these days (guy or girl)? Or animal. Truth be told, my biggest crush might still be Grumpy Cat.