Six Beauty Products I Can’t Live Without

You know that scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, when the one guy says to Steve Carrell, “I mean, look, dude. You think this was an accident? All of this right here? Premeditated, partner. You gotta highlight your attributes, like a diamond in the rough.” That’s my approach to making myself respectable to be seen in public. The difference between what I look like when I wake up (swamp monster) and when I leave my house in the morning afternoon (less-swamp monster-y) is substantial. I think the most accurate representation I could give of what I look like when I wake up is this little gem from Hyperbole and a Half:

I mean, my hair is darker than that, and I don’t have a blue blanket, but other than that, it’s what you will find if you sneak attack me at any hour of the day earlier than 10am.

And when I leave the house to go do fun things like spend money I shouldn’t be (it is terribly unfortunate I live less than 3 blocks from an H&M, a Zara, and an Anthropologie), I manage to look like this:

That’s pretty much spot on.

Premeditated, partner. And I couldn’t do it without these 6 beauty products:

1. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser – I have finicky, sensitive, vampire-pale skin. It reacts poorly to pillowcases and towels that aren’t washed frequently enough, certain laundry detergents, the weather, hormones, and I’ve even had to change shampoo like 10 times because inevitably my skin would rebel and break out anywhere that my hair touched my face. I’ve tried a million different and expensive face washes, but either they were too drying or too irritating. I’ve been using this for about 2 years with great results. It has the consistency of watered down lotion (or you know, when you fill an almost-empty bottle of conditioner with water to make it last longer) and it is scent free. It feels filmy and creamy going on, and it isn’t harsh at all and doesn’t sting, so at first, you can’t even tell it’s working. But it leaves my skin so soft and fresh, I’ll never use anything else.

2. Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Stick – As I said, I’ve tried a lot of the products in this line, and I think this is by far the most effective for me. Even with using Cetaphil, I’ll still get an obnoxious little blemish here and there. I’m human, and I eat more sugar than is food pyramid approved, it’s bound to happen. And when it does, I use this bad boy. It’s expensive, at $9 a tube, but you only need a dab or two at night before you go to bed. It’s like magic. Also, helpful hint: the wand won’t be able to get all the gel at the bottom of the tube eventually, but if you stick a Q-tip it you can!

3. Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 – Growing up, my mom used (and still uses) the Clinique 3-Step skin care system. The bar soap in that line was awful for my skin, and the liquid version wasn’t much better. While I started trying other face washes, I kept using the astringent (why they call it “Clarifying Lotion” is inexplicable, the stuff is like nail polish remover for your face) and the 3-Step moisturizer. The astringent is great. You just wet a cotton ball with it and wipe it over your face after you wash and dry it; it’s kind of horrifying but oddly satisfying how gross the cotton ball looks after you clean your face with it. You’d be surprised at how much gunk is left on your skin even after washing. This stuff gets rid of all of it. Not going to lie, it stings like the Dickens, but it’s that kind of good burn that means it’s working. However, it is too drying to not follow up with a moisturizer, which is where #4 comes in.

4. Clinique Even Better Moisturizer – Clinique’s standard yellow moisturizer was great for almost my entire life, but within the last year or so, it started making my skin like an oil slick. I felt like that poor kid you probably all had in your high school, whose forehead could be used as a spot-light for the high school production of Annie. But I had been using Clinique for upwards of 10 years, and I was more ready to blame the oiliness on a change in my body’s chemistry rather than break my loyalty to their products. Enter Even Better Moisturizer. By far the most expensive thing I put on my face (except for when I bathe in angel’s tears, obviously) at over $40 a tub, but this stuff is amazing. It’s paste-y and smells like sunblock since it has SPF 20 in it, but it’s worth it It has a serum in it that evens out skin tone and reverses damage and dark spots from previous blemishes over time. It’s magic in a jar.

5. Covergirl Lash Blast – Don’t hate me because I buy my mascara at CVS. But if you want to hate me because the paltry $8 I spend on a tube of this stuff comes in $20 under what you might spend on a shittier alternative from Sephora, and mine never clumps or collects under my eyes in black patches by the end of the day, then go right ahead. The brush on this thing is intimidating; it’s large and in charge, but it gets every single lash and makes them look amazing (if I do say so myself. And I do.)

6. Softlips Vanilla Lip balm – If you knew me before the age of 18, you knew that I had a collection of roughly 400-600 lip glosses. This is not a gross exaggeration, this is an actual figure based on actual amounts. I was more obsessed with lip gloss than a 13 year old girl is obsessed with Justin Beiber (pop culture reference!). One time, my dad’s old office was having an employee art show, and everyone who wanted to be in it had to create a 14″ x 18″ shadowbox. My dad suggested I make “an artful display of lip balm” since I had so much. Well, I’m older now, so while you won’t find Dr. Pepper flavored Bonnebelle Lip Smackers in my bag, you will find this incredible skinny little tube of SPF 20 lip balm. It’s light and does exactly what the name suggests, gives you soft lips.

That was perhaps the most I’ve ever talked about my skin care routine.  If you read through all of that, congratulations. I fell asleep about halfway through.

What are your skin care secrets, kiddos?

Bookworm

I don’t consider myself a very black-and-white person by nature; I’ll shades-of-gray all over something before coming to a conclusion about it. This holds true in all areas of my life, except for literature analysis. It makes me want to crush things when I have to talk about what the author could have meant by saying a character took a pickle dish down from the shelf (side-note: Ethan Frome is forever a comedy, thanks to 11th grade English). Yes, there are evident themes in Lord of the Flies, but that book was picked apart so much that it was ruined for me. I don’t want to perform surgery on a book, I just want to read it.

I remember sitting in a Creative Writing workshop course in college and listening to the other students dissect a story I’d written, and being amazed at the things they were reading into, things I’d never intended or meant when I’d written it, but things they were just sure meant something else. Uh, if I meant for the protagonist’s decision to lock herself in the bathroom to be a metaphor for upper class guilt, I’d have put  a footnote in all caps that said that. But I didn’t, so stop reading into it.

Thankfully, reading has not been ruined for me. I still love nothing more than curling up on my sofa with a good book (and a better cup of tea) or reading until I fall asleep at night. My dad was the kind of person who read a book a day, almost, and was good friends with local booksellers. He spent years reading to me in bed at night, both of us eventually falling asleep. Over dinner, we’d read from the Etymological Dictionary (and yes, I endured a fair bit of teasing for that).

Anyway, here are some of the books I’ve read/been reading recently:

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

I loved this. Santa left it for me under the tree this year, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s beautifully written. The author has a refined voice, and the end left me, literally, speechless. I had to sit quietly for a while when I finished it, to let it all sink in. Once you read it, you get why you’re not supposed to talk about it, and truly, I don’t want to ruin the magic of this story for anyone else. Trust me though, it is definitely worth a read.

Incendiary, by Chris Cleave

Again, the author has this staggering command of a woman’s voice. Plus, lots of Arsenal references! It’s a pretty dismal, very realistic story on a fictional terrorist attack. I’m almost finished, but I don’t want to be.

Columbine, by Dave Cullen

I have a very weird fascination with Columbine; the event itself, not the book. I was 12 when Columbine happened, and it was the first major, life-changing thing that totally reshaped the way the world worked for me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what had happened. Guns at a school? That just didn’t fit anywhere in the world I’d known my entire life up until that point. A few months after Columbine, my school installed metal detectors. Dress codes came a few years later.

I went to see “Bowling for Columbine” when it came out, but after reading this book (well, okay, so I’m halfway through it but I can’t read it when I’m by myself because it scares me too much, and it’s extremely dense due to being a compilation of 10 years of research) I realize how narrow Michael Moore’s take on the whole thing was. He went into the movie declaring that guns were the entire problem, that it all happened because of America’s problem with guns. I’m not saying that point isn’t valid, but Dave Cullen goes further into the story with this book, by talking to victims’ families, taking full pages from the shooters’ journals, and interviews with hundreds of people connected and affected by the tragedy. It’s definitely worth picking up, but if you’re a chicken like me, don’t read it late at night or before you go to bed, or you’ll be left sleeping with the lights on.

What books are you reading these days? Any recommendations? I’d love to know!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is one of those weird holidays where you’re not sure if everyone celebrates it or enjoys it or in fact secretly hates the entire idea (Foxy, looking at you on this one), so you don’t want to bring it up in case it’s a sore subject. As in:

Snarky! I don’t know, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. I love roses, I love the entire institution, including the special pink, red, and white m&ms they release for the occasion. I was a Valentine’s Day Champion in high school. It’s true. Ask anyone.

On a more romantic note, let’s take a look at this lovely, lovely ring from Cat Bird, shall we?

Have you ever seen something quite so darling? I didn’t think so. I love Cat Bird, and in particular, I love this series of rings. How sweet are they? Delicate and feminine, and perrrrfect for stacking. I have an unnatural love my the first letter of my first name, and a little ring with my little initial is almost too cute to stand.

Tonight I have a date with my three favorite little Valentines, my nieces! I foresee cupcakes and lots of pink candy and glitter in my future. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

What day is it?

I’ll be upfront with you and admit that I’ve never been a timely person. I was never good at keeping a diary / calendar / date book, arriving on time, or remembering where I’m supposed to be. And it isn’t for lack of trying! I’ve bought beautiful leather date books with gold embossed page edges with the full intention of writing down my schedule each day. It was easier when I was in school, and things like that were a necessity. If I didn’t write it down, there was a very good chance it would never get done. Not because I am lazy, but because I seemingly have the attention span of a cheese sandwich, and that plummets significantly once you pile on massive amounts of work.

Then I got a job, and a Blackberry, which somehow made me want to put everything I might possibly have to do in my calendar. It made me feel like a grown up, being able to say, “Let me check my calendar” when someone would ask if I was free.

I also felt like a grown up when I got my first big-girl apartment, that I was paying for on my own and not sharing with anyone else. You realize quickly when you move into a place with high ceilings that there is a scary amount of  blank wall space. Wanting to maintain my streak with being organized and also wanting to totally design-nerd-out on my apartment, it hit me.

The Stendig Calendar!

I had first seen it in Anna’s New York City apartment kitchen redo, and instantly fell in love with it. It’s a calendar that meant it. It’s large enough to take up an ample amount of wall space, and beautiful enough that it transcends being just a calendar, and becomes art. Did  you know it’s the only calendar in the Design Collection at the MoMA? Rationalization!

But back then I was unemployed, and couldn’t bring myself to spend $30 that I didn’t really have to spend (do you hear that? It’s the world’s tiniest violin). And by the time I got a job, it was almost 6 months into the year, and they had stopped selling the 2010 version of the calendar. What was a girl to do? This was a crisis of epic proportions! I felt like it was the most unfair thing that had ever happened to me, that I had to wait a whole 6 months to get my own calendar. (Do you know what we call this? White People Problems)

Those 6 months were agony, let me tell you. I tried to talk myself out of it several times, so the waiting wouldn’t be as painful, but my heart knew what it wanted. It wanted this calendar, and this calendar it had to have. So, finally, when the new 2011 ones were released in late December, I ordered one.

 

My desk, the like / want / need office. Believe it or not, I did not do any pre-photo cleaning or straightening up. Aren’t you impressed? It’s one of my New Years Resolutions to be cleaner.

Look at how proudly that calendar is hanging on my wall. It’s like it is saying, “HELLO. TODAY IS FEBRUARY 13TH. IT IS A SUNDAY. DO NOT BE JEALOUS OF MY BEAUTY.” I didn’t realize when I ordered it that it would be a euro-style calendar, with the week starting on a Monday, as opposed to a Sunday start like we have here in the states. Somehow I missed that. But I’ve adjusted rather easily! Except for that one day in January when I was convinced it was Thursday but it was really Friday. That was fun.  

And in case you were interested:

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, kiddos!

This chair. I can’t even.

There is a small (and weird) group of people in this world called Objectum Sexuals, who carry on intense, realistic relationships with inanimate objects. Like bridges, the Berlin Wall, and the Eiffel Tower (but I try to pretend that last one isn’t true, because I love the Eiffel Tower and don’t like to think that there are people in the world who routinely make love to small replicas of it). I was going to say that I didn’t understand their psychological pull to things that aren’t, you know, alive (or human, more importantly), and am in fact creeped out by the entire thing, but I think I’ve made that clear.

That said, I want to introduce you to my newest crush. Meet the Cappellini armchair:

 

This chair makes my tiny little heart flutter. Look at it! All curvy and colorful. It is like plastic and confetti and broken crayons and magic got together one night and did the hanky panky (In the interest of full disclosure, I googled euphemisms for sex out of sheer boredom and found a bunch! Some of them are so vulgar! I can’t even).

Anyway, back to the chair! If you find it as painfully cute as I do, it might be because this is a Cappellini / Walt Disney collaboration, and we all know that Walt Disney is the universal sign of mass-produced cuteness (and anti-Semitism, but that is besides the point). I’m sure it’s not really all that comfortable (the chair, not anti-semitism, though I suppose that’s pretty uncomfortable, too) but they lure you into thinking otherwise by announcing that there were only 99 of these brilliant chairs produced. Ninety-nine! As in, I’ve got 99 problems, but this, uh, chair, ain’t one.

True to form, the gene in me responsible for consumption is spazzing over the possibility of owning something that rare. So, also true to form, I start rationalizing the purchase. I could just save up for a few months, cut back on frivolous expenses like electricity and food, and then the darling chair will be mine! Nevermind that my studio apartment is barely roomy enough to fit the stuff I already have (which leads me to believe that I have too much stuff. I refuse to believe I am paying too much for a small apartment), look at that chair! If that chair doesn’t make you grin like a tea-party republican idiot, then you clearly have no appreciation for whimsy, or for finely crafted homegoods. And that’s fine. I’ll be happy with my chair, and you can lust after it from afar and I won’t even let you sit on —

Beg your pardon?

$2461.00? Two thousand, four hundred dollars? No, I don’t think I can “ADD TO CART”, no matter if it’s in caps lock or not. I’ll be adding it to my dream box, assuming of course that that is not some euphemism (we’re back on euphemisms!) for something else.

There is cute, and there is insane. And this chair, though it breaks my heart to say it, has crossed over to being expensively, prohibitively, ridiculous. I’ll just have to show my adoration in other ways, like creating an image header hommage to its wonderful multi-colored-ness.

Oh well. Good thing I have other chair-lust backups! Let’s observe, shall we?

The Bertoia Wire Side Chair. Fabulous and shiny, and, if at all possible, looks even less comfortable than the Cappellini above. But! The patent on the design has expired (thank you 70 year copyright rule!) so you can pick up a pretty decent replica on the cheap. Not that I would, because that is shameful. However, my thrifting talents aren’t quite as honed, but I’ve seen many examples that prove these are readily available (albeit in a right state) if you’re willing to dig around.

And the side chair's sexy, taller friend.

And oh, Eames shell rocker. You deserve a post all your own, even if I can just tell by looking at your my tokhes would hate you.

Oh hi, you must be new here.

Gazela Vinho Verde

Do you know how hard it is to come up with a pithy entry title after spending an entire day already trying to come up with a cool, pithy blog name, and searching for the perfect font and the perfect color combinations to make the perfect image header? It’s veritably exhausting.

Thankfully, it is Saturday, and I have been drinking Vinho Verde since noon like some eastern European expat, because I’m convinced the tap water in my apartment is non-potable and I don’t have anything in my fridge besides a bottle of mustard and some string cheese, and I don’t want to drink either of those.

Enter Gazela. Fabulously priced at a mere $6.99 a bottle (though in googling it, I’ve seen it sold for even cheaper), and deliciously bubbly and sweet. My best friend and I picked a bottle of this up on a whim a few years ago, mostly because it had a peacock feather on the label. What can I say? I am clearly on my way to becoming a renowned sommelier.

Gazela Vinho Verde

SO. I’m intending for this blog to be an aggregate of all the things that tickle my fleeting fancy (and there are many, many things, ranging from purses, to desks, to clothes, to swedish furniture) where I can hopefully expel the desire to buy all these things by writing about them to death.

Hi, I’m Erin. I like / want / need lots of things.