Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New FTC Blogger Rules

I just wanted to write a quick blog to address the FTC blog rules for freebies. I makes me a bit sad that the FTC is targeting bloggers and that my professional life (I have a degree in politics and am constantly dealing with policy) should cross over into my personal blog. So this will just be quick statement.

I don't receive any free items from companies. Everything that I review I have obtained through a variety of ways which I will list below.

1. I buy it. I am a consumer. Which also explains the sporadic nature of my entries since I tend to enjoy expensive products ;-). Like any consumer, I have shopping preferences. I generally put links to Amazon, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, or Nordstrom (among others) because those are the places that I shop while online. I also visit niche sites as well. If I purchase the item from there and review it, I will put the link to where I purchased it. I won't put a complete list of my shopping history online because it would be quite extensive!

2. When I purchase from some of the above places, I receive samples or gifts with purchase. I review these items as well. I consider them part of the package price for whatever I bought. Sites like Sephora and give extra sized samples which allows me to experience the product for a week or so. I don't review small samples unless it is a fragrance since it's difficult to tell how the product will react over a period of time. But let me clarify, none of these products were given to me as a way to influence my blog.

3. I have only received two "free" items, only one of which I have reviewed. I won both of them in various giveaways. You will see the second one below. I won a book and a few full sized cosmetics from Lancome. I thanked the blog and did not review any of the items. The other and first 'win' was from L'Oreal who manufactures Ralph Lauren Fragrances. I entered a giveaway and they sent me a bottle of Notorious perfume, which I still use and did review. I was honest in my review of said item as I am in ANY of my reviews.

Beyond this, I have never been solicited by any companies for advertising or reviews. This is probably because I have not affiliated with any blog rings or advertising programs.

I like blogging about products. It can promote discussion about likes, dislikes, new products, ways to use them that I'd never thought of....and just plain fun. Thanks to my one reader for sticking with me!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Shout Out to the Lancome Blog and Jennifer Weiner

I won a contest the other day. Yeah. Yeah. But this one was special. I just love the Lancome Blog! It is one of the blogs that I am consistent about reading. When I subscribed to it, I was worried that it would be another 'pimp the product' blog. But under the guidance of Kerry Diamond, the blog is so much more. Not only do readers get to read about Lancome's products but often there are musings such as the dedication to John Hughes and Pretty in Pink. I was lucky enough to win the pictured goodies - a signed copy of Jennifer Weiner's new book, Best Friends Forever and some little extras which I am so excited about!!!! I absolutely adore the Juicy Tube Pure and have worn it everyday! It's the perfect natural color.

Thanks to Jennifer for signing the book. I can't wait to read it since you are one of my FAV authors. Now I have to take the book off my Amazon wish list!

And thanks to Kerry Diamond, not only for the goodies but for the quality fun blog! I used to have the same opinion as your intern that Lancome was sort of an older brand but I've seen that for the past year Lancome has blossomed and I am a convert. Kerry, it is due to your blog...which is so much fun. Thanks!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Delightful Handbag Fashion at the Portland Sock Summit

On Friday, I was happy enough to accompany my BFF down to Portland, Oregon to the Sock Summit. I was one of the few non-knitters in attendance but still had fun. There are some pretty cool things about knitters. First, they are very nice people. We met some wonderful new friends and had great conversations. Also, there were delicious color palettes of yarns. I won't even begin to review yarns but as a fashionista, I was dazzled just by the incredible color variations! Last, knitters carry awesome bags. These are totes and handbags that are made to hold many things. From little project bags to huge luggage sized totes, there was plenty to keep a handbag maven occupied. A few sellers in the marketplace caught my eye and so this blog post is dedicated to them.

Ja Ja Ja Purses

For an eclectic and budget conscious person, a Ja Ja Ja purse would make a great addition to any wardrobe but there are even more pluses. Ja Ja Ja is a no-waste green company. All of their purses are made with recycled, reclaimed fabrics. Each handbag is unique and personalized. I purchased the Florence (which does not seem to be available over their website). An over the shoulder bag, it has plenty of pockets. Mine was made with bits and pieces of upholstery fabric in a seaside theme. However, despite the ocean theme, as you can see by the pics, it has a very graphic nature. The bags are lined and mine has a semi-solid base. I liked this style because it was versatile. I plan on using it for a lunch bag because of it's wide base. It fastens with a snap. None of the bags have zippers because JaJaJa has not found a manufacturer or way to reclaim zippers without causing waste. There are plenty of styles available from totes that are so large they create their own orbit to small dainty pockets (they give them away with their business cards so that all the scraps are used - remember NO waste). There is plenty of potential for this lovely green handbag company. The company employs six seamstresses and one seamster. They will take fabric that you provide and work with you to create a one of a kind, personalized bag. Their etsy store currently has nothing for sale but the website has plenty of offerings. However, if you find nothing to your liking and are looking for something specific, I would shoot them an email. They are easy to work with and very willing to listen.

Queen Bee Creations & Chickpea Baby

With an incredibly designed website and an even more incredible eye for handbag design, Queen Bee Creations had the one bag that I drooled over for the entire conference. I didn't purchase it but it is on my list of WANT. To be released for the Fall line, this lovely tote (or one very similar to it) was my favorite of the line. Instead of recycling existing fabrics, Queen Bee creates new fabrics with green recycle processes. So the grey wool that you see is Re-Wool or recycled wool. It has a nubby texture with bits of other colors but mostly grey. As you can see, Queen Bee has an appreciation for nature, showing leaves, flowers, and birds with a graphic, modern eye that I appreciate. This bag is large and could carry nearly everything that I take to work every day (and then some). The sides fold in for a more streamlined look. What I like about this line is that it is not fussy, fashion conscious, and modern. Take a look at her PVC line (they call it Fleather!) as well. For biker chic and literally bike bags, this is a fantastic, fashionable company! I will be back to purchase a bag in the fall.

Namaste Inc.

Wow! The colors and designs of these bags are just gorgeous. Since fall is about jewel tones, Namaste bags offer a great selection of colors in animal friendly, fashion forward environment. I want all their bags. My friend owns two of their bags and just loves them. She bought the Zuma and the Hermosa in beautiful colors, eggplant and peacock respectively. The Zuma is great because it can open up wide and holds a mass amount of stuff. For my own future purchasing, I was especially dazzled by the mini clutch and it's organization system. It will be hard to decide which color I'd like to order. I also really liked the Newport but it appears to be limited to two color and possibly part of the summer collection. However, since my favorite purses are doctor's bags, it is no surprise that this one attracted me. These are well made bags, look great, and despite the obvious slant towards knitters in the accessory section, I was eagerly thinking about what I could do with each piece - pens and sunglasses need a place to go after all! Despite the horrible stereotypes about fake leather, these are quality bags and seem to age well. My friend's Zuma has been used for several months and never fails to impress me when I see it. The bags are reasonably priced, the highest being $85 for the Hermosa. Namaste was definitely a favorite at the Sock Summit. I saw several knitters toting the bags and tons of the most adorable accessory that Namaste makes, the Buddy case (which I also want by the way!).

These handbag companies represent eco-conscious and budget friendly ways to accessorize. Enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Manicure of the Week O.P.I Party in My Cabana

Ok, ignore the little chip out of my pinkie nail. That just happened this morning. Sigh.

I must have been inspired by the geraniums on my back patio because this was the color that I chose this week!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lipstick Rescues

Have you ever bought a lipstick and found that the color or consistency is just not going to do it for you? You looked at the color swatch online and thought, "That's gorgeous!" You wait forever (three days can seem like forever) only to find that the color is not even close to the online swatch AND not to mention it looks like a bag lady would use it! And then you think about the $25 that you put into that lipstick (not to mention shipping) and the fact that now you have applied it twice (the second time because you though you were imagining the results the first time) so you can't sell it on Ebay. Since you bought it mail order, the company promises money back even if you used it. But you know that means a trip to the post office including the long lines and inconvenient hours after you have spent an hour filling out the return packing slip, filing some form online, and finding the packing tape (that's the really hard part!). So what do you do? You keep it, and gaze longingly at it (the beautiful tube) in your make-up drawer. Why waste it? Why not rescue it? Here are some of my lipstick rescues.

I happen to have just such a color in my wardrobe. Worst yet, it happens to be a Chanel lipstick. I love my other Chanel lipsticks but this one is just NOT what I had expected. I wanted a cool orange, something with pop and summer hotness. Instead, I got a sticky, matte coral that emphasizes every line and crack in my lips. Awful. So I got a little creative with it.

1. Since my Chanel orange wasn't brown enough, I employ the use of a lip pencil, filling in for the brown color to darken up the orange to more of a harvest color. This is great for protecting the consistency of the lipstick but changing the color successfully. This is a Rouge Allure lipstick which gives good moisture and some shine. I add another lipstick, it may change what I find to be an acceptable lipstick finish. If I use a darker brown, I sacrifice some of the coral color and that is good for lessening the shock factor of what happens to be a very bright tone.

2. I bought this color because I wanted orange and that's what I got. But the tone was just too bright and vivid for me. But instead of muting it, perhaps I'd like to bring out some of the positive parts of the color. It is light and bright which during the summer is an added bonus. But the finish of the lipstick is not dewey summer finish. It is more matte than I would like, which as I mentioned above tends to show age and lines. So as another lipstick rescue, I add an overlay of lipgloss. In this case, I pick a lipgloss that has little color but plenty of sparkle. I have a Sephora pale pink that works well for this particular lipstick. I have also used Lancome Juicy tube for the same purpose - choosing a more brown neutral like Sparkling Night's Twinkle. The added sparkles and light diffusers take the focus away from the dramatic and pretentious coral. It adds a softer element to the lipstick making it not seem so hideous.

3. Change the color with a lipstick adjuster or a color changer. Use a color change lipstick and it will change the color based on body chemistry. These types of lipsticks were huge in the 80's but they could present some scary colors. However, the idea of changing your lipstick color can be put to use here. Dior offers a lip balm that changes color. Sephora has offered lipstick adjusters in the past. They have discontinued them but you can still find them on Ebay. The concept is simple. Like the lip pencil, you can add more of one tone to help the lipstick suit you better. Perhaps it's lacking in brown, or is too dark. Add a tan or white adjuster to find the right color for your complexion.

Hope these rescues help you with that finicky lipstick. Share some of your lipstick rescues with me!

Green Destination Olive 8 Seattle

I spent a lovely weekend at MedFest 09. For those of you who are unfamiliar with bellydancing, that is Middle Eastern Dance Festival 09. It was a blast. When I started planning this weekend back in January, my thoughts were to make it a nice getaway for hubby and I. It came to my attention during the spring that Hyatt in Seattle was opening a LEED green certified hotel called Olive 8. A neat name, it's really the location of the hotel but hey, it's green, right? I was excited. After the past few years of staying in subpar hotels, I was ready for some luxury. And why feel guilty when you are saving the planet too? There is a slick online interface for the Olive 8. It emails you with confirmation, an online check-in link, and even an online checkout link. You can get a paperless bill upon checking out too thus saving a tree. The email is fast which is a relief and so is the checkout. We checked in with the delightful lady at the desk after the valet parked our car. There are relatively few parking options. The only way to use Hyatt's garage is to allow the valet to park your car. Street parking in Seattle especially in this part of downtown is really not an option. It is $33 for the night unless you have a hybrid in which case you get a 20% discount. This is part of the hotel that I really didn't like. I felt that the parking should be included in the room price or at least validated if you used some of the hotel's services like the restaurant, spa, or gym. Plus a gratuity is expected as with all valet parking. We did not leave one not because the valets weren't responsible or enjoyable but because I was already cringing at the bill just for the storage of my car.
Entering the Olive 8 is very unprepossessing. While beautiful and stylish, it is not overwhelming or grand is scale. The desk is to the left and free of any ornamentation. The restaurant, Urbane is straight and to the right. The elevators are tucked away and out of sight. The style is very organic in nature with polished stone tabletops, metal table bases, modern upholstery (some of which seemed recycled or vintage in nature). This hotel is not for the rabid environmentalist. Hyatt does very little to advertise the green building techniques in the hotel. It takes an educated person to realize the very subtle methods of operating in a green manner. For example, the staff will change the bedding if you request it during your stay. Otherwise, they make up the bed with what is there. However, the lovely desk lady did explain to us some of the finer points of operating the room. On the ride up in the elevator, the television panel does describe some of the green ideas of the hotel including the 25,000 square foot green roof garden. I thought that was really cool. It saves rainwater, can change the roof from a hot zone to a cool, more equitable environment. Not only that but it appeared from the picture that there were many types of plants in the garden, encouraging bugs and birds to partake in what is usually an unforgiving urban environment. I would have loved to see it but we were incredibly busy during the weekend and I forgot to ask the concierge if it was open to the public.
Like other green hotels, the Olive 8 uses an electricity system that requires your key card. The lights in the room will operate as long as the key card is placed in the holder by the door. Once you remove the card, the lights eventually turn off. However, you can still charge your phones, Ipods, or plug in a light. One of the bedside lamps was plugged in and made a nice night light without the key card so you do not enter in darkness.
There are few plastics in the room, no plastic shower curtains. Designers opted for a panel of glass instead which is stylish and conservation thoughtful. The toilets have a multi-flush system which seems nifty but I found myself using the larger flush button more often than not because the toilet was stubborn. Natural products are offered in the bathroom. I was surprised that the bath products were not organic. They do boast of natural essences including lavender, citrus, and white ginger. The bottles are made of recycled plastics. The downside is that the spa experience from these products is ruined by the bubble gum scent. Having tried Portico before and enjoying the products, I was surprised to find that this lot failed to provide that experience. My theory is that it was the white ginger in the soap that was smelling a little bit sweet because the lavendar citrus lotion does not have the bubble gum curse quite as much. Either way, I like Portico because the product itself is eco-friendly and does the job but their scentology needs a little work.
This is the first room ever where I was provided an Ipod docking station. Even my remodeled hotel in New York last year didn't give me one so I was pretty excited. I'm sure that hotels are moving in this direction for the future comfort of their wired customers. T-mobile provides the standard hotspot and it was easy to connect. The furnishings in the room are very modern and stylish. There are some subtle details that may be for conservation but they are not explained so I could be wrong. For example, the bed is covered with all the necessary sheets and blankets but the most interesting thing is that the coverlet is extremely short. The assumption here is that most people tuck the coverlet in over themselves after folding over about two feet of extra fabric. If this is the case (I don't know that any studies have been done on this but I suspect there are), then most hotels probably waste yards of fabric or create too much fabric in order to have it unused by the average consumer. I had thought that the mini coverlet might be a disaster. After all, I am one of those sleepers who likes to tuck it in around my shoulders and it didn't reach there. However, I was able to tuck in the down comforter and slept an absolutely divine sleep (which says alot for any hotel, doesn't it?).
If you are looking for a green hotel that brags at every turn about it's green features, this is the wrong hotel. Every effort seems to be made to make you not aware of the LEED certification. Instead, it just seems as though you are staying in any luxury hotel.
If you are looking for a great deal, this is the wrong hotel. It is average in price (for a four or five star hotel). We didn't try the restaurant or coffee bar because the menu prices seemed a bit extreme. There was a 25% discount on room service for the weekend. I wanted to try it but even at %25 the pot of coffee for $8 seemed horribly overpriced when I could walk to Starbucks and get a coffee for a few dollars. There is coffee in the room for free if you are so inclined in the morning. Another green feature is the small pod coffee system that brews it cup by cup so that very little water is used. But beyond that, very few amenities are provided in the breakfast area. Perhaps five star hotel customers do not expect any breakfast features.
To conclude, the Olive 8 is a nice place to stay. The staff are friendly and helpful. However, it feels as though Hyatt is a bit stingy on some of the amenities considering the price per night. I would stay again. The location is extremely convenient to downtown and Westlake mall. We walked everywhere. But for a luxury hotel, this one seems to be slightly lacking in the pampering experience.

Monday, July 13, 2009

O.P.I. "You Don't Know Jacques"

Here I am sporting O.P.I.'s "You Don't Know Jacques". I had been looking for more of a summer Khaki while shopping on Saturday but found this color from the Fall 2008 France collection instead. It happened to match my dark brown Khaki's. No matter what I do, I seem to come back to O.P.I. as a standard. If anyone follows my twitter, they would know that I had a failed manicure this last week (not with any O.P.I. polish) and so it was a relief to toss on a few coats and have it look fantastic. Well, mostly, my skill level with manicures in rather rusty right now. And after a few days, I have very little chipping despite doing the dishes and laundry which usually takes a toll on my manicure. I do have one scratch in the my thumbnail and not sure how that got there!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Current Library List

As I can't afford to buy the big beautiful fashion books, I have taken to checking them out at the library. Well, it also hinders me that they are big and I don't have the shelf space.

1. The Golden Age of Couture Paris and London 1947-57 by Claire Wilcox - Or perhaps this one should be more appropriately renamed, "Why we love Balenciaga and Christian Dior." Fantastic picture of YSL at Dior's funeral in 1957. Great pictures of the evolving world of fashion. Behind the scenes photos of designers at work, fabric swatches, and a well-written detailed history of fashion at the cusp of something glorious.

2. Mommy Dressing, A Love Story, After a Fashion - By Lois Gould, this memoir by the daughter of fashion designer Jo Copeland seems dysfunctional and yet captivating. The few passages that I scanned caused me to spontaneously add this to my pile as we left the library.

3. Strapless, John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis - After I saw Madame X in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was captivated. I had seen the work in books but to see her in person, um painting ;) and hear the juicy story behind her saucy shoulders and cleavage, I had to know more. I stumbled across the book and felt it might make great summer reading.

That's just the tip of the iceberg!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Favorite Lipsticks

You can ask anyone in my very small circle of friends. I love lipstick. No lip gloss for this girl (well, occasionally, I confess!). But my lipstick organizer is full and has lipsticks stacked on top (and that's not even including the ones that are in my purse!). Often, I keep lipstick for way longer than I should just because I like that color. Right now, I have several favorite summer lipsticks. By way of disclaimer, I am not sure of the SPF in any of these lipsticks and I always make sure that I have some SPF protection in addition to my lipstick.

1. M.A.C. Style Warrior Sunsational -Probably one of the most blogged about collections, M.A.C. has converted me finally. A super deal ($14) for a quality product. The packaging is a bit cheesy but then what fashionsta doesn't like a little animal print on her make-up tubes? The stick inside is glam all the way - a fantastic gold, unlike any color I've owned, it really does look like sunshine on your lips. But I still have a hard time going into a M.A.C. store.
2. Chanel Aqualumiere Key West - This one is SPF 15 and the color was limited edition. However, there are some beautiful colors on the Chanel website that I wouldn't mind owning as well. By far the best formula from Chanel, Aqualumiere balances color with moisture nicely. I forgot that I bought this lipstick. When I was changing purses, I found it....what a score! I can't live without it now. The color of sparkling's like a beautiful beach.
3. Guerlain Kiss Kiss - The most moisture rich lipsticks that I own, they is also the most lux to smooth on your lips. Both of the colors that I own are browns (A Jamais Brun and Bois D'Amour) which makes them perfectly compliment my darker sun kissed skin. I gave you the Sephora link however, these can also be purchased at any Guerlain counter. I purchased them at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. I will probably have to purchase more soon because I am wearing these down to the bottom of the tube (definitely a sign of addiction).
4. L'Oreal Colour Riche Eva's (Longoria) Caramel - It is actually more of a sheer color than indicated in the picture. I like the natural look and crave the moisture of this lipstick. It has just a bit of sparkle in the caramel which gives it the ability to transfer from day to night with just the right au natural spirit.

What's your FAV summer lipstick?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My new Sak Crossbody Bag

I have to brag. After months of searching for a nice handbag, getting ready to commit to one other the other and then backing away because a) various design flaws b) the price c) cheap materials, I settled on the Sak. I shouldn't use the word settled though because that implies that I gave up something. The Sak is one of the most under-rated brands on the market, especially the leather handbags. Functional and beautiful, my persimmon crossbody bag is constructed of vibrant, soft distressed leather. The inside is a gorgeous as the outside with a brown African style print linen. The hardware (strap rings and buckles) is heavy, matte steel that does not overwhelm the overall appearance of the bag. This particular model is full of nifty surprises, including a flap that unzips and goes the entire length of the bag incase you want to expand the purse. I use it to keep my unmentionables and anything that I want away from prying hands. The zipper is gracefully accented with a braided to pull for ease of use. The flap does not buckle however I have had very few incidents where contents have escaped from the bag. The two front pockets are snug and the buckles seal with a magnetic snap. Lined with suede, they make nice containers for your cell phone or lipstick. Most handbags on the market currently do not have long wide straps which makes for difficult carrying. Tough to swing over shoulder while on the go, they rest on the crook of your arm or with a huge mass tucked up against your side. Neither ways appealed to me and with upcoming summer events, I knew I'd be at the market, in the library, on the go and in need of a bag that could follow me with ease. The Sak has a wide strap, long enough to (as the name suggests) put across your body without much strain on your shoulder. I tend to just toss it on my shoulder and go. My only complaint (and it's a very small one) is that the strap is not adjustable because I am short and the bag falls a little low on my hip. The most amazing thing (beside the appearance of this bag - it is truly gorgeous) is that I can always find things in it! Even when something does sink to the bottom, it's very easy to reach in a grab it. Shockingly, I could not find this bag on Sak's website. However, it is available through Nordstrom. It seems to no longer be available in persimmon but the saffron is just as beautiful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

OnGossamer PJ's

I may be a little late to the game but recently I picked up a PJ set by OnGossamer at Costco. I normally don't like to buy clothing at Costco because every one will be wearing it later. I have two Costco's in driving distance. Who wants to see the exact same Ed Hardy shirt twenty times during the day? I will admit that Costco does carry some fantastic, solid designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Ed Hardy. However, with PJ's who cares? I was initially drawn in by the henna art, a scrolling white vine print that graces the neckline and side of the shirt. In addition, they are incredibly soft without being fluffy or thick. The material while thin is not cheap feeling (you know that mass produced penny a foot type of t-shirt material?). I particularly like the marriage of comfort and style. I have been nursing along 20 year old college shirts and flannel bottoms. Not sexy. Their website seems to indicate that the company's primary focus is on bras and panties. OnGossamer seems to specialize in bras and underwear that take technology and beauty in women's lingerie to new heights, as evidenced by their luxery liner underwear. This technology focus is in all of their products. I was very happy to wash my henna art pajamas and not get any shrinkage because of the polyester content. But at the same time, it doesn't feel like I am wearing polyester. The plus is that your boy toy will want to touch you. These pj's just encourage heavy petting! Buy through Nordstrom or Dillards (if you want the PJ's). Bare Necessities and Bluefly also sell OnGossamer but tend to mainly offer bras and panties (not that it's a problem!). I could not find the henna art pajamas that I purchased offered on any website. If you have a Costco in your locality, run down there right now and snatch them up in all of the delicious colors (peach, mint, and baby blue).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Juicy Couture Daphne Satchel

I'll be honest. I tend to avoid Juicy Couture purses. Their velour pants are another matter. Perfect for lounging around home or on lazy shopping days. But the purses always seem a bit teenager-esque. Not so with the Daphne satchel. This is on my list. I'll take it in the brown (puddle) or bold pink (poinsetta) daisy print. Either way, it's graphic and adorable. The bee on the front just makes me think of lazy summer days! Not a really mature purse purchase but gosh, it'd beeeeee swell.


With spring and Easter rolling in, I have been busy but finally yesterday I was able to visit to the Lancome counter at Macy's. My struggle with dry skin has increased since spring weather changes. So my goal was to get some moisturizing face wash. The sales lady, Vivienne (who was a doll, by the way!) hooked me up with Gelatee Confort. A milky cream, it takes a dab about the size of a nickel to clean away cosmetics. Safe to use around the eyes, it was easy to clean away my eye make-up. It doesn't foam up much but that was ideal since I was looking to avoid any drying soap residue. The cleanser left a layer of moisture on my skin which always makes me nervous because my skin is transluscent and often will look cloudy with a cleanser like this. However, my pores look clean and my skin bright. I did apply a moisturizer after the shower but only because I've been so dry.

While I was there, I asked Vivienne about Genifique. With such a huge advertising campaign, I had hoped to get a little sample but Lancome is holding out. However I tried a bit on the back of my hand. It is lightweight and melts away as you smooth it on. As I walked around the store, it tightened the skin on the back of my hand but didn't cause any crinkling. In fact, the layer had a very elastic nature and is barely noticeable. It does not moisturize per se but it made the drier parts of my hand smooth. Vivienne recommended using it under a moisturizer. I just wish Lancome could combine it with a lightweight moisturizer for a two-in-one product. The bottles are crowding my medicine cabinet enough! I am saving up my $78 for this product though. Lancome's skin regimin has been more impressive over the past few years. Genifique is available through Lancome's website (my link), Macy's, or Nordstrom.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stila Precious Pearls Palette

I have been obsessively into eyeshadow palettes. So far I only have two new ones but I can tell that this is a slippery slope between 2 and 20. I splurged last pay day and bought the Stila Precious Pearls Palette. At Sephora, it retails for $40 which seems high but I looked at all the colors and thought, "YES!" I needed a palette with fresh spring colors and the beautiful shell tiled compact fit the bill. This is a high quality compact, heavy metal styling and smooth, rich mother-of-pearl tiles across the top. It's a work of art. My first thought was that I needed a new bathroom to show it off (any excuse, right?). OR at least, a new purse to carry it in! The colors are lovely, each showcased on their own. But the most disappointing thing about this compact is that they do not blend well. By this, I mean that the colors are not all picked to coordinate. The pinks are contrary (one a dusty, gold rose and the other a cool, cupcake pink). On the lid, they don't look so bad together though. I was pleasantly surprised to put the pale pink on today and find that it shimmers much more than in the palette. However, so far, the pearly white does not pack quite the promise of the Sephora description. I haven't noticed the gold finish yet. In the palette, the blue is gorgeous. On the lid, not so much, but I have received compliments while wearing it so perhaps I am being too hard. The brown is spectacular as is the green but I have taken to wearing them as a stand alone colors because they are difficult to coordinate. Staying power for this shadow isn't bad, no more or less than any other shadow. It does powder quite easily. I wear it with a base which I would recommend for any shadow. But make sure it is a pale base otherwise it seems to diminish the light reflecting bits of pearl in the shadows. It's a win for Stila. I would pick up one while you still can!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Help me find a new blush!

I am on the hunt. I just scraped bottom with both of my Dior blushes. There are so many wonderful choices that I am turning to my two loyal readers to ask for feedback. First, let me start with some information about me. One of my loyal readers and seen me in person so she is familiar with the skin. The other has not. I have pale skin. Typically, I use very light foundation. During the summer, I redden instead of tan so I tend to use products that have SPF. Still when I work in the garden during the summer, my skin runs a bit darker. I am looking for two blushes. In my color kit, I typically keep a brown or neutral tone blush and a dusty rose blush. I stay away from obvious pinks, the bright colors look fake. I don't use coral or oranges because they tend to be too harsh on my skin. I also avoid cheek stains also for the same reason. I like blushes that over a variety of ways to use them. Both of my current blushes have a range of similar colors that I blend or use as highlighters.

Now, for the question of the moment, how much will I spend? Since I have to buy two blushes, I would like to keep the price low. I like nice blush that will last awhile so I am willing to spend a bit. I've had both of my blushes for a year and used them quite a bit. But this doesn't mean that I am unwilling to go with a drugstore option like Revlon or other brands.

Some potentials (although I am still open to suggestions).

Nars - Blush and bronzing duo - Go from spring to summer with an outstanding color. Have heard raves for the past few years about the color "orgasm" and have thought about trying.

Dior - I could stick with what has been successful for me in the past. Two shades or a lovely palette in the Diorskin Shimmer Star (I have the amber diamond).

Cargo - I've never tried their products before but look at these luscious colors in the SuedeBlush!

theBalm - Again, a product line that I have never tried, has a "less is more" kind of blush that looks fun. Called "Hot Mama", it really has been thinking about summer!

JK Jemma Kidd - Not adverse to Target ever....I find more style and deals there than anywhere. Saw this pretty color and thought....maybe?

Anyway, I could go on and on! This is why it's so hard to make a decision. I had this problem LAST time I was shopping for blush. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Creaseless, Longlasting Eyeshadow

Obtaining crease-less, long-lasting eyeshadow is like searching for the Holy Grail. It just may be a myth created by beautiful airbrushed models in advertisements. On the other hand, with a few helpful make-up aids, it may be closer than you think. Tired of creased oily eyeshadow that had lost it's luster at the end of the day, I began the search for a base. In the past, I have just used my foundation but it is insubstantial. Two products came to my notice in this quest.

1. Trish McEvoy's Bare Eye Base Essentials - This tiny round tube retails at a whopping $24 but it is so far my favorite of the two eye bases. It spreads on with a thin finish that dries to a powdery softness but does not flake. I have it in the color Bare which is light and adds brightness to my eyes. It says it can be worn alone but there is nothing dramatic about the color. The applicator is spongy which allows for even spreading but it is more difficult to feather the sharp lines. As far as our "holy grail qualities", shadow does stay creaseless during the day. However, color wear is reduced somewhat - not nearly as bad as without entirely but still not full color.

2. Laura Mercier Eye Basics Base - A square tube does not a different product make. Very similar to Trish McEvoy's, this eye base retails for exactly the same price. I received it as a sample so did not get the right color. Wheat is too dark for my transluscent eyelids. The consistency of this eye base is a bit thicker, probably with the intent of adding staying power. It does add a bit to color stay but with the thicker product, the edges of my eyes feathered, threatening to flake off. The product has not actually flaked but it doesn't look smooth on the corners of eyes. It seems then that you have a choice to make, crease or feather. Either way, your color is not smooth. I found that some colors of shadow covered up the feathering though.

Both of these products were incredibly alike, enough to make you think that perhaps they were manufactured in same facilities. I don't believe this is true. Perhaps they are relying on brand loyality instead of flawless results to sell the product.

My next product to try in regards to the Holy Grail of eyeshadow is Urban Decay's Primer Potion. In the meantime, the quest resumes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sephora's Hidden Eye Gems

Apparently, Sephora does not want you to buy their new eye palette. I don't know why not because it's absolutely spectacular. But in the effort of writing this blog, it took me nearly five minutes of web searching on their site to find the Moroccan Sunrise Palette. This spread of five eyeshadows is just as pretty as it's name. Also just as surprising, these beautiful colors are not individually named (at least not that I can find anywhere). From left to right, there is dusty orange, velvety sand, deep latte, matte milk chocolate, and lush golden rose. The gems are encased in a scrollwork gold compact with full-sized mirror and double brush. It is reminiscent of Turkish tiles or ironwork.
Soft and easily brushed on, the shadows give you maximum color impact and a nice thick coverage. I love the brush! All of the color that you swipe onto it comes off on your eyelid making it easy to switch between colors. Plus it is super soft on your tender eyes. I have received compliments on all the variations of color that I have used from this palette. For everyday, I tend to stick with the neutrals, mostly using the sand and latte colors. At $30, it is a bit of a pricey splurge. I bought it for my birthday and it makes me feel pampered every time I open it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's Wish List

My husband always asks me what I want for Valentine's Day. It always forces me to think of fashionable and loving items. Something to make me feel treasured. I never ask for much (my birthday is just two weeks prior to V-day and he spoils me on that day). But here's a few lovely gifts that I think ANY fashionista would enjoy.

The Kate Spade "Red Letter Day" bracelet is a memorable way to show your love. At Kate Spade's website, it retails for $98 and would make a trendy addition to any jewelry collection (mine particularly). But if your girl isn't a jewelry kind of lady, check out the other Valentine's gifts including the adorable "Griffen" tote with exclamations of love.

My favorite chocolates (it's hard to pick just one) are Vosges Haut Chocolate. I am lusting after the Gatsby truffle collection which blends roses, chocolate, and champagne for a lovely and delicious (sinfully so) truffle. My favorite thing about Vosges is the unusual blend of flavors. I was lucky enough to visit a Vosges boutique while I was in New York. The staff was friendly and helpful. I felt pampered after I left. But the important point is that everytime I open a purple box of their chocolates, I breathe in a sigh of indulgence. World Market Cost Plus carries a limited selection of the Exotic chocolate bars in case you are running out of shopping time!

Despite the fact that this next treat has a weird top and I can never figure out how to spray it, I love the look of the bottle AND the juice. The perfume girls must think I am an idiot. Emilio Pucci Vivara is one of my favorite perfumes. I have only possessed samples of it. I will wear it all spring. However, Pucci has released three new perfumes. Each celebrates the upcoming spring and elements of nature - sea, sand, and sun. My favorite of these is Vivara Variazioni-Sabbia 167. The perfume has a citrus smell on first spray - tangerine and lemon and on dry down a smooth sweetness which is listed as iris. I like the floral drydown because it is not heady or overwhelming unlike most florals. The citrus top notes cheer me up in the gray days of Winter. Plus the bottle, a sweet pink Pucci print cap with a pink glass container would look adorable on my dresser.

For beautiful flowers and a good deal, have your honey run down to Costco. They also have gorgeous bouquets online and even a lovely heart shaped topiary. But I prefer their rose bouquets. After all, roses are classic and rich.

Over the years, my husband has bought me little things on Valentine's Day. These are the everyday items that when you pull it out of the cupboard or wear it daily, you tend to remember those loving moments. One of those items was a pretty pink mug from Starbucks. This year, Starbucks has focused their sites on lush red mugs. My favorite set is the coffee for two, natural brown and cream mugs with hints of red. To pair with these crisp, glossy cups, try a spicy Tazo tea or the Bella Vista blend of coffee. The beautiful view will be the look of delight when your lover opens their goodie bag!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lush - Eye candy extraordinaire!

I have heard mixed reviews about Lush. So when I popped into one of their stores this weekend, I was already slightly jaded. If you are a Lush fan, I can understand why. They have eye-popping, mouth-watering treats in each window. The huge cakes of soap look just like that....cake. Even their smaller treats look like cookies or french meringues so it's no wonder that they do a steady business. The temptations offered are delightful to the eye and smell over-powering. I asked my husband to go off somewhere else mostly because he hates shopping but also because he is asthmatic and the last thing I wanted was him to have an attack because I was shopping for soap.

I was not only skeptical because of the other customers that I'd heard who were less than enthused with the results. A few years ago, my friend and I set out on a soap making venture where we make homemade soaps for everyone for Christmas. It was fun, inexpensive, and our friends loved them. Lush just seems like it is a company profiting off of everyone else's laziness. Granted, I know that I do not have time or skill to make some of the things that they make. Also, there is a certain level of presentation that goes into their soaps. If I could make my own soap, why was I buying ANY soap from ANY company or that matter! Putting these feelings aside, I went for a few items that I thought I might enjoy or at least had heard good reviews about on other fashionista blogs.

1. Lush is not only famous for their soaps. They make and sell quite a few bath bombs. I don't have a bath tub in my master bathroom and find it difficult to relax in the kid's bathroom. Something about spiderman staring at me from the soap dish is not condusive to a spa moment. So when I heard that they were making shower bombs for people like myself, I was very happy. It's not difficult to make one of these things but who has the time? So I bought the Sex in the Shower emotibomb which is the one that I know fashionistas rave about. It's got a great name and let's face it, I am a sucker for ginger. I used it that night when I came home. Just drop it on the floor of your shower when it's hot and steamy. I made sure to drop it off to the side so that I wouldn't slip on it. It is a one time only thing because it melts right away. I made the mistake of using it while I was using a scented soap and the experience of having the wafts of ginger affect my mood was lost. Or perhaps this one emotibomb was not heavily scented itself. I would hesitantly try it one more time just to make sure. It's not a hideous waste of money for a one time try since it retails at 3.95.

2. I have looked for massage bars everywhere and was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon them in Lush. Both my husband and I hate greasy oils and look for natural ingredients in products. Plus, I would like the option of massaging my hands and feet with something that hits all the tender spots. I bought the Soft Couer massage bar. It is firm enough to not melt. I keep it in a tin of my own although they do sell tins at Lush for travel and to keep the bar clean. Not only is it sensual, it is practical as well, filled with soft moisturizing ingredients.

3. My last purchase was the most disappointing. I bought a solid shampoo which I think is a fantastic idea. Swish it around your hair two or three times and it foams up like crazy! It saves on plastic bottles which is a bonus for the environment and my landfill bills. The Godiva bar looks lovely in my shower (place it on a top shelf or out of the direct stream of water so it doesn't melt away) but it reeks. I mean REEKS. True to the sales lady's word, three swipes did it but it is hard to control and my shampoo only ended up at the top of my head so I had to swipe at the bottom. Consider that inexperience at work. I did get it to foam up quite nicely but the smell nearly knocked me out. It smelled like perfumed dog. Rinsing off, I noticed that my hair had a funny sheen to it....a plasticy feel. Thick with moisturizers, the Godiva bar made my hair limp with product. Even the next evening when I wet my hair for my shower, the bar residue made it oily and heavy. For the rest of the night, I could not sleep. Every time I rolled over, I gagged with the smell even though I felt I'd rinsed off sufficiently. There are plenty of other options in Lush's solid shampoo line but I was not excited enough with the results to bother.

One note about Lush; all natural products are fantastic but let me give you a strong advisory warning. All of these soaps are scented with natural oils. A few times I reached for something pretty only to have my eye caught by the label. Citrus, pine, lavendar, and other herbal oils/extracts can be quite abrasive if used in large quantities. Considering the overwhelming smell emanating from Lush, the oils are used in the extremes. For some people, it's no big deal. But I break out from pine oil. So if you have sensitive skin, be careful. I picked products carefully after nearly making a mistake.

I won't mind shopping online from Lush. They have a great website with honest reviews and a fast interface. But the storefront salesperson who helped me was trying to hard and caring too little. It was clear that she sensed my initial sketicism and knew that I was a hard sell. She was right.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bring Back Lipstick Jungle

There are so few fashionable intelligent shows on television now. Women's programming is being pushed aside for reality madness or sci-fi-horror combos. Nerd programs are delightful and fun like Chuck and Big Bang Theory. But when I want stilettos and tear inducing drama, I turn to Lipstick Jungle. There are very few shows on major networks today that deal with women's issues. Most are geared towards teenagers or men. It would seem that sexy mature women are not watching television because they are too busy or they are settling for programming that is substandard and just fills the void. I am extremely busy but Lipstick Jungle is at the top of my TIVO list (along with Brothers and Sisters). I've had this show on my TIVO since the beginning but it has ingrained itself in my heart especially this second season. Recently, I discovered the neat extras that NBC put on the website including Bonfire magazines from one of the main characters, Nico Riley who is the editor. This was a rich, well-acted show. NBC's representatives claim that they are giving up some shows to bring on better ones but if you ask me, they've dumped the creme de la creme and I won't even go into how I feel about My Own Worst Enemy. Please email NBC. There have been some insinuations that it may return in the fall but I am not holding my breath. Bring back Lipstick Jungle.

Givenchy - Deep Dark Lashes that are PHENOMENAL

This is the strangest looking mascara wand that I have ever used. But about the time that the oscillating mascara wands came out, I was actually buying Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes mascara. Mostly because I'd run completely out of mascara and had no choice. Also, because (truth be told) those oscillating wands scare the holy heck out of me! Even if I did want one, all of you fashionistas know that you couldn't get a hold of one for months because of the mad rush! I had serious doubts when I ordered it. But Sephora offered one of their absolutely crazy specials where if I ordered it plus the sizzling red rollerball of Absolutely Irresistible for my purse, I would get a great little pouch with deluxe Givenchy samples...I mean, seriously, it was the serpent's apple all over again. My husband and any of my close friends know that I have been in love with Givenchy's Irresistible fragrance line for the past year and half. It's easy enough to wear to my job without causing my husband to hav allergy attacks. I smell good. He stays healthy. A win win situation. But having purchased Givenchy powder, I was more skeptical about the cosmestics line. The powder lacked depth and shimmer. Normally, I use Guerlain meteorites so it's hard to compete with that kind of perfection! I thought that the mascara would get me by until I bought something else. But this mascara is absolutely incredible. It does not apply in the same manner as a normal wand with just a few even parallel strokes. Instead, it is total precision control for you to draw out the corner of your lashes so that they point out, full of cat's eye drama. It has amazingly smooth, thick coverage that stays through the day. I don't curl my lashes because mine have enough curl. Phenomen'Eyes address each lash, curling or spiking depending on which way you use the brush. There is no need for fake lashes because it adds thickening power, giving you heart fluttering eyes. I have fun putting this mascara on. It adds total drama, sexy 'guy grabbing' lashes!

Rant Enclosed - Horrifying Hair Massacre!

Picture me on Christmas day. Long flowing hair down to the middle of my back. Barrel curls ala Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl fame casually held back by a tweed and emerald green velvet headband. But my long layers were growing a bit unruly. My barrel curls were becoming a bit harder to maintain so it was time for a trim. In July, I found the perfect stylist. We had a mind meld in the salon. "Did I like my long hair?" she asked. Yes, most certainly but it was thick and slightly unruly when not styled properly. As we chatted about the Sex in the City movie, she gave me long layers, used thinning scissors to take off some of the weight, and curled it into the most beautiful haircut that I've ever had. I walked away into the summer heat with a light step and a vow to come back to this great salon that I'd discovered.

But when life takes over, it's difficult to spend an hour away from the family on such a narcissistic pursuit. By Christmas, I was slightly fed up so I stopped in the the salon on New Year's eve to try to get an appointment. Of course, I knew better and settled for an appointment a few days after New Year's Day. Here's where things go horribly wrong. The hair stylist making the appointment assigned me to an unfamiliar name. I had lost the card of the previous stylist and could not remember the name. I assumed that all the stylists at the salon had met stringient standards tests. The new stylist, I will refer to her as *she* from here on out - no one deserves to be insulted by any name I might assign her, was brisk and efficient. She began to instantly lecture me on washing my hair. After she found out that I wash my hair every night, she gave me the third degree, claiming that my hair would be better if I only washed it once a week. She went on to talk about my scalp and how the health of my scalp would be protected with a layer of (dare I say it) grunge and oil. Alarm bells are going off in my head because I happen to have minimal damage to the ends of my hair despite the fact that I style with high heat and use hair spray. My hair is extremely healthy, snappy with elasticity, and hydrated. But she's talking to me as though I am an idiot. Finally, she gets to the nuts and bolts of things. "How much do you want me to take off?" I tell her my standard, four inches. She looks skeptically at me. "Are you sure that you don't want six inches?" My hair grows exceptionally fast and the last style (as much as I enjoyed it) did grow out quite fast. So I agreed. "Do you want it to be lighter?" Yes, I did. I mentioned that the last time, the stylist had used the thinning scissors. However, she had mentally left the building. You know how you can tell when a person's eyes glaze over and they are so focused that you are no longer there? This was the point where I should have clarified exactly what I meant with her. A growing discomfort was settling in the pit of my stomach as I watched the hair fly. It resembled a scene right out of Bugs Bunny with the chattering Bugs and the leery red Monster.
As the initial fray subdued, she seemed to lose momentum and be eager for me to go. Pulling out the straightening iron, she hastily ran some straightening anti-frizz cream through my hair, a product that I never use because I don't have frizzy hair. Throwing the iron into the mix, she pulled it through, a look of semi-confusion settling on her face. The awareness that something was drastically wrong had not completely hit me yet. In fact, it is only in retrospect that I can see now what had happened. She'd gone too far, and she knew it. But instantly, when I put my glasses on (this is the problem with the process, I am blind while it is going on too), I knew that it didn't look good. I chalked it up to her poor curling job. Needless to say, it is hard for me to describe how I looked, flat on top and dinky curls at the ends. My first instinct was to flee. I paid her and ran. If I had known the extent of the damage, I wouldn't have run quite so soon. Most hair style experts will tell you that you have the right to protest your hair cut. But it is extremely confrontational, stressful, and results in you diving for cover as you scream for a manager or security. As in this situation, where my stylist had been very stubborn and not open to my ideas (any time I tried to get a word in edgewise, it was indicated through her manner that perhaps I didn't know what I was talking about), a confrontation where one party possessed sharp scissors was the least of my desires. Her closing line to me besides attempting to get my referrals for other people (as if) was, "You can still put it up!"
The extent of the damage didn't make itself fully known until later anyways. When I got home and stared at myself in the mirror, feeling on my right side, I realized that there was a hunk of hair missing entirely. I always part my hair on the right side so SHE had cut it where it could ONLY be parted on the right. A huge chunk of hair rested on the top. She'd attempted to straighten it so it wasn't noticeable but when washed and dried, it puffed up hideously. On the left side, there were sprigs of hair sticking out at odd angles, an failed mission to add layers. But each feather was rudely cut instead of neatly trimmed. The result of this "style" is my hair was now more along the lines of a bad eighties cut, shadows of Nancy McKeon, not that there is anything wrong with the Facts of Life star but I wasn't going for practical and boyish.
And even if I had been, this was a botch job of the first order, a shabby, poorly accomplished cut. Now, every morning, instead of curling easily which a good cut would facilitate, I fight with the iron, losing pieces that are all different lengths. And remember that six inches that she would take off - try ten and even twelve inches as parts of my hair. About twenty percent of my hair is the correct length that she promised. The rest is much, much shorter, uneven, ragged, and not in orderly layers.

When I emerge from my bathroom, I've put together a better look than perhaps it was meant to be but it takes me twice the styling time as my long hair used to and it looks vaguely like Christina Applegate in the perky, trendy television show, Samantha Who. I've always admired Christina's hair with her bouncy curls. I couldn't go out into public with a mullet and or a wig so I disguise my hideous cut with the curling iron and lots of carefully sprayed hair lacquer. I receive tons of compliments but little do these people know how I curse the cut and long for someone to swoop in and trim the ends so that they at least match. I would even go shorter just for a semblance of order! As it grows out, it becomes even more of a nightmare, making it clear that this was a hair massacre!

Now let me go back to the parting line that was her feeble attempt to placate me because it is really the grit in my lovely masterpiece. I can put my hair up. Instead of winding it into a beautiful twisted bun at the nape of my neck (the popular ballerina look that was out last spring) or rolling it into a stately french roll as I had the weekend before, the butterfly clip can barely contain the poking short strands. What was once a long sleek pony tail, now is a horrible puffball of sharp ends.

Let me just end this rant with this. If this stylist had wanted to give me Nancy McKeon, SHE should have paid more attention to how gorgeous Nancy is now and given me THIS!