29 December 2013

A Little Bit of Beauty for Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas Day, and to be honest, we are still enjoying Christmastime.  It's always nice to have a day to just be together, and enjoy the feeling of the holidays.  In our house, that usually includes a fire in the fireplace, which makes it just seem that much  more cozy.

Many lovely gifts were given and received as well.  The Tim and I were somewhat more restrained than usual in our gifts to each other, as we decided that the major part of our gifts would be new chairs for our living room.  (We have identified the chairs we like, now we just want them to go on sale ...)

My sister Nancy who lives in California has had issues over the past few years sending packages through the USPS.  For whatever reason, the packages never arrive, or arrive damaged, etc.  So this year she decided that she was sending our gifts directly from Nordstrom.  As it turns out, hers were the only beauty-related gifts I received and they are wonderful as far as I'm concerned.  My box contained two small bottles:

This nail polish, called Piece of My Heart.  I've heard of Deborah Lippmann nail polishes and products, but have never tried them, so I am excited to both receive and try this.  (Though not right away, since I currently am wearing OPI A Ruby for Rudolph, since it's Christmastime.)

She also sent this:

It's a topcoat, called Addicted to Speed, which is supposed to be a quick-drying, setting coat for your manicure.  Nancy and I agreed that neither of us would be likely to buy this for ourselves, due to the cost, but that it was great to receive as a gift.  She knew about it after receiving a bottle from a friend for her birthday.

My hands and nails are not particularly great-looking, but I try to take care of them, and I love nail polish.  I have even found a system that keeps the polish on and - most of the time - not chipping for as long as 5 days, so I try to polish my nails somewhat regularly.

The fact that my sister even bothers to send gifts is gift enough, as she has kids of her own, and grandkids to buy for.  Getting something fun like this is just an extra treat.

I'll let you know once I use the polish how I feel about it.  But it's looking like even if the rest of me doesn't look much different in the new year, my hands will!

18 December 2013

Decorations and Ornaments

With a week until Christmas Day itself, I thought I'd share some of our decorations and ornaments.

I hope you enjoy your special Christmastime things as much as we do ours!

15 December 2013

In Which I Make a Liar Out of Myself

If you read the post previous to this one, you know that I talked about how we seldom do anything Christmas-y together anymore, due to The Tim's schedule.

So only a week or so after writing about that, what did we do?  Well, you can read all about it here.

Only 10 days left until Christmas Day - I hope you are enjoying Christmastime as much as I am!

06 December 2013

Hooray, Christmastime Has Arrived!

Oh how I love Christmastime!  Ever since I was a little kid, and even now when I am often surrounded by holiday curmudgeons.

I was thinking about it the other day, and realized that I love reading and/or hearing about Christmas or holiday parties.  The special foods, clothes, decorations, all sound so festive and fun.

And then I realized - I never really go anywhere during Christmastime anymore.  When both of us had regular, Monday through Friday, 9-5 jobs, we always made it a point to do at least one "Christmas" thing every year - i.e., a concert, a tour.  It was fun, and really added to the celebration.  We also used to go to midnight Mass, which seemed so magical.  Occasionally, we would actually be invited to a party, or a dinner, and once or twice even hosted one ourselves.

Then The Tim got laid off from his "regular" job, and ended up working in retail.  Which was great, since we both need to work, and as it turns out, he's really good at it.  But it means our Christmastime events calendar is greatly reduced.  Not just that he has to work evenings and weekends, but since he was promoted a few years ago, he has to work six shifts a week during the two weeks before Christmas.  So it's hard to do anything extra, because even if our schedules can be worked out, he is just so tired.  Which is 100% understandable.  And we don't go to midnight Mass anymore, because no place around here does it anymore.  Plus, he works on Christmas Eve, usually getting home around 8:00 p.m., and we would rather have a nice Christmas Eve dinner and relaxing evening.

I'm not complaining, though I do miss a lot of it.  But the thing that is weird, is that I still love the idea of buying a new lipstick, or pair of shoes, or something that is special to wear for Christmas - which of course, is funny, because I don't have any place special to wear those things!

As a matter of fact, today I was reading a magazine, and saw a blazer-type jacket with just a few sparkles here and there (I don't know if it was sequined, of if they were something else), and I thought, "Oh wouldn't that be fun to have!"  And it probably would, but *where* would I wear it????!!!

So for now, I will enjoy my Christmastime social events vicariously, and save myself some money at the same time.  Not really a bad deal, and since I am lazy, it's actually kind of win-win ... ;-)

Guess what?  Only 19 days left!!!

29 November 2013

Product Review - Disappointment

I am a big fan of most of the Trish McEvoy cosmetic and skincare products that I've tried.  I can't use them as much as I might like, because they are out of my price range, but occasionally, I'm willing to splurge.

My latest splurge was on a tube of Lash Curling Mascara.  The sales person at a nearby Nordstrom convinced me that if I liked other Trish products, I would like this one.

As I said, I've really liked any other products from this line that I've tried, but unfortunately this one didn't fit into that category.

The price point was not as high as other high-end mascaras ($31.00), and I've had some good luck with some of those when I've tried them.  But - at least the one that I have - this one is not the kind of mascara I like to use.  From the first time I've used it (a few weeks ago), until yesterday (my most recent use), the brush came out of the tube with way too much product on it - and it was not in any way pumped by me before I pulled it out.  Even when I would wipe it with a tissue, it deposited way too much mascara on my lashes, and was extremely clumpy.  No matter how little I tried to use, I always ended up with too much on my lashes.  And trying to remedy the problem with a lash brush, trying to separate the lashes, made little to no difference.

I cannot recommend this product.  It's really too bad, since the other Trish products are excellent.  But this is the one I won't be trying again.

28 November 2013

Giving Thanks

There are only two ways to live your life. 
One is as though nothing is a miracle.  
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
-- Albert Einstein

May you be thankful for all of your miracles today.

24 November 2013

Ready Set Go!

I truly love this time of year.  I love the weather (yes, even though it's 27 degrees today), the anticipation, and the fact that - in spite of what everyone on TV and in the media want to tell me about calories - this is the time when some of the best and most special foods are painstakingly prepared, and happily received on the table.

Our season starts slightly earlier, as this past Monday was The Tim's birthday, so there was cake, presents, and a day off work.  Some years, we have barely finished the birthday cake before it's time for pumpkin pie, but this year there was enough time difference to savor one and look forward to the other.

One thing I don't love though, is how people have begun to let the holiday shopping season encroach on Thanksgiving.  Maybe it's because I am  not usually interested in the things that are marked down on sale, or because shopping at any time in a big crowd is not appealing.  One of the reasons  I have always loved Nordstrom's (even though I can seldom afford to buy anything there), is that a) they do not decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving (which if I were in charge would be the law!), and they stay closed on Thanksgiving.  It was bad enough when a lot of the "big box" and/or discount stores started opening in the evening - and now many of them, much earlier - on that day, but this year Macy's has joined in.  So very disappointing.  One of my friends posted this link on Facebook, and I think it's a very thought-provoking piece.

However, I am an expert at ignoring things like this, as well as places that start playing Christmas music or put up decorations way too early, and now - it's Thanksgiving time!  It will be here in just a few days.  I can already smell the stuffing, and the baking pies.  I am already thinking how nice it will be to have a day when the only real expectation is that it will be cozy and relaxing.

Only after Thanksgiving weekend will it be time to gear up for December.  But as far as I'm concerned, it's all good .... REALLY good.  :-)

19 November 2013

Sick Sucks

I realized the other day that I haven't done too well with my fitness goals for this year.  I was blaming it on laziness and no motivation (which is part, but not all of it), and then I realized that a lot of what it was, was just that I'd been sick a lot.  Not a cold or sore throat, since a regular run-of-the-mill one of those doesn't necessarily knock me out, but being I'm-staying-in-bed-sick, which often takes longer to recover from than it lasts in the first place.

Last January, I got really sick for several weeks, and for an entire week was not able to get out of bed and get around at all.  Pneumonia.  And then for a month or so afterwards, my doctor wanted me to take it easy, and even if he didn't, it took a really long time for me to get any of my energy back.

My motivation suffers greatly in the summer when it's hot, and so I seldom did anything.  This is the laziness factor, because the heat takes a lot out of me in the first place, and once I get home from work, the idea of doing anything else at all seems draining.

Then this past September into October, I had shingles.  Extremely painful, and the doctor told me to stay as still as possible.  The initial rash/sores/whatever you want to call them went away after a couple of weeks, but I still had a lot of pain for a month or so after, and was advised to take it easy.

As a result, my fitness has suffered, and my endurance is pretty low (not that it was ever that high).  Today I woke up and it was hard to breathe, and as the day went on, I felt worse.  I am hoping that over-the-counter drugs will help nip things in the bud, because the ultimate insult is to be sick at holiday time.

Reason #97766219899 that being sick sucks.  Wish me luck in my attempt to prevail!

08 November 2013

The Season of Itch ... And Something That Helps

I don't know about you, but as the weather gets cooler/colder, I become a happy camper.  I'm one of those people who loves it, and does not mind that it gets dark early (it's supposed to!), or that you need to wear more layers, or that you want to cozy up under the covers in bed.

One thing that is a drag though, is that this time of year is when my skin starts to get really dry - not necessarily on my face (that happens, but fortunately I deal with it pretty successfully), but everywhere else.  So dry that it sometimes cracks and bleeds, and at a minimum has that crepe-y, dried out look that you see covering tomatillos at the grocery store.

My dermatologist gives me a prescription for Lac-Hydrin Lotion 12%, which definitely helps, but it is pretty strong stuff, and can't be used everywhere on your person, and is really geared towards use right after you have bathed or showered.  So I was always on the lookout for something else.  I tried many different products, but they either really seemed not to do anything, or they were too greasy, wouldn't absorb, etc.

Then, I read a post on the blog Girls of a Certain Age, where she talked about some of her favorite drugstore products.  She recommended Curel Itch Defense Lotion.

I figured it was worth a try, and at the time, had a $5.00 coupon from my local CVS, so I bought a bottle to try.  And I have to tell you, after a little more than a year of using it, I really like it!  It was pretty reasonably priced (even without the coupon, it was $8.99), it has a pump top (which I like, since you can even use your arm to get some product if your hands are lotion-y), and lasts a long time - both in the bottle and on your skin!

When you first pump some, it looks and feels like it's gonna be one of those thick lotions that either stay on top of your skin all day, or take forever to rub in.  But it goes on smoothly, and your skin drinks it in right away.  For maybe a minute at the most, your skin still feels a little too moist to get dressed, but after about a minute, you just feel soft and your clothes/socks/tights/whatever go on without a problem.

It doesn't leave your hands feeling greasy, or even slippery, which is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

So if you are looking for something for dry, itchy, wintertime skin, you might want to give this a try.  I have no personal affiliation with the product or the company that makes it, nor do I profit in any way if you try it.  I am just a person who feels like it is a good product, and wanted to let you know.

Have a good weekend!

31 October 2013

And So It Begins ...

I LOVE the holiday season, and always think of it as starting with Halloween.  The decorations, the costumes, the goodies - to me it is just a lot of fun.

What I cannot stand, though, is the "news" stories that surround the holidays.  I am talking about the insistence that we know how holiday foods and drinks contain calories.  I just saw the first one about half an hour ago - an 'expose' on the local news about the hidden calories in Halloween candy.

Really?  Candy has calories?  Shocking.  Personally, I would like to meet the individuals who have no idea that candy has calories.  Because the first question I would ask them is where they have been living if this is news to them.  And then I would like to ask the news reporters to find some actual news to report.

And of course it will continue:

Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving dinner has calories!
Christmas - Christmas cookies and treats have calories!
New Year's Eve - Champagne and other beverages have calories!

This year, I'm wondering if Jewish people will  be informed that whatever they fix for Thanksgiving/Hanukkah dinner will have calories.  I mean, news like that could be so surprising, it could ruin the whole thing!

Most people I know are more than aware that food and drink have calories - maybe they can't tell you how many, but they know they are there.  For myself, I look forward to the holidays, to actually enjoy myself, and enjoy the special things I don't eat or drink during the rest of the year.  I try not to get terribly carried away, though sometimes I am more successful than others.  And I am sure that if my doctor told me that if I consumed more than X number of calories during the holidays, I would not live to see another one, I'd be very careful.  For myself.  I would leave everyone else alone to do their own thing.

So please - join me in enjoying the holidays!  Eat, drink, and be merry.  And try to ignore the people who want you to obsess over every little aspect of it.

There's a reason it's called the HOLIDAY SEASON, right?

24 October 2013

The Experience of Food

On my other blog, I occasionally participate in something called Ten on Tuesday, where you are given a topic and you share 10 things related to it.  This past week, the topic was:  10 Foods You Eat Regularly Now That Were Exotic (or unheard of) When You Were a Kid.

This was a lot of fun to think about, and my list is here.  But even more fun than making my own list was reading others' lists.  Though some things seemed pretty common - i.e., eating only white bread as a child, now eating different types of bread all of the time - there were some big differences as well.  Mostly based on people's ages, I think.  For instance, my parents were products of the Great Depression and the "modern food" (convenience, processed) revolution.  So we seldom had anything homemade.  We also wasted very little, if any, food.  We were poor, so there were some things we ate regularly because they were cheap, and other things (pineapple, for instance) that were rare and exciting treats.  But other people had grown up eating healthier foods (for instance, fresh vegetables), and their lists contained primarily ethnic foods they had recently learned about.

I find this fascinating.  Food is such a personal thing, though a universal necessity.  But it is also part of what forms each of us.  For every person like me, who ate canned vegetables regularly, there were people growing up in families who ate foods that are still considered ethnic, even if more well-known to people now.  One of the biggest events growing up in one place we lived was an annual summer festival known as the Syrian Picnic.  Of course, it was a lesson in "unusual food" like grape leaves, hummus, etc.  Everyone would talk about what new things they had tried eating there for weeks, and it was considered daring to have tried more than two or three things.

I know there are foods both local and international that I have never heard of or tried, or perhaps would not even want to think about eating.  Those are the "exotic" foods to me now.   

But every summer I wish I could go back to the Syrian Picnic ...

What about you?  What are your food choices now compared to those you grew up eating?

15 October 2013

No, Really

Remember this post?  Well, today was the day.  I have fasted for TWO days (apparently I have an extra long colon, so it needs more time to "clean out"), and made myself sick drinking the prep mixture they gave me.

And you know what?  I threw up four times last night, but that was all.  Which meant that I had to cancel the whole thing first thing this morning.  Which means I fasted for two days, made myself sick, lost lots of sleep, and missed a day of work for what turned out to be a non-event.

Eventually, things started "moving" as they should, but not in any way that makes it helpful for someone trying to have a colonoscopy.  Let's just leave it at that, as far as descriptive things go, shall we?

When I called to cancel, the nurse said she would talk to the doctor and they would get back to me as to how we should proceed.  Frankly, I'm not interested in doing this until it finally "works."  The last time, it took six different attempts before there was a successful one.  And then, I had to fast for FOUR days, and use a different prep each night.  Yes, it worked, but I missed work after that for a week, since I was sick and weak from the whole prep.  I don't really want to go down that road again (plus after having shingles, I have no more sick time), so I hope there is some other option.

You would think with all of the advances in medicine, there would be some simpler way to have someone get ready for this particular procedure.  I've been wondering, for instance, if there is some alternative/natural prep that could be tried.

In the meantime, I'm annoyed and frustrated.

Kinda like her.

However, life goes on, so next time I'll try to have something good to talk about!

12 October 2013

Finally Getting There!

After fighting with shingles for what seems like forever, I did actually feel well enough to start organizing/cleaning out my closet today!  I started with my shoes, and made a fair amount of progress.  I would have gotten more done, but I figured if I was doing it at all, I should actually clean the floor of the closet, which was covered with dust, dirt, and dust jackrabbits (dust bunnies doesn't begin to describe them ...).  It looks much better now.  :-)

I do feel motivated to keep going though, so that's good.  It means that I won't suddenly just stop and then suddenly realize that I need things other than sandals and flip flops in the cold weather.  And I'm not surprised to realize that I have a lot of crap.

This morning while I was eating breakfast, I had the TV on, and was watching the local news.  They had a segment that I thought was pretty interesting, and I thought I'd share it, in the event that you hadn't heard about it.

Tradesy is a website where you can sell/buy designer goods that are slightly or barely worn, or even brand new.  Apparently you sign up, take photos of the things you'd like to sell, and they devise a price.  Once the item is sold, they keep 9% of the cost, and send you mailing materials to ship it to the buyer.  I thought this sounded like a good idea.  Not that I have many - or even any - designer things, other than possibly a purse or two that I received as gifts, but have never used.  I do like donating things to those who might need them or would really enjoy them, but I'll admit that sometimes I'll wish that I had a way to get some money out of some of the stuff, since it's either new or nearly new.  Like I said, I don't have a lot that would sell on Tradesy, but it's a lot of fun to look and see what is for sale by others!

Back to the real world, and tomorrow is another day or purging and organizing.  Even though it makes me crazy to work on it too long, I'll admit to looking forward to seeing what more I can accomplish!

Here's hoping your weekend is a good one.

07 October 2013

The Great Purge Is Coming!

No, this isn't my closet - but my closet isn't too far off.  Like most people, I switch my clothes at the change of the seasons, and so [theoretically] my closet is cleaned out twice a year (warm weather vs. cold weather).  In reality, it usually has to get really bad before I am willing or even interested in doing a thorough job.

On top of which, I tend to keep things even if I don't wear them, "just in case."  Which is stupid.  And it's one thing if you have two items in that category, but over the past few years, I've accumulated quite a collection.  So I have decided it's time to purge the closet, not just switch the seasonal clothes.  And I'm hoping to work on that this coming weekend.

I've read a lot of articles and and blogs about taking charge of your closet, and am familiar with things like Project 333 and Dress with Less.  I'm not sure at the moment that I can whittle things down to ____ amount of items for the next 30 days or whatever.  Mostly because I have not really taken the time to prepare, and I get itchy after so long, going through stuff.

So I'm going to try and apply those overall principles to my work this weekend.  I'm going to just donate things that are still wearable, but that I don't wear, or that no longer fit.  I'm going to get rid of things that are just plain worn out.  And I'm gonna confess that there are things I just no longer like.  This is hard for me, because I get attached to my clothes, and I also hate feeling that I wasted money.  Which is why being able to donate unwanted clothes makes me feel a bit better about the whole thing - I'm hoping most things will fit into that category.

And I'm also only doing one group of clothes at a time, rather than all of my clothes.  A few years back, I very conscientiously purged my winter clothes before putting them away over the summer.  Which was fine, except I forgot that there were things I wanted to buy to replace some of them.  Needless to say, I had  couple of challenging weeks, with one pair of slacks, and cardigan and a blouse to wear!

I like clothes, and I have also been trying to buy things that will last for a while, and very often, that means I've had to save up to buy them.  Which as you can imagine, makes it really hard to let them go down the road.  But you know what, keeping things that you don't/can't wear, or that you no longer like, or that are too worn out to actually wear, is just a waste of space, which leads to a waste of time when you are trying to decide what to put on during any given day.

I'll keep you posted.  I think because I am feeling especially motivated, I might be able to take more care on this project.   I hope so.  I really do not like having a messy closet, and just having extra stuff around.

As my sister says, "White man's troubles."  :-)

24 September 2013

Still Here

I really don't know why I haven't posted for so long, probably because things were absolutely ridiculous at work - this past Friday was Members' Night, which happens once a year, and it's a BIG DEAL.  So besides just the usual craziness and having too much to do, there was prep to be done for that. I'd get home and be exhausted.  It all ended with the actual event, which starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.  

Can you say LONG WEEK??

The Tim picked me up after it was over on Friday evening, and we headed directly to Rehoboth Beach, where one of my nieces and her husband had a beach house for the weekend.  It was the perfect way to forget about everything before, and we had a wonderful time.  The weather was fall-ish, but incredibly sunny and it just made you want to be outside.  Dug went with us, and let me tell you, he was one happy Doodle Dog!

The last couple of days though?  Not so great.  Last week, I noticed that the skin on the outside of my left leg really hurt.  Yes, you read that right - my skin hurt!  Then on Sunday morning, I had a few red spots.  Yesterday, even more.  Fortunately, I was able to get a squeeze-in appointment with my dermatologist this morning, and the diagnosis?

Yep, Shingles. Unfortunately, not like the ones above.  The Stay-Home-and-Rest kind, where you have to use your sick time at work and then some of your small amount of vacation time.  


12 September 2013

Hopefully, This Will Go Smoothly ...

I am a year overdue for a colonoscopy.  This is my fault, as I kept putting it off.  But my father had colon cancer (among other things), and there is no excuse for me putting it off.  However, I have had a difficult time in the past, and that was only to have the first one done - it took several tries, over the period of a year!  If that is not ridiculous, I'm not sure what is, you know?  It's not worth going into details, as it is kinda gross (trust me on that one).

The doctor who was finally able to get it to "work" has of course, since left the area.  I didn't want to return to the guy I originally went to see, and who tried five or six different preps with no success.  Shortly after I decided this, I had an appointment with my dermatologist, who I have been seeing for nearly 20 years, and who I like and trust very much.  She quickly recommended a doctor at another hospital here in town that she said was "the best."  So I decided to give it a try.

When I called to make an appointment, I asked for an office visit before the procedure, so I could discuss past issues with him.  He was a very nice, pleasant man, and to be honest, I kinda felt sorry for him - the more I explained things, the more I could see him looking like "What am I in for?"  But once we went over everything twice, he had a plan he thought would work, and I am now scheduled for a colonoscopy the day after Columbus Day.  Which will work nicely, since we are off work on Columbus Day, so I only need to take the actual day of the procedure as a sick day.

I hope it is successful, and I don't have to go again for another five years.  In my dream world, by then there would be some simpler prep to deal with, and it wouldn't be such a big deal.

First things first though ...

08 September 2013

The Burn and The Cure

It's been a long time since I burned myself.  I used to do it all the time, and I don't know if I use fewer items that provide the opportunity, if I've become more careful, or a combination of both.

All of that changed two weeks ago though.  On a Monday morning, I was fixing my breakfast, and reached across the teakettle just as steam was coming out of the spout.  I quickly realized that OUCH that burns, and pulled my arm away.  I could tell I had actually burned myself, as opposed to just a quick warning.  I put ice on the burn while I ate breakfast, and went on with my day.  By the end of the day, I had a huge burn blister.  That evening, it burst, and the open wound started oozing.

It didn't get much better from there.  I put ointment on it and a bandaid during the day so that it wouldn't a) gross people out, or b) keep hitting it on stuff (it was on my left forearm).  I realized that it was actually a much more serious burn than I had originally thought, but since it was slowly healing, I knew it was just a matter of time.

Enter my next-door neighbor, helping her husband unpack the car from their vacation in Maine.  I was taking Dug out for a walk when they got started, and they were telling me about how wonderful the trip was, when she said, "Oh my God, what happened to your arm?!"  I explained what happened, and she said, "Oh I have something for you.  It works for burns, and also avoids scarring."  And she went inside, pulled out something from her cosmetic case, and handed me a sample-sized jar of this:
I've heard of this cream, and how amazing it is supposed to be for your face.  My neighbor told me that it is just the best thing in the world for your face, but also is great if you have a burn or a cut.  It heals it quickly, and leaves no scar.

Well, she was right.  I would put a little bit on a Q-tip, and then pat it on the burn each night before I went to bed, and even after the first night, there was a really noticeable difference!  It looked much less inflamed, and the scab was reduced considerably.  I've kept using it, and now other than a very red blotch on my forearm which will probably be there for a while, there is virtually no sign that anything happened.  And that scab was pretty big and harsh-looking, let me tell you!

I'm guessing that if I had started using the stuff right away, my arm would not have much evidence at all that the burn ever happened.  And after a week, there is still a lot left in the teeny jar, so if something like this happens again, I'm set.

Now you are probably wondering what kind of neighbor I have who can afford to use $200.00 face cream for things besides her face, right?  Well, she is the director of regional public relations for Neiman Marcus.  So she probably gets a pretty good discount on the stuff.

Sadly, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it, even with a discount, which of course I don't have, and they don't offer (of course I checked!).  

But I still have some left in that teeny jar.  :-)

31 August 2013

No More Trauma ... For Now

Well, I have survived both the trauma of my hair and the saga of my hair.  Earlier in the summer, I thought I had finally found someone who "understood" my hair issues and desires. And overall, she did.  The problem was, that she insisted that the couple of times I went to her, I *needed* additional products or services - you know, a gloss, or some special styling product.  Even though (at least during the summer) I keep my hair very short and don't blow it dry, so it never really has a "style."

I got really frustrated, and when I went to make my next appointment, the person on the phone asked me what "additions" I wanted.  Now, I'd noticed that it wasn't just my stylist, but it appeared to be the M.O. for the salon.  I said I wanted a cut and color only, but she kept insisting.  So did I, and eventually she gave up.  A few days later, the stylist called me, explaining that there would surely be things besides just a cut and color that I needed, and after a brief discussion with her, I just said I wouldn't be returning.

Then I was faced with the problem of just where to go.  After some thought [a ridiculous amount to be honest], I made an appointment someplace I'd gone before, that I decided needed another chance.  I even found a picture that showed the cut and color I wanted, so I figured if the stylist didn't get close, I'd know that I should try yet another place.

I handed her this photo.  She said, "Oh that would be great!" (good sign), and got started.  Now don't get me wrong, I like this woman, but I'd gone to her a couple of times before, and though my hair was always OK, it was never exactly what I'd hoped for.  But the salon is really close to my house, and though not inexpensive, it is reasonable for this area.  And I actually first met this stylist when she was a customer at a yarn store where I worked part-time.  So I figured she had first chance to get another shot at things.

The result:  Except that I do not have the face or neck of the woman above, I have her hairstyle and color.  EXACTLY.  And I mean exactly.

I am so happy and relieved!  She was thrilled with the results as well, so I think we might have really hit that happy balance between stylist and customer.

Now I just have to make sure that she doesn't move away or something ... :-)

Have a lovely Labor Day Weekend!

22 August 2013

Run Around

For as long as I can remember, I have had little or no interest in running, or jogging, or whatever you want to call it.  I grew up at a time where there were no real sports programs for girls in elementary or high school, and I am not from an athletic family.  I've always loved walking and hiking, and riding my bike.  But running was never anything I thought about much at all.

Until recently, when I decided I'd like to add it to my exercise repertoire.  I would like to be able to run short distances without feeling like I may die.  I would like to participate in some 5K races, and not only have to do the walking option, particularly when that alternative means walking very slowly, as everyone around you is doing.  I had always thought with my osteoarthritis, it wasn't the best idea anyway. But my new doctors have told me that it is worth doing, not a lot, and not for speed, but for variety as well as for another way to build the muscles around my joints.

I live close to the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia, and love to walk and bike along there, any time of year.  So I have a place where I could also run that is close by, scenic, and at least as safe as anywhere else.  I also have a lovely neighborhood where I can run.  So I'm gonna give it a try.  I have even bought myself a new pair of shoes, and will be wearing them for some walking first, to be sure there won't be blisters.  I'm going to try and follow the Mayo Clinic 5K Run 7-Week training program.  I like it because it builds, and takes its time - and God knows I'm not in any big hurry like I'm getting ready to try out for the Olympics or something!

I want to start soon, but also wait until I have the sense that the extreme heat and humidity will be over for the most part at least.  It would be self-defeating for me to start when just being outside is torture for me, so it may not be immediately, but hopefully it will be soon.

In the meantime, all of my other activities and going to the gym are just fine, and I know they'll be there no matter what I decide about running.  I just think that it's time for a challenge.  Even if I don't keep up with it, I want to feel like I gave it a try.

Have a good weekend!

15 August 2013

The Continuing Hair Saga

You'd think I was a hair model, as much as I worry/think about/ponder my hairstyles and haircuts.  But sadly, I'm just obsessed.  You may remember this post, where I talked about how I had a great hair stylist, but she stopped working after her second kid.  Since then, I've gone several places, with varying degrees of success.  Fortunately, nothing terrible, but nothing WOW either.

Recently, the salon where the great stylist had worked sent me an e-mail, saying she was returning part-time, and was only going to work on Saturdays and Sundays.  Which is good from the standpoint that it's not the middle of the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when I'd be at work, but could mean getting appointments could be tricky.  However, the place is on the other side of town.  Not impossible, but not terribly convenient.  Anyway.

A week from this Saturday, it will be six weeks since my last cut.  I try to go every six weeks, because it keeps me happy with the way my hair looks.  I've gone to one place the last couple of times, but the woman who has done my hair, though nice and very talented, seems like she really only wants to push me to get more products and services there.  I've observed that it seems to be the M.O. of the place.  A place I tried before then had a woman who was nice, and it was very close to my house, but the woman cut my  hair dry, which just seems kinda weird.  Yet another place I tried is also nice, and relatively close to my house, but you need two different people if you are also getting color, because they have stylists and then also colorists.

Because I am weird, I have made appts for next Saturday at each place, thinking that as it got closer, I could decide which one to keep, and call the other places well in advance and cancel.  I really and truly thought this would mean I'd be able to decide.  But of course I cannot.  Today, I've narrowed it to the original place, and the place close by where my hair is cut dry.

This is all a) crazy, b) sad, and c) ridiculous.  I need an intervention.

And a haircut.

09 August 2013

Eating Clean

I really try to eat healthfully most of the time, though like everyone else, I'm not 100% successful all of the time.  Life is too short not to enjoy some things.

A few years ago, Wendy posted on her blog that she was making a conscious effort to eat better and feel better, through something called the Eat-Clean Diet.  I was skeptical at first because, well, it was a diet plan, and I find most of those unrealistic, at least in the long run.  But as I poked around the website, it seemed more like a way of eating rather than a specific diet plan, where you gave up so much for so long.

So we gave it a try, and really liked it!  At first, we followed it very closely, mostly to see if our habits changed, but also to see if we could do it reasonably.  Granted, since we try to eat well in the first place, it wasn't too hard to adjust, and we started in the summer which means that fresh fruits and veggies were readily available.  And honestly, it wasn't too difficult, and I for one felt a lot better physically.  As far as I know, I don't have any serious gastrointestinal issues, but let's just say that eating clean made me more comfortable and leave it at that.  My husband was really pleased, because he also lost quite a bit of weight.  (I did too, but that wasn't my primary goal.  It does help with that, though, if you are looking for something to try.)

Of course, after our three-month strict trial, we stopped being so very careful.  The interesting thing is that we had been able to change our eating habits somewhat, and we did add in a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage to the mix, because we enjoy that.  In the intervening times, we've ebbed and flowed as far as our "dedication," but I can truthfully say that we keep with the Eat-Clean Diet overarching theme.

Why am I sharing this?  Because in the past couple of weeks, I've talked to people who are trying to think of how they can eat better, and consume less junk food or processed food.  And as I was thinking about it, I thought, why not share the info here as well?

I'm not saying that everyone should try it, or that everyone even needs to try it.  I just thought it was worth mentioning as an option for anyone who wants to give it a try.  Let me know if you try it, and what you think.

Bon appetit!

27 July 2013

When Worlds Collide

It's a happy day when two of the things you love are somehow combined.  Long before I started this blog, I started a knitting/reading/whatever blog, which you can see here.

Then, last Christmas, I became aware of a single product that combined two of my very favorite things:  knitting and beauty.  They are called Soakboxes, and they combine a skein of yarn and pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts; a small bottle of Soak, which is made to clean your knitting projects when they are finished, or need a wash, a bottle of hand cream, and a bottle of custom-dyed Essie nail polish.  The have great names, such as Elvis Paisley and Grape Gatsby.

I'd only ever seen them online, until I visited one of the local yarn stores, Hidden River Yarns, owned by a friend of mine.  At the time, I'd been really in love with one of them, but couldn't afford it, even though they were marked 20% off.  But she was kind enough to put one aside for me, and last week I finally got to pick it up.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lace Kelly:

And here is a photo (from the Internet, I'm not there yet) of what the finished knitting project looks like, while wearing the nail polish (which is a shade called Incognito):

I just think this is so cool!  There are colors enough for everyone, and I think it would be a lovely gift if you know someone who loves to knit, and is also likely to (or does already) paint their nails.

Fun, right?  And proof for those still following outdated stereotypes, that knitters are not just little old ladies knitting baby booties.  (Though I admit to both being old and having knit baby booties for a friend's baby.)

These can be found both online and in yarn stores, as well as through Amazon.  So you really have no excuse if you want to buy one for yourself or someone else.  :-)

22 July 2013

One of My New Likes

A lot of times when I have been in Sephora, I've been walking around and would overhear people who worked there and customers singing the praises of this product:

And I've always been tempted to try it, but could not justify the price ($54.00) to myself for something that seems like a real "extra."  However, last week two things converged that made me decide I could just try it and stop thinking about it - I got a [tiny] raise, and the temperatures were ridiculous, and my skin was suffering big-time.  So I decided to give it a try.

According to the product, you should use it by 1) massaging a generous layer onto damp skin, 2) waiting five minutes until a froth forms, 3) rinsing well, and 4) following up with a toner and/or moisturizer.  It also says that it should not be used more than three times a week.  So I took it home, and gave it a try, and ahhhhhh - what a great feeling!  It feels a little bit weird when the froth is forming, but even though my skin is sensitive, I did not have any stinging sensation, and it didn't take long to froth up.  When I rinsed my face, it felt so good and there was no resulting redness once dry.  My face felt so refreshed, it actually made me feel like I wasn't suffering from the heat so much!

But I figured the real test would be using it more times, and seeing if it was just beginner's luck or enthusiasm, so I have tried it twice more, and in my opinion, it's a real winner.

Do you need Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask?  No.  Is it something that - as stated on the bottle - you should "treat yourself" to if you have a chance?  Yes!  I am hoping that the bottle will last a while, so that I can justify treating myself again in the future.  Because now I am convinced that my face will thank me.

11 July 2013

Sharing Some Love

When Google Reader faded into the sunset, I had decided to give both Feedly and Bloglovin a try.  Both have their good points, but I found it easier to organize things on Bloglovin, so that's where I usually check for updates on my favorite blogs.

The other day, I was poking around to see what was listed under their "Top Blogs" and came across We Heart This.  After reading a few of their posts, I added it to the blogs I wanted to follow.  It covers a lot of different things - food, fashion, beauty to name a few - and seems to be aimed at an average person, not only those who can eat at fancy restaurants or wear haute couture.  I thought I'd share it here, in case anyone wanted to give it a try.

The other day I read this post, and decided to play along.  So here goes.

My version of 3 Things - The Best of Summer So Far:
Best food you ate this summer:  Fried pickles!  I never had them before, and a place opened around the corner from our house where they are on the menu.  WOW.
Best cocktail you drank:  Frozen margarita.  Because a) it's a margarita, and b) it's frozen.
Best Makeup Purchase:  L'Oreal Paris Infallible Le Rouge lipstick, in color #138.  I was on my way to work one morning and realized I'd forgotten to put on lipstick.  Not the worst thing, but I like lipstick and without it, I look pretty washed out.  So I stopped at a CVS that I usually pass, and for whatever reason, chose this color.  I don't usually feel like I can wear red lipstick, though I do love it, but that morning I decided that was the shade for me.  Not only is it a pretty color, but it stays on for a really long time.  At first, I thought it was awfully expensive for a drugstore lipstick, but now I think it's a really great deal!
So there's my list - what about you?

05 July 2013

I'm Just Not Sure About Yoga ...

Hello there!  I hope those of you in the U.S. had a good July 4th.  The Tim had to work until 3:00, so we stayed put and had our picnic inside (which we would have done anyway, as it was way too hot to eat outside!), then watched fireworks on TV.   This is primarily because fireworks in Philadelphia often don't even start until 11:00 p.m.  Since both of us had to work today, we knew it wouldn't be a good idea to stay up later than usual.

Anyway, about that subject line.  Many years ago, I had a VHS tape of a yoga program.  I would try it a couple of times a week, and I'm pretty sure that I wasn't really doing it correctly, but I enjoyed it, and it made me feel like I was trying to do something good for my health.   Then, about seven years ago, when I was recovering from multiple surgeries in a five-month period, my physical therapist suggested that I try it again.  So I signed up for a 6-week workshop.  I enjoyed it, but never quite got it right.  Oh well.

In between that first time and the second time, I had a couple of opportunities to take Pilates classes.  I really loved Pilates, even though if possible, I was worse at that than I was at yoga!  I have some Pilates DVDs that kept me going for a while on my own, but eventually stopped altogether.

So in the past couple of weeks, I've managed to get myself back to the gym on a regular basis.  Which is making me feel so much better!  I looked at the classes offered, and saw that there is a Vinyasa Yoga class on Saturday mornings.  So last Saturday, I grabbed my mat and took that class.  It was long (1 1/2 hours), hard, and I was worse than ever!  I think it was because I am not flexible enough to keep my moves "flowing."  Plus, I have bad knees, which give me problems when I do lunges, and arthritic wrists, making anything like downward dog difficult.  But I got through the class, and felt like I'd done a good thing.

Until Sunday.  And actually, the rest of the week.  My knees survived, but my wrists are really sore. Wearing the braces I have overnight and taking naproxen only help a little bit.  I managed to get in two workouts this week, though I didn't work as hard as usual.  My wrists are finally starting to feel back to normal.

Needless to say, I don't think I'll go again tomorrow.  One of the people in last week's class said that on Monday evenings, there is a Hatha Yoga class that might work better for me.  I've done some reading, and I think it might be worth a try.  Though I don't know if I should wait another week before trying it or not.

Sigh.  I sure wish they offered Pilates ...

24 June 2013

Shoes Glorious Shoes!

I will admit here and now that I LOVE shoes.  Granted, I have a hard time finding them, with a wide front of the foot, narrow heel, and high arches.  Add to that plantar fasciitis and other issues (osteoarthritis, tendon problems for example), and I can't just go to any store and pick up a pair and wear them.  A lot of times, the shoes that feel the best are pretty expensive.  I have learned the hard way that with shoes, you often do get what you pay for.  However, that doesn't necessarily mean that I have pots of money sitting around.  When I do "spring" for a pair of shoes, I have to really feel that it's worth it.  And I have to be able to return them if I get them home, wear them around the house, and realize it just isn't gonna work.

Having said all of that, I have had some luck this summer.  One of my recent purchases is one that I wanted to share, since I think these particular shoes are both attractive and ones that could be dressed up or dressed down.  I give you the Tsubo Olisa:

This is my first pair from this brand, and if they are any indication, I will be checking more of them out when they are on sale.  The Olisa is a wedge/platform type of sandal, with a toe separator that doesn't actually show when you have the shoes on your feet.  You can read the specifications here on the brand's website, but I can tell you a couple of things just based on my experience:  they are sturdy when you stand in them, because the wedge is not skinny; and, the platform makes your foot nearly flat when you are wearing them.  The foot pad is soft, and your foot doesn't slide forward, leading to them a) looking awful, and b) feeling painful.  It's really just about a 1-inch difference for your foot.

I bought them in the Infinity shade, which is a pretty navy blue.  They work for my high arches, because the part going over your foot is at just the right spot for me.  Also, that part helps keep them on your foot (I usually can't wear sandals that don't have a t-strap or something to keep them on the top of my foot).  From what I have been able to see poking around in several places, they also come in black, green (Moss), and bright orange (Fire).

I found mine on sale at Benjamin Lovell Shoes, which is near my house.  They were $99.00, reduced from $145.00  I also found them for sale at the following sites:

Tsubo brand site, for $140.00
Zappos, for $140.00
Amazon, for $94.97 to $140.00 (depending on size and color selected)

This is one that I think is worth saving up to buy.  I have been getting a lot of wear out of mine, and they will easily still look nice next summer as well!

16 June 2013

About My Dad

On Father's Day, I always wish my father was still around so I could call and wish him a happy day.  I'm sure he knows I'm thinking of him, but it's not the same as the person being physically around.

Anyway, the reason I thought I'd write this post, was because my dad was as much responsible for my persnickety-ness about appearance as my mom and/or sisters were.  In photos of him as a young man, he is slim and quite handsome; in later photos, he is plump with a crewcut, and the way I remember him.  (He looked a lot like Drew Carey in the very first incarnation of his show!)  He was always well-groomed and nicely dressed, and though he was not an executive or anything, he did have an office job, so wore suits to work every day.  I do remember his "cookout" outfit, which just sent my sisters over the edge:  tan shorts, a bright orange and white plaid shirt, and matching orange socks, with the kind of sneakers men wore back then.  He absolutely loved this outfit, while my sisters were just appalled by it.  I think my mother probably had just given up thinking about it.

Anyway, one Saturday when I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, my mom and sisters were going downtown to do some shopping, and my dad was in charge of me.  He told me I could go with him to run some errands, and if I waited for him while he went to an appt at the barber shop, then we could go to lunch.  Sounded great to me, plus I would have my father all to myself!

We got to the barber shop, and that's where the shocker happened.  I was assuming that he was getting his hair cut (though with a crewcut, it always looked the same to me ...).  However, that wasn't the case.  No, my father - who was not particularly macho, but was also not anyone I would ever describe as girly - was getting a MANICURE!

Even to this day, I can remember how shocked and surprised I was.  For one thing, it just never occurred to me that men would get manicures.  And secondly - my father????  I didn't say anything to him, because I didn't want to act surprised, but when I told my mother later, she told me that yes, he got a manicure about every two weeks!  I'm guessing that it wasn't overly expensive, since a) we had very little money, and b) it didn't involve nail polish, only shaping and buffing, but it was still one of the big revelations of my life.  My mother had gorgeous hands and nails, and always did her own manicure.  She was a secretary, and her polish usually got changed not because it had chipped, but because she was tired of the color!  (Unlike me, whose manicures - DIY or professionally done - seem to start chipping as soon as I take a breath.)

So as I think of my dad today, I am grateful that he showed me something that was very different for the time.  And helped to give me the sense that it does make a difference to be well put together, whether you are wearing designer clothing or hand-me-downs.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.  Here's hoping they will always have a surprise or two for us.

07 June 2013

A Lesson Reinforced

This past Tuesday, my sister-in-law Sheila died.  It was a surprise, in that this time last week, she was still alive.  But apparently, when she was leaving her office on Friday to go to her car, she fell in the parking lot and knocked herself out.  Turns out she had thrown a clot from DVT in her leg.  They sent her home Sunday, she fell in the house again, and was found by a friend on the bathroom floor, unconscious but with a pulse.  The doctors at the hospital said it was a massive brain bleed, and they were just keeping her comfortable.  She died early in the morning on Tuesday.

Last summer, Sheila's husband Dave died from congestive heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver.  He was four years younger than she was.  From all accounts, she just gave up and didn't even try to move on, other than going to work every day.

About ten years ago, Sheila was asked to be the matron of honor in her younger sister's wedding.  She and Dave embarked on a mission to get into shape.  They showed up, both the picture of health and fitness, and apparently were able to keep up with that for years.

Until about two years ago, when Dave was laid off from his high-level publishing job.  From what I can tell, it sounds as if he became broken.  He stopped caring about taking care of himself, or making any effort to be active.  It sounds as if at some point Sheila thought that if he was giving up, she might as well give up too.  My husband's younger sister told us this week that Sheila was huge - losing 60-75 pounds once Dave died, and it didn't make much of a difference.  But she also said that Dave was incredibly obese when he died.

I was sad to hear this, not just because I loved both of them dearly, but because they had been able to remake themselves into healthy and fit people for several years.  Unfortunately, they could not get the incentive to keep going when times got tough.

So now they are both gone, and there is a huge void in our family.

But as strange as it sounds for me to say this, there is a bright side.  My husband has decided that he needs to get back to his activity and healthier eating.  He told me that he sees their lives in the past couple of years as a cautionary tale.  He is now recommitted to a healthy life, and has been inspired to get moving and paying more attention to his health.  This is a relief to me, as he had become pretty lazy in the past 8 months or so, and I was worried.

In the end, then, the deaths of Dave and Sheila made a point in his life that will likely stick.  I just really wish that the lesson didn't need to be learned this way.

Rest in peace, Dave and Sheila.  We love you, and will miss you.  Here's hoping that you are both happy and at rest now.

03 June 2013

Pretty and Good

Yesterday, the Sephora near my house had a fund-raising event for the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society - PAWS, as it is more popularly known.  For someone like me, this was the perfect intersection of two things I love - makeup and animals.  They were collecting both monetary donations, and donations of things needed for the shelter animals.  Since PAWS is the only no-kill shelter in the area, I like to support then when I can.  I took up a bunch of towels, which was one of the things on their wish list.  In thanks for my contribution, Sephora gave me a raffle ticket for each item.  No, I didn't win, but it really didn't matter - I helped the animals the way that I could, since at the moment, I couldn't have made a monetary contribution.

PAWS also has the PAWS Club, where participating merchants give discounts if you are a member.  I've been a member for years, and to be perfectly honest, I usually forget to check and see if places I am buying something/taking advantage of a service/eating a meal are participants - I just see it as another way to help the animals!

Do you pay attention to whether or not your cosmetics or skin care products are tested on animals?  I have always tried my very best to only support companies who do not test on animals.  It used to be pretty hard to determine, but things have gotten much easier over the years, with more companies becoming aware of alternative testing methods.

All of us are responsible for the other beings on this planet.  I am more than well aware of how nature works, the circle of life, etc.  And I can accept that.  But I do not see a single good reason for animals to suffer so that I can have eye shadow, or face cream, or anything else.

So if you are local, please consider supporting PAWS; if not, please look for organizations in your area, and do whatever you can do.  It really is possible to be pretty AND good.


25 May 2013

Of BB Creams and Laziness

One of my biggest problems in life is that I want maximum effects from something, but I'm usually too lazy to actually make the effort to do what needs to be done to get that effect.  If it's a big occasion, I'll take extra time and do my hair and my makeup with more care, but for everyday, I'm not that dedicated.

A favorite product of mine is tinted moisturizers.  I like the idea that I can put some on and even out my face, without having to fool with foundation, for instance on a weekend, when you want to look put together, but not spend time "doing" your makeup.

Before I had even heard of "BB Creams," I was cruising around in my local Sephora a couple of years ago, when they were out of tinted moisturizer I was using.  I came across this:

I knew that Boscia was a brand that a lot of people liked, and that it had a lot of products that people with problem skin used.  I read the tube, and thought I'd give it a try.  I'll admit to being a little bit weirded out when it came out of the tube a little bit orange-y, but once on my face, it blended in really well, and evened out my skin tone.  It seemed to stay on most of the day, and I was really pleased with it.

At the time I ran out of it, I was pretty broke.  By that time, BB creams were showing up everywhere.  So I headed to CVS, deciding I'd try a less expensive one (the Boscia was not all that expensive for how long it lasted, but as I said, I was broke).  I had read good things about the L'Oreal and Maybelline BB creams, and thought I'd give one of them a go.  There was a special that week on Maybelline products, so I decided to try theirs.

This is the one I used all of last summer.  I have to say that I didn't like it quite as much as the Boscia one, though it was OK.  This one was more liquid-y, and I needed more of the product to cover my face.  It felt OK enough, and the shade was fine, but it didn't stay on as long as the Boscia, and by the end of the day when I would remove my makeup, there would be very little left on my skin.  It was definitely not as sweatproof as the other one (not that the Boscia was particularly sweatproof - just more so than the Maybelline).  I decided that the next time I decided to use a drugstore brand, I'd try one of the others.

Then about a month ago, I read that Trish McEvoy had a BB cream with a lot of the same ingredients as her Treatment Foundation, which I had tried and really liked.  As was the case with the Treatment Foundation, it was pricier than a lot of the others, but I decided to treat myself and give it a try.

The person who helped me at the counter said to be aware that it comes out of the tube looking darker than it becomes once it's on your skin.  She said that she had bought some to try when she didn't want to take the time to put a full face of makeup on, but that she liked it so much, she started using it instead of foundation, period.  I kinda sorta know this woman (she's helped numerous times, and is really helpful when you have questions), and I feel like I trust her - for as much as you can trust someone who sells cosmetics.  Her makeup is always flawless.  One of the other salespeople walked past and said, "Oh is she waxing poetic about that stuff again?  Ever since she has tried it, that's all we've heard about!"  

I have to say that I really do like this stuff!  It feels nice on your skin, it does a nice job of providing coverage, and at the end of the day - even a hot, sweaty day - it's still where you put it.  I only have to use one pump to cover my face, so over the long run, it's probably a good buy.  I'll see how long it lasts before deciding whether or not it's worth the money to me.

So this has been my "experiment" so far with BB creams.  Overall, they were all acceptable, though the Maybelline one was the one that disappointed me the most.  Like most people, I have better luck with some of their products than others, and the BB cream was not a success for me personally.  I would definitely buy the Boscia again, and as I said above, I'll see how things go with the Trish McEvoy product before springing for that again - a function of price point rather than the actual product itself.

I have just recently seen that Kiehl's has developed a BB cream, so I may give that a shot sometime.  I'll let you know.  :-)


Happy Memorial Day weekend for anyone reading this who is in the U.S., and happy weekend to everyone!

16 May 2013

Don't Hate Me Because ...

Do you remember that old commercial where the woman (whose name escapes me) used to say, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful"?  And then more recently, the story about how Dove Soap did a video survey where women talked about what they looked like to themselves, and then listened to how strangers described them?

Well, I thought of both last weekend.  I went to the local Blue Mercury to have my brows tweezed (the price is good, and the woman is really nice).  Anyhoo, when I was finished, I was walking through the store, looking at some things, and one of the people who works there said hello.  She is really nice, and very friendly, and in the past, she has helped me with different things.  She seems like someone who would be a lot of fun, you know?

Anyway, she was working with someone else, doing a makeup application, and I heard her say, "See the woman I just spoke to?  She has the most gorgeous, amazing skin."  She was talking about me!

I  was of course flattered, but also really surprised.  For most of my life, my skin has been in terrible shape.  When I was a little kid, before the invention of sunscreen, I would get sunburt all of the time.  Not because I was a sun-worshiper, but just because I left the house, and have a very immediate reaction to any sun.  Then of course the teen-age years, when I was pimply.  And I always wondered why my face was always so red - enough that people were always asking me if I had been in an accident and burned my face - only as an adult to learn that I have rosacea.

Fortunately, when we moved to Philadelphia, I started going to a dermatologist who turned out to be really good at what she does.  Over the years, my rosacea has gotten under control, and because I am extremely vigilant, my skin is in good shape.  I have had people tell me that it was clear I took good care of my skin, and I have always been happy with that compliment.

But I never thought of myself as someone with "gorgeous, amazing skin" - who knew?   And it did make me think of the old commercial as well as the Dove Soap survey.  I don't think I'm overly self-critical or self-absorbed about my looks, but I really never thought that I was any more or less beautiful/good-looking/attractive than the average person.

Did I like hearing the woman say that?  Yes - I mean, I'm telling you, right?  But I was also somewhat amused and have been so ever since.

So remember - just because you don't see yourselves as others do, it doesn't mean that you can't be happy anyway.

Not me ...

But also not me ...

07 May 2013

Not Even Close

Last year at this time, I realized that a) I had forgotten to sign up for the local Race for the Cure, and b) I couldn't even do it at the last-minute since I had made other commitments.  Not a major tragedy, but I felt bad since I try to participate every year, and it just didn't hit my radar at all.

Not the world's biggest tragedy, just something that slipped through the cracks of my brain.  But at that time, I also decided that rather than walk the 5k as I usually do, I was gonna try to be ready to run it.  However, later that month, I started having to wear a foot brace, which was originally supposed to be on my foot for six weeks, and ended up being on for five months (and didn't actually help, after all that).  So no chance to even try to start a running program.  Then I tried to make it a goal for the new year, but my months of ick in January and February not only kept me out of the gym and from any kind of exercise, but made it hard to breathe and walk at the same time.  Things are a bit better now, thank God.

I did remember to sign up to walk the race this year (albeit last-minute), so that's a good thing.  And I'm gonna say again that next year, I want to try running.  I have no plans to become A Runner, or run marathons, but I would like to have some variety in my activity, and build up my endurance levels.

In the meantime, I'll do my best this coming Sunday.  :-)

27 April 2013

Forward Motion

I am a walker.  Big-time.  I walk nearly everywhere, mostly because - since we live in the city - it's a lot easier than waiting for the bus or the subway, and I don't know how to drive.  I do ride my bicycle, but my main mode of transport is my own two feet.

Sometimes I go for an exercise walk, and sometimes I head to the gym for exercise.  But in any event, I tend to wear out my shoes pretty quickly.  And with various foot problems, I have learned that it is worth it to invest in a good pair of shoes for exercise.  

Lately, though, I've been wanting to try a little bit of running.  I have no plan to become a marathon runner, or someone who runs above all else, but I am itching to add something a little bit different to my activities.  If nothing else, at this time next year, I'd like to be doing the Komen Race for the Cure running instead of walking.  Mostly, just to see if I can.  

Having thought about this and deciding to give it all a try, I stopped in last week at Philadelphia Runner, a store in the city devoted to running shoes, apparel, and other equipment.  A really nice young man waited on me, and he pulled out three different pairs of shoes to try, that would be good for both running and walking, as well as a set of Superfeet insoles.  At the time, I told him that I wouldn't be able to actually make a purchase until payday on the 30th, but he was nice enough to give me 100% of his assistance anyway.  Of the three pairs I tried, two were especially comfortable, and according to him, were very well-made, and not likely to wear out as quickly as the typical walking/running shoe.  

And of course, since there were two pairs that were possibilities, it was just as well that I wasn't having to decide right then between them.  Decisions such as that can cause me such agony, it's not even funny - especially for anyone trying to help me, or even just accompanying me.  But a couple of days ago, I made my decision - and in the end, it was because I liked this wild color of the New Balance W1080V3:

For someone who is used to mostly white walking shoes, or dark gray trail shoes, these are truly adventurous!

I just hope they make me adventurous enough to actually try running, and to be able to run the 5K next May ...

20 April 2013

Product Disappointment

My eyebrows are extremely light - in that, they are often only noticeable at the inner corner where there are actually more than 2 hairs.  As a result, I try numerous eyebrow pencils, powders, etc.

About two months ago, I tried the Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper.  I have nearly always been happy with any Bobbi Brown products that I've tried, and though I am not the most loyal brand customer, I go back to things that I like and that work for me all of the time.  So I was pretty excited to try this, particularly since it seemed so easy to apply.

And it was easy to apply, being on a spoolie brush like mascara.  The wand is, though, quite a bit shorter than mascara.  My biggest problem is that I was never able to control the amount being applied.  This could be user error, but when I would end up with too much product on my brow, it was really hard to remove.  It seemed to dry very quickly as well as dry firmly.  An eyebrow brush or spoolie was really hard to get through it to try and redistribute the product evenly.

On the occasions that I did get it "just right," I was disappointed to see that it tended to clump in some areas.  Maybe my brows are too thin to start with, but I just couldn't get the Natural Brow Shaper to look like it was anything like a natural brow.

It's too bad, since it was a fairly decent price (I paid $22.00 at Sephora) and would likely last a while, and the ease of application would have made it perfect if I could have made it work for me.  So although I had high hopes, I was very disappointed, and am unlikely to try it again.  

12 April 2013

Thoughts on a Friday

Today is an important day in my personal history.  Eight years ago, on this date, I had a mastectomy and reconstruction on my left breast.  It was life-changing in so many ways.  But in the end, all in a good way.  I thought of it today when I was eating my breakfast and decided that I needed to remember that no matter what else happens, I'm still above ground!

Here are some thoughts from my brain for this week.

1.  I need to "up" my activity and better eating level.  I am feeling too sluggish most of the time, and I want to feel better and healthier. Not that I am hopeless, but I need to remember that feeling better makes me happier, and get with the program!

2.  I wish I could find a nice pair of navy blue slacks.

3.  I think my makeup-buying spree last weekend actually has me set for spring and summer, for the most part.

4.  I tried "tightlining" on my eyes this week, and liked the result.  (Google the term, it will explain it so much better than I can.)  I love eyeliner, and since I can't get the "cool" look so many others seem to be able to get, at least I can make my eyes look prettier. I really like eye makeup, but not garish - just soft, pretty, and enough to make my eyes look awake!

5.  I want to try running.  Not that I will ever become a running fanatic, but just to mix things up a little bit.  Then again - see #1 - I just need to do things more consistently!

6.  One of the activities I want to do is to get our garden in shape.  Before the ick of summer heat and humidity get here, I want us to be able to enjoy ourselves in our nice, private outdoor space.  I used to love it when we would eat meals outside.

OK, that's it for now.  I am overall happy with myself.  I just want it to stay that way.