Monday, June 27, 2016

Currently- June 2016


I should have written this post two or three weeks ago, when June was at its most glorious, full of the usual promises, this year amplified by the great gift of the three kittens we rescued. The kittens are wonderful, no worries. They're thriving, loving, and filling our house with purrs and fluffy acrobatics. I can't thank you enough for following this magic both on Instagram and through our Jersey Cat page (no membership needed, it's completely public ). I'll try to update the page tomorrow with their name stories, and some observations about their characters (other than "fluffy").

But June has brought on more than that. A serious emergency on the husband's side of the family has rattled us to our core, and has changed the outlook of the immediate and not so immediate future. 2016 hasn't been very kind to several of my friends, so we're just one family out of many. Perspective, though, is not all that it's cracked up to be.


Book
I started reading Jennifer Weiner's Who Do You love, but had to take a break as the emotional resonance was a bit much.  I enjoyed Angela M. Sanders'  (that's Angela of NST, if you didn't know) The Halston Hit. Vintage couture, drag queens, a frothy kind of suspense... it's a god fun. And I'm about to start a book my sister has wholeheartedly recommended: Life According to Lubka by Laurie Graham. There's no eBook version, and it was only printed in the UK, so I had to order an actual paper copy from Amazon.uk  (all of a sudden it's 1999), but I expect some pure reading joy.  My Mom wants to add that if you also speak a little Bulgarian, your enjoyment would be even greater (my own vocabulary is limited to saying "monkey", "frog", and "fried bread")

Music
I couldn't find a video of Jono McCleary's Brightly, but everything this guy records is magic. This is the acoustic version of Tomorrow, and if you suspect that your musical taste somewhat aligns with mine, I highly recommend checking him out. (question: is anyone interested in a blog post about my favorite music? A blogger friend has suggested it and I've been kind of skeptical).





TV
Before we get to the main event, I can tell you  that over the last month the husband and I binged the entire fourth season of The Americans. It was hard to DVR every weekly episode and avoid spoilers but we did it and I still think that this is the best way to watch this complex and heart-wrenching series. People who've never watched tend to dismiss The Americans as "that show about KGB spies", but it really isn't. It's about family, trust, love, the crazy 1980s, and the way it all culminated for people who also happened to be ruthless KGB spies, yet also loving parents going trough a massive identity crisis (brilliantly written). This season also featured a mega Emmy-worthy performance by the incomparable Dylan Baker (Colleen Sweeney, if you used to watch The Good Wife while it was still good).

Another binging worth your time was the ESPN documentary (did I just type those words?) about OJ Simpson. Those were ten hours of meticulous research, in-depth analysis of race relations, Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, no sensationalism, and a jaw-dropping amount of authentic footage (no reenactments  or any of the usual BS). I think it's an important show.

But, aren't we here to talk about Cersei?

Beware of spoilers.
Seriously. SPOILERS AHEAD.

I loved the sixth season nearly as much as I hated the fifth one. Despite the general lameness in Meeereen and the way my favorite actor, Peter Dinklage, has been underutilized, I loved the pacing, the wrapping up of old storylines from Uncle Benjen to the Hound, Walder Frey eating pie, Jaime and Brienne's complicated relationship, and the brilliant Wildlings (RIP Wun-Wun). I'm still traumatized by Hodor , but somehow it was the understated and carefully filmed last seconds of King Tommen that touched me the most. I liked Tommen, I was sorry for him, I knew he was doomed, but still. And now we have a Queen. Darth Cersei. As terrifying as the Mad King himself, a fact that Jaime couldn't have missed during the coronation.  Just wow.
And one final gloating: R+L= Jon Snow. Anyone not seeing that one coming should join Giantsbane for a drink of fermented goat milk.

Perfume
When your best friend goes on a business trip to Paris you end up with more Bell Jars.

Makeup
I just bought the Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette. I'm officially a sheep who owns a red eye shadow.

Frequently Worn
Clothes that smell like kitten formula.

Link
Something to help with the next nine month withdrawal: Watchers on the Wall.

Food
I've been consisting on an odd diet that includes fresh tomatoes, Turkish delight, and scary amounts of chocolate milk. Whatever works.

Bane
Even including this category seems wrong and self-indulgent. But I have a list of petty complaints and you're going to hear them. All of them.

When my old laptop kicked the bucket last month the husband immediately ordered me a new and amazingly spiffy machine. Only the one that arrived a few days later did not have a working touch pad. No biggie. Lenovo did good on their customer service promises and replaced it within a week. I love my new toy and its spectacular performance, but the keyboard is slightly different, ending up with me making so many typos that I write like the comment section of People Magazine.

Then the washing machine died. The technician arrived, congratulated me on sixteen years of good washer stewardship (there was not even a speck of rust), and told me that fixing the thing would cost more than 50% of a shiny new high-efficiency Whirlpool. Guess what we're doing on the 4th of July weekend?

Because that's not enough, I woke up with the mother of all back spasms that caused me to throw out my back. It's stress (it's always stress). I have a massage booked for tomorrow, but that makes me feel even more guilty.

Joy
Those three whiskered faces that start purring when they see me.

Anticipation
Saturday afternoon with the husband.
A date to Home Depot.
Aforementioned massage.
2017 (maybe). Let's make it 2020.

Wishlist
Sea Change.

Random Thought
I want my mommy.

How are you? What's on your list of loves and banes? Any wishes and recommendations?

Art: Rose Garden, Camille Pissarro 1862

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A "Let's Try Not to Melt" FotD



I've been all about simple looks using a moderate amount of product that can survive the revolving door between the piping hot soup outside and the instant freeze of air conditioned spaces. Doing all that while maintaining a happy supple skin is quite a task. This look survived at least six hours of activity before I washed it all off and changed into kitten feeding gear.

Face
Smashbox oil primer. This one has  become a staple and I will repurchase when it's gone.
Edward Bess Compact Foudation 03 Nude. I've gone through too many to count.
NARS Creamy Concealer in Custard to even out areas under the eyes (lack of sleep) and around the nose (allergies).
Tom Ford stick foundation in Natural 5, dabbed with a mini brush for spot concealing. I didn't use enough of that, to be honest.Color is a good match, and I've always loved using stick foundation as concealers (I used to have a precious staple from Estee Lauder).
Rouge Bunny Rouge powder

Eyes
Urban Decay Anti-Aging eye primer
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Copper. It came with a Sephora Bronze Favorite Kit that sold out before I had the chance to even take photos. The Caviar stick itself is available individually at Nordstrom.
From Lorac Pro3 palette I used Clay in the crease and to create my usual shape.
Stila Stay All Day eyeliner in Black
Guerlain Maxi Lash Curl Sculpting Mascara.

Brows
Clinique Just Browsing 03 Deep Brown. It might be my favorite product in this category due to color, ease of application, performance, and longevity.

Cheeks
Milani Coralina baked blush.  The photos wash it out, but it looks pleasant to the naked  eye.

Lips
Colourpop Fric'n'Frack pencil and Ultra Satin Lip. I like the color more than the texture. I'm old. I prefer real lipsticks.

Other Stuff
SotD: Rainmaker by En Voyage. It's become my constant companion, making it harder and harder to review. It's my second ski nowadays.
Earrings: vintage. Thank you dear Lawrence (and Rosa de Gata).
Dress by Norma Kamali (current collection)
Denim jacket by Current/Elliott

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tarte Tarteist™ Metallics Single Eye Shadows- Swatches


I think I was bottle-feeding the kittens at some ungodly hour when the Tarte newsletter announcing the new Tarteist Metallics popped in my mailbox (I had the iPad next to me).  I no longer remember the thought process that led me to ordering nine out of the eleven available colors. Maybe it were the kittens sprawled on my lap in a food coma. Or perhaps I really wanted pretty metallic eye shadows. The package from Tarte arrived the other day and I have yet to actually put the eye shadows to the test (I'm going out tonight, so that will be a start), but I wanted to show you swatches and give you the basic information. I will most likely tell you more about performance and longevity as part of an upcoming makeup look.

I passed o two colors from the Tarteist Metallics range: Pin-Up, which is a pearl white with what looks like a holographic sheen, and Hussy, a yellow gold that appeared too yellow for my taste. My enthusiasm for the  Tarteist shadow texture is making me reconsider, but truly, these nine are enough. They're all incredibly pigmented, very soft, and have slightly more of a gleam than a true metallic finish, making them somewhat easier to wear than I initially expected. The aforementioned softness is probably responsible to the fact that Speakeasy arrived shattered (and crumbled even more when I attempted to swatch it). Tarte's customer service has already sent a replacement.

Here's what I've got:

Dame

Grind

Poker Face

Scandal


Sinful
Shake Down

Speakeasy

Whiskey

Dame- Mauve/rose brown (Tarte calls it a "dusy rose").
Grind- A sliver taupe with khaki leanings (especially on warmerskin tones).
Poker Face- A complex lilac taupe with a silvery gleam.
Scandal- A coppery terracotta.
Scarlet- A red plum in a brown base
Shake Down- A light-to-medium taupe
Sinful- A very rich and complex brown with traces of cool purple.
Speakeasy- A reddish dark brown
Whiskey- A warm bronze





The Tarteist Metallics are meant to be popped out of their cases and placed in a magnetic palette, which is an excellent thing for space saving, even if the outer box is quite attractive and has a helpful colored panel that tells you what's inside.  I'm pondering which single matte eye shadows I should transfer to said palette to make it a complete set for various looks (Tarte doesn't offer single mattes in a similar format).

Bottom Line: Stunning pigmentation, but the jury will have to wear them several times.

Tarte Tarteist™ Metallics Single Eye Shadows ($14 each. Made in the US) are available from Ulta (online only) and tartecosmetics.com. No idea if and when they'll arrive at Sephora.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93



Sephora Pro brushes have long been a go-to line for great brushes that are easily available and are often as good if not better than many department store brushes. Over the years Sephora has updated and changed the Pro brushes, adding new shapes that work with current trends and popular products. Such is the case with the Featherweight Blending Brush #93 that was launched about two months ago.

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93 is a super fluffy pointy brush with long tapered hair that's meant for use to apply and various powder products: heavily pigmented blushes that require a very light touch, highlighters (especially many of the most popular ones that act have a beacon effect), setting powders under the eye or adding a light veil of a glowing finishing powder, as well as for cleaning up excess powders, and blending the whole thing seamlessly without moving too much product around. That makes the #93 a multitasking superhero that has seen quite a bit of use since I received it.

This Sephora brush is related to Hakuhodo G5537, a brush that's become a favorite for me in the four years since it appeared on the market. The shape is not identical (Sephora is slightly longer and more tapered), but they're both very soft, lightly packed, and have a lot of give due to the length and no density. I use them interchangeably everywhere I need a feather-light touch of color or powder. For those looking for a vegan alternative to Hakuhodo's goat hair G5537, this is the answer.

Below you can also see a comparison to Hakuhodo's medium Yachiyo (pointed). It's only here because the size of the head is in a similar ballpark, and the Yachiyo is a magnificent blending tool. The goat hair head is denser and the length/shape of the Hakuhodo gives it more snap.







Bottom Line: a semi-essential.

Sephora Collection Pro Featherweight Blending Brush #93 ($30, made in China) is available at Sephora, in-store and online. I received the brush as part of a free press kit during last month's NYC Makeup Show.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette 01 Moss Green




The last time I replenished my Suqqu Eyebrow Liquid Pen (the Stila one is a very decent alternative, but dries up in about third of the time) I decided to live dangerously and also order the Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette. These trios come in two colors, 01 Moss Green and 02 Brown. I hesitated a little before picking Moss Green, because unlike the pen, where the brown version is clearly for blondes and those with much warmer toned brows/hair, the powders seem more forgiving, and the brown palette has a taupe color that could have been a good fit. In the end, I decided to trust Suqqu and assume that the palettes correspond with the pens. Maybe I could have pulled off 02 Brown, but why risk it?

Each palette has three colors: two brow powders, and something they call a "blending powder", which if I understand correctly, is to be used if you need to lighten or add some warmth to the brow powders. I admit that I don't use it for this purpose, but it makes as an occasional eye shadow base if I can't be bothered with anything else. There are also two semi-usable brow tools: a stiff angled brush and a fluffy brush (for said blending). They're too small for precision work in my abnormally large hands, but they work for travel, I guess.

All three powders are of fantastic quality. The warm beige blending powder is fine enough to perform as an eye shadow (I've recently discovered it works well in the crease). The brow powders are a cool-toned dark brown and that excellent hybrid of gray-green and and brown. I mix both and call it a day. The super-fine powder clings nicely  to the hair and adds some texture as well as fills in the gaps. When I use this (or any other high-quality brow powder) I find that I can usually skip brow gel, unless I'm going for the full effect and need my brows to survive a long day. The powder and the pen do work together well, though. Since the tail of both my brows is oddly short, I can use the pen to judiciously add a hint of length (carefully, since my brow bone really ends nearby and I'm trying to avoid the downward pointing look), and the powder to make everything blend together naturally. The result is as good as it gets, and is extremely durable.

Bottom Line: now if we could only get Suqqu directly here in the US.

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette 01 Moss Green is available in Selfridge's (£38.00, made in Japan), if you're lucky enough to live in the UK (their international shipping charges are insane, unless you order your weight in stuff). You can also order through ichibankao.com, which charges an eye-watering markup (¥8350 JPY, which is around $88). Seriously, can someone strike a deal with the brand and bring it here?



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Feline Update

George

Gloria

Lilian

I have the attention span of a kitten these days.

Even if I tell myself I'm only going to do ingredient research or gather price information for an upcoming post, within minutes I'm googling capybaras as pets. Because obviously we need more pets around here. But mostly I'm focusing on how much formula and canned kitten food goes into each one of the little ones (a lot), how quickly they're developing new skills (every day), and how amazing they are (very).

We haven't had any success with their mother, which is going to be a problem since she has started working on her next batch of babies. And relocated to our back yard, bringing with her every virile male cat in the neighborhood. We've been playing phone tag with the local cat rescue group, but we need them to get here as soon as yesterday, as our house in full capacity.

Our older cats don't seem to mind any of this. They watch the indecent cat action that's going on outside with minor interest (they prefer squirrel porn), and are only mildly curious about the new kittens. Most of them have been through this several  times before. We're started careful introductions today. Josephine is determined to make new friends, Cedric seems to greatly approve, while Marigold and Gemma are ready to recruit them into their squad. Philip ran for his life. Bob took a nap.

Normal service will resume soon.

Friday, June 10, 2016

FotD (and Kittens)



The best FotD belong to the kittens, obviously. Gloria, Georgie, and Lilian are doing wonderfully.  They have distinct personalities and are amazing to watch. I know that not everyone is on Facebook, but our Jersey Cats page is completely public, so you don't need an account to see any of the photos and the videos. I also try to post different photos on Instagram, to keep things interesting. While it feels like I'm constantly making bottles, washing bottles, or feeding kittens while wearing formula-stained yoga pants. But I also managed to leave the house a few times in full makeup, so that's what we have today.

Someone recently asked for a makeup look using Pixi pencils, so that's what we have here today. A pencil-only eye makeup that only utilized one brush (Chikuhodo Z10). The colors here are neutralish, but I did use quite a bit of color and extended the shape because I was going to wear my glasses and wanted some impact. I might post another Pixi eye look based on teal or blue.




Face
Giorgio Armani Fluid Master primer.
Chanel Les Beiges 30. This one absolutely require an oil primer, or it looks dry and porous on my face. Since I didn't use any I tried to fix the situation using Smashbox Primer Water (meh), and eventually it all settled. But this Chanel foundation is only for really clammy days.
Hourglass Hidden Concealer in Natural and YSL Touche Eclat No.2 to correct and even things out where needed.
Youngblood Hi-Def Hydrating Powder.

Eyes
Wet'n'Wild primer
Pixi Lid Last Shadow Pen in Mocha Mauve all over the mobile lid.
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Bronze Beam smudged on the lid with the Z10 brush and used to tightline.
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Copper Glow applied generously under the lower lashes and again smudged with the same brush.
Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara.

Eyebrows
Wunderbrow gel in Black/Brown

Cheeks
Lancome Blush Subtil Duo Pressed Rose (Limited edition from their Jason Wu collaboration).  I used both the blush and the highlighter for a quick and easy look. Any combination of a natural rosy blush and a pinkish frosty highlighter will do, and I use a light hand anyway.

Lips
Giorgio Armani Smooth Silk lip pencil #9 all over the lips
L'Oreal Glossy Balm 260 Vintage Rose

Other Stuff
Top by DVF
Antique earrings
Frames by Tiffany (available from LensCrafters on special order)
SotD Rainmaker by En Voyage.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

More Top Perfumes You can Actually Find- An Updated List


A friend who was combing through my various perfume lists happened upon this post from 2008, Twenty Five Top Perfumes You Can Actually Find. She had a good laugh at the "Actually Find" part. Who wouldn't? Some have been axed (R.I.P Eau de Shalimar) and most have been gutted by reformulations and reconstruction of the entire line (Annick Goutal, Robert Piguet, Miller Harris, L'Artisan). Some of Uncle Serge's best have been put (or put back) into the exclusive bell jars, making them not exactly "hard to find" because nowadays you can even order them online in the US, but still nearly impossible to sample (and the price markup in the US makes me see red every time I think of it). So what are the best perfumes currently on the market?

I stand by my selection of everything you can buy from Serge Lutens (minus the Eaux), as well as the older perfumes by Andy Tauer (though it's a good idea to let the bottle macerate longer. From what my nose tells me, they don't smell as rich right out of the bat). Tom Ford's Black Orchid is still a favorite (the Private Blend on the other hand has gone downhill and rolled into the gutter, in my opinion), as are the elusive buy available (in Paris and NYC) JAR perfumes. Vero Profumo is doing as well as ever (Rozy is everything), and I'm willing to consent that you can find something good at Guerlain, even if it's becoming more and more difficult (and infuriating).

Still, among the jaw-dropping number of new brands and new releases there are quite a few perfumes that deserve a place on such a list. Major new players in the field that have appeared since 2008 include the current incarnation of Roja Parfums, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Aedes des Venustas store line. I've picked single perfumes and entire brands that I think are worth your time, skin, and nose power, and are most likely here to stay:

Bruno Fazzolari. You knew I was going to mention one of my most favorite American perfumers. With the exception of Room 237, which is a conceptual perfumes that give me an anxiety attack upon sniffing (it's meant to do that, actually), I find his work smart, satisfying, and just beautiful all around.

Chanel Misia (from the Les Exclusifs range). A somewhat Guerlainesque Chanel that seems to work for just about everyone, and with a good reason.

This is as good a time as any to remind people that Pierre Guillaume is a brilliant man, and almost everything under his Parfumerie Generale brand is a Good Perfume (I'm not a big fan of his Huitieme Art line, and find Phaedon too uneven). My personal favorites include but are not limited to Felanilla, Ilang Ivohibe, Bois de Copaiba, Musc Maori... I could go on. You know what? All of them.

Aftelier by Mandy Aftel is an all-natural line, but deserves to be regarded just as any other brand. Palimpsest, Haute Claire, and Bergamoss are in the "Soul Stirring" category for me.

Maai from Bogue Profumo by the inimitable Antonio Gardoni. Once upon a time perfumes used to smell like that.

Salome and Anubis by UK-based perfumer Liz Moores are magical.

Lavande Ombre by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger is an incredibly sexy take on what's considered a very pedestrian note. You'll never look at lavender the same way again.

George by Jardin d'Ecrivains just might be the best modern interpretation of orange blossom.

The late Mona di Orio has left a serious legacy, and the brand she created is now better established as ever. Vetyver and Nuit Noire are the standouts for me.

Masque Milano Tango, Montecristo, and Russian Tea. It was love at first sniff.

Etat Libre d'Orange has moved from being a gimmick to a major player that offers pleasurable high quality perfumes at palatable prices. My top picks are Tom of Finland, Like This, La Fin du Monde, and Rien, but I could probably own more than half their line and be very very happy.

What would you add to the list? The only rule is that these perfumes need to be in production right now.


Image: A 1951 press visual of the Miss Dior bottle. Another one that doesn't smell the way you remember it.

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