Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Goodbye Gaia

We are heartbroken and devastated to share that our wonderful Gaia has passed away this weekend unexpectedly, from an un-diagnosed heart condition.

This blog has been for many years her passion and a source of tremendous joy. It gave her an opportunity to share her honest opinions on anything and everything, trying to make the world a little bit more stylish, fragrant and well moisturized. You all have given her a community, long lasting friendships and if she could make even one person feel better about themselves or save them time by telling them what not to buy, it made her day.
This blog is a true mirror of her interests and passions, starting every post with an arresting visual she worked hours to find, weaving together her personal story with a teachers need to educate and motivate readers to explore. Never saying Buy This but giving her unbiased opinions and hoping readers will continue their own discovery journey into the wonderful world of vintage and indi perfumes, quality makeup and brushes, science based skin care, context and history of fashion and adopting more cats.

She started the blog after finding very few other sources for real, true, personal sources of information on beauty products and perfume beyond the commercial world of the glossies. With some of the other early bloggers, she believed people need to hear the truth not through advertisers and marketing copy. Sadly, the wold has turned in a different way with influencers and alternative facts becoming the norm and honest writing and opinions devalued. She stopped writing about 3 years ago being so dispirited from these developments but still hopeful that one day truth will make a comeback.

Thanks again readers for all your support and love, I wish that this month's Currently would have been different but hope that she is in a place with unlimited cats, all historical perfumes and unimaginable beauty.

Can't finish without reminding everyone to wear sun screen, and if you have not had a physical in a while, go get one. now.

Lastly, I found this Nick Cave song on one of her social profiles this morning. It was her favorite and unbelievably sad and apt on this occasion.
Ori, The Blond.




I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms
And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms
But I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candles burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween

Art: Xavier Mellery, Autumn (Fall of the Last Leaves of Autumn), circa 1890-1893

Friday, August 30, 2019

Valerie Harper (1939- 2019)

Valerie Harper quotes:
"I used to get some ego thing out of saying I wasn't a star, just an actress. Forget it. I'm a star. I wanted it. I worked for it. I got it."
"Don't have the funeral until the day of the funeral, ... Live today. There's capellini in the cabinet to be cooked, which I'm doing."
"I love to inspire people. I’d like to be remembered in a way that they would take action. I love to get people moving [to better themselves]. I’d like to be remembered for energy. Pulling people on the dance floor!"

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July!
May the Spirit of Liberty and the memory of our Founding Fathers guide us in the years to come.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Currently- Very End of June 2019

I spent a couple of hours in the middle of the night yesterday (today, really) reading a novella by Connie Willis- I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land.  It's a quick read that pokes fun at people like me who believe wholeheartedly in digital books. I still adore the real thing in theory- smell, typeface, hardcovers- I just prefer the reading experience of the Kindle app on my iPad which allows me to read all night if I want to (I often do).

I like the new Springsteen album and various other stuff, but I woke up this morning with Paula Cole's 1996 "I don't wanna wait" running through my head. It's famous, of course, as the Dawson's Creek theme song, but I think it's bigger and better than that with all due respect to Joey and Pacey.
I don't want to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be

I added a subscription to Britbox and now we're watching the last two seasons of the UK Antiques Roadshow. The stuff they have over there makes me cry. The location, the sentimental items, and the amazing antiquy antiques one can find over there.

Clair de Musc layered with everything.

I'm in love with the Whale Song palette from Menagerie Cosmetics. You'd be surprised how easy these colors are to blend and wear. Either that or I'm delusional about looking like an 80s reject.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
Hair clips. Also known as the Jersey Tiara.

Gluten-free mini pretzels. All the fun without the heartburn.

I'm pretty sure I need a new prescription for my glasses. As well as prescription sunglasses. And I just added a x20 makeup mirror to my equipment. We'e not amused.

I can still read. And that moment when one curls up with a cat and an iPad (I know) under the blanket in a cool dark room is the epitome of joy.

A custom palette I ordered from Lethal Cosmetics may arrive this week. It's going to be fun.

I've been searching eBay for an antique brooch. Intricate silver filigree with a large aquamarine cushion-cut stone (or similar). I had one decades ago. It belonged either o my grandmother or my great-grandmother and I used to wear it on my scarves in high school or pinned to a hat (there's a story there). I kept it on a small trinket dish in my bedroom and that's where it was last seen as I was tidying my room just before a large group of friends came over for my seventeenth birthday. It was a bittersweet day for many reasons, and turned utterly sour the next morning when I discovered the brooch was gone. It never turned up. I have an unconfirmed guess.
I've been thinking about that brooch every one in a while. I wish I could find something to replace it, which is of course impossible and silly. I have a fun and satisfying vintage jewelry collection, so it's not really about the brooch. Except that sometimes it is.

Random Thought
The only reason I'm waiting for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is to buy a trio of my favorite deodorant (Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant stick). It cold have been a lot worse.

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

Art: Władysław Ślewiński, Woman Sleeping with Cat, 1896.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924- 2019)

Gloria Vanderbilt quotes:

"I've always believed that one woman's success can only help another woman's success."
"The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you."
"You must always have great, secret, big fat hopes for yourself in love and in life.The bigger, the better."
"I've lived a lot, lost a lot, had dreams of love and fateful encounters, and although I suspect the answer is in the seeker, I still believe that what I'm looking for is just around the corner."

Friday, May 31, 2019

Currently- May 2019

House And Garden Spring Furnishing Cover by L. V. Carroll, May 1919

I'm sneaking this one in just hours before the end of May. I waited for Game of Thrones to be over so I could exorcize it from my mind and read things other than recaps. Yes, the last two seasons should have been a full ten episode each, yes, there was no payoff to several story threads, and true- the Night King ended up being pretty lame (the actor, Vladimir Furdik, is a delight, though). Still, the ending did make sense in the grand scheme of Westerosy things, and as long as Brienne and Davos are alive and well I'm happy. Now, where did Drogon go and what's west of Westeros?

Johan Harstad- Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in all that Confusion?
It's a Norwegian novel from over a decade ago (I've had it on my Kindle app forever), about a young man whose hero is the second man on the moon instead of Neil Armstrong.
There's something about the sensibility of some  Scandinavian literature that makes me want to hop on a plane and spend midsummer over there.

Erik Scott- The Invisible Wand

We just watched the first season of A Discovery of Witches. Like the books, it's not bad. With the added charm of Matthew Goode. Who doesn't like Matthew Goode?

Dodo by Zoologist. Actually today I'm wearing the brand's Chameleon, which is a marvelous musky skin scent, but Dodo is has completely captured me with its joie de vivre. I need both, and thankfully they're sold in a travel spray form.

Metallic pencils in light colors on the waterline and smudged a little under the lower lashes. I can't do a full dark smoky eye, but a bright copper or an antique gold work well and go with the season's marine blue trend.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
Well-supported sparkly ballet flats by Fit-Flops. Pretty and comfortable shoes. Who woulda thought?

These days I'm all about getting a lot of my nutrition via fresh smoothies. I'm even willing to have kale in my green ones, and kale has always been my line in the sand.

There can be no banes after a day spent on the shore.

Central a/c.

Are you a J.Crew fan? I've been shopping there for decades, buying decent basics I could mix and match with vintage pieces or higher end designers. But something has definitely changed. Vanity Fair is trying to analyze the evolution of the brand and its future.

Right now? A much-needed nap. Also, a chocolate lava cake. It's all about the small but delectable things today.

A cherry tree.

Random Thought
All the HMOs and other healthcare providers should have SPF stations on every beach and hand over free sunscreen. It's so much cheaper than the alternative.

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The One- Makeup Items That Always Work

Photo of Mary Chesebro Phipps Applying Makeup by Constantine Joffe for Vogue, June 1951

For me, that is.

Which is why I'm not mentioning any beloved skin care products because you may be as allergic to my tried-and-true as I am to your coconut oil-based cleanser (I'm talking serious reaction here. I get deep cystic acne as well as full body rashes from coconut oil Including, unfortunately, eating it). So this is just a quick list of makeup items that never fail me and I know I can use without hesitation no matter what else I'm doing with my face or how distracted I am. No need for mastering a special technique or employing extra tools. Slap, smear, blend, go.

The first thing that came to mind here was Lancome Artliner. I've been using these pens for thirty years and always have at least two or three in different colors. Artliner has been changed and redesigned a few times over the years, and the current  extra long felt tip iteration surprised me at first, but an Artliner is an Artliner, reliable and easy to use. Their brown shade is not only my perfect brown but also a go-to daytime favorite. The definition it gives my lash line is strong without too harsh a contrast, so it's a good companion to a very colorful eye look.

One more Lancome recommendation is their mascaras. I'm a believer in the holy trinity of lashes: Lauder-Lancome-Clinique. But Lancome is my go-to for my no-brainer. I like all of them, from the classic Definicils that gives only the most basic and natural look to the modern Monsieur Big (kind of an Instagram look, if you ask me) and the various Grandiose mascaras with their no lash left behind technology. But the Hypnose family is where my heart and lashes are. They're a classic "before and after" mascaras and the quality is superb.

Eye Shadows
MAC Satin Taupe single.
I could end it here and stop, which says plenty considering the endless eye shadow options on the market. Palettes as far as the eye can see, singles in unique colorways from indie brands big and small. But there's only one Satin Taupe bothin terms of color and texture that allows you to pack, blend, and use it as an all-over one and done color. I know not everyone actually looks good in taupe (it feels like heresy, but the fact is that no color is truly universal), and I suspect Burberry Pale Barley would do the same thing for the taupe-resistant crowd). It's also a good reminder of how good MAC permanent line is and has always been, beyond the oft redundant and sub-par limited collections.

Palettes. My first thought was "No way. I can't. Don't make me". But there has to be a way to make sense of the endless supply (I think of it as miles and miles of color, as far as the eye can see and beyond. And that's just my own collection). I won't attempt an "if I could only keep one" because it's pointless. Even in high school I had a handful of quads, duos, and two larger palettes. But here are one perfect palette for natural looks with some versatility, and another is a chic luxurious way to create more colorful combinations:

Viseart Neutral Mattes (a 12 pan palette) requires no effort in creating a look and executing it. The textures seem to work for most, and while the colors seem to lean more warm than true neutral you soon realize that you can actually pick and choose the cooler tones and never look ashy. Their small Theory palette, as nice as they are, do not give the versatility required for "The One". They're a one or two look pony each. Here's an alternative, though: Chanel has upped their eye shadow game to new heights over the last couple of years, the crown jewel for me being the new(ish. First released last year for spring) nine shadow formats. I've shown you the first limited edition one, Afresco, but have since added the second colorful one, Quintessence (still available, $70 at and select department stores) as well as the brand new all-brown Les Indispensables. Any of the colorful palettes will give you an incredible range of options which I don't always find in larger palettes that have a few too many redundancies.

Blush. To my surprise this was the hardest category. I have many incredible go-to blushes from brands across the price rainbow. A beloved La Prairie as well as a fantastic Makeup Revolution little thing. As in many categories there's a classic Lancome Blush Subtil that I've been repurchasing for decades (Aplum), along with a couple others. But what's a blush you're almost guaranteed to use daily and successfully with no clown moments, mismatches just before an event, or the occasional uneven blotchiness? Surratt Blush Artistique. And I'm as surprised as you are. Troy Surratt's brushes are fantastic but overpriced (buy Hakuhodo or Chikuhodo instead). The eye shadows Do.Not.Work.For.Me. I gave my entire stash of them to my eldest niece, and I wasn't sure she was too impressed, either. Some people swear by them and I have no idea why. Still, the blushes are from another world. I have five and even the one I bought rather tentatively (Duchess, a beige apricot) has proven to be a staple. They all look like a wash of pretty color on one's cheek more than a "blush". In an alternate universe I'd just own all of them and forsake all others. I live firmly in this dimension of reality, so not yet.

Cream and liquid blushes aren't as popular, I suspect, but I have to mention one because it's better than all the others I consider great (NARS, Glossier, etc.). Daniel Sandler Watercolour Liquid Blush. It's not a new product but since it's a UK makeup artist brand it tends to fly under the radar around these parts. They ship internationally (free shipping to the US on orders over £30) and best of all: you can buy little sample bottles. I tend to buy one full size every time and a bunch of sample colors, which are also amazing for travel. The combination of meld-with-the-skin texture, natural finish, and thoughtful pigments make Daniel Sanler blushes (Chelsea, Spicy, and Angel are my go-tos) the one.

I almost skipped highlighters because there are too many of them around, they're often overused, and like many makeup-crazed people I could probably live with 10% of what I own and not notice. Except for one. Which makes it suitable for this "The One" edition of carefully chosen recommendations. Essence Pure Nude Highlighter. It's a baked formula in a medium beige/sand/ champagne tone that leaves no particles or streaks on the skin and simply imparts a natural glow. Remember when highlighters were about that?  So, yes, this simple compact (currently on sale at Ulta for the princely sum of $2.69) is The One with one caveat: I'm not sure how the color looks on women of color whose skin tone is very dark and/or has a pronounced red undertone. If you know please comment.

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien.
A jumbo pencil lipstick in a dusty rose pink and a satin finish. If you're very pale it's somewhat dramatic. If you're dark this is probably your nude. for me it's the everyday color I carry everywhere and probably the only NARS lip product that I keep finishing and repurchasing before it goes rancid. I gave one to my mom, what else can I say?

I didn't intend to include a base product here because just like skincare there are too many variables involved. But there's one products that multitasks and outperforms most expectations, though it's sometimes hard to define what exactly it's supposed to do. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter is a glossy pigmented liquid that has a surprising amount of coverage. You're supposed to use it as is, mixed with other face products, layered under or over your base, or invent a new method that's all your own. The result depends on the variables I've mentioned, so I can' say do this and not that. Try all and see for yourself. The reason I will need a new bottle sooner rather than later is that I use over naked skin on the points of the face. The shade I have is 4 Medium - neutral golden yellow for medium skin tones, which would have been a hair too dark for me were this a tinted moisturizer. But the Hollywood Filter is sheer and glossy, thus more forgiving, so the combination of light coverage and clear shine is exactly how I love my base to look (I conceal where needed but prefer the minimal amount of coverage I can get away with most days). It's not exactly a "glass skin" product, since it has quite a bit of pigment (the gaps between the shades and dearth of very dark, very pale and true olive undertones are not very 2019). It's just a brilliant concoction that will work in many different ways for most, because you can mix it with much darker products.

What's your sure thing? Do you have products that have been your companions longer than your spouse?