Saturday, February 23, 2013

Playlist of the Week #1

The soundtrack of my week writ and linked here for you.

New Order, "Crystal"

Blonds, "Time" [my favorite song, right now]

Crybaby, "True Love Will Find You in the End"

The Jezebels, "Try Colour"

First Aid Kit, "The Lion's Roar"

Joy Division, "Transmission"

Bastille, "Flaws"

MS MR, "Hurricane"

"Walk in the Park" Beach House

Dum Dum Girls, "Lord Knows"

Enjoy,

j.
Friday, February 22, 2013

The Life and Times of a Victorian Gentleman Part 1

Meme_2

I, dear readers, am a Victorian gentleman.

Yes, I know I am female and that I am American. I am also well aware of the fact that being 20 days shy of 30 doesn’t mean that I am elderly . . . unless I were to move to a sketchy country when the life expectancy was 25, in which case I’m the George Burns of my generation. But I digress.

Dear readers, despite outward appearances, in my soul, in my heart of hearts, I am a gouty, cranky, sneeringly sanctimonious, elderly Victorian gentleman. Basically, I am William Gladstone wearing a little too much NARS makeup. Unlike many women who would recoil at such realizations, I fully embrace this quirk of character and I am absolutely certain that I am not the only old soul out there.

In the lead up to my thirtieth birthday next month (March 15, send presents!), I thought I would write a series of posts about my life as a pseudo-Victorian gentleman for your amusement and self-recognition.

Meme_3
Enjoy the first entry of “The Life and Times of a Victorian Gentleman” and feel free to share your own old-beyond-your-years experiences.

Meme_1

What Makes Me an Elderly Victorian Gentleman?



I am prone to ailments that the elderly usually contract.
For some reason that I have yet to grasp, I have the reincarnated immune system of William Gladstone. Whereas most women my age only deal with the occasional flu virus or seasonal cold, I somehow manage to get regularly laid up with something Dickensian like pleurisy or dropsey. Goodness knows I suffer greatly from lumbago!

Meme_4

My health is a trial
I’m a hypochondriac.
If I don’t have a weird disease, then usually I think I have a weird disease. I read WebMD more than is probably healthy.

It’s basically a sickness. A terrible, terrible, sickness.

I eat like an elderly person.
Like many a pensioner, I love my sweets and my super-bland foods. You will never see me in a trendy restaurant eating anything that isn’t cooked to a cinder. I am fussy about my foods and take a decidedly grandpa-esque approach to eating. For instance:

  • During the course of a day, I drink at least half a dozen cups of tea to keep myself awake, warm, and-- in the evenings-- to wind down from the day.

  • My breakfast of choice is shredded wheat that’s been heated in the microwave to get nice and soft.

  • You have peanut brittle? Why didn’t you tell me sooner!

  • I always have a potato product-- be it mashed, french fried, or in chip format-- as a side dish for one of my three squares.

  • If there is something that doesn’t taste better with gravy, it’s probably uneatable.

  • The best fruit, in my humble opinion, are of the canned and soaked in heavy syrup variety (preferably yellow peaches or fruit cocktail with extra, waxey cherries).


I’m never going to be the sort of person that will be impressed by another’s culinary skills. Congratulations, you can make your own spring rolls; now kindly step aside and let me make myself a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese.

I’m perpetually cranky.
Even when I am in a good mood I’m still cranky. Within an American context, I suppose I am a considered a mercurial person, always on the verge of making a cutting remark or glaring at others in disgust. Like an irritable old man with

I shuffle when I walk.
I theoretically am able to pick up my feet when I walk. I just . . . don’t. Like many a pensioner, shuffling their feet, you hear me coming long before you see me. Honestly, I could never be a spy.

I’m easily irritated and are impatient.
It doesn’t take much to cheese me off. Time is of the essence and I don’t like to have my time wasted . . . or have to deal with incompetent people. If I had a cane, I’d shake it in ire at every opportunity.

Meme_5

I read. All the time.
Like my aged brethren, I believe modern world is basically Sodom and Gomorrah. A majority of my television viewing is done whilst clutching [metaphoric] pearls. If it isn’t Jeopardy or PBS, it ain’t happenin’. As you might imagine, I spend a lot of my not-chasing-my-pug free time reading. I’m particularly fond of eighteenth and nineteenth century novels by people who actually WERE Victorian, not just acted Victorian.

In all honesty, though I spend a lot of time reading. I read at home, during my lunch break at work, during my commute, while I am waiting at the bus stop, any time when I am not comatose . . . You get the picture.

I can’t drive.
Ok, I have a driver’s permit. If I was in an emergency, I could operate a motor vehicle and probably not mow down a bunch of people. However, I am easily distracted, near-sighted, impatient, and zone-out easily. Perhaps it’s best that I just keep to the bus.

As you can see, I am basically an old fart. These Victorian qualities, however, are not a source of embarrassment. Rather, I like to think of myself as a charming anachronism, with sensibilities that harken back to a more genteel time.

Let’s be honest, I am a pleasure to know.

j.
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: No. 7 Extreme Lengths Mascara

Today’s post will be the last of the cosmetic reviews for awhile, I promise! Normally, my blog doesn’t feature this many reviews or posts about beauty items, but I’ve had a lot of beauty-related whats-its crop up in the past week or so and (hey ho) since this blog is about my thoughts and my life I felt I’d be remiss if I didn’t broach the topic.

In any event, I wanted to post about a mascara I tried to love for two weeks from one of my favorite drugstore brands. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

As an Anglophile, I loves me anything English. Consequently, I am a big fan of the Boots cosmetics and skincare items that have long been cult products in Britain and are available at select retailers in the States (Target, Ulta, and Drugstore.com to name a few). I can’t count how many Boots items I have tried and loved over the years. I ADORE their hot cloth cleanser and cleansing balm. Their rosewater is gorgeous. I have used their powders, blushes, and foundations in the past and been pleased with their quality and results.

I have been terribly disloyal to my mascaras over the years, ping-ponging between high-end and drugstore mascaras for years, always on the lookout for something better. Given my past positive experiences with Boots products I purchased a tube of the No. 7 Extreme Lengths Mascara in Brown-Black. I had been contemplating buying a drugstore formula in a “normal” color to use on days when I wasn’t using a colored Make Up For Ever mascara I was anticipating for my birthday. During my university days, I remember using the line’s Exceptional Definition Mascara and it being innocuous. How bad could this one be?

It was bad, you guys. Really, really, bad.

First of all, I had to whack on a massive amount of product before I saw even the slightest change to my lash length. Normally, I only need to apply two coats of product to achieve the long, feathery look I desire; this mascara had me in application mode for a full ten minutes. Ten. Minutes. I have a full-time job, I can’t spend half of my day applying mascara!

[caption id="attachment_467" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Boots Extreme Lengths Mascara Boots Extreme Lengths Mascara[/caption]

The application process was inhibited by this truly terrible brush. Notice the straight claw applicator which is meant to replicate, I believe, the L’Oreal Telescopic mascara. Unlike L’Oreal Telescopic, which has small claws that are tightly packed, the teeth are rather far apart and doesn’t allow enough product to get on the brush. Also unlike it’s L’Oreal better, the Boots Extreme Lengths was flat at the end of the brush instead of tapered; this little design flaw, however, meant that the end of the wand was perpetually covered in goop. Every time I dipped the wand into the tube I had to wipe off the extra product; it was a complete mess!

[caption id="attachment_468" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Wand fail! Wand fail![/caption]

These design flaws, however, are nothing to the actual product itself which was REALLY crappy. I’m not sure how a mascara can be too dry and gloppy at the same time,but this one managed to be both. Whenever I would attempt to apply the product, the tube always felt like there was nothing left-- as though the tube had dried out-- but when I would apply the product, I would encounter the aforementioned gloppiness. Then, throughout the day, this mascara monstrosity would migrate onto my face! I was having to touch up my face every two hours because of the crumbling I was getting. You guys, I was running out of concealer because my mascara sucked! I really felt like I wouldn’t win for losing with this product.

Right now I am on a kick to try and use up the product that I already have in my collection, throw them out if they are too old/ useless, or give products away that I am not thrilled with and can’t return. As such, I REALLY tried to make this mascara work, but I couldn’t last a full two weeks with it. Within the first week of use, I added a tube of L’Oreal Telescopic to a Drugstore.com order I was making to replace the it. I couldn’t even wait a full second week for my L’Oreal Telescopic to come in with the rest of the order; in a fit of frustration, I dropped into CVS on my way to work and picked up a Maybelline Mega Plush Volum Express. Before chucking the Boots Extreme Lengths into the garbage (gleefully), I took the following pictures:

[caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="297"]Close Up: Closed Eye Close Up: Closed Eye[/caption]

Please note that I have naturally long lashes that are relatively thick. What you can see is applications of mascara; what I was left with were . . . . basically my natural lashes covered in a thin layer of brown goo. Not cool.

[caption id="attachment_471" align="aligncenter" width="264"]Close Up: My Eye Open Close Up: My Eye Open[/caption]

Thank goodness the mascara nightmare is over!

Praise Heaven!

j.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nails of the Day: Rites of Spring

Until this (rainy) morning, it had seemed as though spring was right around the corner for us Californians.  To mark the occasion I decided to paint my nails using one of my recent purchases, Wet ‘n Wild’s Fast Dry Nail Color in “Sage in the City,” a bright spring green with a slight metallic sheen.

[caption id="attachment_460" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Wet 'n Wild Fast Dry formula in Sage in the City-- a metallic spring green/ "tender shoots" for Spring '13 Wet 'n Wild Fast Dry formula in Sage in the City-- a metallic spring green/ "tender shoots" for Spring '13[/caption]

Green, you may have noticed, is the big color for 2013.  According to Pantone, not only is Emerald the color of 2013, “Tender Shoots” (i.e., spring green) is also a shade making it into the season’s wardrobes.

While I am a fan of Emerald—the rich jewel tone suits my coloring and set off my hazel brown eyes—I have never been particularly fond of yellow-toned greens like “Sage in the City.”  However, for fashion (and for $1.99) I was willing to try something new.  Here are the results.

[caption id="attachment_458" align="aligncenter" width="232"]Wet 'n Wild Sage in the City Wet 'n Wild Sage in the City[/caption]

I’m wearing two coats of “Sage in the City” with my beloved butterLondon top and bottom coats.  While I can say much for the polish’s durability (these are second day nails after a whole lot of typing) and the speed at which it dried (it is from the “Fast Dry” line after all!), I am still not bowled over by the color.  Though I think this is a fun, punky color to experiment with, tender shoots/spring green/ this color just doesn't suit my very cool skin tone.

Sage_In_The_City_3

So, while “Sage in the City” is a unique addition to my nail polish collection, I do not believe I will be reaching for this bottle any time soon.

Cheers,

j.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'APPY DAZE: CVS Bargain Haul

To know me IRL is to be well aware of my penchant for bargain hunting . . . particularly at CVS.  I dutifully enroll in frequent-buyer programs (at CVS I am a member of the Beauty Club, hold a recyclable bag tag, and use my ExtraCare Saving Card like it’s going out of style), scour the weekly sale adverts, and horde coupons like the missing Collyer sibling.  I love a bargain!

Unlike most people, however, I am not satisfied with a sale price.  If the store manager isn’t in tears over my prodigious savings, I have not found a bargain.  This past weekend, I left ‘em bawling!

On Sunday, I went into CVS with two coupons in hand-- $1 off a Wet ‘n Wild product from the manufacturer and a $4 off a cosmetics purchase of $12-- and a dream of super-saver dominance.  As I went over to the Wet ‘n Wild stand to look for a bargain item, my mom scanned the family Extra Care Card at the coupon kiosk; as luck would have it, the machine spat out a $5 Extra Bucks voucher for racking up $50 worth of beauty purchases.  Hello Dolly!-- $12 of products for $2!

Here are the items we picked up (from Left to Right):

[caption id="attachment_449" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 08, Wet ‘n Wild Mega Last Lip Color in 902C Bare It All, Wet ‘n Wild Fast Dry Nail Color in 225C Sage in the City, Rimmel London Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss lipstick in 111 Kiss of Life Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 08, Wet ‘n Wild Mega Last Lip Color in 902C Bare It All, Wet ‘n Wild Fast Dry Nail Color in 225C Sage in the City, Rimmel London Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss lipstick in 111 Kiss of Life[/caption]

Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in 08 ($4.99), Wet ‘n Wild Mega Last Lip Color in 902C Bare It All ($1.99)-- for my mom, Wet ‘n Wild Fast Dry Nail Color in 225C Sage in the City ($1.99), Rimmel London Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss lipstick in 111 Kiss of Life ($4.99)

To make the deal even sweeter, all Rimmel cosmetics were buy one get one 50% off-- so I got both lipsticks for less than $7.50!

Here are how the Rimmel lipsticks look when swatched on my hand (I’m a MAC NC20/NC25):

[caption id="attachment_450" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate 08, Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate (Matte) 111 Kiss of Life Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate 08, Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate (Matte) 111 Kiss of Life[/caption]

Fellow MAC fans will notice that 08 looks a good deal like Brave, but slightly darker and minus the slight pearl shimmer.

[caption id="attachment_451" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Rimmel 08, MAC Brave Rimmel 08, MAC Brave[/caption]

Here is a swatch of the Wet ‘n Wild lipstick on my mom’s hand (for reference, she’s about a MAC NW30/ BareMinerals Medium Beige):

[caption id="attachment_452" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Wet 'n Wild Bare it All Wet 'n Wild Bare it All[/caption]

The total retail price for the items we bought (before tax) was $13.96.  When all of our coupons and ExtraCare saving were total together, all four items cost us $1.46 before tax.  A $12.40 cent savings!  That’s right, we got four items for LESS than the cost of the CHEAPEST single item!-- almost a 90% savings!

Bargains do not get any better than this.

‘APPY DAZE!

j.
Monday, February 18, 2013

NoFunDay #2: Valentine's Day

Since Monday is a federal holiday in the states, there isn’t a point to telling you what I have gotten up to.  Let’s be honest, I have done what any self-respecting English teacher would do on a day off: I laid on the couch reading a Jane Austen novel.  That’s how we roll.

Thug life.

[caption id="attachment_440" align="aligncenter" width="251"]THE FOOSA's Valentine's card.  THE FOOSA's Valentine's card.[/caption]

Instead of thrilling my readers with tales of my couch potato-ness, I thought I might tell you what I go up to on Valentine’s Day instead.  The lead up to Valentine’s Day can often be a depressing time for singles, like myself; the media is often awash with stories about everlasting love, rose sales, and the sadness that is meant to go along with being “alone” of the annual day of love.  Really, unless you have blissfully married for 3,468 years it’s hard not to be depressed on Valentine’s Day!

Luckily for me, my Valentine’s Day passed happily, quietly, and with a reminder that love comes in many forms.

  • I began, per usual, at 5.30 am when I woke up to go to work.  Since I wasn’t going to get back into town till well after 4.00 pm, my mother and I exchanged Valentine’s gifts.  I gave my mother a Tangle Teezer (in orange), a box of chocolates, and a plush frog since she collects frog tchotchkes.

    [caption id="attachment_443" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The Tangle Teezer-- a brush to end all brushes.  The Tangle Teezer-- a brush to end all brushes.[/caption]

    Also, since our pug, THE FOOSA, likes to get up when I do in hopes of snagging some leftover toast, she was given her present as well: a card and three mini candy bones.

    [caption id="attachment_445" align="aligncenter" width="300"]THE FOOOSA: a gentlewoman and a scholar.  THE FOOOSA: a gentlewoman and a scholar.[/caption]

    I was given a lovely card, some chocolates, and a MAC lipstick (satin) in Brave from mom and THE FOOSA.

    [caption id="attachment_441" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The much-loved minimalist MAC packaging. The much-loved minimalist MAC packaging.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_442" align="aligncenter" width="300"]MAC's Brave, swatched on my NC20/NC25 skin. MAC's Brave, swatched on my NC20/NC25 skin.[/caption]

  • Since I have to take the bus into work (I work in the next city over), I always end up being at least half-an-hour to three-quarters-of-an-hour early to work every day.  On Valentine’s Day, I ended up being the first person on campus and had to let myself into the complex using the gate code.  As I don’t have a passkey or the deactivation code to the security system, I had to wait outside in the chill until the janitor arrived (late) for work.Ever the busy-bee, I used the time to read my aforementioned Jane Austen book (Mansfield Park, thank you for asking) until I could scamper over to my classroom.

  • Thursday ended up being a rocky day instructionally. My students (Juniors and Seniors) were very hyped up because it was Valentine’s Day, because several of them had given one another extravagant gifts (e.g., gigantic balloons and teddy bears), and because spring is on the horizon.  Given the slightest hint that fair weather is at hand, they all turn mental.  Bless their nutty little hearts . . . and mine!

  • As it was Valentine’s Day I, along with my colleagues, left work early to head home to my loved ones.  I took a different bus route back to town and was lucky enough to have a row of seats to myself.  Usually, someone ends up sitting next to me on bus rides which irks me beyond belief.  As a teacher, I travel with a zillion tote bags full of instructional materials every day; having to balance these bags on my lap because someone wants to sit next to me is a real burden and does nothing for my love of my fellow man.  Luckily, I could stretch out without fear on the ride back-- I considered this the Universe’s present to me!

  • When I got back into town, I met my mom at the town’s primary shopping center.  We picked up some provisions and picked up a take-and-bake pizza novelly shaped like a heart.  I know that’s a silly thing to do, but we bought one last year and it was tasty as well as cutesy.  Sometimes you just have to bow to consumerist treacle . . . especially when there is meat involved.  We also got cheesey bread because . . . WE GOT CHEESEY BREAD.

  • When we got home, we baked our pizza and had a lovely laughter-filled meal together.  It was nice to get to share a friendly meal together that we had specially planned to share.  Normally, we eat in a rush because my mother and I are both very busy people; it was nice to slow down, eat the same cheesy pepperoni pizza, and enjoy one another’s company.

  • After dinner, mom and I made avocado hair masks (one pureed avocado and two tablespoons of honey) and had a giggle over the green goo in our hair.As messy as the process was, it was a delightful topper for the evening!


Yes, my Valentine’s Day was a quiet one, but it was filled with laughter, love, and an appreciation for the time spent with the people I love.  So often the media makes us feel that we do not have enough romance in our lives, or that the love we do have is insufficient.

Spending time with my mom, my pug, and even my students reminded me of what I already knew: the media is full of crap-- love is where you find it.  For me, Valentine’s Day isn’t given its meaning by whatever baubles a special someone gives me; rather, Valentine’s Day is lovely because of the special someones I know and love.  How lucky am I to have dozens and dozens of people to love and care about?

Valentine’s Verdict: Screw the media, I’m a lucky girl.

[caption id="attachment_444" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Who wouldn't feel loved when there's CANDY to be eaten?! Who wouldn't feel loved when there's CANDY to be eaten?![/caption]

Cheers,

j.
Monday, February 4, 2013

NoFunDay #1

I have been thinking about adding a new semi-regular feature to my blog-- the summary.  Many other bloggers have similar features on their blog and I thought I would incorporate the format into my own little section of the internets . . . albeit with my own sardonic twist.  Since Monday’s generally stink and are usually a cluster bomb of crazy, I’ve decided to schedule these posts for the beginning of the week and move my semi-regular “Appy Daze” features midweek-ish (let’s be honest, it’s hard to find anything to be particularly pleasant about on Mondays).  Heretofore my Monday summary posts will be titled “NoFunDay: Revisited.”

Here’s how the first full week in February began for me:

 

  • I only managed to get three hours of sleep and only nodded off around two when I had to be up at 5.30 for work.  The past couple of weeks, I have had a terrible cold and have found sleeping difficult for all of my congestion and coughing.  Lately, with my cold on the retreat, I’ve felt really agitated, bloated, and a little depressed (perhaps from all of the cold medicine I have been gobbling for the past two weeks); so, as you can well imagine, I’ve still not fallen back into my black bear in winter sleeping pattern as yet.

    [caption id="attachment_432" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Oh. My. Hunchback. Oh. My. Hunchback.[/caption]

  • Hey, hey!  They found Ricky 3 under a parking lot in Leicester!

  • As I was walking to the bus stop this morning, the shoulder strap on my bag broke.  I’ve only had the bag a couple of weeks and the piping has started to wear off, the interior zipper broke, and now that shoulder strap is no more.  The bag is meant to be a knockoff of the Mulberry Alexa bag and I bought it off of ebay.  Needless to say, I have complained to the seller and have request a full reimbursement of my payment.  Moral of the story: buy your knockoffs from ASOS!

  • Twice I have gone into shops and been accosted by clerks wanting me to stow away my purse and teacher tote bag before they would let me in the store.  For goodness sake-- I’m a (nearly) thirty year old woman.  I made a reasonable living, I do not need to steal Doritos or ballpoint pens, thank you very much!

  • Mondays are also a challenge at work.  I teach high school, so as you can well imagine, my students are just as excited at the prospect of a new week as I am.  Behavior is usually off kilter on Mondays and usually there are technical glitches that always crop up, too.  I’ve worked in several different educational environments throughout my career and Mondays have always been a challenge.

  • On a positive note, I was able to purchase a couple of Valentine’s Day gifts for someone else and a couple of inexpensive baubles for me.  Nothing helps you feel more optimistic than a browse around your favorite online shops.

  • I’ve decided to do a series of posts in the leadup to my birthday that are all about my elderly-like tastes and disposition.  I know that this sounds bananas, but in many ways I act like an old person; if nothing else, I think my quirky sensibilities are a proper lesson in the relativity of age.  Once they’re posted, you’ll be in hysterics.  I promise.

    [caption id="attachment_433" align="aligncenter" width="300"]She's NEW WORLD ORDER! She's NEW WORLD ORDER![/caption]

  • Beyonce is illuminate and she blacked out the Superdome with the power of triangles!

  • After the better part of the week trying to finalize students’ grades for the first semester, I managed to turn in my grades today with the assistance of our guidance counselor.  I know that makes me sound dumb as a post, but we had to contend with a technical glitch that made this otherwise simple process murderous.

  • My skin feels gross and oily today which is either a response to the potato wedges I had for lunch or my skin’s way of telling me that Spring is around the corner.  Who needs a stupid groundhog when you have combination skin?

  • I got motion sick on the bus ride home and ended up puking up said potato wedges as soon as I got home.



How has your Monday gone?  Let me know what you got up to in the comments below.

Cheers,

j.