Friday, May 31, 2013

Empties #1

Over the past few months, I have been collecting some of my beauty-related empty products to review on my blog.  These posts are popular on YouTube and blogland, so I thought I would give this type of post a try and see if my readers dig it.  If not, what’s some more trash on the internet?

Nail Polish Remover

[caption id="attachment_633" align="aligncenter" width="244"]Nail Polish Remover Nail Polish Remover[/caption]

Up and Up Nourishing Nail Polish Remover: A simple, bog-standard acetone-based nail polish remover.  I used this remover when I was wearing a thicker coat of polish or one with glitter in it.  I’ve already repurchased a bottle; it’s cheap, cheerful and it works.

butterLONDON Nutter Almond Scented Acetone Free Lacquer Remover: This is part of a luxury trio of limited edition nail polish removers I purchased shortly after the new year.  The remover left my nails feeling conditioned though it took more effort to remove my polish that with the harsher Up and Up version I also use.  I still have another remover from the set left, though I am not sure if I would repurchase a a butterLONDON remover because of the price-- $8 for 2 ounces of product!

Body Wash

[caption id="attachment_634" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Body Wash Body Wash[/caption]

Philosophy Field of Flowers Water Lily Blossom: Like most of the Philosophy gallon jugs you can buy, this is billed as a body wash, shampoo, and bubble bath.  I tried to use the product for all three purposes but found I only really liked it as a bubble bath.  This smelled lovely; however, it was a limited edition scent . . . and had a steep price tag.  Unless I see this on the cheap in Marshall’s, I won’t be repurchasing this product.

Mario Badescu Azulene Body Soap: I have long been a fan of Mario Badescu Skincare, including the highly underrated bath and body products.  This shower gel, which can also double as a bubble bath (can you tell I like bubble baths?), is formulated with sensitive skin in mind and is meant to have camomile extracts in it to sooth distressed skin.  When I was having my eczema outbreak a few months ago, this soap was particularly soothing for my rashy, broken skin.

Soap & Glory Clean On Me Creamy Moisturizing Shower Gel: I received this sample size bottle in a holiday gift set and instantly fell in love with the scent.  Somehow the trademark Soap & Glory rose and bergamot scent manages to linger on the skin while you are in the tub, but fades when you get out; I imagine I would have found the smell sickly had it hung around longer than it did.  Overall, this was a great shower gel that didn’t dry out my skin (as gels sometimes do) or leave it feeling too greasy (as can happen).  I will probably buy another Soap and Glory shower product in the future, but at present I have a small box of bath products I need to get through first.

Skin Care

[caption id="attachment_635" align="aligncenter" width="270"]Skin Care Skin Care[/caption]

Botanics Organic Rosewater Toner: This is my mom’s go-to toner which I occasionally nick from her, too.  The last one she purchased was in the old packaging and she decanted into a spray bottle.  So, technically, this isn’t an empty because the product was decanted . . . but she did finish another (previously decanted) bottle . . . so . . .

No. 7 Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser: I absolutely love this product, which is meant to be a dupe for the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish.  This cleanser removes any lingering traces of makeup while leaving my skin feeling soothed and smooth.  I’ve already repurchased this item.

Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion: I haven’t technically polished this toner off . . . I just decanted it into an empty spray bottle for convenience's sake.  I would repurchase this toner in the future; however, I am particularly fond of lighter rebalancing sprays at the moment.

[caption id="attachment_636" align="aligncenter" width="142"]Powder Sunscreen Powder Sunscreen[/caption]

Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Very Water Resistant Powder Sun Protectant (SPF 30), Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Instant Mineral SPF 45: Both of these items are mineral sunscreens-- the Colorescience  one was mine, the PTR one was moms.  I’ve had to toss mine because (after more than two years of use!) the brush went gross and I was questioning if the SPF was still working after such a long time.  I will be buying another.  Mom wasn’t thrilled with the PTR’s scratchy brush and she was a little concerned about some of its ingredients.  Needless to say, she won’t be getting the PTR sunscreen again and will be buying a Colorescience powder, too.

[caption id="attachment_637" align="aligncenter" width="300"]More Skin Care . . . More Skin Care . . .[/caption]

Mario Badescu Special Healing Powder: This stuff is magic.  If you are acne prone, you need to pick up this sulfur-based powder that dries and heals breakouts quick-fast.  I swear by this stuff and I’ve already repurchased another pot.

L’Oreal NIght Cream: This was the fabled night cream my mom wrote about in April.  Needless to say she hated it and will not be repurchasing it.

[caption id="attachment_638" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Guess what? More skin care! Guess what? More skin care![/caption]

CVS Soothing Bath Treatment and Aveeno Eczema Therapy Bath Treatment: Both of these are colloidal oatmeal bath soaks I used when I was having an extremely severe eczema breakout a few months ago.  If you have sensitive skin, you really can’t go wrong with these treatments-- they’re magical.

Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Micro-Sculpting Eye Cream & Lash Serum Duo: Another of my mom’s drugstore anti-aging trials.  Guess what?-- she hated it and promptly tossed it into my empties box.  Needless to say, this isn’t worth the $30 list price.

Hair Care

[caption id="attachment_639" align="aligncenter" width="266"]Hair Care Hair Care[/caption]

Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo: I bought this shampoo when I went through an anti-sulfate kick a few months back.  A scientific link between sodium laureth sulfate and cancer has yet to be established, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t freak out from time to time.  The cosmetic ingredient has been linked to skin irritation and eye injuries, particularly in children. So, when I have skin freakout like I did earlier this spring, I go on a tirade against sulfates.  In terms of this shampoo, it wasn’t any great shakes, so I probably wouldn’t repurchase it.  There are other sulfate-free shampoos on the market right now, so my options aren’t as limited as they once were.

Mario Badsescu Nucleic Moisturizing Hair Rinse: I liked this leave-in conditioner a lot, it left my hair feeling soft and provided just enough moisture for my super-short hair.  Since I am in the process of growing out my pixie cut, I have moved on to products that provide deeper conditioning and nourishment to encourage hair growth.  While I would buy this product in the future as a “moisture touch up,” a repurchase isn’t in the cards immediately.

Mario Badescu Lecithin Nourishing Shampoo: This shampoo is formulated for dry scalp and chemically treated hair.  During the winter I suffer from a perennially dry scalp and I bought this shampoo to help alleviate some of the annoyingly painful itch I always seem to get.  Sadly, this shampoo didn’t do much for my scalp or my hair.  I used the product up to finish it, but I won’t be buying this particular shampoo again.  It should be noted, however, that I do really like the Mario Badescu haircare line-- just not this particular shampoo!

Sachets and Samples

[caption id="attachment_640" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Face Mask Face Mask[/caption]

Que Bella Balancing Ylang Ylang Mask: This mask is meant to help control oil, a godsend for my oily combination skin.  However, this product didn’t do anything for my skin and it smelled weird; I won’t be repurchasing.

Montagne Jeunesse Fruit Smoothie Deep Pore Cleansing Masque: I love these little mask sachets.  This one is a nice cleansing one that smells like a fruit salad.  I have already repurchased another mask in the line and would buy this specific mask again.

[caption id="attachment_641" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Even more samples . . . Even more samples . . .[/caption]

Clinique Happy: This little sample only lasted for a single spritz. :-/ I do like the scent, but I will not be buying a full-size; I already have too many perfumes at the moment.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream: So. Much. Hate.  Read my review here.

Clinique 7 Day Scrub: This is my favorite exfoliator.  I have a larger sample of the same product I am working through.  I will be buying a full size of this (again) when my sample runs out.

Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner: This was a nice leave-in-conditioner; however, the product is formulated for curly hair and I have very straight hair.  It was a great sample, but I am not going to splurge for a full size.


[caption id="attachment_642" align="aligncenter" width="120"]Brush Cleaner Brush Cleaner[/caption]

ELF Daily Brush Cleaner: I use this cheap and cheerful brush cleaner to spot treat my brushes between deep cleanses.  It’s only $3 and works like a champ.  I’m already working through another small bottle.

[caption id="attachment_644" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Every day things. Every day things.[/caption]

Facial tissue: I always keep a box on my dressing table in case of a makeup meltdown.  These are the antiviral ones I bought during the flu season.

Cotton pads: I use these to take off my makeup and to remove my nail polish . . . like every other woman in the first world.

So, there you go-- all of the products I have used up lately.  There really is sense of beauty accomplishment greater than seeing a product through.  What have you finished lately?


Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Depression Post #3: Dealing With a Major Injury

[caption id="attachment_611" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Busted ankle, perfect pedicure! Busted ankle, perfect pedicure![/caption]

A few weeks ago, while decorating for a school event, I took a fall off of a ladder and suffered a compound fracture of both my tibia and my fibula just above the right ankle.  I was taken to the hospital by ambulance-- my first journey (and hopefully my last)-- and had to have two surgeries in three days to clean, set, and repair the bones.  Total, I was in the hospital five days, again it was the first time I ever had to spend a protracted amount of time in the hospital.


In addition to being the most frightening and physically painful experience of my life, my injury has caused me a lot of psychological trauma, the effects of which I have only just started to process.  If you have ever experienced a major injury, you’ll know that your first few days are spent in a fog, in shock or loaded up on heavy pain medication; the next few days are spent focused on recovering  enough physically to go home.  When you’re hospitalized, your days become monotonous and surprisingly goal oriented: everything you do, or cannot do, is focused on getting discharged as quickly as possible.


The real recovery work, however, begins once you’ve gotten home.


My first few days at home were rough ones.  We quickly learned that  I was sensitive to the pain medication I was prescribed; my pain in my ankle would be blunted, but I would quickly develop a migraine and grown nauseous.  The migraines were were worse than the pain in my ankle, so I had to go off my prescription and make do with Tylenol Arthritis until my scheduled checkup with my orthopedic surgeon.  Needless to say, the Tylenol wasn’t cutting it with my post-surgical pain; coupled with the itching and pulling from my staples and stitches, this pain has me in hysterics, especially at night.  Even now, with a more suitable pain medicine at hand, I struggle to sleep because of the tightening feeling at my injury site.


What makes my pain hardest to bear is knowing that there is nothing I can do about it other than taking my medication and ignoring it.  For the most part, pain medication doesn’t get rid of your pain, it just tempers the ache.  At two in the morning I want to be unconscious, not half-heartedly watching an episode of Mission: Impossible because my ankle feels like it is shriveling.   It’s maddening.


What’s worse, however, is the psychic pain.  In the days following my discharge, I started having flashbacks, seeing my impact whenever I closed my eyes. I can still hear the screams of my colleagues and students when I fell.  Like any traumatic experience, I am sure the chilling effect these memories have on me emotionally will dissipate with time and by talking about them, but the memory is still very fresh in my mind.


Moving past this trauma is made all the more challenging because my life veritably stopped when I fell off that ladder; I haven’t been able to resume my life as I lived it previously.  Instead, I’m stuck in limbo waiting until I am healed enough to ease back into small parcels of normality.  While I have been able to do some of my non-instructional work tasks from home, not getting up every morning and trundling off to work-- not seeing my students or falling into my routine-- has been very difficult.

At present, what has helped me the most to manage my injury-related depression has been my mom and my pug.  My mother is my rock and has been my lifeline throughout the entire experience, looking after me just as she had when I was a toddler (seriously, when you suffer a major fracture basic life functions are nearly impossible to complete on your own).  Without her emotional and physical support, I’d be living in painful squalor.

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

THE FOOSA, my pug, has been a tremendous emotional support.  When I was in the hospital, all I could think about was getting home to THE FOOSA.  Since I’ve been back, she’s been my little furry shadow, cuddling up to me as I recline on my bed or sit on the couch; she even spots me as I scoot around the house with my walker.


While I am still in the early stages of my recovery, I know that despite my occasional sadness,  I have the love and support I need to get back into fighting shape.  Eventually.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nails of the Day 3: Essie's Tart Deco

It’s been almost three weeks since my accident and just as long since my last exposure to the warm California sun.  My complexion, which had just started to show the remotest signs of a tan has now returned to it’s pallid late-winter hue.  Major bummer.

Since I’m still not mobile and there’s no point to slapping on a full-face of makeup when my day consists of hobbling between my room, the sofa, and the bathroom between old episodes of Adam-12, I have been trying to give my skin a warmer glow with the help of nail polish.

[caption id="attachment_626" align="aligncenter" width="209"]Essie's Tart Deco ($8) Essie's Tart Deco ($8)[/caption]

Enter Tart Deco ($8.00), one of Essie’s cult shades, a warm orangey-coral that screams summertime.  This warm shade seems to give my cool-toned skin a glow that is almost golden-- almost.

If, like me, you’re a long way from the sun or San Tropez, give Tart Deco a try-- it’s a good way to fake it before you can (fake and) bake it!

[caption id="attachment_627" align="aligncenter" width="191"]Tart Deco-- for when you want that gimpy glow! Tart Deco-- for when you want that gimpy glow![/caption]
Friday, May 24, 2013

Mascara MAYhem #5: Maybelline the Colossal Volum' Express Cat Eyes

[caption id="attachment_619" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Maybelline’s the Colossal Volum’ Express Cat Eyes ($6.99) Maybelline’s the Colossal Volum’ Express Cat Eyes ($6.99)[/caption]

In the week leading up to the Great Humpty Dumpty Schonda of 2013, I was dutifully trying out a new mascara in preparation for this Mascara MAYhem post-- Maybelline’s the Colossal Volum’ Express Cat Eyes ($6.99).  I had read some positive reviews of the formula online and had known some ladies who had tried and raved about the product.  I have to say, the hype didn’t let me down!


[caption id="attachment_620" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Applied in two coats to top lashes only. Applied in two coats to top lashes only.[/caption]

On the whole, Maybelline’s Colossal Volum’ Express line is a winner and Cat Eyes is no exception.  True to its claims, Cat Eyes gave me long, voluminous lashes, with particular definition concentrated on the outer corners of my eyes-- the “cat eye” the product promises.  Even after twelve hours of wear (my usual work-day), Cat Eyes didn’t slide off my lashes and still managed to hold a curl.


[caption id="attachment_621" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Notice the cheetah print tube there? Clever marketing, Maybelline; clever marketing. Notice the cheetah print tube there? Clever marketing, Maybelline; clever marketing.[/caption]

Like most of my preferred mascaras, Cat Eyes has a fiber brush that combs through the lashes, coating them evenly in mascara without clumps.  The product’s spoon (or “claw” as Maybelline calls it) wand fits the shape of my round eyes perfectly and makes application nearly effortless.


[caption id="attachment_622" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The ever elusive spoon/ claw- shaped wand. The ever elusive spoon/ claw- shaped wand.[/caption]

While I can’t claim this mascara changed my eye shape or even gave me a particularly feline look, it is an excellent product.  If you are looking for a reasonably priced mascara that gives you gorgeous lashes with minimal effort, pick up this product quick fast.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eternal Optimist: The Pedicure That Just Won't Quit

[caption id="attachment_611" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Busted ankle, perfect pedicure! Busted ankle, perfect pedicure![/caption]

The evening before I went plummeting off of a ladder while hanging prom decorations, I painted my toe nails a creamy dusty rose pink-- Essie’s Eternal Optimist ($8).  Originally, the shade was meant to add a soft, neutral color to my toes and complement the early 1960s outfit and makeup look I had selected for my chaperon duties (yes, I take such things seriously).  Then I had my accident and the polish became emblematic of my experience and my recovery.

[caption id="attachment_612" align="aligncenter" width="147"]Essie Eternal Optimist Essie Eternal Optimist[/caption]


Generally speaking, I am not an optimistic person; my mind usually skips to the worst case scenario right from the get go.  Any time I get a paper cut  I automatically think I am going to get a staph infection and lose my arm. I really don’t have a middle ground: I’m either doing well or on the verge of a tragic death.  Since I am such a hypochondriac, it’s deeply ironic that at the time of my fall, the worst health crisis I have ever experienced, I was wearing Eternal Optimist on my tootsies.


Strangely enough, despite suffering a catastrophic injury in the ankle region, there was absolutely no blood on my feet (maybe because my foot was bent in the opposite direction . . . ), in my shoes, or on my socks.  Similarly, after five days in the hospital and two surgeries, my pedicure was in tact.  Two weeks after my accident, my toes are still painted Eternal Optimist-- my original pedicure.

[caption id="attachment_613" align="aligncenter" width="167"]Two coats of Eternal Optimist on a nail wheel. Two coats of Eternal Optimist on a nail wheel.[/caption]


What is remarkable about Eternal Optimist, however, is not its longevity (though two weeks is incredible for a pedicure!), but its symbolism for my recovery.  There have been very few moments where I have felt sorry for myself or doubted that I would get better.  On the contrary, I have thrown myself into the recovery process, learning the basics of orthopedic injuries, working out my recovery timeline, and generally taking an active role in my medical treatment.


It’s easy to become dejected when you’re facing a health crisis, especially if you allow yourself to remain passive.  Passivity is natural enough: when you don’t feel well, you certainly don’t want to advocate for taking your own medication from home or insist that you be prescribed a walker to take home-- but you have to press the point for your own good.  Your best advocate for your own care and your own cause is you.

Perhaps my pessimistic streak has been kept at bay by my tenacity and determination to get better, maybe it’s an elaborate form of self-denial.  Whatever the case may be, I’m keeping calm and carrying on . . . and so is my pedicure!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Mascara MAYhem #4: Benefit BADgal Lash-- Mommy Jim Recommends

[caption id="attachment_604" align="aligncenter" width="300"]BADgal Lash by Benefit Cosmetics ($19) BADgal Lash by Benefit Cosmetics ($19)[/caption]

When I was told by my darling, and intrepidly blogging, daughter that she was going to discuss all that is mascara for this month, I couldn't help but chime in with an entry on my own holy grail product, Benefit’s BADgal Lash Waterproof ($19.00).

Having worn make-up for most of my *ahem* twenty-nine years (don’t start!), I have “road tested” hundreds of mascaras of various brands, formulations, wand-types, and colors only to be bitterly disappointed by most products that have come on the market.

Unlike in the 1970’s and 80’s when the popular go-to mascaras were by Cover Girl and Maybelline, who only had a couple of mascara options between them; today’s market is saturated with designer formulas that promise anything from longer, thicker, and fuller lashes that replicate a fluttery, yet-natural, false-lash effect.  I hate to burst your bubble, but no one mascara contains a “secret” formula that will give you eyelashes that look like you are a naturally gifted contestant on Rupaul’s Drag Race. Neither you nor I will ever look like an actress or supermodel shilling the latest lash explosions mascara with mega collagen gel-mouse (or whatever, you get the drift!).  It isn’t going to happen.


That being said, you and your lashes should not loose hope!  I have found mascara that actually is easy to apply, lasts all day, and looks good. Go figure!

[caption id="attachment_605" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mommy Jim's Holy Grail mascara! Mommy Jim's Holy Grail mascara![/caption]


Benefit’s BADgal Lash is by far the best mascara that I have ever used. As I have discussed before on this blog, being a woman of a certainly fabulous age means that things have changed over the years. One such change has been thinning, short lashes. Though I have had a lash “growth spurt” since I started using L’Oreal’s Concentrated Lash Boosting Serum ($14.95) a few years ago, I still struggle with lashes that either won’t hold product or makes me look like I have a subdivision of spiders sitting on my eyelids. Yipes!

[caption id="attachment_606" align="aligncenter" width="300"]An unassuming wand belies the awesomeness of the formula and application. An unassuming wand belies the awesomeness of the formula and application.[/caption]


That said BADgal, a present from my darling daughter, is a gift from the make-up gods. BADgal’s traditional fiber bristle wand may, at first glance, seem nondescript, they grip and coat every lash, no matter how paltry they may be.  Also, the mascara itself clings onto my lashes and gives them a naturally volumized and lengthened appearance.  Unlike most mascaras-- high-end and drugstore-- which have a tendency to flake, shift, and settle under my eyes after only a few hours of wear, BADgal has demonstrated remarkable staying power in both bitter cold and scorching heat.

[caption id="attachment_607" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mommy Jim's BADgal lashes in action! Mommy Jim's BADgal lashes in action![/caption]


I’m currently on my second tube and have been amazed by its performance.  If BADgal wasn’t worth it’s steep price tag, I certainly wouldn’t have shelled out for another tube nor would I be extolling its merits on my daughter’s blog.  Regardless of your age, or particular lash issue, I completely and wholeheartedly recommend this product.  BADgal is a product that I stand behind!


Save your pennies and invest in Benefit’s BADgal Lash--it will be your go-to mascara for years to come!


Until next time…


Mommy Jim
Sunday, May 19, 2013

What I've Been Reading Lately #2: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

[caption id="attachment_599" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bedside reading. Bedside reading.[/caption]

In the days leading up to the Great Humpty Dumpty Schonda of 2013,I had started reading David Sedaris’s latest collection of essays Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown, and Company; $27).  Since I possess Jedi-like library skills (if there is such a thing, and I am inclined to believe that there is), I was able to snag a copy of the book from the country library as soon as the delivery of the books came in-- you really have to time the book’s release date to the library’s order date and entry of the book into their online catalog . . . Anyway!  After getting released from the hospital earlier this week, I returned to my reading and was happily able to finish the book Saturday afternoon.


As with all Sedaris books, I enjoyed Owls a great deal: Sedaris is at his best when speaking about his own foibles or the pitfalls of being an American abroad.  An avowed Sedaris fan, I’ve read all of the author’s books since discovering them during my sophomore year of college; coincidently, Sedaris gave a lecture at my university during my sophomore year . . . but I was off having my Razor’s Edge experience and was totally unawares until more than a year after the engagement (waaah!).  It is within the context of this tremendous admiration and fandom that my mixed feelings about the book must be considered.  As a general collection of humorous essays, I LOVED Owls; as a David Sedaris collection of essays, I was mildly amused.

[caption id="attachment_601" align="aligncenter" width="201"]Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (LBC, 2013) Image c/o The Christian Science Monitor Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (LBC, 2013) Image c/o The Christian Science Monitor[/caption]


For many Sedaris fans, myself included, consider all of the author’s books since his masterful Me Talk Pretty One Day (2001) to be anticlimactic. Me Talk was so humorously off-kilter and touchingly relatable that none of Sedaris’s more recent work can live up to the brilliance of that book.  Really, it’s unfair to consider the rest of Sedaris’s work in comparison to Me Talk, but it’s also hard not to compare the works.


That being said, Owls is the best collection Sedaris has released since Me Talk. In particular, I enjoyed Sedaris’s wild take on eating during a vacation in China, an entry that has caused some controversy but one that I, as a member of the pearl-clutchers brigade, relate to wholeheartedly.  Similarly, the author’s discussion of his French dentistry experiences and the fallout from having his computer stolen in Hawaii had me laughing out loud in the most awkward of circumstances-- thank you, David.


Where Owls, and all of Sedaris’s work, falters are in the short stories which strain for laughs, often launching themselves into blue-territory, and, for the committed reader, are best plowed through rather than savored.


So, while imperfect, Owls is a fun read, particularly for commuters accustomed to having short reading spells.  However, would I have shelled out my hard earned teacher shekels for the hardback at full price . . . probably not.  I’d advise adding this one to your library hold list.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nails of the Day #2: Candy Colored Hues

[caption id="attachment_593" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Nails of the Day: Essie's Mint Candy Apple and Sally Girl's Banana Nails of the Day: Essie's Mint Candy Apple and Sally Girl's Banana[/caption]

While I have made a lot of progress in my recovery from the Great Humpty Dumpty Schonda of 2013, I’ve still been slow in getting back to “real life.”  Prior to my star-making turn as the number one schlemiel of the 209 area code, I was fastidious about my twice-daily skincare regimen and keeping my nails painted in an ever-changing rotation of quirky color combinations.  In the past few weeks, deprived of bipedal locomotion, my priorities have changed dramatically: cute nails have taken a backseat to improving my walker skillz!

[caption id="attachment_594" align="aligncenter" width="254"]Banana (Sally Girl, $0.99), Mint Candy Apple (Essie, $8) Banana (Sally Girl, $0.99), Mint Candy Apple (Essie, $8)[/caption]


Yesterday evening, however, in a bid to recapture some sense of normalcy, I painted my nails using two of the newest, and most cheerful, spring colors in my vast nail polish collection: Essie’s Mint Candy Apple ($8.00) and Sally Girl Mini in Banana (no longer available on the Sally website; $0.99 in-store).

[caption id="attachment_595" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Essie Grow Faster base coat (MSRP $8) Essie Grow Faster base coat (MSRP $8)[/caption]


I first applied my preferred base coat of the moment, Essie’s Grow Faster ($8.00 MSRP); then I used two coats of each polish for each nail, reserving Banana (which smells of bananas, by the way!) for my ring-finger as an accent.  Once my colors had dried down, I sealed the look with butterLONDON’s Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat ($19.00).  While Hardwear is my favorite topcoat of all time, it’s hefty price tag is giving me pause as I near the bottom half of the bottle.

[caption id="attachment_596" align="aligncenter" width="197"]butterLONDON Hardware ($19) butterLONDON Hardware topcoat ($19)[/caption]

The end result (see above), while visually reflective of my still wobbly physical state, is a cute candy-colored look that brightens up my pallid post-hospital appearance.


What colors are livening up your nails this spring?



Friday, May 17, 2013

Mascara MAYhem #3: Maybelline Volum' Express the Mega Plush Mascara

[caption id="attachment_588" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mascara MAYhem #3: Maybelline Volum' Express the Mega Plush Mascara ($6.99) Mascara MAYhem #3: Maybelline Volum' Express the Mega Plush Mascara ($6.99)[/caption]

It was a dark and stormy morning.  I was on my way to work and was unhappy with both the quality of my latte and the appeal of that morning’s eye look.  To put it bluntly, my naturally long lashes looked stumpy and clumpy; to make things worse, after two attempts at curling (both without and with mascara), they were sticking STRAIGHT OUT.  This mascara shonda needed to be fixed quick fast.  In a panic, I splashed over to CVS and picked up a tube of Maybelline’s Volum’ Express the Mega Plush Mascara ($6.99).

[caption id="attachment_590" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The flexing, fiber wand. The flexing, fiber wand.[/caption]


What initially attracted me to the mascara was its tube-- a pretty shade of teal (my favorite color) with hot pink accents.  Picking up the range’s waterproof brown black formula, I quickly checked the Maybelline Mascara Wand display and was heartened to see a thick, flexible, fiber brush before galloping over to the checkout lane.  When I applied the mascara at work, I was very impressed by my impulse buy.


Maybelline bills the Mega Plush formula as a gel-mousse formula that never flakes or clumps.  Mega Plush’s “Flexor Brush” wand, the company claims, allows for every lash to be coated with mascara.  The product is also meant to be made with 40% less wax than other formulas which lends itself to lashes with a “supple touch.”  Basically, all of the grand claims boil down to lashes that are meant to be voluminous without the dreaded spider-lashes.

[caption id="attachment_589" align="aligncenter" width="300"]After 12 hours of wear. After 12 hours of wear.[/caption]


Much to Maybelline’s credit, Mega Plush has lived up to its claims, giving me soft, voluminous lashes that only slightly smudges after twelve hours of wear (the length of my typical makeup-wearing workday).  Keep in mind that I usually avoid longer-wearing waterproof formulas (I’m too lazy) and I have oily skin ( . . . which usually results in falling mascara); so, a little smudging over a dozen hours is super impressive!


If you’re on the lookout for a good budget mascara (and who isn’t?), consider grabbing a tube of Maybelline Volum’ Express the Mega Plush Mascara (Phew!-- mouth full!).



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where Have I Been: Busted Ankle Edition

I keep having these posts on my blog: explaining apologetically where I have been recently and promising that I will be more diligent in my posting in the future.  Then, as with anyone, things happen and I fall off for a while  . . . then I come back, ad infinitum.


This time around, however, I have a good excuse for my absence: I BROKE MY ANKLE!

[caption id="attachment_584" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Day 1 in the hospital after my accident. Day 1 in the hospital after my accident.[/caption]


A week ago today, I fell off of a ladder and landed square on my right foot-- then my foot went in one direction and my tibia and fibula (the two bones in your lower leg) went in another . . . piercing the skin.  I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance (a first for me!), had two surgeries to repair my leg/ ankle, and stayed in the hospital for five days recovering from the physical trauma.  Today marks my second day back home after the experience.  It’s been a hot mess.

[caption id="attachment_583" align="aligncenter" width="300"]What passes for bling among the hospital crowd. What passes for bling among the hospital crowd.[/caption]


Since I can’t walk on my ankle or use my walker for long periods of time, I am off work through the end of the school year, instead working from home on administrative tasks and keeping in touch with students.  Soooo . . . since I’m home . . . I actually will have more time to blog, writing about films, books, beauty products, my dog, and anything that catches my interest while I am stranded on the sofa. And yes, I will be returning to Mascara MAYhem ASAP.

[caption id="attachment_582" align="aligncenter" width="300"]At home on the sofa recovering. At home on the sofa recovering.[/caption]


My blogging goal during my recuperation period is to blog at least five times a week, taking time off for the weekends; since that’s a lot of content, please feel free to email any topics you’d like me to tackle (reviews, advice, etc.) to



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mascara MAYhem #2: L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black

Uh-huh, it’s back: Mascara MAYhem!


As an admitted mascara hoarder, I’m often trying out new ones in an attempt-- a quixotic quest, if you will-- to find the best mascara on the market.  There are some folks out there who have used the same mascara-- and only one mascara-- for years, decades even, on end.  While there is a standard mascara I do find myself occasionally coming back to, my lashes are notoriously disloyal.


[caption id="attachment_576" align="aligncenter" width="300"]L'Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black ($9.95) L'Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black ($9.95)[/caption]


One of my most recent test subjects was the L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black ($9.95), which claims to lengthen and intensify your lashes.  Other versions of the product have been talked up all over the internets, so I thought I would take the plunge and test drive the carbon black formula.


On workdays, I like my lashes to be long,voluminous, and stand out against my very round eyes.  My lashes are long and thick normally, but given my eye shape, they often need a little extra encouragement in order to achieve the fluttery look I prefer.  To it’s credit, the product was able to give me the look I was going for.  Also, as this picture taken after ten hours of wear can attest, it does stick around with minimal budging, even in the standard formula.

[caption id="attachment_577" align="aligncenter" width="300"]After several coats and ten hours of wear. After several coats and ten hours of wear.[/caption]


My one gripe with mascara, with the entire Telescopic line, is the brush: it’s too fiddly!  Yes, the dainty want separates and lengthens your lashes like a pro . . . but it takes ages to build up the product and create even a demure look.  In my book, a mascara should take no more than two coats to achieve a fluttery look; this bad boy took me the better part of five minutes to apply.  FIVE MINUTES!-- that’s more than the rest of my makeup take . . . all of it!

[caption id="attachment_578" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Is this a Barbie mascara wand? Is this a Barbie mascara wand?[/caption]


So, if you’re looking for dramatic lashes and have some time to kill, invest in a tube of L’Oreal Telescopic.  Otherwise . . . keep looking!



Friday, May 3, 2013

Fancy(-ish) Haul: MAC and Ulta

Sorry for the late post today; it's been a busy week (and a hectic day!), but I wanted to get this post up before the weekend.

The other day, Mommy Jim and I headed to MAC and Ulta to stock up on some beauty essentials.

[caption id="attachment_569" align="aligncenter" width="176"]Paul Mitchell Long-Term Favorites Paul Mitchell Long-Term Favorites[/caption]


At Ulta, we bought a salon-sized bottle of Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Shampoo and a standard-size bottle of The Detangler.  Both products are historical favorites in our house; though we may stray and use other shampoo-conditioner combinations, we always make our way back to this combo.  As a brand Paul Mitchell is great: high quality products that are never tested on animals and still manage to come in at a reasonable price-point.  You can’t beat ‘em.

[caption id="attachment_573" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mommy Jim's SFP Mommy Jim's SFP[/caption]


At MAC Mommy Jim picked up a Studio Fix powder foundation (NW30) to use as a high coverage setting powder and base alternative to her tried and true BareMinerals matte.  Sometimes a girl just needs  change.

[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="207"]Brun for Brows Brun for Brows[/caption]


For myself, I purchased an eyeshadow in Brun (satin finish) to fill in my brows.  Brun, as you can see, is a very dark, slightly ashy brown; the tone suits my dark hair and brow tone perfectly.

[caption id="attachment_571" align="aligncenter" width="284"]Peaches Peaches[/caption]


I also purchased Peaches, an orangey-peach blush (sheertone) to accompany the late 1950’s/ early 1960’s makeup look that I am going to sport at my school’s prom (which I’ve planned, by the by).

[caption id="attachment_572" align="aligncenter" width="300"]SFL Sample SFL Sample[/caption]

Luckily, the MAC counter had some sample pots (a rarity at my local MAC counter) and I was able to get a sample of Studio Fix liquid.  Oddly enough, I was color matched as an NW-22 in that when I am an NW-22 in the Studio Fix powder.  Oddly, both suit me.


Let me know if you’ve ever had a weird MAC color match experience that somehow worked out, too!-- I want to make sure I am not the only one with an odd face!



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mascara MAYhem #1: Clinique High Impact Mascara

When I was still a makeup newbie, just making my first anxious trips to the makeup counters in Macy's, Clinique's original High Impact Mascara ($16) was my first high-end lash-building purchase. The product was simple, straightforward, and dependable: your lashes were made thicker and more voluminous without a fiddly to gouge your eye out. There aren't any gimmicks with the simple, thick fiber brush: it is what it is and what it is is great. For someone who was who still looking for her makeup mojo, this no fuss mascara was a godsend!


[caption id="attachment_561" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Clinique High Impact Mascara (original formula) Clinique High Impact Mascara (original formula)[/caption]

As the years have come and gone, I've not been faithful to my beloved High Impact.  Drugstore and prestige mascaras have passed their way through my makeup bag, some residing longer than others, all eventually finding their way to the bin with nary a thought about repurchase.


The only mascara I have ever consciously repurchased, despite my cosmetic infidelity, is High Impact. Whenever I want a classic, natural eye look that doesn't look clumpy or too dramatic, I grab this little green tube. My lashes are instantly given definition and my eye look a finished appearance with only a few lashings. Best yet, as someone who wears specs, the formula doesn't overly lengthen my lashes or leave flecks of product on my lenses.


[caption id="attachment_564" align="aligncenter" width="295"]My eyes with two coasts of High Impact Original Mascara My eyes with two coasts of High Impact Original Mascara[/caption]

The product has a wet formula that can, when new or with extreme long wear shift to the lower lash line. However, as with most mascaras-- budget and luxury alike-- as the formula dries it becomes sturdier and less prone to movement. You can buy the mascara in waterproof and regular formulas; lazy to my core, I’ve only ever used the regular formula for quick cleansing purposes.


Somehow, in some way, this bog standard staple of the High Impact line manages to tick all of the boxes without too much pain in the ol' pocketbook. Don't be seduced by its flasher sisters in the line, the original High Impact is a gem!


Until next time, dear readers . . .


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mascara MAYhem!

[caption id="attachment_561" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Clinique High Impact Mascara (original formula) Clinique High Impact Mascara (original formula)[/caption]


It’s May and spring has sprung!  In honor of the sun and the lazy days to come, I thought I would celebrate the one cosmetic item even the most lazy of of folks reach for-- mascara.  Once a week, I will spotlight a mascara I have tried and tested (high end and drugstore) and give you all of the nitty gritty details you’ll need to make an informed decision for your peepers.  First up: Clinique’s original High Impact Mascara! Stay tuned!

Because I Can't Count: The Final 10 of My Fifty Facts

You know how there are times when you think you have it all covered, only to find out that you don't?  Well, yes.  I had one of those moments not too long ago here on SJSS.  If you'll recall, my 50 Random Facts About Me post was short 10 random facts.


Yes, I did graduate from university.  No, it wasn't clown college.


Ever the devote to symmetry, here are the remaining ten facts for your perusal and your judgement.  Enjoy! :-)

41. I've never dyed my hair, nor do I intend to until I go gray . . . which shouldn't be in the near future as Dutch don't budge, y'all!


42. I have both a Netflix and a Hulu Plus subscription so I can have more reasons to be a shut in.


43. I prefer gelato to ice cream.


44. I bare a striking resemblance to Portia Porcupine from the Get Along Gang.


45. Despite mu blog title, I HATE when people shorten my name.  It's Jamie: not Jay, not JJ, not Jame, not James, and not even Jim.  JAMIE!


46. I'm a very organized, Type A sort of person, but my room is a nightmare of clutter and disorganization.  It looks like I am waiting for the Marshall Plan to come through so I can sort out the rubble.  It's that bad.


47. My favorite makeup brands are NARS, Clinique, Shiesedo, and MAC.

48. I never wear high heels to work in case I need to run for the bus.


49. I don't like other people touching me regardless of whether I know them or not.  I get really uncomfortable and stiff, like Sheldon Cooper, when I am placed in such situations.


50. My best friends are my mom and my pug; I've been lucky to fall in with these two-- I see no reason to socialize further! -_-


So, there you have it: a full 50 facts about yours truly.