Monday, March 20, 2023

The voices in my head won't stop squabbling

I've mentioned my penchant for diving into diet literature when I head into yet another "shit's getting real" fitness phase--which, following my most recent trip to the doctor, I'm in

Adhering to the sound advice of my favorite diet philosopher, Richard A. Watkins, I obtain and read whatever diet literature I can get my hands on. It doesn't really matter if the advice contradicts itself; very well, let it. Like Walt Whitman, diet books are large, and contain multitudes. 

(Sorry! The above represents yet another attempt to prove that my expensive degrees in English Literature were worth the money.)

Since we last gathered around the virtual campfire that is this blog to listen to me tell stories about being fucking fat and wanting to do something about it, technology has moved on. Of course it has.

[Sidenote: my trainer told me that she parked her six year old son in front of a laptop at her gym so that he could watch YouTube videos while she took care of some business. She came back to find him pushing helplessly at the monitor and claiming that the desktop was broken. And she realized that he didn't know how to use a mouse. Imagine how old that made us feel.]


I've had an subscription for ages, and not too long ago they added a feature where you can listen/download a whole bunch of titles for free. 

Well, as you can no doubt imagine, the quality of the offerings is all over the place. 

I'm sure the overlords at Audible (a subsidiary of, if you didn't know) have figured out a way to CAPITALISM this new benefit of membership into untold wealth, because that's what they do. 

Meanwhile, I'm downloading and listening to every single diet/health/longevity title they're offering, no matter how crappy, so pardon me while I try to organize my so-called thoughts, because Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise

is telling me that my protein smoothie contains too much fruit sugar

while Mark Hyman, M.D., author of Young Forever

is assuring me that the phytonutrients in the blueberries and the whey protein are going to make me live forever.

The cacophony is unbearable!

Be quiet, you two. MOMMY IS BLOGGING. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Sample Saturday: Thomas Kosmala and Charlotte Tilbury

First a followup to my most recent Sample Saturday post: I still like the Acqua di Parma Magnolia fragrance, but I have so many florals in my perfume hoard collection that I will not be asking the Easter Bunny to put a bottle in my basket.

The Aesop Geranium Leaf body wash has been demoted to lingerie detergent. I'm sure it means well, but it's just not exciting enough to get naked with.

And the next time I buy hair products--which might be in, say, two minutes (checks watch) I am definitely going to pop for a tube of R+Co’s Park Avenue Blowout Balm. Because that stuff is GOOD.

Now for this week’s samples:

Thomas Kosmala  Numero 4 Après l’Amour

This is a unisex fragrance that skews more masculine simply because of the heavy load of warm, animalic ambroxan. Ambroxan was developed in the 1950s as a chemical substitute for ambergris. (I know this not because I am any kind of perfume expert, but because I lurk on perfume boards absorbing their arcane knowledge and over-the-top descriptive language. It's like going to a wine-tasting and eavesdropping on the experts.)

At any rate, believe me when I tell you that animalic notes like civet, musk, and Ambroxan can be quite overpowering, although in discrete doses, they give a skin-like characteristic to a fragrance. If you've ever worn Kiehl's or Bonne Bell's musk, you'll know what I mean.

Mind you, the notes on the Thomas Kosmala website don't mention Ambroxan:

But I think they're just being tricky.

A tiny bit of Apres l'Amour has a wonderful cuddliness that makes me think of snuggling next to the embers of a wood fire. But I could see how it would be easy to overdo it.

And anyway, when I want to wear a unisex fragrance—which isn’t all that often—I prefer something more citrus-y with maybe just a wisp of musk. 

But when it comes to fragrance, my preferences are more girly, anyway. My "aesthetic," as the kids say, is more Dark Academia, as in

Not me

but I prefer to pair androgynous clothes a floral fragrance and a full face of Spackle.

Charlotte Tilbury “ Walk of No Shame” lipstick

OK, I had to try this one, because it was such an adorable mini lipstick. It brought back memories of my friends' moms' Avon lipstick samples.

I should mention that I was definitely biased against this lipstick, because Charlotte Tilbury and her gang of Disco glamazons took over my YouTube feed a while ago and will not shut up about her latest blusher or highlighter or whatever it is. 

Also, her packaging is this gold-colored tat that is trying to look like metal but is actually plastic. Don't let the beautiful photography fool you.

In case you can't tell, I'm not really a fan.

The lipstick was good, though. I tend to break out into a cold sweat when a lipstick touts itself as "matte," because I have distressing memories of spending a week babying my lips with ridiculously expensive lip balm to make up for the damage done them by a ridiculously expensive transfer-proof lipstick. But this formula isn't as drying as I had feared. 

However, it isn't transfer proof at all. It will come off on anything to hand: coffee cups, tissues, men--whatever.

It lasts a good while, but wears off unevenly, and reapplying requires attention and a mirror. 

The "Walk of No Shame" shade is a bit too brownish on me--definitely not the "berry rose" it is called on the website—but maybe it will be a fun 1990s throwback. 

Remember Elisha Dushku as Faith in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Again, not me

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Disappointments and retaliatory splurges

Let's get the bad news over with first. 

Yesterday, I visited the Ulta website to buy the Erborian B.B. Creme that was going to be half-price during their 21 Days of Beauty event, and every single shade was sold out.

I guess that's what I get for touting the sale to my thousands dozens of followers.

And while we're talking about disappointments, I'll mention that all my St. Patrick's Month™ merch showed up, and it's ... pretty meh. 


The t-shirt is OK; the cotton feels like good quality, and the color is every bit as saturated as it looks. However, the v-neck is so low that I risk showing cleavage, which is not my aim. My aim is to keep the balcony covered and as minimized as possible. 

The blouses do a decent job of covering the balcony, although the short-sleeved one 

is just a tiny bit skimpy as to interlinings (or whatever you call that bit under the buttons) so it has a bit of a gap right at the largest part of the bust line.

They obviously spent money on all those tucks and ruffles, not to mention the covered buttons. But they seem to have skimped on fabric. For the money, I don't expect miracles, but I feel a certain amount of resentment, nonetheless. 

My Generation Z daughter would be astounded that I could spend $69 on a blouse and think "Eh, you get what you pay for." As for as she's concerned, that's an insane amount to spend on a single shirt. After all, for the same sum, she could emerge from Forever 21 with an entire outfit. But I am old and factoring in for inflation, spent more than that on blouses way back in the stone age. 

On the bright side, since it's still chilly in Chicago, and no one is writing sonnets in praise of my upper arms, I'm planning to wear it under a sweater. 

But let's stop wallowing in the past, shall we? 

What I bought today

A savvy Redditor in /MUAontheCheap pointed me in the direction of a flash sale at Macy's, where stuff is going for half price. Some of the offerings seems to be inspired by Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty promotion, and some seem to me to be the randomest of the random, but if you're in the market for Lancome foundation or Cacherel fragrances, or have a Pokémon-esque "gotta catch 'em all" outlook as regards the fragrance output of Paris Hilton or Christian Siriano, there are 17 pages of bargains to check out. 

I fell for the following:

1) The Nam Vo Glow set

An alleged $178 value for $34.50

Have I heard of Nam Vo? No. But I'm always interested in teeny-tiny versions of stuff I already use for my travel bag, so that Good Genes caught my eye. The Elemis Cleansing Balm also looks like it would fit into a travel kit. The other stuff is just for fun. (That's a full-sized Benefit highlighter to give you a sense of the scale.)

2. The leftover Christmas Clinique lipstick set

A supposedly $110 value for $15

Come ON. Five lipsticks for $15? SOLD.

3. Boscia's faux Baby Foot fruit acid foot peeling kit.

Ordinarily $18, today only $10.80

Remember when the Baby Foot peeling kit was all over the internet? No? Just me? Well ... I've had a morbid fascination with these things. I mean, doesn't everyone want to know exactly how bad their feet have gotten? 

Again, just me? Well, for $10.80, I figured it was worth a shot. 

Finally, I have no idea what doughty old Caswell Massey is doing in Macy's hanging out with Paris Hilton, but I bought this

4. Almond Shaving Soap

Ordinarily $34.00, today only $20.40

for Mr. Buxom's Easter basket. Because it smells like the most delicious almond macaroons. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Is it too late for some Oscars outfit chitchat?

Being both elderly and out of it, I skipped the Oscars ceremony this year. I haven't seen any of the movies, and anyway, I almost never do live TV. But that doesn't mean I'm not highly invested in the red carpet looks, because of course I am!

First of all, big fan-girl squeeing over Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis winning Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. 

I do think Jamie Lee could have used a darker lipstick. And not quite such a smoky eye. 

But how adorable are they?

And now, the Oscars a la Poppy.

1. For the best marketing of a live remake of a Disney animated classic, the winner is Halle Bailey


2. For the best reminder that not so long ago, she played an over-the-top contract-killer-hiring jealous wife in House of Gucci, the winner is: Lady Gaga

Watch out for that waist. It could cut you.

3. For the best outfit by a guy you just know has a portrait in the attic getting creepy and wrinkly: Lenny Kravitz

Seriously. Dude doesn't age.

4. For the most jaw-dropping reminder that before she was an actress, she was a model, the award goes to: Cara Delevingne

5. For the best example of classic Hollywood glamor: Angela Bassett

I hope looking like a goddess is some consolation for not bringing home an award

6. And finally, for Best Legs: Nicole Kidman

Not her most iconic look, but she always does extremely well

Because if I had legs like that, I'd have shown up in shorts. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The one thing I'm buying from Ulta's 21 Day sale, which starts today

Lisa Carnochan of Privilege posted recently about shouting out other bloggers, old skool style, so let me commence today's drivel with some shout outs.

I'd like to call your attention to Sheila of Ephemera, who posts her amazing OOTD with tons of pictures and details. Highland Fashionista, a more recent discovery of mine, is a gifted writer who loves vintage clothes and grew out her gray hair ages before Covid--proving that you can love vintage fashion, yet be a trendsetter.

And of course there is my beloved Faux Fuchsia, no longer actively blogging, but a wonderful humorist with a way with words and a unique aesthetic* so check out her instagram here, and send her my love.

Right! Are you ready to be bullied into spending money?

Ulta's 21 Day Sale

I'll interrupt myself immediately to admit that I have always been aware of Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty Events, since even the dullest of us will notice large colorful brochures arriving in the mail every other day. However, being organizationally challenged, I never marked my calendars or shopped wisely or did anything fiscally sound like that.

And yet in these inflationary times, it seems only sensible to take advantage of a sale that will net you great stuff for half price

Unfortunately, Ulta has not seen fit to stuff another colorful catalog into my mail slot, so rather than deal with their website (which is inelegant, and I'm being charitable when I say that) I headed over to Temptalia (speaking of shoutouts) where the whole schedule is laid out with links.  (They are affiliate links, but I don't begrudge Christina a kickback. She's doing the lord's work.)

So be sure to check out the offerings, because whether you're a fan of Mac's Paint Pots or Crepe Erase Neck Repair, if you buy it on the right day, you can snag it at half price. 

So far, the only thing I'm planning to buy is

Erborian BB Creme Au Ginseng

As documented on this blog, I have been using Dr. Jart+'s BB Creme for ten years. Needless to say, I was perfectly satisfied with it. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. 

One day a couple of weeks ago, about the same time that I was wrestling the last few sad pumps out of my last tube of Dr. Jart+, I came across a review of the Erborian BB Creme. I had never heard anything about this company, but this invisible internet expert convinced me to give it a try. It was available on Amazon and came in two sizes and four shades; I opted for the small travel sized tube in "Clair," which I believe is French for "library paste."  

When it arrived, I was astonished at how small the tube was. It was about the size of a Juicy Tubes lip gloss. And for $25--what???

But people, when I tried this, I actually emitted the iconic gasp made famous by YouTube beauty gurus. The shade blended seamlessly into my skin; my freckles and blotchy areas were erased; my undereye circles and eyelid discoloration were both toned down. In addition, the finish was perfect: neither overly dewy nor overly matte. They claim that you are left with a "'baby skin' effect," and that pretty much sums it up.

So yes: I am marking my calendar for March 15th, when the large size goes on sale for half off.

I'll do my best not to buy the Flawless Beauty Fridge, though.

* I would describe it thus: If Bertie Wooster were an adorable blonde Australian woman, and Jeeves stopped being a control freak and let her Have Her Way with color.

Friday, March 10, 2023

What I bought today, or, the wearing of more green

In my ongoing project of making life in these Great Lakes states more enjoyable, I've decided to be 100 percent Irish during the month of March. This may be considered cultural appropriation, but allow me to inform you that my mother's last name is Irish. 

OK, sure, it's the surname of an ancestor who emigrated to Virginia in the 17th century, so at this point, I am maybe two or four percent Irish. Actually, according to, even less. But it's March, and I say it's time for the WEARING OF THE GREEN.

You see, I reasoned that people have a tendency to wear Christmas-friendly gear during the entire month of December. The day after (American) Thanksgiving, out come the ugly Christmas sweaters. For the jolly, organized people to wear, no doubt, while they are putting the lights up in your yard, while some slackers I could mention are still procrastinating. 

Anyway, over the years, I have amassed an astonishing amount of clothing that would qualify as Christmas-y in nature, from bright red dresses to the Black Watch plaid puffer vest I just bought. I even have some stuff I pretty much only wear around Halloween.

Why did I neglect St. Patrick's Month™ for so long? For the longest time, the only green in my wardrobe was a few eyeshadows and the border of a vintage Hermes scarf. When my kids started bugging me about wearing green for St. Patrick's Day, I'd haul out the scarf and wear something plaid with some green it and tell them that was quite enough of that, thank you. 

But at some point during the pandemic, I went a little crazy buying jackets from Zara, and purchased an emerald green tweedy number that I finally got around to wearing last Sunday. And all of a sudden, people were saying "Éirinn go Brách!" and I had a Road to Damascus moment. Eureka! Voila! It's time to GO GREEN! 

But with what? Some scrounging yielded only two pairs of ankle socks (although one pair has shamrocks!) 

But two pairs of socks and a jacket is paltry number of items to eke out during the entire month of March, which, if you hadn't noticed, I have declared to be St. Patrick's Month™. 

What to do? Unfortunately, a Bottega Veneta padded cassette bag in Parakeet was not in the budget

Available here for $4,500


 So I went over to Macy's and ordered three shirts:

Cece pintucked ruffled polyester blouse, $69

Charter Club cotton t-shirt, currently on sale for $19.99

Cece polyester button-up bow blouse, now on sale for $41.40

And then, adding these stunning Boston Bruins socks to my already existing selection of green cotton ankle socks, 

Polyester/cotton Boston Bruins (why didn't I get the Celtics, duh) socks, $19.99

I believe I am covered for all of the occasions likely to occur during St. Patrick's Month™.

Except for formal occasions, of course, where I suppose I'll just break out an emerald tiara.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

How Dry I Am, Part Deux

If I were a French chef, I'd have a batterie de cuisine. Instead, I am an aging housewife, and I have a batterie de moisturizers

This is because in the Great Lakes region of the United States
Our motto, and don't you coastal elites forget it!

the temperature is variable, as is the humidity. Maddeningly so, if I may say so. So from day to day, my needs change. 
When I woke up this morning, my face felt so dry that the first thing I did was put on some Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. Mind you, I'm not in love with it or anything. I never actually buy it; it's just that there is some in every Clinique GWP, so I always seem to have some around. It's like the jar of capers in my refrigerator: never purchased, yet eternally present.

But let's talk about my current favorites, starting with bare skin. What's my latest regimen? Well, starting with the bottom layer:

The first serum--Vitamin C

This goes on first, morning and night. Vitamin C fades freckles, sun spots, and post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation (i.e., the red marks you're left with after you've had a pimple.) This formula contains hyaluronic acid, which is a humectant, so it pulls in any subsequently-applied moisturizer and holds it close, helping to plump up the skin. 

Cosmetic Skin Solutions Supreme Serum CE
1 oz. / 30 ml | $39.95

I also really like the texture; it's slightly thicker than the Vitamin C serums I used to use. They were essentially water plus ascorbic acid plus Vitamin E as a preservative, and were runny, and to be honest, not very cosmetically elegant. This stuff is less runny and easier to apply. And it feels so moisturizing that I sometimes forget that I haven't applied my moisturizer yet. 

Second serum

Currently on sale at Cult Beauty for $23.29/2.70 oz/80 ml. Run, don't walk!

After the Vitamin C serum has had a chance to soak in, I add a few pumps of Innisfree green tea serum. It doesn't have any active ingredients to speak of; it's just soothing moisture. And again, it has a nice consistency--not too watery.

Moisturizer with Sunscreen

During the day, Murad's Vitamin C moisturizer is wonderful. It's very silky and moisturizing while feeling light and comfortable on the skin. It works well under makeup, with no white cast, and it doesn't seem to clog my pores.
There's no horrible sunscreen smell--actually, it has a faint fresh citrus scent. Mind you, I don't run away screaming when a moisturizer contains fragrance, especially masking fragrance. I want my little grooming tasks to feel pleasurable, not like painting Killz over the mildew stains on a bathroom ceiling.

Murad Essential C Day Moisture SPF 30 $68.00/1.7 oz

I've found plenty of high SPF sunscreens at the drugstore for really sunny conditions, like the beach or the pool, but I've never found anything with a texture and fragrance that satisfies me for everyday wear under makeup. If you have dry skin and have found a brilliant drugstore moisturizer with an SPF of 30, let me know.

Moisturizer without Sunscreen

Here I really play the field, because let's face it; it's crowded. 

I really like the Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb and their Moisturizing Bomb, but they're expensive.
Thirty-eight dollars is a lot to pay for 1.67 oz/50 ml of cream.
Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentré is rich and elegant (and makes me feel rich and elegant when I apply it, because it's FRAWNSH.
Available here $29.00/2.54 oz


I also really like Sunday Riley's Good Genes to wear under makeup in the evening or to bed (since it's an AHA I try not to wear it during the day.)

I like it so much I pop for the jumbo size, $122.00/1.7 oz

I've been using it for years, and nothing can touch it for skin plumping/smoothing. I wish that weren't true, because Sunday Riley products are stupid expensive.

Top Coat

Just kidding, but it leaves my face almost as shiny as a freshly-manicured fingernail--good old Nivea creme.

$10.49 /13.5 oz/ 382 g

Finally something cheap! And a tin lasts forever and ever.