Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fun in the Sun

Have a wonderful, fun-filled, & safe Memorial Day weekend, everyone!! Don't forget to wear sunscreen!!

And a special thanks to all of our fallen soldiers - may we never forget that they made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in a country that offers us so many freedoms.

In 1915, John McCrae wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields" - this poem is why poppies are associated with veterans and Memorial Day. You can read more about the poem and Dr. McCrae's experience in WWI on the Arlington National Cemetery website. You can go here to read more about how poppies became the sign of remembrance for veterans & why the money collected from the sale of poppies goes to benefit various veteran programs.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Spell Cosmetics update...

Friday, May 28, 2010

As you may remember, I posted awhile back about the makeover I received from Elle at Spell Cosmetics - I included pictures and talked about the products I purchased. I was very pleased with everything. I even mentioned how the foundation was not a matching color, and I received a response telling me that they would send out a different color, as well as samples of a third color, free of charge - and that I didn't need to send the other foundation back. Great, huh?

On April 26, I placed another order with Spell, taking advantage of their buy 5 eyeshadows, get 5 free (or 10 eyeshadows for $30) offer, as well as ordering some other products. I was really excited!

On April 30, I received an email stating that my order had shipped. My previous order took about 4 days to arrive - the order ships from Cleveland, OH and I'm about 500 miles from there, and 4 days is average for first-class mail.

After 2 weeks, I still didn't have my package, so I emailed Spell customer service. After several days, I still hadn't received a response, so I attempted to contact them again. It took a few more days, but eventually I received an email saying that they were sorry - they would check into my order and get back with me in about an hour.

Three days later, I still hadn't heard anything. I emailed them again - this time stating that I was no longer interested in doing business with them. I didn't want the products, I just wanted a refund. I told them that I completely understand that packages get lost, and that wasn't the issue. The issue was the lack of response from customer service. I told them that I hoped it wouldn't take another 3-4 weeks to get the refund.

Get this - it took another 4 days to get a response!! I was informed that a refund would be issued later that day. I wasn't holding my breath, but I hoped it was true.

Bad news. It wasn't. It took an additional 3 days to get the refund - and even then, I just "found" it in my Paypal account - they didn't even have the decency to email me about it.

I can't even begin to tell you how disappointing it was to encounter these issues. I have never, ever dealt with a company that was so unresponsive - especially concerning a missing order. Why would a company take so long to respond to a customer's concerns? I'm still shaking my head. Oh - and I never did get a replacement (and samples) for the original foundation either.

So it is with much regret that I say that despite the fact that I like their products, I can no longer recommend doing business with Spell Cosmetics.

Dealing with loss...

I've learned a lot of things over the past almost-49 years - but one of the most profound, surprising, enlightening revelations concerns loss.

I was lucky enough to not lose anyone really close to me until I was 37 years old. But when that loss occurred, it was devastating - even crippling. I wasn't sure how to go on - how to make a life without this person in it. How do you deal with your grief, your family's grief, and still go on with the everyday things that have to be done - especially if you have young children? No one prepares you for this. And this is the most important part - this is what I learned: no one truly understands the grief of losing a loved one until they have experienced it themselves. Of that I am positively sure. You think you do - and you will swear that you do - but all you feel is sympathy, not empathy. And I am embarrassed, even horrified, by the platitudes and meaningless drivel that I offered to people before I understood. Even though my words were offered in total sincerity and with the best of intentions - they were hogwash.

My grandparents were like my parents. They raised me - they loved me - I never had to wonder about their feelings towards me. My Grammy was my best friend. Even though we didn't see things eye-to-eye, we were very much alike, and we loved each other fiercely. When I lost her, my world was irrevocably changed. The sense of pain and loss was overwhelming. People meant well, but I thought I would punch the next person who told me that she was in a better place - or at least she wasn't suffering anymore - or time would heal my pain. I didn't give a rat's ass about any of that. She was gone and I was hurting and I just wanted her back.


My grief was so intense that I dreamed about her nightly. I dreamed that she was still alive - I dreamed that she died, but she wasn't really dead, and she came back to life - I dreamed that over and over and over until I got to the point that I no longer "knew" what was reality. Yes, I functioned at home and at work - but I only went through the motions. My mind was just a cloud of funk. I couldn't recall the details of anything leading up to or after her death. My grandfather's grief overwhelmed me to the point where I felt like I was suffocating when I was around him. I had to force myself to visit his house - the one place that I always called "home".

In hindsight, I think I suffered from panic attacks. I wasn't depressed - I was suffering from intense grief. That's the only way I can describe it. I wasn't sitting around moping or withdrawing from life - I didn't have any thoughts of hurting myself - but the pain and the grief were just horrific. It's been almost 12 years since she died, and my logical mind knows that her death was unexpected and that she died in her sleep - but there is still a part of my mind that gets confused because of the dreams. The pain is manageable now - but it's like a little pilot light that never goes out - it's always in the background, waiting to burst into a roaring fire at the oddest times.

I still have a difficult time visiting their home/property. (My grandfather died in 2005 - but that's another story.) Gus & I own it now, but we rarely visit. I have no pictures of them displayed in my home because I can't bear to look at them. Whenever I have to shop for Mother's Day cards, I have a difficult time making it out of the store without crying. I watched videotapes of them once, but I sobbed through the entire thing, so I had to put those away, too.

Have I dealt with the loss? I think so. I'm "normal" and happy 95+% of the time. I don't dwell on my loss. Does it still hurt? Absolutely. Is the pain less than it was? No, not really. The pain is still just as intense, but I guess I've learned to compartmentalize it. There is one "saying" that is true - life goes on. What you do with that life is up to you.

I'm not sure why I wrote this. I started out with the intention of writing something completely different, but it evolved into this & I decided to just go with it. Maybe there is someone out there who needs to read it - to know that what they're experiencing isn't abnormal. I wish I had known that. Maybe I needed to write it as the next step in dealing a little more with my own grief. Maybe I'm hoping that people will stop and think about the things that they say to those who have just lost a loved one. Whatever the reason, bear with me - I promise not to be maudlin forever. :-)

I remember asking my Grammy once why she didn't have any pictures of her mother displayed in the house - and she said, "Because it hurts too much to look at her everyday". At the time, I didn't understand. I thought if you loved someone, you'd want to have their picture where you could always see it. After all, I had pictures of her and my grandfather all over my house. That was then. This is now. Now, I understand.

Spring cleaning & giving back...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everyone is spring cleaning now, so it's a good time to box up the things you no longer use and make a donation (possibly tax-deductible) to those in need. We make regular trips to Goodwill to donate things that we no longer use/need, but that still have a lot of life left in them. I hate to throw things away - especially if it's something that someone else could put to good use.

I was reading the June issue of All You and came across an article that listed places to donate specific items.

Books - at booksforsoldiers.com you can find out how to donate books to a soldier or whole unit. Boxes are free from the USPS and shipping is a flat $8.10 fee. You do need to fill out a notarized application in order to provide more security for the troops.

Bras - at support1000.blogspot.com you can learn how to donate gently used bras to low-income women. As of April 21, they had far surpassed their initial goal of 100 bras - they had collected & distributed over 5000 bras! They are an official non-profit organization now, and they are still accepting donations of bras or money.

Cell phones - every time you send a cell phone to shelteralliance.org to be recycled, they earn up to $30 to benefit domestic violence shelters. You can print a free shipping label on their site.

Eyeglasses - take used lenses to any Pearle Vision or Lenscrafters store and they will donate them to Onesight - which recycles them for the needy.

Suits, clothes, accessories - dressforsuccess.org accepts donations of work clothing/accessories to help dress low-income women for job interviews.

Shoes - I've mentioned this group in the past - soles4souls.org - they have local drop-offs, so you can check their site for a drop-off near you.

And don't forget your local charities: womens' shelters, churches, hospitals (toys), soup kitchens (silverware), and schools or libraries (books). You can always call to ask their specific needs.

Another easy way to go green!

You know I really believe in trying to be as green as possible - if you doubt that, just ask Gus, LOL. He gets a little aggravated with me at times, but he's usually pretty good-natured about it. I think he figures it's just easier to go along with me than it is to argue.  :-)

Anyway, Paper Mate now offers biodegradable pens and mechanical pencils. You need to disassemble them before discarding, because some parts must still be disposed of in the garbage - but the rest of the pen/pencil can be placed in the soil or a home compost heap. These pieces will biodegrade completely in about a year.

Paper Mate also offers other green products:

 Earth Write pencils - made from 100% recycled wood!

Do you know the difference between biodegradable, renewable, recycled, and recyclable?
  • biodegradable materials return to nature
  • renewable materials are derived from replenishable resources
  • recycled materials are made from discarded items or supplies
  • recyclable materials can be reused instead of discarded  
You buy pens and pencils anyway, right? Might as well buy ones made from recycled materials and/or that are biodegradable! 

Sephora's Best in Bronze 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've been playing around with my latest Sephora goodies - the Best in Bronze Deluxe Sampler - and thought I'd share my thoughts (and pictures and swatches!). I love these sampler kits that Sephora puts together. I've been able to try a lot of products that I otherwise would pass on - and in the process, have found some new favorites.

This sampler contained 10 products, valued at $113, for just $39.
  • 0.39 oz Korres Monoi Oil Bronzing Powder in Sunglow Light
  • 0.02 oz Bare Escentuals bareMinerals All Over Face Color in Faux Tan
  • 0.08 oz Too Faced Pink Leopard Bronzing Powder
  • 0.09 oz Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow Liner in Bronze
  • 0.04 oz Lorac Tantalizer Baked Bronzer in Golden Bronze
  • 0.2 oz Smashbox Artificial Light Illuminating Lotion in Glow
  • 0.09 oz Benefit High Beam
  • 0.17 oz Josie Maran Bronzing Argan Oil
  • 0.16 oz Sephora Collection Nail Polish in Bright Red
  • 0.08 oz Temptu Retouch Highlighter in Gold
0.39 oz Korres Monoi Oil Bronzing Powder in Sunglow Light - this is a full-size product ($28); it has a nice consistency - very creamy, but it's a powder. I like the color, too - it's a believable bronze; not orange, and not shimmery.

0.02 oz Bare Escentuals bareMinerals All Over Face Color in Faux Tan - this is just a sample size (a full-size jar is 0.07 oz. for $18); I'm not a fan of BE products, so other than swatching this on my arm, I haven't used it yet.

0.08 oz Too Faced Pink Leopard Bronzing Powder - I'm pretty sure that this is the mini-size (which is out of stock at Sephora - $12.50); there is also a full-size product available for $28. This is something I've been wanting to try since last summer and I'm so glad it was in this kit! I love it! The color is simply gorgeous. It definitely has shimmer to it, so you have to use it sparingly, but it is soooo pretty!

0.09 oz Tarte EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow Liner in Bronze - I hadn't heard of this product, but I love it!! I believe it's a full-size product, with the only difference being that this one didn't come with a brush and the regular product does ($22). I love the color, the consistency, and the way it lasts all day.

0.04 oz Lorac Tantalizer Baked Bronzer in Golden Bronze - this is a sample-sized product; the full-sized product is available from Sephora for $32. I didn't expect to like this product because it appears to be very shimmery. However, it's really quite wearable. I just use a soft, fluffy brush to apply, and hit the spots the sun would hit.

0.2 oz Smashbox Artificial Light Illuminating Lotion in Glow - this is a sample-sized product; the full-sized product is available from Sephora for $24. It's super shimmery on it's own, but as I understand it, you're supposed to add a bit of this to your foundation. I haven't tried that yet, but I think it could work well.

0.09 oz Benefit High Beam - this is another sample-sized product; the full-sized product is available from Sephora for $24. I think this is one sample that will last a long time - it just takes a bit of this product to add a really pretty shimmer. I don't like a lot of shimmer on my cheeks, so I'm using this as a highlighter under my brows, and also on the inside corners of my eyes.

0.17 oz Josie Maran Bronzing Argan Oil - another sample-sized product; the full-size product is available from Sephora for $52. I know everyone is hot over argan oil right now (and I use it in my hair), but I'm not so sure I like this product. I don't like a greasy/oily feeling on my skin - especially in the summer. So I haven't quite decided how I'm going to use this product.

0.16 oz Sephora Collection Nail Polish in Bright Red - I haven't used this yet, but it's a really wearable shade of red. It appears to be the same size as the other Sephora polishes, but I can't find this color on the site. I don't think I've used Sephora polish before, so I'm not sure how well it applies, dries, or wears.

0.08 oz Temptu Retouch Highlighter in Gold - definitely a sample-size; the regular size is 0.63 oz. for $40. Really sparkly/shimmery gold - not sure what I will use this for - but definitely not on my face, LOL!

You can see all of the swatches here.

$39 was a great deal for all of these products - especially because I will use most of them! So if you're looking for some fun summer products to try - check this kit out!

Laura Mercier Body Bronzing Makeup

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another bronzer review! I read the reviews for Laura Mercier's Body Bronzing Makeup on Sephora and they were all pretty positive - people loving the scent, the color, and saying that it was water-resistant. The water-resistant part is what prompted me to order it - even though it was a little pricey at $38 for 5 oz.

I was anxious to try it as soon as it arrived, so I rubbed a bit on the back of one hand. My initial reaction was that it had a lot of pearlescent sheen - and the scent was not pleasant as so many people had said. It reminded me of a heavily perfumed soap - not "lightly scented with almond coconut milk" as the description stated.

But I wanted to give it a fair shot, so the next day, I applied it to my arms, legs, hands, & feet. The consistency was very nice - it was easy to apply and it absorbed/dried quickly. I still felt it was heavily scented - and that the scent didn't resemble anything almond or coconut or milk. Strike one.

The color was okay - it really didn't add a lot of color to my existing light tan - but it did boost it a little. There definitely is a good amount of pearlescent sheen to the product - almost too much so, in my opinion. I like a little glow, but I don't want to look like I'm literally glowing, LOL. Strike two.

The third test was for water-resistance. I was excited about this part because it's so difficult to find a bronzer that has water-resistance. I ran water over my hands (no soap, no rubbing), and a drop splashed on my upper arm. I blotted the spot with a paper towel and saw that there was a white spot where the water had been. Grrrr!

You can't see it very well in the picture, but the white spot was really obvious!

Then I blotted my hands dry - only to find that all of the bronzer was off them, too. I really don't know how anyone could say that the product was even remotely water-resistant. Strike three.

I really wanted to like it, but I can't justify paying $38 for a product that has no staying power.

To summarize:
  • nice color, even though it's light
  • easy to apply
  • absorbs/dries quickly
  • heavy, unpleasant fragrance
  • too much golden sheen
  • absolutely no water-resistance
NO! I'm not even keeping this bottle - it's going back to Sephora.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

I know it's not Wednesday, but I have to say "WTF?" anyway.

Those of you who know me have probably heard me lament the lack of clothing available for women who are "busty but not plus-sized". Argh. It's the bane of my existence. Well, that and the fact that all of the petite styles seem to cater to those who qualify for senior-citizen discounts. I don't care if the pants are the right length, I'm not wearing an elastic waist and polyester.

I came across an online store that caters to "fitting the full bust". That line caught my attention right away. Plastered across the home page of the site was "fit your bustline, flatter your waistline" - yay! Just what I was looking for! So I started checking out their site...


There's this wrap shirt...I'm not loving it. Actually, I don't even remotely like it. And it's $80. I'd pay $80 for a shirt that fit well - if I really liked it. I don't like this.

Diana Wrap Shirt $80 carissarose.com

I looked around some more and found this shirt. Better - I would wear this. $115? For a white blouse?? That's pushing it a little. White blouses always end up with stains. They seem to have a shelf life of about 1-2 years. If I'm going to pay $115 for it, I want it to last longer than that.

Irina Princess Seam Shirt $115 carissarose.com

And then I found this video. If you have 5 minutes, watch it. It's called "What to Wear if You Have Large Breasts".  It should be called "What to Wear if You Have Large Breasts and Yearn to Dress Like a Prison Matron".

WTF is up with that wrap top and "THE DRESS"???? Give me a break. The yellow dress that shows about a half inch of cleavage is "inappropriate"?? The dress that they sell (and recommend for busty women) is one that I would never wear - ever. Well, maybe if I didn't have anything else to wear. No, not even then. I'd wear something of Gus's before I'd wear that. I wouldn't wear anything they showed in the video.

So now my options for "busty" clothing are high-price hooker, slutty streetwalker, or pious matron. Gee, thanks. How dare I have DD's and also desire to dress age-appropriately, yet fashionably.

Even if I didn't have to deal with the boobage, it's still almost impossible to find fashionable, casual clothing that is appropriate for women over 35 who don't work outside the home but also don't want to wear velour jogging suits or appliqued jumpers.

I don't want a long skirt - and I don't want to be worried about flashing my hoo-ha in a too-short skirt. I don't want a turtleneck - and I don't want a shirt that gives a clear shot all the way to my bellybutton when I bend over. I don't want a baggy dress that looks like a muu-muu - and I don't want a dress that's so tight you can see what I ate for lunch. Surely there is some designer out there who recognizes that there is an entire group of women who would be willing to pay good money for clothing somewhere in-between!!

I should start my own line of clothing.

Bronze everyday look

Friday, May 21, 2010

I use this look a lot in the summer because it's quick and easy - plus I like the subtle glow from the bronzer.

Unfortunately, most of the products I used have been discontinued. I think the only items that are still available are the Aromaleigh Glazed blush, Dior lip liner, and the Magnetism gel liner. This is one of the liners that I sell at IFP when I do special orders. There are numerous other sites on the web that also sell it. It should be fairly easy to find "copycats" of the light & medium bronzers, the MAC pigment (I think NYX Walnut pigment is similar), and the nude lippies.

I applied the Aromaleigh Light Bronze bronzer on the lid and also as a highlight under the brow. Next, I used the Aromaleigh Medium Bronze bronzer in the crease and also to line the outer 3/4 of the upper and lower lashline. Then I smudged just a bit of the Magnetism gel liner on the outer 2/3 of the upper and lower lashline - enough to tell it was there, but not enough to give the eye a smokey look. Then to finish, I used eyeliner sealant mixed with the MAC Cocoa Beach pigment to wetline the outer 2/3 of the upper and lower lashline (right over the Magnetism); smudging some additional pigment onto the outer corner before the sealant dried.

For my cheeks, first I dusted the Aromaleigh Medium Bronze bronzer in the shape of a "c" from the side of my forehead to my cheek. Then I mixed just a bit of the Aromaleigh Glazed blush with the bronzer and applied to the apple of my cheek, down the middle of my nose, and on the tip of my chin.

I lined my lips with Christian Dior Linen lip liner, dusted lightly with powder, then applied MAC's Sparks Can Fly lipstick, finishing with a light coat of MAC's Bare Slimshine.

I like to do this look when I'm on vacation, too. It works at the beach, I can apply it more heavily for evening, it goes with most outfits, and I don't have to pack much makeup! I really like sample baggies for traveling!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just a few quick deals to share with you...

Download a free copy of Martha Stewart's Summer Grilling Cookbook! (from Sirius)

Save 30% on one item at Barnes & Noble using code A8U9T9C. (read the fine print here)

Save 25% on all NYX products at Cherry Culture using code NYX25 (valid 5/20 thru 5/25)

Is tan prettier?

Do you find people who are tan more attractive? Do you think they look healthier than their pale counterparts?

If you answered yes to one (or both) of those questions, you're not alone, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In a survey of 7100 women and men nationwide, 80 percent said they have concerns about skin cancer; but 72 percent admitted they still find tanned people more attractive, and 66 percent said they think people with a tan look healthier. (read about the study here)

Personally, I think it depends upon the person. There are different shades of pale. Nicole Kidman has that perfect pale porcelain skin that just seems to glow. To me, she looks just as healthy as a tan and glowing Kate Hudson. But then you have my shade of pale. The pale where you can see all of the blue-green veins. The pale that looks sickly and has a bluish tinge. The pale where people constantly ask you if you're ill. In all honesty, a little bit of color does make me look healthier.

But getting a little bit of color doesn't have to be unhealthy. Go sunless, baby!!

I read this article on Glamour.com - and I was impressed to see that in one of their polls, only 16% of respondents planned to use a tanning bed this summer. Of course, they didn't ask how many planned to tan outside...

More articles from Glamour.com:
Still not wearing sunscreen? Look at these photos!
Fake Tan Take Two

What do you think?

Remember - May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month!! Practice safe sun and protect your skin!!

Meow Cosmetics swatches

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I bought some samples from Meow Cosmetics a couple of weeks ago, and I swatched the eye shadows to share with you. I'm really impressed with the quality of their products and the customer service. So much so that I'm getting ready to place another sample order with them.

I ordered 19 samples in all (you get free shipping for up to 19 samples) - but the only ones I've swatched here are the eye shadows. I will also include the description of the colors from the Meow Cosmetics website. After I did all of the photos, I realized that I forgot to do swatches of one of the Caribbean Escape shadows - Reggae. Oops! Sorry!

The first three are from the Caribbean Escape collection:
uncharted neutral beige/taupe with gold lustre
reggae - metallic bronze with a burnished golden undertone (no swatch)
beach - sophisticated soft fawn with satiny metallic gold finish


The next two are from the IdealEyes collection:
Breakfast at Kitty's purrl - rich and buttery, vintage copper/peach
SophistiCAT purrl - medium/deep golden tan/brown

The next two are from the ScandalEyes "Legal Scandals" collection:
Billie H. - medium mauve
Martha S. - light mauve

And the last two are from the ModernEyes collection:
Cat Call - dusty teal with gold shimmer
Fur Flyin' - rich sultry chocolate/bronze with gold shimmer and subtle greenish undertones

I also swatched them on my arm so you could see how they look when applied to skin. (you can enlarge all of the pictures by clicking on them)

Applied over a primer, these shadows last all day. I like the consistency of them, too. Sample prices are very reasonable - $1.00 for a generous, well-labeled sample. Full-size jars are $10.25 (10gm). I have mixed feelings about the full-size jars. I think the price is reasonable, but it would take me forever to use a 10gm jar. (I have some 10gr jars from Aromaleigh that are around 7-8 years old! They're still not empty!) I like the option of a 5gm jar - that way I can invest in more shades. Maybe that is something they will consider adding in the future.

If you haven't tried Meow Cosmetics, give them a try - they have some lovely products!