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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Put Some Spring in your Hair!

I recently picked up a new beauty tool (new to me anyway) that says it will give those loose, glorious ringlets we see all the Hollywood girls wearing these days:

This curling iron, by Plugged In is supposed to make creating those curls an easy task. I thought I would try it out.

My hair is super-stick straight and fine, so getting it to curl for any length of time is a challenge....

But I gave it a try!

I found it a bit awkward to use. It comes with a little glove you can wear to keep from burning your hands, but I didn't bother with that. The premise is simple, you just wrap your hair around the wand and hold it there for about ten seconds. The key is getting it to hold! My fine hair wants to slip out of even the fanciest of curling irons and flat irons, so this wasn't the easiest method of curling hair in my opinion.

The results weren't bad, I like the soft waves and it does give my hair some much needed volume:

But I'm not sure it's something I'd use every day. In fact, I know it's not! I don't have an inordinate amount of time to mess with my hair (which is why I am contemplating cutting it all off again! Stay tuned...) and I just don't know that I'll use this very often. In short, I think it is a nice little addition to one's beauty arsenal, but not something you should buy if you want it to replace your regular curling iron!

But in the meantime, it's always fun to try something new. Don't be afraid to try different products and tools, you never know- you just might find your next "must have".

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's Day~Get Naked!!

There's nothing like some nudes for Valentine's Day, or any day for that matter. No I don't mean that kind of nude!! I mean these beauties:

These are three of my favorite nude polishes, from RGB, Color Club and Zoya.

Nude colors are great because they not only go with everything, they tend to last a little longer as chips are less noticeable. The three colors I like may seem similar, but they are all different. The RGB polish in "Buff", is very sheer. I like it in lieu of a clear coat (I tend to just slap a clear coat of polish on my nails during the workweek, as I have no patience for chipping, polish removal, etc.) It goes on smooth and dries quickly, but you'll definitely want at least 2-3 coats to make it show much at all. 

The Color Club polish, which is in the fabulous "Mod in Manhattan" shade, is a pure cream color. Not quite white, which means you can use it as a regular polish, or use it for a french manicure if you like. Color Club always has top-notch polishes with minimal chipping.

Zoya is my personal favorite of the three, and often a go-to color. The shade is "Farah" and it is a perfect neutral khaki. It looks very finished, but can easily transcend from dressy to casual:

So get in the mood for nude this Valentine's Day. Wishing you a day full of hearts, love and chocolate-oh yes, always chocolate!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Blank Slate...

We are officially two weeks into the New Year, and what have you done so far? Me? Seems like a whole lot of nothing. Normally, New Year's is my favorite holiday. A fresh clean slate, like a blanket of winter snow across my life, making everything new again and bringing clarity, hope and determination. This year, well this year just seemed to get off to a rough start.

Christmas seemed especially hectic, with a full-time job and two part-time gigs, a teenager to shuttle around (no he's not old enough to drive yet!) and a household to run. In retrospect, I don't think it was any more hectic than usual, but for some reason this year it bothered me a LOT more. I've been dealing with random bouts of free-floating anxiety, magnified by lack of sleep and stress. Christmas, work, family, etc. all felt overwhelming this year as opposed to joyful holiday happy fun time. And that stress spilled over into my favorite time of year, making my usually lovely New Year feel old and tired. Rather than a fresh blanket of snow, it was like a bad April melt with dirt and slowly defrosting dog crap. I made my usual resolutions list, did my normal reflection and re-evaluation of my life. But it didn't feel good. It didn't feel real.

The other night I was driving home from work, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. Bumper stickers here usually scream out some kind of crazed political message that I don't care about, or a pun that is only half-funny the first time (Visualize Whirled Peas...). This bumper sticker, however, said something that immediately hit home for me:

Remember who you wanted to be.

When you were five, who did you want to be? I know I wanted to be a singer, dancer, artist, writer, saver of lost dogs, lost children and pretty much world famous. I wanted to make a difference, leave my mark, change things. Maybe not in a way my five year old brain could imagine, but I knew I wanted something. Even at five, I felt a strong desire to do something, be something, find something.

As I was driving, all these thoughts filled my head. Who I wanted to be, who I have become. Understanding that I am still growing, changing, never stagnant. Trying to figure out my place in this world, even though I've been occupying space here for nearly half a decade. Realizing that my biggest problem was an inability to get out of my own way, stilling the fearful voices in my head and letting my drive and determination take me to the pinnacle of who I wanted to be.

There's a book I read, and sometimes still read again, called "The War of Art". It talks about Resistance. Resistance is that voice in your head that says "you can't" or "I don't have time" or "If only..." Most artists will tell you that the voice of Resistance is one of the most difficult to shout down. But shout it down you must. If you want to see your dreams realized, see the person you wanted to be become the person you are, you have to fight past all the procrastination, all the daily nonsense and drama, all the things that tell you NO. You have to fight past it, and tell yourself YES.

So now, as we hit the 15 day mark of 2014, my New Year vibe is finally starting to pick up. I'm finding my stride and my flow, reassessing my goals and ideas for this year. I reviewed the half-hearted resolutions I wrote down during my dark December, and saw that most of them come down to the concept that hit me when I saw that bumper sticker.

Get out of your own way, and remember who you wanted to be.

Make 2014 the year for YOU. Whatever it is you want, find it, grab it, get it. Don't just remember who you wanted to be. BE that person. It's all on you. And you can do it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Staring down that barrel...

Like any responsible woman over 40, I go in every year for a mammogram. Usually its a quick "boob squish" and I'm outta there. A couple years ago, they said they couldn't get a good read and needed to conduct an ultrasound. A little scary, but again was just a blip and all was well. I have dense breasts (which I don't understand, I'm barely a B cup!) and I am prone to cysts, so I go in for my mammogram prepared for the possibility of a "do-over".

This year, I was being flaky about going in. I simply did not feel like taking the time. I wondered about skipping a year. There is no history of breast cancer in my immediate family and I am considered fairly low-risk (although as we all know, there's really no such thing as low-risk when it comes to cancer.) I finally made the appointment, and was in and out in less than an hour. Voila! Easy, I thought.

A day later, I got a call from the imaging center. There was a questionable mass in my right breast and they wanted to do another mammogram. Other than being mildly irritated at having to go back, I wasn't overly concerned. I'd been down that road before, me and my dense breasts.

I went back in and got another, more intensive mammogram. Went home, thinking "okay NOW I'm done for the year with that nonsense." Got a call a day later. They were very concerned about the mass. They wanted me to come in and have an ultrasound, aspiration of the mass, and possible biopsy. They wanted me to come in as soon as possible, no procrastinating.

Things in my very overactive imagination suddenly got very real. Strangely enough, my first thought was "Why did I drink all those diet cokes over the years?! Goddamned artificial sweetener!"

Then I thought about my family. My children- a son who is still very young in many ways. A daughter, who for a myriad of reasons, has chosen not to allow me to be involved in her life right now. My brother whom I haven't spoken to in a long time and I miss every day, my other brother whose wife is due to have a baby practically any minute, my mom, my dad, and of course, B, the love of my life. I thought about all the people I care about that I've lost touch with. I thought about silly grudges, resentments and hurt feelings. I thought about the things I haven't done, the places I haven't seen, the people I haven't hugged, the unfinished work I still have on this planet. I couldn't imagine my son growing up without me there to see it. I couldn't fathom the idea of ME, a unique individual, not being in existence anymore. Suddenly, my own mortality was right there in my face. 

I met B at the hospital a couple days later for the ultrasound and aspiration (the doctor takes a thin needle and tries to drain the mass. If it drains, its all good. If it doesn't we move on to the next step). Thank God for this man, who would never let me go through this alone.

I sat in my car for a few minutes before I went in. And I whispered to myself something I often say when I am getting ready to do something new or risky. I whispered, "Do you feel lucky?" and then I gave my own response, my pat response whenever B asks if I'm feeling lucky. "I always feel lucky." I wasn't going to allow myself to consider that my endless luck might have started to run out.

The procedure was simple and painless. We chatted with the ultrasound technician and radiologist. They numbed my right breast and I closed my eyes. I focused on my breathing (thank you, yoga) and managed to put myself in a surreal, meditative state. It only took a few minutes, but felt like hours. Everyone else in the room was looking at the ultrasound screen. I heard a collective sigh and the doctor said "Oh there we go" as she inserted the needle and watched the mass drain away and disappear. A cyst, nothing more.

I had to lay on the table for about 15 minutes afterwards, making the phrase "sick with relief" a reality. I felt incredibly nauseous and incredibly, incredibly lucky. My head and heart filled up with gratitude, spilling out my eyes in a rush of tears. I thought of all the people in the world who had to deal with a different diagnosis, and I wondered at their strength and fortitude in the face of such a frightening moment.

It was just a cyst. And yet it changed my perspective and gave me a new lease on life. This beautiful, crazy life that we all are given. A gift. I always say to live it to the fullest, make the most of it. And I believe it. Now I believe it even more. Reach out to those you love. Do the things you want to do. Be your own, authentic self. Because you never know when you might be looking down that barrel, finally understanding that this too will end someday.

Always a big fan of inspirational quotes, I'll leave you with another movie favorite, from "P.S., I Love You" a corny and sweet little flick about love and loving again....

"This is my one and only life, and it is a great and terrible and short and endless thing. And none of us come out of it alive."

Live every minute like it's your last. Because someday, it will be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My favorite things-November

Its the time of year when the weather outsides starts going from "delightful" to "frightful". I have a love-hate relationship with winter, as does my skin. Already dry, the winter chill doesn't help my skin one bit, and I am always looking for something to help it glow a little brighter and look a little smoother.

I recently received this as a sample:

Kate Somerville "ExfoliKate".

With papaya, pinapple and pumpkin enzymes, lactic acid for exfolation and both cinnamon and rosewood extract to stimulate circulation, this super exfoliator works great without drying or damaging skin.

My skin is very dry (yes, I know I already said that) but it also gets dull-looking in winter. ExfoliKate worked like a dream and left my skin feeling smooth and looking radiant.


Don't let the green color scare you off! It goes on very smooth and is simple to use. Just apply to clean skin, massage for 30 seconds and then leave for 2 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and enjoy the results!


I should also add, this stuff smells absolutely fabulous! Really fresh and even a little spicy!

ExfoliKate is also available in a gentle formula and an acne formula. But unless your skin is really fragile I found the intensive formula to be just fine on my sensitive skin, so I'd imagine it works well on most skin types.

It only takes a few minutes to treat your skin to a nice exfoliation like this one. You won't be late if you...ExfoliKate!

Monday, October 28, 2013

New York State of Mind

Of all the places I've traveled, New York is one of my all-time favorites. I don't think there is any other city that generates such a wild mix of energy, drive and pure magic. Last week, I was lucky enough to tag along with my boyfriend, who was the very proud (and very deserving) winner of a fiction contest with Poets & Writers magazine. Part of the prize included a paid trip to NYC where he met with agents, publishers and other writers, and conducted a reading at a Soho bookstore:

He was busy most of the time I was there, but I still found lots to do on my own. Just being in the hotel room was luxurious! The magazine put us up at the Library Hotel which was amazing. They have a beautiful rooftop terrace, breakfast every morning and a wine and cheese reception every afternoon. The rooms were lovely, appropriately decorated with books and book themes:

Once I revived myself from the very long flight it took to get here, I rallied and went out to explore the city!

I walked for miles, just taking it all in. The hotel was, again appropriately, right by the library:
I shopped and explored, hitting up some of my favorite NYC spots

Central Park is always an oasis, beautifully maintained and full of running paths and even a zoo! I also made my way by the Trump Towers and lit a candle at St. Patrick's Cathedral (because I'm still a Catholic girl at heart)

I also got to check out Zara, a store I'd heard about but never been to. They have some beautiful things, all very affordable!
After shopping and exploring, I made my way back to the hotel to wait for my boyfriend, B, as we were going to the reading and then out to dinner. I had a snack to sustain myself:

And then we were off! I was trying to get a pic of my outfit, which was a camo-style dress from H&M, faux leather jacket, tights, booties and a wide black belt. This was the best I could do:

The reading went very well. We had a great time and it was a full house. I am so proud of this man, he is an amazing writer (not a hack like me) and I know he is going to go places with his talent!

Afterwards we went to dinner at this cool little Soho restaurant called Mexican Radio. I loved the decor, and the food was absolutely delish!

Even though it was a busy trip, it was so good to spend time in one of my favorite places. When I was 18, I was accepted to college in NYC. I chickened out and didn't go. While wandering the city on my own, I wondered to myself what my life might be like if I'd been braver and more equipped to take on a life here. Where would I be now? WHO would I be now?

I firmly believe that everything works out just the way it's supposed to, and the paths we choose lead us to where we need to be, if we let them. If I'd moved to New York at 18, I wouldn't have my two beautiful kids, wouldn't have the life I've built here, and probably wouldn't have met the love of my life. Sometimes I wish I'd taken more chances in life, but it's okay. Every day is a new beginning and a new start, and it's never too late to do and see the things we dream of. I am here now, and I love my life. When I was ready to find it, NYC was still right there, right where it's always been.

It makes me think of one of my favorite movie monologues, from the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It has always struck a chord with me, and sometimes, when I feel like I am just too old, too tired and too..late to do things, I hear it in my head:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you, and I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Don't be afraid to get out, explore, take a bite out of that great big apple called life. If there's something you've always wanted to do, do it! It's not too late, it's never too late. As long as you are functioning and breathing, there is always another opportunity waiting, another moment, another chance. 

Get into that New York State of Mind every day and live life to the fullest. As far as we know, this is the only one we get. Make the most of it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Little Lulu

One of my favorite local shops is Lulu e. Bebe. Offering the latest fashions at suprisingly affordable prices, Lulu is one of my "go-to" shopping stops when I am looking for something special. The staff is always pleasant, and I appreciate the wide range of styles-they carry items for all ages and all budgets!

I am going on vacation soon and I've been on the lookout for a fun handbag to trade out for my usual coach purse. I wanted something durable, affordable, and (of course) fabulous. I decided to check out Lulu for possibilities, and look what I found:

This cute bag is made of durable canvas material, perfect for the beach, yet classy enough for any vacation outfit! I love that it's roomy but not overly bulky, with multiple uses as a purse, beach bag and carry-on bag.

Because they were having a "buy one bag get one free" sale, I also picked up this beauty:

At first glance, it looks like a cute little evening clutch, doesn't it? But wait....

It flips open and becomes an awesome wallet! How cool is that?! And it was FREE with my handbag purchase. Yes. Free.

If you are looking for great choices in fashion, with quality items offered at reasonable prices, Lulu e. Bebe is the perfect place to shop. Even better, you are supporting our local businesses and local economy, making those fashion bargains even more of a deal, as buying local puts the money right back into our fair city and benefits us all! It's all for the greater good, right??