November 26, 2014

Nordstrom Rack Finds

My commute to work requires a bus transfer in a neighborhood that has a TJ Maxx, a brand new Marshalls, a World Market, an H&M, a Sephora, and a MAC all within a block of each other. I suffer every day, straining not to spend $500 per commute on discounted housewares and designer lipstick. The siren call that comes from the Nordstrom Rack is worse than all of the others combined. Sometimes I lay in bed and fantasize about breaking in there in the dead of night and loading my arms up with as much stuff as I can carry. That is my real go to fantasy to help me fall asleep. I don't even fantasize about an actual Nordstrom in this scenario, that's the kind of number the Rack has done on me.

As for things I actually have purchased and not fantasy stolen,
The ubiquitous House of Harlow 1960 leather station necklace. I'm about three years late on this trend.
Clearance rack tortoise shell earrings
This Tory Burch cosmetic bag might be my favorite birthday gift. Burgundy is almost a sleeper favorite color of mine. My best friend refers to it as my "power color" which I can see since it's a darker, moodier cousin of pink. The burgundy and butterfly combination on this bag made it love at first sight for me. Nordstrom Rack also had a navy blue flowered version which was prettier but I cannot choose against butterflies, ever. The main selling point is that this cosmetic case is enormous. It's big enough to take on a week long trip where I can fill it with not only my essentials, but some nail polish and palettes as well. Bigger items like Urban Decay setting sprays and MAC Fix+ can get dumped in there pretty easily as well. My old makeup bag was hard to zip up with only my daily face products in it so this roomier case is an upgrade. I'm going to test drive it this weekend when I go up to Jersey and see how much of my beauty regimen can actually be shoved in there.

I was so excited to find this candle. I recognized the hobnail jar was similar to a really fantastic candle I had impulse bought over the summer. There was no tag on either so I had to sleuth around the internet to figure out the brand was Simpatico. These are easily my favorite candles because the scents are always so rich and girly and the throw is great. I grab them whenever Nordstrom Rack has them for $14 or so but they're available at places like Anthropologie for $28. You know a candle is legitimate if Anthropologie sells it - Anthropologies always smell like what your home smells like in your fantasies of a totally put together, adorable life.

I don't know if you could tell but the lavender hobnail jar holding my brushes was one of these guys. The scent was "butterfly orchid" and I'm so mad that that descriptor is so vague because the smell was so god damn amazing that I want to live in a greenhouse of whatever butterfly orchids it was. This silver mercury jarred one is a vanilla/snowberry scent. The wax is also super creamy so it smells good even when the wick isn't lit. The jars are really easy to clean out and repurpose, like I did with the lavender one, too.

Peach suede crisscross slingback heels from Chinese Laundry. I wore these with jeans and a gray top to my birthday dinner at Founding Farmers which was one of the most gluttonous experiences of my entire life. I made multiple reservations for dinner at a few different places in case I had a last minute change of mind. I initially chose another place but ending up running late and defaulting to my later reservation at Founding Farmers. Completely serendipitous because my meal there was so good. People were also celebrating their birthday on either side of my table so I was eyeballing their desserts during my meal but ended up being too stuffed once my meal was over. They had fucking red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, the only kind of cake I actually love, and I couldn't stand to order it. I had THE best crab cakes I ever had in my life for dinner with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes. I was expecting the food there to be a bit overrated but I was practically Hoovering the scraps off the plate.

I also got a gorgeous, striped sweater dress from French Connection which I can't photograph because it literally no longer fits after eating like that for my birthday. I sized down because my actual size was a bit long so the dress just looks a lot like sausage casing right now.

Take note that none of these purchases are makeup. I'm on a 6 month makeup no buy which started at the beginning of October. The Lorac Mega Pro released then and the whole ordeal was just too much for me. For those who might not know, the Mega Pro was a limited edition, highly sought after eyeshadow palette that sold out online in a matter of hours. I set alarms so I could wake up in time to purchase it and spent a few hours just refreshing the website and frantically inputting my credit card information once it became available. That's behavior I indulged in when I was 16 and buying concert tickets. I should not be a grown woman doing that over eyeshadow, especially when I already have more eyeshadow than I can feasibly use. I bet I could never purchase eyeshadow again in my life and still have colorful eyelids until I'm a senior citizen. So, I've banned myself from purchasing makeup until March of 2015 unless I a. run out of something I wear everyday, like concealer, and there is absolutely no concealer of any kind whatsoever in my stash/collection/hoard or b. it's fake eyelashes or brushes. It just has to stop. I'm at the point where I go to Zara or pretty much any clothing store that isn't Forever 21 and balking at the idea of paying $60 for a pair of pants. I will easily drop $60 on an eyeshadow palette but $60 for one pair of pants is obscene to me. Be a grown woman, Vanessa, and stop paying $15 for pants at stores that are selling sweatshirts with "BAE" printed on them. I'm exasperating.

November 25, 2014

Spot Treatment with Hydrocolloid Bandages

hydrocolloid bandages band-aids patches nexcare acne spot treatment zit
I feel like every 20 something likes to complain about having trust issues. Mine don't come from a two timing ex or anything like that. They come from adult acne, exclusively. I do not have good skin. I have gaping pores and dry flaky patches and always, always at least one active breakout. It's absolute bullshit. Sorry, I was under the impression I wouldn't wake up with active breakouts the day after my 20th birthday and I feel like I'm entitled to some kind of refund. Preferably cash.

hydrocolloid bandages band-aids patches nexcare acne spot treatment zit
Since that's not going to happen, I'm constantly trolling the internet in an effort to rid myself of my acne. Surprisingly, the all time best resource for this has been Reddit's skincareaddiction community. Reddit has a very active beauty community, semi tucked away from all the conspiracy theorists and holier than though fedoras with vendettas against women. Skincareaddiction is one of such subreddits that kind of allows you to soak up their helpful information without really participating in typical Reddit things, like uploading photos or commenting on posts. They have a sidebar with a real wealth of knowledge and you can easily read through the information, pick up recommendations and troubleshoot and customize your own skincare routine. Plus, it's very no nonsense, science minded advice rather than women's magazine "Mash up ingredients in your fridge and smear them on your face!" bullshit. Dermatologists and representatives of popular skincare lines have had a presence in some of the threads and praised the advice the users dole out. It's pretty reliable stuff, as far as taking advice from strangers on the internet goes. I've almost entirely changed my skincare routine based on what I've read there but there's one product that is light years above the rest.

It's hydrocolloid bandages and they are amazing.

Hydrocolloid bandages are making those "zit on an important day" plot lines in movies unravel for me. I recently took the kids I nanny for to see Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. One of the crises that unfolded in the movie was that the teenage son of Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell had a giant forehead zit on the day of his junior prom. LIFE RUINING! Steve Carell was disgusted and told him to put a Band Aid on it. I almost threw the illegal gummy worms I had smuggled into the theater via my purse at the screen. "YOU IDIOT, A HYDROCOLLOID BANDAGE! NOT JUST A REGULAR ONE! YOU'RE SO STUPID!! NOW YOU'LL NEVER MAKE PROM COURT!!" I'm sure all my blog readers see movies marketed to children on a daily basis so you'll definitely know what I'm talking about here.
hydrocolloid bandages band-aids patches nexcare acne spot treatment zit
They're breaking up in this scene because the girl only cares about being popular and not about being true to herself. Note the regular bandage on the forehead of the guy in the Dumb & Dumber tux.
Hydrocolloid bandages are the kind of bandages you use for blisters if you're not a sick fuck who just pops them with a safety pin (like I am). They're these thick, gel dressings that are designed to suck moisture out of wounds. They work exactly the same way on zits but with sucking out pus and oil. It's ridiculously easy - you lance your breakout (and even that is an optional step) and then slap the bandage on top and leave it on while you sleep. Voila, you wake up and your breakout is inside the bandage rather than on your face! It makes complete sense and you'll wonder why you never thought to use them before. Like, obviously the bandages designed to trap moisture are going to do the same thing for a gross zit that they would for a blister. The bandage doesn't know to play favorites.

I don't know about you, but I'm obsessed with extrapolating disgusting things from my face. Magnifying mirrors are dangerous for me because I could spend plural hours squeezing out my pores and popping zits. I need the satisfaction. Obviously this is pretty awful for your face but at the same time you don't want to be the person walking around with a pussy whitehead. I promise, people on the bus or in line with you at the grocery store are staring at it and wishing you would just pop it already. I know people who are like, "DOCTORS" or "DERMATOLOGISTS" or whatever will urge you to leave it alone but like, to put it eloquently: gross.

Medical professionals do know what they're talking about though because it's rarely as easy as just popping the zit and moving on with your life. I always try and end up making the thing red, inflamed and swollen and 70% more noticeable than it was before. Hydrocolloid bandages allow you to both "pop" the breakout and be gentle to your skin. It just sucks out all the oil and pus into the bandage and deflates the zit for you (the point of popping) without any redness (the side effect of popping). As a bonus, they also create a safety seal so you don't feel tempted to poke and prod at the zit at all.

Here's a tutorial on how to use these things. It's stupid easy.
  1. Buy a package of hydrocolloid bandages. Some are marketed specifically for acne use and come in pre-sized circles or shapes, like stars or hearts. In my opinion, these are a cutesy ripoff. They were more expensive, all for the privilege of being pre-cut. These things aren't like a pizza or something where I would flip a shit in a hangry rage if they were delivered to me without being properly sliced. I can take care of myself, thanks, and I buy the actual hydrocolloid blister bandages from the drugstore and cut them to size myself with a regular pair of scissors like God intended. I actually prefer it that way because I can cut a larger strip for a particularly problematic area of my face or teeny, less wasteful pieces for a small breakout. 
hydrocolloid bandages band-aids patches nexcare acne spot treatment zit
Nexcare, the brand that markets these bandages for acne specifically. These didn't adhere to my face nearly as well as the regular bandages. I don't even have oily skin. These guys were just sleeping on the job.

hydrocolloid bandages band-aids patches nexcare acne spot treatment zit
What the bandages will look like, just cut to size and then peel off the adhesive backing.
Ask the pharmacist if you need help and they'll direct you to the bandages you want. Pro tip: Don't ask anyone who works in the drugstore but a pharmacist. I won't say where I used to work, but there is a C a V and an S in the name and I got yelled at once for telling a customer Crest White Strips worked well for me after she asked. You're supposed to save these questions for a pharmacist so the idiots up front don't give you faulty medical advice and cause you to sue the entire company when Crest White Strips make all your teeth fall out and use your credit card behind your back. So don't ask the cashier or the person stocking the candy aisle about your zit band aids.

2. Lance your breakout with a sterilized object. This step is optional but delivers the best results. I won't take off from your final grade if you don't do it.

3. Take your preshaped or newly cut bandage, remove the adhesive backing and place it directly over the breakout.

4. Sleep. Do something productive for 8 hours. Just leave the bandage on for awhile. I find the whole sleep method works best for me because it allows me to leave the bandage on for about half the day without even noticing its there.

5. Peel off the bandage and marvel over how much disgusting shit is living in your face. Weigh yourself because surely you just lost 3lbs, all in pus.

I am a benevolent blogger and have taken pictures of these bandages after they've been on my face for a night. These are the action shots, right here. Just posting photos of my breakout juice on the internet. I really want to drive home how effective these bandages are, though, and a picture is going to do the job a lot better than words. The photos you are about to see may disturb you.

November 24, 2014

Exciting Things in the Weekend Forecast

Thanksgiving in Atlantic City
I'm the biggest Thanksgiving grinch. I hate Thanksgiving food. Just the smell of turkey cooking in the oven brings vomit up into my throat. I'm actually nauseated right now just thinking about it. It's like I have some pregnant lady gene regarding the smell of roasting turkey. I hate gravy and cranberry sauce and stuffing. I like pumpkin pie and that's literally it. Pumpkin pie and a day off from work are the only good traditional Thanksgiving things. Thanksgiving doesn't even have a good Peanuts special for fuck's sake. I get extra bitter over Thanksgiving because it's fallen on my birthday literally 5 times in my almost 24 years of life, including my actual day of birth. I hate when everywhere is closed on my birthday almost more than I hate being forced to smell roasting turkey on my birthday.

Luckily, for the past couple of years, my family has been meeting in Atlantic City for Thanksgiving. We go to the Palm for Thanksgiving dinner which is the most win, win, win situation. Everyone eats traditional Thanksgiving food while I order steak or crab cakes and no one, aside from the unfortunate workers scheduled to work the holiday, has to clean up or put away dishes. The prospect of filet mignon and French onion soup with my pumpkin pie actually makes me exciting for Thanksgiving dinner.

Atlantic City is pretty much completely underwater now but I still love it and love being there. Atlantic City was my family's go to down the shore location when I was little so the boardwalk feels really familiar and homey to me. I have such good memories of the arcades there and staying at the Tropicana (before the renovations, even) and eating at the buffets. Riding the pier rides and winning stuffed animals and eating the boardwalk food and just doing Jersey Shore shit. Fall and winter activities there in your mid twenties are more "shopping at the outlets" and "drinking too much at Harrah's pool" and "still eating the boardwalk food, but also gaining 2 lbs overnight" but those are fun in their own way. I much prefer gambling in Atlantic City, too. I've only ever played slots and blackjack in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas. I'm really bitter about my whole Las Vegas gambling experience because I lost more money than I won and also lost one of my favorite bracelets in the casino.

Me, down the shore in Atlantic City, 1996ish. 95% sure I'm wearing plastic shoes with that pink plastic jacket.

Following Thanksgiving and Black Friday outlet shopping in Atlantic City, I'm stopping in New York on Saturday because of the following exhibitions.

Matisse Cut Outs at the MoMA
I haven't been to the MoMA in years. Plural years. I have no idea how that happened but here we are. Wow, I am kind of reeling from that revelation. No surprise that the Matisse Cut Outs exhibit is drawing me back there - I have a feeling that this show is going to be incredibly popular (and incredibly crowded). The exhibit looks so bright and inviting. The colored paper is so vibrant and the effect ends up being graphic, yet so serene

I'm actually not a huge fan of Matisse or fauvism in general. There was a Matisse/Picasso show all the way back when the MoMA was temporary relocated to Queens that I found incredibly boring, as well as a fauvism exhibit a few years back at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I pretty much power walked my way through. Matisse feels like one of those untouchable artists nowadays, like Van Gogh or Picasso, but his heyday works are just a snoozefest for me. As a result, I'm pretty much excited just to be excited for a Matisse show. His process in creating the cut outs, as well as his motivations to switch to this kind of medium late in his life seem like they'll be interesting to learn about.

This exhibit runs until February 8th at the MoMA.

Egon Schiele Portraits at the Neue Galerie
The Neue is a gallery that I feel is incredibly underrated. It only opened in 2001 so it's still a fairly new museum, especially when you consider the lifespans of places like the Prado and the Louvre. It's right around the corner from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a few blocks away from the Guggenheim on Museum Mile. Very convenient location and makes it more than worth stopping in. Even just for the building itself, because it's beautiful:

I'm mostly obsessed with the Neue because my favorite art is easily a toss up between Austrian 20th century and German Expressionism. The Neue Galerie marries these two in a decadent yet intimate setting. Its permanent collection is entirely filled with the two and any exhibitions the museum houses fit the theme as well. It held one of my all time favorite art shows over the summer,  a full exhibition of what the Nazis deemed "degenerate" art. I loved the works they featured and I loved the presentation - there was even a room of art that the Third Reich supported and appreciated, all completely bland works. The exhibit was packed but that room was empty almost the whole time. Artists like Kirchner felt so rejected by Germany and so not up to that dull standard that they killed themselves - actual, gifted humans who committed suicide because Adolf Hitler didn't approve of them - so it was pretty poetic to see their works being fawned over while the approved Nazi art was ignored. I love when exhibits offer even more than the artwork.

Hitler approved German art, pretty hilariously void of anything expressive, especially when compared to the "degenerate" German art

The Neue's permanent collection boasts a ton of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele works. The Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer is probably their crown jewel and is famous just for the fact that they bought it for $135 million, most expensive art purchase at the time, 5th most expensive now. The Neue's second floor is laid out like a very ornate, empty home and this Klimt is just hanging over a fireplace, almost casually, like a $135 million dollar artwork just above a mantel.

The show that I'm stopping into the Neue especially for is an exhibit on Egon Schiele's portraits, the first kind of comprehensive look at his portraiture in an United States museum. Egon Schiele is probably my favorite draftsman. His linework and use of color is pretty stunning to look at in person. The aesthetic I'm most drawn to in art is kind of an integration between disturbing and beautiful - creepy subject matter paired with soft techniques or jagged, harsh execution with serene subject matter. Egon Schiele's portraits fall under that category, with subjects whose limbs look like gnarled tree branches and combative expressions but in sensual poses. The exhibit runs until January 19 and would make a great reason to visit the Neue if you've never been.

And they still give out metal buttons, unlike SOME PEOPLE (THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NO I STILL DO NOT FORGIVE YOU.)

I'm so thrilled that these two shows are going on at once and that I'll be able to spend part of my weekend museum hopping. I also plan to return to DC with these Dolce and Gabbana filigre sunglasses so some shopping detours will happen as well.
Plus, I'm going to eat my weight in salt water taffy in Atlantic City but if you know me then you knew that already.

November 17, 2014

Gucci Bamboo Leather Backpack

I haven't worn a backpack since literally halfway through my sophomore year of high school. It was a pink Jansport with Something Corporate lyrics written all over it in Sharpie. This backpack seems a bit more stylish.

I honestly saw this backpack yesterday. It was the first add in my InStyle magazine. Like, I lifted the cover, saw this ad for this backpack front and center
and was like, "I need this backpack. I want this backpack. I desire and lust over this backpack." It was love at first sight. I love how unexpected a backpack would be to carry but how classic 70's Gucci the bamboo details are. The fucking buckle is even bamboo. Gucci has been all over their 70's heyday lately and I'm loving it. Look at that god damn ad! The model's natural hair and makeup, the python boots, the shape and stripes on her sweater are all so perfectly 70's. And that backpack is the star.

This backpack also comes in a sky blue, a lilac, a white, a black, a medium pink and a much more expensive python colorblock. I love this tan color best, though. The price is totally reasonable at $2590.00. Just kidding, that's more than my rent. I carry this backpack in my dreams, though and dream me looks incredible with it.

October 23, 2014

DIY - Rit Dye for a Duvet Cover

My main use of Pinterest is to create wishlists. I'm materialistic to my core. Nah, I'm not using Pinterest to DIY birthday decorations or plan a rustic dream wedding. I'm just categorizing my visual shopping list. But, recently I brought my laptop to work to browse the kids' crafting underbelly of Pinterest with my 7 year old charge, Kiddo, who is a DIY blogger born at the wrong time. She once proudly made me sandals out of nothing but cardboard and Hello Kitty duct tape. They actually worked, too. Occasionally, she asks how I'm liking them, convinced I wear them around my apartment doing whatever it is I do when I'm not making her Ritz cracker sandwiches and telling her that her pipe cleaner art reminds me of Basquiat. (Real exchange I once overheard- Kiddo's friend: "Your nanny doesn't live here? Well, what does she do all day when you're at school?" Kiddo: "I don't know. Sleep, I think.") Kiddo gets an idea and just does it - pop up birthday cards, flip books, doll houses made entirely of printer paper. Girl is industrious and brimming with creativity and just a born DIYer. She's going to be one of those 23 year olds who hand make their topical Halloween costumes and spray paints vintage furniture. Me, I'm the kind of 23 year old who bag buys her too revealing Halloween costumes off eBay and has an apartment that looks sponsored by IKEA.

I knew Kiddo was going to love all the Pinterest craft ideas and I was right. She was pretty much jumping out of her skin as she scrolled through all the possibilities for toilet paper rolls and paper plates. Her excitement kind of made me excited, too. After that day, I decided to DIY rather than buy my way out of two issues I've been having.

DIYing fit perfectly into my recent Quest To Be A More Fulfilled Human Who Makes Better Use Of Her Spare Time. I've been testing out all kinds of alternatives to laying around like a slug while watching Netflix and inhaling McDonald's in bed. I've been brushing up on my Russian and Ukrainian, albeit very slowly, with the help of index cards and several iPhone translation and language apps. I can sound out words written with the Cyrillic alphabet now which probably places me at a kindergarten level of reading comprehension. My pronunciation even sounds pretty good to me, although it's totally likely that I'm speaking Ukrainian with a hideous Jersey accent. I have about 80 books on my Amazon wishlist. I did 15 days of a 30 day squat challenge. Moves are being made over here. So, why not add DIYing to the list? I decided maybe it would be fulfilling to say, "Oh, I made that" about something for once. A big catalyst in that was doing something drastic, something I normally avoid doing because of the dire consequences it can have on my wallet.

I went to Michael's.

Michael's is very much like Target in that you go in for one thing and leave with $3,000 of credit card debt. Michael's is actually worse because everyone knows Target does this. Michael's is silent and sneaky about it and it's worse still because Michael's has comparatively less useful items than a store like Target. Like, is it worse to impulse buy Martha Stewart rose gold glitter, faux fall leaves and puff paint OR laundry detergent, sensible flats for work and disposable razors?

I went to Michael's with one very specific purchase in mind that took me an hour, a checkout transaction, a conversation with my cashier and reentering the store to find. Everything was singing a siren song to me in Michael's. I could easily be a stay at home wife or something if I just went to Michael's once a week. I could so easily have a craft room and an Etsy shop where I sell jewelry and scrapbook in my spare time and just fill all my hours of my days with exhausting crafting. I want to buy everything, no matter what aisle it is or category of arts and crafts. "Ooh, I could do that" is just being said on a loop in my head. Embroidery - "Ooh, I could embroider IRONIC PHRASES ON PILLOWS!!" Stamping supplies - "Ooh, I could create CUSTOM THANK YOU NOTES, SO PERSONALIZED!" Glitter - "Ooh, I could throw that in a pile on my floor and ROLL AROUND IN IT!" I take it up another twenty notches whenever I go down the aisles with paints and bristol board pads and canvases. I say, "Ooh, I could revitalize my failed, abandoned HIGH SCHOOL ART CAREER!" as I inhale all the art supply smells like a former smoker walking past someone with a lit cigarette.
It's like how I imagine most people feel about Pinterest - just overwhelmed by the endless possibilities. Also, oblivious to the fact that they'll never actually do any of them. However, I managed to stick (mostly) to my list. I did get off course when I purchased these hot pink glitter note cards:
 But they fit my personal brand so well and I really need to start writing more thank you notes.

Also, I managed to remember to grab some of these planter beads to put in my makeup brush jars:
Michael's craft store plant filler beads pellets makeup make up brush holder storage
Because I had been using quinoa for the past year which was a crime of necessity but felt so accidentally twee, like I should be pairing it with brush holders made from burlap covered mason jars. Whatever, the wrong has been righted and now I have those Sephora-y pellets.

Michael's craft store plant filler beads pellets makeup make up brush holder storage
 Finally, though, I was able to find what I needed in the first place. Rit dye to dye my duvet cover.

Dying A Duvet With Rit Dye

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
My duvet cover is pintucked cotton and from West Elm, a gift from my mom for Christmas. I love this duvet cover because it turned my comforter into a fluffy cloud.

This is a real, unedited photo of me and my West Elm duvet cover. Unfortunately, this duvet hasn't been totally perfect. The pintucks have pulled apart in some places but no big deal. That can be fixed with a needle and thread. The actual problem was my wall sized window about a foot and a half away from my bed. The original "sea spray" blue color of the duvet had turned dingy and yellowish in some spots after a year of soaking up the sun. I was starting to hate how it looked, especially since the original color was a backup plan anyway after a steel blue version had sold out. How dare you change colors to something worse than my second choice? Still, this duvet is incredibly comfy and a pricey gift to boot. I didn't want to replace it so I decided to dye it. Take that, runner up choice sea spray color.

Permanently dying something large and expensive for one of my first bloggery DIY projects was kind of daunting. Luckily, Rit Studio has an extremely helpful website to hold your hand through the dying process. There are before and after pictures, step by step tutorials, color formulas, dye to water conversions - it's all laid out for you. I decided on a dye recipe called "Periwinkle" for my duvet which consisted of Rit Royal Blue and Rit Petal Pink dye. I picked up 2 boxes of each at Michael's. The dye comes in both liquid and powdered form. I was hoping for liquid because it seemed much easier but Michael's only stocked the powder so the decision was out of my hands. Additionally, the craft store didn't carry Rit Color Remover which Rit advises you to use on your fabric first to remove the original color. I decided the duvet was light enough and I was only dying it from very pale blue to a darker blue anyway and skipped the color remover.

I was pretty stuck on the "where" part of my dying equation since I rent an apartment with communal laundry and very small square footage. I knew my bathtub wasn't an option (it would have ended up periwinkle as well) so I was hoping my kitchen sink would be big enough. The stainless steel would have been stain free at the end and I would have been able to babysit and stir my dye bath to ensure I got even color. Unfortunately, my sink would only hold about half the water I needed, not counting a full sized duvet. I threw my hands up and said fuck it and decided to do this thing in a front loading washer in my communal laundry room, the worst case scenario for dying something of this size and weight.

In all honesty, I was more than half expecting to totally fuck it up. I just kind of woke up on a Sunday and was like, "Hmm, got a clear schedule, guess I'll immediately start dying that duvet just as soon as I finish brushing my teeth." I really cannot emphasize enough how little forethought there was in comparison to the size of the task at hand. It was really irresponsible. I was originally planning to hold off awhile after getting the dye and strategize a bit more but I got too excited and the whole thing got away from me.

The whole situation was probably the worst possible way to dye something. I had to create the dye bath in my apartment, many floors above the laundry room and then transport the mixture down in a cleaned out milk container. As a result it was kind of hard to keep the water hot and fully dissolve the powder. I feel like the liquid dye is probably a much smarter choice. After creating the mixture (and being very careful not to spill it anywhere), I loaded the washing machine with my duvet and shams and slowly poured the dye bath into the detergent slot. Like doing real laundry, except with a much larger potential for disaster. I added a cup of salt, as is recommended for cotton fabrics, about halfway through and then ran the washer one more time after the original cycle ended. It was pretty torturous because the front loading machines lock for a full thirty minutes so I wasn't able to rotate the fabric or check on the process. I just sat in the laundry room with a book and kind of crossed my fingers the whole time.

All in all, I was probably in the laundry room for about four hours from start to finish. I was tremendously nervous about being an asshole who would dye somebody's clothing periwinkle so I took extra time and care cleaning the machine. I wiped every part of it with bleach and cleaner and did about 3 wash cycles of dish rags and old towels to make sure there wasn't any dye lurking inside the machine, waiting to stain an innocent person's clothes. I dried the duvet by itself in a dryer as I did this and it seemed to dry normally.

Then, the results were in!

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
As you can see, the pillow shams turned out much bluer than the duvet itself. Laughably so. I think this happened because the shams weren't tumbling enough and absorbed the brunt of the dye as it was poured into the machine. Or maybe they picked up too much Royal Blue and not enough Petal Pink because of the poorly mixed powdered dye. We'll never know what went on behind that closed door of the washing machine. I'll have to use Rit Color Remover another time to undo that mess and try again another time. Maybe I'll be able to give those another go in my sink since they're much smaller than the duvet and actually do this whole thing correctly.

The duvet though! Pretty good, right? It's almost a perfect match to the color I originally wanted for my duvet.

Michael's craft store Rit dye powder dye liquid dye petal pink royal blue periwinkle duvet front loading washer west elm pintuck organic cotton shams bedding dying dye before after
All in all, I consider my results pretty impressive given my circumstances and complete impatience about the whole process. I was truly expecting a tie dyed purple look so I'm really happy with fucked up, overdyed but fixable shams and a near perfect duvet. As of right now, I've been sleeping with the dyed duvet for about 3 weeks and haven't noticed any kind of dye transfer onto my other belongings or cancer symptoms caused from inhaling the dye or anything like that. I've been really liking the new color - kind of feels like sleeping in a full sized, snuggly ocean. Plus, it was a $10 solution to update my bedding as opposed to paying ten times that to replace a perfectly good duvet.

I'll have to save my second DIY project for another post because I almost lost the plot to this one as is. Hint: it has something to do with pink rhinestones. That should be of absolutely no help to you because knowing me that could be anything.

September 18, 2014

Haul: Earrings

On to my next category of summer purchases: earrings. I absolutely love earrings. My lobes are stretched to disgusting Kris Jenner lengths from all my years of wearing hoops the size of my upper arms. My philosophy is that if something isn't brushing my shoulders, it's understated. With that in mind, I've been in the market for some understated earrings and the following fit the bill.

BaubleBar Bauble Bar NYC Drop Earrings Anastasia green emerald
These earrings are from Baublebar and I lusted over them for almost a full calendar year before finally purchasing them. I think their original price was something outrageous like $60. Completely outrageous for earrings. I'd drop $60 on an eyeshadow palette as an impulse buy and not even blink and eye. Earrings, though? Are they going to tell me jokes and wash the dishes for me? I have a great relationship with fiscal responsibility, as you can tell. Luckily for me, Baublebar had a pretty bananas Labor Day sale and dropped the price of these to $20. Even then I was psyching myself out about getting them but I'm so happy I did. They took them off the site after the sale (sorry for always blogging about unavailable things) and I would have hated to miss out on these. They're even more gorgeous in person.

Initially, I planned to channel Angelina Jolie at the 2009 Oscars with these earrings. Pair them with understated black dresses (more in the vein of H&M than Elie Saab) and big hair and really let them shine. They were available in green, purple and a clear stone and I picked the green solely because of how much I love this look.
Now that I have them, they remind me more of something a member of the Russian Imperial family would have worn. I think that's the vibe Baublebar was going for since they were named "Anastasia Drops" when they were still up for sale on the site. And obviously I love that vibe way more. Look at what I named my blog. These earrings are part of my personal brand.
Yes, I am also in the market for a Cartier tiara.
I'm wearing them as I type with one of my favorite scarves and it makes me feel like I'm a Russian empress disguised as a peasant or something. They really feel like something Tsarina Alexandra of the Romanov dynasty (shown above) would have worn. When her husband, Nicolas II, finally popped the question to her she almost immediately began receiving letters from her future mother in law asking if she liked emeralds or sapphires better so the royal jewelers could start churning out things out for her right away. She was my age, around 22/23, at the time so that's the pretend life I'm living when I wear these. Minus the whole getting married and pregnant thing and (hopefully) the ominous future that includes getting gunned down along with your children.
Baublebar Anastasia Drops Earrings
I'm just all about this look. These earrings feel really special and over the top for everyday use but it's who I am. They've held up really well considering how much I've been wearing them since they arrived in the mail. I was originally worried I'd be losing stones left and right but they seem pretty sturdy. Their original $60 price tag is even starting to seem justifiable. I'll definitely be less trigger shy the next time I see something I love on Baublebar.

Cubic Zirconia studs
Next, I picked up these cubic zirconia studs from Nordstrom Rack. A woman who was pursuing the jewelry with me looked over these studs with disdain saying, "Cheap, cheap, cheap" to either me or herself. Cheap is also kind of my aesthetic so her input was really helpful for me. These are just huge, obviously fake studs that are super sparkly. I guess judging from my fellow shopper's opinion no one is going to be convinced they're diamonds which I know is unbelievable. How could a girl wearing leggings as pants and Target shoes while working as a nanny NOT be wearing real gigantic diamond studs? It will be a hard truth to swallow.

In actuality, I felt this was a practical purchase. I own very few stud earrings because I usually opt for giant hoops or chandeliers. I usually go bare on the days my ears need a break from my 5lb earrings. Just all for lack of any boring stud earrings. So, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and got some low key studs that I can wear when I'm spending the day cleaning or going to the gym. I'm pretty sure Jennifer Lawrence's character in American Hustle was based on me, just with the inclusion of a bit more velour.

Rainbow gem earrings
Finally, I picked up these rainbow studs to add color to my blander outfits. Why just go for adding some color when you can add every color? I had a black and rainbow printed dress in mind when I actually purchased these but I think they're a lot better suited to amping up plain white shirt and jeans combos.

I'm now deliberating avoiding Nordstrom Rack. Their jewelry section at their Friendship Heights location in DC is just crushing it. My wallet can't take it and my heart barely can either.

September 17, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green, or The Struggle of Olive Skin Tones: How to Identify Olive Skin and Find Colors That Work

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I've been dealing with #thestruggle of identifying my skin's undertone for a decade. More than a decade, even - I can distinctly remember sitting in the middle school library with my friend, reading Seventeen magazine. They had an article about how to wear the perfect colors to compliment your skin tone which would subsequently get all the boys to notice you or something like that. My friend, also a white girl but blond and blue eyed, easily identified herself as fair but we had a tougher time with me. It was like I fit multiple skin tones on the white girl spectrum at once. "You're tan but not tan?" was the conclusion we came to. I didn't fit any of the profiles and never learned what colors worked for me.

That last line is not hyperbole - I really have been struggling to find what colors work for me ever since. It was only about a year ago when I discovered that my "tan" but very obviously not tan skin is actually olive skin and incredibly frustrating to have when you're obsessed with beauty products. Your skin's undertone is arguably one of the most important things to be in the know about if you like experimenting with makeup. It determines everything from what blush or eyeshadows look best to the crucial question of what foundation you'll wear every day.

My struggle with this skin tone has hit me in every makeup arena. I have a huge aversion to blush because it's so hard to find a color that doesn't look like over the top clown makeup. I wore a foundation that was about 4 shades too dark for me for, oh, nine years? Nine years! From the moment I began wearing foundation up until a week before my 22nd birthday (and yes, I remember specifically when I made the switch because it was LIFE CHANGING) I wore the wrong color foundation. And it showed. I was orange and not even in a fun, Jersey kind of way. My face was just orange in a "that girl didn't blend in her unmatching foundation, at all" kind of way. It wasn't just my fault either - I've always avoided getting professionally color matched, even in the time when I was beginning to suspect my foundation looked a mess, because I'm always matched with a mid toned tan color. Olive skin is confusing like that and can pull the wool over Sephora employees' eyes. It disguises itself as a deep yellow and sits back and lets you run with it. In actuality, the secret ingredient to olive skin is a green undertone, meaning you're like the real life version of Liz Lemon when she says the Clinique lady told her she had "witch undertones".

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That green undertone can be very hard to pin down and you'll misinterpret your skin as golden or tan instead. In reality, the green undertone is actually very noticeable - it's the thing that's making all of your makeup all wrong. It's this great little thing that can go totally unnoticed until the moment it doesn't. Foundation, eyeshadow, blush, lip color, it doesn't discriminate. Olive skin will do a number on all of them. Wear a color that isn't friendly with that green undertone and sure, you certainly don't look awful. You just look a little... off. People will ask you if you're coming down with something. Just something looks wrong with the way you look but they can't put their finger on it. For me, it's that green undertone every time.

The first step to fixing anything is admitting you have the problem in the first place, right? Even that can be hard with olive skin. You may not even know that you have it. You hear a lot of things about determining your undertone when you're versed in the beauty community. Check your veins. Are they blue or green? Do you look better in gold or silver jewelry? Generally, those are supposed to be the questions you answer to lock yourself into one of two categories: yellow undertones (warm) or pink undertones (cool). Cool toned people have blue veins and look better in silver jewelry and colors like blue and pink. Gold jewelry is supposed to compliment people with warm skin, the ones who have green veins. Chances are, if you have olive skin you've heard all this and it's provided most questions than answers. Like, okay, my veins are both blue AND green and silver doesn't look amazing on me but gold can look pretty weird too. In fact, yellow as a whole is something I steer clear of because it makes my skin look florescent or like I'm jaundiced and dying of liver failure. Still, I definitely don't have that porcelain doll kind of skin that looks so good with pink.

Give one of those Facebook newsfeed style quizzes on whether I'm warm or cool and my answers would be pretty evenly split. Yes, my complexion looks sallow and awful next to a white sheet of paper (warm) but I'll get a peeling, painful sunburn f you sit me on the beach for 20 minutes (cool). A lot of times olive skin is misinterpreted as simply "warm" or "yellow" - hey, you're obviously not pink toned so you must be yellow, right? - which ends up being a huge mistake. You'll purchase the recommended items for warm skin, totally unaware that you don't have it, and end up confused when something like orange blush looks fucking awful. You're ignoring a huge component of your skin, that sneaky green tone that makes your skin slightly cool in addition to being warm. It's like being both undertones and then some.

What was particularly problematic to me was being pale in addition to being olive. I had a very hard time accepting how pale I was for the longest time and not because I had any kind of aversion to paleness. It was just because my skin had so much fucking color in it, how could I be pale? I'm like an in real life Lucian Freud painting. The olive tone is incredibly visible despite the fact that I'm too pale to shop for foundation in drugstores. Pale skin is a weird kind of pissing contest in the beauty community. People really trip over themselves to out pale one other. "I'm white as a sheet!" "Well, I'm transparent!" It makes you feel like you're taking crazy pills when you see such strong color to your skin in addition to your paleness. Plus, my skin doesn't respond to the sun in a traditional pale girl kind of way. Sure, I know and have accepted that if I go to the beach that I'm coming home with a sunburn. My skin is pale and pale skin is prone to burning. However, that sunburn fades to a nice tan which has pretty good staying power - another olive skin hallmark. This was all hard for me to compute at first but olive and pale - it's a thing, particularly for Eastern European bitches like me.

So, how do you figure out that you have olive skin without standard methods? An incredibly helpful clue in determining whether or not you have olive skin is knowledge about your heritage. Unfortunately, this isn't possible for everyone - maybe you're adopted and don't know much about your birth parents or just don't have a family that keeps track of their lineage or any other number of possibilities. That being said, olive skin can be a pretty common thing for non Western/Northern European people. A lot of groups that were previously referred to as "white ethnics" like Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Slavs and Jews have skin that's olive, sometimes even very deep tones. A good example of this is Mila Kunis who is Ukrainian. I've seen people on places like Tumblr and even legitimate magazines describe as a person of color which is pretty flagrantly untrue. Ukrainians are generally white people. We're in the news a pretty good amount lately and I've yet to see a fellow Uke who isn't pale as a motherfucker cross the screen. Likewise, Mila Kunis is white and not perpetually tan or golden or a "person of color". Mila Kunis is white with olive skin. Also, incredibly gorgeous and I'm convinced I was a serial killer in my past life because that's the only reason that I'm Ukrainian and DON'T look like her, right?

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I'm a cocktail of paleness from my mom (Irish, Scottish and Dutch to name a few) but my dad is Ukrainian and his genes were pretty aggressive. Even after two nosejobs I'm very identifiable as Ukrainian. I get asked for directions to the Russian Embassy here in DC all the time with the lost tourist occasionally speaking to me in some kind of Slavic language. I feel like the mixture of olive and pale skin is to blame for a lot of that. Olive tones are very probable if you know your looks heavily favor one part of your heritage. It's no surprise to me that I see a fair amount of girls with similar skin tones in places like New York or New Jersey where there's a huge concentration of people without WASPy or Irish roots.

Another incredibly helpful tool is to have friends or any kind of people in your life. Comparing your skin to other people can really bring out your green tones. Hold your arm up to someone with a real warm, yellow undertone and your olive skin tone starts to get really aggressive and fight for attention. I'd say that this is the most helpful way to determine any undertone, full stop. Study group photos or compare your skin to a friend who has a tan and you'll suddenly start to notice the hints of green that were undetectable when you were by yourself.

Really, the best way to pinpoint whether or not you're olive is to get negative. When are you looking your worst, makeup wise? It sounds like you're being a particularly douchey plastic surgeon or something. What do you hate about yourself? But, like I said, olive skin can be that little thing that makes things look wrong. Maybe you've incorrectly identified yourself as warm toned, yet find that gold eyeshadow looks weird or that you never reach for your pumpkin colored blush because you feel like you can't pull it off. Olive skin is frustrating because I find that there's more things that look wrong than things that look right.

There really is a laundry list of things that don't work. I have hazel eyes and brown hair in addition to my olive skin and I feel like a lot of pale olive skinned people probably have similar eye and hair colors. Brown, hazel and green eyes with brown or black hair are most common for people with any kind of olive tones. It all becomes like a beauty formula that is trying to exclude you from things. What works for your eye color + what works for you hair color + the very limiting olive skin tone = pretty unadventurous makeup choices. For me, I've almost entirely crossed off anything that flatters cool, pink skin. Pastels? Absolutely not. Anything gray? Totally awful. Girly, pink blushes? Have to pass. Blue eyeshadow is out, as should be pink but I'm Julia Allison level obsessed with that color and can't help myself.

Conservative is not really a concept I subscribe to in any sense of the word but I definitely lean that way with beauty products. If I had a different skin tone then I would be virtually unemployable because I'd constantly wear Day Glo eyeshadow and pastel pink lipsticks. No kind of office environment would be able to stop me. There's a hefty list of cosmetics that I desperately want but would never purchase because they would clash so badly with greenish yellow skin. Pastels and neons of any color are the worst offenders. Holy shit do I want to wear that stuff but man, it would look so awful.

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Sleek's iDivine Palette in Acid
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NYX Macaron Lippies, where I even passed on the relatively tame Pink and Lavender because pastels transform from pretty to sickening with my coloring
You kind of amass a collection of grandma friendly products by following the rules of what works. Rose, mauve and peach for blush and lip colors are some of the only things that look natural. Even with those guidelines there is a lot of trial and error. Nothing can be too red or too blue or too orange. For eyeshadows, it's neutrals and earth tones with some purples thrown in for the days you really feel like throwing caution to the wind. Weirdly, I find a lot of greens don't look too awful so I don't have to give up on the Boston Celtics or anything extreme like that. This skin tone won't succeed in taking everything I love away from me. Foundations and concealers are the hardest yet, especially if you're pale. Pale skin can limit you enough as is with base colors but cosmetics companies seem pretty confused by the idea of pale people who aren't baby pink. Yellow toned and light foundations usually will force you to make a trip to MAC or Sephora rather than CVS or Rite Aid.

Truly, it's not like there's any kind of laws that say you can't wear whatever you want with olive skin. I have a weird relationship with the word "flattering" in the sense that I just absolutely hate it. It's like the word "moist". It just grosses me out - but in the same way the word "classy" does. Like, who is anyone you encounter in real life to deem something "flattering" on you? What kind of authority do they have to say that? It's if they're saying, "That looks good but only because it works with or conceals your imperfections!" Spare me. I can in no way say you should only wear things that "flatter" olive skin because the end of the day we r who we r. As I showed you above, pink eyeshadow is who I am. I cannot just stand by and watch other people wear pink eyeshadow and not participate. Maybe you have olive skin and gold eyeliner is who you are. Who am I to say? Don't let anyone stand in your way of wearing what you want on your skin, least of all you. But, for me, my olive skin is where I subscribe to the idea of "flattering" about 90% of the time. Eyeshadow is something I'm passionate about so I make a lot of exceptions there. Additionally, I own two different purple lipstick which I suspect don't look the best on me. I wear them anyway and don't worry about it because purple lips just make me happy. I just weigh what will make me the happiest when I make colorful beauty purchases. Yes, a bright pink blush would make me happy to look at but I know I'd always feel it looked wrong on my face so is it worth it to spend $20 on a blush I won't use? That's a thing I'd say no to but it varies like that on a case by case basis. Most of the time I end up feeling my best wearing bland colors that I'm not excited about if they look great with my skin. Maybe you feel the opposite - that's for you to decide. But, if you're looking for things that will pair perfectly with your olive skin, here's my hit list.

MAC Lipstick in Twig
I saw this recommended a little over a week ago as a perfect lipstick for olive tones. I bought it for myself at the first opportunity and it really is perfect. It's a deep, brownish rose that I've been wearing non stop. Perfect for olive skin and perfect for cool, fall weather.
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MAC Blush in Springsheen (for stronger or deeper olive tones)
Like an asshole, I really only bought this blush because the name reminded me of my imaginary boyfriend Bruce Springsteen. I have to use a very light hand with it to prevent it from looking too orange on my face. I suspect it's better suited for deeper olive toned skin.
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NARS Blush in Orgasm and Miss Liberty
Orgasm: This color is on the verge of being wrong. It's gold and orange, general no's for olive skin. It's JUST peach enough to work with olive skin which I'm thrilled about. This color is a bestseller for a reason - it's absolutely gorgeous on a variety of skin tones.
Miss Liberty: This color is meant to be used as a highlight but I prefer to use it as a blush on my paler skin. It's a soft peach that makes my olive skin glow.
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Stila Convertible Color in Peony
As a rule, I find colors that are described as "peony" by makeup companies tend to be a brownish pink rather than so light pink it's almost white color real peonies have. Peony colors are generally a safe bet. This cream color by Stila works as both a blush and a lip color.
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Rimmel Blush in Santa Fe Rose
Another flower themed color that's olive's best friend is rose. Rose will generally be a perfect mix of mauve, brown and pink and compliment the green tones in olive skin. Sadly, I'm not sure where to get this blush in the US. I grabbed it out of a clearance bin in Ulta years ago and haven't seen it around since.
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NARS Dolce Vita Lipstick and Blush
 NARS makes the shade Dolce Vita in both a blush and a lipstick. I only own the lipstick and it's a perfect "my lips but better" color. I've heard rave reviews about the blush as well and many olive skinned beauty addicts consider it a holy grail blush color.
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Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 117
This foundation is my best friend. I can never see myself betraying it by switching to something else. It's the perfect yellow yet pale color and has a full, buildable coverage. Make Up For Ever is pretty inclusive with their range of foundation and it's likely that darker olive tones could find a match in this line as well. If not, I've heard NARS and Tarte both include yellow toned foundations with great formulas. Additionally, a lot of olive toned people turn to Asian BB creams in lieu of Western products and have a lot of success there.
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Urban Decay's Naked Palette
 I'm not going to take photos because I feel like the Urban Decay Naked Palette is more recognizable than any of the Kardashians at this point. The original Naked has a selection of 12 shadows, almost all of which have a warm tone that compliments olive skin. There's also a handful of bronze and copper colors which are kind of THE colors to wear if you really want your olive skin to look its best. The only dud in the entire palette for olive skin is Gunmetal, a blue toned gray that has been left untouched in my palette, save for my initial swatch.

Hopefully this post can save at least one person with olive skin from mislabeling themselves and wasting a ton of money on products that won't work. Not only that but it was a very real struggle to feel attractive when so much of the makeup I tried looked and felt wrong. Don't feel like you're forced to fit into a cool or a warm skin tone. Those aren't your only options. There's a ton of combinations to make with cool and warm and yellow and pink and neutral and olive. We've been learning that humans come in lots of different colors since elementary school but throw that out the window in favor of just pink or yellow when it comes to makeup. Help yourself out and really consider your undertones and coloring. So you can spend a ton of money on products that make you look gorgeous instead.

Finally, I want to make it clear that I'm white and therefore still have a much wider range of beauty products to choose from than people of color. Whatever your undertone is, us white people are catered to in the beauty world. There are a ton of excuses about how it's just not fiscally possible for companies to cater to every skin color and shit like that but the reality is that it's close to impossible for people of color to find products, especially foundation, to match them without perusing higher end and higher cost options. This article explains that problem far better than I ever could as a white person. Despite the frustrations I've had with color matching, at the end of the day I'm a white girl and cosmetics companies absolutely do cater to me.

September 16, 2014

Review and Swatches: Maybelline Leather Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Chocolate Suede and Vintage Plum

Review Swatches Maybelline Leather Color Tattoo Eyeshadow Chocolate Suede Vintage Plum
Maybelline is a brand I just can't quit and a big reason is their Color Tattoo cream shadows. I already own a handful but I can never stop myself from buying more. They're just too god damn useful. They're a cream shadow, a base to amp up powdered eyeshadow, eyeliner, brow fillers and contour shades all in one. I scramble to pick up any new colors, lest they be discontinued, but you can push FOMO out of your mind with these. Their collection, the fall 2014 Dare To Go Nude, has already been made permanent. The word "Leather" is also included on the packaging and I don't have a clue as to what it means. At first I thought the formula on these shadows would be entirely different than what I'm used to but they seem pretty standard. Should my eyelids feel like leather after I apply these? Are the colors meant to inspire thoughts of leather? Will I need these leather cream shadows when I'm on my hog and need to go into a controlled slide?

Review Swatches Maybelline Leather Color Tattoo Eyeshadow Chocolate Suede Vintage Plum
Review Swatches Maybelline Leather Color Tattoo Eyeshadow Chocolate Suede Vintage Plum
Fortunately, the texture of these shadows is far from leathery. Both colors have a very creamy formula and will likely stay that way so long as you're careful about closing the lids very tightly. Unlike the majority of Color Tattoos, most of the shades in the collection are matte. So, of course, I honed in one the one shimmer, Chocolate Suede. I picked up Vintage Plum as well since purple is my go to eyeshadow on the days when I'm not wearing neutrals. Chocolate Suede is a warm brown color with iridescent golden and red particles. It kind of looks like it would be siblings, if not twins with NARS Mekong. Maybe an underachiever little sister. Vintage Plum is a very gray, antique looking dark lavender.

Review Swatches Maybelline Leather Color Tattoo Eyeshadow Chocolate Suede Vintage Plum
These shadows were a bit of a flop when I applied them to my actual eye. They swatched beautifully on my arm but smoked out on my lid. It gave them a much sheerer look and I had to work harder than I wanted to to build up the color. Still, the shades are unique and have the same creaseless and creamy formula of the other Maybelline Color Tattoos. I'm not suffering from buyers remorse.

September 10, 2014

Apartment Updates

IKEA Hemnes dresser Micke desk vaity

...Hi. I haven't updated this blog in an awkwardly long time. I'm sure my three readers are devastated. I've acquired a lot of new shit though and I want to talk about it. So, standard sorry for not blogging for 4 months, yadda yadda, but I would just prefer to pick up where I left off which is with shopping and rubbing makeup on my arms and taking pictures of it.

By far, the most important purchase I've made in my absence, or in all of 2014, is this rug:

rugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple green
Look at it!! Not only do I love this rug for who this rug is but it's just such a massive upgrade from the previous situation.

old rug black gray stripes
That was the rug I had between my bed and dresser for about a year and a half. Gray and darker gray stripes. It's not offensively ugly. There's nothing wrong with it. It served its minimal purpose as something to disguise the parquet but that was it. It was just really aggressively not my style and would look a lot better in a masculine setting. I can't even express my disdain for that rug and how much I hated looking at it every day. It was just jarring to look at in the space and it brought everything down to its uncolorful level. It was the main thing that brought color to the bedroom section of my apartment and the color it brought was just drab non color.

I had been eyeballing rugs for literally an entire year on Rugs USA which is the most fucked up online rug retailer ever in that they pretty much just give their rugs away. They have 70% and 80% off sales all the time for no reason. Like, it's Arbor Day, have a rug for $400 off! I purchased mine for 70% off during their Labor Day sale and it's probably the best deal I've ever gotten in my life. The rug is something like 5.5 x 8.6 inches and it was $102. $102 for a huge, quality rug and the shipping was free. The shipping was seriously stressing me out, though - I ended up having to call UPS because they would bring the rug to my building after the package office was closed and put the rug back on the truck and take it all the way back to Maryland instead of taking the elevator up two floors and walking five steps to my apartment door. I was refreshing the tracking updates like a lunatic and was about a day away from having a cerebral hemorrhage when it was finally delivered.

rugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple green

rugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple green

rugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple green

I debated down to the wire about what rug to get and ended up choosing this purple overdyed Turkish kilim rug. It looked much more purple in the photos and far less green but I'm much happier with how it actually looks in real life. It's not overwhelming or overly saturated purple and the green areas add some softness. I was kind of worrying about how I would incorporate a deep indigo purple rug into a new apartment but I feel a lot more comfortable working with this color palette.

Rugs USA offers this rug in a ton of other colors, including really vibrant looking yellow and pink. I think the site even got a shout out in September's issue of Glamour for their astoundingly reasonable prices and wide selections.

Even though I still live in a studio (with a boy), I feel like I'm living in less of a decorating nightmare now that the "bedroom" looks so sectioned off and is just my space. Call it shallow but it makes me so happy to just exist among all of my crap on display. Everything past the bookcase just feels feminine and cozy and is covered in art. The purple rug just ties it all together.

rugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple greenrugs usa windsor overdyed grove rug turkish kilim rug purple green

I went to IKEA the same week the rug delivered, fueled by this Moschino ad I found in my dad's Art Forum magazine. I saw it and immediately decided to frame it. I'm just all about it. I love Moschino and especially love their McDonald's inspired collection. Italian fashion and motherfucking McDonald's. I'm embarrassingly passionate about McDonald's - it's really stereotypical fat girl of me but I can't help myself. I would easily kill someone to eat McDonald's breakfast every day and not gain weight. I would kill again to have any piece of the Moschino McDonald's collection - like, yes, I absolutely would carry around a purse shaped like a happy meal box. I would do so with a smile on my face. But, let's face it, never will I ever have $2,000 to drop on ready wear, witty McDonald's handbags. I have to settle for this ad which I absolutely love. It's a cropped version of this photo:

I just think it's beyond hysterical and it's just my aesthetic to a T. The seemingly heart shaped sunglasses that are actually McDonald's style M's and the fountain soda that's really a purse looped around the model's neck? Too much.

I'm kind of refraining from taking a close up picture of it because the ad is about a half inch too small for the frame and I had to back it with printer painter so the overall look is kind of... a mess. In my professional opinion, it looks real not good. I found the silver Ribba frame on the IKEA website about a week before I went to the store with the express goal of purchasing it and wanted to bash my head against the wall when I saw just how ever so slightly too small the picture was. Math confuses me so I didn't understand how wrong the whole thing would look even though I knew the dimensions before I bought the frame. Maybe I was just hoping for some kind of divine intervention on account of being a devout follower of the "Maybe God exists? Maybe he doesn't? I don't think about it!" religion. Who knows what the fuck goes on in my head. I think the silver frame works with it so perfectly so I'm in the process of figuring out how to blow up the ad. I just need less than an inch of white space added on to the edges and it will be perfect. Honestly, though, it's like outside forces are trying to say, "Vanessa, maybe it's a little too fucking ridiculous to prominently frame a McDonald's themed Moschino ad?" but those forces are Soviet Russia in Rocky IV and I'm Rocky. I am unstoppable. This weird ad is going to live in a giant frame and everyone is going to have to cooperate and make it happen somehow.

I also purchased those two little succulents and depotted them into empty glass candle jars. I've had the genius idea to pop out the last of my candle wax and put them into wax warmers to be extra frugal and get every last scent/cent out of my candle purchases. I had so many excess candle jars that I had to throw a few away and almost forgot to save two of those little guys. Pinterest is telling me that succulents are virtually unkillable which I'm hoping is true. I was kind of a crazy plant lady in my college years but I had to get over that quick because this apartment slaughters plants. There's no sunlight since the only window faces another side of the building. Hopefully the succulents will be able to persevere because I like the little bit of green they add. Really brightens up the hideous air conditioning unit.

As for nightstand changes, I got this lamp from TJ Maxx on a whim. Weeks later, I was browsing my own Pinterest boards because I'm really self involved and was surprised to spot it in this photo from an Apartment Therapy home tour which I had pinned months before:

The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess. That lamp just pinged something in me on two separate occasions. It was meant to be. I also swapped out the knob on my dresser for this blue one simply because it was on sale for $2 at Anthropologie. Spending $2 at Anthropologie is a once in a lifetime experience. I was half hoping the salesgirl checking me out would be proud of me or something.

I also picked up this beaded and sequined pillow because, as a woman, I was feeling uncomfortable about the lack of frivolous pillows in my apartment. I'm kidding, it's because I'm still 13 years old and my bed had zero sparkly elements and I was jonesing for a fix. The back of this pillow is stark white so of course there's already a giant iced tea stain on it.

On the right of my bed is the bookshelf. I've moved all of my books to my side of the apartment and the Expedit shelving kind of let me compartmentalize the books into categories. The top shelf needs some work but my (woefully small) collection of art books just barely don't fit into their cube and spill over into my miniature history section, half of which is Kennedy books. I'm working on building up my book collection after years of using the library. In my dream home, I have one bookshelf of this size filled exclusively with my alphabetized collection of art books and then a separate bookshelf for my biographies, Russian history books and fiction. For now, with the size of my apartment and bank account, this is more than good. I'm especially thrilled with the fact that I have an entire book on degenerate art from the Neue Galerie since that's my all time, desert island favorite period of art history AND that I own it because I got to see a show at the aforementioned gallery on it. My Francis Bacon book is similarly special - both are not only on my respective favorite artist and movement but are mementos from some of the most incredible art shows I've had the privilege to see.

This is the current spread on top of my dresser. My dresser is another item in my apartment that's screaming to be replaced but can't happen until I have more square footage. It only has three drawers, one of which is full of so many t shirts that I'm honestly fearful of opening it. That bottom drawer is also unfixably broken, likely because this is a piece of IKEA furniture that I've been clinging to since 2009 and through at least 5 moves. My next dresser is going to have at least six drawers for me to shove all my lazy clothes into because simply owning less clothes to be lazy in is unthinkable and you hate me if you even suggest it.

The big ticket item right now is my television, which doesn't look very bloggery but I have to stay true to myself. I'm a woman who likes to watch Netflix in bed at all hours of the day. If my TV has to take up 3/4 of my dresser in order for me to live that kind of life then so be it. The TV is a Netflix only kind of deal - I'm just starting my first month without cable like a proper millennial - but it's hooked up to a Google Chromecast which is a gadget you need to buy immediately. Basically, the TV is plugged into the wall and hooked up to nothing but the Chromecast. No gaming console, no cable box. With the Chromecast you can open up Google Chrome on your laptop or phone and "cast" the screen to the television. It works for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, you name it. You can even watch YouTube videos or just pull up whatever tabs you're browsing on your laptop and it will appear on the TV just as it does on your personal screen. It makes the TV less of an eyesore too because the Chromecast will slideshow nature photography while it's idle. It's much nicer to look at the Golden Gate in the fog or a close up of rain droplets on a flower than a plain old blank screen.

I have all my jewelry shoved to the side because of my TV situation and the other half of my jewelry collection lives in a drawer of my IKEA Alex. I try to keep my most worn pieces on this surface not just because I reach for them the most but because I like looking at them. The jewelry box is falling apart and is equally as old as my dresser - my aunt gave my cousins and I pieces of our grandma's jewelry in these matching jewelry boxes the Christmas after her death so I'll probably keep and display this even after it completely falls apart. It's grab during a fire level important to me. My dad got me the glass blown ring stand in front of it from a Chihuly exhibit's gift shop. The butterfly cup holds all of my hair ties and I've hung all of my favorite chandelier earrings around the edge of the jam jar that holds my sunglasses. My favorite is still my paint palette plate which I still can't believe I was lucky enough to find twice in Nordstrom Rack.

IKEA Virserum gold

I tore out this Damien Hirst butterfly collage out of the same Art Forum magazine where I found the Moschino ad. It's the perfect fusion of my 13-year-old girl love of butterflies and my love for art and Damien Hirst. I know I have a magazine clipping of For The Love Of God somewhere and I'm hoping to give that the same treatment. The "Pink Is For Girls" print is also an ad from the 60's that I tore out of a book I got on my trip to Italy. I love how graphic and pink it is, yet how totally forlorn the retro girl looks at her surroundings. I've had that print framed kind of haphazardly in an extra IKEA Ribba frame but I like these two ads framed in gold much, much better. They're IKEA Virserums which sounds like some kind of illegal potion from the Harry Potter universe. I'm hoping to hang them on an actual wall in my next apartment next to the polyptich I got in Venice which also has a distressed gold frame.

A close up of my palette plate which holds dangly earrings sans hooks in the little wells and all of my most worn bracelets (and bracelet sized earrings) in the big compartment. It's pretty much just become a holder for my roll on beaded bracelets which I borderline obsessively buy for my best friend and I wherever I see them. A few a from eBay but others are from art galleries in the city, shops on the Point Pleasant boardwalk on the Jersey shore and little shops in Venice, Italy. My current favorite is the blue and gold one which reminds me of the Ukrainian flag.

Finally, I taped up some postcards above my vanity. I was wary of doing this in an apartment at first but eventually couldn't help myself. The wall was too bare and I have too many postcards. The top row is abstract expressionism with a Kline and a Pollock and the bottom is just some visually similar, neutral toned shots of women looking over their shoulders - Peggy Guggenheim, my idol, playing dress up, the infamous Madame X by John Singer Sargent and a photograph from the Neue Galerie's permanent collection. All my other postcards have just become layered on top of each other in my ribbon board and are just a totally incohesive mess. The towel over my chair is also new and was purchased from TJ Maxx because it reminded me of some kind of budget Missoni print. I keep it over the chair because I'm a disgusting pig and routinely wipe my makeup brushes or lotiony hands onto it.

I feel like I'm as happy with my apartment as I could possibly be given that this place has been "temporary" for a year now. Like, do I like how all of my storage, my dresser and my vanity are cramped together against one wall? Do I like how my mirror isn't centered above my dresser? Do I even necessarily like my furniture? Definitely not. There's a ton that I'd like to change but I'd be wasting my time since I've been ready to move out for months. I hate having plain off white walls but why should I paint when I may only be here for another month or two before I have to paint it back or risk forfeiting my security deposit? How should I buy new furniture when I don't have the space for it and won't for the foreseeable future? It sucks to buy and design around a temporary mindset but it's just more practical this way. Hopefully a one bedroom is on the horizon which will be a place where all my design dreams can come true.