I am a bit of a product whore. That is to say I love products in pretty packages and I am quite discerning. I love the entire idea of the time it takes to bathe and powder and brush and preen in the mirror and revel in luxuriating in pampering the body. It is my special time and place, the bath. It is where I feel comforted and rejuvenated. It is therapy for me to have a face soap or bath oil with a beautiful fragrance. When I want to reinvent myself in my mind I just pick a new one.
Here are some of my absolute must-haves. I swear by them. These are the staples that I would take to the proverbial desert island, if I had the choice to pack them instead of being washed up there of course.
1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser.* Around $7.50. It is not for everyone and by that I mean it’s for folks like me who have oily skin and tend to break out even after a certain age. I don’t mind the oil as it saves me in wrinkles but I cannot claim to be able to just rinse off my face with water and have a clear complexion. This stuff has the good old 2% Salicylic Acid that most dermatologists have as the main ingredient in their own more expensive solutions. Also the pink grapefruit smell is practically exhilarating. I was never a fan of the original scent so this is right up my alley. I actually use the exfoliation face scrub every day.
2. EOS (Evolution of Smooth) Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream. Around $3.50. This brand is Paraben-free and Cruelty-Free. It also comes in luscious scents like Raspberry Pomegranate, Lavender Jasmine and my personal favorite Vanilla Bean. Yum. I personally have found that my man likes me best when I smell like some kind of cake. Can’t beat the price and the quality as it really leaves skin moisturiz-ed and provides a great smooth surface for shaving close. I need a close shave just as much as the next guy.
3. SW Basics Natural Vegan Makeup Remover & Skin Moisturizer At around $12.00 I find this all natural answer to makeup removal a great solution. I use it for the hard to get eye liner and water-proof mascara that doesn’t want to come clean. I also like to use it to clean my applicator brushes. With sweet almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, and Jojoba oil it is smooth on the skin and chemical free. It’s vegan too which makes me feel better about using it. When I can find a beauty product that works well, smells great and didn’t hurt anyone in the process of getting made I am a happier girl.
4. Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner $9.95. Now this is the real mother load. I actually can’t believe I am sharing this with you as I am afraid you will now know my secret and I won’t be able to grab it off the shelf at Whole Foods anymore. I love witch hazel as a toner. Used by Native Americans and distilled from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub this medicinal plant was used to ease swelling, as a treatment for a number of skin ailments and is a natural astringent. I love using Thayers as they have variations on the theme, Lavender, Lemon, Rose and Un-scented to name a few. Also the old school packaging makes me feel like I just picked it up at ye olde general store. Big ups for this brand.
5. Smith’s Rosebud Salve $6. This perennial favorite is as basic as it gets and works wonders both as a lip balm and also for rubbing on cheeks. I also use it as a base to mix in colors for my own lip stains and glossy eyeshadow.
6. L’Occitane en Provence Shea Butter Hand Cream $12-28. I love this hand cream for reals. Even when I had no money to spend on extras I would splurge on this. I have yet to find a hand cream that goes on as easy, leaves no nasty residue or that smells quite as rich as this does. The French know some things and this they got right. I love all of L’Occitane’s products and would use their hand wash and lotion at every sink basin in my home if I could. Great for smoothing out cuticle’s in a pinch as well and also comes in different scents.
There you have it. These are just a handful of my go to’s and I am a reluctant and excited to share them all with you.
*I understand the Neutrogena is not cruelty-free and am currently looking for a solution that is and will let you all know when I do.
The news of a death of a loved one is never easy. Whether it be sudden or expected, an older family member or a close friend, the loss never hits you in the same way.
I lost my grandmother this past week to Alzheimer’s disease. Though it had been a slow progression the actuality of her final days still created acute pain and was sad and beautiful at the same time.
I say beautiful because I looked back at the life of this woman who nurtured me and cared for me throughout my life and a certain nostalgia hit me. She lived a simple and long life and had love. She died as well as she could have. The beauty lied in the images that struck me. Her feeding me Cuban dishes and teaching me how to cook them on her tiny stove is one of only many cherished memories. I used to walk with her hand in hand to the grocery to pick out fresh foods that she told me all about. She bathed me and sang to me and soothed me when I was ill. As a teenager when I felt I had no one to turn to, she was there, every afternoon, with a hot plate of food and a open heart. I took pride in the fact that she used to love to tell everyone that I looked just like her.
I hope to pass on to my daughter the love of cooking and gardening that she gave me, her indelible grace and beauty, not to mention her thriftiness. She had a huge garden that she tended loyally. Her chicken coop was the star of the backyard for me, and she taught me how to care for the newborn chicks and proudly displayed any fresh eggs in her refrigerator.
Besides all of the thoughts of days we shared I looked back on her life and who she loved and how she lived. I saw all of the people that she left behind who came to say goodbye. I foresaw the future when I looked upon my parents saying their final respects over the coffin and I could see myself in their place one day.
People look for solace at times like these. I don’t know what I believe in terms of religion or afterlife but I did see some yellow butterflies fluttering around my niece and daughter as they ran together in the yard I grew up playing in. I didn’t think much of it until I looked it up and sure enough the yellow butterfly is a well known symbol of death and spirits moving on.
I will try to take that as a sign. Or maybe even if it’s just a coincidence I will pretend that it is her every time I see one.
Dearest Mima, I love you.
I love to travel. Long distance, over nights, day trips, you name it I am down for it. This summer I am due for some new luggage to fly about with me. As I obsess over all the bags I would love to have and can’t necessarily afford I have been collecting the images and figure I may as well share them with someone. Here are my top picks:
The whole collection of “Disturbed” striped luggage from Henri Bendel would be my absolute ideal luggage set. I know everyone usually dreams of the full set from Louis Vuitton, and I have too, but this is my signature alternative pick.
The wheelies are the most practical and these seem durable and stylish. This hat box so reminds me of the one in the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” that was shuffled around between Madonna and Rosanna Arquette.
I was so obsessed with that film when I was a little girl. Madonna played the ultimate cool, vagabond, free-spirited Susan. She lived out of this train case and I had many a fantasy of doing the same when I grew up.
Of course the collection of toiletry cases and makeup bags from Henri Bendel would be great too. I love the simple cream and white stripes. Every shape and size please!
This travel set from Loewe is both vintage inspired and wonderfully modern. The leather and metal mixed with worn tan and bright colors really caught my eye.
The Catwalk Ruksak would be a stylin’ way to go rugged. How about this for jumping on and off the Eurostar?
And finally just for the weekend-er, here are some top flight choices I think. Perhaps I have a tendency to lean toward the simplicity of brown and white. Brics makes both of these dual purpose rolling duffels.
More picks to come. I cannot be stopped from planning trips all over the world with the perfect luggage, whether or not those trips ever transpire into an actuality.
I was inspired to check out the book Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe after watching the recent film My Week With Marilyn. A nice portrait, the film brought me back to reading more from her. I spent countless days as a teenager reading biographies of different actors and artists while studying in a performing arts school. I had found her book My Story and discovered her fondness for books and journaling, even if sporadic. It is partly responsible for my own writing starting out.
The book Fragments is a unique look into the pieces of paper left over from moments in the screen stars life as she tried to find her place in the world. I find that all of us are trying to do that same thing, find our purpose and to be inspired and stay connected.
Recently I had a brief conversation with some classmates as we discussed Pinterest and other online sources like blogs and we all shared the same thought. We missed the actual placing of pencil or pen to paper. I longed for the feeling of cutting out a picture and pasting it onto a crisp new journal page.
Here is a beautiful example by artist Anna Rusakova from Kiev, Ukraine on Behance
As for Twitter and Facebook, I see the collection of opened letters on my desk and realize why I haven’t thrown them away. They are tangible evidence that someone took the time to think about me and to write. The messy or careful hand writing is a marvel and the stamps a thing for museums. The paper, the colorful envelopes all of differing card stock sizes and texture are a sensory pleasure lost in the day-to-day digital era.
Also, I don’t know when the last time was that you received a love letter but surely none of them rival Ludwig van Beethoven’s letter to his “Immortal Beloved”, beginning with My angel, my all, my very self —
I have saved all of my journals and even had one survive a fire in my bedroom as a teenager. For years now I have begun new ones over and over again without finishing. Here is to putting my fingers to use on the page before I forget how.
In honor of one of my favorite shows coming back on the air after an 18 month hiatus I am throwing an imaginary premiere party.
At this party I would of course be perfectly coiffed and dressed in my best unhappy housewife frock with an apron serving up classic canapes and hors d’oeuvres.
Fact is I’m not up for the actual inviting of people so I will instead plan it here with you all as my guests.
James Beard was apparently the master of party food in the 50′s and throughout the sixties when bite sized morsels were all the rage. This kind of fuel was just what one would need in order to keep all the booze in check at cocktail hour.
His books Menus For Entertaining and The Fireside Cookbook published in 1949 taught many unexperienced cooks how to whip up the perfect dinner party and became a go to for inspiration for decades.
I am getting my hands on these as soon as possible. I know when throwing the Christmas party in season 4 for Lucky Strike Joan opted for Deli and Chinese. That sounded amazing. Doing research I found a lot of unappealing suggestions which you can find at The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Ditching the jello ambrosia salad and cheese whiz here are some starters that appealed to me that were popular back in the day or inspired by the classics.
The Stuffed Mushroom
This one I found on the great blog Cookbook Archeology. Celia is an ardent lover of history and food. She learned how to make these by watching her grandmother make them and put her own spin on them. Click here for this cheesy fungi and other fantastic recipes.
The Pu Pu Platter
A Polynesian/Chinese invention popularized by restaurants like Trader Vicks, this platter included small seafood and meat dishes along with a hibachi grill. These tasty picks, via Epicurious, were adapted from the bar menu of that classic haunt by Gourmet magazine in 2008. Although the beef teriyaki and bacon wrapped pineapple sound good I am leaning towards the shrimp toasts below.
This gem could be found on the menu at the Don The Beachcomber restaurant as early as 1941 and calls for water chestnuts and liver wrapped in bacon marinated in ginger-soy.
As for cocktails these seem strong and appropriate:
1 pony Creme De Cacao
1 pony Distilled Dry Gin
1 pony Sweet Cream
Shake well with crushed ice, strain into No 9 or 10 glass
Prepare and serve in Glass No. 5
1 lump cube sugar
1 or 2 dashes Cocktail Bitters
1 dash seltzer
Muddle sugar until dissolved
1 jogger Rye, Bourbon or Scotch Whiskey
Cube of ice
Garnish with twist of lemon peel, 1 slice of orange, 1 maraschino cherry. Serve with highball spoon.
Classic Martini (via The New York Times)
4 parts Beefeater gin
1 part Noilly Prat dry vermouth
1 small strip of lemon peel.
1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
2. Pour in the gin and vermouth.
3. Stir for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled coupe.
4. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, then place it on the coupe’s edge. Garnish with a fresh sage leaf.
As for music the cha cha and the soundtrack from the film An Education would be just dandy.
I’m off to don my fluffy white slippers and housecoat and sink into a chaise lounge to watch AMC and get down to the business of being a Mad Men super dork. Join me won’t you?
If you get a chance before April 28th, 2012 to come downtown in Los Angeles visit the FIDM Museum & Galleries 2oth Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition.
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising has a museum that rotates some great exhibits year round and this annual showing of nominated costumes from film is always a treat. This year they are showing some varied and fabulous frocks from Hugo, Water For Elephants, The Artist and Captain America to name a few.
Also on hand are some really special artifacts from movie history, like Marlene Dietrichs custom satin evening shoes, and a bolero worn by Rudolph Valentino in the film Blood and Sand. I was floored by the tiny shorts worn by Jean Harlow in Reckless just from the extreme smallness of the waistline!
My husband and I went around comparing ourselves to the frames of all the stars mannequin doppelgängers. While you are there you can visit the Helen Larson Gallery and visit with royalty. Or their royal clothing, rather.
The garments dating between 1600 to 1950 are among those worn by Czarina Marie and Mary of England to name a few, designed by major haute couture designers of the day including Chanel. I had no idea that Queen Victoria was only 4’8″ which the security guard was kind enough to let me know. I suppose I was mistakenly picturing Emily Blunt.
A definite must see if you love fashion, history or both!
FIDM MUSEUM&GALLERIES / 213.623.5821 / FIDMMUSEUM.ORG / BLOG.FIDMMUSEUM.ORG
We never seemed to get a lot of trick or treaters in our old neighborhood. Seems like in Los Angeles there are only pockets of sidewalk culture. Being Downtown we were wont of a traditional Halloween but unsure where to find it.
Luckily while at the FIDM park one day early in October I saw a sign for the downtown kids Halloween party! The 4th Annual Halloween Party For Downtown L.A. Kids. It was sponsored by Ralphs down the street, FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), and many other downtown businesses.
My husband and I were down to go with our little one and were joined by friends Autumn, Jesse and little Finn. They came dressed as overgrown banana, baby monkey and wrangler. I went as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz with my little one dressed as the lion. She has a great roar!
There was a puppet show, and facade doors to houses that we could knock on and say our “trick or treats”. A live DJ spun some great seasonal tunes including the famous chicken dance.
After some free hot dogs, popcorn and my very favorite, cotton candy, we were full of Halloween goodies. There were even apples and carrots for the little ones.
Everyone was super friendly and the spirit of the holiday was in high gear.
A treat indeed! Here are some more great photos from the event!