Yesterday

Here’s what I did in an effort to not watch the news…

I baked a cake. Alison Roman’s Sticky Apple cake. Google the recipe – it’s so good. I know lots of people don’t like her now. She was a popular NYT food writer and had a ton of cooking demos on YouTube. Then she started getting popular and said something snarky about Chrissy Teigen in a magazine article. Chrissy responded. The internet blew up and long social media story short – Alison was “cancelled”. She lost followers. Lost her job. Had to write a public apology. Then had to write another because the first was deemed not sorry enough. Then people started accusing her of appropriating recipes, for example her very popular The Stew, which people thought was really just an Americanized version of an Indian dish called Chana Masala. Was it? Kind of. But I didn’t agree completely. There’s no coconut milk in Chana Masala. And her recipe didn’t have the one main thing that makes Chana Masala Chana Masala – garam masala! The combo of spices that makes it smell and taste like the Indian dish. It did have turmeric – but so what? Do Indians own turmeric? Don’t answer that. So now she’s a pariah and had to work her way back quietly into the world. It’s all too much. I like her. I like her chickpea stew. And I really love this apple cake so apologies for spending so much time on Chana Masala.

Then I got my hair did.

I had taken half the day off from work just so I could be trapped in a salon, covering my greys for two hours. This is the first time in my adult life that I have a hair dresser. A woman who I consistently go to and who I can call my own. For years I bopped from one salon to the next. There were also years were I went to one of those fast food type hair places – you know what I mean. $18 cut. You might get Shirly who has done hair for 20 years, or you might get Wendy who just got her license last night. I’ve also gone to the places in NYC where no less than 5 people “work” on different parts of your haircut. I’m happy to never go to either of those places ever again. All in all it was a good visit until the end. She said, in her cute Mexican accent, “I’m going to put a little extra hairspray at the back because you have fine hair”. Fine hair? Excuse me? Ummm no. No I don’t. I have thick, healthy hair. All my life hair dressers have commented on how very thick and healthy my hair is. I’m from a culture that sells hair to the entire world. That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I just smiled and died inside. Fine hair. Ok ok, it’s just a comment. Nothing to obsesses about. No big deal. I immediately drove from the salon to CVS to get these hair vitamins. Sigh.

At least I’m predictable. I’ll let you know if they work. Good news – during all that time I was getting my hair done and getting emotionally wounded by my hair dresser, I was…..drumroll…not watching the news!

I worked the polls! It was my first ever civic-minded volunteerism. I liked it. I didn’t love it. I mean it was a bit….disorganized…they could have used a project manager or an admin or something. I was there for 3 hours trying to help people who were actually just fine. They just wanted to get in and out and back to their lives. But I tried right? More importantly, it was 3 hours that I wasn’t watching the news!

After all that – at the end of the day, I did watch the news. We went to a neighbor’s house (someone we’ve been in a quarantine pod with) and watched some of the live action, ate some food and had some booze. It was just what the doctor ordered. I did want to share something funny I noticed as we were watching the results.

Do you know the app Calm? It’s pretty cool. It’s a meditation and stress relief app that I’ve been using since last year. It has everything from quick breathing techniques to bedtime stories that are peaceful and…for lack of a better word, calming. Anyway as I was watching the “countdown” to our country’s finale, I caught this. Calm sponsored that portion of the night. Genius! Give that marketing department a raise.

We didn’t stay long. That night my husband sent me this picture he’d taken earlier of the sun setting behind our house. I had spent the whole day avoiding being here because I thought it would cause me stress and anxiety. But looking at this picture gave me the most peaceful feeling I’d had all day. Dorky but true.

So that’s what I did yesterday.

Today was another day. Back to work. Back to life. Back to stress, and back to the news.

Civil unrest? I’ve got a mask for that…

I’m not trying to make light of things. I know next week is the election. I know people are on edge and this is no joking matter. I’m with you. I get it.

I don’t know if next week will be a big nothing burger and I should make my doctor’s appointment or wait to see if riots break out. Strange times. That’s why today I’ll give you a historic lesson on voting in America…not! The only voting I can fully explain is how an American Idol is picked.

Here’s what I can do. I can make you think about frivolity for just 5 minutes. Join me in a little distraction why don’t you. A little respite from reality. Not at a Kardashian level (that was crazy, did you see it? Private island! Holograms of dead dads! Nuts).

If you are like me, you’ve done a lot of online shopping during the past few months. I’ve done more than usual. And I buy all kinds of crap. In the documentary, The Social Dilemma (did you see this? Even scarier than the Kardashians fiddling away while Rome burns). Anyway one of the creators of Instagram says that social media is now just a mall. She’s so right. It’s just so easy. And there’s been nothing to do, and nowhere to go.

One of my best qualities is that I don’t discriminate where I buy clothes from. Did you know Costco sells dresses? I do. I’ve worn one to a big meeting at work. I’ve worn Walmart pjs as a dress too (no one knew). I have no shame. Online is no different. I’ll buy from Bergdorf’s, QVC, China – I don’t care. I’ll buy it all. It’s the same with beauty products. I’ll buy almost anything from almost anywhere.

So here’s what I’ve gotten recently and my two cents on it:

I’ll start with my favorite. My son Jack gave this to me as a birthday present back in May and I used it up in just a few weeks. I’m on bottle number 3 now. It’s so so good – exfoliates, makes your skin brighter, tingles a bit and smells like pumpkin! Very on brand for this time of year. Get yourself some asap. Worth all $60.

This stuff is AMAZING. Quai pronounced KAY? QWAY? QWO? I dunno. But it’s so good. Rose hair and body oil that I also use on my face. I’m like an oil slick at night. It’s attractive. This was like $16 – and a little goes a long way. It smells lightly of rose and sinks right into your skin and hair. Heaven. If heaven was a rose oil.

This next purchase happened because I follow Goop on Instagram. The first 1,000 times they advertised it I looked away. Then I gave in and got it. It’s $55 for a big fat tub. The ads had these really crunchy women in short shorts lathering on huge amounts. They seemed really moisturized. I am still using it, but it’s just meh. Just ok. I wouldn’t spend the money. My search for a good all body moisturizer continues. I’ll keep you posted.

This. THIS. Have you used it? Do you hate it? This came from my daughter’s stash. She tried it once and had to remove it immediately. It burned too much. If you know me, you know this was music to my ears. Burned you say? Like a layer of skin off? Sign me up! And she’s right. It’s highly uncomfortable. I love it. Reviews all agree with Kera. No one likes it. I’ll definitely be buying it again. $15. Go get it. I dare you.

We were late to this game. I know many of you already knew about this but I’d never heard of Dr. Bronner’s! Holy moly it’s good. Is it scary that I can use it as a body soap and then use it to remove soap scum in the shower? Why yes it is! But as stated above, if it’s tingly…it’s for me. Buy the bottle for your reading pleasure alone. A giant bottle is $10. I’ve been using this one since May. No joke

Last but not least. These cooling water eye patches are the best. And I’ve tried many. These are the best. They cool. They calm. I love them so much I put them on to write this blog.

Happy weekend everyone. Deep breaths. xoxo

The bearded lady wants to give you some advice…

I was just going to write this to my daughter, but I’ll share my thoughts broadly – you’re welcome.

Thanks to Ulta, Sephora, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star (RIP his relationship to Nathan) – we all think we are skin/make-up experts. Believe me, I’m the leader of that group. I’m all about knowing and trying every single product that comes out. I’ve written many many blogs on my love of all things that can smooth, flatten, brighten, tighten, etc. I’m for all of it. I also love getting a good, violent facial. Scrape it, squeeze it, laser it…bring it all on. But I’m really nervous about something that’s been creeping up everywhere.

Dermaplaning. At home. With expensive or cheap tools you can buy online or at a local store near you. The benefits they tout are vast. Remove peach fuzz and have more radiant, glowing skin! Make-up goes on easier and lasts longer! Skin feels and looks smoother and softer! Sounds like a revelation. But it’s not. It’s shaving your face. Just plain old shaving your whole face. The razors look different than the ones we use on our legs, but the concept is the same.

Listen ladies, I get it. I’m hairy too. If you saw me with my natural eyebrows and upper lip, it wouldn’t be pretty. I mean I was a junior in high school before I detached my unibrow. As a mom, I was ahead of the pack letting my daughter know we could wax, shave, peel anything she wanted whenever she was ready. I think that was in 4th grade. Believe me, I get it. And, if I’m honest, I’ve had days where I didn’t have time to go get a quick wax when I reached for my razor and took care of my upper lip issues. There’s no shame in that game. You do what you need to.

But this idea of shaving your face …no no no. Just don’t do it. Remember when they told us that pencil thin eyebrows were cool? Or that fat free bread would help us lose weight? All lies. Don’t buy into it!

Your peach fuzz is fine, leave it alone. Your uni-brow and mustache are not, take care of that now. Please people. Let’s go back to our face masks and charcoal treatments and put the face razors down. I love you.

Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learned from Neha

Guest Post! This is from Sarah. Let me tell you all something about Sarah. She could run a small country if she wanted to, that’s how smart she is. I’m not sure what serendipity led her to the same company as me, but I am forever grateful. During my first few weeks at this job, I felt like an alien. I was “one of these things does not belong with the other” material. Then I found Sarah. And Jeanette (another lucky strike). I don’t know why I trusted them both immediately – but I did. And it made everything ok. These are the people I hope will start their own blogs, because people need to have them in their lives, like I’ve been lucky to have them in mine.

Guest blogger here – I’m Neha’s friend, Sarah. She assigned me to write a blog post “by Friday. Not draft. Final copy.” I asked her for a topic or a word count and she said “no rules.” So I decided that to share the lessons I have learned from her over the past 5+ years with you, dear readers.


“No Rules” I brought my two and a half year old to her house with one request — please tell him that to hang at your house that you have to use the potty. We arrived, I tried to start the show with her about the potty… and she blatantly ignored me. “Um, there are no rules at my house” and then proceeded to feed my son chocolate, French fries, cake, flavored seltzer, and any TV show he asked for in a reoccurring loop. I secretly hoped he would pee his pants on her couch while he was under her spell. Another time she whipped out a big toy truck on a random Saturday to buy his affection. It worked. Lesson learned, visits to her house may only be about indulgence.

Earlier this week, I asked my little guy what is his favorite thing. He answered “Tia Neha” and then “cocktails.” 🤦🏻‍♀️ He is two and a half.

Friendship with Neha means telling her everything big and small In jlooking at the history of our texts, it’s everything from “please help me, I’m in a bind” to “Is this crazy or normal?” to “are you aware of how many orange cars there are in PA?” I feel like I must tell her all of my big and small thoughts. After her blog post last week about the Revlon hair dryer, I had to confess and apologize to her that I’ve had that for two years and never told her about it. Then to atone for my sin of omission, I sent her approximately 17 texts, including links, of my most important hair products, tools, and why. Yesterday I texted her a play by play about how I got and now have pink eye.

Don’t Only Drop the Ball, Through It Out the WindowAnd Neha has become the place I bring my confessions and guilt… and most of the time, she tells me that I am too uptight and let it (whatever “it” is) go. After hearing this for five years, during which time I became a parent, I have fully embraced not only dropping the ball, but throwing it out the window.
A few months ago, my husband asked me if we have a nice Easter outfit for our son the day before. Nope! Can you try and get one today? Probably not because it’s second on my list after my top priority of taking a nap. Little guy wore his “fanciest” sweatshirt. While playing in his sandbox today, our little guy decided to take off his shorts and underwear. Sure dude, now we have a “nudie beach.” Sand got in every possible crevice. I sprayed him down with the hose afterward like a dog.
Let’s forgot the “should haves” or niceties. Friendship with Neha is getting permission to tell someone who is being crazy that they are crazy, or declining an invitation no reason given.
So I leave you with that — don’t just drop the ball, throw it out the window. It feels great. And if you need permission…email Neha, send her your confession, and she will tell you to stop being so uptight.

Hairy Scary

What if I told you that sometimes I know if I’ll have a good day or not by about 6:30 am? It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, who I’m seeing, what day it is, nothing. It doesn’t matter if the big meeting went well, if my kid got an A on the test, or if I finished a big project – although all those things happening would be great! The thing that can make or break my day is….get ready….my hair. That’s right. My hair. If it looks good, I’m good. I spend a lot of quality time thinking about my hair. One of the happiest days of my life (besides the birth of kids, marriage, etc) was the day I found a hairstylist that blows out my hair the way I like it. Lydia Esteban, you complete me. Lydia knows that although I don’t have one Southern bone in my body, I like big hair. She knows I don’t want a flat, sleek look. I want girth. I want body. She’s my hair soulmate – and I’m never telling you where to find her.

Hair takes up a lot of brain space. When I travel for work to a hot, humid place, I spend at least half my packing time thinking about what impact the local weather will have on my hair. Will I be able to wear it down? Will I need extra headbands? Should I even go on this trip based on the high humidity levels? These are real conversations I have with myself.

Last year I discovered dry shampoo. LIFE ALTERING dry shampoo. It was the biggest thing to happen to me since….blow-outs. I’m not sure who invented it – but I hope they get whatever the hair equivalent to a Pulitzer is.

I know I’m not alone in this obsession. Most of the women in my life care/worry/think about their hair all the time. I only know one freaky friend who has such good hair she can literally wash and go….literally. No Brazilian treatments in her hair, no expensive straightening products, no crazy tools. A brush and sometimes a hair dryer. I’ve even seen her hair naturally dry straight and with no frizz! WTF. I’ve seen it. It’s natural but it’s not normal. It’s not fair. I’m talking to you Julie! If you weren’t such an amazing person I’d be bitter about it. Ok who am I kidding, I’m still bitter about it.

As you can imagine, I’m always on the hunt for hair products to help make my days better. Like dry shampoo, I’ve also discovered clay shampoo and hair masks to help tame my ‘fro. I know there are a bunch of #womenrule people out there who think I should make nice with my semi-kinky, wavy, sometimes frizzy hair. But as I’ve said about my fight against wrinkles – why go natural when there are chemicals that can help? Poetic right?

Last week, as we were in the midst of a week-long event and I was on day 3 of my dry shampoo run, with no Lydia in sight…I found out about this amazing tool. This is not an ad!

The Revlon One Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer

It was an innocent conversation that one of the mom-planners was having about how this hairbrush/hair dryer combo had helped her teen. Before she even ended her story, I was on Amazon having one delivered to my hotel room. There were still 4 days left to the conference and with Prime I could have it the next day! Done done done. Would it be as good as she described? I was willing to take the bet.

And guess what? It was. It is. Let me begin by saying it’s cheap. Under $50. And, this is the best part, you don’t have to pre-dry your hair. It’s all one step!! It’s a one-handed miracle. There are over 6,000 plus reviews online. Are they all good? Nah – but did I tell you it was cheap? Even if it only lasts a few months, I’m in. I even debated posting about this because I’ll be buying these as gifts for the rest of the year, but I needed to tell you.

Below is a closer look. Don’t mind the Spanish, I accidentally changed my Amazon language settings and can’t figure out how to change them back.

Here’s what my hair looked like from wet to dry with this brush… not bad right? Who needs Lydia?! Kidding! I do…

Anyway – this post is dedicated to all my fellow hair obsessed gals. Remember when all I talked about was my Dyson hairdryer? Well mamas got a new favorite. You’re welcome.

Does it burn?

I like skincare products the way people like their pets. I’m OBSESSED. And I like them all. I don’t discriminate. Drug store cheapie? Sounds good to me. Expensive beauty product of the moment? Come to mama. I’ll bring them all home. Nurture and love them.

Face masks are all the rage… but I’ve been doing masks since 8th grade. When I discovered that a good layer of Calamine lotion dries on your face and can be lifted off like a mask. I don’t remember what led me to that discovery. Probably a slow tv night.

I get facials at least once a month – which sounds high maintenance but I balance it out by sometimes buying clothes at Costco (shhhhhhhh).

As I’ve written before in my other post (Product Ho), I have no loyalty to products or places of beauty. I’ll go anywhere. And I’ll drop a facialist (that’s a word right? Spellcheck is saying no, but it’s a word) quickly if she tells me I have to be more delicate with my skin. Delicate?? Nope. Sorry. My favorite question when buying most face products is,” does it burn?”.

Most people ask that to confirm that it won’t burn. I am asking with gleeful excitement hoping a layer of skin comes off with use.

That said – none of the stuff I’m using right now is that harsh. The retinol wipes are a bit…chemically… but in a good way.

Here’s what my nighttime/daytime routine looks like. This is what I’m doing while you’re at the gym, or cleaning your homes, or making the world better…

This stuff is awesome! I told you I have to wear make-up now to save my marriage right? So making sure every bit of my Tammy Faye Bakker mascara comes off before I go to bed is essential. This stuff looks and feels like Vaseline going on – but once it touches water it completely changes and dissolves. Taking Tammy right down the drain where she belongs. RIP.

I’ve tried every face scrub on the planet. Kate Somerville makes a $69 one that does the exact same thing this does. Trust me. I started using this the same time I experimented with the Calamine lotion face masks. It’s harsh. It’s drying. Put your big girl pants on and use it.

Kiehl’s has been my moisturizer since my baby girl was born. We lived on the Upper East Side in New York City, home of their original store. I was having a tough time postpartum and needed a pick-me-up. My husband surprised me with a giant bottle of their ultra moisturizer. It’s been what I’ve used every night ever since. I know it’s a bit too oily for some folks – and it does go on like a brick house, but I love it.

Cut to this year – coming back from a work trip with some co-workers and wandering the airport (Dublin airport? Delhi airport?), we found this. It’s like a little bottle of sunshine. For those days when I’m not trying to save my marriage and I don’t wear make-up, I wear this.

I don’t know if I believe in eye cream. But of course I use it every night because of 2 reasons, 1) I’m a slave to marketing and 2) I will fold like a cheap suit when a salesperson tells me a product is great. Why wouldn’t I trust a perfect stranger whose job is to gain commission off what she sells me? Duh. It’s a no-brainer.

Ohhhhh these burn. They burn so good. Ignore your eyes watering. It’ll be fine.

I snuck this in even though it’s not the same genre as the other products because it’s so good! It basically shellacs my face after I put my gobs of make-up on. It’s like laminating yourself for the day. In the words of Ina Garten, “how bad could that be?”.

Thanks for letting me share. What are you using? I need to know. I need to judge. Xoxo

PSA 2016

I use a lot of products. Too many I think. A few months ago I got rid of one of my routines. I no longer buy make-up remover. I’m done. No more wipes, lotions or pads. About 6 months ago I bought thisThis little vat of goodness does it all. It was bought to help me get my feet ready for flip flops. But in the end I started using it for my knees, elbows, lips, you get the picture. Then I read a small line on the back that read,”removes make-up.” So I tried it. 

Guess what? It’s amazing. This and a washcloth and the make-up is gone!

Here’s proof (is this an overshare?)


I know what you’re thinking. I’m a genius! And I wear too much eyeliner. Both true. But it’s better than anything else I’ve tried. 

I’m obsessed. I may or may not carry around smaller amounts of the butter everywhere I go in little Tupperware containers. Embarrassing and yet totally useful.

Ok. Back to your Sunday. PSA over. Xoxo

Public Service Announcement 

Go buy this product ASAP.

  
It’s like a vacuum for dirt. A Hoover for blackheads. Sorry I said blackheads. This is not a paid ad. This is a revelation. I know. I’ve had these before. But I really really mean it this time. Go get it! Or “borrow” it like me.

What’s the best thing about having a teenage daughter? Stealing her beauty products. Is that the answer you were thinking of? No? Oh well.

This product tingled on my face. It may have burned a bit. But that’s what tells me it’s working. It dries on your face to a hard, light shell. Like a layer of cement.

I’m not sure what you are doing this New Year’s Eve…but I’ll be GlamGlowing. Again.

You think my girl will notice her empty jar? I mean I birthed her right? Is sharing a mask too much to ask?

Here’s some selfie overshare. That’s the look of happiness from a product whor…ahem…addict. 

   

Day 4

Sometimes on a Sunday morning, when we aren’t traveling or visiting family I like to go to my favorite place of worship – the blow out bar. No offense to the other places of worship but they don’t make me feel as good.

Do you have a blow out bar near you? Are you hooked? I used to go to my hair salon to get this done – but I always felt a little guilty. Like I was under utilizing the joint. No cut, no color, just a quick 30 minute procedure. A few months ago a friend told me about a new place that opened up near us (ok not NEAR, but you know, next town over). It’s a dream. Walk in walk out.

During my last visit, the stylist told me that I should be able to keep my hair in good condition – no washing – for 4 days. Four days. 96 hours without a shampoo.

I know my sister-in-law Colleen is gagging. She needs to wash her hair every day. I know my husband is wondering when I find time to go (I make time), and I know my friend Howard is reading this post and asking,” what is this F’ing post about?”.

It’s about not washing my hair for 4 days!!!

Here’s how she she convinced me:

  • She said hair goes through cycles, it’s dry then oily then dry. We are so panicked when it gets a little oily that we jump to washing it. But those oils aren’t dirt – your hair needs those oils.
  • Unless you are sweating during a workout or in sand or actual dirt – your hair stays clean a long time. Sweating during a workout. That’s hysterical.
  • If you are really grossed out by day 3 – use a dry shampoo to help refresh (although she thinks it’s not needed)
  • What’s the harm in trying? And you can sleep 20 more minutes. Done.

So I’m on day 4. Does it look as amazing as day 1? No. Do I have to tease it a bit to get some life – oh yes indeed.

I don’t know if I’ll do it again – it was tricky to shower every day without getting it wet. My shower felt incomplete. But extra sleep and no blow dryer in the morning is awful tempting.

Here’s a pic of day 4 (today) – not bad right? Look ma no greys!

Marzipan Momma

I tend to get hooked on scents. Some people are born with long legs, others are blessed with the perfect nose – but I’m blessed with sensitive olfactory glands. Jealous? Usually this isn’t a good thing. I can smell pee (human and animal) miles away. Sorry I said pee. This also means that I can’t take a lot of artificial scents. I’m not an easy to please gal when it comes to candles or lotions. Walking into a Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle makes me gag. Like gag me with a spoon. Like totally. Do 80s sayings pop in your head 24/7 too? 

I’m not sure how I started down this negative nose road – I really wanted to tell you (probably again) about my complete devotion to L’Occitane’s almond line. It’s the bomb. (Late 90s sayings pop in my head too).

 

  

You may not think you need a shower oil, but you’re wrong. The one thing missing in your life right now is shower oil.

A few weeks ago my friend Rebecca gave me a belated bday present.  Like her, the present was thoughtful, creative and full of the things I love. She called it a survival kit. I haven’t broken into it yet – but I will.    

    
 Do you notice what’s front and center? No, not the tequila, the other thing front and center – a perfect mini L’Occitane lotion. She loves me, she really loves me! 

Make yourself happy and go get some of those products today! Unless you have a tree nut allergy. Or hate almonds and America. 

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