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

I love this bag. I think you would love this bag too. This bag has been in our lives for a long time. It’s come to the beach. It’s moved homes. It’s taken dirty clothes to the laundromat and donated clothes to the shelter (this is a double edged sword. I feel good about donating clothes, then I feel bad for asking for my bag back. Oh well).

This bag cost 40 cents when I first started using it, then 99 cents. Then they reinvented it and asked $5.99 for it (they added a zipper). Then there was a revolt and the 99 cent version came back. All was well in the world.

In my opinion..this bag is as useful as my iPhone. Yes. Yes it is. Stop shaking you head. And it’s healthier for me too. I don’t stare at it for hours a day. It may even be better than Instagram…maybe that’s going to far.

This bag has gone camping, been muddy, been wet. This bag has hauled blankets and pillows and towels. There’s almost nothing it can’t do.

And the handles. The handles! Two to choose from. One short. One long enough to put over your shoulder.

IKEA has given us lots of wonderful things. Beds for $20, shelves in 1,000 pieces, meatballs definitely not made of horse meat. But this bag takes the cake. The Swedish cake.

Dear 2018

Thanks for being you. You weren’t like the best ever or anything – but you were pretty pretty good (in the words of Larry David).  It was the year of the Dog. The year for loyalty, consistency and dependability. But it started off with anything but consistency. It started off with a bang.

Bang….my sister’s married! Bang….I had to go to India for work! Bang….a headhunter called with a big job offer! Bang…my sister was pregnant! In between those things were other big things. A beautiful wedding (Jon and Amy!), a beautiful baby cousin born (Norah!), a bestie turned 50 (April!), and so did the heart of our family (Dennis!) – and it went on and on.

Work took me from India, to Aruba, to Ireland – with a pit stops in-between. Work was good. Sometimes it wasn’t good. As it should be.

My kids kept growing. Doing good. Doing some not good. Doing it all. As it should be.

You threw us some curve balls 2018, I won’t lie.

I got distracted by a shiny offer, thought about it for too long – but decided to stay loyal in the spirit of the Dog. Not loyal to a company – but loyal to the people. My people. Shiny and new can’t compete with solid and true. Who knows what the future holds – but for now, it was the right turn.

It also brought some worries. Some sadness. When loved ones get sick – you get sick too. But then you see family coming together, you see all the love, and somehow it gets better. Even when it’s not actually getting better.

The year ended with a bang too. My sister-in-law got engaged a few days before Christmas!

There were also some breakthroughs. For those of you who don’t know me that well, I have been a vegetarian for my entire life. Like the whole thing. No meat, poultry or fish has ever crossed my lips knowingly. I may or may not have had a month in 2004 of eating Pad Thai without knowing it had fish sauce in it, but that’s it. So now, for the first time ever…hold on to something….I am eating Caesar salad with abandon. Anchovies? Who cares! Salt of the sea I say! We’ve even been to restaurants that I know put actual anchovies on their salad (not paste) and I still eat it. Like a champ. And then, last week, my husband and I went to a diner to have breakfast. I ordered my usual omelet. Egg whites, spinach, onions, peppers and American cheese. Side of rye toast and homefries. As I was eating, from the corner of my eye, I spotted it. It could have been mistaken for a piece of well done potato, but I knew better. I’m no amateur. A little piece of ham was hidden under the homefries. Now if this was 2001, or even 2010 let’s say – I would have freaked out. I would have stopped eating and never gone to that place again. You know what I did in 2018? I carefully lifted it with my finger and put it on a napkin and continued my meal. CONTINUED MY MEAL. With ham. Granted I never touched the homefries again but still…there was no scene at the diner. I’m like a new person.

I don’t know if photos help you when you’re reading a rant like this – but they help me. I’ve always been partial to books with pictures. I included some below.

2018, you are free to go. I was never a dog person anyway. Year of the pig! That’s where it’s at now.

 

 

Zika on the brain

About 7 days ago every single conference I had planned for 2016 and 2017 got cancelled because of Zika. Two were in April. One was for over 1,000 people.

Almost 2 years of work basically out the window. There were tears. There was anger. But at the end of the day, it was the right decision.

We made our calls to let everyone know. We sent our apology emails. Not only did we distrupt the lives of all our attendees, but we also had to face our hotel partners. Yes they would get some of what we would be spending, but not all of it.

But it was done. And now we move on. Like the Bionic Man, we will rebuild. Better. Stronger. And we did. Or are. 

We’ve worked 24/7 to reschedule almost everything we’ve cancelled. It wasn’t/isn’t easy. (Insert your pity here)

These are all uptown problems, I know. No one is sick or dying or even hurt. We derailed vacations, not real life. Things will be fine.

Although I woke-up the other day, in mid-March, with frost on the ground and found this on my wrist. A mosquito bite. Oh universe. You’re so hysterical.

   

 

What’s German for murder?

Yesterday I was talking to someone at work who is turning the big 5-0.  She and her husband have decided to celebrate by going to Munich, Germany this year for Oktoberfest. She told me they are big craft brewery people and did the whole Oregon beer trail a few years ago and loved it. Because I can’t help myself and because I always think I’m helping, I told her my favorite Oktoberfest story from when Joe and I went to Munich for his 40th.

It involves this dude…


So before I tell you how my husband and I almost became a statistic – let me set the scene. Munich, Germany during Oktoberfest looks a little like New York City on New Year’s Eve – if it was only filled with Germans, Italians and Brits. The major difference is that this celebration lasts an entire week. My husband and I booked a hotel a few miles away from the actual fair (which is what it is. Rides, food, games, etc). It was the perfect distance – too far to smell the puke but close enough to see the hordes of people walking to their mecca morning, noon and night. Once in a while a sad, drunk dude held up by his two loyal friends would be walking the opposite way. It’s a 24/7 experience. You go to breakfast, you see drunk people. Wednesday at 4pm? Drunk people. But everyone’s laughing. Everyone’s friendly. Even the few Parisians we met there seemed to not hate us. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t feel unsafe or threatening like a frat party gone wild. It feels celebratory and fun.

Then you make your way into the fair and have to decide which brauhaus you’d like to tackle on that day. The set-up is that each one offers a different variety of beer. The reality is they all tasted like Peroni to me.

Our second day at the fest we decided to go into the biggest tent – the Hofbräuhaus. Imagine 9,000 people singing John Denver’s Country Road over and over again. At first you think it’s insanity – then after a stein or two you wonder why anyone would listen to any other song. Ever.

Once we got in, we looked around like visitors at a zoo. There weren’t people hanging from the ceiling but it seemed like there could be and no one would have said a word.  There were no empty tables so we found a spot to stand and Joe went to go find us a beer. There were no bars – it was all table service. If you didn’t have a table, you weren’t getting a beer.

We took a good walk around the tent and ended up back where we were. No seats. Here’s when it helps to have a husband who looks like he totally belongs in any German or Irish pub. These are his people.

He walked up to a group standing near us enjoying some beers and asked how they were able to get served. That’s how it began. Immediately this 10 foot tall (really) mustached fellow put his arm around Joe and said,” welcome welcome! We will get you whatever you want!” He spoke English with the perfect German accent,” Welcome to zee festival!”.

He and his wife, a formidable woman double my husband’s size, took us under their wing. No waiting in lines for anything for us! They seemed to know everyone in the tent. They had grown kids and grew up in the city of Munich. They asked all about us and our travels and how we were enjoying their country. After a few hours the group they came with left and we decided to go to another tent with them. Why not right? We had our own private guides! We felt like locals. Let me also tell you all that my husband is generous by nature. And like all generous people, when someone is generous to him, he feels indebted. Our new German friends seemed to get all the drinks for free all night, we never spent a Euro.

At the next tent they started telling us about their business. They owned a small bar in the basement of their home. They lived about an hour out of the city. By now I was getting tired. No matter how much fun I’m having, there’s usually a point in the night when I’m done. And because I wasn’t a fan of the beer, I was also pretty sober.

“You two should come to zee bar tonight! We jump in our cah and go, yes?”. “If you want hashish, we have zat too..”

Then I got even more sober. A basement bar. An hour outside the city. Drugs from a German guy who looked like a Bond villain. I looked at my husband who was laughing and smiling and basically ready to hop in this car. I don’t think he heard any of the details of our impending death and disfigurement.

“Our cah is at zee back of zee tents”, said his wife in a deep baratone. I tried to give Joe my usual eye. The one I use when the kids are around us and I want to say,” WTF?!”, but he wouldn’t lock eyes. He was in a German trance induced by John Denver.

I decided to make a big dramatic scene and prayed that Joe wouldn’t fight me on it.  As we walked outside the tent I grabbed him and said loudly,” so sorry! I’m not feeling well, we have to leave. Maybe we will see you tomorrow!” And we started walking away. No goodbye. No nothing. Joe just stared at me. It didn’t matter. I’d explain later. When we were safe.

Were they dangerous? Probably not. Did I let my imagination get to me? Maybe. But here’s what’s kept me alive for 43 years. When I hear a stranger invite me to their basement, I run for zee hills. You should too.

London Calling

Every year we take the kids on vacation the week of my husband Joe’s birthday. We pack our bags in the middle of a warm and muggy July and usually head somewhere even warmer and muggier. We’ve hit every all inclusive you can think of – Mexico, Jamaica, The Dominican. We go, Joe gets his Irish tan on – the kids have the run of the place – and I sit under an umbrella with my burka on – it’s great. 

We decided to do something different this year. The kids will turn 17 and 12 this fall. Gulp. 17 and 12. 17 and 12…sorry. Where was I? 

Anyway we took them on our very own Griswold adventure! It was fantastic. Usually I’m very loosy goosy about planning in my civilian life. At work things are planned out to the minute, so winging it is the order of the day with my family. But not on this trip. We had 2 travel days and 5 short vacation days to fit it all in. It was the Amazing Race of vacations – except no Phil at the markers.

Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, The Tate Modern Museum and Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards was day one. I think I let them stop to breath a couple of times. We opted not to do a big red tour bus because my husband and I like to ride the local subways in Europe. So we grabbed a few Oyster cards for the Tube and pretended like we knew what we were doing. And for the most part we did – there was the usual  going east when we should have gone west goof up but that was to be expected. I can’t people watch and navigate at the same time now can I? 

The next day was a bit lighter, we ventured out of the city to see the Harry Potter tour at Warner Brother Studios. It was AMAZING. The actual sets, costumes and props used in the films. We geeked out big time (except for my hubby who has only watched about 15 minutes of each movie and then napped through the rest. This is also how he watched the Lord of the Rings series). After that we hit Camden Market, Abbey Road (of course) and the London Bridge. 

In the following days we squeezed in Picadilly Circus, Stonehenge, Bath, Windsor Castle, dinner at the oldest pub on the river Thames (which we now know to pronounce without the H), lunch at the first Hard Rock Cafe ever opened and a couple of good Indian curries. 

I’d give myself a solid B in planning – I would have given myself an A but there were some pretty nice flubs. I didn’t put together that our flight landed at 6am and the flat that we stayed in (we used Air BnB) wouldn’t be ready until 2. So when we showed up we were a bit, actually a lot, unexpected. The owner was gracious and sent over the cleaners to prep early. We waited outside while he cleaned one of the bedrooms and then all four of us, exhausted from the flight, fell asleep on one bed while he cleaned the rest of the place. 

We got up a few hours later, got dressed to hit the town and I immediately locked us out by grabbing the wrong set of keys. I blame jet lag. And Obama.

Then there was the visit to the Tate Modern, which was right next to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater – which I was dying to see. But we turned right instead of left and missed it completely. As the Brits say…bullocks. Or as Homer Simpson says, “doh!”.

But it was all fun. Even the flubs. The kids were troopers – even when we walked for 7 hours straight (and forgot to feed them lunch now and then). My husband earns a prize for the rainy day (the only rain we had all week) in Bath and hearing me talk about how Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth was filmed in the town (omg it’s the Red Lion Inn!). The English country side isn’t exactly what the kids wanted to stare at for a day – but they did it for me. I had to get my Jane Austen on. 

The other big difference between our vacations in the past and this year was the weather. We went from a 90 degree heatwave at home to a crisp 75 degrees or less a day (one of the days only got to 65). One of the guards in front of Parliament told us that London has four seasons a day. It can be warm, cold, wet and sunny at any given time. Except my son – who loves a good heatwave- we all loved LOVED the weather. I was perfectly fine wearing flip flops and a warm sweater every day. 

What wasn’t different about this trip was what my husband calls,”the unit”. The four of us. We know we have a small window left when we can still force our kiddies to spend this much time with us – and we’re milking it for all it’s worth. Cheers everyone.

(I took one billion photos – here’s just a few)

 Knock knock! I know you don’t expect us for another 6 hours but here we are!  
  
    
    
   

The London Eye

  

  

    
 All you Potter fans will understand just how freaking cool this was!   
    
    
 Abbey Road was smaller then expected and really really busy.    

    Kera having a proper tea. 
    Bath – wet and certainly not wild, but beautiful. On a side note we saw the “castle” that Nicolas Cage bought and then sold off because he owed so many taxes in England. Thought you’d like to know.


Me and my baby – and some rocks from 3,000 years B.C.   
  

He/We

Today is my husband’s birthday.

 I met him when he was 21. We got married when he was 26. We had our first baby when he was 28. We bought our first house when he was 31. We had our second baby when he was 33. We bought our second house when he was 36. We celebrated at Ocktoberfest in Munich when he was 40. We happily leaped into his new career as an entrepreneur when he was 44. 

This year he will see his first born graduate high school, his second born start middle school, his business hit the one year mark and our marriage hit the 20 year mark. 

All those numbers add up to my happy life.

Love you Joe. You haven’t changed a bit and yet you’re even better. How’d you do that?

   
  
 

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