Back to Basics

Sometimes, on crummy days, I pull out my fabulous yellow pants because they are all sunshine and happiness. They simply make me smile, and that’s my small attempt at making the day better.

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Pants: LOFT

Blue Shirt: Old Navy

Tank: Old Navy

Shoes: TOMS

Watch: Fossil

This week has been hard. You may notice in the photos that I have a huge bandage on my foot; I got a nasty rope burn on Monday from a dog leash. On Wednesday, we had an after hours event for volunteers that simply didn’t go as expected and several people let me know their critical thoughts, albeit surprisingly graciously, via follow-up surveys. And today, Friday, a couple of colleagues are annoyed at me — one justifiably so, the other not so much. These pants are working extra hard to combat all the negativity lately.

I’m just looking forward to a long weekend away from work, spending time with friends (one who’s moving at the end of the summer, another who’s visiting after settling elsewhere). B and I will work in the garden a bit too, maybe even set-up a new hammock. We’re also slated to paint our bedroom too. Photos promised of all these endeavors.

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“Man, I Feel Like a Woman:” On “Femininity,” Part 1

For someone who dons a lot of dresses, goes ga-ga over my favorite jewelry guy’s stall, or simply kills time perusing clothing sites and blogs, this is going to read like such an odd statement: sometimes, I simply don’t feel “girly enough.” I don’t even know what that means or if that’s even the precise way to explain this sensation.

Where did that come from?

I was at the mall last Saturday (yay, Sephora store credit!), and for some reason, I kept thinking that I just didn’t fit, as if something wasn’t correlating between me — a biological female — and the atmosphere of the mall with every ideal of what a “woman” should be. Passing every store front ad with ladies who were lithe or decadent or voluptuous, but always radiant and alluring, it hit me that I wasn’t any of that. You can see from outfit posts that I’m not tiny — I’ll gladly tell you I’m a curvy size 12 — but that afternoon, I felt big and imposing. I felt manly, with my unmanicured hands and my messy, red hair. I felt underwhelming with my oily skin from all the humidity. I felt so basic in my jeans and flat sandals. Every model was perfectly dressed, heeled, coifed, prepped; I could tell they even smelled great based on these pictures. Then there was me.

I started to think,”if these women look so wonderful, and I don’t look like them, then everyone else around me must realize that I’m boorish!” My Sephora bag became a badge somehow, demonstrating just how “feminine” I was: “why, yes, I am a lady — do you want to see my Too Faced eyeshadow palette to prove it!?” It was a ridiculous thought, I know. But also one that’s at the core of marketing, no? Buy a type of product to become a type of persona.

I became defiant — of marketing and of my sour mood. I made myself march into stores that I’m usually not keen on anyway — J Crew, Fossil, Banana Republic — just to convince the mall-gods that, yes, I can go in these stores and not buy anything because, dammit, I don’t want to. But also to prove to myself that I shouldn’t be intimidated by being “not feminine enough” by some superficial, social standards. I forgot, at some point in the afternoon or maybe in my life, that advertising with “attractive” models isn’t about passing judgement as an end result, it’s about creating the desire to buy a physical item — be it through inciting feelings of inspiration, hope, jealousy, or even shame. If I could touch those objects and realize, “yeah, they’re all right but not for me,” then I could break this mindset.

Inevitably, I left feeling foolish.

It’s easy to forget self-worth when being stared down by images pointing out things we’re not: women with sleek figures and glowing skin or men with chiseled muscles and sultry stares. And every person — regardless of gender or sex — understands that. That’s why it’s so important to rally for who you are as an individual, to be your own cheerleader. I guess that’s why I started this little ole blog, now that think of it really: I’m throwing it out there in a public way that this is who I am, what I like, how I live, and, other than challenging myself to change and grow from within, I like it all that way.

May 2015 Birchbox Review

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My May 2015 Birchbox was a so-so mix. The box was pretty (though not as lovely as April’s!), but the products left much to be desired.

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Not a Perfume by Juliette Has a Gun. The base of this scent, according to the BB website, is “Cetalox,” which is a synthetic substitute used for grey amber, often found in other perfume mixes. While the site says it’s “elegant, pure, spicy, and completely allergen-free,” all I thought was “musty old lady.” I spritzed it on my wrists and chest and within two minutes, tried washing it off. While I diminished it significantly, I tried layering Tokyomilk’s Arsenic over it to mask it somehow. Five hours after first applying, it finally hit the “eh, all right” stage.

Evercolor Automatic Liner in Black Cherry by Mally Beauty. I’ll call myself out: I have super oily eyelids — strange, right? I often avoid pencil liners because they’re moot — they rub off after two hours. While I layered this liner on top of some eyeshadow (the black cherry looks great with pinks and plums, btw!), it started to fade as I hit the afternoon.

Sea Salt Texturizing Spray by Harvey Prince. As always, smells lovely, like the perfume Hello from the same brand. My hair is always wavy, so, while this enhanced it slightly without being sticky or stiff, I don’t want to create false hopes that this is the end-all-be-all of sea salt sprays. Sorry, straight-haired ladies!

Stem Cellular CC Cream in Desert Glow by Juice Beauty. Birchbox likes to send my endless BB and CC creams, which never provide enough coverage and make my skin slick and break-out. I like Juice Beauty for it’s natural ingredients and dedication to being green — things I, hopefully, endeavor to be someday — but the color was a touch off and, as you’ll see for the hydrating gel review below, I can’t use moisturizing products during the humid springs and summers.

Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel by Marcelle. To go with my oily eyelids, I also have (drumroll…) very oily skin. While I would have appreciated this sample a couple of months ago, when my skin was dry and flaky due to the cold, I can’t really use this now that the weather has turned in New England. Last week’s average temperature was about 80 degrees: I’m looking for ways to cut out excess moisture, not inspire more.

I’m on the fence about staying with Birchbox. I’ve been subscribing since July 2013, so almost two full years. Every so often, I get something that entirely justifies my loyalty, products I now adore: amika dry shampoo; Ruffian nail polishes; Liz Earle face wash; Benefit mascaras; Davines anything. But then I also get a month or two (or three) in a row, when I get all duds, tiny tubes that I end up tossing because I can’t stand the clutter on my bathroom shelves. Maybe I’ll give Birchbox until July 2015 to redeem themselves…

Do you subscribe to Birchbox? Or another monthly beauty box subscription? What do you love? Hate? What other subscriptions do you recommend?

Pretty in Pink

B and I have off schedules sometimes, as we we work opposite shifts. While not the case today, it’s not unusual for us to see in each other in the morning when he’s coming home from work and I’m heading out. We get a quick few minutes to interact in a capacity I’ve always resisted: him as photographer and me as subject. I get to be a ham, try to make him smile, and really make the best of what little time we share. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve asked him on several mornings to take some photos of me. Like most bloggers I’m sure, I choose the best ones to display: the ones with the best light when the outfit drapes in the best way and I magically look half-way decent. I skip most of the photos that are silly for B’s benefit: shaking my toosh, blowing kisses, falling over — the things that the internets doesn’t need to see.

I really liked my outfit today because it was comfortable and easy to wear; simple, yet colorful; casual, yet coordinated. But what I enjoyed more were the outtakes from this morning — my goofiness and laughter, my ease with B. I shimmied around, demonstrated 50’s photo stances, and pretended to karate kick the camera. A couple photos were “blog-worthy,” while the rest were silly. Enjoy!

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Cardigan: LOFT

Jeans: Gap

Tank: Old Navy

Scarf: Marshall’s

Bag: TJ Maxx

Shoes: Naturalizer via DSW

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Swingy Springy

We had a fundraiser for work tonight. Normally I hate these things: the small talk with strangers, the lukewarm hors d’oeuvres, the odd discomfort of an ill-fitting dress or treacherous shoes. These things send me into a small state of anxiety and I inevitably end up hiding out in my office or the kitchen until the end.

Tonight though, I nailed it. I wore a fun, springy/summery dress with my go-to wedges and my favorite (so simple!) hairstyle. More importantly, I knew a ton of people at the gathering — colleagues at my institution, former staff members supporting our cause, volunteers from the museum, and old and new connections from my fair, little city — so I had the chance to catch up and connect when I usually guiltily hide out. The evening was a success, both for the overall establishment and for me personally. I was beaming as I walked out.

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Dress: Julian Taylor via TJ Maxx website

Cardigan: LOFT

Shoes: Clarks

Belt: Target

Watch: Fossil

Jewelry: Larry Nelson of Global Odyssey

Headband: LOFT

The shots aren’t the greatest (this is what you get when I’m left to do the photography alone after a 12+ hour workday and two glasses of wine). The evening was cool and damp, so I decided to throw a cardigan on, hiding the low, squared back. The pink of the sweater was a perfect match for flowers in the dress though, so it was a good decision. I wore a gold, glittery belt and picked that theme up again in the shoes and earrings. To pull everything together, the headband I wore is beaded with small seed beads in white, pink, and gold. I like both the in-your-face connections (the bold florals paired with the sweater) as well as the subtle ties (gold belt to golden highlight in on my heels to gold hairpiece) because it keeps it interesting. Can’t wait to style this dress differently next time though; I’m thinking maybe a teal sweater?

What do you wear to big (work) events? Do you stick to neutrals? Bold prints or colors? Do you have a fallback outfit or do you buy a new piece for such things?