MY FIRST VLOG!!!!! WATCH AND SUBSCRIBE!!!

Okay everyone!  I’ve done it!  It’s ridiculous and it isn’t the greatest.  I’m noticing that I really REALLY need fillers.

Anyway, I’ll be doing more videos and my YouTube channel is Atypical60, but I have to work on the details.

Please subscribe and tell your friends to subscribe!  Thank you so much.

I gotta go!

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My Saddest Bye from Paris and My Best Buys Too

This is a difficult post to write because I’m covering two subjects at once and I honestly don’t know where to begin.

A couple of days ago I received a request on Instagram to list favorite items that I buy in France—I’m pretty sure it was meant to mean beauty products.  And I was all set to start writing about those products last night when I realized something.

I realized that when this blog post would be published, it would be on the 17th.  Two years after Bonaparte’s aunt, Danièle Delorme passed away.  Today marks the second anniversary of her passing.  And she’s been on my mind since I woke up this morning.

From Gigi to Femme Fatale to a best-seller about her life and career. She was one of a kind and I am missing her badly.

If you are familiar with this blog, then you are very familiar with Bonaparte’s and my stays with Danièle’s apartment in Paris.  When she was alive, her apartment was our second home.  She was my French mama.  And we had a blast together.

And so, on this day, I would like to link a few posts so that you can either familiarize yourself with her or have another look at some of my  memories of her:

Here’s the First of Three Parts about our stay during Daniele’s Funeral. The second and third installments are immediately following Part Un.

One of my favorite photos of Daniele.  I forget what movie this was from.

Paris Without Daniele–Part Un

Those blue doors. I could cry just looking at this photo.

The shocking news that hit me when I found out the apartment was being sold:

Au Revoir to Our Little Paris Apartment

Place Dauphine. Lively in the summer and at rest during the late fall through the early spring.

Our trip to Paris last November. It was bittersweet. Read the entire four posts about it!

Three Days In Paris. Leave the Chic at Home and Enjoy Being a Flaneuse

Now that you have a bit of a background on my many stays in Paris over the years,  I’ll touch on a few more things.

First of all, Paris is a very special place for me.  I’m a city girl.  I miss living in Manhattan.  My two favorite cities are NY and Paris—but that’s another story.  I love Paris because of her imperfections.

 

Just one of the many reasons I love Paris. The morning views always make me feel very comforted.

And within an hour of Paris you get to see cool places like this…

And come back to this at dusk!

Paris is an incredibly romantic city. And not just romantic in the way it brings lovers together. It is romantic in other ways as well–buildings are ancient.  Stairways are worn.  Floors are uneven.  Walls have peeling plaster.  The streets are too narrow. I could go on and on and on—but with these imperfections, she is a city of beauty, history, culture, and splendor.  And that’s what makes Paris romantic.

My version of Paris is not the one most bloggers write about.  I’m not that blogger running down a side street in a pair of six-inch stilettos, wearing a midi-length fluffy tutu skirt with a tight-fitting Breton shirt, hair extensions blowing in the wind, carrying a Chanel bag in one hand and a box of Ladurée macarons in the other.

That’s because I’m the blogger who makes my own macarons.  Here is mine with chocolate cream filling, pistachio filling, and almond cream filling.  I think it’s time to make more.

Nor am I going to write about the starred Michelin restaurants that are spread throughout the arrondissements.  Most of my meals over the years have been cooked by Danièle ’s various housekeepers.  And might I add, she hired some mighty fine cooks!

Casual, informal table for three.  Fathia was by far the best cook–she made couscous by hand!!!!  Her tagines were the greatest!

Instead, I want to focus on one thing.

Shopping.  As in normalized shopping.  That’s right.  You can go shopping in Paris and get really nice things without breaking the bank.  The average French woman does not walk along Boulevard du Montparnasse carrying a Chanel bag.  You will most likely see a Longchamp Le Pliage or a La Bagagerie shopping tote hanging off the shoulders of local femmes.

This La Bagagerie Shopping Tote is the bag you will see more women in Paris carrying than Chanel.  I promise you.

Whether you will be traveling to Paris for the first time soon or in the future, please remember that Paris offers affordable shopping—and not just during the winter and summer soldes.

Let’s shop!

City Pharma:  (Click the Bold Name to link to the website–I don’t know why it isn’t turning purple–WordPress!) How much do I love this treasure trove of all things beauty?  Enough that I make it a point to shop there every time I go to Paris.  This might be inappropriate, but during the three days that we stayed for Danièle ’s funeral, I made time in between family visits to get there.  The discounts on brands such as Caudalie, Nuxe, Roche, Bioderma and all other French brand names is ridiculous! Even brands that aren’t well-known to those outside France are worth trying.  I found one of my favorite toners here—a simple orange blossom water for less than 5 €. In fact, I hoarded and am now down to my last bottle.  Time to get back.

THIS is the store that rocks my bateau! Bonaparte can wait outside and people watch while I go candy-pickin’!

Part of my haul from last year…most of this stuff is gone….

I think I may have paid tops 20 euros for this. It retails for $79. here in the States!

Mama is runnin’ low.  I need to get back to CityPharma!

Freaking Bioderma’s small micellar water was a whopping €2.49. Here in the States, the same small bottle sells for about seven bucks.

That tiny bottle of micellar water by Bioderma cost me two euros and change. Here it cost almost seven bucks.  The middle Fragonard lotion was purchased at the Fragonard Boutique.  The Orange Blossom water is another CityPharma steal. I picked up three or four bottles. I’m dowm to my last one!

One euro and the best lip balm I’ve ever purchased!  I also purchased this at Geant Hypermarche in Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

Located on the corner of Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte, the place gets crowded as the day goes by. Get there early. Wear flat shoes.  Be ready to shove your way through the narrow aisles.   Grab a basket as you go in because I can guarantee that a lot of stuff will be leaving the store with you.

You’ll know that you’ve reached City Pharma when you see a ton of French men smoking cigarettes outside. They are waiting for their significant others.

Fragonard:  This boutique at 196 bd. St. Germain is one of the most charming shops I’ve ever been in. It’s so adorable.  During the summer, we always make a stop at the Fragonard in Grasse. But there are quite a few locations scattered around Paris.  The scents here are very affordable and the selection is good. The perfumed body lotion is a steal at around €10 or 12.  Soap sets make great gifts and my favorite, Fleur d’Oranger is always in stock.  Don’t forget to have a look around at the cute fabric bags that Fragonard sells for various uses such as laundry and shoes.

Yes. The Fragonard shop in St. Germain is as cute as this illustration!

And even though I purchased the Fleur d’Oranger Intense (pictured on the right),  These scents are always in stock at the boutiques in Paris.

This adorable fabric sac was purchased way back when–at the Fragonard St. Germain. I’ve had years of use from it. I pack my ballet flats in it when we travel!  All for about ten or twelve euros.

Sophie Sacs: I found out about Sophie Sacs from a friend of mine.  She also introduced me to Nat et Nin bags.  Sophie Sacs is a discounted bag shop at 149 Rue de Rennes—a great shopping street, and affordable shops to boot!  Sophie Sacs also sells a varied selection of Nat et Nin bags.  The bags are like buttah and at the discounted rate come in at less than €200 for a decent bag.

Monsieur Sophie Sacs will take care of all your Sac needs!!!

Image result for sophie sacs atypical60

It’s a small shop, but packs a whallop of bags!

Some of the Nat & Nin bags I’ve purchased at Sophie Sacs.  Yes. There’s more. 

La Bagagerie:  64 b. Haussmann.  Another affordable brand.  The shopping totes are a cross between a nylon Longchamp bag and a Birkin bag.  You’ll see them all over the City. Beware though. If you purchase the shopping tote, make sure you buy a dark color.  I had the cream color and it got so filthy that I had to trash it.  Thankfully, it was very affordable.

Another brand of affordable bags with locations throughout Paris. If your luggage gets messed up you can buy new here!

Jeanne Danjou: 15 Place du Pont-Neuf.  Hold on!  I need a moment here. ……….. OK.  In writing this post, I just found out that this jeweler is selling on Etsy.  This.  This is the smallest little bijou boutique on the corner at Pont-Neuf.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve passed this shop because I can’t count that high. But I’ve gotten gifts here and treated myself to a few things.  The prices are crazy inexpensive proving that you can bring home a piece of French jewelry without going all Cartier!

Thankfully, Daniele’s apartment was up the street because this shop has unusual hours!

Aren’t these red earrings the cutest?

A coupla more pieces.  Now that I know these goods are on Etsy……..

Monoprix:  Various locations throughout Paris and all through France.  Everyone raves about ‘Monop.  It’s like the Target of France but a few years back, the prices were really cheap.  Over the years, the chain has raised prices. I think you can get better prices on toiletries at Carrefour, Casino, and Geant. Just my opinion.  But the great thing about Monoprix is the little nylon tote bags that you can get for one euro.

Load up on these.  I’m not kidding. These also make great stocking stuffers!

Nicolas: Also, locations throughout Paris and France.  The best place to buy wine but Nicolas also sells these one-euro totes as well.  I’m demanding that you buy at least five of these bags.  When you get home put one in each of the purses you use the most.  These come in handy when you need to make a stop at the grocery store. But—if you aren’t aware, grocery stores in France do not offer free bags for your groceries.  These little totes are essential.  Better yet, buy twenty of them and hand them out to your friends.

All folded up…

This thing is in constant use–who knew that a little, nylon, one-euro wine store sac would be used over and over and over and over again!

If you get the chance, drop into the Guerlain Boutique at 68 Champs-Elysées. When Snow White bit into that poisoned apple and fell into that deep slumber, I’ll bet she was dreaming of this place because it is a girly dream!  As a lover of Guerlain scents, I had yet to shop in this magnificent shop until Danièle decided to take me on a spending spree!  I have never had an experience to rival this one and my damned phone broke so I wasn’t able to take photos!

Image result for guerlain paris

This was where the magic happened. And from the ceiling, flowers were floating down.  My damned luck the phone broke! 

Well, I’ll always have Pushy Pink as a memory…

And my perfume!!

When we arrived at the shop, the sales staff greeted Danièle as though she was royalty. And when she introduced me as her niece from America, I was treated like the princess I was meant to be! The red velvet rope at the end of the stairs leading to the second floor was opened for us and I walked into a room with a larger-than-life lazy Susan filled with every Guerlain scent imaginable.  I was ordered to pick whatever I wanted—and the large  bottle of La Petite Robe Noire was put aside for me. Then it was off to buy some makeup!  To this day, Guerlain’s Pushy Pink remains one of my most revered lipsticks and I use it sparingly.  I cannot even describe the feeling of shopping in that store.  But—I can tell you that if you do want a lovely, girly, fairy-tale shopping experience.  Visit this flagship boutique.  And buy am eyeliner pencil. It’s affordable!

Galeries Lafayette:   Oddly enough, this isn’t my favorite place to go shopping. I prefer the smaller shops. But, during Christmas, the décor alone will put even the biggest Scrooge in the spirit!  It’s beautifully decorated!  Lots of little “galleries” in this huge department store—and at times can be downright overwhelming.

The ceiling last year at Galeries Lafayette. I was so happy that we were there for the Christmas decorations!

It was gaw-jus!!!!

Randomness:  I hoard sugar substitute and those little candies in the tin.  I don’t know why but I just do.  Back in the summer of 2016, I discovered Adopt’ scents at Geant and now I’m hooked.  I have various little spray bottles in different purses. My favorite is Oud Ambre. It’s one of those masculine scents but feminine at the same time. The little spray bottles run for about €6 and are a stellar buy!

If you are in Paris or any other area in France and you see adopt’ perfumes, buy a couple!  This scent is the perfect autumn scent–it’s like tweed and leather and wool wrapped into one!

I must have 25 of those sugar substitute thingies. I buy them every year then forget about them–and those candies!

Think outside the box for gifts.  I received this scarf from Daniele after she went on a shopping trip. It wasn’t something that I would have selected but I’ve worn this year after year after year since I received it. It is a lightweight wool and the threading is silver. But somehow it works.  And notice in the small photo with the Antik Batik tag. The plastic is still there. You would think I would have cut it out?  Non. I’m that lazy!

Don’t forget about airport shopping!  I picked this solid scented perfume by Diptyque at CDG last year. I could not resist the packaging but this is some strong stuff!  I must use very carefully! 

Etam:  Various locations. Great for underwear and pj’s.

And there’s always window shopping!  But seriously folks.  You don’t have to be the one percent to enjoy Paris or the shopping that it has to offer.   There is something for everyone here.

I took this photo of a window display somewhere in the 6th.  The dress is made of scarves and you can take photos have them printed and frame them–for a great memory!

I could go on and on and on, but right now, I’m going to leave you and re-read a letter I found that Danièle wrote to me ten years ago. And I’ll place it with her other letters!

Listen to this song by Henri Salvador “A Saint-Germain des Pres.  It’ll put visions of sitting in a cafe in Paris on a lazy afternoon into early dusk, perhaps you will start off with a cup of coffee and end with an aperitif. This song is beautiful.  Bonne Nuit!

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Momma’s Got A Brand New Bag!

I feel good.  I knew that I would.  I feel good. I knew that I would.  So good.  So good.  I got a…New Bag!!

Adding another bag to my collection was the last thing I had in mind today.  Earlier I ventured out to take care of some personal business.

Had to get dressed and take care of some personal business earlier today!

And on the way home, I stopped at Rite-Aid to see if I could pick up another Wet n Wild concealer.  I know. I wrote about this concealer yesterday, and while it isn’t a WOW concealer, for the price of $3.99, it was worth purchasing a backup.

Since I was on the Main Line, I also decided to make a stop at the TJ Maxx in St. Davids.  This TJ’s is one of the best I’ve ever been to.  On my mental list was a reminder to search for more micellar water at Maxxinista prices because I’m not spending a ton of money on fancy water.

Just my luck, I knew those Philadelphia Main Line frosted blondes would snag all the micellar water up.  There was none. But, I was left with remnants of other fancy water.  I ended with a Korean brand of hydrating water for the face. The water is manufactured by a company named WELCOS and the brand is IOU.

My new obsession.  Spraying water on my face at random intervals during the day!  The little bottle on the left was $2.99 –overpriced but it’s in my purse now.  The larger one is a Korean brand–and I’ve been hearing a lot about Korean and Japanese beauty brands these days.  The larger bottle cost $3.99. Excuse me while I spray my face.

The packaging was very user-friendly as I didn’t need a tweezer or scissors to remove the shrink wrap!  And the water does feel very soft and refreshing on my face.

And as I wandered around aimlessly, my little red cart bumping into displays and people, I noticed something.  It was on a display shelf in the bag section.  Now—I’m not a fan of the bags that TJ Maxx or Marshalls sells.   I’m not talking about The Runway section bags at TJ’s, because quite frankly, even at the markdowns, I still can’t afford the bags that this privileged section sells.

Have you ever been to The Runway at TJ Maxx?  Some very high-end designer clothing and accessories, but I find better deals at Neiman Marcus Last Call.

Last week, I spotted a Balenciaga City Bag–the small one reduced to $800 from $1,300. At this juncture in my non-career, the discounted price is too much money for me to spend!

I’m talking about the other bags, usually three seasons ago and many of the bags, just not to my taste.

The something I spotted was standing gloriously proud and with perfect posture.  On the first tier of a display shelf.  I was skeptical of approaching because I’m basically broke. And it looked expensive.  But the magnetizing current drew me closer.  The color was appealing to me. Not quite green, and not quite gray.  It’s the color I want to paint the living and dining room walls but Bonaparte says the color is too dark for him.

I picked it up and looked at the price.  Then I did a double-take.  $19.99.  Oh man, this was too good.  I inspected the bag like a jail warden getting ready to do a body check on an inmate.  No marks. No nicks.  In perfect condition.  Into the cart, it went.

The tag said “Vegan”–that’s just a marketing ploy for “pleather”.   I’m telling you, this is a bag of chips and more!

And it’s got those little “feet” at the bottom to protect it from standing upon dirty floors!

Did I need a new bag?  Nooooo-ah. But this bag—it was just so aesthetically pleasing to me that I found a way to justify the purchase!

My justification?  All my bags are big.   Some are huge.  I like big bags and I cannot lie. Big bags are an outlet for my stuff.  Stuff that I don’t need to carry with me but I do.

My brown leather Longchamp bag–I use this more than any other bag.   The items I stuff into this bag is ridiculous.  I practically have my house in here!

BHere’s another biggie.  J. Crew Brompton Bag.  Oona got this for me many Christmases ago and I use it every winter. This holds a ton of stuff.  It is big and heavy and I still love it!

The fact is, I could use a bag that isn’t big.  Except I want a nice looking one.  I have a small bag that I can’t stand. It holds nothing and is such a pale color that it’ll get filthy. It’s a Tory Burch bag and isn’t worth the money I foolishly spent on it.

Ugh. I can’t even stand to look at this waste of money. Thankfully it sits in a dust bag. Let me tell you, I learned quite a lot about bags from my days at Nordstrom. Tory Burch bags are NOT worth the money. They are cheaply made. They are poorly constructed.  A great many Tory Burch bags are returned. I know this. I wasted my money. You’re welcome.

I need a bag I could take to the web design class that I’m going to tomorrow—with just enough room for my wallet, and a few other essentials.  A bag that I could comfortably carry while going to do some grocery shopping and run errands.

This bag was perfect.  And I ended up buying it.

Let’s take a better look at it—shall we?

The adjustable shoulder strap is long!  That means you will be able to adjust the strap to your personal liking and body length.  It won’t keep falling off the shoulder.  The hoop handle–OMG–so like the hoop earrings I love so much.  The bucket shape. Granted, this is not a bag that holds a lot–so it isn’t an everyday bag.  That’s unless you normally don’t carry the contents of your home in your bag!

And the hoop handles are solid.  The overall construction of this bag is also very impressive!

Another added touch.  The faux suede fabric closure at the top of the bag with the “vegan” drawstring.  More security and it gives a luxe look to the bag.

And the faux suede doesn’t look cheap…

We have an equestrian-themed lining, a zippered compartment on one side

And a pocket on the other side of the interior

Another look at the lining.

There is also a zippered compartment on the outside of the bag.

So far, I have my wallet, facial water spray and a little expandable shopping bag that I got for one euro at Nicolas. There is also enough room for my phone, a pad and pen, and lipsticks.

The bag looks great against our dining room rug!

Sometimes you happen to find little treasures you never expect to find—and those are the ones you appreciate and use more than others. I’ll be using this bag a lot!

And so, as I sit here writing, my new bag set on the table next to me so that I can look over and admire it, and my baby Chippy at my feet, I realize that today is a darn good day!

It’s true!  I’ve been admiring this inexpensive bag all afternoon!  I love the look of it!

And my little man is resting by my feet!  It’s a great day!

Momma may have a brand-new bag—but so does Papa.  James Brown!

 

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When Shit Happens, Make Pita Bread!

*Sigh*.  OK.  Yesterday started out with great intentions.  Our plan was to take a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  We were going to take Bonaparte’s granddaughter.  I was looking forward to this visit because his granddaughter is a good kid—she’s mature for her seven years and is the type of child that loves a good museum trip.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art. You know when I use the word “intentions” that something popped up!

And so, on Friday, I prepared the dinner makings to give me plenty of time to enjoy our trip without having to worry about time management.

I need to cover a couple of things first.

Our dinner conversation on Friday night almost had me starting a food fight with Louis XIV   my Gallic husband.

This guy. Louis Quatorze aka The Sun King.  For some bizarre reason, all Frenchmen think they are modern-day versions of him.

While discussing this upcoming museum trip, he was getting his French Superiority on as though I had as much “culture” as a stick of butter!

You butter believe I was not a happy camper to be reduced to the cultural equivalent of this.  Wait–the French revere butter……

He proceeded to explain to me how going to a museum of art with a child was far different than going with an adult.

fa de fou fou!  I know art!!!

Excuse me?  Excuse me?? Excusez-moi?????

I had to explain to Monsieur Parisian that, as a Manhattanite, I held a family membership to The Museum of Natural History, The Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I reminded him that I oftentimes took my three children to these places on a regular basis.

But I didn’t stop there.  I reminded him that I was constantly visiting the Met as well as other places of culture since I was a child—thanks to my Aunt Terry!

I also reminded him that I fell in love with French film while living on the Upper West Side and that many of my weekends were spent at the Thalia theatre watching as many French movies I could!

Antoine Doinel became my delusional buddy!

Yes, Jean-Pierre Leaud–but you played Doinel.  I watch the 400 Blows often because it’s one of the best films of all time! 

Perhaps Bonaparte’s entire family thought I was an uncultured freak since he told me that they were quite impressed that I even knew who Gustave Courbet was—let alone that he is my favorite artist of all time!!

Gustave Courbet was my kinda guy!  I won’t print my favorite painting, L’Orgine du Monde–The Origin of the World, in fear it might offend some. And the reason I love the painting so much is that it IS the origin of the world. My man Gustave doesn’t mince words! Nor does he mince strokes of paint!

But by dinner’s end, and many glasses of wine, we resolved our cultural differences!

Oui.  Pepe Le Pew and I resolved whatever cultural differences we had!

The other thing.

When going into Philadelphia to visit a museum or to attend an event, I need to get there early.  My love of attending places early goes back to childhood with my mother’s obsession of arriving at the beach by 8 in the morning.  She wanted her sunny beach space and needed plenty of it to rotate her body in the sun like a rotisserie chicken.

For me, it’s more like I cannot deal with traffic. Especially on Philly’s Schuylkill’s Expressway. It is not an expressway. It is in my top three of roads I hate traveling on.  The other two are the Cross-Bronx Expressway and the Belt Parkway.

Yeah? Well when it comes to traffic, I am very mad!

Add to this, when I do go to a museum—especially on the weekend, I need to get there early before all the pretentious “experts” arrive. You know what type  I’m talking about—the ones who TALK LOUDLY ABOUT THE STRUCTURE AND ESSENCE OF THE PAINTING ALONG WITH THE ARTIST’S LIFE.  Like that guy in the movie Midnight in Paris. Remember him?  I need to leave the museum before all the “Paul’s and Paula’s” arrive.

This scene from “Midnight in Paris” made me cringe because I ALWAYS end up standing near pretentious “art lovers” like Paul.  And arguing with my friend Carla Bruni–how dare you?  And PS–Rodin treated Camille Claudel like merde!

And I just don’t like the crowds.  When I’m in a museum, I like to arrive at a time when all the paintings belong to me. And I can stand there and enjoy the visual beauty of each piece of art.  I don’t want to think—I just want to have happiness brought to me.

Looking forward to this day of cultural fun—and looking even more forward to watching the engagement between Bonaparte and his granddaughter was going to be very entertaining. I got ready nice and early.

I decided to use the Wet n’ Wild products I purchased the day before.  Just my luck it took me all of 13 minutes just to open the two eyeshadows that cost .99 each.  I swear more money was spent in securing the shadows than the ingredients used to create the shadows!

Each of these shadows cost ninety-nine cents.  It took me one pair of tweezers, one scissor and a lot of elbow grease to open them.  And almost 15 minutes of my time!

After a great deal of cursing and Bonaparte begging me to lower the pitch of my voice, I was ready to use the Photofocus foundation.  The top came apart.  Is it me?

I kid you not.  THIS is what happened when I tried to open the bottle of foundation.  IS it ME???  Luckily I was able to fix it!

The foundation comes equipped with a built-in spatula for application. Oh kayyyyy….

Anyway, after I fixed the top of the bottle, I applied the foundation.  It’s not full-coverage, but it ain’t bad for the six bucks I paid.

I could have gone a shade darker–but it blended in well.  Tip–if you get this, blend with a brush instead of a blending sponge. The brush does a better job.

Next was the concealer that I searched high and low for.   For some reason, I was expecting something with a more liquid texture. It was kind of pasty and a bit on the thicker side and it didn’t seem as though there was an awful lot in the tube.  But when I applied, it spread out evenly and nicely and did not cake in the many lines of my wrinkly old face.

In the end, I was pleased with the coverage, but this is not a Holy Grail status product.

Taking my outfit from Friday to a more city-friendly look, I exchanged the denim jacket for the J. Crew Regency blazer.

How to wear clothes two days in a row. Change the jacket!

Ready to pick Bonaparte’s granddaughter up, I got into the car ready to go.

All ready. The most expensive items on my face (besides my glasses) were the lip glosses.  The Fenty Gloss Bomb and a Chanel lip gloss that I purchased on the cheap from Daniele’s housekeeper.  She had “people” who worked for Chanel. I bought stuff!

But first, we needed to make a stop.  Bonaparte wanted to stop at Home Depot to check on lighting.  He purchased a webcam for me so that I can start filming YouTube videos.  I’m branching out into vlogging.  The thing is, I look like crap on video and am in desperate need of better lighting.  If I film now, all the internet trolls with fake profile pics, living in mommy’s basement will have a field day commenting on how ugly I am.

Remember the infamous Seinfeld episode where Jerry had the girlfriend who looked great in some lighting and horrific in others. That would be me!

With no lighting purchased, Bonaparte mentioned another stop at Bed Bath and Beyond to look at any available lighting the store might have left amid closing.  At this point I was beginning to wonder why we were not on our way to the museum, but I agreed and off we went.

All was not lost at Home Depot. I ran over to play with the Christmas Decorations!

We ended up purchasing a desk lamp which was marked down to $4.00 from $7.99.

I’ll need a lot more than lighting to look good on YouTube!  Any plastic surgeons reading this?  I’ll give ya a great review if you lift my face!!!

Thinking that our next stop was to pick up B’s granddaughter, as we drove around the shopping center to Home Goods, I realized that something was amiss.

He may have looked at salad spinners, but when I saw THIS, I had to take a photo and send it to Oona, with the message “I wish you were little again!”. Yes. I’m always that mom!

We didn’t need anything but Bonaparte insisted on entering the store because he wanted to get a salad spinner.  And as soon as we entered, I asked the question.

“Why aren’t we picking your granddaughter up?”

His answer was that we had to wait until 1:00 PM because she was at a tennis lesson!

Whoa!  That means we won’t get to the museum until after 2:30 because of the *()_*$&(%)ing traffic and then I’ll have to deal with &*()*$%ing Mainliners who think they are experts. Unh unh.  I’ll go home and cook!

Whoa!  My suspicious nature proved me correct.  It was never intended to go to the museum early.

I need to get out of this. And quickly!!!

I had to think quickly to get out of this conundrum.  Very casually, I mentioned to Ricky Ricardo, George Burns   Bonaparte that my anxiety would be reaching maximum levels driving on the Schuylkill after 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon due to the substantial number of the weekend drivers.  It was also mentioned that I needed to get home to prepare dinner at a reasonable time.

When Bonaparte mentioned that I had the meat marinating, I had to think even faster.

And I came in for the kill.

“The Pita Bread”!  “I wanted to make pita bread to go with the tagine!”.   Truthfully, I had no intention of making any kind of bread.  That is until I realized that I am married to a Frenchman and bread is the answer to any problem. And making bread is the excuse of avoiding any situation that could cause serious anxiety and ruin a great afternoon!

Non!  Mon Amour aujourd’hui c’est du pain pita.  Baguette pour demain!

When B. saw my face, it occurred to him that bread was more important than my accompanying him and his granddaughter to the museum and that my gutter mouth would be in full force if we got caught the always-horrific traffic going into Center City.

He drove me home.

Now.  The last time I made pita was over 30 years ago. Oona wasn’t yet born and I refused to serve my boys any food that wasn’t homemade. I was that mom (Boy, did things change once all three kids started school. All those extra-curricular activities had me handing them an opened can of Spaghetti-O’s and a spoon for dinner on the road!). And the only pita bread I made was the Joy of Cooking’s recipe and I wasn’t that impressed with it.

On the way home, I started perusing the internet with my iPhone. I found one that looked decent.  Chef John’s Pita Bread on the Allrecipes website.  I’ve gotten some decent recipes from this site so I signed in and read.  This looked foolproof. And given the fact that Chef John had a video of how to make this flatbread, I thought I would take a shot at it.

Home and changed into comfortable clothing, I could get to work rather than sit in traffic!

Here’s how it rolled.

The “sponge” was made with yeast, warm water and flour. It sat for 20 minutes.

After the twenty minutes passed, flour, salt, and olive were added and mixed with the dough hook until a smooth dough was formed.  Rolled into a ball and placed in a bowl covered with plastic (although Chef recommended foil) this was set in a warm place for two hours to rise.

After rising, the dough was patted out into a rectangle and cut into 8 equal slices and then rolled into balls.  Again, covered with plastic and proofed for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I rolled out the balls into rounds…

Cast iron pan oiled and heated, it was time to grill the dough and turn it into pita..

Two to three minutes on each side produced..

…some seriously delicious and chewy pita–it was outstanding!

And when my Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte returned home, he was happy and smiling over the wafting aroma of the freshly grilled pita. He was also grinning from ear-to-ear because he explained to me that my decision to not go to the museum was the best idea I had.  Traffic was horrific, so I saved his granddaughter from hearing a plethora of filthy, dirty words.

And the bread went so well with the Tagine and almond-covered couscous!

Secondly, she wasn’t interested in the paintings as much as she was interested in a section of the museum that specialized in furniture.  (Will she become an interior designer? I hope so!). Both tried following a map of the museum’s floor plan to get to this section and they ended up walking around in circles.

Apparently, his granddaughter inherited the gift of not asking for directions from her grandfather!

But the important thing was the Bonaparte could enjoy a great afternoon alone with his granddaughter.  And when I think back of the time I was able to spend with my own grandfather, just the both of us, I get a warm and comfortable feeling inside of me.  My grandparents were a powerful force in my life. They were my grounding force.  My grandfather was a wonderful man. Always full of stories and always had time to give me.  That’s special.

We had lively conversation over aperitifs about our relationship with our grandparents. And ever the beaming grand-père seemed quite happy that it was just him and his granddaughter for the trip to the museum.

And in the middle of our Kir Royals, he stopped and asked me if I had done anything different with my makeup.  He said whatever I did, my makeup looked beautiful and quite natural.  And then I realized I had the cheap drugstore foundation on.  I guess it looked really good!

And even in old, raggedy clothing, my wig off, and my natural hair up in a messy bun, Bonaparte still loved the way I looked!

The moral of today’s post?  Simple. When shit happens—make Pita bread!!!

No song today. Instead, watch this video from Chef John while he prepares pita bread.  What I love about this video is the way Chef speaks and explains it all. He speaks in a lively tone as an educator.  He keeps it simple and non-complicated and I made my second batch of Pita while I wrote this post today!

http://allrecipes.com/video/3433/how-to-make-pita-bread/?internalSource=picture_play&referringId=232719&referringContentType=recipe

HEY!  Thanks Allrecipes for not allowing the video to be embedded!  Oh well, click on the link to the video. It’s worth it!!!

Enjoy the rest of the day!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

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All In A Lazed Work

Perhaps I should say “all in a dazed work”. Nah.  Now that I’m working on the blog without getting any sort of salary, I was hard at work.  It was really “all in a day’s work”!

AI dazed and confused?  Or am I lazed and confused.  It’s all in a day’s work!

Something was bothering me.  I don’t know why certain things trigger my emotions but lately, I’ve been hearing YouTube Beauty Gurus talk about the escalating prices of drugstore beauty items and cosmetics.  And since I had to run errands anyway, I thought it would be fun to do some sleuthing.

Hmmm. Let me do some detective work on the cost of drugstore cosmetics and such!

After my coffee, I went through my morning skincare ritual and proceeded to make my way to the guest room where I do my makeup.

Chippy loves to relax on the bed in the room.  It’s a daybed and is covered with pillows and a folded comforter sits at one end.  Chippy thinks this comforter is his personal bed and he always messes the perfectly folded comforter and rests upon it.

Chippy. Nesting on his favorite comforter and waiting for me to leave the house so he can be naughty!

I’ll get back to that later. There’s a story to this.

I got dressed and, since it was finally a very autumnal day, I could wear clothing other than shorts and a tee.   With Chippy being taken out to do his business, I was ready to explore this phenomenon of drugstore pricing.

My detective outfit.  I didn’t want to look too obvious so I left the trenchcoat at home.  It is finally boots weather! I am wearing a white tee from Old Navy, J. Crew Pixie Pants, denim jacket by G. H. Bass–and it has pockets. Boots from Tory Burch and the scarf was a steal at $5.00 from Shein!

Since I had been searching high and low for Wet n’ Wild’s new Photofocus concealer and have not been able to find it, I decided to try my luck at Rite-Aid. This drugstore always has a wide selection of cosmetics that is nicely displayed and laid out. I hadn’t been there in almost a year though.

Rite-Aid up the road from me in Trooper, PA. It’s huge!!

Here’s what I noticed.

I picked up Micellar water at TJ Maxx the other day at a price of $2.99 for 9.1 ounces. Rite-Aid was selling Garnier Micellar water for eight bucks. Freaking eight dollars for 13 ounces of water.

$8.99!!  For Micellar water?  I am going back to TJ Maxx to get more of the cheap stuff.  Hell, I picked up Bioderma Micellar water  in France for less than 5 euros!!   This?  At a Hms I happened to see and a few that I ended up purchasing.

Here’s more of what I saw. And I made a few purchases!

Seriously. I can’t believe the price of some of this stuff. I know Rite-Aid has some good twofers and other sales but this is ridiculous. For a few dollars more you can go upscale!

The Bio-Oil is overpriced too.  That small size should be a lot cheaper!

I hadn’t had a good chew of bubble gum in a while and was going to get this because of the cute packaging. Then I realized it was lip balm. I put it back!

Wet n Wild continues to remain extremely affordable. But what’s with the mermaid theme lately?  Want a mermaid? Go watch the movie “Splash”–we’ll discuss!

$12.99 for drugstore foundation?  I can now go online and order The Ordinary Serum or Coverage foundation for a lot less

Almost twenty bucks for a Revlon Palette?   I purchased two Lorac Palettes last month for $12 each.  Something is amiss here!

This is crazy!  Whatever happened to cheap goods?  Perhaps it’s now time to Shop Miss A!

A few years ago, Jane cosmetics were dirt cheap!  $11 for a drugstore lipstick?  Ahh…No. Just No! NYX is a lot cheaper and makes a great lippie!

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Ardell lashes at over four dollars?  I have quite a few pairs of Ardell falsies and never paid over $2.99 a pair. 

I found the Wet n Wild Photofocus concealer and at $3.99, I was ready to do the happy dance.  I even snagged the last Bright Ivory concealer.

Why not?  At $6.00 it satisfies my foundation junkie habit!

On the way to the cashier, I spotted this eyeshadow palette from Jesse’s Girl. at $4.99, it was a great deal–especially since I’m a neutral girl when it comes to eyes. This would be a fun way to experiment with color without spending a ton of money.

Concealer and a few other purchases in hand, I was ready to get into my car. Only I made a mistake. I tried to open the wrong car. Has that ever happened to you? You get to “your” car and realize that it isn’t yours?  Oops!

This is what I bought from Rite-Aid.  The affordable receipt is below.  Both eye shadows the Creme Brulee and the Nutty Noisette from Wet n Wild were .99 each. The foundation came in at $6.00 the concealer at $3.99 and the eyeshadows at $4.99.  True drugstore prices. Seek and ye shall save some money.

Read the receipt. With my Rite-Aid rewards, I received the concealer for .99. A great deal!

The $4.99 palette from Jesse’s Girl–it’s a good one. Nice and pigmented–it’ll be great for events and the Holidays!

Next stop was Walmart. I was hemming and hawing about even going but the price of the Micellar water at Rite-Aid was itching away at me like a bad mosquito bite. I had to compare!

Walmart. Ever the mecca of all things dirt cheap.  Well—not anymore.  Their drugstore cosmetics are climbing the price vine.

Here’s what Walmart was offering.  And this pisses me off.  When was the last time we received a “cost-of-living” raise?  You don’t remember?  I think it was in the late seventies.  Forty years ago. And since the economic downfall of 2007, have salary increases really increased?

Where Rite-Aid charges $8.99 for this, Walmart’s price is $6.96. That’s about two dollars cheaper. But, I still don’t think almost seven dollars is a good price for fancy water!

L’Oreal’s Micellar is no great price at Walmart. Check out the price of Hydra Genius–more fancy water. WTF?  

Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup isn’t exactly a healthy price.  I remember when Neutrogena had a soap that sold for a dollar! The soap was blue and smelled really good!
$12.00 for DRUGSTORE primer?  You have to be kidding me!  Hard Candy has a great primer for eight bucks and e.l.f’s primers are six bucks and work just fine.  

It’s good to know I can get my cotton rounds at the best price at Walmart!

 

I had to get down on all fours to snap this pic because this was at the bottom of the barrel!  Salon Perfect falsies are on par with Ardell–and this price is fine.  If you want falsies either go to Walmart or..order from Model21–I order my falsies from here and they are dirt cheap!

So why the big jump in low-end cosmetics?  It’s killing me.  Higher-end and luxury cosmetics and beauty products, although pricier, have pretty much remained stable.  So where to draw the line?

For me, I continue to purchase both.  That’s why brands like The Ordinary are gaining popularity.  High-end ingredients and far less expensive than most drugstore brands.

And while I was at Walmart, I picked up some cotton rounds—which I scouted around until I found the super-cheap ones and I also picked up the Equate brand moisturizer which is an exact dupe for old-school Olay moisturizer.  The Equate brand costs $3.97.

I found my affordable drugstore items in the form of Equate’s dupe for old-school Olay Moisturizer and those cotton rounds!  The moisturizer cost $3.97 and the rounds $1.50.  Oh happy day!

Since I was kindly asked to make a Cointreau pound cake for Bonaparte, I sauntered over to Walmart’s grocery section to pick up butter.  At 2.98 for a pound of unsalted, Great Value brand butter.  This brand’s butter is the same AA butter as Land-O-Lakes and half the price.  It does the same job. It’s butter!  A few other groceries and I was on my way.

Did I mention that the only true errand I had on my to-do list was to buy organic chicken at the Farmer’s Market in Wayne?  Yeah. Bonaparte gave me money before he left for work and gave me specific instructions to go to the Farmer’s Market early on because the vendor we buy the chicken from usually runs out at about noon.

I left my house at 9:00 AM. It was now 11:00 AM. I spent two hours roaming the aisles of Rite-Aid and Walmart.

Back in the car and on my way to the Farmers Market to get the chicken.

But wait.

Bonaparte told me that the Bed, Bath, and Beyond store in St. David’s, which is next to Wayne, is closing.  How could I not check this store out to see what bargains could be shelved before me?

I got to the store and didn’t expect it to be so….so..messy!!  Store closure or not, I can’t stand a messy store.  It ruins the shopping experience for me.  But, you never know what could be found.

Very methodically, I took my time wheeling the cart up and down the aisles—after all, with one good eye, I didn’t want to miss a thing!  Nothing jumped out at me because of the state of the store. I’m sorry but if tables are placed in the main aisles with picked through merchandise, it turns my stomach! I like shopping in a more organized atmosphere. Organization and atmosphere were sorely lacking!

As I traveled past the bed linens and area rugs I arrived at the table settings.  I spotted four cloth napkins.   These would go perfectly with the tablecloth I picked up last week at Home Goods for $4.99.  Marked down from $2.99 to a dollar, I grabbed the four that remained and headed to the cosmetics area.

Remember the great deal I got on the HUGE tablecloth for $4.99 at HomeGoods? I just knew I would find inexpensive cloth napkins to match!  And I did!

Everything was gone apart from a few NYX items and L’Oréal foundations.  I spotted a luminator and threw it in the cart.

My big purchases consisted of the four napkins and a NYX illuminator product.

 

It was marked down to two dollars. I couldn’t resist!

At this point, it was after noon.  And I was supposed to have bought chicken a few hours ago.

Finally, on my way to the Farmers Market, I was reciting Hail Mary’s that Rittenhouse Farms did not run out of chicken breasts and thighs. BTW, Rittenhouse Farms is the cleanest vendor at that filthy market!

This Farmer’s Market. I’ve written about it in the past—maybe about a year or so ago. As much as I love the chicken we get here, I can’t stand this Farmer’s Market. It’s filthy. Like—dirty filthy.  And it stinks of old frying oil.

Bonaparte does 99.9 percent of the shopping at the Wayne Farmer’s Market because it’s just too gross for me.  And I’m not fussy either but this place skeeves me!

Old frying oil makes me ill—even 34 years after my first pregnancy.  I was working down on Wall Street and there was a Falafel place nearby.  The stench of the oil from the falafel literally made me sick one day. I puked into a city garbage can. Thank God the garbage can was there or I would have thrown up an innocent passerby. And ever since then, I’ve been ridiculously sensitive to the smell of old frying oil.

To this day, the stench of old frying oil makes me ill!

And people eat at this farmer’s market.  It skeeved me to see people eating there.

I got the chicken and hightailed it out of there quickly—besides, I promised Bonaparte I would make a Cointreau pound cake for him.

So happy to be in the car and on my way home–and my makeup hasn’t failed me!  I’m wearing The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation today!

Back to Chippy. Bonaparte arrived shortly after I got home.  As he went upstairs into our room, he peeked into the room where I put my makeup on in.  There is a reason that he did this. He likes to see if I’ve “tidied up” before I leave. (Yes.  Life with Bonaparte is akin to him being the dad and me being the bad child).   The next thing I knew, I heard a heavy French accent.

Bonaparte: “Cassee.” “Cassee”.  “Pliz comb ‘ere”

And I did an eye roll as I walked up the stairs and got to the room.

This would be me!

Bonaparte: (looking at me) “Wha do ou see”?

Me: “Um……nothing?”

Bonaparte: (Pleading) “Ahhhh, Cassee” “Lewk at zuh bed—do’n ou see zuh comfer-tahr eez awl mess up?”  “Can you pliz fix eet befowhr ou liv zuh ‘ouze”?

Me: (Like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when the bell rang) “Chippy did it”!!!!!

Chippy did it!!

Bonaparte gave me a look as though there was something wrong with me for blaming the dog, who clearly cannot clean the mess.

Me: “Ok” “I’ll fix the bed”.

And that’s why I can’t understand how someone as obsessive as tidying a comforter, which, by the way, will be messed up when Chippy goes back on the bed to look out the window, cannot be bothered by the dirty Farmer’s Market in Wayne.

And I fixed the bed!  I think it’s time to make a trip to Ikea for more bedding!

The cake turned out marvelous. The crumb and texture were perfect. Although, next time I will “up” the amount of Cointreau.

The cake was crazygood!  One is wrapped up and in the freezer–although it won’t be there for long!

The recipe I used was The Barefoot Contessa’s Perfect Pound Cake recipe from her “Foolproof” cookbook.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve made her pound cake and it is perfect.

Someone’s in the kitchen with Ina–and it’s me!  This cookbook is one of the best! Every recipe IS foolproof!

I made a couple of changes, however.   (Click on the link to the recipe above if you want to make it).  I didn’t sift three times.  Twice was enough for me.  In addition, I used ¾ cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup of Cointreau.  Next time, I’ll add more Cointreau. Lastly, I did not use a vanilla bean.

I didn’t make the cake in a tube pan. I opted for two loaves instead. This. Is. A. Winner!

The cake has a very subtle taste of the orange liquor but is moist and not overly sweet. It’s a great tea cake.

And that was it for my lazy Friday.  I hope you had a wonderful Friday and are enjoying the rest of the weekend!

Lazy Days Were Made For You And Me. Spanky and Our Gang know that!

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For Mature Women Only. The Skin Care Diaries. Part Two!

So the last post left us off with a review of skin care products I received from Skin Actives—some of which have become part of my existing skin care program.

Now before I begin, I want to make one thing clear.  I use a “cocktail” of assorted brands and products during the morning and in the evening.  Just as I have many distinct brands of cosmetics, I don’t stick to only one brand of skincare.  You really need to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.

A melange of the skin care products I use on a regular and rotating basis.  It’s crazy–right?  No. It’s all good because I’m a big believer in using a variation of products that work for you.

My routine runs the gamut.  Presently, I have a Target brand moisturizer because I was unable to get old-school Olay when I needed it.  The Target brand works just as well.   From time to time I also like to use Witch Hazel as a toner.  It is gentle and refreshing.

Now that the Skin Actives has replaced the Peter Thomas Roth Moisturizer, I’ll be rotating between these two–with the Target for days when I’m indoors!

I’m also testing the waters of a few skincare items from Deciem—from The Ordinary and NIOD.  But I want to touch base in explaining to you what works for me in my daily skin care routines.  Both AM and PM. So, grab that cup of cawfee or tea and come along with me while I get ready!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:57 AM

It’s almost 8:00 AM.  I enjoyed a leisurely coffee in bed because I’m a lazy slob. Actually, it’s a rainy morning and I’m just taking it easy today.

Here I am. No makeup. Barefaced but not bare-assed.  Ready to get ready.

No makeup. Just me and my wrinkles!  Good Morning!

Since my evening routine consists of applying quite a bit of product, I go lighter during the day.  First off, my skin is clean. And the serums and creams I applied last night have worked their magic so I rinse with warm water.  I do not use soap or cleansers in the morning.

H2O is my morning cleanser!  I use tepid water.  WTF?  How did that spot of toothpaste get on the sink?  I thought I cleaned everything!

Every now and then, if the previous nights’ weather is humid or if it’s really hot, I’ll put a bit of toner onto a cotton pad and wipe on my face.  Usually Witch Hazel.

After patting my face dry with a towel, I spritzed the Hylamide Water that Deciem sent me. I’m out of the micellar water I got at City Pharma last year so I’m subbing with this.

I’ve been spraying this on my face like crazy!!  Keeps my skin hydrated!

Next. I’ll apply a light serum.  Today I’m using Caudalie’s. VinoPerfect. (Not to be ingested like vino)  I like the fact that this serum is a liquid and not a gel.

A perfect reason why rotating products is a good thing. I bought the Caudalie serum at …my favorite store–CityPharma in Paris last year.  If I didn’t rotate, it would have been empty a long time ago.  And I paid less than half the price this serum goes for here in the States!   Notice the many serums I rotate!

I’ve been applying this NIOD Neck Elasticity Catalyst (review to come) on my neck, morning and evening for a week now.  I’m praying it helps to tighten that turkey neck of mine.

A very thick substance that spreads quite easily when you massage into the neck.  I hope it works!!

Following that, a drop or two of Vivant Skincare Derm-A-Renew. This is a Peptide and is applied with a dropper. It’s very similar to the Caudalie’s serum in texture but is just a bit thicker.

I’ll tell you, I dig that Derm-A-Renew. It’s great stuff.  The Vivant “Three Musketeers” of skin care over here!

Now—there’s a reason that I go with the lighter textured serums/products.  It’s because if I use a gel on my face in the morning or a heavier serum, the primers that I use tend to bead up or peel on my face.  I’ve learned through trial and error what products to use under my makeup.

 

Let me add, during the winter when it’s really dry, I put either Nuxe or Bi-Oil on my face. I don’t use it in the summer at all –only in the dead of winter!

When I have a “no-makeup” or bare face day, I’ll slather on the heavier serums— but when I wear foundation, I stick to those in the evening.

Since I’m not leaving the house today, and the weather sucks (I have to wait for someone from the water company to come today and check our meter so I want to look as human as possible), I’ll forego the sunscreen and save a few pennies.  I’m using the inexpensive moisturizer from Target.

I think I paid four dollars for this. I’m not linking Target’s website because it sucks!

A little swipe of Wink from Vivant Skincare today, since I used the Skin Actives Bright I-Cream yesterday (I rotate), and now I can get ready to do my face.

This is my second tube of Wink.  A little goes a long way and I apply all over the eye, not just underneath. Again, this is a great product for those with sensitive eyes.  

Face done and later this evening I’ll go over my evening routine!

Skin care products on. Makeup on. Hair on.  

I interrupt this post to give you a public service message. This Mascara. I’ts crazy good. I picked it up at Target for less than five dollars and now I see it is n the Essence site for $1.12. I gotta go order some!  Essence Forbidden Volume Mascara.

Wednesday, October 11, 7:45 PM

Dinner is finished. Bonaparte is going upstairs to watch CNN. (I can’t because I get too upset with orange man). I’ll go to take my makeup off and proceed with my evening skincare routine.

The ONLY product I use to remove makeup. I had to substitute with Crisco once and from then on always have a back up of this.

There is only one makeup remover that I swear by. Albolene.  It literally melts the makeup off my face. I gently rub it over the face, eyes included because this stuff is epic for removing mascara.  In fact, I’m almost at the bottom of the jar and I have another one in waiting.  I’m obsessive over this stuff.

BWAAAAAHHHH!!  Would I lie to you?  Look how great Albolene melts that eye makeup away!

 After wiping this off my face, I wash.  Tonight, I’m using the Vivant Skin Care Mandelic Acid Cleanser.  I need to be stingy with this because I’m getting to the bottom of the barrel. My backup bottle is itching to be opened!  This is a clear liquid with a very light gel consistency.  It has a slightly pink/orange hue to it.  It lathers up nicely, cleanses very well and feels great. Does not leave your face feeling taut or dry at all. This product is a Holy Grail for me!

No Desert Salt Scrub or Dove Soap (yes. I rotate and wash my face with Dove too) tonight.  I’m washing my face with Vivant’s 3-in-1 Mandelic Acid Wash!

This is all I use of the wash. It was about a dime size but it spreak when I took this photo.

Works up into a nice lather!

After rinsing and patting my face dry, it’s toner time.  I’ll use Vivant’s Mandelic Acid toner. I love this stuff.  I have a backup because I’m also running low on this.   Again, this does not leave my face feeling dry.   I like to rotate between this toner and the Eau de Fleur d’Oranger water that I got at City Pharma in Paris. I loaded up on this Orange Blossom water because I love the scent. This is my last bottle.  I’m freaking out.

The Eau De Fleur Oranger was dirt cheap at CityPharma in Paris. I loaded up and am at the bottom of my stash.  The 3-in-1 Toner is another HG product for me and I have my backup at the ready!

And toner always manages to pick up the leftover grime near the hairline!

Now it’s back to the Neck stuff. I’m really hoping this works.

Back to the Neck Elasticity Catalyst!

Serum time.  I’ll be using the Skin Actives Collagen Serum and The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% serum tonight.

I used the last of the old bottle. Now, THIS is my last bottle. I gotta order me some more after I write this post!

And a little bit of the Hyaluronic Acid serum from the Ordinary. I feel like a bartender for the face–my cocktails for skin!! Instead of Gin & Tonic maybe tomorrow evening I’ll have a Gin & Serum!

An evening application of more Wink around the eyes and finishing off with a run downstairs to the fridge to get the Skin Brightening Cream! I’m using this tonight.

I was instructed to keep this in the fridge.  Fine by me because it is nice and cold!

And that is both my morning and evening skin care routine!  I’m happy to say that I picked up a bottle of Micellar water at TJ Maxx today for $2.99—9.1 fluid ounces. Not too bad!  A good tip—when you are at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, always check out the beauty section because you can find good deals. Sometimes you can find duds too, but for the most part, there are some good deals!

I’m getting excercise running up and down the stairs!  This is the Micellar water I picked up at TJ Maxx today. I may put this is the fridge too!

As we age we really need to start taking care of our skin. I swear up and down that your makeup won’t work if your skin isn’t prepped.  It may take a bit longer these days than when we were younger—on the other hand, we don’t have kids to bathe or put to bed so it evens out!  And as with my wardrobe, I like to use lower-end skin care products with higher-end.

That’s it! Good night!

I love to let those products go to work while I dream of winning the lottery!

Good Night My Loves!  Mommy is standing beside you!!

 

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For Mature Women Only—The Skin Care Diaries. Part One.

Last month, my friends at Skin Actives Scientific (Please get rid of the term Anti-Aging on your website) sent me a boxload of products to try and review.

Lot’s of goodies and I have been using them regularly for just about a month. I would say now is a good time to review3!

Skin care products are a different ballgame when it comes to testing.   With cosmetics, what you see is pretty much what you get.  If an eyeshadow isn’t pigmented, ain’t nuthin’ gonna change it overnight!  If a lipstick goes on hard and dry—it isn’t going to be hydrating two hours later.

With skin care, you need to test the waters for a few weeks—and sometimes even longer. Remember—our skin started to age the second we slid out of our mother’s womb and hit the atmosphere!

And speaking for myself (and I’m sure many others), through the teen years and into our twenties, the only moisture we gave our skin was either from Baby Oil and iodine or Noxzema skin cream.

Baby oil and Iodine.  Probably the worst stuff I could have put on my skin…

Unless you count Noxzema as a skin cream. Trust me, I don’t know how this passed as a skin cream because it dried my skin. It was soothing, though after the sumburn that I got from the baby oil and iodine!

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell on my face, and after Mohs surgery, that I woke up to skin care.   That was seven years ago.   I was 55 years old.  I’m late to the party.

But—better late than never.  And these days I’m diligent about my skincare routine.

First—lets’ get to the reviews—then I’ll cover my skincare routine in Part 2!

Note how the back of the package states that the Desert Salt Scrub is not formulated for the face.  I love this for my face!

Desert Salt Scrub:

This retail price is $24.50 for 4 fluid ounces.   Skin Actives will be ready to kill me for this but—I love this as a facial exfoliator.  Why will SA want to kill me?  Because this is not formulated for the face.  Hold on here.  I have been using this on my face twice a week for a month and I have had no breaking out.  In fact, this Salt Scrub (rotated with another product that I’ll cover in my next post) not only exfoliates, but it makes my skin feel super-smooth after I rinse it off.

The scrub has a pleasant scent and has that salt-rough, slightly oily texture.  I’m a fan. This works—on the face!

Overall thoughts.  A+ for the product.  C- for the price.  I do feel it is a bit expensive for the two-ounce jar, especially compared to other products and facial scrubs.  I think if the price came down to between $10 to $15, this would be an epic product for an excellent value.

The Sun Set contains quite a bit of product for the price.

Sun Set

Skin Actives sent me the “Sun Set” package.  This set retails for $49.00 and in it is a 3.3-ounce bottle of the Advanced Protection SPF 30; 1 ounce of the Skin Soothing Serum; a 2-ounce jar of the UV Repair Cream and a Booster to be used with the UV Repair Cream (optional). I will review each product separately.

 

At $15, this is an outstanding value and a  fantastic sunscreen lotion!

Advanced Protection SPF 30:

Hot Damn!  At $15 for 3.3 ounces, this is da bomb!  I need a moment here because my eyes are misting up from being happy.  For years I had been using Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion which retails at $42 for    1.7 ounces.  Both lotions have Octinoxate 7.5% and  Octisalate 5.0%. Skin Actives also contains 7% Zinc Oxide.  The important thing about this lotion is, like PTR’s, it doesn’t sting my eyes.  If you have eyes that are sensitive to sunscreen, then this is the product for you!  When I know that I’ll be outdoors, I apply this as a moisturizer.

Overall Thoughts: A+ for the product. A+ for the price. This is going to be a Holy Grail sunscreen for me.  It applies nicely, soaks into the skin quickly and doesn’t bother the eyes! And the price.  A little goes a long way, I might add.  One thing I’ve learned is to squeeze the bottle gently because if you are heavy-handed, quite a bit will come out.  This. Is. A. Winner!

UV Repair Cream (notice how messy the jar is. That’s because when I use to review–I don’t fool around!.  The photo on the right is after the Booster and a bit of  Argan Oil and the Sea Kelp Coral.  

 

 UV Repair Cream/Booster:

The UV Repair Cream retails for $29.50 for 2 ounces. The optional Booster is $5.50

This is one of the most unusual creams I’ve ever put to the face. Skin Actives does state that the Booster kit is optional. I did add most of the Booster kit to the cream but left most of the powder out due to fear that it would have a drying effect. It is also stated that the Booster kit gives the cream a strong odor.    The scent, with the Booster is strong but certainly not overwhelming.  It’s a bit like the scent of cumin or turmeric with a bit of Play-Doh thrown in—but dissipates when you apply the cream to your face.

I’m not gonna lie here.  I didn’t like the way this cream felt when I first started to use it.  It didn’t feel hydrating to me. And it’s weird because reading the favorable reviews, I thought there was something wrong with me.  I had a bit of the brand’s Sea Kelp Coral (Note to self—order more Sea Kelp Coral ASAP) left and decided to add it to the jar of cream. I also added a few drops of Argan Oil and mixed well. The addition of the oil and Kelp didn’t make the cream feel any more hydrating, but it left my skin looking dewy.  It’s just the oddest thing.  And you don’t need a lot of this either. A tiny bit goes a long way.   Something must be working with this cream (and another one I’ll review in this post) though because I’ve been getting quite a few compliments on my skin the past two weeks.  Perhaps it is beginning to make a change.

Overall Thoughts:  I’m stumped on this.  It’s working—and for that I’m giving it a B+ because I had to add some enhancement.  On price, I’m giving it a B+ A-.  Although I can’t put my finger on it, there’s something about this stuff that I find fascinating.  And it is  tons less expensive than the Crème de La Mer.  The only “mer” I’ll spend money on is our annual stay at Theoule-sur-MER in France!  Would I buy this?  I don’t think so—but then, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve been using this for almost a month and hardly put a dent into the jar—so I’ll have this for a long time.  Maybe I should change the price to an A- instead.  I did.

 

Sorry I took this stock photo off the site, but I was so hooked on the Collagen Serum that I forgot to snap a pic of this Skin Soothing Serum

Skin Soothing Serum:

This Serum retails for one ounce at $15.  I happen to be a fan of Skin Actives Serums.  I’m a serum kinda gal. And nothing beats the brand’s Collagen Serum.  I’m on my third bottle.  But I will say that this serum does help stop irritation but lots of other products do too. I applied it when I came home from getting my lip waxed and the redness went down.  I also applied some to a mosquito bit I received on my foot—it wasn’t Bactine, but it helped.

Overall Thoughts:  I can’t compare this to my beloved Collagen Serum. For a dolla more, you can purchase, what I think, is the greatest serum of all time.  The money is better spent on the Collagen serum—it does wonders.  Look, I’m not saying this isn’t good. It’s just that I’ve been keeping it on the back burner. I’ve used it twice because I just go for my Collagen Serum.

Guess which Collagen Serum is almost empty and which one is the backup?  I LOVE THIS!!!

The Sun Set:

At $49, the price is fine if you want to try all three (four with the booster) products as a set.  Purchased separately, the cost would be $65.

Overall Thoughts:  The products as a bundle: A-.  The price as a bundle:  A.  The huge winner in this set is, hands down, The Advanced Protection SPF 30.  It protects. It moisturizes.  It doesn’t irritate the eyes.  And the price is dirt cheap!  Also, separately, I would pass on the serum and go the extra buck for the Collagen Serum.  However, at the price of the set, it’s good for the UV Repair and the SPF. It is a minus short of A because I had to add to the UV Repair.

Skin Brightening Cream.  If those pesky dark spots are bugging you, this is your product. But remember-it doesn’t work overnight–and that’s a good thing!

Skin Brightening Cream:

Sometimes my lack of intelligence never ceases to amaze me.  Me, the queen of selfies, never snapped a pic of the large, dark, age spot (or perhaps sun spot) on the left side of my face.  I wish I did and there is a reason.  It’s only been a month, but I have noticed a very slight difference.  Skin Actives has a caveat that to really see an improvement, or brightening of spots this needs to be used for a few months.  I’ll take their word for it because I have noticed a brightening effect on the skin.   Coming in at $28.50 for 2 ounces, my guess is that it would take two or three jars before seeing a complete difference. That’s $85.50 spent on three jars.  If you have age spots that you find to be incredibly annoying and you want them to fade over time, then you may find this to be the perfect solution.  And even for $85.50 over time, it’s less expensive than laser treatment. Right??

Overall Thoughts:  The product—A. It does the job. The price. B.  You need more than one jar for the complete job.  As I stated, if your age spots or sun spots or darkened areas are really bothering you, then go for this.  If you are like me and the spots don’t phase you that much. Pass because concealer and foundation will do the job—albeit temporary.  It depends on what you are looking for.

Bright I-Cream. A nice product in a little jar!

Bright I-Cream:

The price for this .05 fluid ounce jar is $17.50.  For the 2-ounce jar, it’ll cost you $57.00. Fortunately for me, I was blessed with good genes and do not have dark circles under my eyes. I do have that blue-ish thing going on where tear duct meets nose bone.  And because of my uber-sensitive, crossed eyes—not to mention being blind in one eye so I should protect the good one, I kept this cream away from the spots that would have needed it.  That’s not to say I haven’t been using this.  ‘Because I have!   I like this cream. A lot and have been rotating it with another brand’s eye cream. I’ll use this every other day.  It is very hydrating. My little lines are still there. AT 62 years old, they only way I’ll get rid of wrinkles is with fillers or a full-on face lift, neither of which I can afford.

Overall Thoughts:  Product: A-, Price: B.  Although I can’t give a true review because I don’t have dark circles, I do like the hydration that this cream offers.  In addition, it doesn’t irritate the eyes.  Lancôme Renergie eye cream caused me so much irritation that I had to trash it.  While it isn’t a “Wow” product, it does a decent job.  The price—meh, it’ isn’t cheap and isn’t ridiculously expensive. Considering a touch of this goes quite a long way, I would consider buying this.

Oh momma!  This is one incredible product! Dermagen Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Dermagen Hyaluronic Acid Serum:

The price of this little bit of heavenly elixir is $10.50 for one fluid ounce.  I received 4 ounces and can’t find this size on the Skin Actives website.  Let me grab a tissue because I’m getting emotional right now.  I’m emotional with love. There’s collagen in this because of the odor. But—the odor dissipates once it hits your skin. Remember the song “Torn Between Two Lovers”  that Mary MacGregor sang back in 1976?  I’m torn between two serums. This. And the Collagen.  The consistency is that of a thick gel. It is clear and colorless.  It spreads on like silk.   And it soaks into the skin so beautifully!  I’ve been using this every day since I received it and I swear it has assisted in improving my skin.

Overall Thoughts:  Product: A+.  Price: A+.   This is a complete winner in every way.  At $10.50 an ounce, it is worth every cent. This is a beautiful product.  After the skin absorbs it isn’t tacky, it isn’t filmy, it’s just—well, it’s brilliant!   Look—I have quite the selection of serums. It’s important to me to keep rotating, but this, along with the Collagen Serum, could be Holy Grail Status.  The $10.50 for the one-ounce bottle is a great price as well. Serums aren’t cheap, they run the range of prices up to ridiculously expensive.  I highly recommend this product!  And remember, I’m not getting any kickbacks!! So, if I recommend it, it’s because I love it!

Lip Care Kit.  If the contents of this kit were shrunk into mini sizes this would be THE perfect travel lip care kit!

Lip Care Kit:

For $27 the kit contains, a soft lip balm in a squeeze tube, a stick lip balm, lip collagen serum and liquid rainbow.  The kit costs 25% less than if the four products are purchased separately.  My reviews are below.

Overall Thoughts:  I’m “overalling” this as the kit and not separately.   These products were my least favorites.  There’s nothing wrong with them but they aren’t “miracle” workers.  I was shocked at the reviews because people were writing that they could see a difference with the first time they tried the products.  Of course, you can!!! That’s what lip products do!!  My rating –Product:  C+ because they do moisten and help in a temporary way but I didn’t notice a long-term affect.  Price:  C+.  The products in the kit will last a while—for the four items, the price isn’t that bad. However, most other lip products will do the same job for a lesser price. The one product from this kit that I will be purchasing is the soft lip balm. I think it’s a good buy.

Now—while this kit was my least favorite, if Skin Actives created a travel-sized lip kit, it would be worth purchasing and I would stash it in my travel kit immediately.  A travel-sized version would be perfect for long flights and drier climates.  Are you listening????

The products. From Left to Right.  Liquid Raibow. Lip Collagen Serum.  Soft Balm and Earl Gray Lip Balm!

Collagen Lip Serum: 

At $10.50 for 10 milliliters, can I just say, go and buy the Dermagen Hyaluronic Acid Serum for the same price or the Collagen Serum for $16. (I can’t help it; those two products are that great!

This lip serum comes in a tube akin to lip gloss. It has a doe foot applicator. The product is thin—like a liquid.  It feels a bit tingly when applied and that feels good!  The color is a caramel tan that goes on the lips clear and does not interfere with the color of your lipstick or gloss.  It works nicely as a primer for your lips.

Liquid Rainbow:

This retails at $13 for 10 milliliters.  This is a luminous product that glides on the mouth nicely.  It’s thicker than the lip serum and has a stronger tingle—but it’s refreshing, kind of minty.  The luminescence does not interfere with the color of any lip gloss/stick you would wear.  The effect that this has is softening but it doesn’t last all day. I’ve applied this in the morning (along with the lip serum) before doing my “face”.  And being completely honest, once it wears off, my lips go back to being dry.  My lips have not become any plumper (I have a big mouth anyway), and those little lines above my mouth are still there.  Sadly, this just doesn’t work for me.

Soft Lip Balm:

Coming in at a retail price of $7.00, this is comparable to the Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm—and it is fifty cents cheaper.  Like the other two products in this kit, the product is in a 10-milliliter tube.  This is my favorite product in the kit.  I like a soft balm and, as a fan of the Jack Black balm, this is just as good.  The price is right on target and I like the consistency of this balm better than the Kiehl’s which also costs $7.00.  In fact, I keep this tube in my purse and use it throughout the day when need be.

Lip Balm Stick:

$18.00 for a set of three sticks of balm.   This is pricey.  My favorite stick balm is one euro and I pick a ton of them up when I’m in France.  Other than that, I have Chapstick tucked away in all corners of the house.  This is an Earl Gray Lip Balm and I don’t know if that changes the quality of the balm or what.  Regardless, I feel that $6.00 for a stick of lip balm is a bit expensive.

Last Notes.

I’m a fan of Skin Actives.  The brand makes a quality product, and, even though I find a few of the items on the pricier side, most of the products are very affordable.

Also of note, the Skin Actives Formulation for Beginners Kit is a great, great DIY cream! I’ve had two of these kits and the cream that I made lasted for a long time. It was hydrating and moisturizing.  And fun to use because you have control and can customize the cream to fit your needs. Now that I think about it, I’ll probably order another one of those kits because the Sea Kelp Coral is included.

I’m going to be ordering the following

  • Desert Salt Scrub when my current jar runs out. And YES! I’ll continue to use it on my face!
  • The Collagen Serum is a regular in my house. I have one that I’m using now and a backup.
  • Advanced Protection SPF30. Oh, you know this will be purchased. I cannot believe how wonderful this is and is so much less expensive than the PTR. This is great stuff! And very moisturizing
  • Dermagen Hyaluronic Acid Serum. This is right up there with the Collagen Serum.  I think this has worked nicely on my skin!

 After a month of regular use:

 

Natural Light…and..

 The natural light upstairs in the room where I put my makeup on.  I think my skin has improved!

Next post I’ll be covering my morning skin care routine and my evening skin care routine!

Remember, we need to experiment and work with various products to figure out what works for our skin needs.  What works for you may not work for me and what works for me may not work for you.

This review was based on what worked and what didn’t work for me.

And, as always, I thank my friends at Skin Actives for sending these products to me for review. This is a “mature” woman friendly company and I like to give companies that are supportive of us business.  But—they need to drop their “anti-aging” wording and start using “pro-aging”.

And—they need to make a travel sized Lip kit!

This just in. I’m back in Buzzfeed!!

24 Photos that Prove Makeup Isn’t Just For People Under 40!

 

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A Meetup of Empowering Women and A Feeble Attempt at Networking

From my last post, you might’ve gotten the drift that I attended a meetup this weekend.

I did.  It was hosted by a group that I found out about through a few bloggers.  The group is Forever Fierce:  The Midlife Revolution.  It’s is geared to the mature woman and has quite the following—over 3,000 members. That’s a lotta empowerment!

Ladies.  It’s a public group. Check it out and join!  It’s fun to be among our peers!

The meetup was organized by Eugenia Hargrove, creator of the blog “The Age of Grace”.  Eugenia gets a special shout out because she was so incredibly welcoming.  If she organizes a meetup in Philly, I wanna be her assistant!

Eugenia Hargrove, blogger and organizer of this event.  And a very welcoming woman!

Anyway, I mulled about attending.  In the first place, I suck at networking.  Actually, I have never even attended a networking event. I don’t even know if this was a networking event or not. I think it was.  If it was, I still sucked.  I’m socially awkward.

Before my divorce I was always extroverted, but through life changes, and my moves from NYC to New Jersey and then the suburbs of Philadelphia, I got weird.  My outgoing personality changed. And while I’m not exactly an introvert—I just began to internalize and I’m still that way.

Back to the meetup.

I was going back and forth.  I’m not going. I’m going. I’m not going. Then I read two blog posts from “Not Dressed as Lamb” The posts?  Why You SHOULD Do Things That Really Scare You and Why It’s Always Good to Admit You’re Wrong. I’ll tell you, I don’t know what it is but the more I read Catherine Summer’s, NDAL blog, the more I like it. She tells a good story.

The “No” word kept popping out of my mouth when I discussed going to this meetup with myself.

Then I realized one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle of “Shelbee on the Edge” would be there and she was very encouraging.  So, I decided to attend.

Bonaparte couldn’t have been any more supportive. He pushed me to go, drove me to the event and waited in the car for me the entire time.

It was my intent that if the meetup didn’t work out, we could drive downtown and just hang for the day. Or since we were in my old neighborhood of the Upper West Side, perhaps we could just spend a couple of hours at the Museum of Natural History and grab a bite to eat.  Unfortunately,  my son, Roman, was working at SNL for the night’s taping so we wouldn’t be able to see him, but nevertheless, it was a day in the City.

Photo by Kenya Pickles Jones. Some of the women at the meetup.  L. to R.  Dawn Bell Solich of Plumage 59; Michelle the cutie of Shelbee On The Edge; Cherie Peake James (Shoes) of Style Nudge; Eugenia Hargrove of  The Age of Grace (and also of those killer red booties that really belong with me); Catherine Grace O’Connell of Catherine Grace O; Tracey Crockett of  Chic.Classy.Spicy; Kimberly Kepler Higgins of Kandidly Kim; Jannette Mercer-Braddock; Michele Wojciechowicz Clark of seechele_styles (Is that coat to-die-for or what?)

The event started at 2PM.  When we arrived, I spotted a group of women outside the Chico’s store where the event was taking place. I recognized Michelle and she was a cute and bubbly as ever.  I didn’t want to get out of the car.

Another fabulous photo by Kenya Pickles Jones.  My timeline is off because this photo was taken toward the end of the event.  

When I tell you that I felt like that new kid at school who was petrified on that first day, I’m not exaggerating. Bonaparte, ever the father figure to me, gently told me he would be waiting for me but that I needed to go.  Memories of me standing in the schoolyard and being the last kid picked for punch ball floated through my mind.  Because of my crossed-eyes, I was never the athletic sort—and coming from a family of jocks—I could attest that I wasn’t exactly the favored child.

I’m that person.  And I have scars and a dental implant to prove it too!

Add to that, and the most recent rejections of my blog from “Like To Know It” and “RewardStyle” had my blogger self-esteem in the gutter.

Or was it simply that I would not be the center of attention that added to my anxiety?

I’m also that person.  Outstanding in my field. The center of my universe. In my own little world! Completely self-centered and very upfront about it.

I may have a point here.

The second I exited the car, I knew I erred in my choice of clothing. It was hot as balls.  My ensemble consisted of a fitted white tee, navy and discontinued J. Crew Minnie Pants, colorful paisley J. Crew Flats and a brand spanking new J. Crew Dover blazer. Did I mention this meetup was at Chico’s?

J. Crew head-t0-toe at Chico’s.  Well, not exactly HEAD.  I wore a Bobbi Boss wig. And it was sooooo hot that my deodorant failed.  I was the epitome of hot mess!

Visions of me melting like the Wicked Witch of the West played over in my mind. Yeah. It was that hot.

It was at this moment, that I figured I would be an observer of this meetup rather than a participant. But something happened.  Slowly, the observer in me started to disappear and the participant took over.

James, one of the photographers directing Kimberly and Michele to strike a candid pose. That coat though…

As soon as I let my guard down, the meetup began to be fun!!  I was thrilled to meet Michelle aka Shelbee on The Edge.   She’s even more adorable in real life!  I almost passed out when I met Cherie James, whom I have nicknamed “Shoes” because of the shoes showcased in her blog “Style Nudge”. The shoes.  I’m having a shoegasm just writing this! I also may have scared her with my overabundance of enthusiasm over her blog’s shoe photos!

Michelle Montoro of Shelbee on the Edge.  She’s upbeat and adorable! And her blog is featured on my favorite reads page!

Eugenia Hargrove, the awesome woman who organized this meetup and she of the pointy-toed fierce red booties, was very welcoming and her blog “The Age Of Grace” was a delight to discover!

Left to right.  Eugenia Hargrove. Those booties., Eugenia’s daughter, the captivating Channing–she writes for Refinery 29! Brenda “Chapeau”  you have to take a look at her Instagam feed, @avalon_nyc  her photo with Sting!!  Diana Gabriel, a jewelry designer and featured in “Advanced Style”  (Let’s hope she never read my post about my advanced style. Remember that post?  It led Ari Seth Cohen to comment!) Her IG feed is fun though and she has some really nice pieces. @dianagabrielnyc  Lydia Gobena  @birabiro–she’s an attorney and jewelry designer.  I may need her lawyer services for when my big mouth gets me into trouble!

Meeting and speaking with Tracey Crockett of “ChicClassySpicy” was even more special as we both have quite a lot in common.

Tracey Crockett and another pair of killer red booties!!!

Victoria Flynn is the coolest woman ever and if I lived back in NYC, I would be visiting her at the Clinique counter at Macy’s at least twice a week!

Victoria Flynn has the best hair and best tattoos ever! If you are in Macy’s at Herald Square, go visit her at the Clinique Counter that she manages. She’ll give you great customer service!

Pat and Ginger—the two Bronx Bombshells and sisters that I met, put me back at home while we discussed life as city girls.  I love them.

Left to Right.  Me.  Pat Iturbe, Ginger Acevedo and Michelle Michele Wojciechowicz Clark. Thank you Victoria for taking this pic!

We also had the pleasure of a celebrity scriptwriter in attendance!  Caytha Jenthis, producer and creator of the hit Amazon series, “The Other F Word” (not the one you think—get your mind outta the gutta. It’s “fifty”).


Season 2 starts this coming Friday.  It’s a comedy about four friends “starting life over” after raising kids.  Sound familiar?  Yeah!  I’m presently bingeing on Season One.

Season Two premieres this coming Friday. And get this. JUDY GOLD is in the cast  and so is Henriette Mantel!  Lordie Miss Claudie.  She had me at Judy Gold! But Mantel–I’ve seen her years ago and she is a riot!

I can’t even write a sentence and Caytha Jenthis’ professional bio reads like the girl with the perfect SAT scores!   The woman is to be admired—that’s for sure!  What an illustrious career!!! And instead of my feeling like a complete failure, hearing  and reading about her career and her successes actually gave me hope for my own future!  WTF is happening here to me? Could it be I am becoming empowered by osmosis?

Now THIS is a successful woman! She writes. She does cool stuff. She produces. I may have found my inspiration.

In fact, all the women I met were empowering. They were bright.  Intelligent.  And all had a remarkable story.  It is wonderful to be with women in my demographic.  We can oftentimes forget just how strong and powerful we are. And we need to be reminded.  We need to support each other too.   I thank the women who took the time out to follow me on Instagram.  Maybe my blog will pick up a couple of followers too!  It’s all good!

Photographer Kenya took beautiful shots and James helped to keep the troops in line!

I was fortunate to get this pic of Keyna and James–without them, there would be no really great pics!  Thank you for your eye for photos Kenya and thank you for your patience James!

We each received a gift bag stuffed with goodies and I won a $25 Chico’s Gift Certificate (Hmmm when will those leopard leggings go on sale?).

All this fun stuff!  A mask, cream, a book, my winning gift certificate and a bracelet..

This bracelet is the perfect way to incorporate animal prints as an accessory if  I just want a touch! Thank you Chico’s!

I may have gone in with anticipation and anxiety, but I exited feeling empowered and thrilled to meet up with quite the group of such stellar women!

Networking ain’t so bad after all! I think it was networking. I’m still not too sure! Maybe it was just having a good time!

Since I wasn’t really sure to go or not….The Clash!  Should I Stay Or Should I Go?  (I stayed!)

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Prime Time! Are These Two Primers Worth It?

Because I fell in love with The Ordinary foundations that Deciem sent me to review, I decided to order both more foundation and the two primers that The Ordinary offers.

The Ordinary Foundations.  I used the Serum Foundation with the Liquid Primer and the Coverage Foundation with the Silicone Primer.  

You may have read mention of some of the primers that I use in my “Best of 2016” post. The Hard Candy primer is a very good buy at $8.00 and the e.l.f. primers at $6.00 work fine!

Both of these primers were included in my “Best of 2016” post.  It’s funny because looking back at that post, many of those items remain my most-used. These two primers, by the way, are very, very good!  And for the price, even better!

I’ve also spent quite a bit of money on primers—Hourglass for $54.  Smashbox Photo Finish Primer was a favorite of mine coming in at around $36 for one ounce. In fact, I have a travel sized Smashbox primer in one of my travel cases. Both primers are fine.  And I used them before I discovered the drugstore primers. Honestly, the Hard Candy and e.l.f. primers work just as well as the high end.

The Hourglass Mineral Veil primer was the most expensive primer I ever purchased. It was great, but the Hard Candy primer at eight bucks is a perfect dupe!  Sorry, but I won’t be spending a lot of money on primers anymore!

Smashbox’s Photo Finish primer was the first primer I ever used. I think it was the ONLY primer at the time.  I’ve always liked it but there are less expensive primers that work just as well.

So naturally, when I saw The Ordinary’s primers on their website, I had to try them out.  And they are Wayne Goss approved. How could I not place the order?

Wayne Goss approved!  Need I say more?

I ordered the High Adherence Silicone Primer.  At 4.90 USD for 1 ounce, this is a steal.  It’s less expensive than the e.l.f and the Hard Candy.  Also in the order was the High Spreadability Fluid Primer, at 7.90 USD for one ounce, it was still less expensive than the Hard Candy and tons less expensive than the Hourglass and Smashbox primers.

The two primers I ordered.  Left photo:  High Adherence Silicone Primer.  Right Photo:  High Spreadability Fluid Primer.

Ever the frugalista, I also ordered another Serum Foundation and another Coverage Foundation to ensure my free shipping. Did I mention that The Ordinary/Deciem offers free shipping if you order $25 or more?  And the items arrived at my door within 48 hours.  WTF??? How quick is that!!???

Down to the reviews.

Saturday, October 7th

I went to a blogger meetup (I’ll be writing a post about it later in the week—there’s a lot to write) in Manhattan—actually, in my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side! I wanted to look nice and pretty, you know what I mean?  I decided to use the High Spreadability Fluid Primer because Wayne Goss said it was great for mature skin!

The primer comes in a bottle with a dropper.  I thought this was a clever way to package the primer because it reminded me of the vitamin drops that my mother used to give us when we were kids. The vitamins tasted pretty good too!  Thankfully I did not attempt to eat this.

This fluid primer comes in a bottle with a dropper that reminds me of the vitamins my mother gave us when we were kids. This is like a vitamin for the face!  I also love that you can see the product so you can keep track of how much product you’ve been using!

Anyway, being careful not to allow too much of the primer to be dropped, I applied a drop on the back of my hand.  A clear and slightly thick liquid oozed out.  I was intrigued by the texture because I was so used to a more congealed product coming out of a tube.

One drop of the Fluid Primer. It certainly does have spreadability–and it is hydrating too!

I applied to my face and that little drop was sufficient.  Giving the primer about five minutes to set in, my face felt smooth and hydrated.  Oh. And the foundation I used was The Ordinary Serum Foundation. I did not use the Blur because I wanted to get a better feel for how the primer worked.

Face was done and not overdone.  Wig in place.  Let’s put this primer to the test!

Face made up, this primer would be put through a huge test.  The weather in New York was unseasonably warm, hot, sweltering and muggy.  Which pissed me off.  I wore my new Dover blazer and my deodorant did not last through the wicked weather.  As I write this, my blazer’s underarms are airing out and tomorrow I’m going to drive to the liquor store for a small bottle of vodka. Did you know that vodka rids underarm fabric of stink?  Yeah. It does. You’re welcome!

I’m not even speaking to Mother Nature these days.  Freakin’ bring on the cool weather and do my armpits a favor. OK?

I did my makeup at about 8:00 AM.  We left for the city at around 11:AM and arrived at 1PM. We drove around a bit because I wanted to check out my old neighborhoods and where the kids were born and wanted a bit of sentimentality before heading to the event.

Columbia Presbyterian Hospital–where Jake, Roman, and Oona were born.  I get sentimental whenever I pass this place.

At 2PM the event started and we had a photo shoot outside. It was hot as balls.  I could feel myself getting a bit worn from the mugginess and heat and didn’t have time to check my makeup for meltage. It didn’t matter anyway, because I’m not that girl who fixes makeup during the day.  I’m too lazy. Besides, I was more concerned with my wig shifting, which it didn’t. I’m telling you, I was so glad that I wear wigs because my bio hair would have turned into a Brillo pad from the humidity.

We arrived home at around 6:30-ish.  We stopped to get Chippy from doggie camp made a bread stop at Wegmans and headed home.

I ran upstairs stripped myself of the sticky clothing and went to town removing the makeup. The primer did its job.  Look at the amount of foundation that had remained on my face all day—through the heat and mugginess.

Wouldja look at that schmutz?  That is the foundation and the Fluid Primer held the Serum Foundation on all day.  Despite the heat and humidity, the foundation never melted!  I would say the primer performed beautifully!

Thumbs up on the liquid primer.  At $7.90 it was an incredible value.  And knowing that this works during the stickiest of weather, it’s even better!

Sunday, October 8th

Damn!  We woke up to humidity, heat, and rain this morning.  Friggin’ October.  I want to wear sweaters and jeans and blazers and scarfs and at this rate, I’ll be running around looking for the nearest Nudist Colony if the heat continues!

Since today is dedicated to writing, I won’t be going out—especially with the rain.  But, I’m still doing a full face.  Today I’m using the High Adherence Silicone primer. It will be used with the Coverage Foundation.

Today I am using the High-Adherence Silicone Primer.  Let’s see how it works!

This primer comes in a squeeze tube.  The consistency is a bit thicker than the Hard Candy primer.  It’s white—not colorless.  The texture is smooth and almost of a whipped consistency.  It glides on the skin nicely and the color dissipates once it is blended into the skin.

The Silicone Primer on my hand.

I applied this at around 7:30 this morning.  And although hot and humid and muggy- we turned the air conditioning on. I did manage to get dressed and did my entire face.  I figured it might be a nice idea to look human while writing.

I even wore hair with bangs today. And a nice bright lip color!

Well, I baked bread, I wrote, I procrastinated by watching Vivement Dimanche, one of my favorite shows on TV5Monde.  at 3:30PM I decided to wipe the makeup off my face.  It was a good 8 hours since I applied the primer and foundation.  How would the primer hold up?

Take a look.  The foundation stuck to my face like glue. At the cost of $4.90 for an ounce, this is ridiculously insane in the best conceivable way.  It’s dirt cheap.   It holds the foundation. It doesn’t dry the skin.  Overall, a great, great buy for the money.

Eight hours later.  The silicone primer held that foundation onto my face like Superglue!

So—how would I rate these primers?  A+++!!! Which do I prefer?  Well, considering that yesterday was like being in a virtual sauna, the fluid primer did not let me down.  The foundation stayed.  And Wayne Goss may be right—I do believe that primer to be great for mature skin.

On the other hand, the silicone primer worked just as well.  I’m thinking that perhaps the liquid may work better in the summer weather and the silicone may be better for winter.  I’ll keep using both and will be repurchasing.  For the price, I’m completely sold.

Remember.  These two primers—I purchased.  They were not comped.  I’m telling you, if you are a fan of primers, get to The Ordinary’s website and order these two products!

As a side note. The lip color I wore today is the CoverGirl Outlast All Day Lip Color. This Outlast lip duo has been around since Oona was in high school. She wore it when she was competing in Irish Dance because it lasted all day and didn’t transfer to those expensive dance dresses!  I revisited this product a while ago and have been pleased and purchased this coral/red from their newer shades.  Overall, this is a winnah. This stays on all day. I’m not kidding!

Well-worth the price–less than ten dollars. I think I paid about seven bucks for this at Walmart.

That’s about it for today.  I’ll have a review later on in the week on the SkinActives products that I was sent.  It’ll be a detailed review!

On the way home from New York, we were listening to French CD’s.  Bonaparte always laughs at the songs by Jacques Dutronc because he said the lyrics are just very funny.  Here’s Jacques with Les Cactus! I yi yi!  The video is also very funny.  He’s like the Ray Davies of France!

 

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Are You There Retailers? It’s Me, Cathe!

In my never-ending quest to carry out some phase of exercise, I’ve been getting into my car and driving Chippy to downtown Phoenixville.   Truth be told. I don’t like walking in my neighborhood of townhomes because it’s boring.  I pass by the same brick front homes and there’s not much shade.  I love me a shady street.  I’m basically a tree-hugger at heart. Downtown Phoenixville and the Borough are more fun!

Now that I’m home, Chippy the Wonderdog treats me as his chauffeur.  He loves going bye bye’s in the car and his walkies! (Yes. I speak that way to him)

And walking is the one bit of exercise I happen to like. 

This morning I took Chippy to Reeves park so he could practice being a good canine citizen.  I explained to him about the Vietnam war and how our current president is a cowardly draft-dodger.  Then we walked some more and took a rest.  Overall, Chippy and I had a good time!

However, this past Wednesday found the weather to be a bit too hot to take my little rascal out for a long constitutional.  And so, I left him home while I went out to run errands and have a walk at a local outdoor shopping center.

Providence Town Center in Collegeville. The local Wegmans that we shop at is in this Center and I thought it would be a good thing to change up my routine.  No. Seriously.  Other than taking Chippy to downtown Phoenixville, my only exercise is wheeling a grocery cart up and down the aisles of the supermarket.  Even when I only need one item, I’ll stretch it out to 30 minutes of speed walking nearly bruising every shopper who crosses my path.  I’m that pathetic.

I have been known to use produce as the weightlifting part of my grocery store exercise program!

Anyway, in changing up my routine, I decided to visit a few stores in the shopping center.  I had pen and pad in my oversized purse and my iPhone’s camera at the ready.  Perhaps an engaging conversation between a kind and helpful sales assistant and me would create a blog post about how great the store and the service is. Right?

Um. No. That never happened. In fact, quite the opposite occurred.  And when I left to return home, I felt like a cross between Quasimodo and a circus freak.

Thank you sales assistants!  Thank you for assisting in making me feel like a complete freak!  I’m changing my name to Quasimotress!

Let’s face it.  I’m older.  And my resting bitch face could come across as one to rival the woman who was once known as “The Queen of Mean”, Leona Helmsley. However, when I enter a store, I put my smile on and it transfers me to a rather sweet-looking, if not utterly cross-eyed, older beauty!

Ouch!  I don’t even think MY “RBF” (resting bitch face) is as severe as The Queen of Mean!  Mrs. Helmsley is wearing the wrong lipstick..and that eyeshadow. And the brows. How can a woman who had this much money be so awful at the art of makeup application?

So then, what is wrong with me? Let’s try to figure this out!

Hey Joe, that’s what I’m trying to figure out!

My first stop was Ulta.  This is the weirdest store.

My Collegeville Ulta experiences make me long for the Ulta in Lawrenceville, NJ.  Now THAT Ulta had great sales assistants. Shopping there was so much fun!

Although the offerings are very good—both higher end and drugstore brands, any time I’ve been here I’ve practically had to beg for help.  At Sephora, the staff is great, friendly and always willing to help. At Ulta, it is a bother.  It is a chore. And quite honestly, I think the sales help would rather be somewhere else. Sales assistants stand around and convene with each other and literally give customers the side-eye.   You would think a shop specializing in all things beauty would be an empowerment for women.  Instead, it’s more of a “why is that woman even here” type of vibe.

Ummm. Hummmm.  Those Ulta assistants gave worse side eye than Rihanna.  And Riri is the only one who can do it well!

I ended up making a purchase of a $7.00 eyeshadow palette by Revolution.  I’m a fan of this brand and needed a backup to the one that I hit pan on big time.  With all due respect, the young woman at the cashier was the only worker in the store with a smile and kind eyes.

Too bad other stores in my area don’t sell Revolution makeup. I would have made this purchase elsewhere. Oh well, the girl at the cashier was very sweet, kind and adorable!

Next stop was Charming Charlie.  This is a store with an interesting mix of accessories and some apparel.  The selection of clearance costume jewelry is wonderful and this is the store you want to go to if you are invited to a big event or wedding and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a metallic purse or accessories.

I didn’t find Charming Charlie too charming the other day.

As I entered, a sales assistant looked up from arranging a display and I smiled at her. She turned around and went back to work.  No return smile. No acknowledgment.  I was wondering if I had spinach caught in the ever-expanding space between my front teeth.  Teeth age too! Perhaps she had never seen a cross-eyed person in real life.  Whatever the case, I went on my merry way perusing the goods.

There must have been four to six people working in the store while I was there. Not one person approached me to see if I needed assistance. And at one point I did. I tried a bracelet on. It was nice—a cuff bracelet.  And I couldn’t get it off. The little clasp got stuck and I had visions of the store manager either accusing me of trying to steal an item or worse, having to take the bracelet off with a plier! And breaking the merchandise—all eight dollars’ worth!

All I needed was to be accused of trying to steal a bracelet that I couldn’t take off my wrist!

After the bracelet debacle, I figured I was better off leaving Charming Charlie alone.

Loft.  I can’t even with this store anymore.

I walked over to Loft.  God only knows why I even bothered because this store has, hands down, the worst sales staff I’ve ever—or rather never encountered in my life.  Since I’ve moved to this area, I’ve been in this Loft location about 5 times—and all five times, you would think I had the ability to give the staff a serious case of The Cooties! Loft must give applicants a test in ignoring rather than engaging!

Yeah. The help at Loft figured me out. I got the Cooties.  Just like when I was a little girl and boys had the cooties.  Boys back then thought I had the cooties.  

Knowing when I am not wanted, I made a quick exit and crossed the path over to Chico’s.

This Chico’s is a pretty large store.  But in all honesty, the clothes just don’t speak to me except to say. “We are overpriced”.

Chico’s has always intrigued me because I’ve never shopped there. In fact, I’ve never been inside a Chico’s store. I’ve seen some cute leggings on the website, but at $69.00 for a pair of leggings—that will eventually pill at the thigh’s inside—No. Not now. Not ever.  Never.

These leggings are adorable. ADORABLE. But not $69.99 worth of adorable.  No leggings are worth that.  

The only people in the store when I arrived were the salespeople.  I was greeted and asked if I needed help, which was very nice.  I said, “No thank you, I’m just looking” and that was that.  The saleswoman who asked me was very intelligent because she could see that I was completely trustworthy and wouldn’t make off with any merch because she went into the back and I never saw her again.

I liked the Chico’s lady.  She was nice enough to acknowledge me then made a beeline to the back of the store and hid from me.  Did she think that I was trustworthy? Or did she think I was  smelly?

At this point, my self-esteem was slowly crawling into the gutter.  I could understand if these stores were haute couture shops that thousands of dollars and upwards.  One look at me and they would know my J. Crew tastes lay in the local mall.  But we aren’t talking haute couture.  Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs wouldn’t think of even setting foot where these high and mighty sales assistants work—so please don’t behave as though you are above the average customer.

I would have better luck with Mr. Karl and Marc Jacobs. I could be their charity and get nice clothing from them.

So, like, what’s the deal?

 

This little experience made me appreciate Nordstrom more than I ever have before.  Although I didn’t enjoy working retail because of the hours, Nordstrom instilled in us, as staff, the importance of great customer service.

I may not have been crazy about working retail hours but Nordstrom taught me a valuable lesson in great customer service. And, my boss, Michael Lopinto was the kindest, sweetest best bossman I ever worked for!

And for the most part, the people who come into a shop are nice and many do need a bit of help. Some know off the bat what they want, but will ask for help when they have a question.  And there are the very small percentage of difficult customers. But the good ones outweigh the not-so-good ones.

The great majority of us customers are NOT Mrs. Home Alone! We’re nice!

And so, here’s a few tips for those sales assistants in customer service.

Don’t give someone the side eye. Don’t look down at anyone who comes into the store. Don’t judge someone based on the clothing they are wearing either.  Perhaps they don’t care about clothing but still have mo’ money in the bank than any of us do.   Be kind—you don’t know what sort of day that person is having.  Respect everyone who walks through that door.  Treat everyone like gold. Your customers are your paycheck.  People depend on you to help them.  Rather than stand around gabbing with each other, turn that smirk into a smile.  Bring the side-eye to the front and look at the customers straight in the face. Tell them, if they are just browsing that if they need assistance you are there for them.

True. Don’t judge me. Don’t judge any customer. 

It’s funny—because I was pumped. I had every intention of writing a fun post about shopping locally. it totally backfired because people were not welcoming.   But worse, I left with a feeling that this is now the norm.  People just aren’t nice anymore.  Thoughtlessness and insensitivity seem to be the new normal.

And as much as I truly believe that people are good, these days I’m encountering more and more of the opposite.

OK. So I need to do my roots. But that doesn’t make me unapproachable when I enter a store.  Be nice!

I want kindness back.  Don’t you?

BTW.  When I finally returned home, look what Chippy did!  He was upset that I didn’t take him on his walk. Is this guy spoiled or what??????

How could that adorable little Chippy take the garbage bag out of the garbage can, drag it across the floor and onto my oriental rug?  And the Burger King trash?  That’s Bonaparte’s. Not mine!!  

Thoughts people. Thoughts.  Have you noticed this new normal?  How have your shopping/browsing experiences been as of late?

I’ve been thinking about this song for a while.  Remember it?  The Youngbloods. Get Together.

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