Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Cooking

One of the reasons why eating out is not tempting for me is because my mother is a rockin' cook. I usually spend my evenings moaning over my dinner, licking the plate, and cutting into someone else's portion. 
http://www.dadwagon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Licking-the-Plate-265x300.png
When going to neighbors on Friday night, I was amazed how often their meals that they present so proudly fail by comparison to Ma's food. They look expectantly into my eyes, waiting for the complimentary gushing (which I adequately fake), but I think only a couple of times was I tempted into seconds under another roof. 

Many would happily chalk her skill up to some Marie Barone stereotype - a grandma product of Europe who has "the love" to truly cook classic recipes, unlike her cooking-inept daughter-in-law who is always trying something new (reference the Marie's Meatballs episode of Everybody Loves Raymond). 
Whenever someone says to my mother, "You enjoy cooking," she is incredibly insulted. She doesn't love to do it. But she wants her family to eat well, to not be tempted by take-out junk, so she makes the effort.

The reason why Ma is a good cook is because she's always willing to learn something new. If she's channel surfing and Jacques Pepin is on, then she drops the remote and picks up a pen and pad. At Costco she'll always check out a new cookbook. If she tastes something fabulous at a simcha, she'll ask the caterer how he did it. 
http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/bestsellers-2006/1393-1.jpg
There are so many people out there who refuse to try anything new in their lives. They seem to think that if they experiment successfully, somehow previous choices are belittled. What was done until now is suddenly "no good." So they will insist that whatever they do is perfect, and never leave their comfort zone. 

If their neighborhood is no longer the ideal place to be, they'll refuse to move. If a friend has proved to be a bad one, they will still remain loyal to them. If they dress a certain way or wear a specific wig style, they'll keep on wearing it over the decades.

They will persist that their life is wonderful as is

I don't see how doing something new invalidates past choices. A neighborhood could once have been the best for a growing family, but no longer when the kids are out of the house. A friend is only as good as their influence and loyalty, and if that is given up one should find better friends. As for fashion, times change and more flattering styles are sold, plus at a certain age one can no longer wear a flowing raven-black wig.

I hope that the will to try is hereditary.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walking While Working

Despite my being a fan of walking, I am not sure I can bring myself to spend my day like so
http://www.43folders.com/files/treaddesk.jpg

Monday, August 29, 2011

Historical Dating

The shidduch system is a long-known ally to my people. 

My siblings all wed through it. Via friends and relatives, none were through "professional" shadchanim. 

My parents were wed through it. A relative, as well.

My grandparents were wed through it. For one set, twice (second marriage after the war). Also, friends and relatives.

Simply put, my people know no other way to marry. 

Yet something has definitely changed. 

There are a few shadchanim who play it "old school"; no references, no photos, not even a meeting. These masters take matchmaking to an art form. They exaggerate, they push, they sell every individual, just to achieve the desired goal: a date. Not a marriage, a date.

A friend of my mother's was saying - and my mother was quite surprised and horrified to hear it - that the current method of "shadchanim" is to send to a marriageable male eight different girls' stats. 

That's not how the system works. A shadchan is supposed to call up a guy, gushing, "Have I got a girl for you!" (without the girl's knowledge, so she won't be hurt by a rejection) and proceed to sell her, and only her (not her cousin and classmate as well while she's at it). Then she calls up the girl and proceeds to do the same thing. 
http://secondcitytzivi.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/mollypicon71.jpg
Asking a guy to select a girl like a card from a fanned deck? "Pick a card, any card." Um, no, then you are not a shadchan. 
http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/pick-a-card.jpg

Friday, August 26, 2011

Not Your Mother's Kesubah

I was very flattered to receive a request from This Is Not A Ketubah to critique their artwork. 

An amateur (really amateur) painter myself, I like to think I have an eye for such subjects. Compared to more old-school kesubahs, their work is certainly daring and intriguing.  

They have a large range of standard designs, from simple and clean to bright and festive. There is inspiration from artists such as Picasso, Warhol, and Pollack, from nature, as well as personal interest themes, like coffee (for the Starbucks lover), music, or patriotism. 

If there is a style preferred not available as a standard design, they also have custom Ketubot. 

I have to say my favorites are: 

Gaudi-Ish Ketubah;
Gaudi-Ish Ketubah II;
Op Art Ketubah II;
Klimt Ketubah II
Skyline Ketubah
As you may have guessed, my tastes do not run along the lines of minimalism. Check out all their designs to find one that speaks to you.

I think the world is ready for a new type of kesubah. 

So who here would get themselves a revolutionary marriage contract? (I would, but I currently have no reason to commission one . . .)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fry Till Crispy

As a child, spending the summer days unwillingly playing machanayim and willingly swimming, I would tan easily and spectacularly. 

I have a few great aunts whose faces are referred to, lovingly, as the "road maps." They spent their youths worshiping the tan-giving sun. As I got older, and more paranoid, my summer tan has ceased to exist.  I swim when the sun is lower in the sky, zealously apply sunscreen, and spend most of my day indoors. There is the faintest of hypothetical tan lines when I remove my rings.

At the beach I watch in fascination as quite a few females splay themselves on the sand, flipping over periodically for even browning. One was so dark she could no longer check the box "white, Caucasian" on forms.

In every other culture worldwide, pale skin is the equivalent of beauty. They studiously tote umbrellas shielding their visage. Some use poisonous bleaches to strip the skin of pigment. Many suffer from low self-esteem. 
http://www.paintinghere.com/uploadpic/claude%20monet/big/Woman%20with%20a%20Parasol.jpg
Monet's Woman With a Parasol
Why do we Americans adore bottles of self-tanner, UV beds, and sizzling sunshine? 

This article in the Sunday Styles chronicles Jancee Dunn's pursuit of tanned skin, only to give up.

 She finishes off:
Now I must wear brighter colors to wake up my complexion, like the red Ms. Hathaway favors, and I never leave the house without some form of vitalizing lip stain.
From a fashion point of view, being tanned does not equal colorized. If anything, black on the pale-skinned is absolutely ravishing (as the photo of Anne Hathaway in the article proves). The tanned also need bright colored makeup, as their features become lost in the false toasted hue. 

To clarify, I think there is no such thing as a desired skin shade.  As in many aspects, acquiring false color often looks . . . false. 

All skin shades are beautiful, so to knock oneself out for a different color (whether it be pale or dark) seems like an exercise in futility.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BPA Free Water

BPA, a component in many plastic containers, have been found to poisonously leach into the food or water when sitting in heat. Along with the eco-unfriendliness of disposable plastic bottles, I gave Poland Spring the ol' heave ho.

I then went on Amazon, my wonderful, beautiful, lovely Amazon, to find my new water bottle. 

My first purchase was Klean Kanteen. It was one of the first BPA free stainless steel bottles on the market.

I had purchased a sports cap (as the original cap had me pouring water down my neck), only to have to bottom of my bag soaked through. Amazon replaced it, but it still leaked. Kleen Kanteen was then abandoned.

The next try was BioGreen. A cute plastic bottle, small and easy to store in a bag, I was happy with it for a while. Until the unsturdy sports cap twisted out of shape.

Moving on to Botl. Very nice design options, easy to hold, one hand control, holds a good amount of water.

I was content until, by accident, I found one even better. It was while waiting to pay at Daffy's that I spied an Oggi

I bought it on whim, thinking it would be a good spare, only to have it become my beloved. The locking cap feature allows one handed use, but it's the mouthpiece that gets me. It's a drinking spout, allowing one to simply pour the water out, instead of having to slurp on a sports cap. As a lipsticked individual, that is a very convenient feature. 

The next time I was at Daffy's I bought another one.

Other bottles have a drinking spout and one-handed opening ability. Such as the Thermos Nissan.

I fill 'em up with Brita filtered water, which I find the best tasting.

Becoming less wasteful, even in a small way, gives one a feeling of accomplishment. It's an easy way to get tree-huggers off your back. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aunt Bee . . . Chic?

I don't know why, but a look which I had assumed already gasped its last is now making a troubling resurrection. Specifically, crochet. 
http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/dolce-crochet.jpg
I'm seeing it everywhere, and I don't like it. 

Why, you may ask? What crime could have innocent grandmotherly knitwear committed to garner my dislike?

I'll cut right to it. Rarely does it look good. 

Fashion is supposed to fake what diet and exercise can't achieve. That bulge of belly? Gone beneath a peplum waisted jacket. Those childbearing hips? Muffled beneath layers of poof. 

Crochet does not slenderize the body. A bulky fabric, it visually adds poundage.

The shapeless nature of the fabric makes it incredibly difficult to morph it into a structurally flattering garment. 
http://cdn.is.bluefly.com/mgen/Bluefly/prodImage.ms?productCode=2070745&width=300&height=300
Not only does it not love the wearer, it is still, no matter what, associated with the World War II era and rocking chairs. 
http://graveyardsdb.com/auntbee.jpg
Aunt Bee
It can be pulled off in small details, like a hem or sleeve or collar, where structure isn't necessary. 
http://aff.ysi.bz/assets/87/665/l_p0014466587.jpg
But rarely does it suit as a full-sized garment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dressing for Men: How Many Buttons?

In terms of current men's suit styles, there seems to be only two selections: two- or three-button (double-breasted is not as commonly available as these two).

Three-buttons come up high, so the lapel ends pretty fast. This emphasizes the chest and belly while under-focusing the shoulders, meaning that unless one is in great shape, one can easily look like a stuffed cabbage.

Most of the tie is tucked away; ties, pinstripes, vertical stripes in general tend to have a slimming affect. If the length of the tie can't be seen, bummer for false svelteness.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_WvefPdi4oEA/SbzYFupwZTI/AAAAAAAADM0/zWhlLjEOGjk/s320/3-button+2.jpg
I'm sorry, it's just not going to work out.
The two-button, however, has a wider and longer lapel, giving the shoulders an appearance of broadness. Broad shoulders mean thinner waist by comparison. More of the tie can be seen, giving a longer line. And since less of the torso is buttoned up, less like a stuffed shirt will one look.
http://g-lvl3.nordstromimage.com/imagegallery/store/product/Large/11/_5831671.jpg 

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Do "You Never Know"?

There are three insidious words being constantly overused, specifically in terms of dating.

"You never know."

This simple statement is the go-to persuasive argument for any sort of inconvenient or frustrating outing.

Singles event? "You never know." Shadchan stalking? "You never know." Online dating? "You never know."

What follows is, where does it end?

Maybe I should sit in different train cars every day. Maybe I should walk aimlessly through various minyanim. Maybe I should sabotage my car and act all helpless by the roadside. After all, "You never know."

There is also an underlying insinuation of  an irreligious mindset which I find disturbing.

The Eibishter established the concept of hishtadlus - one must do one's part. Not "You never know," but the minimum requirement that the Eibishter sees as one's part of the deal. He delivers the rest. There aren't different levels of hishtadlus for everyone; just sometimes Hashem holds off for His own reasons.

I do not have to flagellate my dignity, suffer fools, nor chase perceived saviors. Why should anyone treat me with respect if I don't? 

Maybe I don't know. And I prefer it that way.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Identity

If I am sitting by the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, I desperately need something to read. Bad habit. The only section of the paper available was Sports from yesterday, so I sighed and skimmed through the cover story. 

Holy MOLY.  

The article was about a former baseball player, Ralph Branca, who is now 85. He was born to a fervently Roman Catholic family. 

And he has now found out that he is JEWISH. 

He had family members that were killed in the Holocaust. He never knew. 

His mother, whose maiden name was Berger, came over from Europe on her own at the turn of the century and married a Catholic. She was more "religious" than her husband, and had 17 children. 

Ralph was never told until now.
“I have to get my money from Mrs. Lichtenfeld,” Branca said.
What? I asked. Branca explained.
He told me that as a boy in Mount Vernon, he had lighted the stove for a Jewish neighbor every Friday night. He had been a Shabbos goy, doing something that was forbidden for Jews to do on the Sabbath.
Here was a memory that elevated experience over genes, that affirmed Branca’s sense of self. He was a Catholic, not a Jew.
“If I was Jewish, I couldn’t have done it,” he said. He added, “I’m not going to sell my soul for a penny.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Battle of the Bulge: Water, Water

It doesn't quite have enough kick, but water is the only beverage that one should go with. One the cannon laws of dealing with weight and health is "Do not drink your calories."

Energy drinks? How many of us are professional ball players that are losing "vital electrolytes"? (Electrolytes, by the way, can be found in many fruits and vegetables). Usually these drinks are packed with enough sugar to keep a kid bouncing off the walls for weeks, and sugar converts to fat in the body.

Diet drinks? Since they don't have natural sugar, they have some freaky science experiment sweetener floating around inside instead which the body doesn't recognize nor can it process. One should rather have the regular soda instead.

Fruit juice? Pretty much every beverage has too much sugar, even when they say "no added." Again, whatever nutrients is in it can be found the actual fruit itself.

All these drinks (including regular soda) have acids that can soften the lining of the teeth. Dentists recommend drinking any of these beverages with a straw.

I used to be quite hooked on orange juice. I now realize that I was assuaging a need for sweet, not to quench my thirst. I began to drink water. Oy, it was a killer. But now I've reprogrammed myself. 
http://nutrihealth.in/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/drink-water1.jpg
I begin my day with a tall glass of H2O, with some lemon squeezed in to wake up my liver (there has actually been some documentation on the benefits) and I find it incredibly refreshing.

I do succumb from time to time (Coke for stomach viruses, an occasional juice) but it is not part of my daily regimen. After getting used to it, I feel as though water is all I need.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh, COME ON!

In case anyone here is new and has not yet scanned my previous posts, I am a big fan of mineral makeup. It provides coverage while keeping the skin happy and matte.

I recently stumbled across an episode of Dr. Oz, and while I have the greatest respect for him having learned much via his show, he has some chutzpah to say that everyone should throw out their mineral makeups and wear liquid foundation instead.

Excuse me? Liquid foundation? If I wanted to wear liquid foundation I would wear liquid foundation, thank you! Mineral makeup is great for those with difficult or reactive skin types, and it's not so simple to find a liquid one that provides coverage, doesn't cause breakouts, and not contain "meh" ingredients. 

Why is he saying this drivel? Apparently there is some concern, or something, about the microscopic-ness of the particles. While there are no studies showing any sort of long-term lung damage as of yet, his advice is to chuck it. 

In a panic I hit the net, where I found some soothing counter-arguments. 

To make product application smoother and less obvious (think along the lines of white goopy sunscreen), companies have been shrinking the size of the particles. There are micronized particles and nanoparticles. Micron-sized particles are much larger than nano, and have been deemed okay for now, while the jury is still out regarding nano.  

While mineral makeups may have micron-sized particles, they don't necessarily have nano. 

Applying mineral makeup once daily is not the same as breathing in coal dust fumes for hours on end (comparisons were made between the two); the amounts are much, much, smaller, and one can be careful (using very small quantities, not inhaling during application).  

Be smart when applying - don't pile on mineral-drifts on the brush and get swallowed in a cloud of powder.

bareMinerals, wonderfully enough, does not use nanoparticles. I am not swearing off mineral makeup yet, but I will screen them for nanoparticles.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Praying for Good Prayer

Rabbi J.J. Schacter was speaking in my area. Here's a snippet from the evening.

There was once a chassid in unpleasant straights. His wife was sick, his horse was lame, and his thirteen-year-old daughter was not yet engaged.

He went to rebbe and told him of his woes. The rebbe said, "In the next six months, there will be nine opportunities to say Hallel. Have great kavanah by Anah Hashem (Please, God)."

The chassid, much inspired and buoyed with new optimism, bounced off for home, and in the following six months his "Anuh Hashem Hosheu Nu! Anuh Hashem Hatzlichu Nu!" (I'm using the heimishe havara) (Please God, save now! Please God, redeem now!) reached screeching, roof-blasting heights.

However, his wife remained sick, his horse was still lame, and his daughter, now thirteen and a half, was still unbetrothed.

He returned to the rebbe with a "What gives?" attitude. "Rabbi, I had amazing focus by Anah Hashem hoshea na!"

The rebbe's fist slammed onto the table. "I didn't mean that Anah Hashem! That one is easy! I meant Anah Hashem ki ani avdecha, ki ani avdecha ben amasecha! (Please God, I am Your servant, I am Your servant the son of Your maidservant.)"

Our relationship with Hashem is about accepting authority. It isn't about Him being our Savior, it is about viewing Him as our Master, and comprehending that whatever He does is for the best. That is emunah. Not that Hashem will fulfill what we perceive as our needs. 

This perspective, which I only heard recently, has completely overhauled my davening. My concentration has been really crummy in recent years. 

While many exhort me to pray for specifics (such as a man) I never felt comfortable doing so. 

I have now heard from various rabbanim about how davening is not about asking. Rabbi Gamliel Rabinowitz once said, "People think davening is a complaint box!" 

My father was visiting my sister one morning, and she was trying to cajole her 8-year-old son Wesley (I have to move on to Star Trek: TNG because I'm running out of Star Wars pseudonyms) to daven. My father said to him, with a generous helping of Jewish guilt, "Tatteleh, Hashem is waiting for you to daven. He is saying, 'When is Wesley going to come talk with me?'" Wesley opened his siddur. 
http://shilopublishing.com/images/SHSH.jpg

Davening is about a relationship with God. Speaking with Him regularly keeps us close to Him. Davening, in place of sacrifices, is avodah; we are acknowledging Him as our Master. Tefilah every day is the equivalent of "E.T. phone home."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Luke . . . I Am Your Garmin

A friend of mine emailed this to me - veritable awesomeness. 
http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/wp-content/uploads//2011/07/darth-vader-garmin1.jpg
Oh, to have his asthmatic breathing as my guide . . . 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Eyeshadow for All

The point of eyeshadow is to highlight and emphasize each woman's finest feature, which I believe are the eyes, the portals to the soul, the windows to the heart, the pathway to the pupils.

While there are a few universally flattering shades, there is only one hue of eyeshadow that can make me stop in my tracks and say, "Wow, she's got a great Face on." The most flattering, ideal eye shadow shade is (drumroll please) . . .

Gray/silver. No matter what color the irises, gray/silver eyeshadow emphasizes and enlarges the eyes.
http://bestmakeupreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/smokey-eyes1.jpg
As with any of my makeups, my choice is always matte. Illamasqua Powder Eyeshadow in Incubus in a lovely dark gray eyeshadow, with no underlying purple or brown hues. Feline is a light gray shade.
http://img.makeupalley.com/7/6/8/1/1684700.JPG
Via MakeupAlley
Make Up For Ever has a few matte eyeshadows - Slate Grey 33, which is lighter than Anthracite 40.
Via Picasa Album of Make Up Viviana

Of course, there are other beautiful shades. I'll address them as well soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Neutrogena Gets With the Program

If it isn't obvious by now, perhaps some of my audience will note that I don't buy mainstream drugstore products, for the most part, because I seek "healthier" ingredients.

Americans are becoming increasingly more interested in such a market, and Neutrogena has caught on.

Now available is Neutrogena Naturals skincare, such as Purifying Facial Cleanser and Purifying Pore Scrub.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boredom has a Place

So says this NYTimes article by Peter Toohey.

The closing arguments:
Boredom makes our lives run more smoothly and even more happily. That’s if we heed its warning and try to remedy the deleterious constraints of a Santino-like existence.

Boredom should not be abused, exploited, ignored, sneered at, rejected or talked down to as a product of laziness or of an idle, uninventive and boring mind. It’s there to help, and its advice should be welcomed and acted upon. That many of us suffer from it should be no cause for embarrassment. Boredom deserves respect for the beneficial experience that it is.
Yet we don't allow ourselves to get bored in the first place. Therefore, it is a blessing that we have Shabbos that limits our activities and permits the brain to get creative.

That's why I am so annoyed at this "half-Shabbos" texting phenomenon. Nu, so you're bored. It's a part of life, it's good for the brain, stop whining.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tisha B'Av

Tune in here for Rabbi J.J. Schacter's Web Cast.

No Blessing Needed

There was a man who had four daughters. While visiting Rav Moshe (THE Rav Moshe) on another matter, he asked for a bracha. 
http://www.thefoundationstone.org/images/stories/r_feinstein1.JPG.jpeg
Rav Moshe asked him: "Do your daughters want to marry?"

"Yes."

"Does your wife want them to marry?" 

"Yes."

"Do you want them to marry?"

"Yes."

"So why do you need a bracha from me for? Hashem wants them to marry, too!"

The man left, blessing-less. 

This story was heard back from the man himself, and I use it often as a source of validation. 

Is there any story in Tanach about an unmarried woman pining away for a husband, or vice versa? People plead to God for health, for children, for salvation, but I can't recall if ever for a spouse. (Leah cried that she didn't want to marry Esav, but not for a replacement. Hashem gave her one anyway).

Shouldn't that mean something? 

So much of our survival as a people involves the family unit. We are programmed as souls to desire a helpmeet, and God does provide. He sculpted one specifically for Adam, for pity's sake.

There are many things in the world to worry about. I try to concern myself with the things in my control, only. When it comes to shidduchim, that is out of my hands. 

I do my hishtadlus, which according to the print that I could find involves dressing up. I have been burned by actively seeking shadchanim, so I don't bother. Segulos is not my family's thing (Rabbi Yisroel Reisman isn't a fan either). If someone is redt to me, I usually end up going out with him, not bothering with references. References in the end don't know what the caller is looking for, and all sorts of misinformation can emerge as a result. 

I just do what I gotta do, and no blessing is needed.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Straighten Me Out II

Hair ironing can damage hair if done willy-nilly, so here are some of things I do to minimize crispy hair. 

To prep: 

First I apply a product to protect the hair from heat damage. Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Thermal Protection Formula has been well-reviewed.

I don't like sprays (uncontrolled, makes me sneeze). I like lotions such as Beauty Without Cruelty Leave-In Conditioner.

I mix that with a little Giovanni Frizz Be Gone, which saved me when my iron died while on Tatooine (curse you, foreign voltage!)

The hair should be dry before ironing. 

I try to air-dry my hair for as long as possible; if it is still wet, then I messily dry with a blow dryer (no concentration is needed. I usually read during this step).

I would recommend drying with the cool setting. While it takes a little longer, the hair is spared any further heat damage.

Since I fear frying my hair, I iron usually only once a week for Shabbos.

Once I had a very busy simcha/dating week and I ironed three times, and I was in terror my ends would split. I made sure to really apply the thermal protection formulas to the ends of the hair, as well as using some deep conditioning in the shower.

When possible, I showered at night and ironed in the morning, allowing my hair to thoroughly air-dry. 

It makes a big difference in terms of damage to use as little heat styling as possible - I really noticed the difference in my hair. It was sleek rather than crispy. 

To iron: 

Part hair down the middle. Being armed with hair clips, divide the hair into various sections, clipping up the upper layers of hair.

With a trusty flat iron comb or brush such as the Jilbere Vented Straightening/Cutting Comb or CHI Air Expert Hairstyling Tourmaline Ceramic Straightening Brush (totally overpriced, but worth it) in one hand, clamp and hold steady the hair, ensuring no snags or knots. Then, with the hair iron in the other, slowly yet steadily run the hair through it.

The heat setting depends on hair type. Although, if one keeps on ironing the same spot of hair over and over, rather put it on a higher setting and only iron it once. That is less damaging to the hair.

After my hair thoroughly dries, ironing takes less than ten minutes. And I am no longer fashvitzed

I mostly keep my hair in a high pony. I love the sleek ponytail look.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pearls Ain't Pricey No More

I have always been a fan of pearls. They add a pleasing glow to the complexion without being the most expensive jewelery available.

I have been purchasing for insanely low amounts pearl bracelets and necklaces on Ebay from China. While "freshwater" was in the description, I figured they were fudging the actual authenticity. 

Yet, according to NYTimes, they may not have been. 

Apparently China, yet again, is edging out other pearl providers with a more affordable product. Rice patties are being converted to pearl farms, and the quality is pretty amazing. 

I think China is starting to grow on me. 
http://www.infobarrel.com/media/image/60907.jpg
No pun intended.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sunscreen - That I Like!

After researching my mineral powder sunscreen for blog post-purposes, I became concerned that, perhaps, maybe I should be applying something with a little more kick underneath. 

Quandary: I cannot stand, I repeat, cannot STAND lotion sunscreen. No matter what they burble on the label - "oil-free," "non-comedogenic,"  "will not cause breakouts" - my skin feels ugh and I am smitten with blemishes. 
http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/sunscreen-jj-001.jpg
I began to search on Amazon, basing preferences on the amount of positive reviews. It became obvious that I would have to spend more on the sunscreen I was looking for, so I stopped bothering with an under $20 cap. 

I settled upon the Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46. With a good amount of reviews awarding it a 5 star rating, I decided to have a go. 

Oh, my. 

The consistency is unlike anything I have come across before. It's not goopy; it blends perfectly into the skin without much rubbing, spreading easily. Unlike other sunscreens, my skin feels light and airy after applying, not as though it's been wrapped in cellophane. And in terms of blemishes, so far, so good; it has not caused any breakouts. If anything, I think it has even prevented them. 

I mix it with my tinted moisturizer, and it leaves a shiny finish,  I buff the mineral SPF on top. Powder can also take care of any lingering shine.  

This sunscreen is great for sensitive skin, and it treats the skin as well as protect it, reducing signs of damage. 

Eltamd also has a number of other sunscreens for other skin types and concerns.

This one is geared more for skin aging concerns; it contains hyaluronic acid to treat wrinkles. 

This one is a moisturizer as well as a sunscreen, targeted for dry skin types and can be used all year round. 

My sister was visiting and saw the bottle on my shelf, and asked why I got it. Apparently, her kids' pediatrician is selling Elta MD from his office, highly recommending it to his patients. Another pro: doctor approved. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Before You Buy

I seriously research and compare before purchasing a product, whether it be makeup or skincare. Often, when typing a name into Google along with "reviews," the first link will be to Makeup Alley.
http://www.productwiki.com/upload/images/makeup_alley-300-210.jpg
In Thursday Styles of NY Times, Makeup Alley is being hailed for informing consumers. The reviews are submitted by actual everyday buyers, and the rating makes it easy to decide whether to buy it or drop it.  

While one can see snippets of reviews while not being a member, it is easier just to become one. I know it was a useful tool for me in my "research," and makes the whole selection process simpler.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Homemade Manicure

I have had one manicure in my life. While traveling in Europe and so being away from prying eyes, the manicurist talked me into having crystals put on.
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Not like this, but I'm kind of tempted.
My aversion to professional manicures stems from  financial and health concerns. 

Professional manicures, which are usually done weekly, can really add up as an expense. With less than the price of one manicure, I can buy a bottle of color that will last me months, if not years. 

There are also enough stories how dirty tools were used and someone lost a toe or finger to gangrene . . .

As for health, I had one winter when I would regularly paint my own nails, not taking the polish off until the next homemade manicure, to the point that they were cracked nearly halfway through and stained beyond belief.


I now do my nails every Thursday night for Shabbos, then take them off on Monday mornings, allowing them to "breathe." The stained color has time to work its way off, and my nails don't crack the way they used to. If I paid good money for a manicure, obviously I wouldn't remove it after a paltry three days, so it just doesn't pay for me.

Another objection to professional manicures is how some individuals, who make no other effort on their appearance, rely on manicures as though they were equal to an actual outfit. 

If one is put together, the nails are just not noticed. Manicures are the cherry on the sundae - it's a nice added touch, but it's not the focus. The ice cream is. No one cares about the cherry. Trust me. 

One day, I will probably succumb, but in the meantime I try to distance myself from temptation. 


For those interested in homemade nails, the  needed basics are: basecoat, two coats of color, topcoat.

The basecoat strengthens the nail and lengthen the color's life, and the topcoat provides a protective shell. The brand I currently own for both these purposes is Barielle, as sometimes one hits the jackpot in T.J. Maxx or Marshalls and can get them seriously reduced. I've also found them on Ebay costing much less than store prices. 

Barielle supposedly does not contain some of the other "poisons" that can be found in other nail polish brands. 

I have tried and liked: 

Nail Rebuilding Protein (basecoat)
Ultra Speed Dry Manicure Extender (topcoat)
No Chip Speed Dry (topcoat)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Battle of the Bulge: Vindication

It would seem that, unwittingly, my way of watching weight is actually scientifically sound. 

The NYTimes Science Section featured an article by Jane Brody, containing some of my own eating commandments: 

1) Watching calories aren't enough. The calories have to be from healthy foods rather than unhealthy, even if eating a small amount of the unhealthy. 

2) Exercise doesn't make a major difference in weight. Exercise is good for health, yes, but relying on it alone will not lead to healthy weight. The biggest factor for weight control was the types of food eaten, not physical activity.

3) Too little sleep hurts the weight. 

4) Packing on the pounds doesn't happen overnight; it creeps up, adding a few pounds per year. 

5) TV watching doesn't cause weight gain; rather, the barrage of fast and processed food ads do. 

6) White flour slows down the metabolism while whole wheat doesn't.

To quote Kevin James (as Doug Heffernan), "Sweet vin-di-CAY-shee-awn!"  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Freak Out

An easy way to get through a secular college is by playing the freak card. Being frum, that's not too hard. 

"So, when you date, do you, like, have to kiss him?" 

Blink. "Um, no, there's no physical contact at all."

"So, like, you have to marry him?"

"No, we don't do arranged marriages, it's more like blind dates."

Wide-eyed horror? Or is it fascination?

I raised my hand once in class to expound on my experiences in a girls-only school. Thirty heads swiveled around to focus on me.  C'mon, a dinky girls' school excites so much interest? Nobody was paying attention when I said I had seen the Mona Lisa (feel free to skip it; it's small and mobbed by tourists).

For professors, it's not much different. 

For a creative writing class, I fictionalized brother Luke's shidduch dating experiences. Easy A. 

I wrote a paper on the significance of the moon in Judaism. Easy A. 

I did my presentation on English language on the current state of Yinglish. Easy A.

And so on.

Everyone relishes hearing about the freakish day to day lives of nuts. Proof? The success of Jersey Shore. A clip of a drunk Snookie falling off a bike was replayed over and over and over on serious news shows. Pathetic, but that's where the money is. 

But it is not a recent phenomenon. Anyone who looked different in a community in the times of, say, the Middle Ages, was guaranteed (if they were lucky) to be driven out of town after narrowly escaping being burned at the stake.

At least fascination with the freak has evolved past, to quote Shrek, "Get your torch and pitchforks." 
http://www.onlineseats.com/upload/theater/760_the_shrek.jpg
My one theory is that the freaks make everyone feel better about their lives, while being entertaining. 

"Those Orthodox Jews are something else, y'know?" 


"Get a load of that Snookie; I'm not that stupid or drunk." 


"Check out that ogre! Man, is he bad looking. What's up with the green skin? Be a dear and hand me the pitchfork." 


Perhaps the preferred reaction should be compassion, rather than self-congratulation; empathy is the called for emotion. 


But then again, maybe Snookie has it coming.