Friday, August 31, 2012

Cradle Robber

"He wouldn't tell me his age," she said, "but I know he is well into his thirties." 

I translate that as pushing 40. 

She continues. "He goes out with 21- and 22-year-old girls. He says he is very open."


He is very open? 

Let's rephrase that, shall we?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mommy's Skin Knows Best

As I mentioned in my very first post, my obsession with skincare is genetic. My grandmother, to this day, loves a skin cream, yet even way back when was skeptical of companies' claims. 

My grandfather was a very prudish man, and fathered prudish children, so my mother was shocked when in her twenties, Bábi told her, "All those fragrances and advertising they do, it's just to make the cream sexy." 

I fell over when Ma told me that one. I didn't even know Bábi had heard the word before. But she was right to be suspicious; in the end only a few ingredients have been proven to reverse damage (more on that later). 

In any case, I emulated Ma when it came to a skin routine. Her counter was always littered with jars and bottles. She washes off her Face at night (although she usually lets mascara and eyeshadow accumulate). She applies RoC every evening. My sister who was never as interested in skincare has now observed, "Ma, you don't have wrinkles!" (Pooh pooh)

But surprisingly enough, it would seem that once I was the learner, now I am the master. Ma is always happy to hear something new, and thanks to my internet research and keeping my ears open I am able to explain to her in what sequence products should be applied, which anti-aging ingredient is better than another, what she should use for her dry skin compared to my combination. 

My nighttime routine takes longer than hers. She is certainly happy about that, although she can't believe I'm so diligent. 

Elizabeth Dosoretz observed how her young boy was excited to go to Grandma's house because her skin is soft and she smells good. Apparently her mother has begged her for years to take up a skin routine, but she has never bothered.

While I am still in my 20s, I can say starting a skin routine now will certainly pay off later on. Damage can accumulate, and suddenly one day you will look in the mirror and see it, whereas now it is below the surface. Protection and maintenance will do wonders down the road; plastic surgery rarely looks natural, so please don't rely on it. 

The biggest rule? SPF. Every. Single. Day. You don't have to wear makeup, but many cosmetics has SPF built in. Sun is the primary cause of skin damage, and shielding skin will prevent that. (Just make sure that oxybenzone isn't an ingredient; there's been some chatter that it can be carcinogenic.)
Regarding anti-aging, only two ingredients matter: AHA and retinol. It doesn't have to be insanely expensive, or come in great packaging, or be recommended by a celebrity. Only those two ingredients have been proven to actually work. Apply them at night, since they can make skin sensitive, and retinol, unless formulated otherwise, will degrade in sunlight.
Along with washing your face daily, you should be good to go.
Take the long view, and check out your mother's skin. Either you want yours to look the same, or not.
Plan accordingly.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Freakin' Foundation

When we last saw our heroine, she had finally discovered a liquid foundation that seemingly matched her neck, and sped off into the galaxy, thereby ending her quest.

But, instead of finding closure, our heroine's choice was too dark and not sufficiently long-lasting. She would find herself in the Millennium Falcon's—I mean, office—bathroom, her face tinged with orange and the redness of her cheeks visible. Oh, woe! 

She fished out the box and receipt for her purchase from her garbage, and went to do battle with the exgorth saleswoman to accept her return. 


She consulted the Force—um, internet—seeking reviews and recommendations for her impossible-to-match skin. After prior experiences with semi-matte and dewy foundations left her with a shiny face by midday, along with grooves around her mouth, she concluded that her new journey would consist of strictly matte finishes. 

I'm going to quit now with the third-person narrative, but after dealing with mineral makeup I just cannot find any pros to liquid foundation. With a few effortless strokes of mineral makeup, my face is pristine and glowing, whereas liquid foundation requires brushes and stippling and water-soaked sponges and buffing . . . 

Yet I hear so much about it I feel like I am not giving liquid foundation a fair chance. I drew up a list of possibilities, and I am off to make some "beauty consultants" very miserable. 

1) Clarins Ever Matte Skin Balancing Foundation. I had my fingers crossed that this would match, but no. The lightest too light, the next too dark. It smells so nice. Sob. 

2) Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H Wear and Comfort Retouch-Free Divine Perfection Foundation SPF 15. It supposedly lasts for 24 hours, which means it could be a good Shabbos foundation. "Velvety matte finish"—yay! Non-comodegenic—yippee! Also tested for sensitive skin, and for all skin types. 

I went to the counter and was greeted with an amazing array of color selections, and compared it on my hand to the one tinted moisturizer that ever matched me perfectly. I dubiously selected Ivory 110, and this time, to spare myself frustration, I asked for a sample. She grumbled a bit how she'll check to see if she had any small bottles available, and grudgingly coughed up a little jar of the stuff. 

Pro 1: It is incredibly easy to apply. Using my fingers, I got a practically immediate streak-free finish, unlike other foundations that demanded buffing, stippling, and whatnot. 

Pro 2: It feels lovely on the face. I brushed my fingers against my cheek by accident, and my skin felt so soft. 

Pro 3: It is awesome with oil control. My t-zone is usually glaringly obvious at mid-day, despite the fact I put on a mattifier first; while my nose was shiny (nothing can keep that matte), my chin and forehead were perfectly matte. 

Pro 4: It lasts. How it lasts. After 12 hours, my face looked as though I had just applied it. 

Pro 5: My skin felt great after taking it off. 

It's too good to be true. Maybe it is?

Possible cons:

Con 1: Orange. I'm starting to wonder; how can it be that nearly every foundation I try ends up orange? Does it oxidize? Is my skin color too particular? Am I choosing colors badly? On the website it says that 110 Ivoire also has "C" in its name. With Lancome (unlike other brands), "C" = pink undertones. Not yellow or neutral, which is what I need. 

I went back to the counter and got a sample in 140 Ivoire N, where "N"=Neutral, but the orange was even worse. 

Con 2: The dreaded parabens. But I may cast such principles aside for this miracle of foundation. 

Con 3: While reading online reviews, one woman drew my attention to the fact that a primary ingredient is denatured alcohol, which has a rather checkered past. It can dry out the skin, which is not really my issue, but for those with dry skin types it may be too harsh. 

I decided to look around a little bit more before I commit myself, but this has an addictingly not-normal finish.


I decided to head to Sephora, but instead of buying full size bottles that I may have to return, I asked for samples of a few. Which they happily gave me. 

3) Nars Sheer Matte Foundation. I brought home samples in Gobi (which for some reason is not on the Sephora website) and Mont Blanc. The latter is for pink undertones, but for some reason it looked like a good match on my hand. 

I tried the Gobi one morning, and while it was a good color match, I was annoyed; due to my current dependance on retinoids, my skin gets distinctly red after cleansing (which dies down pretty soon) but I expect a foundation to cover everything, and this one didn't. My red cheeks were all too obvious, no matter how much I slathered on. If it doesn't offer foundation-like coverage, then why would I bother?

4) Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Mattifying Oil Free. I know, I know, I did this one already. But I took a swipe of Porcelain, which looked absolutely perfect on my hand, containing that elusive hint of yellow.

After reading a few reviews, I noted their methods of application. This stuff dries nearly instantaneously to a powder finish, meaning one has to blend quickly, and the easiest way to do that is in segments. The first try I overapplied, leaving hideous streaks all over my face; I attempted again the next day, this time taking only a little and using my fingers to buff it gently into the skin, one area at a time. 

It leaves a magnificent matte finish, but too matte for me (I never thought such a thing would happen!). I have combination skin, so some dry flakiness was made more obvious, and it really amplified my pores. I would say that this is better for oily, rather than combination, skin. It matched so prettily. I shall mourn it. 

5) Amazing Cosmetics Velvet Mineral Liquid Custom Finish Foundation SPF 15. Chock full of vitamins, it claims. But nothing remotely matched my skin and I found the consistency to be too thick.

6) Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup SPF 15
    Estee Lauder Double Wear Light Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10
    Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10

How is it possible that the lightest of every one was brown?   

7) Bobbi Brown Long Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15. Bobbi's products lean on the yellow side, so I have high-ish hopes. I was debating between Warm Ivory 1 and Sand 2, but after some squinting under their insufficient lighting I asked for a sample of the former (the latter looked quite orange on me). 

Bobbi Brown doesn't believe there is such a thing as pink undertones, so all of her foundations are yellow-based. Just what I need.  

The foundation somewhat matched (yes!) and did not appear to oxidize as the day progressed (woo!) but I made an unpleasant conclusion (after all that effort). 

I just don't like the finish liquid makeup gives me. 

For instance, right now I use the now discontinued Sephora Collection Mineral Foundation Compact in two colors, D25 and D10. My skin looks ravishing; it glows, it hums with health, it has life and zest and verve. With liquid foundation my skin looks flat and glum, with all the few milia still not yet extracted hilighted. 

Why tamper with success? 

Except I went and spent $23 on a liquid foundation brush that will now go dusty. If one digs the liquid makeup, this brush certainly applies it beautifully, and the bristles are really soft.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Well-Adjusted Lone Eater

My household has never been into family dinners. As the youngest, I got home earlier than my siblings, and in turn my father arrived later than anyone else, sometimes around 8 or 9 during the busy times of year. 

So Ma fed us in a staggered mode, whenever we shuffled through the door burdened beneath oversized knapsacks. Shabbos, of course, we all ate together, but due to my youth I rarely found the conversation scintillating, and I would go off to read. 

Where my siblings and I prone to a life of crime or drug abuse? Ha. We were the most nerdily straight kids ever to cross a yeshiva threshold. 

But "they" insist that family dinners is the only way to ensure happy and well-adjusted children! 

"They" messed up again. 

It's not about the dinner itself, this article claims. It's about quality time in general, which could be while in the car, for instance. I believe that is where all of our deep conversations took place.
There is no criteria for what qualifies as having good interaction with kids.  

In other news, here is a response to the brouhaha over politicians "daring" to paddle into the Sea of Galilee in the buff. The fun part: When the author references Resh Lakish.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Featuring the Off-Key Talents of Babysitter

I was babysitting for Luke. The house was blissfully silent, the three big(ger) kids snoring peacefully. I had just tucked myself in when his youngest began to kvetch in his crib. I would have preferred to ignore it but I pottered over into his dark room, squinting without my glasses. 

He was sitting up, and did not know that his folks had gone out for the evening. He then casually glances up, looks away, then does a double take. He peers in the dimness. And then realization dawns. 


Oh boy. 


When my first niece was born, when I was 12, she promptly turned purple in fury at five hours of age. Frankly, what that kid put me through has placed every child after that in the ho-hum category. 



Meaning this: A two year old violently rattling the sides of his crib and emitting air-raid siren shrieks is nothing much. I start off by listing all the creatures that went shloofie, from the cat to the dog to the bird to the various animals in the zoo. He was somewhat mollified, sniffling into my shoulder. 

Now, for the musical numbers. I began with a Hungarian nursery song that is disturbing on the level of "Rockabye Baby." I am not fluent so I got most of the words wrong, but since it is about a squirrel that keeps climbing up a tree and breaking his leg, then the doctor won't give him medical treatment since he's not being very smart, I suppose that's ok. 

Then, the Rabbi's Sons "Rabos Machshovos." It's usually a good choice for nighttime since it is slow and soothing. Then Matisyahu's "For You," since it's my favorite and I know most of the lyrics, although not while I am half asleep. 
Of course, "Sounds of Silence." Simon & Garfunkel were made for bedtime.  

I ended with Dude Fisher's version of "Exodus," but at that point the kid had gone back to sleep out of pure depression.
(He starts singing at the 35 second mark). 
I tiptoed out of the room, slowly turning the doorknob back to its place; I took long, exaggerated strides, like Wile E. Coyote, praying the floor wouldn't creak. But when I collapsed into bed, I spectacularly whacked my head against the wall. THUD. I froze, my terror that he would cry outweighing the ringing in my ears.    

Silence. Thank God. Next it would have to be showtunes. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cheese Latkes Update

I wrote previously how my gluten-free application of Busy in Brooklyn's cheese latkes were a big hit amongst the kinfauna. 

I've made them quite a few times since then, messing around with different types of gluten-free flour. One thing I noticed is that while everyone else loved the bean flour, I hate it. There's an aftertaste that makes me terribly nauseous.

Out of insanity, I made the latkes on Tisha B'Av for the visiting kinfauna. But this time I used a mix of corn and buckwheat flours. While I used proportionately less buckwheat to corn, it turned my batter quite brown. 
Well, you know kids. "They're brown," they kept telling me. "Yes, I know," I said. "But they're brown," they insisted. 
Since I wasn't able to taste these, and my usual audience was less than enthusiastic, the latkes ended up in the fridge, with me bummed out over the wasted ingredients. The next day I popped one into my mouth, yes, cold. 

It was delicious. There was some sort of sweet flavor in there like maple syrup, even though I didn't use any. Despite the fact they were chilled through, I inhaled these for dinner.

I offered one to the two year old. He ended up having five, even though he had supper already. I then tackled the scrawny six year old. "They aren't cheesy enough," he grumbled (yes they are!) but I managed to shove three down his throat. I cheerfully fried up the remaining batter (carefully dabbing off oil from the resulting product), and Ta had to be restrained.

Moral of this story: I am now a big fan of buckwheat. And never try making anything new on a taanis.    

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wedding Hair

When it comes to bridal hair, I am all for updos.
Not my favorite.
By frummie weddings, the bride usually hits the dance floor armed with sneakers and proceeds to boogie the night away, which often leads to sweat. Loose, styled waves become limp, clinging to the neck and face in damp, scraggly strands. 

Updos don't have to be harsh.
The top look on Taylor Swift is not as polished as the bottom, but it offers a romantic, evening vibe with less of an "updo" finish.
If you do opt for down hair, I beg you: No bottle curls.  It's too reminiscent of Little Bo Peep.

When it comes to youngsters by weddings, however, I find that loose hair is more flattering. Updos on kids with glasses are particularly painful. Loose hair styled in waves, with a flower clip holding back one side softens the harshness of glasses (I am anti-headband).
At a recent chassana, the tween-aged cousins of the kallah had their beautiful thick blonde hair blown wavy, without distracting oversized headbands or clips. They bounced on the dance floor looking perfectly natural and appropriate, not stunty.
Children and teenagers look great in long hair. Adults . . . have to tread more carefully.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Accomodate My Gluten-Free

Once upon a time, if someone had a weird self-imposed diet, that was their own business. If invited out, they would simply abstain from the offending item, or move it around their plate as though they had at least tasted it. 

In my case, I cannot tolerate white bread, although I can handle very small quantities. If by someone's house on Shabbos, I'll just nibble the minimum, but I certainly make no requests for a whole wheat challah to be purchased on my behalf. 

And while this not dietetically imposed, I am not crazy about red meat, especially the way some hostesses seem to just shove it in the oven and cook it until all the juices leach out of it. Does that mean I should inform the baalas habayis to prepare a mushroom steak for me instead? Pshaw. 

When did it get to be a hostess's headache to plan for others' odd diets? My nephew has celiac disease, but others take on gluten-free despite lack of medical condition, as Jessica Bruder opines
The offending object? A footlong loaf of bread, stuffed with savory cheese, purchased at a beloved Italian bakery and presented with pride at a recent potluck meal. “This bread is delicious,” I crowed.
The kitchen went quiet. You’d think I had offered up a bouquet of poison ivy. One guest said she was gluten free. Another didn’t consume milk products. The mood lifted only when someone else arrived with a large bowl of quinoa and lentils. 
I never thought I'd see the day when quinoa and lentils would be a party saver.
I always thought it was understood that if by someone else's home, providing they don't serve something that will make your throat close up, politely tasting the course and nodding an emphatic "yummy!" makes one a good guest.
It's not like suffragettes being force-fed or anything.
My nephew doesn't eat when he's home, anyway. So no worries; he'll have some salad.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Priorities, Priorities

A guy and a girl were sitting behind me on the train, chatting about their dating lives. Naturally, I pretended to be asleep and eavesdropped. It was incredibly entertaining. 

He was talking about how he met this girl, she's great, yadda yadda yadda, but she has a medical problem, specifically debilitating migraines. 

She was talking about how she met this guy, he's great, yadda yadda yadda, but he has a medical problem, specifically epilepsy. 

I can understand how anyone would have to think carefully over pursuing relationships with others with chronic conditions that can flare at the most inconvenient of times (like while operating heavy machinery or holding an infant), but that did not seem to be their main concern. 

The reason why these potential mates may get the ax is because they could really ruin their vacations

You see, one works really hard to plan a vacation, and what if she has to take to her bed the whole time? Real bummer. And he can't go snorkeling, so that would be real drag.

Nothing like a little eavesdropping . . .

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Devil's Workshop or Mother of Invention

I have more nervous tendencies than others, so I worked out early on how to keep myself . . . relatively mellow. 

For instance, I know that I need time every day for my brain to loosen up. Like blankly looking through a train window, or mindlessly watching some television, or reading a less-than-educational novel since, in order to be able to sleep at night, "the little gray cells" must be given an allotment of non-focus.
Perhaps that is why I am bewildered when I hear that people desperately need a vacation to "unwind" or "get away." If I had to rely on a few holiday days here and there to realign my chakras, so to speak, I would be a raging lunatic. 

My idea of an ideal Sunday is to potter about, indolently taking care of this or that, with nothing on the schedule. If I do have something planned, it's rarely for hours on end, nor do I want to tackle more than one "activity" in one day.
Despite today's conveniences, which should have made life more relaxing, people claim they are busier than ever, even though they have no cows to milk or land to plow. And idlers like myself are often get the finger-wag for our non-exerting ways.

My cousin FBed me on Sunday, confessing her guilt for spending the day watching Star Trek. I linked her this article, which casts our indolence in a flattering light. 

Are we really so "busy," Tim Kreider asks, or do we just fear the absence of activity? 

So after reading the article, figure out if you are actually busy, or if you just can't stand the silence. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bottle Blonde

I am embarrassed to confess, despite my love of dark complexions and coloring, a fetish for the blonde, which I blame on my mother. My entire childhood Ma told me I was blonde, so, of course, I believed her. 

I was in high school when a classmate cruelly disabused me of that belief. 

I peered at my hair in the mirror. I had to acknowledge that I was, in fact, light brown of hair. When I confronted Ma, she said that she actually meant that I was the blondest of her children. It must be a Hungarian thing.

I wanted to add those sun-kissed highlights gained during those summer days, except I don't go outdoors during that season out of fear of sun damage and intolerance of heat. 

I first purchased highlighting shampoos and conditioners. I used them steadily, and after three years, if I squinted, I could detect a hint of yellow in one lock of hair. 

I had enough. I was going more drastic. 

I bought Sun-In Hair Lightener Spray, Lemon. Many hair lighteners work with the heat of blow-dryers and other stylers to lighten the hair. Every Friday I shpritzed before styling and I began to see results almost immediately.
If hair is dark brown, lighteners will turn hair reddish. Initially, my hair did have reddish streaks, but it was pretty. Then the highlights became blonder with time and use. 

But the Sun-In had a horrible smell that gave me headaches, and I looked around for another option, which I found in Herbatint Hair Lightener. I transferred the liquid to a squeeze bottle, and it does the job without noxious fumes.
I don't use it every week; every third Friday I give a little shpritz after applying leave-in conditioner and serum, before styling.

There are also other options like John Frieda's Go Blonder line. Shampoo, conditioner, and spray-in lightener, all conveniently available at the local drugstore. Except I read some alarming reviews of the spray-in online  from those claiming it made their hair fall out.

I also purchased La Bella Lightning Gel, which can provide more control if one wants a streaked look. 

I want to try Renpure Tropicals Australian Sun Lite Highlighter next.

The results with Herbatint were very natural. Even my hair guy couldn't tell the difference. A woman came in when I was in the chair, and she said, "Oh, what a beautiful hair color! Is it dyed?" He replied, a trifle horrified, "No, it's natural!" I hurriedly confessed. 

The great thing about it is that it doesn't look like a blonde dye job. A local girl was a distinct brunette, then her hair magically turned buttercup yellow overnight. I don't dig that.
My niece, however, is not pleased. "Your hair is orange," she sniffs in disdain. "How is it orange?" Ma snaps. 

Ma is very happy with my faux blonde-ish hair. Now she doesn't even have to lie that much.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy Rosh Chodesh

Check out this video by Charlie Harary about recalibrating our viewpoint of Elul.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Illamasqua Lipstick in Corrupt

The yontif lipstick method of layering on various brands and colors results in this lovely pink shade, which kind of makes my other weekday lipsticks look a little bland. And quite by accident I have found a single product that looks not only close to that hue, but better. 

I adore Illamasqua since the majority of their products are vivid, matte pigments. Idly playing with the lipsticks in Sephora one day I swiped one on. 

The Sephora website describes "Corrupt" as hot pink, but it is not. Believe me, I have hot pink lipsticks; this is not hot pink. 

The Illamsqua website refers to it as a warm bright pink, which is definitely a better description. While light, it is dramatic yet remaining refined.

The consistency of Illamasqua lipstick can be temperamental, however. While they are matte, if left in too warm an area they begin to get testy. Don't leave it in a purse on a sunny summer day. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yontif Hair = Healthy Hair

Many find the showerless yom tov to be quite a trial. Consider what it would be like to not shampoo for more than a month? 

Amber Genuske couldn't help it; when in Kosovo, the bathing conditions were quite primitive and not hair-friendly. But when she arrived home and blissfully bathed, she was amazed how healthy her hair was. 

She now only washes her hair one or two times a week. Funnily enough, so do I. When my hair gets a little oily, I prefer cornstarch to dry shampoo (the fragrance gives me a headache and makes me sneeze); I just sprinkle a little in and it absorbs any greasiness.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Green Eyed Monster

I am often surprised how, for lack of a better term, well, communist the Jewish community has become. 

Two neighbors, middle-aged and not exactly financially deprived, stood together muttering at the behemoth that an obscenely wealthy man was constructing. 

"It's a chillul Hashem," hissed the woman. 

The man nodded. 

Beg pardon? Is he breaking any laws? Not paying his workers? Condoned faulty zoning? Do you know what "chillul Hashem" means

My nieces' school have enacted a whole bunch of rules for bas mitzvahs this year. When I was a kid it was just (1) if inviting half the class, then the whole class must be included and (2) everyone buys for themselves a one-time gift so parents don't have to go crazy/bankrupt by every party. Now the choice of venue has to be cross-examined, with all sorts of sub-clauses to adhere to. 

There are people in our community that, b"H, make very good livings. Or inherited livings. The point being, they have money. It is not a heinous crime if their lifestyle can be maintained by their income. We are not believers in the loafers of Wall Street whining "We are the 99%!" We are Jews (a much, much, much, smaller percentage than that), who believe no matter what we or others do, whatever Hashem decreed the past Rosh HaShana, we will receive. 

The law is "Thou shall not covet," not "Thou shall not spend." 

Rabbis enact unenforceable laws to bring down the price of wedding revelry, but you know what? If someone goes into hock for their child's wedding, he should know better. B"H in our world weddings are a constant thing, and we don't give them a second thought. We go home after the soup if the hour gets late, because we got to work in the morning. Who asked you to spend beyond your means?

People. Don't. Care. 


While people are free to spend what income they have, that does not mean one should feel embarrassed if their own finances can't meet someone else's budget.

Luke constantly talks of the most fun wedding he had ever been to. The kallah's mother was not in any state to pay for a wedding, nor was the chosson's family. Two young professionals, they paid for their own festivities in a less-than-glamorous hall, devoid of lavish details. The focus was family and friends coming together to celebrate.

On the flip side, there was this other young couple, whose parents blew everything they had and then some on the wedding of the century. The newlyweds went to Israel afterwards, and lived like churchmice. Literally. Their only food was bread and butter.

Reuven Spolter wrote on this in the Jewish Action. His nephew's wedding was very simple, he says bluntly, because of finances. Did that make it any less merry? True joy has no pricetag. 

If someone makes a snazzy party, the message isn't, "New trend!" Do what one can afford to do, because in the end "Whatever you do, you do for yourself." The neighbors aren't noticing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mineral Bust

There are two species of mineral makeup: pressed and loose powders. I like the pressed powder versions, of which I mix two shades of the now-discontinued Sephora Collection Mineral Foundation Compact (with a five year supply hoarded away). 

But there are times in life when loose minerals are needed. My current loose mineral makeup is Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Fresh Powder Makeup in 020 Light Beige. I was initially bowled over, but now I'm feeling a trifle discontented. There is a fragrance which irritates my nose; the color doesn't quite match. 

The hint of yellow in my undertone makes foundation shopping a pain; often I come out too pale (ghostlike), too orange (Oompa Loompa), or too yellow (bilious). 

Most mineral makeups steer in "The Neutral Zone" (Star Trek reference); not many variations in term of undertones. Bare Minerals, however, embraces extremes; the lighter shades have strictly straight yellow or pink undertones.

Worst come to worst, I am prepared to purchase two bareMinerals Matte Foundations and mix them. But first I want to explore all my options. 

1) Elizabeth Arden Mineral Makeup Foundation SPF 20. It is freshly shaved, like the Clinique Mineral Makeup, and I happily pounced on the tester in Macy's. Shade 2, which is the lightest, was very dark. Like, brown. I slunk away, dispirited.  

2) Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Mineral Makeup SPF 15. The colors are all pretty neutral. The differences between "Extra Light" and "Light" is pretty major; one is way too light, the other way too dark. Considering how Bobbi Brown's makeup all has yellow undertones, I felt gypped.  

3) Lancome's Ageless Minerale Skin-Transforming Mineral Powder SPF 21 (I wonder about that "21." Sounds kind of arbitrary when it comes to skin protection, no?) 

The counter I approached claimed it was being discontinued, but an email to the company disproved that. Then again, whenever I email a company asking, "Is it being discontinued?" they send back a "Perish the thought!" and it is discontinued anyway. 

I could not find the Lancome in stores, only on websites. 

Since Nordstrom offers free shipping and free returns, I decided to go with them. As for color selection, I prowled online reviews until someone said the magic word, "yellow": Natural Ivory 30. 

I bought it and tried it. Too dark. Back it goes. 

So I've decided there's nothing for it: I'll just have to get two bareMinerals Matte Foundation, in Fair and Golden Fair, and mix the two.  

Or stop whining and buy the Dior again.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Obsessed Much?

Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones. 

Here's the deal, George: You better live to write the last two books. I don't care what you have to do. No more fast food. Take a walk every day. Sell your soul to the devil. 

And I want an ending, not a "Lost" copout. You started this, so you better finish it.

And while I'm ranting, this video is fun for anyone who has had a violent fantasy after having their emails/texts ignored:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Date Like a Peacock

While some have short memories, Ma (okay, make that Babi) can recall a time when females were in hot demand. They went to work, they can bear offspring, still make it to a sale, and what did the men bring to the table? Bachelors were sweating as they anxiously attempted to prove their worth. 

The current state of affairs is unnatural, even at a primal level. When viewing the animal world, it is most often the females who are pursued, wooed with a fierceness that sometimes leads to suicide on the male's part.
Check me out.
And it is not even as though these females are glamorous. Nature made them plain and camouflage-friendly to ensure their avoidance of predators and hunters, whereas the males can have such garish accoutrements that are akin to a bulls-eye on their back to attest as to their heartiness.
Female on left. Male on right.
As a bored female inspects her suitors with a critical eye, the males sing and strut, perhaps even dance, as they strive to win the prize. Sometimes, if there are too many suitors, males will fight until there's blood.
Elephant seals will tear each other to pieces.
After all this effort, maybe the female will be kind enough to put the male out of his misery, graciously selecting him from the lineup.

The market these days has eligible women trying every which way to draw the gaze of the eligible man. We doll ourselves up, even though it may make us vulnerable to unwanted attentions. We acquire gainful employment so as not to be a financial burden, nay, even aspiring to "breadwinner" status. We are capable and competent and college graduates.

And yet the quarry is unmoved. He yawns, waving away the female offerings, no matter how they bat their eyes and flip their hair, not even bothering to look up from his iPhone. Many of today's bachelors are seemingly disinterested in the opposite sex, the masters of cool, whereas everything we know of the natural world proves such detachment to be impossible.
"Are there any real men nowadays?" Ma sometimes opines. "I mean a real man."  A real male—I mean, man—would have no qualms smiling roguishly across the room at a selected quarry, sashaying forward with a weak pickup line, willing to jeopardize his ego. Pretty much every animal out there works that way. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Yet today's female usually has such shoddy self-esteem that if a man sought her out, she wouldn't find it flattering. She would seek out a fellow who ignores her rather than introduces himself.
I thought I would never experience my status as it should be in the animal kingdom, except for one special evening, at a wedding of a family acquaintance.

My male launched into the waltz that is the mating ritual: He goofily played with the children, glancing in my direction: Look, I'm great with kids! (There are monkeys that do that; babysit to impress the ladies). By every bracha, he launched to his feet, donning a variety of reverential expressions as each rabbi shuffled up to the chuppah. In the hallway he drew himself up to his tallest, throwing his shoulders back, attempting to display his healthy prowess, as well as the flattering cut of his suit. 

And I remained the unruffled peahen, supposedly unimpressed via my aloof demeanor of his prancing overtures, casting from time to time a discerning glance. 

My necessary early departure from the festivities halted his energetic presentation. Despite my acquaintance with both sides of the nuptials, he has not sought me out; the chase is over. And perhaps if I should ever come across him again, he would be peering at his smartphone in blatant indifference while I fiendishly cavort in a lame effort to draw his attention. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Deep End

In the most recent edition of Jewish Action, there was an article called "Taking the Plunge" by Ann Koffsky, discussing the concept of a father being obligated to teach their child to swim. 

As a lifeguard, she is the one who helps parents fulfill that requirement. To a child, she says, whatever she is telling them is madness. They know the laws of nature by now. They understand gravity and the choking sensation water can provide. Now there is this crazy woman telling them to ignore all that hard-earned knowledge.
But when they finally decide to give in out of good manners, they feel accomplished. They tried something, and they conquered it. 
Perhaps that is what the Gemara is trying to teach us as parents. If it was to just keep our kids safe, the best advice would be “Make sure your kids stay away from water.” But that is not the Gemara’s approach. Perhaps the major lesson the Gemara wants us to teach our kids is to overcome fear and just get in the pool. To live life, not avoid it. Because once you get past all that fear—swimming is really fun! It’s there for us to enjoy.
Today's parents sometimes go the extra mile to shield their children from "questionable" influences, even well after marriage and having their own kids. 

Ma phrased it like so: "They think their child will go out there and slip on the first banana peel?"   
May we all learn from these kids and overcome that which is holding us back in our own lives, whether it’s trying to learn something new even though we fear looking ignorant, or doing chessed even if we fear failure, or reaching out to an estranged family member despite our fear of rejection. We must learn to overcome and take the plunge.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Leafy Eyes

After gray, another universally flattering eyeshadow hue is green, which is often my choice for weekdays.
I'm currently using a beautiful shade by Illamasqua, a "matte dusky olive green" called Moan. However, that color is no longer carried by Sephora (dang!)
Illamasqua Moan
The color I was using beforehand, a less intense green called Sage by Chantecaille Lasting Eye Shade is still around. Chantecaille is available at select Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Space NK. I was very happy with it before it hit my stone bathroom floor and smashed to bits.
There is also MUFE Olive Green 47.

Bare Escentuals Wearable Green Dark (dark pine), Wearable Green Medium (olive beige), and Exotic Sandra (deep olive).
Yes, all the colors I list are matte, and are not light. Light green can be distracting attention-hogs, whereas less acidic shades blend more discreetly. Green should be matte since it has the potential to be overwhelming, and lack of sparkle takes it down a notch. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: The Diet of Daniel

Time magazine had a feature on Rick Warren, super-pastor, and his desire to make his thousands of evangelicals healthier (including himself). 

What was concocted was "The Daniel Plan," based on the story from Nach when Daniel, Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya arrive in Nevuchadnetzar's court for page training, and are given food from the king's own table (a great honor).
I went to look up the original text, because it seemed to me Warren was taking a few liberties. 

Food from the king's table was primarily meat and wine, two things that most definitely needs kosher supervision. Daniel, also, did not want to take from the king's table lest he become too chummy with him. So the four consume only fruits, vegetables, and water, what any good Jewish boy would do when surrounded by treifus (like some Cantonists did). 

However, the other Babylonian servants are horrified; by turning down the king's food, he and his friends are in danger of incurring his wrath. No worries, Daniel soothes. This diet means no disrespect, rather it is to keep us up to best optimal servitude. Give me ten days; I'll be in better shape than I ever was.

And lo, after ten days, despite refraining from "nourishing" meat and wine, Daniel and his compadres are fitter than fiddles. Phew. Now no worries about having to eat treif.

Warren decided to derive from that story not as a desperate means of Daniel to talk his way out of forbidden food, but rather Daniel's abhorrence of luxury and self-gratification. Eh, whatever works. 

By adopting Daniel's supposed diet (along with exercise) Warren is preaching to his parishioners that the body we have is on loan, and that we are required to take care of it for whatever time we have on Earth. 

Even though he believes I am going to end up all crispy in fiery hell, Warren kinda has a point. Nowadays we have access to fruits and vegetables year round, magnificent citrus my mother never could get her hands on in the old country, fresh greenery and multicolored munchies from the the world over. And yet we reach for the stuff concocted in a laboratory, while in these plants the Eibishter infused the best minerals and vitamins to keep us up to ideal running capacity. 

An evangelical under this plan went from a size 22 to a size 2. Warren himself lost 55 pounds at the time of the article, 35 more to go to put him in the "healthy" bracket. He says he's losing the weight faster than he put it on; it was only a few pounds a year, but cumulatively they make a difference. Perhaps it was because Daniel had moral support, so the Daniel Plan advocates small groups of fellow plan followers.

So whether inspiration comes from believing Daniel was a communist, or whether it arises from a desire to give our soul the best housing, it can't hurt to have a little religious inspiration to keep ourselves healthy and happy.      

Monday, August 6, 2012

Best Nail File

Since I do my own nails, I am always up for learning something new. I was scrolling through YouTube for manicure tutorials: 
MissChievous recommended a glass nail file rather than cardboard. What sort of difference could that make? I snorted to myself. But, ever curious, I went on Amazon and bought the one with the best reviews, Sassela Crystal Glass Nail File.

Hoooeee. I am chucking away those cardboard files so fast. . . Despite being very fine in grain, it can do everything from delicate buffing to serious crack repair, all without aggravating further breaks in the nail. 

With cardboard nail files it is recommended to file in one direction to prevent breakage, but this one can go in any direction. It is ridiculously easy to beautifully shape nails with this. Beforehand my nails were nastily asymmetrical; now it is less obvious. There are a host of glass nail files available on Amazon; I went with the one from Sassella.

It is still glass, so baby it; it'll break if dropped. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Satmar Hats Save Spanish Brand

In today's paper, there is a charming story about how the intricacies of Satmar hatwear have kept a Spanish factory thriving.

Spark Seeker

I remember the first time I heard Matisyahu; it was the HASC 18 album, after the Rabbi's Sons and Shlomo Simcha. He came on with "Chop 'Em Down," and I stared in horror at the speakers. What the heck is this stuff? 

But the more I listened, the more my ear shifted, and I came to love his sound. I would eagerly pop the CD in when kinfauna were in the car, and while they would initially freak, they would hop out at the end of the trip humming and chirping his lyrics. 

My favorite album of his thus far was Light, and I rarely like any album in its entirety. 

So I eagerly waited for Spark Seeker, and I will admit I was more than a little surprised. In true expression of his desire to evolve, Matt has definitely infused newness in his work. He threw in Middle-Eastern influences, which I happen to love in general (I've got songs in Turkish on my iPod) and the techno/electronica effects are certainly not standard reggae. 

While I first stared at the speakers in horror, I allowed myself to remain open to the musician who has yet to let me down. And in no time I was singing along to his reinvention, playing his tunes on a loop.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yontif Face: Lip Color

As I mentioned beforehand, most long-wearing lipcolors are universally alike in that they are super-drying. While it is hypothetically possible to have lipcolor on for two, sometimes even three days, it won't necessarily look attractive, and your lips will feel naaaaaasty. 

The best long-wearing options, I have discovered, are best found in the drugstore, since the cheap dye used tends to really sink into lips, becoming almost stain-like. 

I have said that it is better to go with a lipstick rather than a longwearing two-ended product like Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor, since it flakes off painfully and unevenly after exactly 25 hours. A lipstick, at least, will fade off gradually. 

For the first layer, the lipstick in question doesn't have to necessarily be labeled "longwearing." For instance, the best endless lipstick I have ever owned is Max Factor's Vivid Impact Lipcolor in #16, Ms. Understood. It stayed on, with care, for three days. (When Max Factor withdrew its products from the USA, I stocked up via Amazon.)

Another rule of longwearing is that it will usually be darker rather than lighter colors. I'm guessing because of the dye. 

Covergirl Lip Perfection, for instance, has a few shades that bloggers claim stay on like nobody's business: Spellbound 325, Eternal 350, Hot Passion 305, Fairytale 405. But they are all bright, flashy colors. 

As I mentioned last week, I tried out Maybelline's 14 Hour Lipstick, and I really love Perpetual Peony, a pale pink. 

So what I did erev Shavuous was to first apply and blot a few layers of my Max Factor lipstick—about five in total. 

Then, I picked up the Maybelline 14 Hour Lipstick in Perpetual Peony and proceeded to layer that as well, also about five coats worth. The consistency isn't conducive to blotting, but I tried as much as I could.
The result distinctly tamed down the vivacity of the base color, as well as provide a nourishing "topcoat," if you will, for the super-drying powers of Ms. Understood. 

And boy, was it nourishing, as well as long-lasting! 

I was very careful for all of Shabbos, even drinking the wine and soup with a straw. I ate my cereal with a dessert spoon. I cut every scrap of food to tiny bite sized bits. 

Then, the the first day of Shavuous. Still there, albeit with some flakiness at the part of my lip closest to my teeth. But it wasn't very noticeable. 

Day 2 of Yontif: Holding strong! I became irritated with the flaky bits by the afternoon and picked at them, and they pretty much peeled right off without taking any lip skin with it. My lips were not super-dried out and cracked the way they were the previous yontifs with the Max Factor alone. 

Three day yom tov with lipstick, baby! It can be done!  

I love the color so much that I've started doing this dual-layer shtick for Shabbos. I just don't need as many layers; about two of each.

Keep in mind: You must be very, very careful when it comes to eating and drinking if you intend for the lipcolor to stay on. It's a bonus to help you stay on diet.   

Thursday, August 2, 2012

We Are Not Alone

"How many children you have?" he asks in his broken English. 

"Oh, none. I'm not married." 

"Not married!?" He is shocked. "How old you?" 


"Good age to marry." 

He is Korean, and a very religious one as well. He confesses to me his worries—his daughter, who is 32, is still single, despite the fact he has sent her back to Korea more than once to find a like-minded spouse.

"I have trouble sleeping," he says sadly. 

"You and my grandmother both," I laugh. 

"What do you mean, 'grandmother'?" Ma says. "My nights are shot!" 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cheaper Is Not Better

The idea came upon me gradually; I can assure my audience that the change in thought process took time. 

When in stores like Daffy's or Marshall's, one may come across an item that is so stupendously reduced that one just has to buy it as a "Why not?" since it costs "nothing," $5, or $10, or $20, compared to its original price. 

If it has no purpose, it still qualifies as a waste. 

I learned this only after my room began to pile up with bits of garment and shoe that were never donned; it couldn't be worn in public, really, as it didn't suit me at all, but it was just so cheap. After winnowing down my garments for the local Chabad-run thrift shop, I figured better spending was in order. 

Don't get me wrong; I love markdowns and sales as much as the next person. But I don't let that equate buying everything that has a "75% off" stamp on it. Very often I'll leave a shopping expedition empty-handed, but then again there are plenty of times that I find something that even a lack of purchase can be satisfying. 

I know I have a tendency to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, but consider: $5 in your wallet is $5 in your wallet. It could be better spent on items one could actually use or need, like the big bottle of nail polish remover. And all those "just $5" purchases accumulate over time. 

For instance, let's say someone buys a $2 black coffee from Starbucks, five days a week. That comes out to over $500 a year. You know what sort of clothing you could have got for that? 

Lyz Lenz had this attire-epiphany after ceasing to clothes-shop for six months. Previously, she had for herself a $50 monthly budget for wardrobe, which she spend on cheap or ill-fitting clothing simply due to the low price. But quantity is not quality; the items tended to disintegrate, as well as not flatter her. So to reeducate her purchasing eye, she invoked a shopping ban.
Her time away from sales racks has resulted in her removing offensive items from her closet. She has now discovered that she has a "personal style," and when her six months are up she now knows what she will buy and for what purpose, and which garments are worth investing in. 

Her "nazir" method makes a lot of sense; by removing oneself from an everyday behavior pattern, one is able to reevaluate. 

There was a family in my neighborhood who really knew how to shop. Every season they would get for themselves one outfit, one outfit, that would be the sharpest, most "in" look at the moment, and wear it all the time. Did I notice they were "repeating"? Not really. The look was so fabulous and suited them so well that even repetition became chic.

I have skirts and sweaters and jackets and blouses for years, because I make a point to buy classic yet interesting items. Yes, they may cost more, but because I don't eat out I figure it squares out, and they last for a pretty long time. 

The bottom line is: To look chic, take the long view.