Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shabbos Lips, Circa 2018

Makeup is an ever-evolving process. Technology advances. Options grow. Methods alter. 

F'instance, when I first tackled Shabbos Face, I asked a few stunningly-lipped women their products, and most shared the drugstore longwearing lipcolors, which have a liquid shade on one end and a moisturizing gloss on the other. 

The moisturizing gloss is needed because the longwear, if left alone, is extremely drying. The premise is that as the day goes on, one can slap on some more gloss as it wears off, while the color remains food-proof.
But on Shabbos, that's not an option. So by morning, my lips were very unhappy indeed. Plus, by afternoon, the color would begin to flake off painfully, taking skin along for the ride while leaving uneven patchiness. 

I'm not keen on gloss, in any case.

I decided to experiment with matte lipsticks instead. I've always preferred mattes—Ma introduced me to them, and I've stayed loyal. I like the rich color, but depending on the brand, it too can get drying. During the week I would dab on some lip balm beforehand, but on Shabbos that would prevent staying power. 

The game changed for me when I discovered Smashbox Be Legendary Matte Lipsticks. These are technically matte, long-wearing, but they have a hint of satin which provides just enough comfort.
Now the method: 

(1) After brushing teeth, buff the bristles along the lips.
This removes dead skin, which: 
  • compromises the bond between lip and lipstick;
  • mattes tend to highlight flaky skin; and 
  • buffing will temporarily plump up the lips, allowing for the fullest possible application.  
Dab lips dry from any moisture.  

(2) Line lips with longwearing pencil. You are not going for the '90s look; this is about getting an accurate, full, and steady stencil for application. The pencil itself will get covered as well. I'm currently using one by Urban Decay
via Style Craze
(3) Arm yourself with a lip brush. I recommend stiff, synthetic bristles that will remain within the lines (I like the one by Revlon). Another perk is that the color really gets into the lip skin, making it last longer.
via Insider
(4) I begin with my Smashbox in Electric Pink Matte (this shade is no longer available in Sephora, but it is on Ulta). I paint on a coat (covering the lip pencil outline too) blot with a thin tissue, apply a second coat, and blot.
  • Note: Blotting is very important. Each blot removes excess product, so it won't peel off in one piece later, and sets in the color more firmly. 
(5) Now on to a more typical matte lipstick, a Mac Matte Lipstick (there is also Retro Matte). I'm currently using a (sadly) discontinued shade, Silly. Two coats, two blots. 

(6) I top off with a Sephora Color Lip Last Lipstick. I find their finish can sometimes be patchy, so I use this last. I flip between a few of their pinks. Sometimes I blot the last coat, sometimes I don't.

If you are truly devoted to the makeup cause:  
  • Straws are your friends.
  • Be very, very careful with soup or oily foods. Oil will whisk that color right off. I learned from Ma since childhood how to contort my mouth in such a way to get food in without it touching my lips. 
  • Become very good at air-kissing. Although it's on so well a few pecks on my nephew's head doesn't do much damage.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: XII (a recap of I)

I'd like to circle back to that tricky word, "hishtadlus." 

In my original post on the topic, I applied the same premise of hishtadlus as seen in terms of parnassah. However, I had an insight recently that shows that comparison to be faulty. 

A few weeks ago, Rabbi Noson Weisz had a dvar Torah for Parshas Shlach, in which hishtadlus is discussed. The source for the concept of hishtadlus comes from Adam's curse following his sin: "Accursed is the ground because of you; through suffering shall you eat of it all the days of your life ... By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken." (Genesis 3:17-19)

Rabbi Weisz elucidates: 
Man's bread comes from God in any case and does not grow out of his application of effort. It was man's sin that brought the curse of effort down on his head. While no one can escape this curse entirely as long as our present world endures, it is obvious that it would be the act of an idiot to voluntarily subject oneself to a curse more than is absolutely mandatory.
It says b'feresh in the Torah that mankind has to make an effort in order to eat. But it doesn't say where effort is required anywhere else.  

How did Adam find Chava? Endless Starbucks dates? Prowling through singles events? Scrolling online?

Adam desired a helpmeet. Once he did, Hashem provided him with one.
I came across this story: 
An older bachur once came to the Tosher Rebbe, zy'a, exasperated over his plight, beseeching him for a bracha that he find his bashert. The Rebbe warmly responded, "Hashem wants you to be a chassan just as much as you do." The bachur then asked, "So, Rebbe, what am I to do now?" The Rebbe answered firmly, "NOTHING!" 
What I found surprising was how the family guru had a nearly identical story with Rav Moshe.  

There is a matter of debate between the Rambam (and another one, I have to run it by Ta) about what is involved in order to marry. I think it's according to the Rambam that you have to want to, and that who you marry is decreed by Hashem (bechira has nothing to do with it). 


There doesn't seem to be any hishtadlus required in order to marry. Girls certainly don't have it, especially considering they never were cursed with hishtadlus in the first place (we just get the guaranteed pain and suffering of childbirth. No biggie). 

I think the one thing that really hit home for me when I met and married Han was how futile all those years of obsessing with "what to do" were. Yes, I wanted to marry, I was chalishing to marry, but the Eibishter was gently saying, "Not yet, mammelah, not yet."  

Obviously, holing up in your basement and becoming a smelly hermit won't exactly encourage a mate. But most of us belong to a community where people know us, and they tend to try to set us up. 

We just have to stay sane as they eat up our kishkes, though. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Love and Hate

Our eyes are weak with longing for Your love, 
for we are loathed by a hateful foe:
see how afflicted we are within, 
and how, without, we're abhorred—
like Leah, whose suffering You saw, 
as You bore witness to her distress. 
She was hated at home, 
and also despised abroad. 
Not each beloved, however, is loved,
and all who are hated are not hated:
some are hated below, but loved on high. 
Those You despise are despised,
and those You love are beloved. 
We are hated because we love
You who are holy. 

—From Piyutei Yannai (sixth century poet)

seen in Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"The Love Issue" Insights

The NY Times Magazine recently had its "Love" issue. Their definition of "love" can be a little, er, um, atypical at times, but they still had some insights I thought were interesting.
From the Instagram account "subway hands" by
In a profile on divorce lawyer: 
According to Tom Kretchmar, a Manhattan divorce lawyer with Chemtob, Moss, Forman & Beyda, most people enter marriages fully aware of certain nagging problems — like, say, a bad temper — but choose to overlook them. “They think, how bad is it really to get yelled at because you didn’t put the toothbrush back where it belongs?” he said. “But then over five, 10, 20 years or even just six months, it’s like, ‘How much more of this can I take?’ Forget cheating or the business failing. Often, it’s just like, ‘You’re not a very good person.’”
"My view on love is this: You may not know if it's right, but you do know if it's wrong."—Abigail Greystoke, elementary school director

There were people who liked that the other didn’t talk too much. People who liked that they were very similar. People who liked that they were different. People who liked how the other kept showing up every day in life, no matter what. People who stayed after bearing witness to long-past bad behavior. They were all people who had made it through the wilderness of singledom and found someone with whom they could just sit on the ferry.
Sure, there were a few more cinematic moments. Tim and Michelle, a Mennonite couple from Indiana on a missionary trip with their youth group, kissed while the kids around them “oooohed” the way kids do. But for the most part, the sentiments most often expressed were of comfort, of dependability, of a feeling the partner inspired. There weren’t sweeping stories of romance and passion. Their stories were fairly mundane. They had settled in for the long haul.
Maybe that’s the goal. Maybe that’s the nature of good and enduring love, that eventually it’s not something you think about. Maybe our wish shouldn’t be for epic gestures of romance but for our relationships to become a little bit like the ferry itself: round the clock, free and always on time. How nice would that be? To have someone to sit with for all the long commutes.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Austen's Answer to Magic

I'm rather embarrassed that I've been sitting on this recommendation for, oh, years. Never got around to to it. 

I'm not a serious fantasy reader. Even though I do like sci-fi, I'm not keen on the book forms, usually, excepting a few rare writers (Lois McMaster Bujold. That's about it).

I read Harry Potter, of course. I'm a slave to Game of Thrones (paper, not screen version. George R.R. better give me the last two books, although at this rate I forgot who everyone is and I'll have to reread them). 

Years ago I picked up Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell in Costco. It's a huge tome. Susanna Clarke created an alternate reality in Regency England, as well extremely detailed "historical" footnotes. It took her twelve years to write. You can tell.
BBC adapted it a few years ago, and I think it was excellently done. Although, of course, the book is better. Isn't it always?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Vicarious Life

Am I citing The Crown too much? I probably am. Can't stop now, though. 

In "Paterfamilias," young Prince Charles is being sent to school. Elizabeth would like to send him to Eton, but Philip is adamant that he be sent to his alma mater in Scotland, Gordonstoun
Philip's mission is that Charles "toughens up." 

We then flashback to Philip's time there (and his family's connections to the Nazis, cough). He did not arrive happy either. It's freezing. The showers are freezing. There's a lot of physical labor. 

But after a family tragedy hits, the school provides a framework for him to survive.
However, Charles is not his father. He did not find his time up north a fulfilling experience—more like hell—and sent his sons to Eton. 

Parents can have difficulty separating themselves from their children. They had a good time in camp; their children should go to camp. They liked sports; their children should like sports. They are content with their life as they know it; their children should too. 

But while children may be of their parents, they are not only their parents. They are also their grandparents, their great-grandparents, their great-great-grandparents, and so forth. Chances are there are a lot of different potential personalities bubbling in that cauldron of DNA. 

Dr. Chris Kaposey's "We Chose Our Child" describes his and his wife's decision to keep their Down Syndrome baby and not abort, despite their both being pro-choice.  
Why is there such reluctance to have children with Down syndrome? One explanation shows up repeatedly when parents recount the early days after receiving their child’s diagnosis. They feel a sense of loss because they no longer dream that their child will get married, go to college or start a family of their own one day — in other words, that they will not meet the conventional expectations for the perfect middle-class life.
Why do we have children at all? Most parents would agree that it is not only so that they can replicate a conventional arc of a successful middle-class life: college, marriage, real estate, grandchildren. If those are the reasons to abort fetuses with Down syndrome, they seem disappointing — they are either self-centered or empty in their narrow-minded conventionality. Aaron will probably not become a veterinarian, and that’s O.K. Childhood dreams often harmlessly go unrealized. He could still get a different job working with animals, and that would make him happy.
Children, in general, often choose to live different lives than their parents would wish. With a Down Syndrome baby, that's obvious from the get-go. With other kids, it may take a parent a few more decades to realize that. 

Like I heard from Dr. Shefali Tsabary, children are not extensions of ourselves, to lead the lives we wish for them. Then every Jewish boy would go to medical school. Children must be simply accepted and loved, as they are. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Advantages vs. Challenges

The human mind is an ungrateful one. It tends to focus on when things go wrong, as opposed to when they go right. 

How often do we thank the Eibishter? We tend to ask for assistance or complain more often. 

Today's society likes to say that everything is terrible. But the experts point out, in exasperation, that compared to, say, all of history, we are doing quite, quite well. 

Sendhil Mullainathan notes this quirk of psychology in terms of economic advantages. When successful businesspeople are asked how they made their achievements, chances are they will elaborate on the many challenges they had to overcome, as opposed to all the resources they were gifted, whether by birth or other circumstances. 
We tend to remember the obstacles we have overcome more vividly than the advantages we have been given. . . both Democrats and Republicans believe that electoral maps are not apportioned to their advantage. The scholars also find that, within families, people tend to think their parents were tougher on them than their siblings recognize.
Those sneaky, crafty voices can create a completely different narrative in one's mind. But it really all depends how we choose to see our world. Happy people aren't happy because they have better lives than others. They are happy because they want to be. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

P'ru U'r'vu

"Get married to someone who isn't tall," she said before I even had a chance to say that I wasn't in the market for height. "Then you'll at least have kids. Before you know it, you'll be 30." 

I was 23 at the time. I have to say, I am very, very happy I rolled my eyes at her "advice."

Women worry a lot about their "biological clock," especially single women. If "declining fertility" wasn't terrifying enough, then there are those gloomy "predictions" regarding birth defects. 

Luke recently discovered Adam Ruins Everything, and I must say he is refreshingly soothing. (Check out his video on expiration dates and low-fat foods.) 

Come to think of it, regarding people I know, the myths don't apply. Babi had a miscarriage during her first marriage, pre-war; post-Holocaust, she married again at 32, and swiftly proceeded to have children, including twins at the age of 38 (that was without medical intervention. Don't think they had that in her Hungarian town). 

Fertility issues and birth defects aren't a guarantee of age, at least not to what I've heard in real life. 

So, single ladies and "elderly" newlyweds? Leave it up to God. From what I hear, He doesn't outsource this job to anyone else.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fave Recipes III

I asked Han early on what sort of chicken he likes, and he said maple bourbon, although he's not crazy about maple syrup in the first place. What he did not realize is that honey is a perfectly acceptable swap in most recipes. 

I have to say that it tastes better with chicken legs, but it needs much longer simmering, 90 minutes, say.
My nephew referred to it as "sick." He meant that in a good way. 
I first tasted this by a Shabbos meal that was not during Pesach.
After I hounded my hostess for the recipe, I tweaked it: 4 eggs instead of 3, then omitting the mayo; oat bran instead of potato starch; no onion soup mix; 3 garlic cloves along with a dusting of powder. Quite yummy, indeed.
I have family members who are gluten-free, and currently so am I. I don't like recipes made from gluten-free flour blends, as the starches are so simple they are akin to sugar. Luckily, God provided a gluten-free grain: Oats are wonderfully filling and nutritious.
These cookies can be made with almond butter instead of peanut (I'm not a peanut fan) and I used palm shortening instead of coconut oil (I'm not a coconut fan either). Eewok gave them a thumbs up, as did Han. 

It doesn't clarify this on the recipe, but they won't flatten out of their own accord. If you shape them into balls, they stay balls. I bought a cookie scoop a few months ago, and it is a great toy to have (as is this size for muffins). 

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Real Story

I have a confession (of sorts) to make. 

The fact is, the saga of Han and Lea was not a straightforward, simple one. My audience may recall a couple of years ago a number of posts regarding a breakup. 

Well, that breakup was with Han. 

Why do I feel compelled to share this? I felt like I was propagating a false fairy tale: Damsel is in distress (her mother's dying) and white knight rescues her!
As we know, life is more complicated than that.

I had a year of post-breakup heartache. A year of self-recrimination ("Was it something I said? Something I did?") and wondering ("Why would the Eibishter taunt me like this? What am I supposed to be learning from this?") 

Then Ma got sick. All those thoughts vanished. Terror over her illness took precedence. 

It was at that time—that time—when I was overwhelmed enough already that Han called back, not knowing of the situation. The camel's back broke. I was stressed to my limit; I didn't welcome this further "complication." 

I spent a few days internally raging and staring blankly out the kitchen window as my thoughts and emotions washing-machined. 

I had every intention of re-exploring the relationship—BrenĂ© taught me there is no winning when one erects a shield of defiance—but how to go forward?

I had no energy for games. I had no mind for payback. My world was imploding. I decided to be open, honest, and vulnerable once more. 

I can't question God—His timing, His methods, His sense of humor. I could hypothesize upon His logic, but as a lowly cretin, that would be the height of chutzpah. Yet Han's presence saved not only me, but my family too, in that dark era. 

Thanks to onlysimchas and Facebook, people's lives—in this case, their romances—can seem so easy, so ideal, so effortless. But we don't know what goes on in others' lives. We are completely ignorant of the whole picture. We only see the picture they choose to post: boy goopily smiling at radiant girl as she clutches a bouquet of red roses. But there is usually much more than that. 

There are dating disappointments. There are broken engagements. There are other situations that cast their pall. But we don't know. 

Our story is messy, as all true stories usually are. Nor is it finished. Nor is it the only messy, unfinished story.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Banana Oat Cookies

Of the fruits, bananas are my nemesis. 

There is a small window when a banana is perfect. It is not wholly yellow—it is brushed with a delicate hue of green. It's sweetness is just beginning to shine through, prior to the mushy blah of over-ripeness. And it cannot bear any brown on the peel. At all. 

I can never get the banana supply right. Either I buy too many—and watch in despair as they fade into brown-spotted neglect—or to spare myself the heartbreak, decree a temporary ban on bananas. When I succumb to purchasing them again, inevitably there is the hideous banana: too soft, too sweet, too brown.

But it's not its fault! Why should it be cast into the garbage when still edible? I cannot bear it!

While I will only consume bananas in their original state, Han is more adventurous of palate. So I searched and alighted upon this ideal recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.   
I added craisins and vanilla extract to mine. Han ate them happily. 

Another banana, saved!