Tuesday, January 24, 2012

e.l.f. Cosmetics

What a cute name, right?  I chose this line of cosmetics for my daughter's first experience in having her own makeup products.  They have a wide offering of all kinds, but of course I really wanted to introduce her to makeup that was mineral based and provided her with a vision for how makeup is meant to enhance, not cover, our natural beauty. I chose to take advantage of a Groupon which allowed me the opportunity of getting more for my money while exploring a line of products with which I was unfamiliar.  We ordered a nice sampling of various items from their website (those in blue were for me, and those in black were for her):

Eye liner in coffee, lip liner in raisin and rose, moisturizing lip tint SPF 8 in cherry, mineral lipstick in rustic brick, a lip brush, the 4 piece bamboo brush set, and the e.l.f. Mineral Nice & Natural Kit, which included:

  • Mineral Blush in Coral
  • Mineral Eye Shadow in Elegant and Sassy
  • Mineral Booster in Small Sheer
  • Mineral Lipstick in Natural Nymph
  • Organizer in Bronze
  • Mineral Glow in Shimmer
Ok, bad news first is always best, in my opinion.  Although I was most looking forward to the gifts for my daughter, I regret to say I was not especially pleased with everything in the Nice and Natural Kit.  The products for her face are all rather shimmery. I wound up taking those and setting them aside, exchanging them with a foundation from Fairie Organics for her; it has more of a matte finish and we prefer that.  My daughter's skin is on the oily side and medium toned, and the e.l.f. blush turned out to be a bit too light for her.   As it turns out, she is satisfied with the color she still has in her cheeks as a young lady and so has chosen to hold off on adding more blush.  I was looking at e.l.f.'s Peachy - when she's ready I think I'll choose something warm for her like this.  

The eye shadow and mineral booster were lovely - she uses the combination of light and dark on her eyes, and she loves the softness of all the brushes.  Although I'd intended to be a sort of secondary tester, I was actually more pleased with the products I tried.  I love the lip and eye liners in particular.  They twist up, are mineral based with no chemical dyes, parabens, preservatives, or sharpening required - easy, inexpensive, and beautiful.  In fact, I really appreciate a line that has so much to offer on all those fronts and is good for the earth as well.   I haven't been able to find a stellar mascara out there.  Recommendations?

e.l.f.'s Mineral Nice and Natural Kit was the hook that drew me to try their products.  Sadly, it wasn't enough to bring me back, but Happily everything else I tried was!  And with strong pluses on the fronts of price, prettiness, and planet-practicality I'll revisit them again with my basket over my arm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Writer's Crush

I love bookstores, but I confess I rarely purchase anything there.  I can't help but look over and through the goodies set up on the various display tables.  Their jackets tempt me with the sheen from the curve of their spines, like so many multi-colored chocolates.  But to me, they smack of the follower; and as a rejector of most things trendy or faddish (even books) I resolutely move on in search of real gold.  Don't you know that treasure by very definition is almost always hidden?

Blue Like Jazz was one of those books I'd flicked through and passed.  Sure enough, I felt vindicated when my sons (who all read the book) told me that it was not all that solid and I really wouldn't have liked it.  Later on, however, D was kicked back on the couch reading A Million Miles In A Thousand Years and I asked how he was liking it.  Same author, Donald Miller, but this book was different and he definitely thought we would be a match.

Heaven help me, I have a writer crush.  Yes! There I am, responding with unabashed oozing over this book, in a way that is usually reserved only for the writings of people like my big sister, Elisabeth (Elliot, of course.  Who I also steered clear of for years so as to avoid falling into the possibility of becoming a "groupie," as was everyone else from whom I'd ever heard her name.  But Elisabeth won my heart straight away, there is simply no question.)  Donald is more like my big, little nephew.  As D says, he is just so sincere; and a man in the palm of God's hand who transparently strives for earnest candor, inspires me, has a voice, plus can be funny to boot - I've just discovered family.

So with a big ol' swoony sigh, I place the Storyline Conference in the box.  Oh, yeah - did you think I was just going to put the book in there?  This carton is for serious fantasies.

Shared with Petals to Picots

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where To Look When It's Not On The Tip Of Your Tongue

I am a writer.  Despite the fact that there is a mental voice that immediately compares me (unfavorably) to a whole host of other far more superior authors whose voices I greatly admire and realize I whisper only in their shadow, I still know - I am a writer.  I am also a homeschooling Mom, and so writing has always been my absolute favorite subject to teach my children.  The confidence I hear in my sons as they discuss their love of reading and writing (now all in the middle of or past their college years) always thrills me with the knowledge that I am an inseparable part of what they now own.

This is a battle today more than ever before.  In this day and age, the gift of language and knowing how to handle it well is not held in honor among the masses.  Not only are vocabularies as undeveloped as third world countries, but words are routinely truncated with wanton disregard, hacked and amputated into unrecognizeable blurbs.  The inheritance is seen as no more than a cheap hand-me-down.

Not at my table.

At present, I am in those years of coaxing self-assurance and abilities in my daughters along the roads of communication - in word both spoken and written.  Ah, how they'd laugh to hear me describe what I do as the gentle verb "coaxing."  I do possess a relentless dedication in this, I must own. That I might teach them so that a day will come when they can ably make themselves known to others with clarity - this is my Quest.  Actually, writing is one area where the tears of frustration that may come are not by my instigation.  I really desire for them to love it as I do; and so although I might inwardly cringe at what I have to work with as we begin, my patience is supplied in triplicate.  Only by this might I be able to lead them into the daring steps necessary to develop familiarity, boldness, and assurance with a pen.  My hope is that they will come to describe, depict, and distinguish with literary confidence.

When I began writing in earnest, my father directed me to a thesaurus - my new best friend.  I couldn't believe what a treasure trove was suddenly at my fingertips.  An avid reader since the summer I turned nine when I cracked open Gone With The Wind in my grandmother's basement - this book began forging deep connections between words familiar in my mental safebox and my new attempts to organize creative expression of my own.  Once I began teaching my children to write and they then entered the realm of self-driven drafts, introductions were made to my old friend the thesaurus.

However, a few years ago, one of my sons brought home a new guest, a companion whom we have come to love just as dearly.  The Synonym Finder does the job of a thesaurus, only one step better.  In addition to illuming the vast myriad of choice there is to substitute for the worn-out dishrag of a word like "cool", it holds and reveals truisms and sayings that see too little of the light of day anymore. Figures of speech, turns of phrase, axioms and platitudes all born of man's desire to coin an expression that would stand the test of time are introduced here and saved from being lost forever.

We still use my old and well-loved thesaurus - literally, the very one my father handed to me - although it is now in two parts. But I give The Synonym Finder my highest recommendation as a tool for helping your kids (and you) to navigate the challenge of capturing reflection in word.  It will not only provide a wonderful welcome to concepts and utterances from our shared past, but will readily provide just the expression you are searching for in composing your very own thoughts.

Linked at Far Above Rubies, We Are That Family, Simple Lives, and Petals to Picots

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Chicken is Not Just A Chicken

Ok, follow me here...

Do you know that saying, "a rose is a rose is a rose?"  (I'm hoping you do, as so often these days I find that people are not acquainted with the familiar maxims and sayings I grew up with.  Another path of time-honored wisdom lost to the void of mind-stunting television and texting, I'm afraid. Pick up a book, please!)  Anyway, in the same way, the familiar white meat of America is often seen as: a chicken is a chicken is a chicken.  A simple, predictable, no-brainer protein for our plates.  Alas, this is not and has never been true for me.

In all my years of conversing with other families, I find there are three main categories of family "cooks":
1) A heavy reliance upon out-to-eat meals fills the bulk of their diet.
2) Pre-packaged, prepared, pre-mixed - dump a jar of salsa, de-boned chicken parts, a can of beans, a bag of frozen corn, a packet of taco seasoning, and some water in the crockpot; set on low for the day; dish it up that night and sprinkle each serving from a bag of shredded cheese and you're good to go.
3) Routine, routine, routine is the name of the game.  These meals are more likely to be made with fresher ingredients, but the holy trinity is usually going to be spaghetti, chili, and some sort of chicken dish.  A methodical repetition of steady repeats keeps things running smooth and steady.

There is another note-worthy minority out there which I should mention before coming to myself.  Some folks are born with an innate sense of confidence in the kitchen, a superior gift of culinary skill and command.  Like those people who seem to have a compass embedded in their brains and can speak of north, south, east, and west as though is is clearly obvious, these savants possess tantalizing abilities that beat in natural rhythm with the proverbial heart of a home.  I salivate with envy.

The class to which I belong is also unique, but not so gifted.  We strongly disapprove of fast food, detest anything of the Zatarain/Hamburger Helper ilk, and abhor routine at our table (we struggle with this in other areas of our lives as well, much to our detriment.)  Families with this type of cook in the kitchen are the recipients of quite fine and varied meals; indeed when dining out, menu choices are made based on whether we could make this ourselves, and better, at home.  Confidence and pride is hard won, but I must confess is only as strong as your last meal.  Our appetite for a mouth-watering and healthy dinner is robust, but is eclipsed by our desire for uncharted regions and tastes.  Variety is our slave-master.  Each day we wake wondering what we will make for dinner. Trip(s) to the grocery store(s) are equally spontaneous and subject to un-premeditation. (I just had to make up that word because is is how I live!)  It is for this reason that I say 'a chicken is not a chicken is not a chicken.'  I drive myself crazy with this inability to conform.  I look at a chicken, or a roast, or a potato as though I'd never seen one before.  And while this has presented my family with distinctive and unique meals that might be served from anywhere in the world, I'm honestly getting a bit wearied. Indeed, I am rather maddening myself.

However, my habits are deeply ingrained.  So, what to do?

As I have been attempting to create plans and purpose for the coming year, I long for a marriage of new-found consistency and some retention of my free-spirited ways in the kitchen.  So, I have devised a strategy that will channel my predilection for diversity by bringing it under weekly submission.  On Sunday, starting tonight, I will plan two weeks worth of dinners.  I will schedule one trip during that time-frame in which to drop by both Trader Joe's and the grocery store that sells local goods, and two afternoon outings (one a week) to my local grocery stores.  Sometime tomorrow I will also schedule two weeks of breakfasts.  The next Sunday I will review my progress and make any tweaks and adjustments as needed.  And round and round we will go.... fingers crossed!

In this way, I am not tied to a broken record of roast chicken unless I want to be and will still be able to cook up anything from a Chinese stir-fry to Mexican albondigas, but I am hoping to experience the freedom that comes with the willing assent to a reliable pattern.  It has taken my dear husband and I twenty-six years to arrive at such a state of wedded bliss (wink and a kiss!)  Tiffs and spats, disagreements and debates, unmet needs and unrealistic expectations, unexpected understandings and eye-opening insights - all par for the course.  I embark on this path with the appreciation of experience; this may well be a lengthy process of conformity but I enter with rosy hopes and, dare I say it?

A good deal of pluck.

Linked with Domestically Divine, Time Warp Wife, Works For Me Wednesdays,  Simple Lives Thursday, and I LOVE Fridays