Wait – when was it decided kids – adorable, awesome kids – need their school photos retouched???? Gack.
Momover Lady has a big ol’ bee in her bonnet, one I would now like to share with the world at large.
Yesterday, as the Wee Lass and I were speeding thru our Before-School To Do list (eating breakfast, making beds, brushing, combing, fluffing, buffing, huffing and puffing), I was filling out a purchase form for school photos when my eyes seized on this “upgrade” to the portrait packages:
- Eliminates Blemishes
- Whitens Teeth
- Evens Skin Tone
- Removes Blemishes, Scars & Flyaway Hair
After I picked my jaw off the floor, I became incensed.
Yes, I traffic in extreme superficiality in this blog. (“On” this blog? I never know whether blogs are an “in” or “on” proposition…)
And I’ve been a Beauty Director, at three separate magazines, for a massive chunk of my career. (Or more a massive chunk of my “life”; I never know where my career ends and my life starts…)
But even I draw the line at Photoshopping the bejesus out of school photos.
Apart from extreme situations – and my heart 1000 percent goes out to any child who is wildly self-conscious about some aspect of his or her appearance – we have to let our kids look like they look.
We also have to let them know that no matter what they look like, they can be a beautiful person if they’re kind and loving to others.
White teeth, even skin tone and frizz-free hair shouldn’t live ANYWHERE on a tiny tater tot’s list of stuff to fret about.
And on that note, I’m flying off on my broomstick to get back to my day. Merci beaucoup for letting me vent.
How to “do you” and not worry about what anyone else is up to. (Hint: It’s challenging, but life-changing.)
The upfront disclaimer: This post is pretty crunchy. On the Crunch-O-Meter, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. If you’re not up for a little touchy-feely action, move along little doggie…
Sidebar: My beloved Rafael Nadal is sidelined from this year’s U.S. Open for a wrist injury. Faithful Momoverettes know I’m obsessed with the brilliant Spanish tennis player. Let’s all send him our get-well wishes, telepathically, to Majorca. Om…
Okay, onto the topic at hand: Putting on your people-blinders so you can focus on being the best you, not a patched-together, fuzzy version of someone else. The version-of-someone-else bit never, ever works.
I did mucho reading over last weekend, and the following resources helped me flesh-out this blog post:
1. Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power In You to Achieve Happiness and Success by Russell Simmons. I’ve owned this book for a while, and really just need to read it all the way thru already rather than surfing in and out. So good. I also heart Uncle Rush in a massive way because he’s a vegan. I am not a vegan, and have a lot of guilt around that. Maybe I’ll get to it some day – or at least a 50 / 50 split. In the meantime, I will give many public shout-outs to actual, awesome vegans like Russell Simmons. Oh, and on top of all that, Simmons is wildly successful. Yay!
2. Brain Pickings. Am I the last person on the planet to know about this? Such a great site, and beautifully designed. Love. It.
3. This incredible essay – How to Do What You Love – by Paul Graham, which I found via Brain Pickings. I think Paul Graham is some kind of tech god? Anyway, this is longish by World Wide Interweb standards, but absolutely, without question, worth taking the time to read.
3 Tips for Putting On Your People-Blinders
1. Reframe, reframe, reframe. Let’s say you’re on Facebook, and someone in your peer group posts about a major work accomplishment. Not vacay snaps of a Champs-filled trip to Paris, or a boozy stopover in Berlin, or some other place you’re dying to visit. I’m talking about a genuine career win, or an amazing new job. Instead of feeling envious, pivot to one of these two thoughts: A) Sally Sue must have busted her ass to make that happen. Or B) Sally Sue will really have to bust her ass in that gig. Why this works: By shifting your thoughts to the effort it took Sally Sue to nab whatever it is that’s making you envious, you’ll remember that ass-busting is the key to achieving anything worthwhile in life – and everyone can do it. That means you; you’re part of ‘everyone.’ (Apologies for all the swearing…)
2. Limit feedback-soliciting to your inner circle. In Graham’s essay, he recommends worrying only about what your close friends think about your future plans, not the other 8 billion citizens of the planet. I loved this tip so much my head almost split open when I read it. It just makes so much sense. Your pals really “get” you. They know your strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully they aren’t shy about gently steering you down the right path(s). And btw, Significant Others can also be part of your mini focus group. Every time I cook up some bizarre career plot twist – like “Maybe I’ll be a coder!” – Hubby shoots back: “You would hate that. Coding isn’t you.” Bingo, baby. Why this works: You’ll have clarity. And just as important: higher self-esteem. Wanna be miserable? Spend your day fretting about what everyone else thinks of you. Blech times a billion.
3. Plan your day, your week, your month, your year: This gets right back to ass-busting. And learning. Whoa – learning. Sooooo crucial to the feeling-good-about-yourself equation. I defy you to really master a new skill – or even get a tiny bit better at it – and not raise your “Yay! Me!” quotient exponentially. For me, this summer was all about upping the ante with my cooking and driving. (I’ve been knitting, too, but haven’t yet moved beyond my signature stitch. Stuck in a big ol’ rut…) Why this works: When you actively schedule your take-over-the-world plan of attack, not only will it build confidence, it will crowd-out all the “What’s Sally Sue up to?” hooey. Sally Sue doesn’t matter. You, however, do.
Momover Lady’s Library: The Tidy Closet by Marie-Anne Lecoeur (I know, I know…the endlessly smug French)
There was a piece in the New York Times recently – which I thought I’d stashed in my subscribers “Save” folder, but of course now can’t find – that boldly posited that the French might be losing a soupçon of their “we’re better than you at just about everything, so go crawl up into a little ball somewhere and get over it” smugness.
I pinkie-swear that such a piece exists. And if and when I finally find it, I’ll link to it right here on this little ol’ blog.
Until then, let’s take an in-depth gander at this helpful number, subtitled: “Tips From A French Woman: EASY STEPS AND MOTIVATION TO DECLUTTER YOUR CLOSET AND ORGANISE YOUR WARDROBE.” (Please forgive the all caps; I’m just typing it as I see it…)
Faithful Momoverettes know that I recently had my new FLA closet professionally tricked-out, and that, despite the tricking, I’m still having a devil of a time trying to fit (read: cram) all my cherished belongings within.
So I’m hoping this author, who also has a blog – howtobechicandelegant - can help me. And by extension, you. The entire raison d’etre of Momover’s Lady Library is to extract excellent intel from my crazy-huge book collection. If there’s nothing good for all of us – this mama, that mama, the mama over there – off it goes to Salvation Army, never to be heard from again here.
On y va. Allez-y. Off we go…
Helpful Intel From Every Chapitre
1.Chapitre Un: You’re probably a clutterer, not a bonafide hoarder. Perhaps you weren’t worried about this, but I most definitely was. Lecoeur says only 1 percent of the population jumps the fence from pack mouse to pack rat. Still, I didn’t know that being a “clutterer” was an actual thing. She says it is, and that about 30 percent of us are in this camp. (Don’t you love how I say “us”? We clutterers like company.) Best Takeaway Tip: Change your shopping habits and go for quality over quantity. You knew she would say that, right? That’s classic French thinking. But just because it’s classic French thinking doesn’t mean it isn’t 100 percent – not 1 percent or 30 percent – spot on.
2. Chapitre Deux: You probably only wear 20 percent of your wardrobe. No doubt you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, aka the 80-20 rule. A business example of the Pareto Principle is “80 percent of a company’s profits come from 20 percent of its customers.” Here, Lecoeur applies it to our closets. Hmmm….I might wear a bit more than 20 percent of my wardrobe, but that’s only because I’m much less of a clothing “clutterer” as I am a purse and jewelry clutterer. Best Takeaway Tip: Don’t buy anything that won’t integrate seamlessly into your wardrobe. If you’re weeding out all the dead wood in your closet – i.e., that 80 percent that never sees the light of day – the remainder needs to work together.
3. Chapitre Trois: Feeling bummed every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. Okay, maybe this chapter wasn’t so useful. It’s titled “The Disadvantages of Clutter” and is kind of a downer. We get it; tidy is better. Best Takeaway Tip: Until you have a full set of kick-ass classics, steer clear of trendier pieces.
4. Chapitre Quatre: Feeling Zen every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. At about this point, I began to think to myself: Is this book, by any chance, self-published? And lo and behold it is. Listen, I’m sure there are many fantastic self-published books out there. But I’ve been buying a lot of them electronically lately, and many of them could use a good editor, someone to help the author see that you don’t need two chapters to do the work of one. Again: we get that tidy is better. But how do we “do” tidy? That’s what I want to know. Best Takeaway Tip: This is super-crunchy, but I think it’s important – a smart little gem in a not terribly insightful chapter. I like it so much that I’m quoting Lecoeur verbatim:
“Unused or unloved objects have a stale energy. Once you declutter, your home, your relationships, even you will feel so much better because positive energy is allowed to circulate.”
5. Chapitre Cinq: Buck up and just get on with it already. Doing things right the first time – like putting everything back where it belongs right after we use it – saves us tons of time and energy later, when, say, we’ve overslept and are rush, rush, rushing out the door for school drop-off and / or work. Best Takeaway Tip: Clean as you go. Which basically what I just said, but a little more succinct. That mindset works when you’re cooking dinner, too. Btw and FYI…
6. Chapitre Six: When cleaning your closet, empty it COMPLETELY and put everything on your bed. I kind of freaked-out when I read this – so extreme! – but it makes a lot sense. If you do it this way, you won’t get tempted to quit and sneak off to the den to watch “Ladies of London” or some other Bravo TV bullshit. (Um, that’s actually my problem, not yours…) Why? Because unless you want to check into a hotel, you’ll need to sleep in that very bed later. Best Takeaway Tip: Move quickly. The longer you “dither” on an item, deciding its fate, the more likely you are to keep it rather than get rid of it.
7. Chapitre Sept: Your closet is a key place to express your design sense. Which doesn’t mean spending gobs of cash. Unless you want to, of course. Right now, in my new FLA walk-in, I’m honing in on gray – gray round hat boxes and smaller gray square boxes that I’m using for clunky, chunky cuffs and bangles. Best Takeaway Tip: If you’re painting your closet before you move your newly pared-down wardrobe back into it, opt for a pale neutral hue. This will help your clothes and accessories pop.
8. Chapitre Huit: Arrange clothing by type AND color. Maybe you love Momover Lady Pink. And because you love Momover Lady Pink, you have dresses, sweaters, shirts and pashmina-y things in Momover Lady Pink. Do you group them together in some gigantic Momover Lady Pink section of your closet? No, because it would take you 10 hours to get dressed every morning. I think you get my point. Best Takeaway Tip: Those little loopy things on dresses? Don’t cut them out as soon as you get the frock home from the store. Instead, use them to help maintain shape. Zipping and buttoning helps too.
9. Chapitre Neuf: Stay the course. Sorry to be a huge buzzkill, but a great-looking closet requires ongoing maintenance. And that means daily spiffing up. Best Takeaway Tip: Watch your favorite TV shows on-demand, and zip-off to your closet to tidy up during commercial breaks. I just mashed two of Lecoeur’s tips together for a newly improved Super Tip. One that I need myself, btw. Holla, I watch a hella TV.
Beauty Armoire Monday: Growing long, lush lashes with Latisse (How’s that for alliteration? So many Ls!)
Patience: Not my strong suit.
Especially when it comes to sticking with certain time-intensive beauty products long enough to determine whether they will, in fact, change my life.
Thus, if I re-commit to Latisse – and I hesitate to make that bold declaration right this second – it will be at least my third attempt at unbalding my poor eyeballs.
But I gotta do something. Because my once-lovely lashes are gone baby, gone.
Now that I’m living in beautiful FLA, I’m wearing a lot less war paint. In fact, I honestly don’t remember the last time I dabbed my mug with my precious Marc Jacobs Beauty Marvelous Mousse Transformative Foundation.
(I don’t get a commission for reco-ing the Marc base so often, btw; it’s just bloody fantastic, which isn’t even remotely surprising, because the MJ Beauty team tapped Brit makeup goddess Diane Kendal to help hone its airy, disappears-right-into-your-skin texture.)
But along with skipping foundation, I’m skipping other stuff too.
Like eyeliner. And mascara.
I really shouldn’t be skipping eyeliner. Mascara, maybe; I’ve never been a huge fan, and I honestly don’t understand how it’s such a “stranded on a desert island” must-have for so many women. Give me concealer and blush any day…
Whoa, I’m all over the place today. Time to focus.
The net-net: Skipping liner has made it abundantly clear that I should file a Missing Body Parts report about my lashes.
Because skimpy lashes are a byproduct of being une femme d’un certain age, I don’t berate myself for it in the same way I talk vicious smack to myself when I pack on the pounds pounding the new house favorite, Blue Bell ice cream. On the anti-aging front, there are matters within your purview, and matters outside your purview. No question, a paunchy mid-section reads “getting up there.”
How do I know this? Here’s how: On Sunday night, Hubby and I watched a docu on The Rolling Stones and a special 50th anniversary concert they played in London’s Hyde Park last year. Mick Jagger, who weighs maybe 50 lbs soaking wet, is positively age-less. Yes, he’s wrinkly. But he’s so, so, so youthful when he scampers around that massive stage.
May we all be as fabulous circa age 70.
Uh oh….once again I’m losing the plot of this blog post. Lashes, lashes….
To get back on track, I think I’ll break the Beauty Armoire Monday intel into special bite-sized chunks today:
Why lashes get shorter and sparser as we age
This concept is so basic, even Momover Lady can wrap her mind around it: The hair-growth cycle slows down over time. As a basis of comparison, when we’re young and sprightly, the hair on our heads grows, on average, .5 inches per month. Once we lift the curtain on age 40, however, that growth slows to .1 inches. Sadness.
How Latisse works
To speed lash growth, it deploys the prescription ingredient bimatoprost – technically, an anti-glaucoma medicine – in a concentration of 0.03%. When prescribed for glaucoma, it goes in the eye. Big difference.
The fine print on Latisse
First and foremost: DO NOT use Latisse if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Pinkie-swear promise me you will not do that. Merci.
Beyond that, I just found a rather lengthy list (on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website) of not-great stuff that can happen if you use Latisse.
Here it is. Please read it. Merci encore.
Quite frankly, all those potential side effects have me a little spooked.
Previously, my biggest beef with Latisse is that it left my eyelids more than a little red. For that reason, I may – if I decide to try it again, which is a sizeable maybe after reading that scary list – scale back to a few times a week.
Or I could also try this genius tip I just found in skin doc Debra Jaliman’s great book: Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist:
“It’s best to apply it in the morning, when there is less risk of transferring it to the lower lid or your pillowcase.”
I sleep with an eye mask, so I think I was pretty much smearing the Latisse all over my upper lids and beyond. Not optimal. But making it part of my morning toilette, rather than evening, could make all the difference. Thank you, Debra!
Non-Rx alternatives you might want to try first
Actually, there are scads and scads of pricey lash serums. Here are few with the best reps. Although I have RevitaLash and GrandeLash in my possession, I’ve not yet tried them.
1. RevitaLash Advanced Lash Conditioner After hosting the RevitaLash team at my office in New York, I became convinced they might be onto something. Thus, I shipped a lifetime supply of it down to my new home in sunny FLA.
2. RapidLash Eyelash & Eyebrow Enhancing Serum Out of the vast sea of lash serums, Dr. Jaliman singles this one out in her book, describing it as “an over-the-counter product that appears to work almost as well as Latisse.”
3. GrandeLASH-MD Eyelash & Eyebrow Formula A makeup artist mentioned this to me at a press event, so I promptly went to fish it out of the beauty closet as soon as I got back to work. I also shipped to FLA, so it must be here somewhere…
Fact: We keep buying 2k square-foot homes, when I think we’re actually 3k – at least – kinda people. When we try to squeeze all three of us, plus those damn cats, who are simultaneously adorable and a complete pain in the ass, into a 2k square-foot space, we always need an offsite storage unit or six.
Obvi we’re not the sole members of the bursting-at-the-seams club, even down here in FLA, where they grow the houses a lot bigger than they do in New York.
And not to be even remotely judgy, but in my new ‘hood, I’ve noticed a specific phenomenon: When a family parks its cars in the driveways, it’s usually because their garages are packed – packed! – with stuff.
We’re hoping to avoid that fate, and to be able to shelter at least one of our motor vehicles in the space for which it’s intended.
But right now, we’re so not there yet.
Earlier this week, we had all seven closets – plus the laundry room – tricked-out, an event that I’d been anxiously awaiting all summer.
And they look seriously good, which I’m thrilled about.
Still, there are limits to what professionally designed closets can do for a family. Sure, you’ll have better places to tuck your stuff, and the space will be sliced and diced in a manner that makes stuff-keeping more efficient.
But if you’ve just got too much stuff, it doesn’t matter how tricked-out your closets are. You’ll still have to pare down.
I spent most of Friday and Saturday trying to figure out what will get to live in my new walk-in closet, and what will have to make its way elsewhere.
OMG, so so so so hard. For a few reasons: One, we’ve only been here a few months, so I really want to get through an entire year before I decide what is truly ridic to hang on to.
For example, I had a pretty massive coat and jacket collection up north. And while I donated quite a few, at least six or seven, before we headed south, I kept several. Like a new navy J. Crew peacoat Hubby gave me for Xmas (awwww….), multiple down vests and a vintage faux leopard number that I’ve had for years and is still wicked cool.
Will I wear any of that outerwear here? My closet designer says no. “You’ll see,” she chuckled.
Two, although I’m working from home now, I may just surprise us all and git myself a job. If I do git myself a job, I’ll need outfit cuteness. And purses. Lots of purses. I’m one of those broads who switches-out her bag every day to go with her ensemble.
Three…actually, there isn’t really a third good reason why I’m stalling on making the painful decisions regarding my wardrobe. I think those two are sufficient: 1) I want to get through a whole year down here to see to what extent, if any, the seasons change. And 2) I don’t really know yet how social I’ll be, and whether I’ll eventually find myself in an office setting again. In other words, I’m not clued-up about how awesome I’ll need to look on a daily basis,
But that’s just clothes and accessories.
I have several other pockets of mayhem on the too-much-stuff front: Beauty products, books and work-related files. Grrr…just thinking about all that makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.
Instead, I think I’ll try to find something more pleasant to do. It’s a beautiful day, my family is happy and healthy, and if having too many things I love is my biggest problem, I need to count my blessings.
I first met Ed Gemdjian when I interviewed him for a pushups story I was writing for BRIDES. Or maybe it was a diet story. Or maybe it was for InStyle, not BRIDES. Whatever, just take my word for it: I interviewed him for a story and he’s smart.
Here are Ed’s other credentials besides being smart. (And fit. Very, very fit.): He’s the founder of New York City-based Team Awesome, LLC, a health, wellness and life-coaching business; a nationally certified personal trainer and Equinox Fitness Global Personal Trainer of the Year. He’s certified by NESTA and is a Functional Movement Systems Professional. He has a Sports Nutrition certification from Precision Nutrition, and is also a C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle and Nutrition Coach, specializing in optimizing health and wellness outside the gym.
Now that I feel like a totally useless slacker (i.e., not a member of Team Awesome), let’s hop right into this git-your-ass-in-gear Q + A. Warning: He’s really into smiley-face emoticons.
1. DANA: It’s August, which means…a lot of things, actually: A. Almost anywhere you live in the U.S., it’s crazy-hot and humid. B. Many families are trying to cram in last-minute vacays before school starts. C. Bikini season is almost behind us, so there isn’t as much incentive to look like a mom-babe at the town pool.
Given all that, please give us a polite kick in the pants to stay on track. Why is it important to keep on trucking at this time of year?
ED: When it comes to true health, the kind we all really want, whether it’s bikini season or not, it’s best to keep your body and mind from drastic changes. We could make excuses for slacking every time of year. But instead, I like to work with my clients on solutions to keep them feeling confident and healthy year-round!
2. DANA: Let’s say, like Momover Lady, you’re addicted to running and don’t want to give that up – even in these last dog days of summer. What recos do you give clients for switching-up their running routines now?
ED: Reduce the distance or time you run and increase the intensity. The less time you spend in the elements the better; dehydration becomes a big performance factor the longer you’re out there.
3. DANA: Do you advise them to go earlier in the morning? Or in the evening?
ED: The earlier the better! If you’re an early bird like me – 4:15am 5 days per week – (NOTE FROM DANA: OMG) get your run in before sunrise. The humidity and overall temperature will be far lower. This is also a good time of year to have some fun running through a summer rain shower :-).
4. DANA: What about scaling back on distance or pace?
ED: Try cutting your distance in half and aim for faster mile splits, or sprint repeats on the local track. Your return to distance running in the fall will greatly improve with some speed work now.
5. DANA: And drinking more H20 before and after?
ED: Hydration is a must, but water alone won’t do it this time of year. At the very least, add a couple of grains of Celtic Sea Salt to your water to aid in absorption. We sweat a lot of sodium out of our bodies as well as water and it is integral in the rehydration process. Coconut water is a great natural alternative to Gatorade and it has potassium as well as sodium to help avoid cramping.
If you want to train like the pros, Precision Nutrition recommends a 10% solution of simple carbohydrates and amino acids in 90% of water and a total of 3-6 liters of water per day, depending on your activity level.
6. DANA: I’m ashamed to admit this, but I often skip wearing sunscreen on my face when I run because it gets in my eyes and stings like a mo-fo. What “sweatproof” sunscreen do you, Mr. Tier 4 Coach, swear by?
ED: I recommend wearing a running hat ;-). My wife, Cathy, swears by Zinc sunscreen, but since most of us don’t want to look like a china doll in public, she loves Coppertone Sport Broad Spectrum for active days outside. It smells nice, rubs in well, and doesn’t move when you’re doing something as simple as mowing the lawn or as complicated as super burpees on the beach. An SPF of 30 will be good enough. Just remember: For those prolonged workouts under the sun, reapply often. The collagen in your skin will thank you, and so will your 50 year-old self!
7. DANA: Okay, now for moms who aren’t addicted to running. Let’s say they’re willing to carve out 30 minutes to work out at home, perhaps while their tiny tater tots are taking a nap. What would you suggest?
ED: The two most important things are 1: Start at your own pace and progress slowly. Too many people begin too aggressively and become discouraged. 2: Consistency is key. I have a 55 year-old female client who is a two-time Boston Marathon qualifier and state champion runner. She began exercising at age 40 by walking around the block three times a week! Have patience and be consistent – I promise the results will come.
8. DANA: Are there cardio DVDs you like?
ED: There are tons to choose from for intermediate or advanced exercisers. A current fave of mine is “The Brazilian Buttlift, by Leandro” ;-).
9. DANA: What floor work would you recommend?
ED: Planks, yoga and Pilates are great for beginners. For intermediate to advanced exercisers, I personally swear by Animal Flow, which is a floor, body-weight based combination of animal movements, yoga and break-dancing.
10. DANA: Free weights: Yay or nay?
ED: Ladies: weight training is what will keep you toned and slender long term; I promise none of the following exercises will “bulk” you! Start with body-weight basics like pushups against your couch, climbing your stairs two at a time, walking lunges. Use dumbbells for exercises like bent-over rows for your back, tricep extensions and shoulder presses. But back to the body-weight stuff: Have fun by involving your kids, throw them up in the air, swing them around, wrestle on the ground, they will love you for it and you’ll get a heck of a workout!
11. DANA: As long as there’s enough space, how do you feel about jumping rope indoors? To me, that seems like the all-over wonder workout. If someone is a jumping newbie, do you have any tips for them?
ED: Jumping rope is a great workout for intermediate to advanced exercisers with no previous injury history. Unfortunately, because of its plyometric nature, it could cause impact injuries in the hip, knee and ankle for those who don’t have a training base established.
For the beginner I would recommend starting with basic planks, yoga, Pilates and single-leg balancing exercises to develop the stability required to withstand repetitive absorption of your entire body weight.
12. DANA: I have a pool at my new house in FLA, but my swimming skills are not brills. Is it possible to teach yourself to swim? How would you even attempt that?
ED: I love swimming and take advantage of every pool I come across! It is a highly cardiovascular, but very low-impact exercise that can have you shedding body fat in no time. I recommend taking a basic swimming class at your local YMCA. Swimming is tons of fun but can be dangerous, especially if you’re alone with no lifeguard around. I took a lifeguard course – and failed miserably (!), but it was a great learning experience on the dos and don’ts of swimming.
13. DANA: How about watching YouTube swimming videos?
ED: Funny! No. No YouTube videos.
I kick-off this blog post in shame, for A) the crummy still-life photography skills on display here – look at all that glare! those shadows! – and B) the fact that I spent hours watching much Bravo idiocy yesterday, primarily in the form of back-to-back on demand eps of Ladies of London.
How did that happen??? We went to a perfectly nice “new parents” pool party for the Wee Lass’s school in the afternoon, and between the end of that and the start of dinner, I somehow managed to turn my brain into complete oatmeal watching those class-obsessed broads clawing at each other.
Okay, okay, I know you’re dying to know: Caroline is my favorite, by a Surrey country mile. I think that’s because, from the neck up, she reminds me of a super-glam French boss I once had. From the neck down, not so much; her skirts are microscopic, as in knickers-flashing, only-a-gyno-should-be-seeing-this teensy-weensy.
Anyway, I need to use my time more wisely, fer shure. Like by pondering the earth-shaking question of how I could possibly own skin like a lizard when the humidity is raging. R-a-g-i-n-g.
I’m sure it’s all the sun and chlorine, both of which are lizard skin-inducing. Oh, and evidently the water in our area is super-hard. We may have something done about the hard water systemically, as it affects the entire house. Or I may install a harsh chemicals-zapping T3 Source Shower Head in the master bath, because – hello! bien sur! – Momover Lady’s skin and hair need to be protected at all times.
Right now, though, I’m just slathering away with heavy-rotation Armoire faves:
MOISTURIZERS FOR MY PRECIOUS MUG
1. Dr. Brandt DNA Time Reversing Cream Yes, I’m a huge fan of Dr. B, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve blogged about him incessantly over the years. (The post about my near-needle experience in his NYC office is among my most popular.) Not only is he the nicest guy on the planet, his products are Capital F Fabulous. Seriously, so good. I’m using this cream just about every night lately, and when I wake up, my skin is looking très excellente, if I may be so bold as to say so. It’s expensive, but you only need a tiny bit to see results. I’ll be shedding crocodile tears when I run outta this stuff.
2. Lancer The Method: Nourish Faithful readers know I’m a Lancer addict. His scrub – he calls it Polish – is a game-changer. Ever since I started using it, I’ve yet to have a facial without the esthetician telling me that my skin is completely – utterly! – clog-free. The “Method” is a three-step regimen – Polish, Cleanse, Nourish – and I highly recommend making the investment if you just want to get a top-notch skincare routine going and get on with the rest of your life. I’m a card-carrying skincare hoarder and product nerd, so I have major fidelity issues. I cheat on my Lancer Method a lot with my Dr. B above. But still, Nourish is v v v good. That’s 3 vs; check it.
3. L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Texture Perfector Day / Night Cream Affordable and really lovely, this is mostly aimed at women who want to camouflage large pores. I don’t have that particular issue, but I use this anyway because I’m so smitten with the feel and consistency. It’s probably the perfect mid-August, raging humidity moisturizer. Love it.
MOISTURIZERS FOR MY PRECIOUS BOD
4. Sonya Dakar Body by Sonya Dakar Nourishing Body Oil True confession time: I suffer from FOO (Fear Of Oils). As you can imagine, this affliction greatly impacted my ability to perform my functions as Beauty Director in recent years. Pourquoi? Because every Tom, Dick + Harry was launching some type of oil, be it for the face, hair, bod or all three. I mean, it was MENTAL. So verrrrrry many oils. Floating tankers of oils…Anyway, long story short, I tread carefully with oils. But my skin has been so damn dry lately that I dug this one out of the far recesses of the Armoire. And I’ll be damned if I don’t really dig it. It’s Verbena Cypress in scent and it smells divine. I won’t be using it every day – it’s a bit too intense for that – but I’m definitely working it into the lineup.
5. SkinCeuticals Body Retexturing Treatment In all honesty, I didn’t do my homework before adding this to my daily rotation, and perhaps I should have. It bills itself as a “Bi-Functional Resurfacing and Replenishing Treatment for Dull, Rough Body Zones,” and is meant to be deployed as a “Procedure Enhancement and Daily Treatment.” In other words, this is a classic case of me just grabbing something from my Armoire without taking the time to figure out the when, where and why. This wouldn’t happen to you, dear Momoverette, because you are smart and vigilant. And also because SkinCeuticals, which has a kickass rep by the way, is a brand that’s typically prescribed to you by estheticians. It’s not basic, and it’s not beginner.
Soooo, in the absence of a SkinCeuticals esthetician to guide me, I just did some amateur sleuthing on the website, in the Body Correct section. And I found out that my chief concern – crepey skin on my legs- is a likely byproduct of Biology (“Decreasing supply of amino acids, slower desquamation process, loss of moisture”) Neglect (“Lack of UV protection and exfoliation; seasonal reduced frequency of shaving legs”) and Exposure (“Regularly exposed to environmental elements”).
Guilty as charged – except for the “seasonal reduced frequency of shaving legs” bit. I’ve shaved every day of my life since I turned 12. I freak out if I can’t shave my legs. I go nuts if I can’t shave my legs.
Okay….TMI. But, hair-removal aside, you’ll be relieved to know that I found out that I am indeed a candidate for the SkinCeuticals Body Retexturing Treatment.
Whew. Happy hydrating.
Momover Lady’s Library: THE CAN’T COOK BOOK by Jessica Seinfeld (Ooh, ma famille is l-o-v-i-n-g this)
Sidebar 1: FYI to my faithful Momoverettes: If you’re ever reading, and thinking to yourself: Oh my lordy, today’s blog post is positively strewn with typos and MIA words, come back later. I often fix stuff after the fact. Because even though I foist them on the public from time to time, je deteste typos.
Sidebar 2: I hope to make “Momover Lady’s Library” a running feature, à la Beauty Armoire Monday and DRIVEN, my quest to re-learn how to drive after 30+ (gack!) wheel-less years in Gotham. The idea behind MLL is that I extract something super-useful for you guys from whatever non-fiction book I currently have my nose jammed into. This will help both of us. I figure that if I can’t chisel-out good intel for you, I can’t chisel-out good intel for me. And that means bye-bye. I have hundreds of books and I need to clutter-bust in the most major of ways.
Okay, enough with all the sidebars. Allez-y. On y va. Let’s go.
REASONS I LOVE THIS BOOK
1. It’s physically adorable. Have you met me? I live for surface gloss. This is Jessica Seinfeld’s third cookbook, and it is, in my opinion, the hands down cutest of the lot. I didn’t buy her first book – Deceptively Delicious – the one that helps you hide pureed veggies in virtually everything you whip up for your tiny tater tots. (I’ll just come clean here – we were seriously nanny-d up when the Wee Lass was a wee lass, so I didn’t cook for her, or have a need for honing my pureed-veggie hiding skills.) But I do own Double Delicious, which features kitschy, 1950s-era art direction and not-great still-life imagery. The photography in The Can’t Cook Book is roughly a billion times better. Listen, I worked for Condé Nast for almost 20 years; I’m a photography snob.
2. It’s organized really well. Seinfeld doesn’t get into actual recipes until Page 45. The lead up is all incredibly useful – and yes, sometimes incredibly basic – info on tools you need (“Gear Up”); equipping your pantry (“Stock Up”); the best way to prep your work station before you dive in (“Set Up”) and core kitchen skills, like zesting lemons and smashing garlic cloves (“How-to”).
3. The writing is peppy, and encouraging, and funny. I think I’ve met Seinfeld once or twice in my editor travels – I certainly don’t know her. But from interviews I’ve read in the New York Times and New York Mag, she just seems really witty, and hilarious, and happy. That vibe comes through in this book, big-time. It’s clear and concise, but very zingy.
4. The recipes are unspeakably yummy. And easy. A win-win for nervous newbies. I know this because I’ve made several of them in the last three weeks. Wanna know which ones? Let’s find out…
STUFF I’VE ACTUALLY MADE WITH THIS BOOK
Chicken + Fish + Pasta
> Roasted Chicken Drumsticks w/ Mustard & Rosemary Sauce
> Fast & Juicy Herb-Grilled Chicken
> Crispy Shrimp
> Succulent Lemon-Thyme Salmon
> Roasted Stripe Bass* & Tomatoes (*The Publix by me was out of bass, so I swapped-in salmon)
> Baked Egg Noodles & Cheese
> Green Beans with Almonds
> Sautéed Spinach & Garlic
> Broiled Honey-Nut Bananas
Before we move on to take-away tips, I have to insert visual proof that I’ve been whipping up these recipes. Behold the raw, pre-oven beauty of last night’s Roasted Salmon & Tomatoes entrée:
5 GREAT TAKE-AWAY TIPS FROM THIS BOOK*
(* This stuff was all news to me; if you’re already an accomplished cook, this isn’t the book for you.)
1. Moving the oven racks around makes all the difference. I know, I know – this is soooo basic. But before attempting the Broiled Honey-Nut Bananas dessert recipe (words can’t describe how tasty it is!!!!), I didn’t realize that you need to move the rack to the top slot first. Easy peasy – you are broiling!
2. If you’re swapping-in dried herbs for fresh, use half the amount. This tip came in handy when I’d forgotten to nab fresh rosemary at the supermarket. Still, go fresh whenever you can. It greatly enhances the flavor of anything you’re cooking.
3. To remove garlic’s papery shell, pummel it with the side of a chef’s knife. But don’t stand there pounding away like a lunatic; find some other way of alleviating life’s many frustrations. (“Use one quick pounding motion,” says Seinfeld.)
4. Speaking of knives, you only really only need three. 1) The aforementioned chef’s knife – Seinfeld recommends an 8-inch blade, or 6, if you have tiny mitts, like Momover Lady; 2) A paring knife, and 3) An offset serrated knife. I have to say that the offset serrated number looks a little ominous. But I’ll get one nonetheless.
“The scalloped blade lets you glide through crusty breads and delicate tomatoes alike, slicing them instead of sliding off or crushing them. The offset handle keeps your knuckles out of harm’s way.”
5. Pinch and sprinkle salt from your paws, not from the shaker or spoon. When you’re working so intently on delivering sheer yumminess to your family, the last thing you want to do is screw it up at the end with too much salt. Seinfeld wants you to measure the salt (she swears by kosher, so I now swear by kosher), then put it in your palm and dispense, sparingly, with your pinched fingers. Oh, and more great thing about this book: She doesn’t really expect you to painstakingly measure fresh pepper. Instead, many of the recipes recommend a specific number of pepper-mill turns, i.e. (“…about 12 turns on a pepper mill”…). So helpful. J’adore.
I have 9760 emails in my inbox. There’s no way that’s good feng shui. (And I totally want good feng shui.)
In addition to beauty products, and magazines (yup, the actual paper kind…they were a real thing in the 20th century…), I apparently hoard emails.
I say “apparently,” when I should actually be tracking down the nearest meeting of Email Hoarders Anonymous.
This isn’t up for debate; I’m just Jane Q Citizen and I have dangerously close to 10k emails in my Gmail account. I’m pretty sure that isn’t normal.
What to do…what to do…
Are any of you lovely Momoverettes signed-up for my crunchy-crush Leo Babauta’s Sea Change Program? If so, you already know that July is “De-Clutter Month.”
While I’ve definitely chucked a lot of books recently, I can’t seriously crack down on clutter until we finally get all our closets built out – yay! yay! Project Closet starts next week! – and I can see exactly what storage we’ll have here in FLA.
Hubby and I have made a pact (a not iron-clad pact, a pact in fact riddled with escape clauses) that if whatever we have doesn’t fit in the new closets or in shelving units in the garage, it is gone like the wind.
No offsite storage units.
This will be a first for us. We’ve always tucked stuff, whether it was Xmas decorations, bikes or ski clothes – in storage units. We also stored a sizeable stash of ad hoc pieces of furniture for the bigger house we would someday own.
But now we’ve landed in a home that we intend to live in for at least the next 10 years. Will we go bigger when the Wee Lass flies the coop for college? Does anyone go bigger when their tots fly the coop for college? I would think most folks decrease their square footage in empty nest sitches, not increase...
Anyway, I’m losing the plot here – I meant to blog about the scary amount of emails I possess. Not theoretical, a-decade-down-the-road empty nest scenarios.
So what happens when your inbox is overrun with missives from the outside world? Baaaaaaaaad stuff; according to the core tenets of feng shui, hanging on to old emails creates communication blockages.
I’m not down with communication blockages. Instead, I would like to have crystal-clear lines of communication between me and the universe.
Thus, like the Workout Challenge I set for myself in 2010 – that I would exercise 200 times, come hell or high water - I am herewith making a public pledge re: my inbox.
Btw, my crunchy-crush Leo Babauta is very into public accountability; by telling someone you’re gonna do something, you’re more likely to make good on your word.
So here it is…wait for it…
By September 1, I will be the proud owner of 500 or fewer emails in my inbox. That means I need to spike a mere 9k plus.
My head is about to explode just thinking about that.
But I’ll do it.
And I’ll let you know how I fare.
Beauty Armoire Monday: What the heck are sulfates? And why are they (allegedly) so despicable? Let’s find out.
Not long before I left New York (someone grab me a hankie, will ya?), I hosted the mega-über celeb colorist Tracey Cunningham at my office to chat about the new Redken line Blonde Idol.
(I blogged about Blonde Idol in last week’s Beauty Armoire Monday, it’s pretty maje…)
Anyway, not to put words in La Cunningham’s mouth, but she basically said that, given how fake-blonde I am, I would seriously be on crack to use any – ANY! - shampoo containing even a trace of sulfates.
That’s how evil they are.
I nodded my head in a decidedly “yes, ma’am” fashion and thought to myself: “I should probably know what sulfates are, but I kinda don’t.”
Today, my lovely Momoverettes, we will learn – together – what sulfates are, and why you (might) need to kick those bad boys to the curb.
And we’re off…
7 USEFUL FACTOIDS ABOUT SULFATES
1. A sulfate is a mineral.
2. There are about 200 recognized types of sulfates. Some of them have pretty cool names. Like “celestite” and “epsomite” and “plumbojarosite.” Sensing an “ite” theme here….
3. In personal care products – shampoos, soaps, body washes – the most widely used sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).
4. SLS and SLES act as “surfactants.” In people-speak (as opposed to beauty-speak), these are fairly intense detergents that foam. People like foam; they tend to get a little freaked-out if their shampoo doesn’t bubble on up. We’ll get to the “breaking up with bubbles” bit a little later…
5. Of the two big beauty sulfates, SLS is considered less toxic than SLES. In a nutshell, that’s because SLES has been undergone a specific treatment – ethoxylation – to render it less irritating to the skin and, by extension, the scalp. But in the long run, according to the “Skin Deep” data base of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), SLES is more harmful.
6. Still, even the EWG doesn’t consider SLS or SLES carcinogenic. That’s saying something, right? The fact that they don’t cause cancer is good news.
7. Back to the bad news: Sulfates in shampoos strip moisture and color from hair. Dyed hair is already more porous than “virgin” locks – further reducing hydration is an Rx for straw. Or for tree bark. Or for sand paper. You get the picture; it isn’t pretty.
3 Sulfate-Free Shampoos I’m Using
1. Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Anti-Breakage + Anti-Frizz Sulfate-Free Shampoo I think the entire Sacred Tiare collection is now exclusive to Target. I also think its geared toward “transitioning” hair. I’m not transitioning, but in the massive FLA humidity, my locks are mad-kinky. I really like this. And I l-o-v-e Lisa Price, the founder of Carol’s Daughter. A doll, and so smart.
2. Mineral Fusion Fortifying Shampoo This is probably extremely healthy for my hair, but I don’t find myself reaching for it nearly as much as the Carol’s Daughter. Probably because it’s not as yummily scented. I’m into fragrances in beauty products. There, I said it.
3. WEN Winter Vanilla Mint Conditioning Cleanser I totally – 100% – like the concept behind Chaz Dean’s elaborate conditioning cleansing “system.” And please, they smell so, so fantastic. (Again with the scent jazz; to me, it’s really important…) It’s just that in past attempts at using the Conditioning Cleanser, my hair has felt like paste. I’m hoping this time will be the charm. I now live in the Frizz Capital of the United States, if not the world. It would be great if Chaz’s special sauce could help me with that.
On Breaking Up With Bubbles
I mentioned up top that many – but certainly not all – sulfate-free shampoos don’t foam to the same degree as the traditional variety. WEN, in particular, is a foam-free zone.
Still, it’s important to remember that what you’re giving up – that squeaky-clean feel – will yield more hydration and reduced color fade. Who wants to spend a small future on color, only to wash it right down the drain?
Besides, you can always rotate sulfate and sulfate-free shampoos. Or do a clarifying rinse with apple cider vinegar every once in a blue moon. Just don’t keep pummeling your hair with all those industrial-strength “surfactants” all the time. You don’t need them. You’re not some haven’t-washed-your-hair-in-decades Game of Thrones greaseball.