Favorite Concealer/Foundation Brush

I’m not the first person to claim that makeup application is an art form or creative outlet. I consider the act of choosing and applying products in order to create a desired effect both an aesthetic endeavor, as well as a form of self-care. Although my morning ritual generally doesn’t vary much, it still allows me to feed my inner artist. And, like any artist, I have collected my favorite brushes over the years.

I have experimented with many different methods of applying concealers and foundations: brushes, fingers, sponges, etcetera. I have found several of these methods to either not be very effective at blending the product into my skin, or to create streaks in the finish. This Sigma F82 round kabuki brush solves both of these problems.

sigma f82 makeup brush

This brush is a study in both firmness and softness. The bristles are so silky that they are very gentle on the skin, without a hint of scratchiness. Due to the shortness of the bristles and the manner in which they are packed, this brush provides excellent control (a necessity for applying products in crevices or around the eyes). It does not shed, an absolute requirement for me!

As of late, I have not been wearing foundation (I find that the intense light of summer tends to make it look mask-like on my face), but I wear concealer daily. Because I always tend to have a few spots, and my perma-circles are present perennially, I do end up applying concealer to a large part of my visage. Although I have other concealer brushes that I like, this brush not only blends in my concealer flawlessly (no streaks, period), but also quickly. When I am getting ready for work in the morning, dreading my commute, I know that I can accomplish My 5 Minute Face with the help of this brush.

Sigma f82 makeup brush and Maybelline better skin concealer

My morning concealer routine.

When I do wear foundation, this is my preferred apparatus as well. It does not soak up too much product (a virtue praised by the Sigma website), nor is it difficult to clean. It performs as well with foundation as it does for concealer, producing no streaks or unevenness. This brush has been an indispensable part of my morning routine for several years now; if it ever needs replacing, I would do so without hesitation!

What are your favorite makeup brushes?

Stay cozy!

The Perfect Day

It would begin with a long, luxurious bath, followed by a full hour of applying lotions and potions, and a mini manicure. I would look something like Ashley Judd after all this and my outfit would be a quintessential blend of expensive and luxurious, a study of sophistication in dress. I would then be whisked away by my husband to a posh restaurant downtown for a fancy brunch with friends. Parking and traffic would not be problems, and the morning would be a blur of cerebral conversation intermixed with lots of laughing. Later that day, I would fix an early dinner of superb culinary quality, and my family would extol the virtues of such a meal. There would be no tantrums, no exhaustion, no worries about the next day, or regrets about the previous, and we would all get to bed on time.

sunset

Then I wake up.

My work days are chaotic just by the nature of my business, this I have come to accept, but I can get really frustrated by not being able to “control” my days off. There is no such thing as the perfect day, it does not (cannot?) exist. At least it cannot be allowed to subsist as long as I rigidly hang on to my expectations. I find sometimes that clinging to a preconceived notion of how my day “should” progress can cause me more angst than not.

These are the concepts that can help keep me on an even keel and discover the joy in my day, especially when my spoiled, OCD brain is fixated on particular outcomes.

Plan for Alternative Outcomes

Try to plan ahead for a few of the most plausible alternative outcomes. Bring snacks for your small child in case of traffic. Organize an easy dinner option for if and when you get home late. Come up with a different brunch option just in case there’s a closure or a line.

You can’t plan for everything, but there are probably a couple of likely hiccups possible in any arrangement; try to stay prepared for the most conceivable deviations.

Find the Good

Try to suspend expectation if you can. This allows you to experience the moments more fully and appreciate the good that does happen. It’s always prudent to make a plan, but not allowing for variation from a predetermined goal can rob you of the meaningful, brilliant bits that happen whether you are focused on them or not.

If you can’t concentrate on the positive in the moment, it may be helpful to create a gratitude journal and attempt to recapture the pleasurable activities of the day after the fact.

Accept Reality

Bad things do happen, by any one’s standards; sometimes there is no silver lining and no way to justify an outcome. Some of us have a tendency to “go back” and try to sniff out the ways that we “could have” altered an event or instance. This, I have found, is a dangerous game. For one, allowing yourself to feel guilt over something you were not accountable for is soul killing. This practice also implies that you have more power, and therefore more responsibility, than you actually do.

When bad things happen, grieve the moment (depending on the severity), and try to move on. Most loathsome incidences of the day-to-day variety don’t need to be dwelled upon, as doing so doesn’t change the past, and only hijacks your future contentment.

breakfast toast

What, no croissant? Still delish!

Maybe the day didn’t go exactly as planned, perhaps milk was spilled, or the delivery was delayed, etcetera. Try not to let the small issues of the day decrease your joy. Attempt to concentrate on what is going right, and let the problems go. Guilt and cynicism, while common in our current culture, don’t accomplish anything, and they can sap your energy and undermine your goals.

How do you stay happy and mentally flexible? Wishing you all an as-close-to-perfect-as-possible day!

Stay cozy!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fall is approaching, if ever so slowly where I am. The chill that’s beginning to creep in makes me long for soft, fuzzy blankets, good books read by a fire, and belly filling, soul-warming soups. Now is the time I bring out my giant, battered, decade-old soup pot and begin concocting.

Soups are wonderful for so many reasons, not the least of which are their ease and simplicity. They can come in so many varieties and forms, so as to suit any taste. They are generally economical to make, and can also be scaled to feed any number of guests. Paired with a warm loaf of bread, crackers, or a squat, buttery biscuit, they can become a hearty and robust meal, or light fare, when enjoyed solo.

I have recently become quite enamored with lentils. Firstly, they are extremely nutritious, with one cup of cooked lentils boasting 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They also cook up extremely quickly as compared to other dry legumes; they are quite economical as well. Additionally, they are extremely versatile and pair rather well with various cuisines and flavors.

lentil and spinach soup

Lentil and Spinach Soup

1 cup of dry lentils

1 can of diced, stewed tomatoes

6 cups of broth of your choice

pinches of oregano and ginger, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 dense handfuls of fresh, cleaned spinach leaves

In a soup pot, combine broth, diced tomatoes, dry lentils and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium-high heat, adding olive oil at about the 10 minute mark. After 20 minutes, or when the lentils are soft, add the fresh spinach and simmer the soup for an additional 10  minutes. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian with a vegetarian broth.

Serve with crusty bread or flavorful crackers. This recipe is simple to prepare and can be the perfect accompaniment to a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick

Clarins lipstick

I generally wear lip balm most days. Occasionally though, for a special event or a day off and out shopping, I will wear lipstick. I find it a little funny how quickly a swath of lipstick can make me look pulled together and (dare I say) pretty.

I haven’t always been a lipstick fan. Painful memories of lipsticks that parched my lips or smelled like old play dough have haunted me for a long time. There was a period in my youth when I preferred red lipstick, exclusively. Unfortunately, the products available to me at the time tended to be quite drying and wore off in strange patterns that looked as though I hadn’t wiped my mouth after a meal. For years after I swore of lipstick completely and maintained a healthy relationship with glosses and balms.

I still gravitate to glosses and balms on most days, but I sometimes miss the way a hit of more opaque color can brighten my face (especially as I get older and paler).

It took me a bit of time to find a lipstick that I really enjoyed using. I stumbled upon this little gem at Macy’s while searching for a pink lipstick (I don’t think I could manage red anymore) to help perk up my complexion at an upcoming event.

It is the Clarins Joli Rouge lipstick in the color Candy Rose. The name describes the color perfectly, and while it not absolutely opaque, it provides so much more color than any of my lip glosses. It has a shimmery (though not frosty) finish, and helps disguise a few of the wrinkles in my lips. The scent and flavor are reminiscent of watermelon; it is not strong or unpleasant, and fades quickly after application.

Best of all, this formula is so pleasant to wear! This lipstick contains mango oil and honestly is so moisturizing that it feels more like a balm when being applied than a traditional lipstick. Likely because of the moisture factor, this product does usually require reapplication after a meal; though this is a small price to pay, in my opinion, for a lipstick that doesn’t fade weirdly or dry out my lips.

At this point, I am hooked and I use this product regularly on my casual days and even very occasionally at work! It is pleasant to wear and cares for my lips the way a balm might, a perfect combination.

Stay cozy!

*For more on my daily makeup look, go here.

One Lovely Blog Award

My first blog award! Very special thanks to Wreaditor for the nomination!

one loevely blog award

One Lovely Blog Award

Rules:
Thank the person who nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
Post about the award.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 people.
Let your nominees know you’ve nominated them.

7 Facts About Me:

  1. I have yet to meet someone with a sweet tooth stronger, or more brash, than mine.
  2. Although I started this blog so as to become a new vocation for myself (quite hopefully, years and years from now, of course), I have actually found the business of writing and communicating with other writers to be quite therapeutic, in and of itself.
  3. In real life, I am a dogged pragmatist. With a hedonist bent, occasionally…
  4. I love makeup (I see it as an art form), though I don’t always wear it.
  5. I have beheld the Dalai Lama in person. His presence is as warm and comforting as it is purported to be.
  6. Although I realize it’s trendy right now, I am absolutely fascinated by hygge. I feel as though I have been practicing a few of its precepts for most of my life, yet there is so much more to be learned and adapted to my existence!
  7. I am blessed with such a wonderful little family. They are my reason for being. Period.

There are multiple blogs that I look up to and wish to emulate with my own, as well as those which I find absolutely captivating in their own right! Here are my nominees:

Honestly, it was so hard to narrow it to 15. There are so many blogs that I love and follow. Nominees, please do not feel obligated, this is just an homage to your efforts.

Thanks again, Wreaditor!

Stay cozy!

The New American Dream

small houses curaco

While I wasn’t around for the depression, and I don’t recall with any clarity the recession of 1990, or the collapse of the “tech bubble” in 2000,  I do distinctly remember the subprime lending disaster of 2008. I remember watching the IRA that I had established a decade earlier get pummeled in the markets. I remember wondering if it would ever recover, and if the economy itself would ever recover (not to mention the international exchanges that suffered).

It seems eons ago now, what with the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) cresting twenty-one thousand and the demand for housing appearing to ceaselessly increase. It’s hard to recollect just how worried I was back then, maybe because I believed that this was such an unusual instance of lack foresight by a government, or simply such a rare and isolated occurrence that no organization could have predicted it. I have learned a lot about economics since then.

Several articles in the last few years have pointed out how these economic disasters have shaped the manner in which the younger generations (specifically “millennials”) perceive and interact with the world. Though, I would argue that it’s not just millennials who are experiencing a paradigm shift. Almost all age ranges in the U.S. have shown an interest in downsizing both budgets and possessions, for economic, as well as aesthetic reasons.

So what is the new American dream?

Basically, it’s smaller. After the consumerist, disposable culture of the 80’s and 90’s, the current millennia has ushered in a new way of thinking. We are beginning to realize how possessions don’t largely contribute to our happiness, and that living within our means is not only absolutely necessary to our financial future, it’s also kind of sexy.

Housing

After the housing bubble imploded in 2008, many folks lost either their home, large amounts of money from their retirement accounts, or both. While the housing market appears to have rebounded (quite handily, I might add), the persistent lack of housing in the U.S. has caused prices to rise steadily in most markets, nudging out buyers with less buying experience or income.

Enter, the tiny house! I must admit, I have been fascinated by these miniature dwellings for years now, ever since my first episode of “Tiny House Nation.”  Even the most “expensive” tiny houses cost no more than a fourth of the average home price in my area. I am enamored, and I’m not the only one; tiny home communities have sprung up all over the country in the last few years. They’re not just geared to millennials either, as this AARP article suggests.

Jobs

If you’ve been lurking on blogger sites recently (not that I do, *ahem*), you’ve probably ran across the term “digital nomad” at least once. A new breed of occupation is among us, it would seem. While conventional work-at-home jobs have been around for a while, waxing and waning with corporate demand, “digital nomads” are often individuals who work for themselves, either through their own, personal business, or via freelance endeavors (or “gigs,” as they’re often referred to) .

While these entrepreneurial enterprises offer a lot of freedom, there are some plausible downsides, such as isolation and economics, as outlined in this Huffpost article. Still, the siren call of escaping the “rat race” and architecting one’s own agenda is powerful. (I wonder at how many millennials and Gen Xer’s, like myself, who write blog posts outside of traditional business hours, are secretly hoping to make this our primary “gig?”)

minimal office

Minimalism

It does seem a bit trendy right now, but, to be fair, there have been brilliant people throughout the last several decades who have been praising the benefits of a lighter life. I’m not sure how many folks actually achieve their personal version of minimalism, but with all the buzz, it appears that many are trying, and for good reason. When I observe the ratio of items that I actually touch and use within a day, versus the total number of items that I own, I am often sick to my stomach. Then, I consider the time and money that it requires for me to keep and maintain all of those items that I never touch in a day, and perhaps not even in a year (ergh, more queasiness).

Many insightful souls have written extensively about minimalism in recent years (Marie Kondo, Joshua Becker, and Leo Babauta, to name a few). They have inspired myself and many others, of all age ranges and socioeconomic backgrounds, to ditch the extra weight and focus on what is really important.  My favorite resource for all things minimalism, as of late, has been The Minimalists. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus talk intimately about not only the physical operation of shedding superfluous articles, but also the internal processes that occur alongside it…to the tune of 20 million people, according to their website.

small house in the snow

In conclusion…

The new American dream is lighter and leaner than its predecessor, grounded in fiscal autonomy and economic sustainability. A pragmatic approach to living, and a focus on the simple necessities to facilitate life, pervade. Excess is loathed not because it seems haughty, but simply because it lacks functionality. Time is prized over possessions, and liberty above all.

How do you see the new American dream? Are you a digital nomad or a tiny house dweller?

Thanks for reading. Take care, and stay cozy.

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

We love Mexican food in my house! At any given moment, we are guilty of having various types of salsas in the refrigerator, beans in the cupboard, and a diverse assortment of tortillas lurking in the breadbox (whole wheat, flour, spinach, etcetera), ready for any Mexican-inspired craving. We prefer authentic, of course, but when we don’t have the time or inclination to go out, we attempt something simple and fast at home. This particular recipe was actually pioneered by my husband and son on a busy night years ago (I just added more cheese).

vegetarian enchilada

cheater vegetarian enchilada

This recipe is about as simple as it gets. It might appear time-consuming at first glance, but honestly the preparation only takes about ten minutes at the very most. Most of the production is already completed by using a premade enchilada sauce. (Note: not all enchilada sauces are created equal, and because this recipe depends heavily on the sauce for its flavor, try to choose the best one available to you.)

This recipe is versatile in that it can be easily doubled or tripled if you have a large crowd to feed; just make sure you have a large enough pan! It can also be a quite economical meal if you purchase generic items or some items in bulk.

enchiladas in pan

vegetarian enchiladas in the pan

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

6-10 tortillas (depending on the size of your pan)

1 can of vegetarian refried beans

2 cups of shredded cheese (we prefer sharp cheddar)

1 can of premade enchilada sauce

Start by lightly greasing a 9×13 baking pan (I usually use a Pyrex-type glass dish), or larger depending upon the number of enchiladas you want to assemble. Place a tortilla on a clean, flat surface and spread a spoonful of refried beans (roughly 1/4 cup per enchilada) along the middle. Top the beans with a sprinkle of cheese (retaining some for the topping), roll up somewhat tightly, and place in baking dish. Repeat for desired number of tortillas and nestle each enchilada next to one another in the pan. Open and pour your favorite enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (until cheese is melted and any exposed tortilla is slightly crispy).

enchiladas 2

cheater vegetarian enchilada

If you wanted to get a little fancy, it might be nice to include some grilled or oven-roasted vegetables in them. Of course, these could be made with meat if desired; however, meat should be completely cooked prior to assembling the enchiladas.

Serve with preferred toppings and sides; we like sour cream, some Spanish-style rice, and some of our various salsas. Enjoy!

What do you like to make on a busy weeknight?

Stay Cozy!

Fall Beauty Wish List

As we bid summer farewell, and begin to embrace fall, we may contemplate editing our beauty routines so as to compliment the change of season. This time, I thought I would share some of the items that I am considering.

autumn

I have seemed to gravitate to more economical products for skin care and beauty over the preceding year, although I do have a long history of experimenting with products from all spectrums of the beauty world. Lately however, I am experiencing a “wanderlust” of the more expensive varieties (department store at least, if not luxury). Will I actually collect them all? We shall see, but these are the products that I have been secretly coveting for a while now…

Chantacaille Brilliant Gloss (Lucky)

I have had this lip gloss on my mind for almost 2 years, perhaps? Ever since I serendipitously saw Youtuber Amelia Liana feature this on her channel, I have fantasized about picking this item up. It is a beautiful light pink and is said to be very moisturizing. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to justify the over thirty dollar price tag, though this year I may take the plunge!

Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver Moisturizer for Face, Lips, and Body

Understanding that the onset of the colder seasons will most likely wreak some kind of crepey, and possible peeling, effects on my skin, I find myself craving anything that portends to help keep me moisturized! This moisturizer contains glycerin, squalene and sunflower seed oil, all of which would seem to be very promising aspects! It also comes in a four-ounce tube, which actually also makes it a bit of a bargain, given its pedigree.

Clinique Blush Brush

I love blush, it is my absolute favorite cosmetic product. So I guess it would make sense that my favorite makeup tool might be a blush brush. Given that they can shed, lose their shape, wash badly, etcetera, it can be difficult to unearth a decent one. I love the shape of this one, and I think it would suit my face shape perfectly! I’m not sure what the bristles are made of, but given the shape and the generally quality of the brand, I think I might be willing to take the chance.

Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray Thirsty Skin Relief

This probably would have ideally been a summertime purchase, but I’m still considering adding it to my fall beauty routine. This is purported to have a fine, pleasant mist and contains aloe, glycerin, and chamomile to help moisturize and calm the skin. (I have heard this can be used on hair as well, intrigued!) This product also gets high praise from beautypedia.com. (Update: I purchased this! Review here.)

Herbivore Botanicals ‘Phoenix’ Facial Oil Roller

I must admit, I am curious about this entire line! I’m not usually too concerned (regretfully) about preservatives in my skin care, but I am wowed by some of the ingredients in these products. Specifically, the ‘Phoenix’ oil includes rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil, and CoQ10; all components that are quite therapeutic for the skin in my recollection. This roller is a more economical version as compared to the full size, and the price just my tempt me to give it a try. (Their packaging is spot on as well!)

And there you have it, my list of beauty cravings for the fall quarter! What products are you lusting after this fall? What should I try?

Stay cozy!

*All products listed here are available at Nordstrom.com. This is not a sponsored post and does not contain any affiliate links. I just really happen to like Nordstrom!

Late Summer Harvest

Recently, my family and I went on a quick trip a little south to see family and friends. We had such a wonderful time just visiting, playing in a local park, and enjoying some home cooking from my grandmother. It was an idyllic weekend in many ways and for many reasons, not the least of which was my own ability to “suspend,” if you will, my troubles for a bit (not a small feat for someone so organically neurotic). I allowed myself a little break from the anxieties of work and the world, and just enjoyed my cherished loved ones.

While we were there, we visited a farm and bought some fresh peaches, and picked various vegetables from my grandparents’ garden. I was reminded of the beauty of a late summer harvest and the bounty that benevolently cared for ground can produce. Every time I go back there, and stand amongst the vines and the leaves, I feel a little closer to the earth, terra firma, home. I feel, for a moment, like I am finally focused on what truly matters, the essentials: food, shelter, and above all, family and friends.

late summer fruit and vegetable harvest

Late summer fruit and vegetable harvest

It is always a bit of a shock to me when I realize how much of brain is normally consumed with concerns that are so artificial and have very little to do with real life. I then realize that I am quietly angry at the ten thousand things that vie for my time, attention, and money, on the most mediocre of my days. Ten thousand things that seem to stretch far and wide and yet have no real bearing nor genuine interest in my life.

I allow it to happen to me though; it’s not the fault of those nameless, faceless, and yet omniscient entities, it’s mine. I let myself become distracted and distressed by events and persons who happen to be half a world away, beyond my physical and perhaps intellectual grasp. I am NOT one who enjoys feeling powerless about situations, even if they be a million leagues afar and property (or fault) of someone else.

However, I also cannot solve all the problems or atone for all the situations that may ravage the globe. I simply am not capable of, nor would I be proficient at, as a single human being, carrying all the sorrows of the world. Mine is to do my little part, help where I can, and carry on.

It is a hard pill to swallow at times, realizing just how small and insignificant I might be.

And yet, there in my grandparents’ garden, it is a comfort to be touching the grass with my toes and devouring the sweetest of plums under one of the many apple trees, observing my young, beautiful son play in the yard. To feel the abatement of worry, and the arousal of our most basic senses seems like a tiny vacation to me. I have left my smart phone inside, ringer off, and I don’t miss it for once. I wish to recede from the world and become “smallish”, if only for a moment or so.

If restricting my world to the very simplest of pleasures for a weekend makes me happier, what does that say about the manner in which I generally run my life? What does it say about whom and what I let into it? How did I let it go this far? And how do I re-center myself and my life in what seems more real?

I’m not sure about the precise logistics yet, but I’m working on it…

late summer fruits and vegetables 2

Late summer harvest

Other than the peaches (which were from a stand), the other produce was plucked from either my grandparents’ garden, or the garden of a nearby friend, and gifted to us before our return home. They were all succulent and delicious! I hope y’all get to enjoy some of the season’s best!

Ever so much thanks to our friends and family for a lovely weekend, and a minor resurrection of my humanness.

Stay hominid, stay cozy.

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

I spent my early childhood in an area that is notoriously green. It is the kind of place where you can drop a seed in a pile of dirt, walk away for several months and find a huge, green, vegetable-bearing plant in its place. I have such fond memories of my childhood, most of which are associated with either the green backdrop of the area, or the many foods which it produced.

At least four generations of my family have fried zucchini in the following fashion. It is not complicated or unique, but it is one of my favorite dishes, ever. Though I make it myself today, no one has ever made it better than my precious mother. I remember being very young, at her side, watching her cook, and waiting impatiently for the little circles of fried goodness to be done. My father and I would devour them almost as soon as they popped off the pan, lured by their savory taste and smooth, yet crispy texture. Even today, the smell and taste of this recipe take me back to days of yore.

fried zucchini squash

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

2-3 medium to large zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil

First, slice the zucchini to desired thickness. Remember that thicker slices will retain more moisture and therefore be “juicier” while thin slices will crisp up better. Keep the beaten egg and flour in separate bowls. I like to season this recipe twice (once in the flour and once in the pan), so I add some salt and pepper to the dry flour and mix. Submerge zucchini slices in the beaten egg and allow to soak for a moment, then move each slice to the flour and coat thoroughly. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add some olive and fry both sides of zucchini slices to desired doneness. Season again with salt and pepper during frying as you see fit. Between batches you may have to add additional olive oil.

This dish is best served immediately! These little circles of delightfulness can become cold and mushy given too much time on the plate. I usually set them out as they are being cooked so as not to let too much time pass. I sometimes serve them as part of a meal, though many times they become the meal themselves, and the act of cooking transforms into a social event with people commuting between conversation, watching the process, and waiting for each batch to finish.

fried zucchini squash plated

Yum!

I will admit that although this is a very simple recipe, it can also be a very time-consuming one. Therefore, rather than doing it for a proper dinner, I usually make it a late afternoon “event” that generally replaces dinner. Crudités and cocktails (or mocktails, for the little ones) generally round out the fare nicely.

Do you like zucchini? What are your favorite late summer recipes?

Enjoy, and stay cozy!