Ever Red

Once, I found a tube of Chanel lip color at one of my favorite bars. I already get cold sores on occasion, so I have no fear of catching the virus now. I loved the color, this deep berry shade called Ever Red, and it was obviously nearly brand new, so I kept it.

Months later, I saw a good friend of mine using the same type of lipstick, but in a slightly different shade. I told her about the tube of Ever Red I’d found. She told me that a few months back, she’d lost a tube of Chanel lipstick in that exact shade, at that same bar. At the time, she was really upset, because she’d only used it once, and it was expensive. But then she went back to the store and found a shade that she liked even more, and thought that she was actually happier with the new choice than she would have been with the old one.

Maybe you took from that, “Gross, she reused mystery lipstick that she found at a bar!” Or maybe you thought, “Wow, great score,” or perhaps, “Talk about a crazy coincidence!” Someone (or many someones) probably thought, “You’re lucky you didn’t catch something.” I just thought that my friend was glamorous for splurging on Chanel lipstick (among all of the other stylish beauty choices she makes). I offered to give the lipstick back, but instead, she gave me the other tube, too. She’d moved on to a new brand that she liked more.

In the end, the first tube leaked into my bag one day. I’m just too much of a mess for Chanel, I guess.

BTDubs…Here’s My Pink Hair

I’ve been trying to take a snapshot of my new hair (pink, as promised), but have failed miserably. Here’s a professional snapshot that was taken at my friends’ wedding last weekend, instead. That’s my friend Damon beside me. Doug is out of the shot, but is what I was looking at as the pic was taken. He hates photos, so he was making ugly faces to 1) avoid being photographed, and 2) make me laugh and ruin the shot. He won.

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Enjoy this; I have a feeling life is going to force me to dye my hair brown again soon (boo hiss).

New Hair Ideas

I’m pretty lucky that my new job is very accepting of my current look, which is a little more “me” and a little less the preppy look that I was trying to pull off for a few years, there. In February, I got an undercut and dyed my hair a metallic silvery-blue color, which looked really nice for about a month. Eventually though, the blue started to wash out and my roots started to grow in, and now my hair is a weird light blue/yellow/gray mix. It actually doesn’t look terrible, but it’s not really where I’d like it to be. Since I need to go in and get it trimmed a bit, anyway, it’s time for me to pick a new color! I’m thinking a pastel, and have been mulling over a few options:

Bubblegum Pink, like Kelly’s amazing ‘do from Pinterest:

Pink Hair

Icy Purple, which doesn’t look that different from my hair right now, except that it would have purple tones instead of yellowish gray ones.

Purple Hair

Of course, my very favorite is Unicorn Hair, which has a bunch of different interpretations online. This is probably the closest to how I’d like it to look, though:

Unicorn Hair

What do you guys think? I’m probably going to wait until the day of the appointment to make my final decision, so if you’ve got any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them! No green, though, and I’m not really feeling dark colors right now.

Shifting Into Gear

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A tiny, glowing part of the Chewbacchus parade, my favorite thing about Mardi Gras. Image via NOLA.com.

It’s Mardi Gras weekend here in the Big Easy, and most people are out at the parades or attending various parties. I’ll be heading to a couple of grand events later in the weekend, but for the moment I’m enjoying one last dose of quiet before diving headfirst into the celebration.

For the last week or so, I’ve been gathering up everything I have that’s worth anything and posting it on Amazon or Ebay. My goal is really to pare down my belongings to the point where my house doesn’t feel full of stuff, but rather full of possibility. As the piles of junk start to disappear and the surfaces clear off, I’ve found that my creativity is returning bit by bit. I’ve been able to come up with some creative storage solutions that managed to elude me for almost two years, and I figured out how to afford the new computer I so desperately need without putting myself in further debt. Several sewing projects have been attempted and completed successfully, I learned a new origami pattern, and I had a cool idea about how to make my closet work better for me last night that I intend to work on as soon as Mardi Gras has passed.

Another thing that’s going to change with the season is my health. I’ve actually been taking good care of myself. I’m on medication for my anxiety and depression, am attending therapy regularly, and walk/work out daily. After much thought, however, I made the hard decision to quit my gym for the year to save money. I realized that though I love lifting weights and hanging out with the people at the gym, my finances (and emotional state) are never going to improve if I keep spending that obscene amount of money on working out each month. In fact, after doing the math, I realized that I could easily afford to enroll in a Fitocracy program online, WITH my boyfriend, and still save enough money to buy a month’s worth of healthy groceries. I loved that gym, and maybe I’ll make enough money in the future to return, but for now it’s more important to focus my attention on my financial fitness. I’m actually very excited about the Fitocracy program – it’s called Hormonal Fat Loss. If you’re interested in checking out any of the training programs at Fitocracy, here’s a COUPON CODE FOR $20 OFF. Even better for me, when you use the code, I get $20 off, too!

Maybe most exciting of all is that I recently made the decision to start dressing like the me that’s been inside, hiding, all this time. Tomorrow I’m headed to get a new haircut that’s sure to give my parents a heart attack. I want it to look something like this:

shaved-side-hairstyles

Not sure if the stylist is going to have the time for the color, but I know the cut is going to look amazing. Really looking forward to making a splash at the Orpheus Ball on Monday night. I found this beautiful dress on Rent the Runway that’s right up my alley – a little more tech while still being glam:

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Image via Nordstrom.com, because I’m too lazy to find it on Rent the Runway right now.

And I got the most beautiful vintage earrings on Ebay to complete the ensemble:

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Check out these bad boys…

Welcome to 2016. It’s going to be my year, but I’m happy to share it if you’re nice 🙂

Dissatisfaction

“Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”

– Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

Today’s prompt (gee, I’m going slowly – just on Day 12) in Beautiful You is to realize that my dissatisfaction is not about my body, but rather other things in my life. I’m supposed to consider that fact, and see what my mind is really trying to tell me. What else should I be addressing?

I don’t necessarily believe that being unhappy with the way I look is to be blamed entirely on other life problems. That being said, of course there are a ton of things that all of us need to work on to create better lives for ourselves. I could write a thousand page dissertation on all of the things that I’m dissatisfied in this world, starting with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, easing into the destruction of the rainforest, and rounding out nicely with bigoted, low-IQ’d fundamentalists and their conservative buddies in Congress who are trying to shove their ideals down our throats at every twist and turn these days.

But given today’s reading, I feel like I’m supposed to be talking about what in my life is so dissatisfying that that I’d turn it all inward and focus on being ashamed of my body. Let’s see.

I’m terribly smart, so it’s not that. I’m witty, and I make people laugh. Not uproariously, of course, but I’m not devoid of humor, so that’s a good thing. I’m mildly successful, and creative, and I try very hard to be very nice. So none of those. I’m not really that talented at anything though. I’m a good writer, and a good singer, and I make origami, and I put together great outfits when I try. I’m also a good cook, though I hate cooking and try to avoid it as much as possible.

OK, I’ve figured it out. Kinda. I procrastinate a lot. When I’m anxious, I freeze up (if it’s the good kind of anxious, because otherwise I have a panic attack or something similar). When I freeze up, the only way I can calm myself down is by ignoring the thing that made me anxious. Since almost everything makes me anxious these days – phone calls, emails, talking to people, social engagements of any kind, social media, trying to write long form, trying to be creative, you name it, it’s stressing me the fuck out – this process of ignoring things turns into procrastination. Procrastination begets its own kind of stress. Now, I’m not stupid, I can honestly look at this situation and go, “well, if it stresses you out to procrastinate, wouldn’t it be better to break down the things you have to do into small, manageable chunks and accomplish them that way?” No shit. It’s how I end up making it through every day without boiling over into panic attack mode. But every single day is a repeat of the scenario. It’s driving me crazy. It’s definitely driven me to depression.

But now I’m reading back through this, and I don’t know if I’ve answered the question at all. Maybe these are two different issues that happen to be going on at the same time. Hmmm.

I guess the other reason I might be dissatisfied and taking it out on my body is that I’m dissatisfied with the way my life has turned out. But no, that’s not either. I’m dissatisfied with the way my life has turned out, so I overeat and drink, which in turn makes me gain weight (along with the thyroid issue), and then I’m dissatisfied with my body. But I guess that works. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with my life and blaming it on my body, it’s that I’m dissatisfied with life and find a way to treat that dissatisfaction in an unhealthy way that allows me to turn my attention on my body. Woohoo! Great to know.

Well, I’m already treating part of the issue – I’ve been eating paleo (including no drinking) for a week now. I’ve lost over 6 lbs already, and aside from being tired from my workouts, I’m feeling pretty OK with my body right now. It feels strong, and that’s good. I deadlifted 105 lbs the other day!

I guess that being dissatisfied with the way I look could very well be related to being embarrassed and awkward when it comes to presenting myself physically. I hate being looked at, and any time I get in the spotlight, it makes me really uncomfortable. The same thing happens all the time at work and in social situations – I’ve just learned how to hide how I’m feeling and project a somewhat more confident exterior to my clients and colleagues. The constant doubt and fear does impact me on a personal level every day, and probably also has something to do with my procrastination and interpersonal relationship issues. This is something to think about.

Ladies: Measure Your Tits

I know it’s a risque title, but it says exactly what it needs to: women, get to know your girls better! Mostly, this is just a cautionary tale from one clueless woman to the rest of you (much more in-the-know) ladies out there, about how easy it is to misjudge just about anything, including your bra size.

The story goes a little something like this…

On New Year’s Eve, I decided that nothing in my closet was going to work for going out that night, and I deserved a new party dress. So I took the bus downtown in search of my dream gown, and remarkably, found the perfect thing a couple of hours later. Side note: I found the dress at Saks 5th Avenue, which is normally WAY out of my price range, but they had a 70%+ off rack, plus a 20% off sale on sale items. I ended up walking out with a gorgeous $600 dollar dress for just around $100 – total score.

Anyway, once I had the dress, I realized that nothing in my existing lingerie collection would really be pretty enough to wear with it. I wanted something retro and lacy, so I went to Trashy Diva, which is this amazing New Orleans-based boutique that sells vintage-inspired dresses, shoes, jewelry and lingerie. They actually have two shops just for dresses and a small selection of underthings, and then two shops that sell nothing but shoes and small accessories, and another two shops just for lingerie. I don’t live that far from one of the lingerie locations, so I walked in there in the hope that something would pop out at me to go with the dress.

Click the photo for more info on Trashy Diva's lingerie selection!

Click the photo for more info on Trashy Diva’s lingerie selection!

The shop is like a lacy candy store. Everything is so pretty and soft and silky and sexy, and you can’t help but feel a bit naughty just being in there. There are garter belts and beautiful silk stockings, and all manner of designer underpinnings at prices to match. As you might imagine, I was overwhelmed with my options and just sort of stood there, looking stupid, until the customer service person came to ask if I needed any help. I nodded, and confessed that since my weight gain, my boobs had grown and I was unsure of my size.

Now, even though I was telling the woman that, I was pretty sure I knew my size. After all, I was wearing a bra that fit me. I’d originally been a 34B, but once they became too uncomfortable to wear, I’d moved up to a 36B, then eventually a 38B, which seemed OK. But still, it never hurts to check, I thought. Besides, I hadn’t had a bra fitting in at least five years or more. So bring on the tape measure!

The tape measure came out, and the circumference of my rib cage just under my breasts was measured. I was surprised to see that the customer service person had the tape marked at 36 when she pulled it away. Then she measured my breasts at their widest. I saw her mark the number on the tape, but didn’t know what it meant. “So I’m a 36B? Am I just wearing my bras wrong or something?” I asked. She chuckled gently, then informed me that I wasn’t a 36B, or even a 36C – I was now a D cup.

If you’ve got big knockers, congratulations. If D sounds small to you, again, all the best. But for me, after years of barely being a B, the idea that I could one day fill out a “ginormous” D cup sounded like the thing of utter fantasy. As the customer service person started to lead me around, pointing out bras in my size that fit my other criteria – lacy, black, cleavage-creating – I remained incredulous. The obvious answer to all of this was that she’d screwed up. There was no way in hell I could fill out a D cup.

Except that I did. The first bra she had me try on went home with me that afternoon. It was absolutely gorgeous, and a perfect fit. Suddenly, that odd bit of underarm fat that always squished outside of the bra seemed less noticeable. The bands, just a tad wider than those on my B-cupped bra, didn’t press into my shoulders as much. My breasts still looked exactly the same size to me, and fit into the bra in the same way that they’d fit into my other bra, but seemed more secure, like they were held in place a bit better. Apparently the difference between a B and a D is not as much as I’d always thought.

I went out that night with a bit more confidence. It was like I’d gotten an instant boob job – no pain, just the same old lovely rack, presented in a spiffier getup. Before leaving the shop, I talked to the customer service person a little more about how I could have been so wrong about my breast size, and she said that it was something she saw multiple times a day at the shop. We’ve all seen women who are obviously wearing the wrong sized bras – you can always see telltale signs like overhanging back fat, or that interesting double boob effect where there’s extra breast tissue trying to pop out of the top of the cup. In the past, I always thought I’d never be one of those girls. But now I know that it’s ridiculously easy to get your numbers wrong. The wrong bra might not even look or feel that bad, if you don’t know what signs to look for.

If you have no clue where to start, you can get measured at any lingerie shop. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, Brittany Herself has an EXCELLENT how-to on her blog. She also includes a super in-depth video in her post by Caty135, which I’ve also included at the top of my post to make it easier. Make sure to give both a glance, as they contain some great information on why you should be careful when getting fitted at a chain lingerie store like Victoria’s Secret, and how to make sure your bras are fitting correctly.

Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky like me, and end up getting bigger knockers in the process!

 

 

 

Green Beauty Review: Pachy by Rustic Maka (Part 2)

Patchy Deodorant by Rustic Maka (sample sizes)

Keep reading to get 15% off from now through December 10th, 2014!

If you were reading on Tuesday, I posted Part 1 of this Green Beauty review on Pachy Deodorant by Rustic Maka. I promised to post again yesterday, but I have a head cold that’s been getting the better of me this week, so I’m running a day behind – sorry. It might be a good thing to be running late, though, because I found out something so cool about Pachy in the mean time! It turns out that Pachy is pronounced something like “Pax-y”, and actually means “armpit” in Polish. If you’re a lingo geek like me, you’ll probably find this endearing. If not, well, keep reading to find out more about why you should love Pachy 🙂

So you guys know that my typical go-to brand is Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, though during the summer, there’s no natural product out there (that I’ve found) that can keep me staying dry enough to not get a rash within a few weeks of constant use. Most of the year, I use a natural deodorant and carry a jar of cornstarch or arrowroot powder with me to dust my underarms periodically throughout the day, and coconut oil to soothe skin irritations. However, by late August, when I received the samples of Pachy, I’d already returned to my yearly summertime habit of over-the-counter antiperspirant use (I know, I’m awful, but if it’s the choice between maybe getting cancer one day and definitely having red, burning, achey, and insanely itchy armpits today, I’m going to take the gamble).

Then it occurred to me: Let’s use this as a chance to do an experiment! I’d try Pachy in New Orleans’ hottest and most humid conditions, then try it again when the weather had cooled a bit and I wasn’t sweating buckets.

Trial #1: August 20th through 27th
Temperatures ranged from 94 degrees Fahrenheit down to a lovely, cool, 88 degrees (that’s a joke, btw), with average daily humidity levels in the 80% range. My daily activity level is pretty high – I walk about 2.5 miles to work every morning along a route that doesn’t offer much shade, walk another 2.5 miles back home in the evening, plus go to the gym for a few more miles’ run, weight lifting, etc. I also spend my day working in an un-airconditioned building. In other words, summer is an extremely sweaty affair.

Trial #2: October 20th through 27th
Temperatures ranged from 83 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, down to around 62 degrees at night. Humidity dropped a bit, too (thank goodness) – to only around 50% most days. My activity level didn’t change, but due to not feeling like I was trying to run a marathon under a heat lamp, I was sweating a bit less.

The results? I loved the way Pachy smoothed onto my skin. It’s not crumbly or dry, and it also wasn’t sticky and waxy the way a lot of natural deodorants tend to be. I love to be able to just put my deo on and go – no holding my arms up to let my pits dry out for a minute, like with a roll on deo, and no worrying about getting it all over your clothes if you’re getting ready to put a shirt on, etc. Pachy is perfect in that regard. I could easily put a bit on and walk out the door, and I loved it.

As far as smelliness on my part went, I found that the active ingredients in Pachy kept me from getting stinky for a long time. I’d put some on before leaving the house, get super sweaty on the way to the gym/work, then wash up a little and put on some more. I wouldn’t be stinky at all when I was reapplying, just sweaty (and sweaty to me means getting an underarm rash, so I always like to wash up, get dry, and reapply after an hour or so of constant sweating). Once the weather got cooler, I found that especially if I wasn’t doing anything strenuous, I could apply once and not have to “treat” for stinkyness for 24 hours or so. In other words, this stuff really works for odor prevention.

Pachy only fell short for me in two highly-personal regards. My personal preference is for spicy, musky scents. I prefer a scent profile that some might find more manly – sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, balsam – and though Pachy smells lovely and clean, I like to be a little spicier. It’s wonderful if you’re looking more for a “fresh out of the shower” scent, though. My favorite of all of the scents was the Rough Rivers scent, which is sold as the men’s version of the deodorant. I’d recommend that if you want to try Pachy out and you’re also into something stronger/spicier, take Rough Rivers for a spin.

Secondly, as I’ve already mentioned, I tend to get armpit rashes if I’m not really careful about keeping them dry and protected from chafing. For me, it felt like once the product soaked into my skin, it didn’t leave enough of a creamy barrier to protect my armpits from rubbing and creating a rash. Like I said before, though, I always carry around cornstarch or arrowroot powder for that, so it wasn’t that big of a deal – I just dusted some on. It’s just something to keep in mind if you’re also a delicate flower who has to pay way more attention to her armpits that she’d like 😀

Overall, I loved Pachy. I wish that they had a few more scents in the roundup, but the product itself was effective for long periods of time and generally felt great on. If you’re in the market for something new for your pits, try them out! Here’s an even bigger incentive – from now until 12/10/14, my readers can use code PACHY2014 to receive 15% off your orders at RusticMaka.com. Pretty awesome, right?

Green Beauty Review: Pachy Deodorant by Rustic Maka

Pachy Deodorant by Rustic Maka (sample sizes)

Keep reading to get 15% off from now through December 10th, 2014!

Recently, I found out about a new player in the vegan, organic, non-toxic deodorant market, called Pachy. Created by boutique brand Rustic Maka, Pachy is handcrafted and cruelty-free, two of my favorite things to see on a label when researching new health and beauty products. Kasia Rothe, one of the owners of Rustic Maka, graciously sent me a sample pack of the brand’s five deodorant scents, so I could try Pachy out on my (notoriously picky) pits.

By now we all know that drugstore brand deodorants and antiperspirants typically include aluminum, parabens, talc, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, FD&C colors, and DEA, chemicals that have been linked to dermatitis, Alzheimer’s, cancer*, liver disease, kidney disease, antibiotic resistance, and disrupted thyroid function. In direct opposition to the drugstore brands, Pachy’s formula is free of toxic chemicals, parabens, aluminum, gluten, corn, soy, GMOs, triclosan, and propylene-glycol, so I felt great about applying it to my delicate underarms and giving it a go!

Product Packaging: My first thought at seeing the samples of Pachy were that the packaging was adorable. The labels could be affixed a little better (I don’t believe this is the case for the full-sized containers, which look like they’re packaged differently), but the colors and design are pretty, and I love the idea of having deodorant samples in containers about the size of a tube of lip balm. Each container gives you enough to apply several times a day for four or five days, making these perfect for packing in your purse or saving room in your travel bag for a weekend getaway.

Product Scent: Pachy currently comes in five different regular scents – Calming Fields (primary scents of lavender and spearmint, with hints of coconut and shea butter), Naughty Butter (unscented, with hints of coconut and shea butter), Sweet Lemonade (primary scents of lemon, orange, and vanilla, with hints of coconut and shea butter – I thought it smelled a little like Love’s Fresh Lemon), Wild Meadows (primary scents of bergamot and vanilla, with hints of coconut and shea butter), and Rough Rivers (primary scent of bergamot, with hints of coconut and shea butter).

There’s also an additional special edition scent called Morning Breeze (primary scents of lavender, spearmint, orange, lemongrass, and vanilla), the sales of which benefit Angels of Hope, a family cancer foundation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to smell the latter, but the other five smell amazing, so I can only imagine that Morning Breeze would be a great buy, both for scent and to benefit a great charity.

Test Parameters: I had the unique opportunity to test out Pachy in two New Orleans seasons – late summer (which is really our midsummer around here) and early fall. Tune in on Thursday to find out how it performed!

In the mean time, head over to Rustic Maka’s site to find out more about their company and products. While you’re there, use code PACHY2014 to get 15% off of your total order from now until 12/10/14.

*The FDA and the National Cancer Institute dispute the connection between deodorants and breast cancer, but studies have been inconclusive thus far.

Clean Days

So yesterday was the beginning of 30 days without alcohol, coffee/Diet Coke, meat, bread/pasta/processed foods, or dairy. I’m sticking to whole foods. Lots of veggies and fruits, water and green tea, and I’m sure a lot of lethargic mid-afternoons until I learn how to live without stimulants again. Not to mention really boring evenings as I trade in my wine for herbal tea, or whatever it is that people typically drink at the end of a long day when they’re trying to avoid chugging liquid sugar for a month.

Yesterday was Labor Day, and I went to a house party. To avoid drinking wine or beer with the rest of the guests, I brought a 12-pack of coconut club soda. That worked pretty well. I stayed hydrated and still had a drink to hold the entire time. I polished off all but two last night, and made short work of those remaining cans today at lunch. No coffee yesterday or this morning, either, which probably explains why my eyes are feeling so heavy right now. I could really use a nap.

Since I was at a party, and didn’t feel like hating my life completely, I went ahead and ate whatever I wanted yesterday (bison burgers, sausages, chips and fruit w/yogurt dip). Figured for Day 1, it was a big enough accomplishment to be avoiding liquor and coffee. Today, however, I haven’t had anything that’s on my “no” list. So far, I’ve had steel cut oatmeal & fruit for breakfast, and a big bowl of miso soup with tarrow root and tofu for lunch. My head is swimming right now, though. I’m feeling majorly worn out, which is probably a combination of not enough food, and my body detoxing from coffee. Sigh.

OK, time to figure out what I’ve got to do to keep myself alert and productive for the rest of the afternoon. So much work to do, and definitely not enough time for napping or indulging in brain fog.