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Posted on Dec 7, 2012 in Fashion | 16 comments

Fashion Friday: Snow Queen

In yet another misleading blog title, this is a makeup post hiding under the guise of Fashion Friday. Because, even though I still haven’t really figured out if makeup falls under the full “fashion” headline, “Makeup Friday” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. So, here we are. 🙂

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I actually had a pretty interesting (and hilarious) conversation with Sean the other night regarding winter makeup looks. It went something like this:

Me: I’m thinking about doing a winter makeup post on Friday. So basically I’m thinking it’ll just be like, glitter.
Sean: Makeup provides neither warmth nor coolness, so why is winter makeup different from summer makeup? Do you wear depressing makeup in the winter because winter is depressing?
Me: You are such a boy.
Sean: I just don’t understand women.

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Now, Sean’s unfortunate lack of knowledge regarding the intimate workings of makeup aside, he does make an interesting point. I mean, there’s no physical reason to sport different makeup looks just because of the weather. But I do it anyway, because I doubt I’m the only person who feels like there’s a shift in the air (and not just the temperature) when a new season rolls around. So over the next couple of months, as the weather continually gets colder and colder, expect to see more makeup looks on here that are winter appropro. Which, as stated above, essentially just means we’ll be diving further and further into the land of shimmer and glitter.

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Digression: I got contact lenses in the 6th grade, which means I was 10 years old (I skipped 2nd grade, so I’ve always been young for my year in school). I had to sit through this little class thing at the optometrist’s office where they instruct you on what not to do with your contacts. One of their rules was to be very careful when applying eye makeup (a rule that I obviously disregard wholeheartedly these days, hahaha). Well, little 10-year-old me had only one question throughout the entire training session (which, it should be said, was a group of people, all the rest of whom were adults). That question: Can I still wear eye glitter? I then proceeded to pull out my grape-scented purple glitter rollerball and show it to the technician. I am really serious about glitter.

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Anyway, this look is actually not very glittertastic (somewhat ironically, given that ridiculous story I just told, hahaha). But, it is super WINTERtastic. I used to think that light, shimmery makeup was retired back in high school, along with the light lipstick + dark lipliner trend (I’m looking at you, Jen Powell Robinson!), lest it conjure unfortunately dated looks like this one:

Yes, that is Katherine Heigl in the 1996 Disney Channel Original Movie, Wish Upon a Star, which was like Freaky Friday except totally awesomer. ANYWAY. As long as you’re not too heavy-handed, I’ve recently come to reappreciate the light, shimmery makeup look. And if you can look past the terrible lighting and bags under my eyes in these pics, since I took them at like, 11 PM last night, I think you might possibly be able to see why. It gives me this whole ethereal, winter-faerie-like look that I can totally vibe on.

And when paired with a subtle, shimmery lip, pink cheeks, and an icy blue eyeliner? It’s like a winter wonderland on your face, in a completely wearable, everyday way.

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Eyeshadow(s): Sephora Collection Colorful Mono Eyeshadow in Aspen Summit (23), all the way from my lash line to my brow bone. Then Urban Decay eyeshadow in Toasted along the outer half of my lid and in the crease (courtesy of my Naked palette, but they’re also sold individually).

Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner in Electric, on both top and bottom lids.

Mascara: CoverGirl Lash Blast Luxe (it has glitter IN THE MASCARA!) in Black Platinum.

Brow Pencil: Too Faced Brownies

Lipgloss: I got it for free when I was trying out BeautyMint (a subscription skincare thing), but any light-colored, shimmery gloss would do.

Blush and highlighter: NARS blush in Orgasm and Smashbox Halo Highlighting Wand in Gold, as always.

Are you drawn to different makeup looks in the winter?

PS: Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for two cans of Blue Diamond Almonds’ exclusive seasonal flavors!

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Posted on Dec 29, 2011 in Dear Diary | 27 comments

Winterization

Don’t let the outrageously mild weather and distinct lack of snow fool you.

Christmas has come and gone, I’ve busted open my under-bed storage bins full of sweaters (closet space is quite the commodity in my room), and our gas bill is already climbing its way to “astronomical”: Winter is here.

I actually really like winter. It does, after all, contain my favorite holiday, promotes public hot chocolate consumption, and has snow! I’m sure that the rest of the metropolitan DC area would disagree with me, but I actually really love snow. I don’t love how people around here DRIVE in it (yet another reason I am thankful to have taken driver’s ed. in Canada… in February) but I love snow. It’s pretty, it’s fun, and unlike when I lived in Ottawa, it actually causes school and work closures here. Win!

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From my visit to Ottawa last February.

Unfortunately, this season has its downside as well. It would probably sound better if I said I struggled with something legitimate like seasonal affective disorder or… hypothermia… or something… but my biggest issue with the winter months instead lies in the horrible, itchy, flaky disaster that is my hands and feet come December. My skin gets so dry that not only does it peel uncontrollably, but I develop small, itchy red bumps all over my palms and soles. You’re welcome for that image.

In the past, I’ve suffered in nonstop whining silence because I was too lazy to do anything about it. This year, I’m trying to stop scratching myself into oblivion and actually combat the dryness in what a way that will hopefully preserve both my skin and my sanity. I’m still experimenting with what works best though, so I need your input! This is what I’m planning to do so far, deduced from both personal experience and, y’know, Google:

Moisturize.

When it’s this dry out, regular moisturizer is simply not enough. Even I know this. What I have recently learned, however, is that even special dry-skin lotion is not enough. I never really knew what people used Vaseline for other than keeping hair dye from staining your forehead, but apparently it can be used as a skin moisturizer. It seems to be the only thing that is marginally working for me right now, although a little birdie told me on Twitter that I should check out something called Aquaphor. I’m also trying to do that wearing-socks-after-moisturizing-thing, but it’s kind of annoying. Still, the lesser of two evils when the first evil is hand-agony.

Wash my hands, um, differently?

Apparently, according to some article I read online that I’m sure is totally accurate and written by someone with credentials and stuff, we wash our hands more often in the wintertime. Something about being more scared of germs than usual or something, I don’t know. As it turns out, all that constant hand-washing is very drying for our skin. In order to help circumvent further peeling and awfulness for my hands, I’ve nixed my antibacterial soap (which I hear I’m not really supposed to use anyway) for a bar of handmade lavender soap that my mom gave me for Christmas! Apparently I’m supposed to use warm, rather than hot, water to combat the dryness as well. The more you know…!

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Exfoliate.

I am a notoriously terrible exfoliator. Aside from haphazardly using my loofah in the shower, my exfoliation efforts are pretty lax. I’m really trying to make an effort to slough off all that gross dry skin this year though, so I’m going to embrace the economical solution of… the homemade sugar scrub! I just combine sugar and coconut oil (or you could use almond, or olive, or vegetable oil if you wanted to be even thriftier) to make a sort of paste, then rub-a-dub-dub it into my skin. I adjust the sugar-to-oil ratio higher for hand/foot use versus leg/body use. I’ve also read about using salt instead, but that doesn’t make sense to me. I feel like that would only serve to sap the moisture out of your skin, right? Anyway, I can say with certainty as someone who spends $38 on her face wash (I really should be more ashamed of that, shouldn’t I?), that this homemade concoction really is wonderful. And helps justify the aforementioned face wash, heh.

I’m hoping that making these things part of my routine will help save me from this horrible, ugly, itchy death. I’m also hoping that I can actually make these things part of my routine. Feel free to chime in with any other tips or tricks you might have up your sleeves!

Do you suffer from similar wintertime maladies? What are your self-winterization techniques?

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Posted on Dec 2, 2010 in Dear Diary | 4 comments

Brrr…

It is freezing today. Want proof?

There’s your proof. 😉

Guess winter decided to finally get off its lazy butt and get moving, huh? I even hear whispers of there being snow this weekend!!

Unlike many (okay, most) people I talk to, I actually love winter. I love seeing the world covered up in white, I love seeing puffs of warm breath hitting the crisp air, I love sweaters and scarves and mittens and hats (it’s true, you should see my collection!). Maybe it’s a product of spending a large percentage of my life living in Canada, but I just really have a special place in my heart for all things winter.

You know what else has a special place in my heart?

That’s right. You’re looking at a brand-spankin’-new 7-cup Cuisinart FOOD PROCESSOR!!! It was a fabbityfab lightning deal on Amazon, and I am already so in love. I know, I know, I know, I’m not supposed to be buying things for myself now. But I just couldn’t pass it up. Besides, I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I let someone else pay full-price for one of these bad boys if I could get it for myself for 60% off! It is glorious.

Despite the fact that yesterday was a pretty glum day for me (work has been getting to me a little bit lately…) I perked right up when I opened the box that housed this puppy. And yes, I had multiple boxes to open when I got home from work, haha. It’s like every day is Christmas, getting so much stuff delivered every day! The UPS guy knows us REALLY well now. 😛

As soon as I busted it out and after it look me like 10 minutes to figure out how to detach the bowl from the body (that thing was ON there!) I quickly tested it out by mincing up some red onion, garlic, and red pepper. And then just to see how it would do, I tossed a handful of baby carrots in there too! I’m not really sure what my goal was, I definitely didn’t even have a dish in mind to cook. I think I was just excited. So excited, in fact, that I ended up going kind of overboard and over-mincing everything until it was just this really pretty but really useless orange-red slush.

Darn that pulse button. It’s so much fun to push!

So in true Gretchen fashion, I quickly decided I needed to figure out SOMETHING to do with it. After ravaging my pantry for a bit, I tossed my slush in a little pan with some olive oil and cooked it up, while I threw some whole wheat pasta in a pot. Then I took my nice big stockpot and sautéed a block of tofu up with some EVOO, salt, and pepper, then dumped in a can of diced tomatoes, some leftover spinach, mushrooms and chicken sausage from pizza night, and then finally added in my simmering food-processor mush.

The result?

Pasta a la Pantry!

It was actually quite tasty! You couldn’t really taste the carrots or red pepper, which I guess is good because carrots aren’t traditionally a pasta ingredient. Having a food processor would be really handy if you had kids who didn’t like to eat vegetables (or a husband who refuses to… right Jenny? ;)) because you can get them pureed really, really fine to add into sauces or other dishes.

I added a few kalamata olives and capers on top at the last minute because I think I was trying to convince myself I had made a Mediterranean dish, but they weren’t really necessary (though always delicious! Mmm, olives… drool…)

Anyway, I successfully used up a lot of ingredients that I already had on-hand, and made an entire weeks-worth of pasta that’s chock-full of veggies. A success, I think! And to think, due to the bad day I was having, I was contemplating ordering in for dinner instead. I think that the arrival of my food processor was God’s way of telling me to stay on track!

I have noticed I’ve been succumbing to emotional/stress eating a lot more this week. I really need to get over myself and man up, because this is going to be super detrimental if I let it continue. I haven’t been counting calories very much lately either. I mean, I have been ballparking numbers in my head, but I haven’t been recording, which I think is bad. While I do want to wean myself off of actually writing down every single thing I eat, I’m not at a stage yet where I really NEED to practice doing that (learning intuitive eating – as I believe it’s called – is much more of a maintenance practice than an active weight loss practice. And with only 5 weeks to go until the cruise, I really need to step it up!! Ahhhhh!

Okay, I think that’s enough for right now. I hope you are all looking forward to see some festive house photos once we finally get the rest of the holiday cheer put up in the house (and once I can steal my brother’s fancyschmancy camera to play around and take Christmas-y photos that will do this glorious holiday season justice!) Also, my beautiful and amazingly talented friend and former housemate Ali has been offering to do a photo shoot with me to celebrate the pounds lost so far (36, to be exact!) for some time and we’re finally doing it! So look forward to a couple of glamorized shots of yours truly to be gracing your retinas in the near future. 🙂

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