Monday, December 17, 2012

My Christmas Miracle: How My Friends Became My Family and Consumerism Will Save Us All

Shifty-eyed baby Rachel. When Christmas was all about deluxe applique sweatshirts.

I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge after he’s just awoken and realized that he is alive and life is wonderful. I’m half tempted to throw money at the neighborhood kids and tell them to buy the biggest Christmas goose and bring it to the Cratchet house. Instead of pelting the dear neighborhood children with Susan B. Anthonys, I’m going to opt for a good old-fashioned soul-searching kind of blog. You see, the reason I am so happy is because I’m not sad. I am so happy to not be sad that I could shout it from the rooftops.

It's now a tradition for my friend Carrie (since we are alumni) and I to see The Young American's The Magic of Christmas.
This is my fourth holiday season without my Dad. The first two were rough. Hell, life has just been rough without him. Since my Dad passed away a week before Thanksgiving in 2009, I was kind of thrust into the holidays in full on survivalist mode. I’d tell myself every day to just get through it. It’d be over soon. This manifested into full on dreading the holidays. Christmas 2010 I refused to join my roommates in a santa hat and eggnog session. Christmas 2011 I completely forbade all decorations. My holiday depression(holidapression?) usually began before thanksgiving and ended with me making an ass of myself drunk on New Years Eve probably making out with a stranger. I expected this year to be a sleigh ride into more of the same.

Thanksgiving hit me hard. Really hard. Like, barely-hold-it-together-and-get-through-the-day hard. I was waking up and crying. Crying myself to sleep. Completely riddled with grief. This year, however, I tried something new. I let myself breathe and I let myself grieve. After I let myself deal, I wanted a tree... and that was just the beginning.

Playing it fast and loose with presents and dogs. My house is now a "gifts go on tables" house.
After all of these years, I’ve come to two conclusions: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the best Christmas Song of all time and I don’t know where I’d be without my friends. The holidays are about family and for me, family has evolved. My friends are the ones who brought me into their homes, with their families, made me smile and like me even through I kind of have chronic bitch-face and repeat the same jokes over and over again . New traditions, gatherings and events I look forward to throughout the year all entangled with a single common thread: friendship. My best memories were all centered around my new family, my tribe, my people- my friends. My friends saved me and saved the holidays.

Crisis averted.
 I’ve spent the past month coordinating wrapping paper (shout out to Paper Source), shopping and just letting myself enjoy life again and it feels great. I’ve spent way too much money on gifts for myself and others. I’ve figured out the hard way that my dogs are not as potty trained as I thought when it comes to boxes left unattended under a bedazzled plastic pine tree. I know I went a little nutty, but sometimes it’s good to go a little nutty.

Christmas is back, I’m kicking ass and I couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Out-of-Town Style Identity

I leave for New York City in a few hours for a week of work training. Vacations and work trips are always exciting for me. I get that restless excitement I used to feel the night before a trip to Disneyland. That first-day-of-school feeling of being an adult in a new city. I  bought a bunch of new clothes, packed with the tags on and neatly arranged into outfits. Getting out of town is the best test run for reinventing myself and I always discover things about my personal style on the journey. As far as everybody in New York is aware, I just wear impeccably styled Anthropologie dresses all the time. They don't need to know that I'm Talented Mr. Ripley-ing a few things. 

The "Bird Dress" I bought from Anthro and have been waiting to wear in NY.

Let's get one thing straight: I am a total slave to fads. I admit it. I embrace it. I have my "airplane" outfit planned out and it consists of fresh nail art, grey harem pants, an obey shirt and moccasins if that gives you any insight. Sometimes the fads are more universal (i.e. skinny jeans) or weird personal ones (one year I wore almost exclusively knee high striped American Apparel athletic socks and black blazers, another year I lived in white "wife-beater" tank tops and black bras). Whether it's a universal or personal fad, I usually dive in head first and those can be expensive lessons that can end up leaving me with a crazy surplus of clothing I will just never wear. I don't just buy a couple pairs of striped socks, I will buy ALL of the striped socks- Ron Swanson style.

This was me in my blazers, striped socks and straight hair phase.
It was on a trip to Atlanta that I discovered that bell-bottom jeans, not for me. It was on a trip to Palm Springs that I rekindled my love for surf-brands. My first summer living away from home at college, I decided to only wear obnoxious lipstick colors.  The freedom of being in a new place with enough friendly faces to feel comfortable but enough distance to truly not worry about how other people
perceive you is really quite exhilarating.

 Taking some nail art for a test-drive.
  I'm just finishing up my final things around the house before leaving. My duffle, filled with new outfits (tags attached) is waiting for me at the door and I am ready. Let's do this NYC.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Antidote to Pillow Face

I’m not one of those make-up artists that hates make-up or conversely feels the need to wear make-up every day. I love my job and I lurrrve make-up, but on my days off my make-up is minimal to non-existent. I rely on great  make-up removal products to keep my skin in check- as to avoid the dreaded “pillow face” situation. For those that don’t know what “pillow face” is, I will save you the downward spiral that eventually leads you away from Urban Dictionary and straight to Wikipedia that eventually leads you to mourning for the sake of humanity while reading the comments on Perez Hilton’s blog until three in the morning. God bless the internet: the cause and solution of boredom and restlessness worldwide. I know that downward spiral well. “Pillow Face” is what happens when you sleep with your make-up on and the inevitable transfer of said make-up onto your sleep stuff (sheets, pillow cases, your white Miniature Schnauzer- he’s a snuggler). Apart from the fact that your face will absolutely wig out if you don’t take your make-up off, it’s a complete pain in the ass to remove it from your sheets- especially if you fancy waterproof formulas... once those polymers and volatile silicones latch on to fabric, watch out. 

Make Up For Ever Sens’Eyes ($24):
Sens’eyes is the holy grail of waterproof make-up removal. Just squeeze a pump onto a clean cotton round and you are good to go. If the make-up is very stubborn, allow Sens’Eyes to sit on the area for about ten seconds and it will totally break down even the most sturdy make-up (I’m looking at you, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner).  Bonus- it’s safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. 

Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Oil ($50):It’s like a magic eraser for your face. I never shy away from oils, I love them. Cleansing oils are no exception. You want to get your face clean super fast? Cleansing oils are the business. When my day is over, I work two pumps onto my dry face and then emulsify in small circular motions with water. The water causes the oil to lather up and rinse clean. It’s magic. 

Korres Milk Proteins Cleansing Wipes ($12)
I first purchased theMilk Proteins Cleansing Wipes when a celebrity client’s “people” requested “high end” make-up removal wipes. The celeb used about two of them and the rest of the package never even made it into my kit. I kept them at my bedside for those days that I wasn’t wearing a full face and wanted a quick cleanse.I’m a huge fan of Korres and I recommend it to clients daily. The Yoghurt line, in particular, is my favorite. The amino acids in milk proteins are widely renowned for balancing out the skin and for their anti-inflammatory and softening properties as well. I highly recommend this for any dudes, teenagers, travelers or lazy folks in your life that you just cannot convince to wash their face. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Did I Not Know About This?: Sriracha and Food Aversion

I don’t know what has happened to me in the past couple years- maybe it was a hormone shift or finally processing the food aversion mental block. Either way, foods that I’ve literally spent a lifetime hating and avoiding- I was starting to like. I just look in the mirror and think- who is this woman? I’ve been avoiding things like salmon, jalapenos, raw tomatoes, mushrooms and spicy hot sauce for EVER and all of a sudden they make a reprise in my late twenties to critical acclaim.

I think the best cure for food aversions is to be a) embarrassed to be a woman nearing her thirties being a high maintenance eater or b) servers that forget stuff and get your order wrong. All of a sudden, they’ve forgotten you asked for dressing on the side. Total crisis. Everybody at the table has been waiting for their food and nobody wants to be an asshole and start chowing down while you are sitting at an empty place setting looking like Oliver Twist (please sir, may I have some more?) and you don’t want to be the asshole that is eating their entree when everybody else has moved on to desserts. Take this situation and multiply the pressure by one hundred if you are out on a date or a dinner with clients. Seriously, a client dinner is what introduced me to the glory that is the spicy tuna roll. There is just something that is innately childish about food aversions and while I’m totally comfortable keeping my pantry as I see fit- sometimes you just have to take one for the team in public.

My love affair with sriracha came about in such a way. It was a random tuesday here in Orange County. My best friend and I had just attended a blogger event and her boo met up with us at a little waffle sandwich and local beer restaurant called The Iron Press. As a pescatarian I automatically accept the fact that I may be limited to some sort of carb and melted cheese situation. The place was bumping. When places are bumping, you just kind of expect to be there for a while. We looked at the menu, surprisingly the grilled cheese stood out to me the most and it wasn’t even a question whether or not the lady would have the tater tots. The lady will always have the tater tots. The thing about these local foodie-lite joints is that you will always have to ask for any kind of “regular” non-infused or re-worked condiment. If my picky eating were a five, my best friend is easily an 8 or 9 so when we ordered a single round of tots- the waitress was met with three different sauce orders. To my chagrin, the sauce I was hoping for was the one that got left behind. So there I was, sitting face to face with a basket full of tots and sriracha infused ketchup. Whatever, I was one beer in, not really a crazy ketchup person and I’ve always been terrified of sauces with pictures of animals and what I’m sure is descriptive language of said sauce, but in a language I cannot read- it couldn’t hurt to give it a try before I ask the server to bring another option.

The tots and sauce that changed everything. Photo courtesy of

I tried the sriracha ketchup and it was delicious. Seriously, guys, it was so tasty I actually got a little pissed that nobody had MADE me try this before. This delicious sauce that apparently everybody knew about had been sitting mere inches away from me so many times and nobody ever thought to give me the hard-sell??? It’s irrelevant because we’ve found each other now. I stood in front of it’s house, Love Actually style, with a poster with “to me you are perfect” written on it. I ran out the next day to buy a bottle for myself.

Because I’m a weird people-pleaser I always try to keep condiments that other people like in my house. God forbid I make a dude breakfast and he just can’t eat his eggs without Tapatio. It’s one part co-dependence, one part good hostess. Either way, can I just blame Martha Stewart and my conservative Christian childhood? Ok, good, let’s go with that. A couple of weeks before the sriracha incident a guy I was dating introduced me to chipotle Tobasco, also delicious. Mild panic attack ensued. Am I becoming one of those hot sauce people? Is this the first step? Dear infant baby Jesus, please don’t let me become a person that cannot eat food without hot sauce.

Honestly, I’ve just really started to take stock into my food aversions and made the decision to challenge myself a bit. Read some new recipes or order something new when I go out. What else have I been missing out on? Let the adventure begin.

If the idea of sriracha Ketchup sounds tasty to you, or if you just want to mix it up for a party- just mix two parts ketchup with one part sriracha. If you want to expand your sriracha experience Bon Apetit has twenty-five suggestions for you. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Farmer's Market: Ritual Saturday Mornings

 Is there anything better than feeling like you’re in the opening “little town such a quiet village” sequence of Beauty and the Beast? If your answer was "no", you are correct. Maybe I just have an active imagination, but I sure to love my local farmer’s market. My schedule can be pretty intense, so it can be difficult to get into a routine and have a proper work/life balance. One of my newest habits is quickly becoming my favorite. For the past couple months I’ve been making a point to hit up the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. I do my best to buy the majority of my produce and eggs there. I’ve also found some other great stuff as well (locally sourced bee pollen for the win! Suck it, allergies, I will defeat you!)- all while trying to not be sweet-talked into $10 hummus by the charming Babba Foods guy or lured into sample-heaven by the Italian bundt cake dude.

As much as I wish I had the time and skill to turn my brown-thumb green, my personal attempts at produce gardening have always fallen short, fallen over or simple been whizzed on by my dogs. Like many a novice gardener, I didn’t realize just how much work actually goes into a garden. If i have more time in the future, I’m sure I will revisit it- but for now, I leave my produce producin’ to the experts and stick to houseplants and cacti. My lackluster attempts at gardening have really created a new-found appreciation for those in the agricultural business.

Some might consider this a bit of a bourgeoisie kind of activity, I think it’s really important to not buy into the hype that fresh whole locally sourced foods and Farmer’s Markets are only for fancy people. Fresh organic produce is for everybody and it is such a nice and relaxing way to spend the morning. Bourgeoisie notions aside, I do like to feel connected with my community and support local business and agriculture. So yes, the produce is a bit more expensive- but I can prioritize the cost because of the good it does for the community. The SoCo Farmer’s Market is my market of choice. The vendors are certified by the government and by the market itself- so you can rest assured that what you buy is locally sourced.
Please don't squish: words to live by.
My Saturday morning go a little something like this: I order my latte from Portola Coffee Lab (it takes a million years, but it’s worth the wait) and hit the tents. Sometimes I fly solo, sometimes I can convince my house mate’s girlfriend to accompany me.Truth be told, there are times that I’ve simply left with a single onion. But whatevs, it’s all that I needed that particular week. Occasionally I’ll visit the food trucks or just have a quick chat with the vendors. Maybe this week I will walk through the market holding my Kindle and shouting “bounjour!” to everybody and see if I’m the only one that gets the joke. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Stand Mixer, Myself: Living Inside One’s Hope Chest

A snapshot I took while I was deciding on which color to order. Do price and model research before you buy. The same exact mixer I paid $349 for at Williams Sonoma (and there was a free shipping promo too!) was $440 at Bloomingdales and $500 at Macy*s.
 My love affair with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer has been no secret. For years, I’ve longed to have one of my own.  Literally, it had gotten to the point that my friends were just sick of hearing it and even sending me snapshots of ones they’d see while out-and-about. I have a job, regular income and a savings account and everything and while $400 is not a arbitrary amount of money- it’s something that I can afford. The money was my frequent excuse, but the money wasn’t what was holding me back. I was holding myself back. You see, the stand mixer was a lot more than a stand mixer. The stand mixer for me was the epitome of the hope chest. You know how some girls dream of diamonds and convertibles- that’s how I felt about my stand mixer. It was my Mt. Everest.

Over the course of the past few years, after making peace with my divorce and making the choice to be optimistic about my romantic future- the stand mixer came to embody all of the expectations I’d had for myself. The super religious, Disney obsessed, age ten Rachel’s head would probably explode to think that at almost twenty-nine, I’ve already been married, divorced and buried my father. In short, life doesn’t always turn out as expected. But hey, age ten Rachel also spent a lot of her childhood being devastated and terrified that the rapture would happen before the senior prom. Because, you know, that's something a child should totally be stressed out about, right? As per usual, I digress and no, I'm not religious anymore. The stand mixer wasn’t a gift that you buy yourself, it was a wedding gift. After convincing myself that it was a wedding gift, the next conclusion, naturally, was that if I bought one for myself it would be some sort of bad omen for my romantic future. My supreme logic had sincerely rationalized that if I bought myself a stand mixer- I’d be single forever.

Isn't she beautiful?
She's a KitchenAid 5-Quart Tilt-Head Artisan Series Stand Mixer in Pistachio.
(model KSM150PSER)

After an extremely short-lived but super-bummer of a “relationship”. I finally said, “screw it” and decided it was time for me to build a bridge, and get over it. After all, what are suspicions if not self-fulfilling prophecies? I finally just went online and bought the damn thing. Let me tell you, it did not help that the flash image that popped up on the KitchenAid website was a picture of a stand mixer, champagne and a wedding cake with the caption "the gift that says 'I do' everyday."  I ordered from Williams Sonoma, crossed my fingers and waited anxiously for the delivery. I always miss deliveries, but this one was special. I had decided to come home for lunch and not five minutes after I walked in the door- the postman cometh with a big beaming box of joy. I opened the box and hugged it. I hugged my stand mixer. She was beautiful in all of her seafoam green glory. I sent a picture to my girlfriends and was met with a collective and exasperated "finally."

Clearly, I'm not the only one that associates stand mixers with bridal showers.

You see, this stand mixer is still more than a stand mixer. Instead of an omen for perpetual singledom- it’s the inspiration for some major personal growth and changes. What else have I stigmatized that was holding me back? Why was I not creating the future that I want for myself? In relationships, even if you give 100% the most you can ever control is 50% because it involves another fully functional free-willed human being.  I can create the life that I want for myself and eventually somebody will fit into it. I will remain hopeful, but I will never again let my hope become my superstition... and yes, I probably will get those plates from Anthropologie that I've been eyeing for months.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baby Got Back (Bay): Becoming a Nature Person

I spy myself and the boys.

I am so jealous of those outdoorsy types- so I’ve decided to become one of them. Now, I’m not going to get all Man vs. Wild about it and I can assure you, there is no Tough Mudder in my future. But I want to be a person that is connected with myself and nature. I want to be a person that owns functional outdoor stuff who is not limited to the little league t-shirt section of Sports Chalet. Last month I was really consistent about walking 3-4 miles every day on the trails around Back Bay in Newport Beach about a half-mile from my house. I would even like to brag that I started doing the whole “Couch to 5K” program, but I don’t think doing it twice in the past month really counts. I've been walking the bay and last week I totally did a Yoga class at 24 Hour Fitness- so this is going to happen, ya'll.

Such a great view.

It’s just been great to get outside and go on adventures with the boys. Now, there were certain issues that did arise. I had to pull a HUGE tick off of Nigel’s face and it turns out that Henry is my special Hollywood dog who along with his corn, chicken, grain and flea-bite allergy is ALSO having terrible topical allergic reactions to grass and the brush along the hiking trail. Oy vey! When did dogs develop all of these afflictions? I’ve been researching and finding various ways of keeping them pest-free and non-itchy because they LOVE nature walks.

Only a few miles from the beach.
Orange County residents and visitors alike should definitely check out the Upper Newport Bay/Back Bay area. If you’ve got kiddos or an inquisitive disposition, there’s the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center or the Back Bay Science Center. If you want adventure in general there are a bunch of great trails that are good for people, pups, bikes and horses. It’s so easy to get lost in the flash and forget how beautiful Orange County really is. We all know the beaches and coastline are gorgeous, but it’s really breathtaking to see acres of preserved marsh and wildlife in such a thoroughly developed community like Newport Beach.

Another thing, nature people are so nice. The little old ladies love Henry and Nigel. The cyclists are considerate. People wave, nod, smile, etc... It’s because getting out there and exercising feels great, being in the sunshine feels great and participating in a community feels great. People are up early and happy to be there- it's definitely motivation for being consistent. 

What’s next on the docket? Hayley and I have been talking about Paddle Boarding. I’d also like to do some camping, outdoor yoga or maybe hitting the stairs in Corona Del Mar once a week.

I’m determined to enjoy the sweet Southern California weather and natural habitat- and I plan to do this while resisting the urge to ask a stranger to take a photo of me holding up Nigel, Lion King style, while saying “everything the light touches is our kingdom!”. Stay tuned.

Insert Schnauzer and Lion King theme.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

When the Cats are Away, the Mice Will Throw Out Your Leftovers: Things I Do When I’m Home Alone

My housemate has been out of town for the better part of a week and it’s been glorious. Not because I don’t like him or anything like that. I actually like him a lot. Remember that episode of Sex and the City (of course you do) about the “Secret Single Behavior”, it’s kind of like that. There’s just some things that I just can’t get done with other people around and some things I just won’t do at all unless it’s just me in the house. So as Christian and his girlfriend, Brittany boarded that 12pm flight to Panama City- I started to consider all of the things and habits that I reserve for times when I have at least forty-eight hours to myself. Whether it’s a roommate, parents, boyfriend, husband, wife, kids or partner- it’s always nice to have alone time in your personal space.

Ta-Dah! Magical Clean House:
Well, not so magical. In this scenario there were no cartoon woodland creatures to help me out Disney-princess style. In this scenario, I did all the cleaning. Either way, it’s nice to come home to a pristine house- where everything is in it’s place and when you do a little every day- it really makes a difference.

Tools of the trade.

Rachel, In Concert:
Being alone means never having to apologize for doing full renditions of Lady Gaga songs for your dogs. When I’m home alone, the whole house is my karaoke stage.

Underwear Central:
Being the boundaries oriented person that I am, I don’t spend a lot of time roaming around the house half dressed. Many times I’ve heard the argument that underwear are “the same as a bathing suit”- it is not and even then, I wouldn’t really walk around just leisurely in a bathing suit in my living room. However, when I’m home alone, I’m a little more likely to dart to and from different corners of the house in my underwear. Which I consider to be huge progress.

The fridge.

Leftovers: You’re Outta Here!:
My refrigerator and I have an interesting relationship. I’m kind of obsessed with it being organized and I’m also super crazy about expiration dates. Having time off of work and an empty house allows me to really go through and “Tetris” everything. I throw out the leftovers that have been forgotten, wipe everything down and check every. single. expiration date. It’s now organized and glorious. I did the same thing with my pantry.

Projects, Projects, Projects:
Christian’s yearly pilgrimage just happened to take place during a week that I had a lot of time off. I’m a crafty person. I have a cabinet full of spray paints, fabric, glue guns, etc... so it’s not super difficult to get me going on a project and most of the time I don’t have to go to the supply store to buy stuff. I utilized this time to work in my garden, hang some pictures and take on a couple of creative endeavors.

Last minute project. Using chalkboard spray paint to label some spice jars.

While I do very well in solitude, I actually prefer having a housemate and being around people. I love to entertain and have fun debates and conversation. While there are things that can drive people bananas, they are all just things that come along with sharing a living space with another person. It’s nice to have somebody around. So Suffice it to say, I will enjoy my leisure time, the house looks awesome- but, I’ll be ready to have some people around the house again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Men and Women Can't Be Friends

“I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time. Suffice it to say, the speech Harry Burns gives Sally on New Years’ Eve has kind of ruined me for other men. How is anything any man will ever say going to compare to that?

Thank you, Nora Ephron, for writing such wonderful words for such wonderful characters that mean so much to neurotic reulctantly-romantic messes like me. You will be missed.

Nora Ephron 1941-2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mani Monday: A Message To You Rudy

As a make-up artist, I'm super hard on my hands. Those fancy gel manicures? I can maybe, maybe, get four days out of them. So my expectations for the Sally Hansen Salon Effects polish strips were pretty low. After seeing quite a few friends wear them to great avail, I decided to give them a try and I love them. I was an hour early for a commercial I was working on earlier this month- so I ventured into the local pharmacy and spent a lot of money on odds and ends in an attempt to waste time  grab a couple of things I could use on set. The polish strips were on sale for buy one, get one 50% off- so I just grabbed four and threw them in my basket. I'm still getting used to applying them, but I'm determined to find a way to get two uses out of each pack. I chose to go with the "Check Please" style. The summer season always makes me want to listen to old ska (ala The Specials, Madness, etc...) and just relax, so I was feelin' the two-tone vibe with my nails and I've even included a playlist of some of my favorite tunes.

Made it through an entire shift at the boutique with only minor wear.
 Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in "Check Please" / Sally Hansen


So You're Listening To... She & Him

When I die, I want to be reincarnated as Zooey Deschanel’s bangs. There, I said it. I’m one of the many disciples that think she has the cutest style and is super funny and kind of wish she was part of my Thursday night karaoke girls' nights. M. Ward is a pretty great musician as well (if you haven’t, please check out his solo stuff). Together, they make magic. Part deconstructed acoustic retro, part country twang and slightly bluesy- they really do have a unique sound.

I was very taken with the first album. The only time I’d ever heard Zooey sing it was always loungey stuff and I was expecting a throwback record. I was not expecting a a steel guitar, wilty Grand Ol’ Opry vocals and hint of 60's girl group. I was pleasantly surprised. As I sat down to get my ideas together, I switched my Spotify station over to She & Him, thinking I’d just listen to a couple refresher songs... two hours of listening later... It became very clear that this would be my next feature. My Spotify page still hasn’t left the She & Him station.

Clockwise (L to R)
Size Queen Mascara / Too Faced
Retro “Frames and Fortune” Dress / Mod Cloth
 Green and Mint “Crossed Heart” Cardigan / Anthropologie
Kajal Eye Pencil in “Topaz” / Stila
Coral “Hey There” T-Strap Heels / Seychelles
22- Karat Gold Bird Earrings / Alex Monroe
 If you are a first time listener, I’ve compiled a playlist of some of my favorites.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tender Greens and Sweet Music Prints For Your Casa

Earlier this month I was hired to do make-up and hair for an AOL series called Signature Sounds with my girl, Allison Hagendorf. It was a blast and it’s always nice to work with clients whom I’ve known for years. Jobs like that feel more like a reunion of old friends than work. I really dig my career and am super stoked and fortunate to do something that I love and make a living, truth be told, the only thing that stresses me out is the traffic going back and forth between Los Angeles and Orange County. Seriously, the traffic. Ugh. The traffic, seriously, it’s terrible. However, I love living in Orange County and never ever want to leave, so the driving is something that comes with the deal. I’ll share more about the show once the episode is released.

The first day of shooting, we had lunch at a place I’ve often passed by and have been meaning to try for some time now- Tender Greens. The food was pretty delish, being a vegetarian (pescatarian, technically, even though I rarely eat seafood) on set can usually mean lots of bread, cheese and poorly thought out lunch selections either on my part or on the part of production. It was such a treat to have a well made roasted vegetable sandwich with a side salad. What really struck me about Tender Greens (beside the awesome food and modern cafeteria vibe) was the art on the walls. Historically, for me, restaurants have never really been the place I go to to find inspiring decor ideas. I’m used to being treated to all kinds of terrible wall situations. I blame it a couple truths: I grew up in Lake Elsinore and the most hoppin’ restaurant in town was The Sizzler and my family was there almost every Friday night. Like it or not, it has become my measure for rating restaurant decor. The Sizzler was a mess of early 90’s mod-southwest style where peach, deep teal and airbrush photos of howling coyotes wearing bandanas went to die. Traumatizing. Although, at the time, they were completely chic and with it.

Walking in I was greeted by a retro looking print for a Devo show, and as I looked at the rest of the prints- I completely fell in love. The entire place is decked out in prints by Los Angeles based artist, Kii Arens and they are just wonderful. Arens’ prints are a blend of mid 60’s- early 80’s advertising style, graphic colors, kitsch and all kinds of tongue-in-cheekiness that is right up my alley. They are music prints that I would love to have in my home- and I've fought many battles with various dudes about band posters in my life. I am a firm believer that grown-ups frame and mat posters. His prints are available for purchase on his website and if you find yourself cruising around Hollywood looking for a bite to eat, give Tender Greens a shot. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Laundry and Codependency: What Goes in the Wash, Must Come Out the Dry

Today's post is brought to you by the letter “L” for laundromat- as in, I’ve got a sweet little desk set up with my Coffee Bean beverage, laptop and notepad in the laundromat while I’m writing this very sentence. Truth be told, I don’t mind doing my laundry in the laundromat; my complex is pretty small and we only have two washers, two dryers and they only take quarters. So laundry that takes me an hour and a half total to compete at the ‘mat, takes me many loads and many hours to complete at my place. It’s also a good way for me to steal WiFi from the Italian restaurant next door and really buckle down and get my write on.

It’s pretty early in the day so it’s pretty empty- which is just the way I like it. I love kids, I want to have kids of my own someday... but... I don’t love kids running in circles, screaming and throwing tantrums in public places.  I am, however, a big fan of precocious little tykes that like to showboat sweet dance moves or sing songs. I’d feel like a hypocrite if I didn’t. I used to dress up in my dance recital costumes and put on performances at my great grandpa Springer’s old folks’ home. Because that’s what the poor dying old people really want, a peppy six year-old dressed like a mermaid singing Wind Beneath My Wings... while tap dancing and pretending to actually know what’s going on in the movie Dirty Dancing. I don’t mind those kids. There’s also the usual cast of characters that you see at any kind of place that is providing a necessary service- the bachelors, the incredibly uncomfortable lot that are just trying to clean their drapes, the college kids, the young marrieds, etc... Did I mention the laundromat I go to also has an ice cream vending machine? Because it does. 

One of my greates tap-dancing mermaid performances to date.
Being here, somewhat trapped, waiting to put my clothes in the dryer brings up another theme that has been on my mind a lot lately, a bit of an airing of dirty laundry (pun intended). This nagging idea that we just can’t run from ourselves and our behaviors: what goes in the wash, must come out the dry. I keep finding myself repeating the same behaviors and jumping into the same situations over and over again- hoping that a change in scenery or company will somehow fix that. Essentially living my own codependent Groundhog's Day. After many long talks with a friend, she recommended I read a book that had really helped her called Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Controlling Yourself  by Melody Beattie. I’m only a couple chapters in, but so far it’s acknowledging a lot of things about myself that I’ve suspected and I think this book will be very important to me. I suspect it will impact me in the same way Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking did back in 2010.

Being Codependent doesn’t mean that you just want to be around somebody all the time or that you cling to people- as I frequently and incorrectly have thought. It’s a problem of putting my needs second to the needs of others. Getting overly involved and drawn into the affairs of other people and it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for a while. When I’d have a friend, family member or boyfriend go through something, I would take on the burden as well and have a very hard time separating myself. I was the first person in my group of friends to go through a divorce- and subsequently with every friend that has had a terrible break-up, I’ve gone through it with them and felt the pain and stress of my own divorce over and over again. After my Dad passed away, I took it on myself to be completely consumed with how my mother was coping and her choices. Who was she dating? Would she finally decide to become an empowered feminist? Why does she need to get her nails done so much? Completely consumed.  I had a housemate that had major hoarding tendencies, and instead of just leaving the toxic situation and moving on- I put myself through six months of torture living in a house that smelled like cat whiz with piles of junk everywhere trying to “fix” him.

My Kindle make it damn near impossible to ignore reading recommendations.

Essentially, I’ve spent a lot of time concerned about other people and very little time being concerned about myself. It’s a control issue to be honest. People in my live become these special snowflakes and their issues just consume me. I’m working on letting go of that. When I’m in relationships, I frequently lose myself. Not that I become a different person and start wearing hot pink mini skirts, but, I frequently find myself adjusting to their schedule, their needs and I end up kind of being this on-call girlfriend who is making sacrifices. I end up waiting for a dude to tell me when to come around, waiting for communication, trying to be the “cool girlfriend” to the point that I “cool girlfriend” myself into misery and end up in these relationships that are completely unbalanced. Being a very busy and motivated person, I tend to date people that are also very busy- but I seem to have the habit of dropping everything and falling off the face of the earth when I’m having “couple time”. This is a habit that has got to change. I can’t continue to be consumed with other people’s problems, choices and behaviors. I can only control and be concerned with myself, my behavior and my reactions. It’s about setting boundaries and listening to the instincts that point me in a good direction.
What goes in the wash...
So I’m working on streamlining and cleaning up my life (once again, pun intended). As I sit here at Sudz (yeah, that’s with a “z”) Laundry Center- I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m folding my towels and having a brighter outlook on the future. This is why I like the laundromat- gives me time to think and process with minimal distractions... maybe I should come here more often.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Four-Eyed Brain Trust

Derek Cardigan #7014 in Black/Rootbeer / Coastal Contacts
 I’ve never been a contacts person. My parents were proud eyeglass aficionados and at fifteen, I too joined the ranks of the bespectacled. In a magical hallway that exists in my imagination, there are pictures of all of the great four-eyed people of the past and now I was going to nuzzle in somewhere in between Buddy Holly and Dame Edna. I was ecstatic. The optometrist in Lake Elsinore didn’t exactly have the most stylish of frames- it was 1998 and chunky and large glasses were few and far between- I was either going to look like the bad guy from Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Sophia from the Golden Girls. For a little nerdette like myself who grew up loving every pair of glasses I’d seen on Nick-at-Nite, it was frustrating. All I wanted was to look like I was being on the stand during a McCarthyism trial- was that so hard to provide? Come on 1998, hook a sister up.

My second pair of glasses, senior year of high school 2001.
I had these Prada frames for years. This is my birthday November 2009
Prada PR 07IV in Havana / Prada

My first pair were the low maintenance wire frame that kind of had a very faint cat-eye vibe. They were a pink metal color and I was never crazy about them. Two years later during my senior year of high school I discovered the joys of acetate frames that would make Rivers Cuomo proud- it was also the year that Weezer’s self-titled “Green Album” was released, coincidence? Nature vs. nurture? Either way, it was all downhill form there. While more teenagers dreaded having to wear vision corrective glasses, for me, it felt like Christmas.
"College" in Brown / GlassesUSA
  I’ve always delighted in my “otherness”, so, for me, glasses were just one more addition to the list of quirks that completed me; therefore, when I am asked by the optometrist if I want to be measured for contacts, the answer was always a resounding “no”. As a mater-of-fact the first time I ever wore contacts was last Halloween when I donned a zombie Amy Winehouse costume. While I admit my first contact experience probably should not have been a pair of zombie white contacts I purchased from the hole-in-the-wall store I buy my weaves from, I was still not sold on contacts for anything other than costumes. I felt like such a dumb-dumb trying to put in contacts and I actually had to have my housemate’s girlfriend put them in for me while I stood there painted green and faux decaying in a huge Amy Winehouse weave prying my eye open while Brittany gently placed the contacts in. It was terrifying for me, but I’m sure if it would have been hilarious to any onlookers.

First experience wearing contact lenses as Zombie Winehouse.

 Back to glasses, It’s interesting to kind of adopt and love a necessary accessory that so many teenagers associate the same attractiveness level as braces with headgear. It’s especially interesting to start wearing spectacles around the time that most young women are starting to goof around with make-up. I remember my mother telling me that since girls like us have glasses, we really needed to “bring it” in the eyeshadow department- and my beautiful mother still wears her dark eyeshadow up to her brow bone to remind anybody she should happen upon that she has eyes behind the lenses. I think I was about eighteen when I came to the miraculous conclusion that glasses are clear and you can actually just do your make-up as you normally would and people will see your eyes just fine. That’s my “glasses” beauty tip- just do your make-up as you normally would and if you have long lashes, let your mascara dry first.

Easily the most expensive pair of glasses I've ever owned, a Christmas present from my mom the month after my Dad passed away.
“Clarice” in Green Tortoise / LaFont Re:Edition
As a woman of almost twenty-nine, my glasses have become such a part of my identity. I really couldn’t imagine myself without my specs. I’ve met a ton of glasses nerds in the past few years as well- we all stop each other and dish about our glasses. One of the coolest things that I’ve experienced was when Lisa Loeb walked up to me, complimented my glasses and geeked out with me about frames for like five minutes. The idea that “guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” is complete and total bullshit, and I can tell you that from first hand experience and it’s not just dudes with a weird librarian fetish. The majority of my friends also wear glasses, we call ourselves the “four-eyed brian trust”. I recently discovered that I can actually find frames that I love for very affordable prices online- and it’s been a major exercise in self-control to not just buy a new pair every week. So to my four-eyed people worldwide- high five yourselves, because you are super fly. Keep wearing your glasses with style. The four-eyed brain trust is always accepting new members.

 Derek Cardigan #7010 Frames in Tortoise / Coastal Contacts