A new wrinkle in the beauty routine

Looks like philosophy® has figured out how to save time in a bottle. And the first thing they’d like to do … is market it to me! Yay!

time in a bottle

I’m a sucker for anything that says “age-defying” or “serum” even though I know deep down that it’s all a bunch of hooey. If it worked, Joan Rivers’ face wouldn’t look like a bed sheet tucked in by a drill sergeant. But I’m too much of a control freak to just let nature take its course without doing something.

I tried a sample of philosophy®’s facial cleanser not long ago and loved it, so despite being an ardent fan of Mary Kay cosmetics, I had to give this product a try.

It’s so cool because it’s a little like performing that catalyst experiment in sophomore chemistry (see? it’s making me feel younger already!). To use this product, you have to mix the little orange bottle of “high-potency vitamin C8 activator” (which “works in synergy to help protect from skin-aging environmental aggressors” — take that, aggressors!) with the big bottle of serum. Philosophy even provides a little funnel to make mixing easy.

For all I know, the orange stuff is orange juice concentrate, but I felt like a less nervous version of Beaker from the Muppets (mee-mee-mee mee!).

It turned me into a magician, too — this stuff supposedly works on aging factors not yet visible and the visible ones! I’m worried enough about the wrinkles I can see without worrying about invisible aging! Eek!

I appreciate philosoph®y’s marketing approach, too. It speaks to me. Naturally, a product name lifted from a Jim Croce song appeals to women of a certain age, and the quote on the box is a keeper: “time can be on your side. when you focus on what really matters, time becomes your lifelong friend.”

“Wrinkles happen to human beings.”

~ Jennifer Aniston

Tarnish on the silver isn’t forever: Here’s how to remove it in 5 minutes

“No, I didn’t say that I’m flawless, but I damn sure don’t tarnish.”

~ Lil Wayne

Well, I don’t iron (that’s what wrinkle-free fabrics are for). I don’t scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and knees (thank goodness for my Swiffer). And I normally don’t bother to remove tarnish (because I don’t own a silver set). But I found a great trick that felt more like a science experiment than housework, and it might help you, too.

ring before

I have this ring, see. It’s quite lovely, inscribed on the outside with “Preserve, Enrich, Inspire,” and it apparently it made of silver or is silver-plated. I dug it out intending to wear it, but it was so badly tarnished, it was embarrassing.

Thanks to Google, I found this recipe:

Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a pan, add 2-3 inches of water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Add silver pieces, boil 2-3 minutes, making sure the water covers the silver pieces. Remove silver, rinse, dry, and buff with a soft cloth.

I boiled the ring for 5 minutes, but it works!

ring after

Traditional scrapbookers might recognize the words on this ring as part of Creative Memories’ mission “to preserve the past, enrich the present and inspire hope for the future.” It is, indeed, a ring I received while working for Creative Memories when it proclaimed this mission. Inside, the ring is inscribed with “CM celebrating 20 years.”

The tarnish, I think, was symbolic. But with the right ingredients and a little elbow grease, the shine returned.

Figgy piggy salad

At some point here, the soup season will be behind us, and salads will beckon (I promise, mean ol’ winter will have to make way for spring).

I love mixing up salads from stuff I happen to have on hand, and this recipe turned into a keeper. A leftover pork chop in the fridge was the only available protein, but dried figs (yes, I’m the sort of person to have dried figs on hand) and blue cheese elevated it to sublime.

Leftover pork loin would work, too. I made this salad with romaine lettuce, but use mixed greens, arugula or spinach if you’d prefer.

fig pork salad

Figgy Piggy Salad

Salad fixings

  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 6 dried figs, sliced into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons roasted almonds, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbled
  • leftover grilled pork chop, sliced and reheated in the microwave

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Assemble romaine, tomatoes, onion, figs and cheese on plate. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a cup. Top salad fixings with warm pork, pour dressing over all and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Enjoy!

Serves 1. Multiply ingredients for additional entrée salads.

Bling and baubles for my feet

As I’ve aged, I depend on my shoes to make a fashion statement.

When I was young (and thinner), a cute pair of jeans said a lot about my style; I hoarded brands like Gloria Vanderbilt and red-tag Levis that were long enough. Unfortunately, cute jeans aren’t as adorable when you have a muffin top.

But shoes? Gaining a few pounds doesn’t show on my feet. Now those stilettos, they’re fashionable but unwearable at any age, in my opinion. Standing nearly 6-feet tall in my stocking feet, I’ve never been real fond of 4- and 5-inch heels.

Which makes these babies with 1/4-inch heels absolutely perfect for me. Besides fashion, these state “summer” even when the snow is still melting.

sandals

Aada flat sandals from Zigi Soho: Thank you, DSW, for the timely coupon!

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

~ Marilyn Monroe

 

Love, sweet love

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs.

~ Shakespeare

I’m addicted to newspaper advice columns. I often skip over the front page to get to them. When I was a newspaper copy editor decades ago, I actually relished designing the boring ol’ advice page because it meant I got to read the columns before the rest of the world.

Most of the time, advice columnists are simply entertaining, but last week, Amy Dickinson of “Ask Amy” reminded me how fortunate I am. In words to a lovelorn woman, she wrote, “A romantic partner who is wonderful, who loves you and wants to share everything with you is definitely something to look for. There is no guarantee you will find him, however.”

I am so grateful I no longer have to look for a wonderful romantic partner. I found him.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

~ Hal David

‘The Goldfinch’: The book captivates like the work of art it’s about

You know how some books are wonderful the read, but you hate the ending? And some books have a magnificent plot that wraps up in a perfect bow, but reading it is hard?

The Goldfinch“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt is one of those rare books that’s as wonderful in the journey as it is in the destination. I couldn’t recommend this work of fiction more strongly. It’s achingly beautiful, even in its ugliness, and it tells the kind of meaningful story that resonates.

I picked it up because it was recommended as one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon books editors, and it lives up to the accolades. “The Goldfinch” is the subject of a master work of art that captivates young Theo after his mother dies in a shocking accident. We follow Theo through his teenage years in Arizona and New York City and then through a life-changing series of events in his 20s.

The book is 771 pages long, and Tartt’s writing uses a lot of description, but it’s beautiful, languorous language of people, locations and feelings, even when it describes such ugly things as drug-use, hangovers and opiate withdrawal. Speed-readers might not like it; I really savored the writing.

At one point, the main character is pondering John Singer Sargent’s art, and makes a point that the author herself uses:

I think of something I read about Sargent: how, in portraiture, Sargent always looked for the animal in the sitter (a tendency that, once I knew to look for it, I saw everywhere in his work: in the long foxy noses and pointed ears of Sargent’s heiresses, in his rabbit-toothed intellectuals and leonine captains of industry, his plum owl-faced children).

In a way that tells so much about the players Tartt, too, evokes animal in her character descriptions:

By contrast Hobie lived and wafted like some great sea mammal in his own mild atmosphere, the dark brown of tea stains and tobacco, where every clock in the house said something different and time didn’t actually correspond to the standard measure but instead meandered along at its own sedate tick-tock, obeying the pace of his antique-crowded backwater, far from the factory-built, epoxy-glued version of the world.

In “The Best Books of 2013″ by Amazon Books editors, Tartt said she reaches for a book of poetry when she’s feeling dull or uninspired while writing, and it shows. I dog-ear the pages of a book with beautiful turns of a phrase or powerful description, and look how many pages I dog-eared on this one:

dog-eared

Here are a couple of examples:

I felt rotten. Dead butterfly floating on the surface of the pool. Audible machine hum. Drowned crickets and beetles swirling in the plastic filter baskets.

We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”

About two-thirds of the way through, I disliked the main character so much, I wondered why I had plowed through 500 pages to spend time with him. He didn’t actually redeem himself in the end, but Tartt did with her descriptions and philosophy of objects, beauty and right and wrong.

This is a book for readers. If you’re one of those, pick it up.

A different kind of the same

America is an amazing place, and one of them is its geographical size, which we Americans often take for granted.

This is especially true for us Midwesterners who are accustomed to driving long distances past miles of farm land to get from one city to the next, most of them very much like each other. But this is weird for people from other places, as I was reminded recently when Melle Dielesen was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Dieleson is lead singer of the Dutch garage pop group Mozes and The Firstborn; the band’s self-titled debut album was released in February. NPR’s Rachel Martin asked him about culture shock.

“One of the things is that we had to do a 12-hour drive from Arizona to Texas, and the fact that you can drive for 12 hours, then you get out of the car, and people still speak the same language, people still have the same fast food chains,” Dieleson said. “Whereas in Europe, if you drive for 12 hours, people speak really weird and, you know, they eat different kinds of cheese and you know, stuff, it kind of, it really doesn’t make any sense to us.”

As I drove from northern Illinois to central Kentucky recently, I was so unimpressed to see Cracker Barrel restaurants everywhere. Ho, hum. Even Kentucky Fried Chicken is just ubiquitous KFC anymore, not a special taste of Kentucky.

 

On the other hand, I was happy to find a familiar Barnes & Noble with its Nook station and Starbucks inside. (I’m a creature of habit when it suits me.)

I am reminded to appreciate this strange sameness of America even as I am about to embark on an epic journey far from the familiarity of Olive Garden restaurant and DSW shoe stores.

While I am away, I’ve prepared a whole slew of fresh new blogs for your entertainment and edification, but I will be unplugged and logged out. I will gratefully respond to your comments when I return. Enjoy! I know I will.