Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday crumbs: a collection of morsels from around the web

Happy Fourth of July to all American readers celebrating, and a belated Happy Canada Day to Canadian readers!

I mentioned this in my last post, but our apartment doesn't have window screens and we've been an AYCE buffet for mosquitos and flies the past few nights. We set up dish soap traps and bought a little plug-in repellent thingy for our bedroom (which I think might be a Turkish thing - has anyone ever seen those? They're like Glade plug-ins, but they're made by Raid - Raid plug-ins?), but I did enjoy reading this article about why mosquitos bite some people and not others.

If you can't get out to see some fireworks, why not look at some extremely colourful animals?

In honour of Canada Day: CRTC-approved pornography (a re-post from March; may or may not be parody).

This is an older article, but are you interested in reading about 500 (fairly) newly-discovered fairy tales?

How about these 15 films inspired by artwork? (Here is where I have to admit that I have only seen 4 out of the 15 mentioned here. I am a philistine who hates horror movies and gets bored easily.)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Lipstick diary: Week 7

I've been very late posting this because, even though I hadn't intended it to, this week turned out to be a bit of a dud in terms of originality: I've reviewed one of the lipsticks here and wear two regularly. Then the final straw came in the form of the last lip product, which was so terrible that I don't even have a face shot of it. Also, because these were taken such a long time ago, I have no idea what other makeup, if any, I'm wearing in most of these shots (although I can make an educated guess in most cases). 

We don't have screens in our apartment and I'm covered in mosquito/unidentifiable small winged bug bites right now, so I'm looking for a productive outlet for my rage. 


Left to right we have (no days this time because I wore some of them a few times):
Revlon lip butter in Candy Apple: sheer red.
Maybelline Vivids in Fuchsia Flash: pigmented bright blue-leaning pink.
Buxom Full-Bodied Lipstick in Two-Timer: mauve-ish neutral (reviewed here).
Dior Addict Extreme in Lucky: sheer pink.
Satan's lipstick AKA Julie Hewitt lipstick in Femme Noir: highly pigmented bright blue-red. 


Revlon lip butter in Candy Apple, and probably other makeup based on my undereyes/brows, but I honestly couldn't tell you what it is. 
I always forget how nice this colour looks. I really should keep it around and wear it more often. It shows up well and is flattering against my skin tone. Like all the lip butters, I detect neither taste nor scent. I know that some people have had a lot of issues with the packaging (and BOTH of my tubes of Sweet Tart have fallen apart), but it doesn't honestly bother me all that much. I find the lip butters very comfortable to wear and much easier to slap on and go than, say, a more pigmented lipstick. I always buy them - or I guess I should say bought - on sale, and I don't think I've paid more than $8 for any one. 


Maybelline Vivid in Fuchsia Flash. I took this picture after we had been trekking around Ankara castle for a lot of the day, so I'm a bit sweaty. I am not wearing any other makeup here. 
I don't like this on me as much as I like Vivid Rose. I'm not afraid of bright lip colours, but I just don't think that these pinks look all that incredible against my skin tone. PLUS they make my teeth look yellow. It smells like vanilla, although the scent fades after application, and it lasts about four hours, with the (somewhat patchy) stain lasting much longer. 


Buxom lipstickin Two-Timer, plus (top photo) no other makeup and (bottom photo) NARS concealer, The Body Shop brow pencil, some powder eyeshadow plus l'Oreal Infallible eye shadow in Gilded Envy (a gift from Amy!), mascara, and something that I think is probably PosieTint with Tarte blush in Achiote over top but please don't quote me on that because I have a terrible memory. 
I just can't with this lipstick. It's going in the "no" pile - I even brought it to Istanbul with me this week to force myself to wear it, and kept taking it off and applying something else (you guys I went away for a week and only brought four lipsticks I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF). It doesn't look that bad in photos but I hate the way it looks on me in real life. 


I find this photo hilarious, because even though I think I looked quite cute that day, the picture (and this is the best one I got) looks like the yearbook photo for that kooky librarian who also runs the pottery club and spends a lot of time reading students' auras. I'll gladly read your tarot cards, but otherwise I find the photo highly misleading re: my thoughts on Ayurvedic healing etc. 
Regardless, I wear this lipstick all the time: it's a nice colour, wears well, is comfortable to wear, lasts about three hours, and I love the packaging. I bought it at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street and I'm pretty sure it's the first HR purchase I ever made. So lovely.

The final lipstick, for which I don't have a face photo, is kind of a disaster on me. I bought it heavily discounted at Anthropologie about two years ago (I paid $5 instead of $30, I think) and then never wore it because it looked so fancy and I was saving it. I have no idea why. Here are the things that I hate about this lipstick:

- the packaging is trying so hard to be classy but is a) made of plastic and b) kind of looks like a sex toy. I realize that I just relinquished any claim I have to "classy" with that comparison, but I stand by my assessment.
- the colour should work on paper but is decidedly clown-like on my face. It's a combination of too dark and too blue, I think; it looks like I've put that red grease paint the drugstore sells at Halloween on my lips.
- It is so emollient and saturated as to be almost unwearable. I tried lipliner, applying, blotting, applying again, etc., and I could not make this stay put for longer than five minutes. It slips and slides around all over the place.
- I moved the damn thing across an ocean (well, that last one's mostly on me).

Aside from the first point, it may work well on other people; I don't know. I have swatched it once on my arm and applied it twice on my lips, so in theory it is sanitizable in case anyone I know would like to try it. At the very least it was not an expensive mistake.

I am getting rid of a whopping 3/5 for this week. I have one final post coming up with an assessment of what I have plus an overview of what I'm chucking, but I'm happy with this little experiment! It was certainly illustrative in terms of what I have and what I still...if not need, then want in order to fill out my collection.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday crumbs: A collection of morsels from around the web

I have been slacking off in the posting department because I have been doing a ton of freelance work (which is entirely something to be happy about, so no complaints here). I have a friend coming to visit this coming week, so the final Lipstick Diary will go up after that.

For this week's Friday crumbs, let's start with a very talented dude and his very talented friends, who have a doo-wop group that specializes in singing for baby boomers with dementia. In the interest of full disclosure, I went to high school with Mr. Grody himself. In the further interest of full disclosure, my grandmother spent the last decade-plus of her life dealing with dementia, so I have a soft spot for any initiatives focusing on that particular issue. With all that  being said, this group is called The Grandkids and they are delightful.

If you need a bit of a mood-booster, may I interest you in a video of animals dancing to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It"? I will never not be delighted by videos of things wiggling their butts.

I'm in a World Cup pool with a bunch of friends, and I chose TERRIBLY. I think I might be last out of 20+ right now. I'm not a huge football fan but I did sincerely enjoy this piece on trading football stickers. My brother used to collect the Premier League ones when we lived in Ireland. Then, while you're already on the Toast website, why not read their article on Edna St. Vincent Millay?

The BBC has an article on the politics of map-making, which, unsurprisingly, takes an incredible amount of delicate maneuvering and weighty decisions.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, 13 June 2014

A special Father's Day Friday crumbs

This is a particularly wordy and sappy Friday crumbs, so I'll start off with something light:

Here are 33 people you may not know had changed their names. I knew a few of these, but some were a surprise. Even though I know how it's pronounced (Coh-burn), I'm not surprised about Olivia Wilde.

Speaking of names, here's a Mental Floss article on why baby names have become increasingly "female sounding." I think this is fascinating, because when I first moved to Turkey I often had to ask my husband the gender of people whom I hadn't met in person. I find that Turkish names don't always conform to these kinds of "rules" - and because I don't know them the way I know names that are common in the English-speaking world, I don't always guess correctly. This particularly applies to the Turkic names rather that the ones that come from Arabic or Persian, because I have more familiarity with those. Also, Turkish has a fair number of unisex names, which can get confusing. As I learn more about the language it gets easier, but it was still an interesting exercise in confronting my assumptions.

Some of these mug and cup designs are beautiful. I particularly like the "floating" one.

This is something that I've been thinking about a lot over the past few years: the transition from one generation to the next. My last grandparent died in 2012 and my cousin's kid - the first baby of a new generation - was born about a year later. I'm grateful to my paternal grandmother, who was a meticulous photo album-assembler and amateur genealogist. I've been doing a lot of genealogical research lately, and for my mum's side it's next to impossible because that generation is gone.

Do you want to read about the plumbers of medieval Exeter? Sure you do!

Finally, it's Father's Day this Sunday! I don't have anything to link to but I want to take a moment to talk about my Dad. I mention my Mum a fair bit on this blog because (in addition to being my best friend in the whole wide world) she's also in to fashion and beauty stuff, so she shows up from time to time when I talk about products and experiences, but I don't think I've ever mentioned my father. My dad is warm, funny, loving, intelligent, and a completely devoted family man. My mum, brothers, and I have always come first in his life, and it shows in how all of us interact with him and the world around us. He taught me to treat everyone with respect, politeness, and sincerity, and my standards for what a happy marriage looks like are incredibly high due in no small part to the loving and egalitarian relationship my parents have. When I was growing up he was completely and totally involved in maintaining the household and raising the three of us. He makes my mum coffee every morning (despite not drinking it himself), warms up her side of the bed before she gets in it every night, and never lets a day go by without telling her (and everyone else who happens to be in the vicinity) how beautiful she is.

My dad has a wonderful sense of humour - although my mum questions whether Monty Python really counts as "humour" - and I am always on the lookout for funny things to show him to get him to crack up. When I was living with my parents during the fall and winter of last year, we rode the bus in to work together every morning. I'm not exactly a ball of sunshine before 10 am, but without fail, when we passed the modified construction sign that said "Danger Due To .... Poo" I would turn to him and we would burst out laughing. After I moved to Turkey he sent me an email one morning with a photo of the sign.

My dad has an innate curiosity and wonder at the world around him. When I'm showing someone else a new place or thing I often find myself saying "Isn't that neat?" in a very Dad tone. Planes, trains, space, natural science, history, art - he loves it all. He also loves to drive, and during the four years we spent in Brussels we drove all over the continent, visiting murky churches, war cemeteries, and a whole lot of other things along the way. Dad has a workshop in the basement from which he'll generate contraptions to solve problems you didn't know you had; the floating ramp to help animals out of the pool when they fall in was a particularly memorable one.

Most importantly, my dad has supported my goals and decisions 100% - and often knows me better than I know myself. When I am anxious, he can always calm me down. I miss my parents a lot, but one of the things I am supremely grateful for is the fact that for two years, even after I had moved out and started a new life with the dude who is now my husband, we saw my parents at least once a week. My dad has been there for every moment, big or small, good or bad, since the day I was born (a week shy of his 30th birthday), and I feel like the luckiest person alive to have him as a father.

So to Dad/Daddy/Pater Familias/Popsicle and to all the fathers or father figures in your lives, Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pearl and Daisy lip balm

On Elgin Street in Ottawa's Golden Triangle neighbourhood there is a lovely little boutique called Boogie and Birdie. It grew out of its next-door neighbour, a store called Mags and Fags, which (unsurprisingly) sells print media and tobacco products, but which in recent years has amassed a considerable stock of gift-y items. Last fall, the space next to it became vacant and Boogie and Birdie moved in!

A friend and I wandered in very early on - before their big "opening weekend" - and I was hooked. It's exactly the kind of store I like: they sell a variety of home decor, accessories, personal care, and food products. It's full of things to touch and sniff and poke, and, as a bonus, a lot of their merchandise comes from small producers, many of them Canadian. Among other lines, they sell products from Purple Urchin Soap, an Ottawa-based company whose face mask Latoya reviewed here.

I was in the process of moving to Turkey when I discovered the store, so aside from some stellar Christmas gifts I didn't have much opportunity to purchase things - but I was in the market for a new lip balm. I'm cranky about my lip care products: I use lanolin at night, so for daytime I like something that's a little nicer than ChapStick. Peppermint oil is irritating to my lips, and while I'm fine with some petroleum-based products (Smith's Rosebud Salve in a tube is permanently in my purse), I also like plant oil-based products because I find them better for moisturizing, rather than sealing in existing moisture. I have a moral opposition to paying more than about 7 dollars for an untinted care product that I'm likely to lose at some point. Finally, I'm a bit of a germaphobe and prefer products packaged in a tube, rather than a pot.


At the time, I was specifically looking for something without coconut oil, so this lip balm by East Coast soap makers Pearl and Daisy fit the bill. They have a variety of scents, but I found that some of their other ones were a bit cloying. I'm not usually into lip products that smell heavily like baked goods, and I'm trying to avoid peppermint oil, so I opted for the "Strawberry Jam" flavour. It smells like cooked strawberries and sugar (duh), but the scent disappears after a short time. It has no taste that I can tell.

Ingredients are apricot kernel oil, cocoa seed butter, beeswax, castor oil, rosehip oil, and aroma. The 4.25g (15oz) tube cost me about CAD$5-6 - I can't remember exactly.

The product is housed in an oval tube, which I quite like as I hate it when things roll all over the place. There is a ton of product; the little bit sticking up above the edge is what remains after 5-6 months of frequent use, without ever pushing the tube up.

It goes on a bit gritty but immediately softens on the lips, is wonderfully emollient, and provides an excellent base for colour lip products because it leaves a little bit of balmy residue without slipping outside of lip lines. I don't find it waxy, and it's generally very comfortable to wear either alone or as a base for other products.

I have used EOS, Burt's Bees, Caudalie (which I also love but CAD$13 for a lip balm - ouch!), and a few other brands and this is one of the best lip balms I've used, especially for the price. I'd like to check out some of their other flavours of lip balm (they have one called Orange Beep, which sounds adorable).

Pearl and Daisy also do a huge range of soaps, body balms, and other body care products, and some of their other lines sound delicious. They're available online at Terra20 and their website lists the brick-and-mortar stores that carry their products across Canada and the US.

Have you ever seen or tried Pearl and Daisy? What's your favourite lip care product?

Monday, 9 June 2014

Lipstick diary: Week 6

Lots of pink this week, proving once again why I do not need any more pink lip products. 


Because the Bite product is double-ended, there are only six tubes of product this week. 

Thursday - Revlon Lacquer Balm in Whimsical: bright, slightly blue-leaning pink with glossy finish.
Friday - Bite Beauty lipstick in Vidal: magenta-leaning pink creme.
Saturday - Revlon Matte Balm in Elusive: matte yellow-leaning pink (reviewed here).
Sunday - Dior Addict in Diablotine: sheer dusty reddish orange.
Monday - Fresh Sugar Rosé sheer tinted balm.
Tuesday - Bite Beauty lipstick in Pomegranate: creamy blue-based red.
Wednesday - Revlon lip butter in Sorbet: pink creme. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Almond-chocolate-cherry cake

I've never been one for layer cakes. I don't like icing, and my ideal cake is dense, not too sweet, and preferably swirled with filling or studded with fruit or chocolate. The kind of cake that you could eat for breakfast, for a mid-afternoon snack with tea or coffee, or for dessert. 


This recipe is based on a white chocolate-cranberry cake that we (either my mum or I) make every year at Christmas. It's one of my favourites because it fulfills all of the above criteria; in fact, eating a slice of this cake for breakfast on Boxing Day has become a bit of a tradition for me. As a bonus, it's a very easy, one-bowl cake. 

I had a bag full of fresh cherries in the refrigerator, and although I like eating them out of hand, something told me that we wouldn't finish the whole bag. Once I had decided to swap out the cranberries for cherries, a quick switch of dark chocolate instead of white and the addition of almond extract seemed like no-brainers. I omitted the glaze that usually goes on top, but you could definitely add one - it goes particularly well with the white chocolate cranberry version, although I think this version is rich enough as it is. 

Pitting cherries can be a bit of a pain if you don't have a cherry pitter. I used a narrow-necked bottle (mine originally held olive oil, but a beer or soda water bottle would work well), balanced a cherry on the neck of a bottle, and then poked the stem end with a chopstick. The pit was pushed out of the bottom of the cherry and landed in the bottle. I found this tip on the Chowhound cooking forums and it works like a charm. 


Ingredients
1c (250 mL) butter, softened
1 1/4 c (approx. 312 mL) sugar
1/4 c (62 mL) nar ekşisi sos (pomegranate molasses) - or you could just do what the original recipe calls for, if you live in a country that has brown sugar readily available, and do 1 c brown and 1/2 c white sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp almond extract
2 c (500 mL) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 c (500 mL) cherries, washed, pitted, and halved
6 oz (170g) dark chocolate

Directions

Preheat oven to 350/180. Butter and flour a bundt or tube pan. 

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and nar ekşisi sos until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Add flour and baking powder to bowl and mix well. 

Stir in chopped chocolate and cherries. Spoon batter (it will be runnier than cookie dough but not as runny as pancake batter) into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes (start checking after 30, depending on your oven temp). The cake is done with the top is cracked and browned, it has started to pull away from the pan, and a cake tester or thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. 


Our hand blender is still broken (I really need to go return it), so I was doing all the mixing by hand. This gave me a slightly larger crumb than I would have liked - the cake I remember making is a little softer and more delicate. Regardless of this small textural issue, it was absolutely delicious. I have eaten it for dessert, as a mid-afternoon snack, and (yes!) for breakfast, as shown in the photo above.