30 April 2014

making faces :: you got autumn in my spring!

we're still stuck in weather that's more reminiscent of late october than late april here, with a lot of grey days, cool winds and temperatures that struggle to reach that double-digit threshold. perhaps that's why i was so drawn to one of yves st. laurent's new glossy stains, introduced with their spring collection, which has a decidedly autumnal bent. it's also possible that i just love the opportunity to buy a mice burgundy lip product at any time of year and am happy that yves gave me the excuse to insist that's it's really in keeping with spring.

in the fashion world, a number of writers have noted that colours more traditionally associated with fall collections found a place on runways for spring 2014, so it shouldn't be surprising that there is some of that reflected in cosmetics. specifically, it's reflected in the new glossy stain called "bourgogne artistique", also known as #33. it's a deep, ruby red that looks a little deeper on the lips than on the skin, as you can see. like other glossy stains, the formula has an ever-so-slight translucency, so while there's plenty of colour, it's like looking at stained glass [or a glass of burgundy wine? -ed.], in that it's not opaque.

strangely, though, as vampy as the colour might look at first blush, there is something that honestly makes me think of this as more of a "springtime vamp". it's dark, but it's also bright, both swatched and [a little less evidently] on the lips. it lacks the earthier, browner tones of the more autumnal shades. the glassy finish also reinforces this, since reflected light is something that's associated with the warmer [in theory], sunnier [again, in theory] seasons.

bourgogne artistique
the unique glossy stain formula alone makes this shade tricky to match and, when i looked in my extensive collection, i couldn't really find something that similar. the closest was chanel "crushed cherry" gloss, which looks a lot closer swatched than it does on the lips. "crushed cherry" is cooler and, on first application, looks a little darker than "bourgogne artistique". applied, though, the former is more of a true gloss and fades fairly quickly, while the latter hangs on for hours.

i also swatched rouge d'armani #408 ["rosewood red"], which is a fall shade that is a little short of opaque, but you can see that it's browner and more muted, which goes to my point about "bourgogne artistique" being spring-like in defiance of its dark appearance.

l to r :: chanel crushed cherry, bourgogne artistique, rouge d'armani 408

some people may not feel comfortable with something so deep in the spring and to them i say: buy it anyway and save it for fall. or wear it as a light stain [very easier with this formula] so that it's not so intimidating. it is absolutely worth the investment.

here's a look at "bourgogne artistique" in action. i would happily tell you what else i'm wearing, but i can't remember it for the life of me. perhaps the type of colour will inspire you? no? i'm a failure...





at the same time, i picked up my very first yves st. laurent nail polish, also part of the spring collection, a cool, bright pink called "rose scabiosa". i've included a couple of photos for you, but they're not the best. more just to give you an idea of the colour, which reminded me of notoriously "difficult" pinks like mac "st. germain" that are very cool in tone and have a lot of white in their base. "rose scabiosa" is less jarring than the brightest of those, since the white in the base is a little softer, and, well, it's a nail polish, which means that it's not sitting right there in the middle of your face distracting everyone.



i very much liked the colour, which is good because the formula was a little tricky for me to work with. you can see in the photos that there is some bubbling on the nail. this happened the first time that i applied it. the second time, i was more patient and extremely careful to let my coats dry completely before applying the next one. both times i wore it, the application on the first coat was streaky, but when i made sure that the first was absolutely dry before proceeding, i did find that the second coat levelled out nicely. working too quickly meant that i had to use a third coat, since the stickiness seemed to cause the streaks to settle into one another. needless to say, i was much happier with the second time i wore this. i just forgot to take photos...

the entire yves st. laurent spring collection is decidedly a departure from pastels, moving into what seems like a modern take on a sultan's palace, a north african spice market or the like. there are purples and golds and different shades of red and the fiery edge of coral. it's not quite chanel's tropical spring look, but there are some common elements. i'm allergic to them, but the shades of rouge volupte lipstick with the collection are lovely. the two products i picked up are outstanding. while i felt that the more hyped items- the eye shadow palette and the blush- were a little disappointing, there are some real gems that warrant a purchase.

28 April 2014

mental health mondays :: walking the line

dom sent me this article earlier today. it's from pitchfork of all places, but it does bring up some interesting questions of the effect of illicit versus prescription drugs on music and musicians. of course, being the savvy readers you are, you're already aware that these lines have become increasingly blurry in the last decades, in particular where psychiatric meds are concerned.

after all, the line between drugs that people take for enjoyment and drugs that people take to make their brains work and feel better is particularly thin. cholesterol medications aren't likely to inspire the next "purple haze", but crazy meds well might, because, of course, they play with the parts of your brain that control things like pleasure, sensory perception and learning. in fact, many psychedelics and psychiatric meds have similar effects on the brain. club kid favourite mdma produces its fabled euphoria by encouraging the production of neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine and by inhibiting their reuptake [a fancy way of saying that it makes them stick around longer in the brain]. antidepressants like zoloft, prozac, effexor and wellbutrin do exactly the same thing to keep people with depression from wanting to die, because euphoria is relative to your starting point. that's also why people with mental disorders seem to experience drugs very differently from those who don't. [also, this is why you want to be extremely careful taking any kind of drugs if you're already taking something for any kind of mental disorder. seriously, i know someone who shot his serotonin levels dangerously high by taking cold medication while on wellbutrin.]

increasingly, the biggest difference between drugs we take for fun and drugs we take for medicine is the quality of the supply. street-level crystal meth is usually made in highly unsanitary conditions, using fillers that are more likely to damage your internal organs than the drug itself. desoxyn is made in a pristine pharmaceutical laboratory under highly controlled conditions. [sorry kids, walter white isn't real.]

so if the drugs we get from doctors and the drugs we get from that slightly twitchy guy with greasy skin are really the same thing, who's to say that the next great period of psychedelic inspiration we get won't come with a prescription?

24 April 2014

making faces :: yves st. laurent, glossed over

pucker up, my pretties!
in the last few weeks, i've posted a couple of looks featuring some of the new gloss volupte lip glosses, new this spring from yves st. laurent. today i'll give you a look at the final one that i sampled, as well as a roundup of my thoughts on the formula overall.

first up, the final of the three colours i tried was "terriblement fuchsia". as you might expect, it's a bright fuchsia pink base and, being one of the sparkling shades, it has a fair amount of gold shimmer in it. this was definitely the boldest of the colours i tried and, in fact, it is surprisingly pigmented for such a light formula. the colour hung on for a long time and left a bit of a stain. unfortunately, the deeper colour meant that any unevenness in fading was more obvious and the colour did look a bit patchy as it wore on. it was easy enough to reapply, but this was the only one of the three shades that i tried where i felt i had to check it from time to time. it was also a little bit more difficult to apply evenly than the other colours, probably because any unevenness was more visible.

the colour itself is very pretty for spring and summer- a sort of rock candy type colour with bold pigmentation but also a glassy translucency. the shimmer reflects light in an understated but eye-catching way. it shouldn't be off-putting unless you really hate any kind of sparkle in your lip products, but if you do, there are a fair number of shimmer-free colours.

here's terriblement fuchsia in action:



i'm also wearing eye shadows from rouge bunny rouge [golden rhea, whispering ibis and perwinkle cardinal] and dior creme de blush in "pareo".

23 April 2014

creative escapes

last night, i pulled out my current notebook [i always use one at a time for everything] and immediately became puzzled. i had three pages of notes prepared for a project i'm working on. i remembered creating each of the three pages in some detail. but when i opened my notes, there were only two. 

my brain is such that i immediately assumed i'd imagined doing the third [actually the first] page, but it seemed like  an awfully vivid memory. realizing that this meant that i had either created the page or was having the most mundane hallucinations ever recorded, i made a point of looking through every page of the notebook. three times. I checked the coil spine [i'm not fancy when it comes to my notebooks]. i couldn't even find a shred of paper to indicate that the missing page had ever existed. 

finally, i checked the place where my notebook had been and several feet away, cowering behind some facial wipes and edging towards the space under my night table, was the missing page. i don't know how it managed to wrestle free [some telltale marks indicate that it might have had some assistance from a feline]. and i certainly don't know how it managed to remove all traces of itself from its former home. but i'm happy to have it back all the same. 

what worries me more than anything is that my writing projects are apparently trying to run away. how bad a writer am i that the things that i create want to get far away from me before i work on them more. for that matter, when did my writing become self-aware? is this like a super- small scale version of  "the terminator"? are my bouts with writers block just some kind of preemptive action? i'm pretty certain that i've never found advice on this on any writing forums. probably because most writers create things that are happy to be associated with them. me? i apparently create literary emo kids. 


19 April 2014

making faces :: drops of sunshine from nars, urban decay and chantecaille

if i hear one more person tell me that the temperatures are finally "seasonal" around these parts, i'm going to scream. it is true that we are finally reaching the mid-teens [celsius], which is average for april, but one has to take into consideration that that average includes the days at the beginning of the month which tend to be in the single digits. therefore, the fact that, in the final half of the month, we are finally stringing together a few days that are at [or just below, really] the average for the entire month means that it is still cold.

plus of course, there's that old adage about "april showers", which means that we've been faced with long sunless stretches peppered with rain, which makes things seem much more bleak than they probably are. it's not been the most memorable spring thus far, even though it's been pleasant and hopeful on many fronts. it's just hard to remember hopeful things when your mind registers an endless expanse of grey.

but in order to keep spirits up, i have been trying to manufacture my own kind of sunshine, as artificial as it may be. i thought i'd post some shots of a look i did recently that, i think, is very in keeping with the feeling of spring, of the bright, fresh colours we're supposed to be seeing and the refreshed feeling we're supposed to have. the day i wore this, i went to meet a friend for coffee and had to wear my winter coat, hat and gloves. however i did see crocuses [which got blanketed with snow later that week]. this is my impression of being an optimist. i'm really trying here.

COME SEE MY COSMETIC SUNSHINE...

15 April 2014

culinating :: tops in tofu

poor tofu. it's gotten a bad wrap because people believe it's just hippie filler pretending to be meat. in fact, soy bean curd is quite lovely and is no more bland or forgettable than the water-chilled chicken breasts served up at many restaurants. the thing about tofu is, you want to combine it with other flavours, so that it can provide a solid base, but not have to play the starring role.

personally, i'm a little picky about tofu. for whatever reason, i really dislike the texture when crumbled, but i love it when it's properly cubed and sautéed with vegetables and noodles or rice in a stir fry. i honestly can't remember ever baking it before, but this past weekend, i was invited to a potluck supper and you can't very well stir fry at one of those. when you're going to someone else's house bearing a tray of food, the most you can hope is that someone will be able to stick your offering in a warm oven for ten minutes before it's dinner time.

since vegetarian options seemed a little thin on the sign-up list, i thought of making a tofu dish. i had an idea from something i'd found on pinterest a few days before that sounded manageable and since i had heard that there would be vegetarians present, i figured that they'd likely be forced to eat what i had on offer anyway. [as it turns out, someone made really delicious felafel as well, which just goes to show that it's much easier to feed vegetarians and vegans than you might have thought.]

one of the nice things about working with tofu- also one of the reasons why i suspect a lot of people like working with chicken breasts- is that it can take on the taste of whatever you put it with. it helps if you marinate it for a little while, but you don't need anything like the time it takes to marinate meat. half an hour should be fine to allow the flavours to permeate the soy tissue. plus, because there aren't any salmonella concerns with tofu [unless you're doing things very wrong], you can toss it, marinate it and bake it in the same liquid without fear for your safety.

this dish is a sort of "kitchen sink special". the recipe i used can be found here, but there are a few little points that i think add to the end product:


  • the tofu should marinate for about half an hour. five minutes doesn't let the flavours be absorbed. 
  • i used more ketchup than the recipe calls for- roughly equivalent to the amount of soy sauce. i found that this made the dish more tangy and less salty. if you like your saltiness, feel free to disregard this advice. 
  • i used more maple syrup as well- probably double the quantity called for. i didn't find this made it overly sweet and it helped to bring out the delicate maple flavour. if you find it gets too sweet for your taste, by all means add soy sauce. 
  • i used fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder. the choice is yours. i think that using chili-garlic sauce would be a great way to add heat as well. 
  • be extremely careful with the liquid smoke. it's a miraculous product that really does add a smoky flavour to dishes, but it's really easy to overdo it, which results in your dish tasting like it fell onto live barbeque coals. i recommend adding this in small increments, blending well and tasting the sauce to see if it needs more. 
  • although it doesn't specify doing so in the recipe, pour all the sauce into the pan with the tofu. the sauce will sort of caramelize in the oven while at the same time keeping the tofu from drying out. it's miraculous. 

the best part is that even meat eaters seem to enjoy this, at least if the "after" photo taken above is any indication. that's pretty remarkable, given that this isn't a case where you're disguising the true "tofu-ness". you're just allowing it to be itself. but itself on a first date, when it really wants to make a good impression.

served at home, i think it would go really well with either basmati/ jasmine rice or steamed vegetables. there's a lot of flavours going on, so i wouldn't necessarily recommend pairing it with anything that will compete, but it is also a great, simple option if you're invited to bring food along to a party. or if you just want to bring some as a surprise.

14 April 2014

mental health mondays :: it sees you when you're sleeping

now you know my bed time.
this is the second in a continuing series of commentaries/ reviews on mental health-oriented apps. while our phones and tablets may not have evolved to the point where they can read our state of mind from our palm print and inject us with the appropriate drugs [i'm certain that's what's coming on the iphone 6], there are a lot of apps out there that are designed to help you make little adjustments on your brain. this week, we're looking at an app called "sleep time". in case you hadn't heard, sleep is one of the most important factors in mental health. sleep deprivation on its own is classified as a mental disorder and it's a symptom of many others. also, one of the biggest problems that is caused by the various sorts of crazy meds is the disruption of sleep cycles that they can cause. so getting yourself to an optimum sleeping schedule is incredibly important for your mental health.

as you might guess, this app is designed to help you with your sleep cycle, monitoring you and helping you figure out if you're getting the quality and quantity of sleep you need. i downloaded the free version to see what i thought of the application before committing to the paid one. this is pretty cheap of me, since the paid version is only $1.99 and has considerably more options- which we'll get to later.

the concept of the app is pretty neat: it uses the built-in accelerometer in your phone to register the subtle movements of your body as you sleep. [if you're not sure what an accelerometer does, here's a primer.] on the one hand, it's kind of like a super-spiffy alarm clock- it'll wake you with your choice of tones within a thirty minute window that you specify. the idea of giving you that window is that "sleep time" will measure when you are in your lightest stage of sleep and wake you then, rather than when you're in a deep sleep and will have more trouble emerging from the haze. if you set your alarm for seven, "sleep time" will awaken you sometime between six-thirty and seven, based on when it thinks you'll be most able to handle the experience.

but that's not all "sleep time" can do. it also graphs your sleep cycle, so that in the morning, you can see how much time you spent awake, in light sleep and in deep sleep. it analyses your "sleep efficiency", or whether or not you're getting the proper amount of each type of sleep. on the free version, you can store five days [or nights] worth of data and on the paid version, you get unlimited storage. of course, if you want to preserve your data, you can also just take a screen shot of the day's [or night's] graph. the data is displayed by week and by day, so you can see how you're doing on an ongoing basis and helps you determine if going to bed at a certain time allows you to get more or better sleep. you'll want to track your energy levels and mood on your own, or else the data isn't going to be as useful as it might otherwise be, especially if you suffer from a mental or mood disorder.

if you'd like, "sleep time" will also play soothing sounds to help relax you and encourage you to sleep. it'll even make sure that when the sounds stop [which you program], they gradually disappear as opposed to cut off sharply, so that there is no jarring change in the ambient noise that might cause you to awaken. i'll be honest, i haven't used that function, because there's only one soundscape available on the free version. while i'm sure that gentle waves are incredibly soothing to most people, i'm never able to overcome the nagging fear that listening to such things is pure new age silliness and that thought would keep me up at night. also, i would have to choose between sleeping with earphones, which is uncomfortable, or treating dom to my soundscape and thus having him confirm that what i was doing was new age silliness. the paid version of the app has more soundscapes available, possibly something a little less cliche.

that's the app in a nutshell, but the real question is... how well does it work? to that i say: i didn't shell out the two bucks for the paid version.

i love the concept of this app. i love being able to see my sleep categorized and graphed and organised for me to interpret. but one of the stumbling blocks is that the app doesn't actually help you interpret. it doesn't explain what sleep efficiency is or how it is calculated and without that, it becomes difficult to put the information to any practical use. i checked on line and found out that anywhere north of 85% is what you should be aiming for, but again, that's something i did on my own. i would really prefer to have the information on how to use the data included in the app itself.

there are also a few logistical quirks that make it a bit finicky to work with. the first and most obvious one is that you have to sleep with your phone [or tablet] in the bed with you. as a lifelong restless sleeper and the indentured servant of five cats, this makes me nervous. and yes, at least once, my phone ended up registering the sleep cycle of my floor. still not sure who was responsible for that.

you also have to be careful about where you place the device. the app advises that you put it near your pillow, but this doesn't quite seem to cut it. what you really want is to place it near your head. that means that you can't have your head propped up on a lot of pillows, because that puts too much distance between you and the phone/ tablet. if you share your bed with someone else, that's fine, but clearly you want to make sure that you put your phone on the outside- not between the two of you. you also have to make sure that the device is close to your head, but not in a position where it can accidentally slide under your pillow. that's trickier than you might think.

the reason that you will want to be very cautious about placement is that the accuracy of the readings varies wildly depending on it and herein lies my biggest issue with the app. whether because it is too sensitive or not sensitive enough, the data just isn't as reliable as i'd hope. placement has a lot to do with it, but there are also some pretty serious inconsistencies that i can't attribute to just bad geography. the first night that i tried the app out, it registered me as being in light to deep sleep during periods where i was not only awake, but when i lifted the phone to see the time. i'm glad that it wouldn't necessarily leap to the conclusion that i was awake if the phone moved a little- perhaps i was dreaming- but lifting the phone off the bed and returning it to its original position is clearly something that should be a red flag that i'm awake and alert.

very promising. and very wrong.
when i was careful to place the phone as close to my ear as possible, i found that the data seemed a little more reasonable, but there were still times when i felt it wasn't quite hitting the mark. at least once, it registered me as waking several times during the night when i don't actually remember waking at all, but i guess that we could assume that i was only half-awake and didn't recall things properly. another night, though, it failed to register that i was awake when i got up and went to the toilet. that's a bad sign.

ultimately, this app succeeds or fails based on the accuracy of its readings. i could say that i wish there were more explanations of how the data was calculated- breathing rates, movement, etc.- but the big question is whether or not it can record sleep cycles correctly. and in my experience, it can't. if i can't trust it to know the difference between asleep and awake, i can't trust it to know the difference between light and deep sleep, right?

i'm a little bit bummed by this result, because the app does seem to have a lot going for it. if the readings were accurate, it could be a boon to people who suffer from frequent sleep problems. i used it once to monitor a nap i took after waking up and feeling decidedly unrefreshed and, interestingly, the nap registered as being more than two thirds rem/ deep sleep. considering that i frequently awake from such power naps feeling quite energised, it would follow that i'm using that period to catch up on deep sleep that i didn't get at night. but i can't feel confident in those results, because i know that others haven't been correct.

this app is extremely well-reviewed and i downloaded it based on a recommendation from psychology today, so i have to assume that it's working for some people. i just don't find that it stands up to the scrutiny that i put it through. my thoughts? if you think it might be fun to try, download the free version, because you have nothing to lose. if you're looking for help with a more serious sleeping problem, though, you'd be better off consulting professionals.

12 April 2014

making faces :: g-force sneak peek

the eagles have landed. beautiful, majestic eagles of the makeup world, under the name of rouge g lipsticks by guerlain.

if you've read this blog before, you probably know that rouge g is one of my favourite lipstick formulas [neck-and-neck with rouge d'armani]. if you haven't read this blog before, now you know.

along with every other guerlain fan, i was excited to hear that the brand was adding a half a dozen new shades to the line at once this summer. all are available at some locations now, with others to follow shortly.

while guerlain has been adding new shades to the rouge g assortment from time to time, they haven't done a refresh like this since the formula was initially launched. i've noticed that the size of the display doesn't actually seem to be changing and that there are a few shades that have been out of stock for some time, so it's possible that a number of shades that are being discontinued, but i don't have confirmation on that.

the official descriptions of the newly launched shades are:

galiane [15] :: nude beige
gaetane [16] :: deep brown
geraldine [77] :: luminous pink
gladys [78] :: vibrant fuchsia
geneva [48] :: blood orange
rose grenat [864] :: velvety red-pink
rose glace [866] :: nude, barely there pink

the last two shades, like all 800-series rouge g shades, are limited edition.

now here they are swatched on my hand [kind of surreptitiously in store]:


on the extreme left, next to my cuff, you may see a slightly shiny patch of skin. that's rose glace. and it's built up to get that. on the first swipe, i thought i had accidentally applied a plastic "dummy" from the display, because i could see anything. it's truly a lip balm and nothing more. there is a little shimmer, but i had to squint to see it even after three passes.

next is "geraldine". isn't she pretty? this is a great medium pink that's a little brighter than a lot of guerlain's offerings, but still works for everyday wear. it's cooler and brighter than "georgia" [62], which is the closest shade i could come up with from the existing guerlain line.

"geneva" is a happy reddened orange. it's a little less opaque than most rouge g lipsticks and seemed a little tricky to get even. that said, i've had this happen with armani lipsticks before and they apply perfectly, so it's possible that won't be a problem in use. i loved the colour, although there are a lot of these shades around at the moment. "genna" [28] is much redder and deeper. "nahema" from the rouge automatique line is extremely close, but a little bit less pink and more orange. you wouldn't need both, unless you adore corals.

"gaetane" is a chestnut colour, brown yes, but not especially deep. it also seemed to have a bit of translucency, like "geneva". there wasn't any colour i could find among the rouge g's that came close to it. there are some browns among the rouge automatiques, but they all seemed softer. i didn't have access to other brands to compare, but i think this bears a resemblance to chanel "baroque", just a little lighter and without the shimmer.

"gladys" is a knockout. it's a cool, bold fuchsia with amazing pigmentation that went on extremely smoothly. what you're looking at in the photo is a single pass. it is very similar to "gigi" [68], which is just a hair deeper and plummier.

"rose grenat" is my favourite shade from the launch and probably the first i'm going to pick up, since it's limited. the description of a velvety red-pink gives a perfect sense not only of the colour, but of the texture. it is pretty close to "madame batifole", which is cooler and has more shimmer and "provocative", which is a bit redder. my tube of "provocative" went missing, which is one reason why i'm lusting after this one so much. i can't see how you'd need both. [however, since both "madame batifole" and "provocative" were limited, this would be kind of like buying an insurance policy.]

finally, we have "galiane", a very wearable nude-beige. it's too warm to work as a nude for me, but i suspect it will please a lot of people. to my eye, it's indistinguishable from "gillian' [14] and there are a lot of nude shades that are similar.

the three pink-fuchsia shades are the clear winners for me. i don't hesitate to recommend any of them. skip rose glace, for certain. the others are question marks. i would like to see how "geneva" and "gaetane" perform on the lips before committing. "galiane" is an exact dupe of an existing shade, but if you want a nude lipstick, it's an excellent choice.

see any that you like? i know i do...

09 April 2014

making faces :: a six pack for mac to bring back!

the stupendous six
wow. i so hate myself for that title, but it's late as i'm writing this and it made me giggle when i first thought of it, probably because saying it out loud makes you sound a lot like a duck.

oh no.

you're doing it aren't you? you're reading it out loud. quack quack quack... this is where my mind goes when i just let it wander. but it also goes lots of other places.

for instance, it goes to pages where i can read about the dozens of upcoming collections from mac cosmetics, looking at the descriptions of new products and wondering how many of them are really different from what i already have [i've gotten better at playing this game in the last couple of years] and how many i might actually need to bring home. and when i look through the colour stories, i notice that many products get brought back to life, not once, but sometimes on multiple occasions. we get to see familiar faces- or familiar stuff for our faces; products that were offered in previous limited collections and that were popular enough to warrant a return. the last two years, mac has even offered a fan-chosen collection made up entirely of older limited edition/ discontinued shades and it seems to have been extremely successful.

but that doesn't mean that they've covered all their bases and, as a long-time fan of the brand, there are a number of products that i think they should revisit. they may not have been among the best-selling at the time, because mac was often ahead of the curve in terms of the colours and finishes that they offer. or because sometimes products get lost in a large collection, because they have some big competition. on the other hand, there are a few things that people seem to have been screaming for [the limited edition lipstick in "queen's sin", which i never actually purchased, is a perennial favourite, rumoured to be coming with almost every collection] but which never seem to materialize.

i certainly don't know as much about what has been popular, what has been requested, or what is even feasible to make as anyone who works at mac. but that doesn't stop me from dreaming that some day, i'll be able to see some of my old favourites return. to that end, i came up with a set of lipstick shades [eye shadows are trickier, since i've used a lot of them up] that i would really like to see mount a comeback and that i think have proven difficult to duplicate since their release.


08 April 2014

mental health mondays :: more health benefits of special k

no, not the breakfast cereal. i'm talking really special k here. the dissociative anesthetic that's become a recreational hallucinogen and sometime date rape drug may have some pretty important uses, according to a new study that's been published in the u.k.

taken at doses significantly lower than surgical or recreational ones, the drug has shown startling effectiveness in relieving treatment-resistant depression. what do they mean by that term? it means a form of depression that shows little to no improvement, or only very short term improvement, when treated with therapy and/ or standard antidepressant medications. you know what other drugs work on treatment-resistant depression? none of them.

it might come as a shock to find out that the go-to treatment for depression that just won't quit is still electroshock therapy [or electroconvulsive therapy as it's now known]. as barbaric as the practice is perceived to be [patients are now sedated while it is performed, so there's no "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" sort of scene], there is a lot of evidence that it's more effective than any other treatment for severe depression. the problem is that the effect doesn't tend to last that long- about half of treated patients remit within six months- and there is a significant controversy within the scientific community as to whether or not it's safe to keep zapping someone's brain twice a year for the rest of their life. [controversy doesn't mean it's necessarily dangerous, just that there's no consensus. electroconvulsive therapy is safe enough that it is sometimes recommended for women during pregnancy, whereas antidepressant drugs are supposed to be discontinued prior to even becoming pregnant, if possible.]

the promising aspect of ketamine treatment is that it does not have the nasty short-term effects of ect [memory loss and cognitive difficulties] and that it is effective in a much shorter time than other antidepressant drugs like ssri's. although there are studies that show that continued recreational use of ketamine is linked to health problems, that data is based on usage that is more frequent and at higher doses. the effects do not appear to be as long-lasting as they are with ect, but ketamine does seem to bring relief for up two a couple of months per treatment.

and this isn't the first time that a study has shown ketamine's positive effects in fighting depression. it isn't even the first time that i've written about it on the blog. this is just one piece of evidence that points to one

so it seems that ketamine may be taking its place alongside drugs like lsd and crystal meth as a drug whose medicinal value has been grossly underestimated.

[ahem. i am aware that it is tuesday. i got wrapped up watching the provincial election results last night and didn't get around to posting this. but i do know it is tuesday, in case you were wondering.]

05 April 2014

making faces :: another voluptuous colour adventure

changing up your look: wrong
sometimes, you just want to play around with colour. you want to do something with your face that's out of the ordinary and memorable, but that falls short of a full facial tattoo, because that, my friends, is a serious commitment. that's when i start reaching for my pigments. loose shadows tend to be easier to build up to a fully saturated colour, especially through the use of a sticky base or spray. [i use mac's setting spray directly on my brushes.] this makes for a great way to add some spice to your appearance that would require lasers to remove. [at least it shouldn't. if it does, you're doing it wrong.]

the other day, i thought to try out the slightly odd colour combination of silver and chartreuse. i'm not sure why it came to me, i just thought it sounded like a fun idea. i think that part of the decision was that i had been wanting to use both mac's "true chartreuse" pigment and "platinum" pigment for a while. the former lives up to its name, being a satiny, acid yellow-green. the latter is a foil-like metallic silver with a bright undertone. i wasn't sure that they'd go together and, despite a little hesitation in the blending process [they really didn't want to merge], i find that they do. furthermore, a combination this dialled up doesn't require much in the way of accessorizing. just a thin line of urban decay "smoke" along the upper lash lines and a soft highlight colour. [i used the limited edition mac shade "next to nothing", but the permanent shade "vanilla" would work, as would nars "edie".] and mascara. never forget mascara.

with such a strong look up top, i wanted to make everything else softer. also, i find that combining cool colours with a cold metallic shade like "platinum" ages me instantly, so i wanted something to bring a little warmth. that comes in the form of nars blush in "torrid", a soft apricot shade that's not so warm that it can't work on neutral-cool complexions and that builds up nicely to the intensity you want. i also added hourglass "diffused light" for a bright, ray of morning sun effect on my cheeks. this absolutely solved the 'cold metal' problem, because it keeps things from looking heavy or overly chilly. the longer i play around with makeup and colours, the more i realise that too cold is as bad on me as too hot [which i always knew was bad].

 
 

i finished things off with another from yves st. laurent's new line of glosses, the "gloss volupte" formula. this one is a very soft pink-peach called "corail trapeze". this is one of the creamier shades, meaning that it has virtually no shimmer in it. it's a very 'sweetheart' kind of colour- soft and delicate and perfectly balanced between cool and warm. swatched thickly, it looks like an orange creamsicle kind of colour, not dissimilar to mac's "lychee luxe". however, it sheers out on the lips and looks much pinker than i first thought. i'm surprised at how much i like this colour, because it's not the sort of thing that i normally go for. used with a softer eye, i think it would be underwhelming on me [although those with more delicate colouring could wear it that way], but as it is, it's a wonderful balance for a bold eye.

the lasting power on "corail trapeze" was noticeably less than "rose orfevre". i'm not surprised, since lip colours with shimmer often outlast creamy ones. it lasted a decent amount of time, but certainly couldn't survive a meal or even a cup of coffee without losing nearly all its pigment. the formula feels very light and nicely moisturizing, though, which means i don't mind reapplying. i'd mind even less if it weren't for the rancid fig smell that ysl insists on adding to their volupte products. please yves, please stop.

although you might expect that this was another "night on the town" look, i actually didn't end up doing too much this day. sometimes, it's just fun to play around and plan for a time when such a look could be repeated. and it will be. you just never know when...

in case you're wondering, i am planning a "wrap up" post with swatches of the samples of gloss volupte that i received. in the meantime, i'm having fun sharing how i've used them, because sometimes just writing straight reviews isn't enough fun for me. and this blog is entirely about me. [also, i keep forgetting to do swatches, which is the real reason you haven't seen them yet.]

04 April 2014

as much fun as bludgeoning myself to death with a spoon

this is what we really need
[this turned into just a long rant/ ramble. i'd say i'm sorry, but the fact that i wrote this probably stopped me from killing several small children and someone's great aunt. so if you find it annoying that i'm droning on about quebec politics, think about the children. because this post is really about life and the fact that some unsuspecting people still have it because i have an outlet on the internet.] 

if i'm writing headlines like that, you just know that we're in the midst of another provincial election in quebec. i'm kind of shocked at the number of times i've had to get out to vote in the time since i moved back to montreal in the middle of 2008. this is the third time provincially, in addition to two times each federally and municipally, which adds up to a total of seven elections in less than six years. i find politics interesting and even i'm exhausted by this pace.

i'm lying. our municipal politics have been interesting and, were it not for toronto's mayor rob ford doing us a solid and distracting national [and international] attention, you'd likely have heard about the fact that our last mayor was arrested on corruption charges a few weeks after replacing the guy who resigned due to rumours of impending corruption charges. i wish i were making that up.

and the last two federal elections have been nail-biters. i wasn't thrilled with the results of either one, being one of prime minister stephen harper's biggest anti-fans. [i'd also like to point out that, in the wake of the corruption scandals that led to his original election, i was willing to give the man a chance. i have proof.] but the fact is that they were interesting to follow and for once they weren't foregone conclusions.

provincially, though...

more like space greatest hits :: the power of tard

last night was a sort of religious experience for me. i tweeted out my happy birthday wishes [along with a picture of seth, looking pretty adorable in his own right] to my favourite internet star, grumpy cat, and she actually retweeted me. not only that, she followed me on twitter. my heart still hasn't stopped fluttering. i'm all star-struck.

it's one year since i posted this originally and i'm still smitten with tard, her truculent face, her impassive, unimpressed stare, her endless grumpy aphorisms. i don't really have anything to add to what i wrote originally, although i should have cited the source for much of my information, which is this article here. very sorry for that oversight and i'm happy for the chance to correct it.

so here once again is my ode to tardar sauce, the grumpiest thing ever to make me feel full of happiness.

feel free to follow her on social media for photos of her many adventures and a chance to meet her in person at her official birthday party april 29. on twitter and instagram, she's @realgrumpycat .

happy birthday, miss. may you make the twos more terrible for all of us!

*


the internet's sourest puss turned one this week and she's not really interested in what you think about it.

i've posted pictures of grumpy cat(tm) before and alluded to my fascination with her, but let's be clear: i adore tardar sauce. there is just something about that indignant little face that warms my heart. any time that i'm feeling run down, any time i'm having a rough day, dom knows that he can just shoot me a pic of her with some appropriately grumpy caption and i'll be cheerier.

of course, the rumour is that she's not actually that grumpy and, in fact, that she's amenable to being picked up and coddled, but if that is the case, she's got an amazing poker face.

this IS my happy face
but the little lady isn't just an internet meme. she's a media personality whose starring in her own commercials. she kept long lines of patient fans waiting for the chance to see her in the fur at sxsw. she's made appearances at local arizona charities and fundraising events. and on top of that, she's kind of an awesome fluke of nature.

there aren't many things that distract me from a photo of anderson, but this is one
her mum is a particularly beautiful calico named callie who was rescued near death and pregnant. her mother managed to recover and deliver a litter that did contain one rather oddly proportioned kitten, tard's rather gormless-looking but equally loveable big brother pokey, who her rescuers/ owners believed to be the result of callie's near-death experience. but when callie got frisky again and ended up delivering a second litter of kittens [fathered by a neighbourhood tough who does occasionally stop by to see his famous daughter, apparently], out popped tardar sauce, looking oddly like a purebred cat reflected in a circus funhouse mirror.

grumpy pokey
veterinarians have guessed that callie carries some genetic predisposition to dwarfism, hidden within her own glamourpuss good looks, which has resulted in kittens from two separate litters [with two separate fathers] who exhibit the same rounded back, slightly clumsy gait, tiny nose and pronounced underbite. if they were human, tard and pokey would be perceived as disabled. instead, people love them because of their difference.

or because they do things like this
personally, i'm kind of grateful to tard for reminding me of the power of "no". because sometimes, you can't and shouldn't sugarcoat things. most of us have to go through life projecting a kind of painfully false diplomacy, worried about offending people who hold some kind of power over us, but there are times when you just have to look someone in the eye with a world-weary expression and say "no". or this:


sometimes, you just have to embrace your inner grump for all to see.

so although she might be indifferent to my admiration, i'd like to take this moment to wish the little girl the happiest birthday she can muster and many more like it.


all photos are taken [without asking, but with utmost respect] from the official grumpy cat web site. except the one of her with anderson, which is taken from his instagram feed. 

02 April 2014

making faces :: little night out

it's understood that you always want to get yourself ready for a "big night out", the sort of night where you're invited to something swanky, or just very special- like the premiere of your own movie. but those are few and far between for most of us. in fact, it's far more common to have to get ready for a "little night out"; an evening spent with friends getting dinner or drinks where you'd still like to look nice, but you don't necessarily have to pull out all the stops.

for me, that included a recent foray out to a comedy show [battlecom, which i highly recommend not just because it's hosted by a good friend, but because it is a really energetic, different take on what a comedy show can be] and a live show at katacombes with brooklyn's black marble [nicely done retro electronica] among others.

so how does a girl get ready for something that isn't super-fancy, but where it's still nice to look like you know how a mirror works and might have glanced at one before going out?

well, in my case, i went with a few wardrobe staples and a slightly smoky eye with a sheer lip. kinda casual, but casual in that "yeah, i totally checked to make sure this worked" kind of way. i also decided to employ a rather thick hairband and a clip to disguise the worst hair day in living history. i'd decided to try growing my hair out a little, but it's currently at a stage where i can make it look decent for about ten minutes after i get it dry and then everything falls apart. if you're connected to me via facebook, you may well have seen my april fool's day profile picture of me sporting a kim jong-un haircut [which may have been mandated to men in north korea]. that was partially inspired by my ongoing frustrations with my hair and my increasing impatience at waiting for it to grow. i'm hoping i'll get it to the point where it doesn't irritate me, but i'm not sure when that's going to happen. also, the warm weather hasn't arrive yet, which means that the true irritation hasn't even begun.

i kind of went for a contrast with the outfit: that's a circle skirt from dinh ba, one of my favourite local designers, which has a gorgeous tattered overlay. to avoid seeming too dressy, i paired that with my texas chainsaw massacre shirt, but threw a blazer from annie 50 [another great local designer], so there's a nice formal- informal- formal vibe happening. you can barely make out the shoes i'm wearing, but they're fluevogs [of course], a nice sturdy brogue from the adrian family [the model i'm wearing is no longer available], a few members of whom have found shelter in my closet.

for the makeup, i made some use of my first armani eye shadow palette purchase. i've hesitated on getting one of their four-shadow palettes forever, not because i didn't want one, but because i was never quite sure where to turn first. i ultimately opted for the "medusa" palette, a fascinating combination of two greens- one leafy, the other more olive, a maroon and a matte black. the shades seem like a potentially strange combination, but they actually harmonise extremely well, with a mix of warm and cool tones between them. the only thing you might want to add is a highligher [and of course, some mascara.


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