Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Love A Good Sale

Four words really get my blood pumping: Extra 40 percent off.

So many retailers are peeling off those extra dollars, including Express.

My cheap thrills from its current sale: a cute animal-print cami ($6) and a rhinestone necklace ($10) that may or may not look cheap. The jury's still out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Shoe Haiku

Today's shoe and tell
Michael Kors platforms — hoochie!
I can walk in them.*

*Really, I can. Just goes to show what a good platform can accomplish.

Michael Michael Kors Beverly Platform Sandals

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The $5.99 Antidepressant

My little boy has been antsy to get a new hula hoop. Don't ask me why.

So, I went to Target last week. No hoops. Did you know that hula hoops are SEASONAL? Wha? Makes no sense. You can hula hoop indoors year-round.

Well, the good news is, they finally appeared, and let me just say, I don't know if they do any actual calorie burning, but it sure is fun. It's physically impossible to feel grumpy or angry when you do it. It'll start to slide down the hips, and you have to do a slow, clunky shimmy to get it back up. You feel like such a dork doing it that you just smile.

Spinning that big sparkly circle around makes me feel like i'm 7 again. No cares in the world, and a long, hot summer full of grape Popsicles waiting for me.

Of course, the 2010 version of the hula hoop is no plain Jane — it's called a Wave Hoop and has water inside. The sloshing sound is soothing, but it makes me have to pee.

Anyway, it was six bucks well spent.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DIY Highlights

When I was a kid, I had a fairly vicious hair cycle. I'd grow my hair out, get bored and beg my mom for a haircut. She'd chop it all off, and then horrified by what I'd done, I'd beg for a perm. At-home perm kits in the '70s were nasty things. I'm fairly sure that anything that could fry hair so seriously was probably carcinogenic, too. Definitely smelled it.

I've mellowed considerably about the hair. After all, it does grow. Time cures any too-short haircut. I decided to try an at-home highlighting kit because, after all, how badly could things go wrong?

Turns out, things worked out just fine. Do highlights look better professionally done? No doubt, but my $5 Garnier Color Breaks kit did what I wanted it to — made it harder to find gray strands.

The kit's pretty straight-forward: Mix cream with powder and use this Easy Bake Oven-looking spatula-mascara wand combo to stir it up. Then, you use the mascara wand to coat sections of hair. It's easier said than done, quite frankly. The instructions call for thoroughly coating the hair, and occasionally a blob would drop off. The trickiest part is that once you start, you can easily lose track. I ended up running out of patience and just haphazardly coating chunks across the top of my head.

The highlights aren't that bad. And, the kit probably saved me $95.

Find Garnier Color Breaks at Ulta and drugstores.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Picture Perfect

I'm guilty. I did it.

I, too, jumped onto the celeb-smut bandwagon and bought that People magazine detailing D-list (is she even that high on the alphabet?) reality "star" Heidi Montag's 10 plastic surgeries.

In my magazine-buying defense, I did get it at Costco for 30 percent off, so it's 30 percent less offensive. I did, however, flag the before-and-after photos with a Post-It so that my coworkers and I could flip straight to them. That probably adds back 10 percent of offensiveness.

Anyway, how sad that we live in a society where a young, perfectly attractive woman thinks she has to go through all that to meet the crazy ideal that Hollywood considers perfection: arched brows, boobs bigger than your head and an undeveloped 11-year-old girl's bottom half. Now, I'm not against plastic surgery. In fact, I'm all for it when a young woman — or man — is so ashamed and embarrassed about a particular physical trait that it's crippling to that person. But I also think it's even better when you have enough self-confidence to hold your head high and be proud of whatever that unique physical trait is (i.e, Barbara Streisand and her nose; me and my A-cup chest).

Now rant over, I must admit that I've always wanted to get my cheeks done. The ones on my face.

They're chubby, full. So full that someone once asked me if I'd had my wisdom teeth removed.

"Yes, I did...." I answered, incredulous that anyone could tell 10 years later.

"Yeah, your face looks swollen," came the response.

Swelling doesn't last that long. As a teen, I waited for that baby fat look to melt away into sculpted cheekbones. Never happened. Then, I heard about women getting silicone implants for that so-sharp-you-could-cut-meat-with-'em bone structure. I realized, though, that I couldn't do it.

My face is my face. How weird would that be to look in the mirror and not see those features that I was born with, no matter how imperfect they are. And, as much as I still wish I had cheek bones you could detect, I feel like my face matches my personality. It's me. They're staying.

My stomach, on the other hand, I would trade in a heartbeat.

After having three kids, it is a sad, stretched-out pooch. True confession time: I saw a plastic surgeon a few years ago because — after some research — I figured I was a candidate for a lower abdominoplasty, which isn't as extensive (or expensive) and fixes that poochy belly right up. Let me just say that fewer things are more humiliating in life than when a perfect stranger grabs a handful of chub and declares, "Oh no! You'd need a full one."

I still have the slip of paper with my surgical estimate: $8,000, not including hospital fees.


You know, it's still very, very early but I'm pretty darn sure at least one of my children isn't college material. I could totally spend that college fund now and have myself a bikini-worthy midriff. Or, at least one that doesn't spill over the waistband of my low-rise skinny jeans.

Some days, I think, well, that's just proof of what my body has done, is capable of, and it's nothing more than a battle scar. I feel like it's not so bad — like those women on those Yay Motherhood! Being a Mommy Is Soooo Empowering! Web sites that proudly flaunt their freakish stretch-mark riddled bellies and saggy boobs. Yeah, I look at those sites when I want to be scared away from any foods that'll make my gut bigger.

Other days, most days, I resort to an infinitely cheaper DIY tummy-tuck — the Yummie Tummie tank top. It sucks in whatever I can't. And, it's not half bad.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Corny Perfection

It's usually too dry, or gritty. But when done right, cornbread is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I think I may have finally done it right.

Using a base recipe from the dearly departed Domino magazine (RIP), I made a few tweaks and had cornbread that was moist with just a touch of maple-syrup sweetness and studded with salty bacon — the perfect foil for the syrup. Give it a try. I served it with corn-potato-bacon chowder because I like a themed meal.

Maple-bacon cornbread

• 1 tbsp butter, plus 4 tbsp butter, melted
• 8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
• 2 scallions, sliced
• 1 1/2 cups milk (skim works just fine)
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
•1/2 cup maple syrup
•1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with the tablespoon of butter.

Heat a skillet and add the bacon, cooking until it begins to get crispy. Take off the heat and throw in the scallions.

In large bowl, combine, milk, egg, maple syrup and 4 tablespoons melted butter.

In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda and salt; stir.

Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir just enough to combine. Pour into skillet and sprinkle with bacon and scallions. It's OK if you drizzle some bacon grease on top. In fact, it's more than OK if you do.

Bake about 20 minutes, until the middle is set.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Things To Make You Go 'Hmmmmm.'

So Karma Loop has these
Wildfox T-shirts with astrological signs. They're pretty cute. I still haven't decided if I should get one or if they're just a little too "hey-my-name's-on-a-necklace" for me. Which is to say, too personal and kinda dorky.

Here's the curious thing: These shirts are different prices. Aquarious and Libra cost $45, Pisces and Leo are the priciest at $56. My sign — Taurus — is $55. So, is it a good thing or a bad thing if you're born under one of the more expensive signs?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Signature Scent

I don't care if I sound like an 1800s prospector, I'm gonna say it anyway — eureka! I found it! My signature scent — I finally found it!

It's called Pure Soap, and it's from the Demeter Fragrance line, those folks known for the single-note, spot-on scents that capture smells like pink grapefruit or Jolly Rancher candy. I found it at Ulta. The best part: It was only $20.

My scent search has been a long one, ever since my nose became as sensitive as a blood hound's. Years ago, I used a power sprayer to fully douse myself in Beautiful or Sunflowers or Eternity. Then I got pregnant. And I got pregnant again. Then, I got pregnant yet again. Each time, my sniffer grew more sensitive to any and all scents, good or bad (there are photos of me wearing a full-on respirator to change a diaper).

So, I've had a hard time finding perfume I like. But, I still like it. Still want to wear it. I'm envious of my friends who can spritz it on and not gag in 10 minutes.

I've always lamented the lack of a fragrance that didn't just smell like soap. Well, now there is one. It's not completely soapish, you can still tell that it's perfume. It's just that this is a nice, light, completely unoffensive scent. I'm constantly huffing my wrists now. Three days later, I still like it. Here's hoping I don't turn on it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Friday Two-Fer

Friday Shoe Haiku Plus Fashion Tip

Over-the-knee boots
Can look darling or slutty
Flat heels tone 'em down.

Sam Edeleman "Kara" boots in ice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great Sunscreen (that doesn't make you look all Nicole Kidman and ghost-ish)

A lot of people often think I'm younger than I am. This, I attribute to three things: I am fairly immature; I have good genes (both my parents look good for their ages, which is somewhere in the 60s, I think); I am borderline obsessive about using sunscreen.

Probably that last one has done the most good.

But, if you're a regular sunscreen user then you know how often it can leave a ghostly cast on skin, especially if you've got some pigmentation. It's not so bad on arms and legs, but that streaky white can make your face look like death.

My derm recommended Elta MD. Not only is it sunscreen, it has moisturizer in it. I love two-for-ones. The Elta line uses invisible zinc, so it's a physical sun barrier — which is the best, especially for sensitive skin — and it doesn't leave that chalky pallor.

I faithfully slather on the Elta every a.m. Oh, and I guess my other beauty secret might be that a regular frosting facial doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hellllooooo, New Billing Cycle!


Do you hear that rapid, thumping sound? It would be my heart, racing and anxious with anticipation over the new credit card cycle, which starts tomorrow. My head is going to explode. Things I'm loving right now (and may contribute to me getting a second job):

B Makowsky purse. Love this bag, love it. If you have not yet discovered the joys of B Makowsky, let me fill you in: real, incredibly soft leather (better than many high-end brands) at reasonable prices. The styling is simple, but the tie-dye gives it that extra edge.

Simple shoes. I know I have three pairs of these already (solid black, pink checkered and blue checkered), but these are GRAY. My new favorite color! They'd be a fun alternative to basic black and add a softer look.

Splendid poncho. This poncho fixation I've developed is quite weird. But, this just looks so snuggly. Would it bug me that my arms aren't completely covered? I don't know.

Haute Hippie cowl-necked vest. Now here's a great idea — a loose-fitting, slouchy vest to layer over form-fitting dresses and tees. Is there a better way to hide those not-quite-six-pack abs? I think not. I originally saw this styled with a sleek, striped dress. Darling.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Stuff I Don't Get

Why do Ed Hardy clothes seem to be so popular?

They're the fashion equivalent of someone shouting in your ear. Plus, Jon Gosselin wears 'em. That ought to be enough to kill off the brand right there. Ew.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Cheap Thrill of 2010

You know you're a hopeless beauty-product junkie when you hit three stores.... for a $2 tinted lip balm.

I think I've mentioned before my weakness for tinted balms. They are, to use a most outdated phrase, the bomb.

Long-lasting, lightly colored and moisturizing, they're everything your lips could want. So when I heard about Wet n Wild's Lip Shimmer from its new Natural Wear collection, I had to check it out.

After ill-fated trips to CVS and Ulta, I found it at Walgreens. This stuff is eerily similar to CO Bigelow's Vitamin Mentha Tinted Lip Balm ($7), which I like pretty well. The Wet n Wild stuff rolls on more matte than I like, and it has enough coverage to be a lipstick. It's fairly long-lasting and I like the subtle mint aroma.

The verdict: not bad. For $2, it's worth a try.

My favorite tinted lip balm is still from Bobbi Brown, but that costs real money — $18.

If you're just trying out tinted balms — and you should, they're life-changing — give the Wet n Wild a try.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sad Life Revelation No. 9

Why is it that just as I'm starting to feel comfortable in my own skin, it's getting saggy and wrinkled?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Again...You Know What That Means

Friday Shoe Haiku

Peep-toe or peep show?
These pumps highlight major toe
Time for a pedi

• Cindy Says banana-heeled peep-toe pumps

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Simple Obsession

I love the look of Converse sneaks with just about anything. Problem is, they feel terrible.

They're heavy and flat, and so every time I try them on, I always stick them back on the shelf. Thankfully, there's Simple.

I've managed to accumulate three pairs of these Simple sneaks. They've got that cute Converse look but with more padding. Even better, the insoles pull out so you can slide in your own. It's also tres cool that Simple's eco-friendly, using recycled tires for the sole and sustainable fabrics.

What I love most of all is that has Simple sneaks on sale for $20.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Scary Fashion Trend - 2010

Denim sweatpants.


What good can possibly come from this pairing?

Now I have to say, my butt has fully — warmly — embraced the looser, boyfriend jean. But, to intentionally make denim baggy? That's just wrong.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This Mousse Has Me Whipped

So, this morning I had a wonderful hair epiphany that had me in a great mood, which was quickly squashed by difficult Middle Child, who made me want to start drinking. Alcohol. At 8 a.m.

But before that, I was excited because I'd bought this David Babaii Amplifying Whipped Mousse months ago. The print ads had just come out with Kate Hudson and there was all this buzz about his stuff. I bought it cuz I am easily swayed by a cool marketing campaign and because I kinda look like Kate Hudson — in the chest, anyway.

So anyway, the stuff had been sitting on the bathroom counter because I have a lot of hair products vying for my attention. Today, I rubbed in some of the whipped creamlike mousse. It smells faintly of pina colada. Then, I do what I do every morning — which is run around getting three kids ready for school and in between, stealing sips of breakfast (coffee, not alcohol). When I realized that blow-drying had yet to take place, I was pleasantly surprised to see my hair drying nicely, wavy and actually presentable. Now, I think those hairdressers who profess that you should be able air-dry your hair and look fabulous have been sniffing too much hair spray. But, 3 minutes of blow-drying (instead of the usual 20) and my hair looked decent. About the same as if I'd done the full-blown process.

Now, was it the mousse? Was my hair just cutting me a break because Middle Child wouldn't? Guess I'll find out tomorrow when I try the experiment again.

You can find David Babaii products at many drugstores. I picked mine up at Ulta, with a coupon, of course.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lounging Around

I'm craving lounge pants.

Can't explain this unusual obsession. Perhaps it relates to Wii Fit thinking I'm 50 years old? (See previous post "Santa is an SOB.")

More likely it's because I read about a Lucky magazine staffer adoring her Keep Me pants. Ah, the power of suggestion. So naturally, I went a-Googling. Found 'em.

They're $70.

If I had a reality TV show and people were always up in my grill, then perhaps I would pay that much. But, no one here cares what I wear. Also, my husband will be happy to hear this, I do know when to draw the line, and $70 lounge pants are excessive. Although, they do look supremely comfortable.

At Target, I snooped through the jammies and came across some Gilligan & O'Malley sleepwear. A pair of black, smooth-elastic-waisted, wide-leg pants caught my eye. Could they be as wonderful as a $70 pair? I checked the "ingredients" label. Mostly modal with just a smidge of spandex. They felt like buttah. They were $15. Sold.

Now, if you go to Target to find these — and you should — be careful. There's a more expensive version with a drawstring. Not a fan of the drawstring. Makes it look like you have a belly-button hernia if you don't tuck in your shirt, and I never tuck in my shirt because I've had three kids and can't afford the $8,000 for a tummy tuck.

So, hellooooo Gilligan & O'Malley. When the TV crew arrives for "The Kristen Show," I'll bet the audience won't even guess I'm in bargain-basement lounge pants.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Santa is an SOB

Santa Claus left a Wii Fit under the tree for Christmas, and for the past few weeks, I've been walking by and snickering at my husband doing yoga and assorted goofy aeorbics exercises like hula-hooping. I can do that, that's easy, I'd think as I watched, taking a bite of a peppermint Joe-Joe.

Um, no, I can't.

Apparently, along with everything else the Wii can do — determine your weight, BMI, whether or not you changed your underwear — it can read your thoughts and knows if you are mocking it. Wii got me back today.

It audibly gasped when I stepped on the balance board. I don't know which is worse — that my Wii Fit age is 50 or that my Mii character has such bad hair. The kids made Mii characters for everyone they know and everyone they don't (honestly — Harry Potter characters; Barack Obama is there and so is, weirdly, actress Famke Janssen). Anyway, my hair really sucks. I need to fix that.

First, Wii mocked my balancing abilities, saying that it "wasn't my forte" and asking if I trip a lot.

You know, if you ask me, that trainer didn't exactly look so fit — she was ghostly pale and she had a little junk in the trunk, too. So she should just shut up.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

With apologies to Jerry McGuire

Some Hot Dishes Mission Statement

I believe that...

• brownies should never, ever be frosted.
• the best purses are the smooshiest.
• that Nick never really loved Jessica.
• that "swag" is the coolest word in the English language, as well as a really good perk.
• that you can never have too many shoes.
• that cupcakes should be a food group.
• that bacon really does make everything better, even chocolate.
• a bird in the hand is worth...salmonella, most likely, which is why I wear latex gloves to handle raw meat.
• that children simultaneously make you feel young and suck the life force out of you.
• that Fluff is superior to Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme.
• that technology hates me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Shoe Haiku

cuddly, soft and warm
shearling-lined boots are da bomb
truly shoegasmic

• J Crew "Chalet" shearling short boots. Yes, they've been popping up a lot lately. I really, really like them.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Creative Packaging

So, see what appears to be a plastic-wrap cocoon? Well, that would be a pair of jeans ordered from Nordstrom. It's the most surreal packaging I've ever come across.

First of all, the box was way too big and then, aside from the copious plastic, the jeans were strapped to cardboard, like some sort of denim backboard. What the heck? Was Nordstrom afraid it'd be sued if the jeans suffered any vertebral trauma in transit?

But — since it takes two weeks to receive anything ordered from Nordies — it does explain why the store charges $8 for shipping. Plastic wrap ain't cheap.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kicking the Crew Habit

Hi. My name is Kristen. I'm a recovering Crewaholic. My last J. Crew purchase was two months ago — a full-priced pair of Minnie pants. They were worth every penny.

Though I'm on the road to recovery (I — gulp — cut up my Crew card), I felt serious temptation to shop there again when I put on the Minnie pants yesterday. You see, they're skinny. Really skinny. Size 2*. They fit even after holiday binges in which I ravaged copious amounts of peppermint bark like I was Jennifer and the sweet, sweet candy was a juicy boy.

Yes, that stretchy material is magic. Magic.

To further add to my distress, the Crew, like a bartender offering an alcoholic one on the house, sent me a catalog. I may have even peeked at the Web site after an e-mail alerted me that new, shiny things had arrived.

I must remember the bad stuff: J Crew's exorbitant shipping charges; how you must spend $500 to earn a measly $25 reward card. The infamous final sales (buy — but you can't return!) are the equivalent of consumer waterboarding. And, just plain mean.

Hopefully my willpower fares better on this than my "no more shopping online" goal.

* No, I'm not that big of a sucker, I know J. Crew does some serious vanity sizing, but it still makes me feel good. I am nothing if not a total girl about such things. As you can see from the photo — I am not that small. But, in my defense, my photographer is 9. I don't think shooting from her angle is especially flattering for moi at all. And, it is really hard to pose — when you are not a trained professional — and not look fat.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Confession/Cool Web Site to Surf

So, I may not have been entirely truthful about my new year's resolutions. Yes, I wanted to organize up at least one little part of my life (see previous posting "New Year, Resolutions Fini"). But, I also thought/am still thinking about — but didn't say out loud — an online shopping ban.

Excuse me for just a minute.

Joe? Dear husband? Is that you laughing? Stop. Now.

I'm serious about a buying blackout. I do the vast majority of shopping online because I have kids and well, it sucks the life force out of me to take them anywhere let alone a boutique I really, really like and don't want to get kicked out of.

The convenience of computer browsing can't be beat. Plus, the Internet plops the entire world of fashion and shopping right onto my laptop. I LOVE that. See it in People Stylewatch — find it on a random Web site just by Googling "plaid tunic."

But, you can't see the lusted-after item in 3D. Can't feel it. Can't really tell if the color is a true representation. I've just returned three of my last four online purchases. Just didn't like the stuff once I saw it in real life.

I so adore online shopping, but the inability to try stuff on is crippling. I also feel incredibly guilty about not patronizing local stores as this economy continues to swirl the bowl and make life so much harder for business owners.

So, I've been thinking about this change for a good month. That said, one package arrived today — in my defense, it's a brand of jeans I already own. I have another coming because, dammit, Need Supply Co. is ruining my attempted resolution.

I just discovered the Richmond, Va. (I know! So random)-based Web site. It's fab. A little girly like Anthropologie, a little edgy like Urban Outfitters with nearly Forever XXI prices. I bought this smooshy bag and this sunglasses T-shirt because even though a Hilton sister (the less-offensive one) has been spotted wearing it, it's still incredibly cute. I've been lusting after a more expensive Sauce version for a few months.

The site is positively addictive. Just like online shopping.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Jewelry Trend

This is the year of the flower.

Sweet blossoms are popping up on all kinds of jewelry, mostly necklaces. The trend is perfect for spring, of course.
Anything from metal flowers to silk ones are showing up at Anthropologie and beyond.

When it's done well, the look is amazingly cute. When it's not, it looks like the Michaels floral department threw up around your neck.

Here's an example of the trend done well.

A Tucson jewelry designer, Blissful Epiphany, makes simple, elegant flowers using an unexpected material — leather.

Normally when you think of leather jewelry, probably images of thick, studded cuffs come to mind. So not the case here.

This imported Italian leather is thin and soft as melting buttah. The gold color has enough punch for evening but manages to be subdued enough for daytime office looks. Celeste, the artist, recently got this distressed silver leather, too, that's also quite wonderful. Aside from her Etsy store, you can find Blissful Epiphany jewelry at Bohemia, 2920 East Broadway, in Tucson.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, Resolutions Fini

Day 2 into the new year, and I'm done with the only resolution I made — to get my stuff in order.

Specifically, my jewelry.

After years of not wearing anything but my wedding ring, I rediscovered the joys of jewelry (now that the kids are big enough not to tug on things and put beads into their mouths. Well, at least two of them are over that. I'm taking my chances with the third). I've amassed a good collection, so much that it was overflowing the dresser and my giant jewelry box. I started hanging chains off the bedroom light sconce, which was clever but looked kinda trailer trash-ish.

With some help from a friend, I came up with the idea of a necklace board. Pretty spiffy, isn't it? Now I'll admit that I thought of the visible storage system over the summer, when I was home with a broken foot. Found a chandelier decal on and ordered it. Then, I did nothing. Oh wait, I did ask my husband to go to Home Depot and get me some multi density fiberboard, or some such stuff. That took him a month.

Then, I did some more nothing.

Well, I got off my duff Thursday and made a trip to Home Depot for cabinet knobs, all three children in tow. Amazingly, everyone made it out alive. I nearly strangled at least two of them on several occasions. After a few coats of paint left over from our bathroom remodel, I now have this.

Of course, it's still waiting to be hung. I'm optimistic.

Phase 2 of Orderly Jewelry meant buying this acrylic, tiered bracelet stand off eBay for my many, many bangles. If they're out in the open, it'll be easier to accessorize.

Oh yeah, and I'm even cleaning out my closet, trying to get rid of stuff.

And this is why I burn out before January has even ended.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Shoe Haiku

Such wooly goodness
Tucked inside these cute skimmers
Only my feet know

-Ugg "Rime" flats, very decidedly un-Ugglike and sleek.