Mar 28, 2012

I can haz makeup? Part 1

Do you ever go through a phase where all you want to do is buy or research (insert item here)?  I have gone through many phases that have become true interests like vintage clothing, decorating, and genealogy.  After the initial phase slowed, I still had an interest.  But one phase that never died is my love of all things beauty!

I realized last week that I am the ‘go to’ person for most of my friends and family when it comes to finding certain products. SJ asks me, DH asks, friends and even co-workers ask me my thoughts on makeup, hair etc.  I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m into that sort of thing.   I started reading Vogue at 13 and was the girl who could watch the Oscars and know what designer the actresses were wearing before they were asked.  Yeah, I’m a geek like that. 

Liz and Dick at the Oscars, above.  They’ve always been one of my fave Hollywood couples. 

Which leads me to my post for today.  I thought I would do a little series on my staple items.  When I say staple I mean my ‘go to’ items.  Things that I will rarely stray from. It took my a long time to figure out what will work for me and my skin.  So for me to even consider trying something new, I have to read tons of raves for it.  (Note: these are really the products that I use every day on my face.  No one paid me for these comments—I’m telling you the whole truth!)

Today I’ll just focus on my all time fave products for face: primer, foundation, concealer, etc.   Next time I update this series I will do another product group.

So let’s take it away…..

Some background:  I have super annoying skin.  It’s finicky and likes to annoy me.  I had acne as a teen and I’m still fighting it today.  I never thought I would be this old fighting oily skin! I also have rosacea and battle redness daily as well.  If I don’t cover it, people usually ask me if I am sick because my nose looks red!  I would love to have the rosacea treated with a laser but am put off by the cost (unless any Pittsburghers know a reputable place that is reasonable!).  But I have found some products that help me look presentable enough to have gotten compliments on my skin. 


First thing for me in my routine (and I do have one which DH makes fun of) is primer.  I never really understood the need for primer until I tried it.  I’ve tried quite a few and my faves are LORAC aquaPRIME and Bare Escentuals Prime Time Oil Control.  I like both of these equally, but the LORAC is more expensive.  Both of these primers are silicon free, which is really important to know if the silicon fillers in most primers and/or foundations make you break out.  I found that out the hard way when I tried a new Revlon foundation on our vacation last year and broke out in little zits all over my forehead!  EW.  Anyway—aquaPRIME’s consistency is very water like and cool on the face, while the Prime Time’s is a bit thicker.  Both of them do a great job of filling in pores and helping to keep skin matte (at least for a little while). 

After I let the primer settle in, it’s time for under eye concealer.  I never realized how hard it is to find a great concealer for under your eyes.  One that doesn’t look cakey or crepey.  I had tried several, including some really expensive high end ones, but none worked.  When I was at Target a few years ago I randomly picked up Neutrogena’s 3-in-1 Concealer for eyes.  Very impressive for a drug store concealer!  This has SPF and eye cream rolled into the concealer.  I just pat this under my eyes lightly and it covers beautifully with no caking.  Seems to last forever too.  I’ve had my current tube for at least a year!

Then it’s on to the rest of my face.  As I said, I have redness on both my cheeks and my nose from rosacea so I need a little bit more coverage to even out my skin tone.  Enter Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer.  I would consider this one of my ‘holy grail’ products and would NEVER be without it.  It gives AMAZING coverage and you only need a teeny bit.  I’ve had my little pot for well over 5 years and I’ve not even hit the bottom of the jar yet.  You really only need a speck of this to cover almost your entire face.  And it lasts all day long without changing color or sliding off of my oily skin. Plus, if you are having a bad skin day (as we all do), you can layer this to get more coverage. The price may seem high but how many products can you say last more than 5 years?  Probably none.  Kevyn Aucoin was a genius and still cannot believe he is gone.   For more info, please stop by my fellow blogger Daena’s site brightly colored person and her post on the SSE here.  She includes some great pics as well!

Are you still with me?  I guess DH is right, this is a long process.  But Dolly Parton did say in Steel Magnolias “It takes a lot of effort to look like this!”


Sadly, my next all time fave product has been discontinued.  *sad face*  Aromaleigh used to make this powder (actually marketed as an eye shadow) that was out of this world for concealing redness.  The shade was called flaxen and I have used it for 10 years.  Unfortunately the owner ending up selling her business (miss you Miss K!) and Flaxen was not brought back.  Before it sold out I was able to get my hands on five little pots of it and I’m down to my last pot.  If you’ve ever used minerals, you will know that their lasting power is second to none.  It just doesn’t move from your face!  I will shake a little of the Flaxen into the lid and apply with a taklon concealer brush to the redder areas of my face.  The yellow helps to cancel out the red.   I know green is supposed to as well, but I tried that and DH told me I looked like I was trying to attract Frankenstein!  Not a good look.   Since I’m down to my last pot I have started scouting out other replacements.  The top of my list to try is Meow Cosmetics Color Corrective Concealer (pic below).   This looks the closest to Flaxen plus I really dig their site and know some online friends who love them.  I will have to start out with a sample to make sure my skin agrees!

Okay---last step for now.  After all of this comes the actual foundation.  I have been a minerals convert for many years now. Even before they became such a rage with cosmetics companies.  My finicky skin really seems to love minerals so therefore I love you too minerals!  I have tried a few brands. Bare Escentuals (which Salsa Judy really likes) but has bismuth as an ingredient and made my pores look huge and made me too shiny.  No thank you!  Also tried MAC Mineralize which I still use on occasion.  But my winner winner chicken dinner is Lucy Minerals Oil Control foundation.  I read about this on a message board I frequent (waves to Blingers!) and ordered a sample to test out.  The thing that struck me is that the owner Annie is also a rosacea sufferer like me.  She showed pics on her site of her without her minerals (she has more redness than I do) and then with her minerals.  The coverage is astonishing!  Once I got some to try out I have to agree.  The coverage is outstanding. I just shake a little bit into the lid and apply with a taklon kabuki brush as pictured above.  Then I buff into my skin until I feel it’s blended seamlessly.  I only have to touch up to blot the oilies away with my Clean N Clear blotting sheets.  Otherwise the makeup stays put.  Annie also uses antioxidants in her minerals, which you can read more about on her site.  She always has a special going on as well.   

The next part in this series I’ll do fave eye makeup, which could even be longer! 

Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know what your fave products are or if you have any secrets for covering redness! 

I will be back soon with a post on another wine dinner at Casa Narcisi.  This time with pics!!!



Mar 19, 2012

A–Z Survey for Monday

I stole this survey from the lovely Christina @ Hungry Meets Healthy and figured I would give it my own spin.

A is for age: 34 and not ashamed to admit it.  Esp since a co-worker told me a few weeks ago she thought I was 27!  She is my new favorite person now! 

B is for breakfast today: During the week I usually eat the same thing: Kashi bar and then Chobani Greek yogurt a little later at work.  Today it was Dark Mocha Almond Kashi Bar and then Chobani Passion Fruit Greek yogurt.  mmmmmm

C is for currently craving: I think because Easter is around the corner and my grandma just had her birthday (which means candy for her since she loves it) I am craving Sarris Candies Peanutbutter Meltaways.  They are so yummy but I have to ration myself.

D is for dinner tonight: DH informed me (since he was off today) that dinner will be some type of steak.  Perfect since I am going to donate blood after work and that will help ‘beef’ up my iron.  *bad pun*  Sorry!

E is for favorite type of exercise: Zumba or weights.

F is for an irrational fear: Ever since my Aunt Sue’s dryer caught on fire, Salsa Judy has it ingrained in me to never run the dryer when I’m not home in case ‘it catches on fire like Aunt Sue’s did!’  Neither my brother or I run the dryer when we are not at home.  Thanks, Salsa Judy!

G is for gross food: Sushi that has eel or seaweed in it.  Cannot bring myself to even try it. 

H is for hometown: Pittsburgh—City of Champions!


I is for something important: Fitness—I have been slacking after being sick and need to get my ass back to the gym!

J is for current favorite jam: Anything by Bastard Bearded Irishmen.

Check them out!

We saw them on Saturday night and they were awesome!

K is for kids: I love other people’s kids, like my niece and nephew!

L is for current location: Pittsburgh!

M is for the most recent way you spent money: Makeup. Needed more minerals!

N is for something you need: I need a cute leopard scarf and haven’t found one I love yet.

O is for occupation: I am an Exec Asst for a large local corporation.

P is for pet peeve: People who don’t use their turn signals is a big one for me.  Also people who are mean to customer service employees.  Bad Manners don’t get you anywhere.

Q is for a quote: There is no strength without unity (Irish proverb) 

R is for random fact about you: I love Jeopardy.  Not Alex Trebek so much, but love the show and usually can get a lot of the answers!

S is for favorite healthy snack: Blueberries. Bananas, sweet potato chips

T is for favorite treat: Ice cream! Specifically a Blizzard with chocolate ice cream and Reese’s PB cups.

U is for something that makes you unique: I have a big scar on my back from falling through a glass table when I was 3. Don’t even know it’s there until someone asks about it.

V is for favorite vegetable: Broccoli, squash, spinach.

W is for today’s workout: I’m donating blood today so no working.  Tomorrow I will be going to Zumba!

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Never had one except for my teeth!

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: It was when I was talking to Salsa Judy on the phone and she realized she pulled into the wrong driveway and couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t get into the garage!  Wrong house!!!  LOL

Z is for your time zone: EST.

Mar 16, 2012

Whiter shade of pale…..

I’m pale and I like it. 

There! I said it!  I feel much better now.  Smile

Seriously though—I didn’t realize there were so many pale-haters out there!  Since our spring has shown up early this year (my roses are starting to leaf out already!) I have already received 2 ‘suggestions’ to use self-tanner on my legs.  One of these was from Salsa Judy, who really should know better!

Now, contrary to what DH thinks, I don’t hate the sun.  But the sun doesn’t have a lot of love for me either

Background: I’m naturally white as a ghost, even have been called Casper. But this didn’t seem to be evident until I was an adult.  Because when I was a kid, we had a pool.  So every day in the summer I was in the pool swimming all day.  We would get up, eat breakfast (wait the requisite 30 minutes), then get in the water.   We would get out, eat lunch on the deck and then go back in.  This was every day in the summer.  We sure got our money’s worth with that pool.

So I was TAN.  Pretty brown for a pale Irish girl. Not tanorexic, like Lizzie Grubman above (EW) but a good bit of color.  And of course back in the day, Salsa Judy never made us wear sunblock unless we were at the beach.  Makes sense right?  LOL  Anyway—I spent many summers being tanned from swimming and enjoying the pool, they really only saw me paler in the winter.  And for a blonde, I tanned very well.  DH has seen pics of me as a kid and couldn’t believe how dark I was.

So what made me go from tan to Casper? Well, it may have been kind of a rebellious thing.  I remember seeing all of these girls who were going to the prom (which I refused to attend) go tanning and it kind of grossed me out.  It just wasn’t my thing I guess.  And being the voracious magazine reader I am, studies were starting to come out at that time just how bad the sun really was for you.  And Salsa Judy (who was an avowed sun worshipper) had started getting pre-cancerous moles that needed to be removed.  And the fact the hygienist at my orthodontist's office was super-duper tan and her skin looked like crepe paper and freaked me out.  But she always made comments about how she didn’t want to get ‘too light’.  So I decided I didn’t care about being tan and would just take care of my skin. 

People need to realize that sun damage is cumulative.  If you get a bad bun in childhood, that alone doubles your changes to get skin cancer.  I can remember getting so sunburned on a family vacation in Hilton Head that I couldn’t even sleep on my back. That and the fact that I never wore sunscreen in our pool made me realize that I would be happier to embrace my Pale Porcelain self. 

And I’ve been happily pale since.  And have you noticed that despite Jersey Shore’s attempt to popularize the tanorexic look, paleness seems to have its own little trend going on.  Dita Von Teese and Rooney Mara (both above) have been my fave pale girls lately.  I’ve always loved Dita’s style (I would kill to have access to her amazing vintage wardrobe!)  and she embraces her paleness as well, even using a parasol in the sun.  I tried that but DH said he wouldn’t be seen with me!  Rooney is also an Irish girl like myself and her skin is gorgeous. I would say she’s my skin twin in terms of color.  Can you honestly tell me that these 2 women aren’t beautiful with pale skin?  I couldn’t even imagine either of them with tan.

The are a few things I don’t like about being pale.  One is the comments from people who seem to think it is their duty to tell you that you need sun.  I just tell people that I like being pale and smile.  Plus, I’m not going to look like a wrinkly raisin later in my life!  I like my moon tan, thank you very much!

Another pain is makeup.  90% of the foundation shades out there are not light enough for my skin.  That’s one of the main reasons I use mineral makeup.  If the lightest shade isn’t pale enough, I have a little bit of white mineral powder I mix in to get my perfect pale shade.   Plus minerals have natural sunscreen built right in so your skin is already partially protected.

But it’s not to say that I don’t get a bit of tan every now and then.  You really can’t avoid the sun, unless you’re a vampire. DH and I go to a lot of outdoor festivals and he LOVES the sun (how is that for irony?).  I practically have to force him to put sunblock on since he wants a tan (yes, he’s Italian).   So I have gotten some tan/burn but rarely.  And on our last vacation to the Dominican Republic (pic above is one of the beaches *sigh*), I got a decent tan (for me anyway).  It wasn’t that I was lying in the sun, I was in the water really enjoying the beach and just happened to get a tan.  I love the water more than anything so the tan was side effect.

It’s interesting how times change. In addition to the Little Black dress and her amazing fashions, Coco Chanel was the person who made having a tan fashionable in the 20th century.  The legend says that she went on a long trip abroad with her latest love, the Duke of Westminster, she came back with a tan and started a trend.   Since Chanel was (and to me still is) the height of chic, everyone started to tan.  Before that, if you had a tan it meant you were poor and had to work in the sun.  If you were a lady of leisure, you were white as snow and never went in the sun for fear of freckling!   Soon after, tanning became associated with being healthy and doctors were saying the sun was great for you.    And 70 years later it’s all upside down again!

How do you feel about the sun?  Do you try to avoid it?  Or are you one of those who loves a great tan? 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!! ( bit early)  I will be celebrating with my family tomorrow and then DH and I are meeting up with friends to see some great bands.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get some good pics to post next week.

Happy weekend!

Mar 9, 2012

On Sickie Island….


Welcome to Sickie Island, population me and 2 kittehs. After this thing had been going around work in multiple incarnations I thought I had resisted.  But no, it snuck up on me this week.  Ugh. 

I am very rarely sick and am the worst patient ever.  I really just want to be left alone.  I guess we all feel that way don’t we?  I have been laying low since Wednesday afternoon and I’m getting antsy now.  I was hoping to make it to work today but I still feel like crap and DH says I sound even worse so I’m staying put and working on email and other stuff from home. 

So what do you do to keep busy when you are stuck at home on Sickie Island?  I try to read some books or magazines when I’m not sleeping.

Irish Breakfast tea is always a must, sick or not. 

A friend suggested I eat some spicy food since capsaicin (sp?) is good for helping to rid the body of infection and clear the sinuses.  DH brought some Chicken Tortilla soup from Costco last night and that certainly helped for a bit! 

For me, I usually know I’m getting a bug when my neck gets sore.  Apparently the glands there are the first line of defense for infection.  Usually I get that for a day and then I am okay but not this time.  Now I’m all stuffed up, my left ear feels clogged, and just overall achy. The pharmacist suggest I take Advil Cold & Sinus to help with symptoms but I feel like it’s never going to go away!  I alternated a bit with Mucinex D yesterday but that really dried me out and seemed to make me more congested to so I am back to the Advil today.  I’m sure at some point I’ll have to take the Mucinex to start clearing everything out.  EW

At some point, I know I will really get cabin fever.  You can only watch so many talk shows and What Not to Wear and soap operas. And sometimes you just don’t want to do anything at all.  I would like to try and watch a movie but I have a feeling I may fall asleep.  At least when DH gets home, I’ll have someone to talk to.  And there’s a hockey game on tonite as well.  And I have the weekend to hopefully recover.  


If you have any ideas or tips to force this infection to get on its way, please pass them along!!!! 


Hoping the next time you hear from me I’m not like the pic above!

Mar 6, 2012

Who do I think I am??

Sorry for being a bit absent.  I was helping to facilitate at work conference last week and took the the weekend to recover!

It’s almost time for my fave holiday, St. Patrick’s Day!

Have you guys watched that newish show, Who Do You Think You Are? It’s on NBC.  I have to say I have gotten a bit hooked on it.  It follows some celebrities as they use and other resources to find out more about their family history.  I’m kinda jealous of these celebs because I would LOVE to have the resources they have at their disposal!

The first episode  was about Martin Sheen (that’s him above at an Irish jail).  I was most looking forward to this because he has Irish ancestry like myself.  For those of you who don’t know, his real name is Ramon Estevez.  His father was Spanish and his mother from Ireland.  You know Mr. Sheen (whose character I adored in the Departed) is a bit of a liberal and always fights for causes he believes in, even if it’s not the most popular idea.  But before you jump to conclusions, he is still on marriage #1.  Perhaps Charlie should learn something from him  LOL.

Mr. Sheen had heard stories that one of his mother’s ancestors fought in the Irish Civil War.  However, he was shocked to find out that the relative (his uncle) fought AGAINST Michael Collins Irish Republican Army and was sent to jail a few times.  He couldn’t believe it.  But if you know anything about the murky history of the Irish Free State, there became a split down the line due to fierce talks with the Brits.   After that, he started with his father’s family and was shocked to find out another uncle, Matias (that’s him above, I think Charlie Sheen looks like him a bit), also fought against Franco in Spain and was jailed and under surveillance for the rest of his life by Franco’s regime.  Sheen said he completely understood his need to fight against injustice based on these 2 amazing ancestors.


The next few episodes explore similar findings and mysteries.  Rebe McEntire finds out one of her ancestors owned slaves and that her 6 times great-grandfather became an indentured servant at age 9 from England.

Okay okay---I didn’t realize I was writing a promotional piece for this show (I’m not!).  I do have a point!  I just find family history very interesting and was eager to see if this show provided any tools that I haven’t already tried. 

How did my journey start? Well I started by asking my grandparents questions, as I have done since I was a child.  I know my grandfather’s  (that’s him above as PFC in the Army during WWII) grandparents on his father’s side emigrated to the US from Ireland.  His brother, my great-uncle Jimmy was able to trace them to Antrim, which is in Northern Ireland.  I also know that my grandmother’s father emigrated from Germany when he was 4 with his parents.  That’s just my father’s side. 

Salsa Judy and my dad at his prom in 1968!!!

Now Salsa Judy’s side was filled with murky myths and I was AMAZED at what I uncovered simply by taking a look on  I admit that before I started I knew the birth dates of my maternal great-grandmother, but that’s about it.  For example, my mother always said that her side of the family was a bit Irish, German and Russian.  Well I know the Russian part is wrong because my great-Aunt Annie would go out of her way to tell SJ that we are UKRAINIAN.  But back then, you said Russian because the Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, there was very little on my maternal grandfather’s parents, other than their immigration records and that his mother could not read or write in 1912, which was common for poor immigrants from that area.  I would love to know what their real name because it was changed during immigration and I’ve never been able to find out what it was.

4 generations of ladies above.  SJ is on the right, her mother to the left of her, my late great aunt MaryAnn on the far left and my great grandmother is next to me.  Don't judge my hair, it was the 80’s.  SJ’s top is cute and would fit in well now!

The next part is like the show—I was completely shocked at what I found.  My great grandfather Arthur Collins was killed in a store robbery when my grandma was 3.  I still have found ZERO info on that despite my efforts. I have a feeling I will end up downtown looking through old newspapers to find out more.  However, my mom always thought he was Irish with the name Collins.  Wrong!  I found his immigration records and found out he immigrated to the US from Germany and his real last name was Colinz or similar!  He simply ‘Americanized’ his name.   SJ had  no idea.

I was in for another surprise when I found out that my 3 times great-grandmother was from New Jersey and was Irish as the day is long.  Her name was Esther Wray and she came from a wealthy family in New Jersey, whose family goes back to pre American Revolution times!  Apparently, one of her great grandfathers was granted 32,000 acres in New Jersey and was friends with William Penn!   I also found out that her father Stephen Wray was from Donegal County, Ireland.  So I am more Irish than I thought!   I also found out that on her father’s side the Parsons family goes back also to pre-Revolutionary War times just 5 miles from where I grew up!  One of my several times over great grandmother is even buried in a cemetery near me.  The great thing about is that you can see other’s info on what they have found and talk with him them and exchange info.  That’s how I found out about this grave site.

The one piece we are missing is my info about my paternal great-grandmother’s family.  My grandfather told me last week that he himself barely knew anything about her family, other than her parents didn’t get along because they lived apart and he lived on his farm.  He said his cousin has info which he is trying to get for me. 

My search ended there because I was only doing a trial on the site.  Not long after I got laid off, so I didn’t want to spend the extra money to re-join.  Now I feel like I have a bit more time and am working so I could afford to join for a while to see what I find. 

Have you done research on your family tree?  What have you used to find your info?  I am considering joining the international party of Ancestry. com so I can find info on my ancestors from Ireland, Germany and Ukraine but not sure if it would be worth it.  

I would love to hear your journey and any surprises!!!

Thank you for reading such a LONG post!