So I'm going into day surgery tomorrow to get my foot re-jiggered. It's always been a bit oddly shaped but now it needs some medical urging to make it operate in the way a foot should operate. I'm relatively unfazed by all this (as much as you can be), but I am very interested in the month following wherein I am housebound. So many books. So many movies. So much Franklin. Realistically I suspect I'll be bored out of my mind within a week. But that's not the point.
Now is the time to tell me that I'm an idiot if I don't read certain things or watch certain things or do certain things. I am open to suggestions, and I definitely have the time to try them ALL.
I only seem to be able to string together coherent thoughts about empties right now, it's like everything else has been thrown under a blanket of Too-Hard. My lighting situation is still a pain, thought I've bought some little clampy lamp things which DO help, but I can't use them at the same time as having my computer on. Which is obviously like someone switching off a dialysis machine, pfff. There's a way to make it work, I'm sure of it, but it's a work in progress.
I'm so uninteresting. Duplicates ahoy!
Trimedica Purea Skin cream
I bought this off iHerb, since as far as I can tell it had the highest Urea percentage and I was interested in what it would do to my keratosis. Short answer - not much. It essentially acts like a very dense body cream, and in a tub that size that don't impress me much.
Firebird Perfume Oil - Pomegranate Rose
Oh, Firebird, you are such a solid performer, and you can bet I'll be fetching more roll ons from them. I'll likely re-purchase this one as well, since I'm already missing it so badly. I find the last tenth of the vial is insanely powerful (more concentrated?) which should be factored in, since I put some on at Anissa's house and very nearly fumed the place out. Soz about that.
This ones appeared on here heaps. Pharmacy purchase, only thing I've ever bought that makes a big difference on my hideous scaly elephant feet. For optimal results, load onto feet, put on a pair of those Ecotools bamboo socks and go to bed. For serious, it's great.
La Roche Posay Toleraine protective skincare
This has likewise appeared on the blog a few times - absolute heaven on an overly hot, sensitive, summer-ravaged face. I've been loading it on before bed, usually accompanied by little moans of relief. I live in fear of this being discontinued. Don't you DARE, you saucy French bastards.
Schwarzkopf Ultimate Oil hair mask
Not bad, still not up the the standard of the Elvive hair masks. Lovely smell though, and handling it makes me feel like I'm messing around with molten gold, with less of the burning and dying.
So whats up elsewhere?
A small handful of you know that I'm working on a graphic novel with an epic artist called Linda Foote. We have a looot of work to do, but she's been drawing some stuff up for it and I'm ultra-psyched. Linda posts more of her art on her tumblr, but only occasionally adds art from this project. mostly it's just a scrolling paean to her insane skillz.
And here's a map because daaaaym.
And speaking of comics, I've found one that I'm completely in love with - it's called Nimona, and it's by an artist called Noelle Stevenson ( @Gingerhaze on twitter). It's the only thing I've ever seen that seems to be an equally fantasy, equally sci-fi mix (they're usually all one or the other...), not to mention extremely funny and smart and engaging. The characters are wonderful, the art style sharp and dynamic. Do yourself a favor and check it out. If you've never webcomicked before, this one would be a very user-friendly starting point. Link below takes you to the first page!
And what else? I've had some icky medical things crop up, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds. I've got some blood tests to do and an operation on my foot impending which will take me out of action for about a month, which means either I'll be snooping the internet all the damn time or I'll just disappear and go analog (reading).
And you should all be following Chaucer on twitter.
I don't really need to read more, per se, because I already read a lot. But I'd like to make myself step outside my comfort zone a bit, and also make more of an effort to write about what I read, since I generally emerge feeling like I have a better handle on it when I've reviewed it. I found this fun graphic on a tumblr somewhere and thought I'd transplant it:
Fun! So the rules are that I can't retroactively tick off any boxes, and I can't tick any that I haven't written a review/blog post about. So, for my first trick:
I reviewed Burial Rites, based on the execution of Agnes Magnusdottir and thus a true story. I could have ticked off Female Author, Different Continent, Blue Cover, Best-Selling, Heard About Online, and Under Thirty, but you only get one cross out, and I went with based on a true story. From hereon in, I'll be sticking this updated graphic at the end of each of my blog reviews. Woot!
Some of you might have noticed my beauty blogging lagging way behind - this is twofold. One - it's summer, I'm constantly overheated and sweaty and can't face photos of myself and Two - the photography lights I usually use have been out of action. I'm still writing em, don't you worry, but images have had to wait. All in good time, friends, all in good time.
So who's going to embark on some Reading Bingo with me?!?
I can’t say I’m hugely well versed in Icelandic historical fiction, to start with, but I suspect it’s a bit of an unplumbed depth. If anyone has encountered any previously, please tell me, because I am now jonesing for more. Which is a roundabout way of saying yes, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites is worth your time, and yes, you wont have read anything like this before.
Hannah Kent ticks all the boxes - this is her debut novel, she’s an Adelaidean, she’s doing a PhD and is a year younger than me, all of which inspires flaming jealousy in me like you would not believe. Also cute as a button and bespectacled, a point of sadness since my vision is 20/20. And on top of everything, her debut is brilliant - sharp, brutal and hugely atmospheric. Her Iceland is a barren hellscape and a character in it’s own right, very far removed from my vague previous concept of Iceland as a snowy crystalline fairyland (thanks, Bjork).
The set up for Burial Rites is deceptively simple. Agnes Magnusdottir is sentenced to death for the murder of her employer and his friend, and in a politically motivated move, it’s decided she will be kept on a local farmstead until the day itself. The family who own the farmstead aren’t given a choice in the matter, and react to their visitor/prisoner in a full spectrum of ways. The viewpoint jumps from third person to Agnes’ first person, which I found a bit odd initially, but since the cast is small it was a reasonably short adjustment - but it also jumps around in the time stream, which took a bit longer. She recounts her story to different people, but the full chronological layout isn’t obvious until the final few pages. The circumstances surrounding Agnes’ guilt (or lack thereof) are scattered through the book, and by the final stages I was making disbelieving noises at the level of unfairness in Agnes’ treatment. Oh - and it’s a true story. Agnes was the last woman in Iceland to be sentenced to death, in 1830.
I’d like to have a moment of appreciation for good editing, which BR has. There’s this recurring perception with Literary Fiction that if it isn’t a 600 page Picoult behemoth it almost isn’t value for money, and definitely the biggest gripe I have when I dip my toe into Adult Literature is that the author seems unwilling to let an opportunity for massive exposition or metaphor or just flat out environment description pass by, and thus the whole thing reads more like self-indulgence than something that’s been crafted with the reader in mind. BR is very - spare. There are no more words than strictly necessary, and nothing is dwelled on or waxed lyrical thereof (I don’t even know what grammatically just happened there). And somehow there is still enough descriptive environmental details to paint the picture - the picture being a bleak, painful and somewhat unhygienic one.
One of the unexpected intrigues of Burial Rites is how revolting, freezing and difficult daily life is for the characters. The food is gristly, oily and unappetizing, letting a fire go out can condemn a whole family to death and even relatively comfortable families live two steps ahead of poverty all the time. Similarly Kent doesn’t glorify her cast - all the characters are hard as nails, and as grim and unforgiving as the landscape itself. There are lice, fleas, rats and illness; when Agnes finds another character kicking the corpse of a sheep, her immediate angry response is about the ruining of the pelt, as opposed to the death of the animal. The environment Kent creates is very harsh, and it’s people have realistically adapted to it.
None of this really communicates how fast and easy a narrative this is. I don’t know how such awfulness can be easy to read, but it is - you will most likely power through this book. It took me a day. Seriously now, how does an Australian write so vividly about below-freezing weather? Shenanigans.
2014 everyone! We made it! I have not blogged much, for which I am unrepentant. December 2013 contained my sisters wedding, hens night, organisings, fittings, logistics, plus the busiest month at work simultaneously. I am, to put it delicately, completely fucked. And my legs still hurt from wearing heels for eight hours. YES I know I'm a damn baby, but I wasn't used to it. There will be photos and stuff soon, but not until the proper photos have emerged. And only after the Powers That Be have cleared the idea.
So EMPTIES. I don't do new years resolutions, but considering I've essentially abandoned the non-buying part of Project 50pan, I am renewing my resolve to not by extraneous crap. I have bags and boxes and cupboards full of stuff. Full. Of. Stuff. I would photo the extent of my hoarding if the idea didn't make me queasy.
Clean Face Oil-free BB Cream
I've talked so much about this, lordy. Short version: best BB cream for oily types. Little goes a long way, cheap and easy to find. I have two backups sitting nearby. Cetaphil Moisturising Cream (550ml)
This thing is fantastic. I think Liv Tyler recommended it in some magazine alongside saying she fully body moisturised twice a day. Seriously, who has the time. Regardless, this cream is light, smells of nothing and sinks into your skin really fast. It's $20 for a more than one litre tub and as far as body moisturisers go, I highly doubt you could top this one for value for money. I have purchased backups and sit poised for the next sale. Aquacare HP
My GP suggested this to deal with the keratosis on my arms, and while it didn't do much for that (I think he thought the skin was raised lumps, which it wasn't) it is fantastic for slathering on your feet and walking around with socks on for a while. My feet turn into rubbery elephant hooves at the drop of the hat, and this stuff makes it easier to trim nails, cuticles, calluses, all that fun stuff. I managed to accidentally have two tubes of this going at the same time, so I'mma just keep rolling with the other. The Body Shop Neroli Jasmin EDT
Now discontinued, sadly. Beautiful citrusy cocktail that's like dousing yourself in a Singapore Sling. I will miss it terribly. The BS's Indian Night Jasmine is vaguely reminiscent, but it doesn't pack quite the same punch, and I do really like the shape and size of the Neroli Jasmin. Compact and robust. Not that the new EDT shape isn't, but it's definitely designed more for sitting on a dressing table than rolling around in a handbag. Will be missed. Lipstick Queen 15 minutes of fame - 11 Minutes
I've been nursing this gloss for ages. I picked it up on clearance at Kit and it's a constant source of disappointment that I didn't grab a second or third at the time. It's a sheer flattering gloss and goes on with a brush/roll-up clickpen type thing. I've been carrying it around for ages and almost all of the exterior markings are gone, and it is a sad, sad day. Sleep well, sweet prince.
So whats happening elsewhere? Priceline sales have been my undoing; I have a bloody great pile of products that I'm too intimidated to even look at. I will admit to now owning an embarrassing amount of Essence Beauty Beats products (otherwise known as the Bieber-line), but make no apologies for the five two-packs of hairties I now own - they are incredible. If you're a ponytailer you need some.
Elsewhere I have not one but THREE indie cosmetic lines to look at - ultra excited about that - a bunch of fragrance reviews and almost certainly some GIFs and navel gazing. Cripes, I can make anything sound appealing.
Hows 2014 shaping up for you? I've been largely mooching around, playing minecraft and iOS games and doing a sadly small amount of writing. The heat has not helped. At least my laundry is getting done...? I can't even try to dress that up as a silver lining.
In terms of the rest of this year...? I turn 30, which is something of a shock to both myself and everyone who even vaguely knows me. I want to go back to Singapore in the middle of the year, I want to start a podcast. Yep, that's pretty much it. It'd likely be a gaming podcast with female hosts/guests, since I still think that's ultra underrepresented. I probably have an unhealthy attachment to the sound of my own strangely-deep voice.
So what about you? What is 2014 earmarked as? I'm personally going to put more time and effort into working on and submitting writing to various places. I only started doing this mid last year, and it's a bit embarrassing how obvious it is that I should have been doing this years ago. Slow on the uptake, me.
It's also only just sunk in that I now have a brother in law. WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD. So weird.
What I do with this site is profoundly un-groundbreaking. I faff around with smells and colors and textures and then wash it all off and forget about it, which might go some way to explaining why real artists tend to make me a bit self conscious. Easily one of the most profound Real Artist experiences I've had was meeting Campbell Whyte, a Perth artist and illustrator who Luke and I knew through our various friends in the comics community.
Beyond scaring the crap out of me with his general existence, Campbell has a fondness for pop culture referencing that feeds nicely into Luke+I’s general materialism, which is why we now have a happy little Whyte collection in the house.
(one of many)
Via Campbell we also encountered his glorious lady Liz Marruffo, equally epic on an artistic front, and Nazario, the little dude they made together. The three combine and power up like some kind of Art Voltron.
They are the epitome of artistic output and ultimately the kind of people who make me wish I’d spent more time in high school art instead of drawing Billy Corgan fanfic cartoons.
(It's Vanilla Ice and the amazing saxophone dude from The Lost Boys. You know - this one)
AGES ago (I want to say six months. Was it six months?) this genius family went on a huge worldwide trip that covered a chunk of the Americas and all manner of artistic endeavors. They bought clothing and decorations for their upcoming wedding, had little mariachi outfits made for Nazario, bought some glorious embroidered Mexican blankets, had bundles of sketches and notebooks and paints and pens and all manner of things. As you do with a trip that huge, they essentially brought everything they owned along with them.
Obviously this is a shitty thing to happen to anyone, but the specifics of this - half finished art works, wedding clothes, all of a little boys toys and clothing - just made it sort of worse. I can’t even imagine the logistical horror and sadness of having something like that tacked onto the end of what seemed like an idyllic and life changing trip.
In these kinds of situations it’s pretty natural to grasp around for how to help out in a way that’s as un-annoying as possible, and as far as I can tell people have really stepped up to the plate by buying a stack of commissions and donating (which is an epic option. Check out the above link for some awesome pop-culture art including Zelda, TMNT, Game of Thrones and about a million more. Do you have a nerd sibling? Batman commission. Done), but beyond buying a commission (which I did, totes excited) I suspected I might be able to possibly wrangle something.
To communicate the scope of what was lost, Campbell and Liz have been compiling a list of what they can remember was in their luggage. Along with all the heart breaking stuff - art works, toys, tourist pieces, are all the mundane things that you take while travelling, including Liz’s Pevonia products.
Anyone who has had to replace a WHOLE skincare regime knows that it’s a pretty big and expensive endeavor, even if the line isn't a high-high end one. So I wrote a long, rambling and very furtive email to Kanya, the very awesome PR at Pevonia, and asked if we could maybe arrange something and maybe we could do some cross promo and it’d be really cool maybe. Having not really tried that with a PR before, I was completely prepared to be politely turned down or ignored, but no!! Kanya got back to me, details were exchanged and sometime in the near future or near past, Liz will receive a care package from Pevonia with all the products she lost overseas, three overall.
So I’m a little bit thrilled that my stupid materialistic hobby actually put me in a position where I could annoy people into going and doing really wonderful things for people who deserve it. Thanks Kanya, and thank you Campbell for fielding my 100 questions, and Liz for being a babe.
Pevonia loves the arts. Good work, team.
So in that vein of things it seemed right and proper to attach a Pevonia product review to this, since it’s been on my to-do list for an embarrassingly long time, mostly because I had no particular quibble with it which makes it harder to write about. Oily ladies, gaze upon: the balancing mask.
This pint-sized wonder reminds me quite strongly of the Queen Helene Mint Julep mask - same color, same approximate smell. The main difference is in consistency. While the QHMJ is dense to the point of toothpaste, the Pevonia one is thinner and easier to shift around on the face. It's loaded with good things - kaolin and azulene, both glorious for oily sensitives like myself, plus carrot oil and vitamin B. The initial smell is quite chemical, though it eases off into something fruity and sweet.
Because it is a small container - 50ml, which is little for a face mask - I've been using this as a spot treatment. It seems the most effective for really oily open-wound type pimples (ew) - it dries up excess oil very fast and pulls a lot of the inflammation out. When you've hit that point of oozing, painful horror, this one is a big relief. The Pevonia applied is less likely to frighten the bejesus out of your postman, besides. It gives you a green tint while it's on your skin, as opposed to the QHMJ, which is the visual equivalent of a faceplant in a bowl of guacamole.
Pevonia Botanica is a salon line, so your options are online, or through a postcode search to see who's stocking it nearby. Via this I've discovered that the salon five minutes away from my house stocks it. Oh WELL then, obviously the powers that be are giving me a thumbs up.
And may I drive home the visible proof of Pevonia being pretty great? Observe:
Consider me sold.
I will reiterate that while I think Liz's work is accounted for for a while, Campbell is accepting commissions and his work is glorious. You should. You definitely should.
Obvious disclaimers: All mentioned above. Face mask sent for consideration! All art credits to Campbell Whyte and Elizabeth Marruffo.
Here's the probably with big palette/sets of makeup - I buy them, I'm enthused, I play with them, then I come to the logistics of swatching and writing, and it's all suddenly overwhelming.
And to be fair the MP Sweet Kisses set is really big. Reeeally big.
I'm pretty impressed with the packaging - the tin in obviously lovely, but the two-tray system works well, and the construction of the individual trays is pretty genius. It's a coated foam, but a very dense foam that doesn't bend or buckle (under usual use). And you just grab the ribbons and shift the top tray to reach the bottom, and if you were so inclined you could haul both trays out and use the tin for something else entirely. It's a pet irritation of mine when a product comes in a beautiful case but has an inside configured only for that product, meaning that you can only throw it out when the products gone.
Swatch it up swatch it up swatch it up now
The quality of the shadows varies a fair bit. The first three are chalky and only lightly pigmented, but the three that follow are like HOLY CRAP, dense and buttery and lovely. Maybe ignore that as far as I can tell Honey Crunch and Toffee are sort of identical. Nevermind! Double of a wonderful thing is still a wonderful thing. Last two shades are back to sort of pale and light going, though the Strawberry Cream is extremely pretty and fairy princess-y.
Things get a big more experimental in the second half - Chocolaste Whip is a pretty disappointing greyish brown, Pistachio is a powerhouse mid-pigment with all kinds of colors and tones in it. I really like Pistachio. It came out of nowhere, didn't think much of it in the pan.
Black Forest is a uniquely sedate take on adult lavender, which could probably bear to be a bit denser. Praline is another disappointing one - greyish blue, and a color I'll never touch - and is then followed by Truffle which is like a glorious buttery bronze fist right to the face. Easily my favorite.
Mint Slice is likely to close to the blue spectrum to be of use to me, but I do like it as a color. It's essentially a really shimmery turquoise, and a brave choice for a palette. Alongside Maple Fudge these two make me wish for big dark eyes with which I could pair blue shadows.
I suspect Dark Cluster could be made to work better than I've managed. It's pretty unique, a dark blue steel/grey shimmer that isn't too pigmented or chalky. My immediate response to it is to maybe pair it up with Pistachio.
And the bottom tray - and these didn't do much for me. Cinnamon Spice is too dark for me to realistically use, Macaron is too yellow-based, Marshmallow is of that barbie-pink variety which makes me feel uneasily like mutton dressed like lamb, and Peach Parfait is - okay. The two blushes also smell weirdly like petrified strawberries.
Elsewhere the mascara / brow gel are pretty good, though the brow gel could stand to have more product in the tube. I don't often use eyeshadow primer (sorry, sorry) so I'm not an expert, but this one is a nice shade and dries fast, which counts for something, yes? Yes?
The Sweet Kisses and Sweet Shadows sets are limited editions from Priceline - and damn, really, you get a lot for what you pay (this ones $20, the other is $15). Not all the shades hit it, but the ones that do are pretty great.