A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…


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Christmas Has Me Confused…

***The following should have been broken down into more than one post, but I started rambling…and you know how that goes…

When I was a little kid growing up we always had to sing in Christmas pageant show. I have to admit while I learned the words I didn’t really sing, just sort of mouthed most of the words. Sometimes some sound would come out but those bursts were short and few. Let’s just say I was doing the audience a favor. When I lived in New York I learned a Christmas carol and one Hanukkah song. So when I was six I sang “The Dreidel Song.” While we were not wearing their cute little outfits, it probably did sound like this:

When I think about it, it must have been such a confusing sight to see a Christian Asian Venezuelan American singing a Jewish song. Oy vey, sometimes it’s better not to over think those sort of things. In fact I had another confusing Christmas moment this year. I was in my car listening to the classical radio station, because sometimes a gal needs something soothing to relax her during California drive time, and the DJ/radio personality said that the Christmas carols are a somewhat new invention, from what I can tell the 15th century is the earliest record. He went on to say that Christmas was actually more of a time of quiet reflection.

The idea of a quiet reflection sounded quite lovely to me, especially in stark contrast to the Technicolor Modern Christmas we enjoy. I hope we can all agree it’s become a little less secular and a little more commercial, I remember one year stores were starting to pimp Christmas in July. Folks compete with decorations. I remember winning a cubicle Christmas decorating contest a few years ago, one grumpy loser said it’s because I had so many decorations, wasn’t that the point though? There are present politics, with people trying to interpret hidden meanings from gifts and some trying to outdo others with the presents they give. And then the forced thank you’s from people who you may have felt obliged but were not quite heartfelt in giving a gift to. But it is as important to be a gracious recipient as well as a thoughtful giver. So I try my best to not get involved with present politics and heinous decoration contests.

The DJ got me thinking about the origins of Christmas, I knew that Jesus may not have been born on December 25th, but why it is celebrated on that day is greatly theorized. Some say it’s because of the Roman Winter Solstice or the Germanic Yuletide, others say it’s because the church wanted to control pagan rituals so they created a religious holiday.  I also found out a little more about Santa Claus, or who it is based upon, namely Saint Nicholas of Myra. Saint Nicholas was famous for giving gifts to the impoverished.  He passed away on December 6th, so you see how the poor guy got caught up in the Christmas legacy. But somehow we went away from celebrating it as the birth of Christ threw in St. Nick, who for some reason ended up with flying reindeer (huh?) and committed to it being about a time of gift giving stress. Does anyone else think that this evolved in a somewhat toxic manner? I mean we created a day called Black Friday, and some people have been tragically killed trying to obtain gifts. But I may be over thinking it.

The lines, the shopping, and sometimes forced cheer can be very stressful. Which makes the idea of Christmas as less of a time for things and more of a time for thought very appealing to me. In fact this year my Christmas was quite subdued, this was by intentional design. And I really enjoyed it. There were some presents, minimal decorating and tons of baking (chocolate chip cookies for the cookie exchange) which was very cathartic. I gave Mom a hand with the hallacas and they were scrumptious. For dinner I made Braised Lamb Shanks and Baked Potatoes as well as a few other things and we stuffed ourselves. My lamb shanks were based on this recipe (but I adjusted some things).

So how were your Christmases I hope they were lovely. I hope no one was stressed out by present politics or competitive decorating. And I hope this ramble didn’t depress you.

 

 

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Mele Kalikimaka…

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Merry Christmas Friends!!!! I’ve been super busy so I haven’t had a chance to do all the postings I wanted to do. But I wanted to say a quick Seasons Greetings. Well I’ve got to go check on my lamb and tatters.

Hope you’re having a great Christmas day!!!!!!


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Eclectic Christmas Songs…

I hope that folks are having a wonderful holiday season. Just in case here is a playlist of what I find humorous Christmas Songs…

Let’s say you aren’t feeling the spirit yet, this may describe the sentiment…

Perhaps you are into it and find the countdown fun, this bit may be for you…

Been good???

Been bad????

And the lunacy continues…yeah I know it’s dopey…


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Even The Longest Day Has Its End…

****Disclaimer: This is the sort of post of grumbles. So if anyone has a grumble or wants to read about grumbles, have at it.

Oh yesterday was horrific as I spent most of the day taking care of “fires” and quite honestly stomping around like a raging bull. Alas, unfortunately there are some days that one cannot be a soft and pretty flower, but an aggressive assertive critter, much like a Rottweiler I suppose. Indeed it seemed like one problem after another, weird juju with the phone company and their lack of competence as well as the EcoNew folks who have yet to send out the promised product. It just seemed like everyone was not capable of giving me an answer, which can be entirely frustrating.

That grumble was all that I needed to start me bemoaning the lack of quality customer service. In fact this year I have had a few moments when I thought that the representative was completely unqualified and who’s only purpose served was to damage the credibility of the business. Not only did I find them incompetent, but the experience left me with my jaw agape and decidedly no longer a customer. I actually have two ghastly experiences which you may or may not find interesting.

The first is related to a eyewear purchase I had made. I had bought a sunglasses clip to put in my car. The idea is that the clip holds these securely in place for easy access when you need them, rather than fumbling for them in your purse to get out of the case. Guess what, in the summer the acrylic became soft and the mechanism twisted my Kate Spade glasses. I was annoyed a bit, but I had a few more sunglasses (I refuse to call them sunnies, I would feel like a boob doing that) so I was not in dire need of replacement. Now I found it a product defect that it would twist the frames, I thought the tension should be adjusted so it would not. I went into Sunglass Hut and explained what happened, I was not looking for anything just to alert them to the product defect.  After my explanation the sales girl said that it looked like I stepped on it, I refuted it and said that it melted. She kept insisting that I stepped on it and decided she could fix it (she was going to put a new screw in which does not help a warped piece of acrylic), that it was impossible that it melted. Now that pissed me off, so I said, “Are you saying that I am lying, that is very insulting.” I was so livid at this point that I decided to leave, because it would have gotten uglier from there.

Now I don’t have high hopes for Forever21. Their products are low quality and their designs can be questionable. But I pop my head in every so often for a gem, maybe a style item that I want to play with but don’t necessarily want to keep for a while. I was in search of a pleated skirt, and would you believe I had to explain what a pleat was to the sales girl. She looked at me like I was speaking pig latin. But this level of ignorance seems consistent in all Forever21s. I was once looking for a tunic, and the girl showed me a top with a peplum. Now the word peplum does originate from tunic, but in modern fashion a tunic is a longer top that cover the bum and a peplum is a top with a sort of skirt at around waist length. It does not necessarily cover the entire bum. These are basic fashion ideas that I thought most people would know, especially…IF YOU WORK IN A PLACE THAT SELLS CLOTHES. Um….duh…

OK, so it may be a tad bitchy, but some days you just wonder how they ended up with such an ill fitting job. OK, folks so I got that off my chest, anyone else have a grumble. Let it fly. It actually feels good.


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The Charlie Brown Malaise…

Normally Black Friday is like a starting gun and I begin the Holiday race like a trained athlete. In fact I normally gift shop throughout the year, buying and putting aside gifts for loved ones. I typically sequester off sections of my bedroom so that these presents can have a comfortable stay before they are wrapped and given to their respective recipients. It’s something that I enjoy doing too.

However, this year I haven’t had the spirit to do so. Actually my shopping has been at a minimum this year. And my beloved Black Friday was mostly about running errands and getting a few bargains here and there, I think. At the end of the day I was exhausted, and down for the count. Luckily there were no issues in my day, but apparently there were robberies and shootings as well as some crazy lady with pepper spray. I am not sure when, but it has become a day of possible violence and there always seems to be some unfortunate stories of deaths and the astonishing way people treated each other. For this reason I try to stay away from Target (although I ran in and out to get an iPod), Wal-Mart and the mall. Costco and smaller stores are where I go as well as cyber shopping. It’s just not worth the trouble. Plus I love supporting smaller independent sellers, they are an important part of our community and should be treated that way. I am a huge fan of the idea of Small Business Saturday and love the fact that Amex gave me 25 bucks to do so.

In spite of all my mini sprees it hasn’t really felt much like Christmas for me. I haven’t even decorated. I don’t know why, it’s one of my favorite things to do, make my home festive and cozy. Point of fact, I own ,and have been known to wear, an elf hat. Alas the hat is out but I have yet to take out the remaining decorations, again I am not sure why I haven’t had the Christmas spirit visit me just yet. I am not full of humbuggery, but not full of holiday glee either. I wonder if I have a bit of the Charlie Brown Christmas dysfunction…

It may be some sort of seasonal melancholy. I am sure it didn’t help that I’ve been watching movies that are both winsome and dealt with liminality (Spirited Away and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya). And listening to wistful music (Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1). It has also been pointed out to me that I have been sighing a great deal too lately. *Sigh*


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Curiosity Quest For Asian Beauty Products…

Dear friends, I have been trying to write this post for a very long time now. I came up with a while back but it has been my intention to actually construct it since Saturday, I started with a paragraph then stepped away to do something and never went back (avoidance theory). I think I’ve found starting the task to be quite daunting.  The very notion that I could write anything that is relatively close to a compendium of Asian beauty products is ridiculous, absolutely laughable. Given that the level of absurdity I decided not to write such a thing, rather I would tell you some of my findings of Asian beauty products.

I am going to skip over the background reasons for the curiosity quest and just get into the nitty-gritty. Firstly Asian skin care is intense, I mean these gals do not mess around. I was reading this article on this Japanese model who is in her forties but looks like she’s in her twenties. She spends an intensive five hours on skin care and make-up. They ended the article with Helena Rubinstein’s quote of, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” It may be mean and it may be offensive, but it may also be *gulp* true. I can only say that I have seen some downright magical transformations with just make-up and skin care routine, not only that the transformed person seems to have a bit more self-confidence than before. I suppose it can also be said, in a folksy sort of way, that “powder and paint make you look what you aint.” But I digress, skin care is paramount to having an easy to work with canvas. There are a ton of Japanese and Korean brands that focus on skin care. I’ve tried a few and would have to say one of my favorite things are the masks. If you’re interested here is a list of some of the brands that I’ve tried.

  • My friend sent me this mask from Japan, it’s actually a Korean brand called Pure Smile (here is a link to their Facebook page). I couldn’t find the exact one she sent, but here is something similar to the one she sent on the Yes Style site. It was really interesting to wear, even enjoyable, and the results were pretty decent. My skin did not feel any negative effects, I will say that you should be careful not to use too many products at once, that is never a good time for your skin.
  • I have tried a few Missha products (another Korean brand) and some I love and some not so much. I find some of their make-up products hit or miss, sometimes lacking pigment and other times decent. But that can be said for a lot of cosmetic lines too. I also enjoyed their yogurt mask (which I am not sure is still available or not). It was a peel off mask, and my liking it may have something to do with my weird love of peeling things off (like when you put glue on your hand when you were a kid). But they also have sheet masks, I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t vouch for them, but I do have the desire to try them out.
  • Skinfood is finally on U.S. shores and I have been stalking the line. Yup, another Korean skin care line which also happens to have a cosmetics line. Now the make-up looks like it’s geared towards 12 year olds, but they have anti-aging and wrinkle products. I kind of think the marketing is cute and playful, but I think that’s just the style of the under 40 set in Korea. What I love about this store is the amount of samples they offer. I really like the nail polishes I’ve gotten. Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese gals are crazy for nail art. These girls are not messing around. They are also available on other sites, like Yes Style.
  • Another Korean brand I’m in love with is Laneige. The skin care is fantastic and their make up products are so fantastic. I have one of their glossy sticks and I’m not sure how to describe what it does for your lips. It’s that soft glowy iridescent quality you see on those beautiful sophisticated characters on Korean dramas. I heart that thing so much. Sadly my color is discontinued so I use sparingly.
  • Shiseido and all those side brands are insane. I think of it like the Japanese Estee Lauder. You know because Estee Lauder owns MAC, Prescriptives, Aveda, Tom Ford, Clinique, Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown…(you get the picture). Well Shiseido the company was born in 1872 and since then been very busy, it has a few brands under its belt also including Nars and Cle de Peau. In fact in the U.S. we only get the bare bones stripped down version of the brand. The actual brand has lower priced lines that are marketed in drug stores and huge.
  • Then there is Kanebo. Again we have a very stripped down version of the line here. I don’t think it’s as well-known here as Shiseido is but it is super popular in Asian countries, and thusly with Asian women everywhere. I love their mascara, but it’s an arm and a leg, and for some reason I can’t accept paying such a high price for a product that will only last a few weeks. I want to venture into the other lines, but I have been trying to be very strict with myself till I get my stash under control. Day by day people, day by day. But when I do get to the point where I know everything I have and have used a considerable amount I will allow myself a purchase or too, until then it’s a lusting sort of relationship (Kate, Lunasol, Coffret D’Or wait for me, I’m coming).
  • I’ve also tried Bosciaskin care. I like that their products are natural, but don’t take that to mean that their potency is diluted at all. I tried their black mask and that thing made my eyes water, it stung and burned them. I was sitting there trying to figure out if I should/could wash it off. The problem being that my eyes were watering and I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the sink without running into something. I wasn’t and just closed my eyes, when it started to dry it didn’t burn anymore. I liked the results, so I actually used it a second time. The moisturizer did not burn but it was quite strong too.
  • There are also lines that are not specifically Japanese but are developed for an Asian market like Joe and Paul, Jill Stuart, and Anna Sui. All I can say is that these lines are magical (picture magical fairy dust falling from the sky, and you with fairy wings).

This is just a partial list, there are so many other lines and wonderful things to see and play with. There are a lot of Asian bloggers out there with fantastic reviews. Here are a few:

The second thing you have to remember is the Asian Aesthetic. Think about some of the classic Asian artwork (although all cultures prize aesthetic differently), generally in many works the use of color is serene and minimal. The usage of blank space is as a tool to support the impact of color. So too has the style of make-up developed into understated beauty. Not that there aren’t some gals out there trying really hard to look hardcore and different, just that the mainstream beauty ideal is to play up features by using softer application and neutral (or neutralized) tones.

While I was at the Shiseido counter a few weeks back the Make-up Artist pointed out that a lot of Asian powder products are finely milled and have a build-able quality to them so you can layer colors. This quality may be interpreted as not being as pigmented, but a less saturated color allows for greater variety of looks. You will be able to blend with greater ease. Brushes were always meant to sweep across the product and gently sweep up the color to then softly breeze upon your eye. This gives you more control, helping you to avoid looking immediately garish. Not that bold and vivid colors are bad, but I like the idea of working my way up to that point. Again this is just an aesthetic, a preference, it doesn’t mean that it is better or right, but how I like it.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough. If you are interested in trying out some of these products but don’t live by Asian stores here is a list of places to check out online:

Let me know what you think…


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Confessions of a Face Painter…

Alright, deep breath, I am going to divulge something to you my friends that may or may not come as a surprise to you. I am…a…face painter. Now when most people think of face painting there are two things that may come to mind:

  1. Painting flowers and other decorations on faces, such as children and perhaps hippies.
  2. Sports fans…remember David Putty from Seinfeld, you know support the team. I am not sure why but all of life’s moments can be hearkened back a Seinfeld episode.

However, I would like to suggest a third option. My face painting has more to do with my feeling on the aesthetics of beauty. I don’t think of my make-up application as act of slapping on some goo, but rather a bit of a cathartic ritual. For me, there is a psychological experience that goes along with it. It’s not that I am creating a mask, but I am allowing myself to be creative, to play with color and decorate myself accordingly. It is something that I really enjoy doing, there is a focus and a calm that goes through me. To that end I also enjoy watching other people apply make-up and seeing what they end up creating. Many times it will inspire me to try something new or perhaps I just stand in awe of how beautiful the outcome was.

Lately I have been thinking about usage of bright and cheery colors. I think this resurgence began a couple of months ago when I saw this e-mail from Face Stockholm. The use of the blaze of orange to accent her eye complimented by that orange lipstick made me think it was time to dig out that MAC Orange Eyeshadow that has seen very little light of day. The key to the usage of such bold color is, as with anything in life and art, balance. The strong color is used in moderation and supported by colors with a lighter quality.

I actually did not have the opportunity to play with orange as digging through the nicely packed case seemed like a bit more stress than I was ready for. But my curiosity for bright statement color was piqued once again when I saw this video from my much beloved Lisa Eldridge. While I may not do the look in such a bold way I thought why not red, although one does take the risk of looking like you were on the losing end of a fight or even worse suffering from a case of pink eye. But I was more determined. I ordered a red eyeshadow from Inglot, and found a few MAC shadows which were red or reddy pink and even red.

Then last week I stumbled upon a photo from a Shu Uemura e-mail ad from 2008 that I saved because I was so enamored with it. Honestly three years later and I still think it’s divine. I think the use of pink is so breathtakingly beautiful, it’s reminiscent of geisha make up. The face is left evened out with slight accents on the eyes and strong lips. This look is absolutely wearable as it has been augmented to be more modern.

In fact I was so moved by it’s loveliness that I e-mailed the company to see what products they used. And they so kindly answered me back with the following, in case you were interested in achieving this look:

  • Rouge unlimited crème matte OR 534M / RD 165 M
  • Glow-on M orange 55/ M pink 30/ M Brick 65
  • Face architect remodeling cream foundation he used with Foundation brush 18 goat, using Buffing technique.
  • Face powder matt colorless
  • Powder foundation natural glow finish (Only the cheek area for shade and glow)
  • UV Underbase 
  • Brushes for the visual: Pony #17, Sable # 8HR, Kolinsky #5R, Kolinsky/sable #10

I know that some people view make-up as silly or as a mask that women wear trying to obfuscate their opponent (i.e. men and perhaps other women). And maybe that is accurate for some, we all have our reasons. My reason is not to cover my face. I actually don’t mind my bare face one bit, on some days it’s just sunscreen and lip balm. Rather it is to pay a bit of attention to myself (muching up as my Granny would say) and let my creativity flow. To the same extent I paint my nails, especially if I am feeling a bit stressed or down it feels like a nice thing I do for myself and it perks me up immediately, an absolute stress reliever.

So what do you do for fun? Sorry boys if this was not fun, I’ve got one more girly post to do. I guess it’s girly time.