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Friday, September 28, 2012

I Didn't Even Know Eyelashes Could Be Permed

Day 272

In my series about Medical Spa Treatments: The REAL Story (I just made that up but it sounds so investigative!), I now share some treatments for the eyes. During my daughter's first week at her new job she called and invited me to have my eyelashes permed. Say what? The word "perm" still elicits scary flashbacks of my home-perm days in which my mom, with best intentions, rolled my entire head in the smallest perm rods available. I had a misshapen-ed head of frizz for months. I had or applied many, many perms in my youth with mixed results but the smell of perm solution still makes me anxious. 

So, I did not jump at the chance to have my eyelashes permed. In fact, I have never even seen someone with ringlet eyelashes! No, she assures me, the result is not curly-curls, rather the effect of having used an eyelash curler that lasts for 6 weeks. "But I don't use an eyelash curler," I protest. "Exactly." she says, and I agree to come in.

My eyelashes are short, blonde and sparse. I am beyond skeptical but she wants to get comfortable with the products used in her spa (at my expense, I wonder?) She settles me into the comfortable treatment chair and cleans the area around my eyes. Then, she uses some sort of adhesive (yikes!) to attach tiny, tiny rods to my eyelashes. She applies the solution which smells exactly like the perm solution of my youth. Eyes must remain closed for 15 minutes or so. Then, she uses the neutralizer (all of this making me think of Elle Woods in her trial debut in Legally Blonde) and then cleans the area. And guess what! My eyelashes are visible! Not darker, but they curl upward attractively making them visible! I quick swipe of mascara and I can definitely see the difference! I would absolutely recommend this to someone who uses an eyelash curler regularly. 
I didn't take a before picture but this is after an eyelash perm.
The following week, I have my eyelashes tinted. In just 20 minutes total, my eyelashes have color! I chose black but she has many shades to choose from, including blue! Lashes are not as full as with mascara but I can easily go out with NO mascara. This will be wonderful for summer and vacations. This is one treatment I will be having regularly.

Finally, on my way out of the Medical Spa, I spotted a container of "semi-permanent makeup pens." I figured I was on a roll so I sampled the eyeliner, meant to last for at least 24 hours. I applied a fine line across my lash line in the mirror. With eyelashes permed, tinted and now, fresh liner, I felt pretty hot. Warning: semi-permanent eyeliner takes a few minutes to dry. 
And yes, it lasted 24 hours.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nothing to Wear.

Day 271

75% of my wardrobe is appropriate for 25% of the year. Arggg ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Am I the Only One Afraid to Put my Jeans On?

Day 270

Ahhh summer ... Shorts, dresses, playclothes, all loose and stretchy. Love it. As fall sets in and tans fade, it's time to cover up. It's not even October yet and I'm as scared as can be, haunted house, black cat, witches and mummies scared. It's time to face it: I have to put my jeans back on.

I'm not sure what happens in my drawer over the summer. Does the heat shrink the fabric fibers? Do the cotton molecules go into some strange, miniaturizing hibernation? Do tiny, evil fairies sneak in and take int the seams with tiny, invisible, evil thread? I'm not sure but I know something happens. 

Every fall I go through the same routine. I wait until near freezing before I give in to the covered up fashions of fall. Sure, I may shiver constantly (maybe it will burn extra calories). I circle around the issue, sporting leggings and yoga pants. Then one day, as inevitable as the changing leaves, I have to face the denim. For most people, summer is the easy time to keep weight off. It should hold true for me as I exercise more, play outside until dark and eat salads. But, I also love summer cocktails and quick summer snack foods. Ice cream on a warm summer evening. Candies popped in my mouth between volleyball games. I am almost always larger at the end of summer than at the beginning.

Opening the jeans drawer, I have to check all the tags and try to remember which are forgiving, which are for skinny days and which were just plain stupid but were on sale. The denim feels thick and foreboding. I wait until the last possible second to dress. I step in, one foot, then the next, holding my breath. I know sometime around mid-thigh what I'm up against. Screw it. Up over the hips. Then, do they button? How much spillover? Can I even breath? I don't know just yet because I'm still dancing around the issue, freezing my butt off. Am I the only one afraid of jeans in the fall?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Microdermabrasion Facial: A Steal at $29

Day 268

This is the first in a series of medical spa treatments I am reviewing. I have heard of microdermabrasion and pictured it like sand blasting. I saw a friend after said procedure a few years ago and it wasn't pretty. Supposedly, once the swelling and redness went away you were left with a fresh new layer of skin. No thanks. The microdermabrasion at the Medical Spa where my daughter works (White Lake Family Health Services) incorporates a newer version of equipment. Instead of the traditional crystal microdermabrasion, she uses diamond (oooo!) dermabrasion which is far more gentle. Still a bit skeptical, she talked me in to trying it out. I did a little online research. Many spas claim that microdermabrasion will do everything short of changing your eye color: remove spots, wrinkles, etc. Claire says that realistically, I can expect that all the dead, gross, old upper skin is swept away for a fresher look.

I tell her to treat me as any other spa client so I could critique her services. The treatment room is a good mix of clinical and spa so I feel a little more like I was doing something good for myself rather than just pure indulgence. (Indulgence is great but I have guilt issues.) In a pleasantly dim room, she cleanses and massages my face. It is soooo relaxing! The microdermabrasion is done with a diamond tipped wand and does not hurt at all. It vibrates slightly as she skims all areas of my face. I spend a few minutes with my face wrapped in a steaming towel, heavenly. Once all areas have been treated, she sets out clearing pores. I'm no pimply teenager but it is amazing how many yucky, clogged pores I have, and I have a real problem dealing with them myself. Basically, I had given up hope on those nasty things. She has a few cool tools at her disposal and I zone out as she stealthily attacks my problem zones. 

I can't believe an hour has passed when she tells me we are finished. I leave feeling scrubbed, very slightly red, and a bit tingly. With diamond microdermabrasion, there is supposedly no "down time," meaning I should be able to go back to work. I guess I could but I really don't want to put make-up on this fresh skin right now, I just want to relish the smoothness for a while. 

The next day I am very, very pleased with the smoothness of my skin. To my amazement, a couple small brown spots are gone (not the larger ones) and my most annoying, always swollen clogged pore is practically disappeared. I can honestly say I am a believer. My face feels like it's had a good spring cleaning.

In an effort to boost her clientele, Claire has a Groupon available this week. You can see it here, but if you call or email Claire, she will give you the same price of $29 without the third party (better for her actually). I think the offer is only good through September27 but you have a year to use it. As a former skeptic, I am shamelessly flaunting my fresh skin feeling younger. Really! 
Claire can be reached at (248)666-4490 or you can email her at wlfhsspa@aol.com.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Best Face Forward

Day 267

Clothes, by definition, cover our bodies, protecting us from the elements. The right clothes not only cover, they disguise imperfections and enhance the good stuff. That's why I love clothes. A part you can't disguise (unless you wear a veil) is you face. 

Make-up helps. As fine line and wrinkles appear, make-up can become a real challenge, often settling in and making things even worse. My own skin is sporting more than a few wrinkles, and if I could only piece together my age spots, I could have a perma-tan. I use face wash and moisturizing cream but that's the extent of my facial care. I have had professional facials a few times. The facials I have endured have always been part of a spa package, a generally well-meaning gift that is wasted on me. I love a massage and a mani-pedi but that's about it. The reason? Every facial I have ever had ends with me feeling like a skin-care loser and me spending too much on recommended products. "Ohhhh ... those pores ..." "Have you ever tried a moisturizer?" "Hmmm ..." "If only you had been using XYZ super-expensive product, this may not have happened."

In an interesting turn of events, my daughter upgraded her job and is now an  esthetician  for a physician in White Lake. When she was in cosmetology school, I never took the time to utilize these skills. In her new job, she is excited to share her skills and so she has been summoning my husband and I quite regularly. As a result, I am partaking in procedures I have never tried, and frankly, some I will never go without again!

Since there is simply nothing more fashionable than good skin, I will share each and every procedure I try and give you my honest opinion. I'll also share the things my husband has enjoyed. Already I can am kicking myself. Why did I wait so long?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heidi Klum Truly Scrumptious: Truly Adorable

Day 263

Early on in the No-Buy Challenge year, I determined that I would have to extend the challenge to include not buying clothes for my family and as gifts. I can achieve the same "buyer's thrill" buying cargo shorts as I do a shift dress. Unexpectedly, not buying clothes for my two kids, 19 and 21, has helped me to let go, and let them grow up.

My grandson, on the other hand, is proving a greater challenge. I am nearly defenseless against little tiny t-shirts, miniature jackets and adorable sweaters. Clothes like these don't help:
 Babies R Us Truly Scrumptious         


I stay away from the Toddler Department these days but this line by Heidi Klum called Truly Scrumptious at Babies R Us really caused a pang in my chest. Reasonably affordable and cute as could be, I still have an instant, deep down reaction: Wouldn't I look cooler if my grandson wore these?


Admittedly, I am having a difficult time overcoming the feeling that the way my grandson looks is a direct reflection on me. I find that the days I watch him, I want him to be well dressed and, hopefully, to coordinate with my outfit. As if he is some super-cute accessory. This started the day he was born and I pushed to have the outfit I selected be the one he was first photographed in. I even wondered if something he wore made me look fat.


Truthfully, he really couldn't get cuter. We have been blessed with a beautiful, personable boy who is both smart and funny. That should be enough. But there are days when he is delivered to me for the day when I still cringe. My daughter, the working mother, can barely get out the door some days let alone be certain her son has a completely coordinated look that both compliments and flatters his grandmother. How inconsiderate. Last year, I would have packed him up, headed to the mall and performed a toddler makeover within the hour. This year I am forced to swallow that thought and simply marvel as this gift of a child. If his clothes don't match, his shoes from the wrong season or the outfit a bit large or small, I remind myself that a monster t-shirt, a colorful jacket or a miniature sweater could not make me look thinner, smarter or cooler.  I'm pretty sure that when he's around, no one looks at me, anyway!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Summer Would Have Been Better With ...

Day 260

As I peer at summer in the rear view mirror, and while the thoughts are still fresh, I have compiled the list of clothes and accessories that I really wish I could have (but probably would not have) purchased over this past summer.

  1. 1 or 2 well-fitting bathing suits in good fabric. The mix and match idea is fine but each piece should fit well. My go-to black bottoms are hopelessly stretched out of shape. A second pair bind unattractively. My best tankini top is too short, another one has Madonna cone cups and the third has led to more than one "wardrobe malfunction." I spend a significant amount of time in swimwear in the summer. It is time to put significant effort into finding the right suits.
  2. Good sunglasses. I tend to by $10-20 fashion sunglasses reasoning that I just lose them anyway. Grow up! I have been practically blinded by bright sunlight this summer because the glasses are worthless for the job intended-- protecting my eyes from the sun. My husband has three good pairs which he keeps in cool cases and has not lost them. I have to buy the good glasses and take care of them. 
  3. Better basic sandals. Strappy, colorful sandals are great fun but I need some better everyday choices. One or two comfortable pairs of platform wedge sandals would have been an excellent addition to my collection. Neutral colors like black, brown, red, and lime would be optimal (yes, red and lime are neutral for me).
  4. Casual shorts and tops. No matter the quality, I think casual shorts and tops probably have to be replaced every couple years. The ones I had all summer have been in rotation for a bit too long resulting in stretched out, sad looking play clothes.
  5. T-shirt dresses. I am still all about the dresses but I think a few easy to wear t-shirt or tank dresses would have rounded out my dress selection nicely. 
I am documenting these needs now so I will have a better chance of having my priorities straight come next spring. I get so distracted (look! shiny! sparkly!) by special pieces that I neglect the basics. Yet another strategy to help keep me on track once this no-buy year has finally, mercifully come to and end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Transitional Wardrobe: September is the Split-Personality Month

Day 256

This morning I awoke to a distinct chill in the air. It's September, a split-personality month resulting is fashion dilemmas. It can be 85 degrees and sunny yet a sun dress really doesn't seem right. It can be 50 degrees and boots just feel silly. I try to hang on to summer as long as possible. The key is not to look like you don't own a calendar.

I've been giving this month thought and have come up with a few reminders for myself (hopefully this will result in less time spent standing in front of my closet staring):

  • As the tan fades, so should shorts. Cropped pants are a much better transition.Skirts are an excellent alternative.
  • Sandals can be worn but I think chunkier, deeper-toned pairs are a better choice.
  • I continue in flip-flops but have put the white pairs away.
  • Summer tees should give way to darker colors. I love jewel hued tees in v-neck or scoop neck.
  • Layer up! Add a lightweight cotton sweater or sweatshirt but keep the chunky knits in the closet.
  • Dresses are for every season but I think flow-y, flowery numbers should give way to simple cut t-dresses. A long skirt can work as long as it's not too gauzy.
  • The shell that many of us wear under jackets and sweaters in the winter make lovely little tops now.
  • Cropped leggings with a sleeveless or short sleeve tunic, paired with not-strappy sandals or cute flats are a great transitional look.
  • Lightweight scarves can fend off a chill and add a splash of color or texture, try pairing with a long sleeve tee.
  • A lightweight fall jacket, not a pastel spring jacket, can be a key layering piece.
  • Pull out those cargo pants which look cool even with a tank top on warm days.
By planting these ideas in my head I think I can get through split-personality September without a clothing crisis. Maybe these reminders can help you, too.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Not to Wear

Day 254

Have you every seen the show on TLC called What Not to Wear? A woman is nominated by friends for a fashion makeover. To begin, the hosts Clinton and Stacy review the makeoveree's wardrobe. They berate the existing wardrobe, give fashion and styling advice, make the contestant cry over losing her awful clothes, then send her off all alone to shop for an entirely new wardrobe. Drama ensues when the poor, fumbling contestant wanders from store to store unsure of how to take the fashion advice. Then, like fashion super-heroes, Clinton and Stacy sweep in, take over the shopping and save the day. 

Without planning it, I had my own episode of WNTW this weekend! Only I wasn't the contestant, I was Clinton or Stacy (probably Clinton ... Shut Up!!!).

Here's how the episode went:
A good friend asked for assistance pulling together a wardrobe for a business trip. Sometimes it's hard to see past your own closet and a friend's opinion can help. Since I have committed to the no-buy challenge, I find it painful to shop, still suffering some withdrawals. Why should I help anyone else buy awesome new outfits when I can not? Especially when:

  • We are shopping for a size 2 (strike 1)
  • She has fun trips coming up (strike 2)
  • While not unlimited, budget isn't a looming factor (strike 3)
Why? Because this is my friend and she's having a fashion crisis. I can not send her off to welcome cocktail parties, wine tastings and group dinners feeling self-conscious. I want to her to project the confident, strong, sexy woman she is. 

We begin with her potential choices from her current wardrobe. She's got a good start but a few things are needed. I have a strong opinion about what looks good on this friend (and about some garments that should be donated asap). I outline what I think she should be looking for and send her on her way. 

A few hours later, my cell phone is lighting up with questions and photos. I can barely keep up. Yes to the blue, no to the stripes. How does that fit. NO to those shoes. Is that the same dress? Is it available in another color? I have plenty to do myself and I set out to do some errands. As if by otherworldly guidance, my car heads over to the mall. I didn't plan it, I just feel like my help is needed. Tie on cape. Cue super-hero music...

I find my friend at the Calvin Klein store, emerging from the fitting room, frantic. Interesting note: the sales person, a "fashionable" gentleman, was also giving advice. Very poor, very wrong advice. PEOPLE WHO WORK IN STORES DON'T NECESSARILY KNOW FASHION. He blathered on about an "it bag" and perfect pumps. I waved him off, gave my friend the "let's go" look and we left with a good dress. Off to the next store ...

I'll spare you the details but I am confident that my friend departed with a spectacular wardrobe. She got two amazing dresses that flatter her perfectly. Beautiful shoes. Excellent jewelry. A What Not to Wear success. I am also certain she could have done this without my help. The very full stores with bulging racks were simply overwhelming. Here are the lessons:
  1. Know your style and trust what you know.
  2. Avoid trends.
  3. Most salespeople do not know you or have your best interest in mind.
  4. If you have to ask, "is this wrong?" it probably is.
  5. Ask a trusted friend for help. (I can be available)
And for me, I have learned something else. The more I am forced to observe fashion, the more I learn. No longer able to compulsively buy, buy, buy, I have developed a more discerning eye (eye, eye). I am two-thirds of the way through this challenge year and there is a tiny, distant, sparkling light and the end of the tunnel.

Friday, September 7, 2012

End of Summer Un-shopping

Day 251

Early on in this no-buy challenge I sorted through each category of my wardrobe. There were three choices: keep, donate, or put to the side in a shopping bag. In the case of my shoes, I had approx. 20 pairs in the "shopping bag," meaning that if I needed them, I could retrieve them (with no penalty) and add to my keep collection. I added a note to each pair to remind myself why they were "on the bubble." Comments like, "clonky," "looks like a Dutch wooden shoe," and "weird toe cleavage" were attached to the shoe.

While we may still enjoy some warm days this year, I have a donation pickup scheduled from The Purple Heart today and I'm kind of on a roll. Sorting through the shoe "shopping bag," I decided to donate these 9 pairs:
Shoes I donated today.

Of the 9 pairs, 
5 were purchased at a 70% or more off sale and rarely worn.
2 were attempts to be younger and hip-er than I really am.
2 were pairs I had worn a few times but I felt were outdated. 

Even at super-sale prices, there is $100-$200 here. I could have bought 2 or 3 pairs of great shoes ...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Do You Wear to a Jimmy Buffett Party?

Day 249

I love a party! When we were invited to a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville party, I was struck with equal parts excitement and anxiety. What would I wear?

In the past, I would do a quick scan of my closet, determine I had NOTHING to wear and run out in search of the perfect outfit. This could take hours or days. In the case of Margaritaville clothing at Labor Day, it could have driven me insane. I would be scouring clearance racks in search of a leftover, festive summer look that was both flattering and affordable. Looking only to my existing wardrobe, this could be the best or worst thing.

I should start by saying that I surprise even myself when I find I have no real Margaritaville-wear.Lots of flower-y summer things, just nothing that screams parrot-head. I do not take theme parties lightly so I decided going to take advantage of one of my own exceptions: make something. I have a pretty large collection of fabric trims (surprised?). I started the theme with these flip flops that I decorated a couple of summers ago. 
I combed my closet for plain garments that could be enhanced. I decided on either a bright pink tee or a lime green dress. Nothing in my trim collection was exactly what I had in mind so off to JoAnn's for a legal trim purchase. An hour and a half and $20 later, I had trims for my green dress.
A trip to Party City for accessories was positively fruitless. I bought a 99 cent bright pink lei.
An hour til party time and I was scrambling around for pink thread and setting up my sewing machine. I was going to add this pink fringe-y stuff to all of the edges of my dress. Festive!

Panic-mode doesn't make for a fun start to a party. I still had jello shots to finish and serving plates to etch. As I was lowering the sewing machine needle onto my dress, it hit me. I was ruining a perfectly good dress with $20 worth of trims for a party. What the heck????

This feeling of having to look perfect for each and every event contributed largely to my over-shopping in the past. Yes, I can be a bit of an over-achiever, but how important is it REALLY to have a perfect parrot-head outfit for a neighborhood party? And how much fun would I be stressing like a crazy person?

Stop the sewing machine, take a breath and regroup. I ended up wearing the green dress with my decked-out flip flops and pink lei. Period. I was not denied admission to the party. I was not ridiculed. I'm not sure anyone looked twice. In fact, many guests were simply sporting party clothes. I was comfortable and we had a great time. 

Another big lesson this year. I understand the idea of looking nice for a party but more important than the perfect outfit is a relaxed spirit, ready for fun and laughs. I have spent so, so many hours stressing over perfect looks. So, so much money on one-time outfits. So, so much time beating myself up over not being perfect. 

I returned the bag of trims to JoAnn's. Another lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More Magazine September 2012

Day 245

More Magazine has been inching toward the coveted position of "my favorite." It is stylish, intelligent and mature without being old. I anticipated insightful fashion advice and inspiration from this issue. Last night I settled in and took in each page.

What I got was ... more of the same. The same peplums, cobalt blue, roomy coats and the all-over print dress, really nothing different from the other magazines. I did get an inspiring, fierce fashion spread featuring men's wear looks (that I am hoping to pull together from my own closet) and an interesting article by Hanna Rosin called "Why Testosterone is the New Estrogen" (pg. 126).

It's taken months but I think I have finally reached the point of magazine saturation. By examining all of these publications and comparing the advice it is finally becoming clear that my "magazine addiction" is a waste of time and money. My reasoning has been that I look to these publications for inspiration, to check out new products and the occasional recipe. What they actually provide is an hour of respite for my weary brain. Surely there are other ways to rest my brain.

I currently subscribe to at least 6 different magazines (it's sad but I'm not even sure how many). To supplement, I throw the occasional issue into my shopping cart. Wait--more than occasional, it's at least 1 per week. It's time to cut down on magazine consumption. Like sugar, alcohol, white carbs and caffeine, it's time to consume in moderation. Knowing that I will have to choose which subscriptions to keep and which to let go give me an anxious, tightening feeling.

Because of my no-buy challenge, I can no longer run out and replicate a magazine's looks. Instead, I think about them. How do I interpret those looks for myself. What do I already own that can reflect that style? Should I ever really wear that style? The answer is, I already know. Bottom line: I don't need fashion magazines anymore. I must sound like I'm on repeat, perhaps I'm still trying to convince myself. I think that most of us know what we look good in and feel confident in. If not, don't look to any anonymous  generic magazine, take a trusted friend shopping. Take me!!! I LOVE shopping vicariously through others. Trends are for sissies, fashion is forever.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

InStyle Magazine, September 2012

Day 244

Weighing in at nearly 3 pounds and a robust 652 pages: the September 2012 issue of InStyle. Featuring a photo of Jennifer Lopez and a bold "Fall Fashion!" emblazoned on the cover, traditionally, for me, it's the pièce de résistance of fashion advice. Problem is, the heft of this issue is painful to even hold! 

To be honest, 652 pages is about 452 pages too many. I'll bet a third of them are advertisements. InStyle is a beautiful magazine and I've been a subscriber for more years than I can recall. Since I am comparing magazines this month, my eye is more scrutinizing. Sadly, InStyle just isn't doing it for me anymore. The looks are more runway, less real-life. The price tags are unrealistic for 99.9% of us.  And, in an effort to take age limits off style, they do the opposite by saying that "younger gals should wear X and older gals should wear Y." 

I do enjoy the "home" section. This issue features a section about translating runway fashions to  your tabletop, but I had to wait until page 625. There's a nice article about boot care ... on page 644. To get there, I waded through metallic leather short-shorts, high wedge tennis shoes, an outfit in burgundy and pink (!), another smoky eye lesson and the worst boot collection I have seen. It's not a complete waste, but I feel like the whole issue was more effort than it was worth.

Nothing groundbreaking in trends. "Bargains" are defined as $150 and under. Crazy number of ads. I can't believe I am saying this, but I think I have outgrown InStyle magazine (not a fat joke). It's kind of liberating! I finally feel like my general common style sense is better than theirs. 

Forget InStyle! I'm all about MyStyle, BStyle, RealStyle. This is a real breakthrough.