Unpopular opinion: (Or is it popular? I can't tell. That show is everywhere, although I agree whole-heartedly with the spoiler-y Guardian review that calls it "excruciating".) Well, I promise no spoilers, but I also did not enjoy "Emily in Paris". Yes, I binged the whole season in one weekend, but, towards the end of the season, I started hating myself for letting Netflix automatically foist another episode on me. That's because Emily is the worst. She's awful to her friends for one. Emily is selfish and back-stabbing, and while she calls one of her date's a snob, she's the worst kind of snob herself-- the provincial American faced with another culture. Emily isn't so much in Paris as indifferent to it, using it merely to frame herself for more clicks on IG.
But yes, I still watched it, because Darren Star knows how to put together a damn watchable show. If you don't know, "Younger" is another of his shows, and, if you haven't, you should watch that one instead. It's great. "Younger" stars Broadway vet Sutton Foster, and it's fantastic. Then there's "Sex in the City", problematic in so many ways not to mention weirdly white overall-- has Darren Star BEEN to NYC? But also arguably revolutionary for its time in some other ways as well and also... fun. The fashion. The friends. The silly drama. The women having the power.Those beats are there in "Emily in Paris", but for me the naked imperialism in Emily's steely, capitalism-will-always-save-the-day gaze annoyed me more than Carrie's inexplicable spending habits. Not to mention, it's now 2020. Can we please expect a little more from our heroines?
I feel like other people have covered the problematic stuff in SATC better than I have, so I'll stick to critiquing Darren Star's overall cultural tone deafness. Too many examples for one short blog post but did you ever notice in SATC how every time Carrie is face to face with a foreign culture, she, or let's blame the show, it manages to discredit the foreigner? And usually for Carrie's same failings?! GAH. Take the Eurotrash episode: Carrie might be an irredeemably materialistic snob who lives for Manolos but somehow that's better than materialistic hedonist snobs from Europe, because Carrie believe in things. Amurrrrican things! The last time I rewatched the series I was also struck by what a raw deal "the Russian" as she calls him gets. Poor Carrie. An all-expense paid trip to Paris, but she has to amuse herself for like a week or two? Isn't she a writer? Hasn't Star at the least shown in EiP that an American observing Paris is a trope we all enjoy. And I did enjoy EiP despite my quibbles. It was just... ugh, it could have been so much better.
Speaking of cultural tone deafness, as a poet, I have to say Carrie's reaction to Baryshnikov reading a poem is a lower point for me than her treatment of Aidan, who's kind of asking for it if you ask me. I mean, she tells me who she is, and he doesn't listen. He thinks he can change her! That's not cool of him, either, to say the least. But back to the poem Baryshnikov reads to Carrie in the episode titled "The Ick Factor": did you know that poem was written by Barry's real-life pal Joseph Brodsky? They used to talk every day until the poet died in '96. Knowing that, the scene is even more poignant. In fact, in 2016, Barry did a one-man show about the poet that I wish I'd known about four years ago. Baryshnikov said this of Brodsky, and his off-hand words conjured up more of my own real, living, multi-dimensional New York than a thousand crass SATC jokes, "We talked about mundane things. He liked to walk. From Morton Street where he lived up the Hudson or East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, the East Village. He was fascinated by the light and proximity to the water." And that's the poet, Carrie dismisses as ick. Ugh.
I could go on, but this is a blog post, and if you're still reading, know that I love you and please say hi below or, if I missed anything, please add some recs to this list. With all that said, here are five French shows with more light and fun and life and dimension than all the Darren Star's many, many painful puns combined.
1. Call My Agent
This show tops my list for two reasons: it's one of my all-time favorite shows and it's also a VASTLY superior show about a Paris agency. "Call My Agent" isn't set in a marketing agency but rather an acting agency that caters only to the stars, different but with a lot of the same set-up--Make clients happy no matter what! Hustle!-- even up to and including, featuring a bunch of the same actors from EiP like the steely-eyed Sylvie, who's equally formidable in French. It's kind of "Mad Men" meets "Entourage" but with more women in leading roles and, of course, set in Paris. A Paris I'd actually like to visit one day. I'll give Emily's Paris a strong pass, as EiP's Paris feels like the inside of an empty Instagram post, just waiting for an influencer to fill it. That's said by someone who has a slow fashion diary on IG that I hope you will please go follow!
One of the best things about "Call My Agent" or "Dix Pour Cent" is that each episode features a different French celebrity playing a tongue-in-cheek version of themselves. It's witty, hilarious, the characters feel so real you'll be heartbroken when season 3 ends, so much so that you'll maybe restart it from the beginning. I have. Four times already! And I might again. After all, season 4 is supposed to drop any day now, and I have to prep.
2. The Hook-Up Plan
Another light-hearted show set in Paris. If you watched "Emily in Paris" because you wanted some escapist fluff, an urge I can completely relate to, you'll love "The Hook-Up Plan". Or "Plan Coeur" in French, which is a bit of a sweeter title and more reflective of the show's kind-hearted ethos. I couldn't really get into the second season, but I thoroughly enjoyed the actors' silly antics in the first one. It's kind of "Friends" meets ...hmmm, are there any spirited American shows featuring prostitutes? I'm coming up blank here. French is a much more sex positive culture, so this is definitely a French show. One of the leads moonlights as a gigolo and yet, it's still wholesome. That's quite a premise, but, if unlike Carrie or Emily, you can keep an open mind, the gigolo will seduce you. Er. You know what I mean. You'll be rooting for his character. I promise.
Switching genres and streaming services here-- the two above are available on Netflix but "Spiral" is streaming free on Amazon Prime-- "Spiral" is maybe one of the best procedurals ever. Comparisons to "The Wire" abound. It is also just as brilliantly written and acted as my favorite French series, "Call My Agent", but the show is based on real cases and so it's far, far, far grittier and more gruesome. If you can close your eyes a lot and not miss the plot line, then I'd still recommend it. If graphic depictions of violence bother you, I might skip this one. However, fans of "The Killing" will love this brilliantly written and acted police drama. Here's what the Grey Lady has to say about it, "Like “The Killing,” this series is centered on a solitary, intuitive and fiercely dedicated heroine, the homicide detective Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust). Laure is caustic, spirited and obsessed with her work, and she is not nearly as successful or professionally blessed as Pierre Clément (Grégory Fitoussi), who at least at the beginning is an up-and-coming prosecutor. " Here's a link to a few more French shows from that piece that I haven't seen, but that I'm equally intrigued by.
4. Family Business
Ryan and I are still in the middle of season 2, but so far I'm loving the show just as much as I did when we binged the first season last year. Which now feels like a lifetime ago. Some of the greats of the French theater are in this show, not to mention Liliane Revère, who was once upon a time Chet Baker's lover! And one of the reasons I loved "Call My Agent". It's not a glitzy or glam Paris that the show depicts, but felt the most like the "real" Paris I remember experiencing when I'd visit my older half-sister, who's one of those cool, sophisticated Parisians American girls all adore. The show isn't about It girls, though. It's about real Parisians trying to get by, and in this case their way of getting by is by starting a "family business" growing and distributing marijuana. It's also weirdly funny and wholesome despite the subject matter. It's unique. It's wonderful. If they remade it, they couldn't do this show justice in America. Although... never mind. I loved "Weeds". Well, this one is great, too. Go watch it!
5. Hors de Prix
This one isn't technically a series. Okay, it's not a series at all, but it's clever and escapist fluff, which I'm assuming you like me are jonesing for if you streamed "Emily in Paris", and this one stars Audrey Tautou playing the kind of naughty heroine Emily aspires to be but can't pull off. It also stars Gad Elmaleh, who's a huge star in France and only recently beginning to make a splash over here. At any rate, it's a great rom com to have in your arsenal, and we all need more of those in 2020!
Did I miss anything? Do you completely disagree with me, or did you love "Emily in Paris"? Don't worry! I won't bite your head off if you did. I get it. We're stuck inside, and even an Instagrammy-theme park Paris is better than staring at our same four walls. Plus, my own French dad loved the show as much as I hated it. Feel free to agree or disagree!
P.S. See below for a pic of me at my most awkward phase, visiting my glam big sister in Paris! I'd watch that show, actually!
As I remarked in my last Good Reads review-- (hi! let's be friends there!)-- recently I stumbled onto a panacea for all 2020 ills: books about way, way worse times in history. Like Wesley in The Princess Bride, I have discovered that I can take my brain away from 2020. And that the best way to do this isn't just by reading; it's by reading books set in times and places way, way, way, way, wayyyy worse than our current reality. At first, I tried the opposite: reading a lot of happy fluff. But happy fluff made me feel worse about my cottonwool misery.
Or maybe it's more that happy fluff made me homesick for "normal": for a world of weddings and school runs and carnivals and coffee dates.And then came Wolf Hall set during a time of plague in late medieval London in a world dominated by a tyrant more out-of-control than our orange Cheetoh-brain but with fewer to no checks or balances to his power... um, yes please! I felt myself looking forward to all that muddy misery. Who'd have thunk a book about the plague would cheer me up more than a light romance romp, but 2020 here we are. Yes, 2020 is awful, but we have the coronavirus and Donald Trump. They had a bewildering plague that killed people in less than half a day and a king with a libido so out-of-control he literally changed their country's religion AND THEN BURNED ALIVE ANYONE WHO SLIGHTLY DISAGREED WTH HIM. I don't know about you, but I'll take 2020 any day.
Here's a list of ten misery reads that I think might actually uplift you. Or at least remind you, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, that things could be so much worse.
1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
One of the other reasons to finally crack this dense but page-turning (or it becomes page-turning once you get immersed around page 200) novel that brings medieval England to crackling life (pun intended-- there's one very grotesque and tough-to-read description of a woman condemned to the stake) is that Mantel recently completed the third book in the trilogy, two of which have won the Booker Prize. I'm still scarred from having to wait years and years to read each Harry Potter installment, so I love a complete set trilogy. As for whether the last installment will also complete Mantel's Booker streak, well, The Mirror and The Light has at least been long-listed!
The other reason I finally cracked this book that's been on my TBR list for nearly a decade is one I also mentioned above in the intro: Wolf Hall is a weirdly uplifting tale for 2020. Again, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, things could be much, much more terribler. (Glibness aside: please vote! Are you registered? You can still register here until October 19. )
2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
I actually read this book while I was backpacking around the world in my gap year before college, and I remember nothing about it other than how hot the day I was reading it was and that I imagined I had cholera and that I loved it-- not the idea of having cholera but the book. One of my friends read it recently for his book club and they all loved it, so it made me think of that experience for this list. It's a brilliant book, and I think having cholera before modern medicine created a vaccine would also be worse than coronavirus-- a startling 5-50% mortality rate. (Sadly, the cholera vaccine continues to have limited availability.) I didn't want to spoil this reread for myself-- that's how little remember it-- but I accidentally began to read the book's description which mentions a forbidden love story and love letters exchanged, and it sounds just as delicious now as it did to my 18-year-old self. And also miserable. Check and check.
3. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm grateful that it got me to finally watch Harriet, which was a brilliant movie but might also have led to my disappointment with how Harriet herself is depicted in this book and the way magical realism is employed to less effect than the more mystical way it's used in the film. That said, I love Ta-Nehisi Coates' essays and non-fiction. I think he's one of the best writers working now in America, so my expectations were very high. I don't think he's found his novelistic voice yet, but I did love many things about this book, and I'll continue to read anything he's written. That's how much I love his other work. So I'd recommend this historical novel with the caveat that it's a little slow in parts and that the use of magical realism is not quite effective. I think it's still a worthwhile read as it gives historical scope to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement now in 2020, and there are some gorgeous passages that have stuck with me.
4. The Princess of Montpensier by Madame de Lafayette
Speaking of movies, The Princess of Montpensier is streaming on Amazon, and it's a gorgeous but very violent watch, set in the time of the Catholic and Huguenot wars in France. Women were little more than property with few rights of their own. Religious wars, plague, zero social safety net, women as property with their virginity used as bargaining chips... what could be worse than that? Not even 2020, that's for sure.
I also read de Lafayette's more widely known novel, The Princess of Cleves in a college lit class, and I remember, to my surprise, that very old as the novel was, it was also a stunningly witty and fast-paced and modern read. If you haven't read de Lafayette, considered the mother of the modern novel, you might want to check Cleves out first. It's considered France's first historical novel and an early prototype of the psychological novel, although not strictly miserable except in terms of a bad love affair. It was also a runaway bestseller in its time. I'm excited to delve into this other work and time period now in 2020. Things were certainly worse in 1572.
5. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
This one is on my TBR list! And since I haven't read it yet, I'm going to borrow from the Amazon description:
The years-long New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Sounds like an intriguing mess, no?
6. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I read The Nightingale a while ago, and I remember that it had a couple issues. The writing felt a little perfunctory, a little like a straight-to-screenplay novel, but that also made it weirdly light reading for such heavy subject matter. The sisters whose survival story we follow are lovable and their struggles are poignantly described. It bothered me that the main character, whose name I share, was given an Americanized nickname. French people are very anti-nickname. None of my French family call me anything but Isabelle, but that's a quibble. If you want a light read about a miserable time-- i.e. France during WW2-- this one will appeal!
7. The Watchmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
I tried to listen to this book on audible last fall, but the language was so rich and fun that I had to read it. The first few reviews on Amazon are also negative for that reason I think-- people felt lost. There are a lot of characters and time periods in this one. Definitely read it vs listening to it, and I think that will help you keep track. It more or less follows the path of a house with many occupants over the years-- and what years they were. England really went through it in the 20th century. Their misery might give yours some perspective or at least take you away from 2020 into a faraway, forgotten corner of another century and place.
8. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
I think the greatest prank I ever pulled off was giving this pregnancy horror tale to my husband first. I prefer to go in knowing nothing about a book-- a simple recommendation from a trustworthy source is usually all I want. Well, in this case, I love the author's previous book Room, which I also rec below, and I knew this tale was set in Dublin during the Spanish Flu, which was all I needed to know. My husband is Irish and fascinated by stories of societal responses to widespread illnesses, so I thought the tale might doubly appeal to him.
Well, little did I realize, Emma Donoghue's wheelhouse is female pain in confined spaces. Pretty much the entire book is set in a crowded, tiny fever maternity ward, back when doctors had little more in their arsenal than to prescribe cocaine and whiskey (to pregnant women!!) AND heroin for pain. It's a page-turner and a misery tale for sure, but readers with weak stomachs or currently pregnant readers will wish to avoid this one. I, on the other hand, will forever relish Ryan's groans of disbelief and his exclamations of outrage that I'd given him such a book to read. I swear I didn't know, my love! Still, despite the gory depictions of childbirth in a world of pre-modern medicine, he couldn't put it down. I also learned that scientists couldn't "see" the flu until the invention of the electron microscope in the 1930s. I will take 2020 and the coronavirus over a baffling, mysterious disease any day.
9. Severance by Ling Ma
This one is also on my 2020 TBR list, but as I mentioned above I prefer to go into a good tale clueless. So I'll leave you with these two brief blurbs and a stunning list of awards.
"A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring." ―Michael Schaub, NPR.org
“A satirical spin on the end times-- kind of like The Office meets The Leftovers.” --Estelle Tang, Elle
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: NPR * The New Yorker ("Books We Loved") * Elle * Marie Claire * Amazon Editors * The Paris Review (Staff Favorites) * Refinery29 * Bustle * Buzzfeed * BookPage * Bookish * Mental Floss * Chicago Review of Books * HuffPost * Electric Literature * A.V. Club * Jezebel * Vulture * Literary Hub * Flavorwire
Winner of the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award * Winner of the Kirkus Prize for Fiction * Winner of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award * Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel * A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 * An Indie Next Selection
10. Room by Emma Donoghue
Again, as I mentioned above, Donoghue is the queen of claustrophobia. 2020 might be the most claustrophobic year on record with some good results like slightly less carbon pollution and the fact that we are lucky to be safe at home with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and endless good reads, but if anyone is struggling to stay cheerful, I think that's normal, too. However, none of us is actually imprisoned in a room with a small child like the heroine of this story. Room is even more un-putdownable than her latest novel and very a propos for 2020.
Have you read any of these stories? What would you add to this list? Have you read or watched something recently that you found oddly cheering? Let me know in the comments below!
Izzy (to my American friends)
Even with no one to see me but my family and a few neighbors encountered from a distance on rambling walks with my dogs around the neighborhood, I've discovered it's still an instant pick-me-up this quarantined spring to wear a little makeup. It's not exactly my morning routine, as I tend to walk the dogs in the afternoon after my kids finish their schoolwork, but this is more or less my regular morning routine with my favorite non-toxic, cruelty-free products from my "life before quarantine".
With spring around the corner, I recently spent a happy hour cleaning out my vanity and reorganizing my favorite bottles of unguents and scents. I rarely throw things anything away, but, since beginning to blog a few years ago, I have definitely streamlined my process and settled on several seasonal favorites that I use over and over and repurchase. A few of these recs below are new but most are tried and true and none are sponsored. I know how frustrating it can be to try out sponsored beauty products. There's nothing worse than spending a lot of money on a product that turns out to be a dud. However, please keep in mind that sometimes it's simply the case that a product doesn't work with your skin type or, even, as I just mentioned, a product's efficacy might depend on the season. For example, I love oils for my skin like Kora Organics or Edible Beauty's sunflower oil in winter but prefer using only tinted moisturizers in spring and summer. With spring in mind, despite the fact that it's 40 degrees fahrenheit in Philly today, I thought I'd share what brightens my day: my morning skincare and makeup routine and the green beauty products I love most!
1.Under Makeup: Prep the skin.
I have several different samples of morning scrubs that all claim to be rejuvenating. I use different ones all the time. I've heard exfoliators shouldn't be used daily, so I've tried to mix in gentler scrubs or often make do with a splash of cold water. When I do purchase a morning scrub, I love Goop's Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator. It's really, really expensive, though, but a little goes a long way. Another gentler, more affordable option is Green Clean's Makeup Removing Balm. It does not in fact remove makeup. Not even one little bit. But it smells incredible and leaves your skin feeling very soft. A nice way to start the day indeed!
Once I feel fresh-faced, I add one or two pumps of a vitamin C serum. I like this one by Drunk Elephant. I think it's as effective as the SkinCeuticals nearly mythical C serum but at about half the price. However, that's based on research not experimentation. If you've tried the SkinCeuticals one, please let me know if you think it's worth the hefty pricetag! Last but not least, I've recently started using one pump of Glossier's Future Dew beneath my tinted moisturizer. (The directions on the bottle suggests two pumps, but I thought that was a little intense for daytime.) I received a sample of Kosa's Tinted Face Oil Foundation (voted Best of Beauty 2019 by Allure) with my lipstick purchase (see below), and I loved it so much I immediately ordered more for spring. For now, I'm still using an IT Cosmetics tinted moisturizer, but I'm not sure if it's non-toxic or cruelty-free. (I just looked it up: they are indeed a cruelty-free company according to Cruelty-Free Kitty, but I didn't look it up in advance, so I don't deserve any props.) Not only is the Kosas version both of those things, but it's very natural-looking. IT Cosmetics is marketed towards more mature skin, and I think the quality is very excellent but a little heavy for me still, while Kosas is like your own skin but just slightly smoother and glowier. I love it!
2. A little more prep
Before applying blush and fixing my eyebrows, adding a swipe or two of mascara, and a lip stain, I like to hydrate my lips. As well as tasting great and being very moisturizing, this Olio e Osso balm is pretty enough to wear on its own. It's a little pricey at $28, but I've had it for more than a year!
3. Five Minute Makeup
Now that my skin and lips are prepped, I can add a little concealer under my eyes and around my nose and chin where there are shadows. Then I dust some powder on top. I like this Charlotte Tilbury concealer, but it's not my favorite. Forever on the hunt for a winner in that category! However, this Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Powder is beyond gorgeous. It's one of my all-time favorite products, and it's formulated without sulfates.
I thought Charlotte Tilbury was cruelty-free, but I might have to look for an alternative. According to the website https://www.freethebunnies.com/charlotte-tilbury/ that status recently changed as of January 20, 2020. If you keep track of cruelty-free products, you'll see it's because they want to sell in China like a lot of brands, which means they have to allow testing on animals there. Well, at any rate, adding powder is a step I tend to skip in the spring when I'm after a dewier look or running low on time. Afterwards, if I do have time, I use my lip pencil and a liquid eyeliner. Also two favorites from Charlotte Tilbury that I guess I have to look into replacing. I love the lip cheat in iconic nude and eye cheat for my waterline if my eyes are a little red.
4. Every Day Lipsticks
I recently discovered Kosas. I'm always on the hunt for a nude lipstick I can wear every day. I decided to try this full-size lip set currently on sale at Kosas for $58. It was worth it to me, because I can't get into the shops to try the colors on in person both because of the quarantine and because I have two kids-- my natural state is that of a homebody. Anyway, I love all the colors, luckily! The set comes in cool pink "Rosewater" (very lovely and natural), a medium sheer, peachy "Stardust", and my favorite on my fair winter skin is "Undone"-- a full coverage, high-impact neutral. Wearing the latter, means I could also skip both the lip liner step and even concealer. Something about the toasted pink color gives your skin a brighter glow! Formulated by an organic chemist, Kosas lipsticks are cruelty-free and certified clean at Sephora. Click on the picture for a link to shop the set on the Kosas website.
5. A Little More Color
For several years now, I've been using this Meet Matt Hughes lip stain over my lip pencil. It's a little drying, so while I still love it, I'm happy to have an alternative. Ethical Elephant gives the company a top ethical grade as well. I've also used their Frat Boy blush for years. I've recently discovered this bronzer. It's INCREDIBLE for pale winter skin. I have another bronzer I like as well, but I like this one for an every day look as it has no shimmer. The Balm products are available on Amazon. For an every day color, I prefer Meet Matt Hughes in "Charismatic" but it comes in a variety of reds and pinks. I also even prefer The Balm's Frat Boy to Nars' iconic orgasm blush, again because it has no shimmer, making it perfect for the bright, natural light of every day.
6. Last But Not Least: Pay attention to the eyes
Along with my purchase of Glossier's Future Dew, I also tried out skywash (see step 1), a new liquid eye shadow, in the prettiest, pale burnt sienna shade of "palm". The color is gorgeous against pale skin, but I was really disappointed that I had to apply so many layers to make the color pop and there really isn't that much product in the tube. Definitely not worth the $18 pricetag. I'd skip this. In the meantime, I guess I'll keep using my bronzer and then mixing it against my eyelids with this superdew balm by Tower 28. It's also $18, but as you can see from my bronze-y fingerprints (sorry about that), I've been using it a lot and it's still full! It's an essential overall product, too. It perfectly blends your makeup and is so natural-looking! I use it on my eyelids and anywhere else I want a little highlight like the tip of my nose or my cupid's bow.
Once everything is powdered and eye shadows or the lack thereof are decided on, I finish up with a coat of mascara. I love Thrive Causemetics eyelash extensions, but you have to apply with a light, careful hand or it can look spider-leggy. Kat Von D makes a great, vegan liquid eyeliner as does Eyeko, a Japanese vegan, cruelty-free brand that does not currently sell in China. I usually then finish up with Glossier's boy brow in clear or brown. Charlotte Tilbury makes a great one as well. If I have a couple extra minutes, I'll also fill in some of the missing parts of my eyebrow with an eyebrow powder by Anastasia Beverly Hills, a mostly vegan brand, whose foundation I also like but find wayyyy too heavy for daytime.
That's it! That might seem a lot to some of you who don't wear makeup, but it's been my routine for so many years, I can honestly slap it on in five minutes flat, although I like to take my time with the initial prep. Which reminds me... I forgot to mention one of my favorite green beauty discoveries ever! I always, always begin and end with Jurlique's rose spray. (Actually, this particular bottle was gifted but I already owned it in the plainer, original scent. Both are great.) I LOVE the smell of roses, and if nothing else, I hope this quarantine has taught us all the importance of stopping to smell those lovely flowers still saucily embracing spring even as we humans are being forced to shrink from it. So stop and smell the roses, even if they're only in a bottle. The cool feeling of the spray and the sweet scent always lift my mood in addition to setting my makeup and helping it to look all-around more natural.
What are some of the green beauty products you can't live without? Please share below!
Starting off with this rec, because, besides the fact that A Room with a View has the most apt (and aspirational) title for these crazy times, it's also a nice vacation from said craziness. Forster's short, sweet classic tale of manners is not just about the importance of a good view, although it does make a darn good argument for acquiring one. It's also set in the springtime. In Italy. Swoon. And it's a love story. And one that also questions the meaning of existence.
It's pure, romantic love amid the violets in beautiful Florence with some talk of books and music and the kind of old-fashioned problems that seem ever so quaint now. It's not just a new way of looking at your view-- the only view that matters is the one over your head-- how that must give us all a pang now-- it's also a time capsule trip to Italy, which might be the only kind we can take for a while, but even so...
“...the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy.”
― Edward Morgan Forster, A Room with a View
I hope that book might make someone else who needs it right now equally as happy as it makes me whenever I reread it.
Here are four other great reads, some comforting and some germane, to help you wile away this (hopefully short) era of social distancing:
1. I don't know how we ended up with a large print version of A Gentleman In Moscow, but it's an incredible enough read that we forgot all about the oversized font and became quickly immersed in the story. (Not the royal We. This is a book that Ryan, my husband, and I equally loved. If you're also quarantined with a partner, this would make for a great co-read! Or a great pick for a virtual book club.) It starts off a little slow, but keep with it and you'll be rewarded with an incredible story and characters you fall madly in love with. Not to mention can strongly relate to: in 1922, following the Russian Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest, or more or less QUARANTINED to a room, in a grand hotel. For life. And yet, that's just the beginning of the adventure. A glittering cast of characters awaits you. As does intrigue. Wit. Wisdom. Love. Life and death. It's brilliant. And again, oh so relatable for these strange times we ourselves are living through.
2. Keeping with that theme of dealing with forced confinement, Bel Canto is another unputdownable tale of people kept in a room against their will. Or, well not a room, but a house in this case. A large house, but still. (FYI it's also another story that Ryan loved as much as I did.) Roxane Coss, a revered soprano, has traveled to a South American country to give a private opera performance, when she and the audience are taken hostage mid-aria. Again, that's just the beginning of an epic adventure. And again, one that's set largely indoors.
3. Since I seem to be working around themes here, I thought I'd throw in a more hopeful, happier book of redemption following a gloomy spring and another story set in Italy's glorious gardens. I personally have only had the chance to spend one all-too-short but magical week in Italy. However, I had enough time before the trip to learn Italian well-enough to have conversations and enjoyed one of the best weeks of my life in and around Florence. The news out of Italy has been breaking my heart, and I really hope to go back there soon one day. I'll be posting a new foreign language section to my blog, so if you're also dreaming of traveling somewhere after this quarantine is over, consider taking this time to learn the language, too! I'm homeschooling my two children, who are in a bilingual school, so it's been interesting to test my language learning theories on them. Anyway, the movie Enchanted April is also utterly fantastic and life-affirming, but this tale, a sun-washed fairy tale is one of those glorious, delicious experiences of love and life and manners that only the British can deliver. It's like tea time for the soul. We could all use a little of that!
4. That's enough sunlight for now, I think. The Broken Earth Trilogy is about as far from sunlight as a fantasy series can get. In fact, in this fantasy series set in the distant future, a mage of some kind (I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm going to leave this description deliberately vague) has blown up the Earth in such a way that clouds swirl so thick and high that nothing can or will grow for maybe a generation or more... How will mankind survive? It might sound like a basic disaster story premise, but N.K. Jemisin's Hugo and Nebula-award winning series is ANYTHING but basic. I'm not massively into fantasy, but even I loved this mind-blowingly original series. I think you will, too! It's also a vacation from our current affairs, but in this case, it might make our own problems seem smaller in comparison.
“Am well. Thinking of you always. Love”
― Albert Camus, The Plague
Last but not least, I'm listening to La Peste, or The Plague, by Albert Camus on Audible. This is definitely also not in the comforting, sunlight category: it's about the effects of a pandemic, in this case the Bubonic plague, ravaging the people of a North African town. It's a brilliant book, yes, but also pretty damn relevant. FYI if you ever pick the slower shipping option at checkout, Amazon rewards you with credits you can use to purchase whatever audiobooks you'd like. I'm not being morbid, either. Well, not completely. A really great way to either pick up or keep up with a foreign language is to read it and listen to it. More on that soon! I'll be restarting the foreign language section of my blog as I mentioned above, so keep your eye out for that, if you're also dreaming of traveling somewhere after the pandemic.
Where are you dreaming of going when this quarantine is lifted? What are you reading currently? Are you doing any virtual book clubs? Or zoom meetups to talk about books? Let's chat!
1. The Night Circus
I'm starting off this list with a sorcery-saaked book hit from 2011 for good reason. I don't know abut you, but I am fed up with Fall, 2019! Well, with all the disappointing sequels coming out now anyway. I read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood along with Nerdette podcast's inaugural bookclub, and I thought it was two-dimensional. (*Spoiler alert: the Nerdette crew hated it, too.*) I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fan-- some might even say fangirl, so that's a gut-wrenching admission. I was similarly excited for Rainbow Rowell's follow-up to Carry On, her Fangirl (the excellent book) inspired-take on Harry Potter. Wayward Son has also gotten mixed reviews, so burned once, etc. Yes, I'll probably still read it... (I also really love Rainbow Rowell. If you've never read her books, start with the unmagical but unequivocally wonderful Eleanor & Park!) Meanwhile, The Night Circus also concerns magicians. I love a good magic read when temperatures dip and Hallowe'en is in the air.I know you can't always go by reviews, but my need for others' opinions is how bad the last few hyped books I've read have been, and The Night Circus has nearly 6,000 positive reviews. I wish I HAD read the customer reviews of The Testaments or My Year of Rest and Relaxation. (Both very poorly reviewed by readers with weirdly laudatory reviews by professional publications.) Safety in numbers.
2. When Harry Met Sally
I recently re-watched When Harry Met Sally, because it was featured on The Rewatchables, one of my favorite podcasts! I wish I'd waited for fall to re-watch it, though. As you can see from the movie poster alone, it is somehow a fall movie, even though it takes place over the course of many years! Most of the scenes take place in and around New York City in the fall, which gives me the same feeling in my heart that people who love pumpkin spice latté seem to experience in theirs. The scenes are all painted in ochre and sepia tones, and the scenery is as crisp and soothing as the smart, crackling dialogue by Nora Ephron. I also worship Meg Ryan's tailored trousers and artfully cozy layers. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised at how well this movie has aged but you might even get some fall outfit inspo ideas. Her 1989-era fashion looks that current!
3. French Fall Lookbooks
Can't make it to Paris this autumn for Paris Fashion Week? Moi non plus, le sigh. Know what you can do? You can check out so many beautiful fall lookbooks online. Maybe cozy up with a cup of tea or be extra Parisian and grab a shot of espresso and pick out one special piece as a consolation prize! (If that's still out of your budget, send me the piece of your dreams and I bet I can find the French designer version for you secondhand for peanuts.). Here are a few of my fave autumn lookbooks from Paris: Rouje, Ba&h, Sandro, Balzac Paris, Maje, Sézane, and Musier Paris . A few of them don't charge shipping from France, either! I know Sézane doesn't if you spend $200 or become a regular shopper there, and they also usually include a little gift as well.
Above: I'm wearing the one special piece I ordered from Sézane last fall. (This bag is no longer available online, but I found the same one secondhand. Follow me on the Like To Know It app to shop it!) My coat is from Rouje last fall as well and is still available in their stores, not sure about online. Psss, did you know Rouje is doing a pop-up shop in NYC this fall? I bought my Tory Burch booties pre-owned but in new condition from Tradesy!
4. Best Fall Podcasts 2019
As I mentioned in my first example, I'm not a huge fan of hype, having been burned a lot recently. However, Vulture put together an intriguing list of all the new podcasts coming out this fall. If you like crime pods-- something about Hallowe'en seems to make a lot of publications who post these lists online go there with their lists-- but nothing too gory or graphic-- I've personally had it up to here with the whole true crime trend-- then check out Criminal! It's more like a Fresh Air episode with a broken law theme. It's smart and interesting rather than voyeuristic and horrifying. Specifically, you've got to go listen to their pod on "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes". Actually, that one is a little gorier than most of their fare, but the crimes in that episode were committed more than a century ago, so I guess that helped me not feel as nauseated. And the so-called "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes" is a real historical figure! One of the first female detectives in the U.S.! She specialized in finding lost girls, and her story remains sadly relevant. Which leads me to my last but not least fall reading rec...
5. True Crime But Make it Feminist!
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation is quite a mouthful but also sounds like an incredible read, right? I can also happily tell you the reviews are largely positive (phew!). Also, the podcast episode about the real-life Mrs. Sherlock Holmes on Criminal features an interview with Brad Ricca, the author, and his enthusiasm for his subject is definitely catching! Really looking forward to digging into this incredible tale while cozied up by a fire with a cup of hot cocoa...
What's on your fall reading, watching, listening list? xx
I was paging through Instagram this past weekend (as one does) and fell totally in love with all the lavender fields popping up on my feed. A sigh of longing bubbled up from deep inside, when it suddenly occurred to me that we live near a lot of farms, and that there might even be a lavender farm nearby...
Read on for our adventure and five more uses for lavender below!
What We're Wearing:
We live in Philadelphia, and the surrounding farms in Bucks County and New Jersey are incredible. Check out our trip to a nearby tulip farm this spring! Also love that we managed matching thrifted looks on that trip as well.
Here we're wearing our new spring dresses by sustainable designer Doên. My dress is still available here, and here is one similar to Harper's that's still available.
A quick Google search revealed a handful of quaint lavender farms in our vicinity. I picked this one, Peace Valley Lavender Farm, based both on proximity and Trip Advisor reviews. Next, I sweet- talked my husband into a "spontaneous family adventure!" Peace Valley Lavender Farm is only 25 miles from Philadelphia, but the trip still takes an hour because it's all back roads to get there. We enjoyed the ride, though, passing endless charming colonial farmhouses, antique shops, the most haunted-looking, creepiest castle we've ever seen, and even some animal farms. The kids weren't as keen on peeping lavender, but the emus, llamas, cows, and chickens we spotted along the way more than delighted them. I myself was delighted when I got home and realized it had been almost one solid year since I'd first learned about lavender and written about 6 easy uses for it in a previous post published on June 29, 2018. I love those kind of coincidences!
Here's an updated list following a year of learning, an adventure at an actual lavender farm, and my discussion with its friendly owner, Patti Lyons*, who was kind enough to share some of her expertise and recommendations with me!
*Incidentally, Patti shared that the best times to get your lavender pics are usually the third or fourth week of June but that some varieties of lavender will bloom again in the fall.
5 More Uses For Lavender
1. Preserved- Lavender Lemons
In the Peace Valley Lavender Farm gift shop, I couldn't resist purchasing a copy of The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley, even though I am a TERRIBLE cook and should never be allowed near a kitchen. (Don't worry, you guys. My husband writes the recipes for my food section!)
The cookbook (pictured above) is made of beautiful parchment paper, filled with luscious illustrations, and even scented with lavender. Non-existent cooking abilities, it was irresistible.
As I was checking out, I got to chatting with Patti, the owner of Peace Valley Lavender Farm. She was really sweet and helpful and told me if I only make one recipe from the book-- it was like she could see inside my devious mind-- it should be lemons preserved in lavender.
"Whenever you make a Mediterranean dish, lavender lemons will give it such a kick!"
I nodded and agreed whole-heartedly, even though I had NO CLUE what she was talking about as my idea of the ideal flavor is mixing canned chili with pre-shedded Mexican cheese. However, my husband got inspired when I shared her tip with him, and I figured any of the cooks out there who stumble on this blog could benefit from her tips as well! I found an extremely similar recipe to the one in the book at Homespun Living. The only difference is Sharon Shipley recommends adding extra virgin olive oil to the top of your mixture before sealing up the jars, as well as 1/3 cup of sugar (for 8 lemons not 2) and 3 tablespoons of minced garlic. When we make it, I'll definitely share the recipe to my food section!
2. Lavender Sachets as a Natural Moth Solution
One year ago, we were living in a modern apartment. Since then, we've moved into a very old house. It was renovated down to its studs before we moved in, but we still have a little bit of a bug situation, which is normal I suppose when you're living smack in a garden instead of 11 stories high up in the air. Well, did you know lavender is a natural moth deterrent? Mothballs can contain dangerous pesticides, but lavender is all natural (obviously!) and an old home-maker's trick. It's also Martha Stewart-approved. Read more about her endorsement of this old trick here.
3. Lavender for Insomnia
I mentioned this tip last time I wrote about lavender here, but as someone who's been suffering from a bout of insomnia recently I was happy to have this tip recalled to my memory! If you're suffering from insomnia, it's really helpful to add lavender to your nighttime routine and to create a soothing atmosphere in your bedroom before you try to fall asleep. I still love my little humidifier and it's worth the extra minute to fill it with water and turn it on before I go to sleep. You can even add essential oils like lavender to it. Did you know lavender essential oils offer calming and soothing properties that help reduce stress?
4. Lavender Oil for Cleaning
I also forgot about this tip from my last post! Granted, it's a lot easier to keep a big, old house smelling fresh than it was a packed-tight apartment. However, we still have a cat bathroom, and I remember now how much it helped neutralize odors to add real lavender oil to our lavender-scented Mrs. Meyer's cleaning bottles. Lavender oil has tremendous antibacterial and deodorizing properties!
5. Lavender Tea
As you can see from the first picture above, lavender can be drunk as well as eaten. The lavender sodas we bought at the farm were perfect for a hot summer day but a little high in sugar for regular consumption. Not only does lavender have many external uses, but you can also add lavender both to recipes or to teas. Making lavender tea is very easy as well! You simply place the lavender buds into a tea ball or sachet and steep in hot water for a few minutes. (Just make sure you purchase the edible kind.)
Lavender has all kind of health properties when applied internally or externally. You can also read more about the many magical uses of lavender at Medical News Today. Do you use lavender in your daily life?
Last year was the first time #PlasticFreeJuly appeared on my radar. Once you become aware of how much plastic we use, and toss, on a daily basis, you'll notice wastefulness everywhere. You might feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, but it helped when I accepted that it's going to be a process to change my own daily habits and hopefully influence others to do so... and they'll influence others and so on! That month of questioning my daily habits helped me make some important changes in 2018. You can read more about that here.
If you haven't heard of #PlasticFreeJuly yet, no worries! I hope this will be the year you'll consider joining in!
What #PlasticFreeJuly is:
#PlasticFreeJuly is about becoming aware of, and hopefully reducing your plastic use-- especially single-use plastic-- at home, work, even at your favorite, local cafe! It all began with only 40 households in Perth in 2011 as an initiative by the Earth Carers Waste Education Team in Western Australia. From 40 households, it's grown to be a global movement with millions of participants! So small changes can make a difference. For example, last year I learned that there's plastic in some very unexpected places like my teabags. I invested in this $15.95 tea strainer-- (the package actually comes with two, so you can gift the other to a friend or family member!)-- and it has only added another layer of beauty to my nightly ritual of a cup of peppermint tea and a good book or a quiet chance to peruse inspiration photos on Instagram. Basically, as a hectic mommy, it's become my favorite time of day.
How #PlasticFreeJuly works:
Can you identify ways in which you use single-use plastic in your daily life or see it happening around you? I've realized this year that I've gotten so much better about my plastic use as a blogger/ human but have not made as many strides in my role as a mother. What I mean by that: if we were only judging my carbon footprint, it would be minimal. I make very little laundry and wash most of my clothes by hand, drive very few places and prefer to walk, wear mostly thrifted clothes, and eat a mostly vegan and vegetarian diet. So far, so amazing... or it would be but I'm also a mom of two kids and drive them everywhere to their activities and use TONS of plastic to care for them from juice boxes to other food packaging-- not to mention all the disposable diapers, ugh. Not so great.
Here are some simple changes I'm making in my role as both a mom and blogger this #PlasticFreeJuly.
1. No more juiceboxes.
My kids are now old enough to get ice water for themselves, so I realized one simple way I can reduce single-use plastic in my home is to quite buying juice boxes. This #PlasticFreeJuly I plan to experiment with buying glass bottles of apple juice, and seeing if I can teach my kids to fill their reusable cups half with water and half with juice on those occasions when they prefer juice to water. (I also already thrift their clothes, but that's because it just makes sense. You can buy designer children's items for prices cheaper than at Target, and the clothes are often just as brand-new! And much nicer quality!)
2. Purchasing a guppybag to use in the washing machine.
Another change I can make in my role as a mother, is to start washing our blankets and towels and their clothes in a laundry bag. Elizabeth Cline, author of the upcoming sustainable fashion handbook The Conscious Closet calls making a change in how you do laundry your biggest change to make an environmental impact. When washing machines wash our clothes, the motion releases tiny particles of plastic from our largely synthetic clothes. That plastic ends up in the ocean. (Another great point, Elizabeth Cline makes in her book, is that we can conserve a LOT of energy by using cool water to wash our clothes. If tags call for hot water, that actually, only means that is the hottest temperature clothes can stand, NOT what is the necessary setting!)
I just purchased this guppyfriend laundry bag from Patagonia. It's a little pricey, though, so I'll look around for more affordable options. Check back here or on my Instagram @IsabellaDavidVintage.
3. As a beauty blogger, I'm trying to switch my products to glass instead of a bathroom filled up with plastic bottles. All my face and body oils and serums are now in glass! I just switched my body scrub from a plastic tub to this pretty glass jar. It's pricey, though, so I'm still on the hunt for a decent scrub in a glass jar with a nice scent. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments below! One product line that comes in glass bottles and that I really love AND is extremely affordably priced are Ordinary products. I love their hylauronic acid, and use it almost every night. It's available for $6.80 at Sephora here.
4. I'm also planning to contact Fresh Direct. I love ordering our basics from them every other week, and I love that they have started delivering in resubale bags! BUT... our orders are often filled with a lot of extra, pointless plastic packaging. I'd feel better about continuing to order from them if there was less plastic inside as outside our orders. You can make a difference, too: let your favorite cafe or restaurant know you prefer paper to plastic straws. I'm seeing more and more establishments in Philly opting to go for paper over plastic straws, and I can tell popular demand is making the difference!
Are there any ways in your daily life that you can cut back on plastic? It might surprise you how simple the change can be!
Plastic is terrible for the Earth. We know that now. However, we're still learning about the effects of plastic as it breaks down on our soil and in our oceans. We do know that, unfortunately, as plastic breaks down it releases toxic chemicals. More worryingly, you might have heard plastic breaks down into tiny bits called microplastics. Microplastics are tiny bits of any kind of plastic that pollute the environment and which are consumed by fish and end up affecting the food chain, up to and including our own consumption of fish. Read more about why plastic is bad for our Earth here.
Or learn more about taking the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge this July here!
In what ways do you think you might be able to cut plastic out of your life this July? I'd love to hear about it!
Five years ago, I had my teeth whitened for the first time and last week was the second. Both experiences were surprisingly different, which I'll describe below. What was the same was actually what happened afterwards: the experience of being perceived as much younger than my age that immediately followed having my teeth whitened both times! The first time I had just had my daughter, and I was looking to get back into acting. (I was a professional actor and model in NYC for almost ten years.) The second time around, just last week, I was now a stay-at-home mother of two, and my teeth had grown even more crooked. (It happens over time, and I'm considering Invisalign now as well! More on that below, too!)
However, long-term solutions aside, I've found that whitening my teeth is a very quick, easy way to feel less self-conscious about my smile! Also, coincidentally (or not), following both experiences, strangers who knew nothing about my life, perceived me as being college age. At least that's what two college kids who were also drying their nails at my favorite salon in Roxborough thought this Sunday until they asked to follow me on social media, opened up my Instagram, and then quickly became visibly horrified when they realized I was an old lady mother of two. So, maybe it's anecdotal or coincidental, but it does seem to me that whitening your teeth is a quick way to take years off your age!
As a blogger now, I've had several companies approach me about teeth-whitening. I considered an in-home treatment, but ultimately I decided to work with Rittenhouse Dentists, because I really love their whole approach from start to finish. While an at-home treatment is always tempting for a busy mother of two and would have saved me a car trip, I also know I'm not that great at following directions and messing with your teeth and gums seems like something to leave to professionals. Plus, Rittenhouse Dentists promise not to be "regular dentists" but "cool dentists." (A reference to one of my favorite feel-good movies Mean Girls!) Going to the dentist is something I usually dread, but their self-aware humor helped lighten my mood ahead of my appointment. I found myself actually looking forward to going to the dentist as I got in my car for the long drive from Philadelphia to Bryn Mawr. (Rittenhouse Dentists also has offices in Rittenhouse Square and on City Live Avenue.)
Here's my honest review of Rittenhouse Dentists that I provided in exchange for having my teeth whitened:
Just as promised, the Rittenhous Dentist's office in Bryn Mawr was not your "regular" dentist's office. When I walked into what you can see (above) is a spacious, serene waiting room, I was immediately offered tea or coffee. My wait was almost too brief! Not only were the aesthetics different, but unlike my previous experience, comfort was key. Instead of staring into space for 90 minutes, while lasers were aimed at my teeth, aware of every minute of excruciating discomfort, Dr. Abdulla's assistant offered me Netflix goggles. Something I've never tried before but loved. (Obviously! Who doesn't love Netflix?) I selected Friends on the iPad before placing the goggles over my eyes, because that's what I watched during the countdown to my son's due date. It helped time pass just as quickly while having my teeth lasered as it did while waiting for my son to decide to be born. I don't know if it was the Netflix and not having my mind on my teeth, but the procedure also barely hurt. The first time I had my teeth whitened I thought my teeth were very sensitive, but the second time I got through all three sessions without any pain-- only some mild discomfort the third session. (Teeth are whitened in sessions of three laser treatments about fifteen minutes each, so that the treatment can be adjusted to your comfort level.) The assistant offered to turn it down to mild, but I told her I didn't think I'd need her to!
"Has the procedure changed in five years?" I asked afterwards. That's how quick and much more painless the whole thing felt. They said it hadn't, so I really think the difference was in the atmosphere. After my teeth whitening, they even provided me with a complimentary paraffin hand treatment. I felt completely refreshed and renewed! It really was more like a spa visit than a dentist's visit just as promised. (I did experience some pain (or zingers as the assistant called them) afterwards, but I took ibuprofen that evening and felt fine by the next morning.)
What I also appreciated was Dr. Abdulla's helpful advice about other ways to improve my smile, followed by her assistant helping me look up my insurance and providing me with a truly incredible tip, "You can usually add orthodontist work to your dental insurance for sometimes only an addtional $7. It's worth contacting your HR to ask!"
Yes, it is! My other dentist's office was only focused on the bill-- not on helping me pay it! And now that I'm the mother of two, even if my teeth-whitening has made me look younger than the tired mommy I currently am in reality, many more orthodontist visits are probably on the horizon for my family as well.
You can book your own incredible spa-like dentist visit here.
I love coincidences, don't you? Whether they're actually signs from the cosmos is debatable. (I guess. I vote yes!!) However, superstition aside, I've always found that paying attention to recurring themes that pique my curiosity always lead to equally intriguing discoveries. About two weeks ago, I happened to order Biossance's squalane and vitamin c rose oil at the same time as a friend of mine sent me samples of rosehip oil from her new green beauty company Dowey Laugh based out of Portland, Oregon. At the same time as all of that, I was suddenly seeing rosehip oil all over my Instagram feed, touted by my favorite beauty bloggers. Why are rose and rosehip oils suddenly so popular, I wondered? Was it just another blogger trend or something deeper and more magical to do with roses themselves?
I'm happy to report the latter is the case! I've always loved the scent of roses. One of my husband's first gifts to me when he was courting me-- aside: marry the one who woos you-- was a tiny bottle of rose scent he ordered from Bulgaria. (Another aside: did you know Bulgaria is called the Land of Roses? How romantic, right? I still have the little bottle. It came sealed with a wax rose, and I swear I can still kind of smell it, and it takes me back to 2009 when we met.) Another, less personal plus to the new rose oil craze: I know you all are probably super saturated with green beauty bloggers pushing coconut oil. Well, I am sooo excited to report I have found the remedy for that oversaturation (pun semi-intended) and for many other skin issues: rosehip oil!
1. What is Rosehip Oil?
First of all, keep in mind rosehip oil is not an essential oil and is in fact different from rose oil! Rose essential oil is made from rose petals while rosehip oil, also called rose hip seed oil, comes from the seeds of rose hips. Rose hips are the fruit left behind after a rose has flowered and dropped its petals.
For facial skin care, rosehip oil like coconut oil is a non-greasy oil that offers several benefits when applied externally. It protects the skin and increases cell turnover because it contains beta carotene (a form of vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E which are all antioxidants that help fight free radicals-- aka a fancy phrase for the aging process.
2. Why Is Rosehip Oil Anti-Aging?
It's a very rich source of vitamin c for one! One of the richest plant sources, actually! Vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and the oils are able to penetrate deep into the skin's layers to repair damage, improve moisture, and reduce signs of aging. In fact, it's so effective some doctors are calling it a "natural alternative to Botox". Sign me up! Needles terrify me, so Botox sounds particularly unappetizing. I haven't used the rosehip oil long enough to comment on longterm benefits, but I have noticed, after applying it, my skin has a nice glow!
3. What Are Some Other Benefits of Using Rosehip Oil?
If anti-aging isn't your concern, using rosehip oil probably can probably still benefit you. Its many applications are astonishing. In fact, it was made into a rationed syrup in World War 2 and used to help children fight infection. Applied externally, it can also protect from sunspots, help with stretch marks and reduce acne-scarring, boost the immune system, help with osteoarthritis, and help with eczema among a myriad of other benefits.
4. How Much Does Rosehip Oil Cost?
As I mentioned above, I'm beginning to see rosehip oil from a variety of brands from pretty pricey $68 bottles in high-end brands like Biossance to Kora or this bottle of plain, unvarnished rosehip oil from The Ordinary for only $9.80. (I have their $6 glass bottle of hylauronic acid, which I use every night before I put on my moisturizer, and it's amazing.) If you want a more affordable but still pretty mixture, Dowey Laugh offers a gorgeous, all natural option for only $38. Half the price of similar oils at Sephora!
5. Tips on Applying Rosehip Oil
Keep it cool. Rosehip oil is a natural ingredient, so it can go rancid, eek! And if you are investing in a pricier bottle, that would be heartbreaking! The best kind is cold-pressed, although it's more expensive and might explain the difference in price points. It retains the most nutrients. To see the most benefits, use it twice a day on your skin and neck. The good news (as far as priciness goes) is you only need a couple drops at a time! If you're using it to combat acne scars, keep in mind it is an oil and shouldn't be used on active acne as it might clog pores. Consider adding a few drops to your bathwater. There isn't a lot of science on this yet, but there's a chance rosehip oil can help with arthritis and inflammation. Either way, it can't hurt!
Here's a link to another post listing a few more benefits of using rosehip oil, including the cool fact that Kate Middleton and Miranda Kerr number among its fans! Do you plan to try rosehip oil? Here's a coupon to my friends shop if you do. (I don't personally benefit btw, other than the satisfaction of helping a friend succeed at something that clearly has benefits for us all!)
At the end of 2017, my resolution to reduce plastic use was all-encompassing with plans to revolutionize my lifestyle! To fully embrace the art of slow living!... A lifestyle which, according to some of the Instagram accounts I follow, looks like an existence bedecked with lavender garlands, white linens, and old-fashioned bottles of frothy milk. Basically, I'd made plans to live a fantasy not a sustainable reality. Plans that quickly ran up against a couple toddler-sized roadblocks that shall remain nameless, although the biggest roadblock actually proved to be the kind of plastic packaging I suddenly noticed EVERYTHING we consume comes in. (As for that, here is a brilliant piece by Renee Peters of Model 4 Green Living about her own monthlong attempt to cut plastic out of her life.) So, despite those challenges and despite the setbacks, I'm proud that I still made a few small changes to my daily crazy.
Or... is the word "proud" when these changes (listed below) were soooooo easy to make that it counted more as a shift in awareness than willpower or effort? I emphasize the ease of these particular changes for two reasons: yes, I want to entice others to cut out single-use plastic, but, also, I sincerely hope I don't come across as holier-than-thou in these sustainable pursuits of mine! What I hope I come across as is what I am: a totally ordinary but concerned mommy with all the limitations of time and energy that come along with that role. Basically, if I can do it, anyone can! And, whether you're an ordinary, exhausted, and often bedraggled mommy with nary a clean linen in sight or not, once you become aware of the scope of our planet's plastic catastrophe, you do begin to feel icky using and tossing products made of plastic. Even recycling is problematic these days! Overall, I'm learning these changes are a learning process. I still have many goals for 2019, but as for 2018 here are 5 simple, easy changes that have become part of my daily or nearly daily life, and that I think could be achievable for anyone! Click on the pics for a direct link to purchase these reusable goodies from Amazon. For a more comprehensive list of resolutions, check out Eco Cult's 50 Sustainable Resolutions for 2016 here!
1. Reusable Dryer Balls
I promised these changes were super duper easy, so let's start with the easiest of all! $8 wool balls that you simply let lie in your dryer. Added bonus: my kids think gathering them back up after running a load through the dryer and having a few of the balls inevitably tangle up in the sheets is FUN. So you're not using and disposing of single dryer sheets any longer, all without having to do a single thing once you've made the initial purchase. (FYI I bought my reusable dryer balls last year for $8.99 and still have four usable ones left! And we do a lotttt of laundry in these parts. )
2. Reusable Straws
Actually, did I claim switching from Bounce to dryer balls was the easiest switch? Well, reusable straws might tie with that first change. I did accidentally purchase glass straws my first time however. Be warned, those shattered in the sink and made me realize they were dangerous to give to tots. If you're a mom (or as embarrassingly clumsy as I am), consider silicon straws. They come in bright colors, and my kids love them! I know some people need straws, but if you're not one of those people, and I doubt most of the people who use 500 million straws a day are, consider making this easy switch and keep a couple colorful silicon straws in your cutlery drawer or your purse.
3. Reusable Cotton Pads
This switch was originally the most challenging only because it was hard to keep track of those slippery little suckers. (Sorry to plagiarize a phrase, but I just rewatched Pretty Woman and it's on my brain, because I Googled it to see if other women felt like it held up surprisingly well in the #MeToo era, which I'm happy to say they did! Because of Julia Roberts! I recommend it! However, less watchable is the new Broadway musical version, which ugh... there are no words... or Julia Roberts. I mean, why? Whyyy resurrect this tired story of materialism making everything better??? Anyway, this is a rant for another day.) Well, a way around the issue of keeping track of the slippery guys finally occurred to me: keep the box the pads come in for storage, so I can keep track of them! I then hang up the little laundry bag they come with next to my own laundry bag and toss the little bag in with the big one when it's full. That keeps them all together in the wash! I rarely paint my nails these days, so I can understand if people want to use the cotton, disposable kind for harsher chemicals or does the scent wash off? If anyone has used them for both makeup removal and nail polish removal and had success, I'd love to know in the comments below!
4. Reusable Menstrual Cup
Here's where I'm really going to harp on what a 2.5 children-having-married-to-a-corporate-guy-ordinary-basic lady I am, because I know SO MANY women, who continue to be grossed out by the idea of menstrual cups and think they're only for die-hard environmentalists who live on remote islands and don't use shampoo or something. (Or [insert your image of the perfect environmentalist here]). However, if someone as basic as me is using them, I hope more women get inspired to use them as well. I had the same hangups all my friends have until I decided to go ahead and give one a whirl as part of my whole self-education in sustainability. No, I didn't want to mess with my vajajay, either, which is the number one worry I hear from my friends: that there's something icky about the whole idea. I too feared it would be gross or messy. It's not. It's liberating. You become less grossed out by your own body, which is as it should be. It takes a sec to master the whole breaking the seal thing, but only a sec, and if you're careful and slow with learning how the seal works, it's not particularly messy or different from the tampon... er procedure, either. I also know tampons contain toxic chemicals, but I was more concerned with how many tampons a woman uses in her life and tosses-- about 11,000. That's expensive for you and expensive for the environment.
However, if toxicity does bother you, consider this: if you wouldn't put a tampon in your mouth, why put those chemicals in your vagina? Same body! At any rate, some of my friends prefer the Luna cup. I prefer the Diva. Here's another bonus: I was at the pool with a friend who hadn't had kids yet. She's a swimming instructor and one day I noticed she was wearing shorts in the pool. Her flow was really heavy she explained and she didn't want to risk... you know... anything, because as anyone knows with a heavy flow, tampons are limited in their effectiveness. "Oh my God, you have to try a Diva cup," I told her. "You can wear bikinis again. And white pants! You don't have to worry about accidents." It was like those tampon commercials only way grislier and wayyyyy more liberating! Her life changed, my life changed. Trust me: go get yourself a cup!!! Take ownership of your body and your flow and your impact on the planet! Just all good things! If you get inspired by anything on this list, I hope it's this, because, really, tampons are some bs. (That is, unless you have a medical issue that disallows use of a cup! I'm only talking about the women who have a choice.)
5. Reusable Water Bottle
This one became a concern when my sister who's a water scientist and professor-- or a fluvial geomorphologist as it took me years to learn to say-- informed me that most tap water is actually better quality than bottled water! (It was such a shock I wrote a haibun about it which was published at Every Day Poetry, which now no longer exists online, sigh, so allow me to plug my book real quick, because it's the only place you can read it now.) If you live in Flint, Michigan, bad tap water continues to be a problem, which is some more bs for a different day, but anyway you might be surprised at the quality of the free water flowing from your own tap! Here in Philly, because of taste issues, we filter our tap water with a Brita, but overall I'm in love with my 'Swell bottle! It's so easy to carry around and it keeps my water cold even on a hot day!
Wearing all thrifted clothes from eBay or Greene Street Consignment. Another change! I LOVE thrifting!
These were all such simple changes that involved a couple small initial purchases-- most of which meant investments in reusable objects that were priced under $10! And there's plenty more changes I can make in that price-point! For example, I only recently learned there are small amounts of plastic in teabags after beginning to follow 1 Million Women on Instagram, so my Christmas present to myself this year was a tea strainer. That might sound like a lame self-gift, but I really love my evening cup of tea and I think it will add another element of grace to the nightly ritual.
I'd love to keep on adding changes from here well past 2018, 2019, and off into a better future for all. Have you guys heard of the 1 Million Women Movement? It's all about (mostly but not exclusively) women around the world making these kind of small daily changes in how our households are run, because these small changes when done on a larger scale can affect nearly 17% of greenhouse emissions! What are some changes you'd like to make in 2019? Any ideas you'd add to this list?