A Busy Weekend and a Busy Monday

Sunday morning, we woke up and realized that our front garden bed was woefully neglected. We hadn’t weeded in weeks and the weeds were almost as tall as the azaleas. So that we didn’t get too much sun, I suggested we go out and weed in the early morning. The front of the house is shaded until about 9:30 a.m., so we had plenty of time to pull most of the worst offenders in the weed department. We’ll have to get out a couple of weeks in a row before fall to keep things under control and then put down more mulch as the weather cools. We also gave them a bit of water since it was drier than usual last week and they were looking crispy.

After that, we decided it would be nice to walk to the store to get supplies to make waffles. I had most of the ingredients already, but we were out of maple syrup and butter. I was really excited to find Kerrygold Irish butter at the supermarket, and at a surprisingly good price. So I got fancy butter and went home to make waffles. I stirred up the batter and Boyfriend took care of cooking them. Waffles with butter and syrup was the perfect post-weeding treat! We did get a little down time for a couple hours while we ate breakfast, and I used the time to start watching Series 3 of Downton Abbey on Amazon, and do a deep conditioning treatment for my hair.

I’ve decided to officially try to grow my hair out again, and to that end, I’ve re-joined the hair forum of which I was a member many years ago. There’s a few treatments that have attained near-cult status and I knew one of them worked for me, so I put together a treatment with conditioner, honey, and aloe. I managed to use the last of my Griffin Remedy conditioner, but since I don’t want to order online when we’re going away soon-ish, I’m trying a brand from the natural food store where do our normal shopping. I’ve used it in the past and always thought of it as expensive, but it’s not actually that much more expensive than Griffin. Anyway, I let my treatment sit for an hour under plastic wrap and a bandanna, and then rinsed it out. It left my hair very soft and shiny. I let it dry hanging over one arm of the sofa while Boyfriend showered, and then put it up while we went to the store to shop.

After shopping for the week, I set to work, baking muffins and putting together lunch things for the week. I found the absolute best whole-grain blueberry muffin recipe last week, which I made again this week and froze for breakfasts. They’re fabulous with a cup of tea at my desk after I’ve made my smoothie at home. I also made a chopped salad, and hard-cooked some eggs for protein. I’m finishing out my healthy July re-boot strong!

Sunday evening was nice because we took my mother out for a birthday dinner. I was able to have a cocktail and a nice meal with her at one of her favorite restaurants. We even all got dessert and coffee (except I had tea!). It was nice because the slightly larger dinner served me well the next morning because I got up to go running early. I’m experimenting with only washing my hair three days a week and adjusting my running schedule so I run on days I already plan to wash my hair. This allows me to skip showering on some days, saving water and my skin, which has started to get more dry lately. We’ll see how it goes.

After running and a full day at work, I spent my Monday evening at an audition to which I’ve been looking forward for a long time. It was very busy and lasted longer than I would have liked, but I got to read for both characters in which I’m interested, AND the director remembered me by name without prompting, even though he asked almost everyone else to remind him of their names throughout the evening. So maybe that’s a good sign. Either way, it was fun to get to read something from the script. It would be a fun show to be in because it would further indulge my vintage loves!

I managed to make it home very late and fall into bed, but not before eating some pizza Boyfriend saved for me. He really is so sweet!

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Lady Elizabeth and the Quest For the Holy Grail

A rather whimsical title because I’ve always been a reader of Arthurian lore. But instead of the miraculous cup, I refer instead to Holy Grail (or HG) beauty products. I do read some modern beauty publications to get ideas for my makeup, and occasionally, they will list their HG products. I have to say, I’ve never understood such an idea.

I mean, I spent a month wearing all my red lipsticks to decide what I wanted, and then bought a lipstick that I like a lot. But it’s not the ultimate red lipstick. It’s just the best I’ve found so far. I still have complaints. And I’m going to keep buying lipsticks, even red ones. In fact, I’ve already bought two red lipsticks and a couple of sheer red lip stains since then. So no mythical status.

And yet, recently, I discovered the meaning of the HG product. It was after a years-long journey that I discovered it, and I didn’t even know how much I needed this particular product until I found it. I almost bought it on a whim, which is ludicrous considering how expensive it was, but I consider it worth every penny and I will not hesitate to buy it again.

You see, I try not to wear a full face of makeup every day. But I do need sun protection every day, and since I prefer more natural, mineral-based sunscreen products, I like a tinted sunscreen moisturizer to avoid the white cast that mineral sunscreens leave. But I have rather oily skin, and I’ve found that every tinted sunscreen I’ve tried has left my face looking shiny/oily, even the oil-free one. I had resigned myself to using a bit of powder, even though that ruins the light feel of tinted moisturizer.

Enter True Nature Botanicals. On a whim, I typed “matte finish natural tinted sunscreen” into Google, and got a bunch of hits about their Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage sunscreen. It’s an all-natural tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and it supposedly dries to a matte-powder finish. Huh. Sounded interesting. The price was less interesting, but after checking out their return policy (30 days, for any reason, satisfaction guaranteed), I decided it was worth it to buy a bottle, use it for a bit, and if I had to return it, the cost of return shipping was probably reasonable for a sample of a luxe product.

And it does have good ingredients. Even though it’s not oil-free, the oils are high-linoleic oils, mostly, which I know work well with my skin. Some of the oils are oils I use by themselves, or oils I’ve looked at buying. Intriguing. I ordered a bottle of the “Light” tint, and it came a few days later.

I have to say, I’m kind of hooked. I need about 2-3 pumps to cover my face generously. It smooths on and then starts to dry to a truly matte finish. The only issue I’ve had is that if I sweat profusely, it will sometimes dry a bit patchy. But other than that, it’s weightless, natural, matte sunscreen that makes my skin look flawless, but without looking like I’m wearing makeup. I’ve definitely gone a couple of days with just this moisturizer and maybe a touch of lipstick.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is actually looking really good, even bare. I generally have pretty good skin, but it started breaking out around my chin a couple weeks ago and I had two giant pimples on my chin for an audition early last week. I got my tinted moisturizer that evening and started wearing it daily on Tuesday and I’ve noticed that the pimples have gone away a lot faster than usual and haven’t left a lot of lingering marks. Perhaps it’s my new attempt at oil cleansing, but I think the botanicals in this moisturizer couldn’t be hurting. At the very least, I know it’s not causing me to break out.

So that’s the story of my quest for my first Holy Grail product. I’d be interested to hear about any Holy Grail products you readers have found!

Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and have not been offered any incentive to write this review.

The Ghost in Our Room

This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as I don’t actually believe our room is haunted. You see, for the last year, I’ve noticed that the light coming through our bedroom window shines on the far wall, near the door of our bedroom, and takes the vague shape of a person standing there. It startles me in the middle of the night.

But I don’t want to put up dark curtains or a shade to block the light because I like having sunlight in the morning. Also, our bedroom light fixture burned out shortly after we moved in and we’ve never been able to find a replacement bulb that fits. So I like having a lot of natural light; I just don’t like the streetlights shining in.

And in some strange way, it’s almost like this false ghost is becoming a real comforting presence. Whenever I start in the middle of the night, I can remind myself that anything I think I saw or heard is probably nothing, like the ghost. We’ve even taken to calling the reverse-shadow “the ghost.” As in, “we have to go something about the ghost,” or “it’s just the ghost” when I wake up panicked.

So now I wonder, what if I were to come up with a story about the ghost who watches us benignly from the doorway of our bedroom? I’ve always said that our room might have originally been meant to be the children’s room because it is large enough to house a couple of bunk beds. Perhaps the gentle presence is some long-forgotten mother who wanders our little historical town and peeks in the doorways of bedrooms to make sure those inside are safe. It’s a nice thought, and somehow turns a ghost from a frightening presence to a comforting one.

It is foolish, I realize, to make up a story about a patch of light reflecting on the wall. But it’s there every night as I try to fall asleep, and ghost stories are ultimately stories about history, which are so interesting.

A Whirlwind of Busy

It’s been a busy few weeks, as one can probably tell from the lack of posting at this space. I have lots of ideas for posts, but I just can’t seem to find the time to sit down and put them together. Also, many of the posts I have in mind involve pictures that I either haven’t taken, or haven’t processed on my computer to load in. It’s a rough life, right?

But in the meantime, I keep busy. Very busy. Auditions for fall shows are starting up, so that uses a lot of my free mental energy. And now I have this house that needs to be cleaned and rearranged and decorated. And cleaned. It turns out that we have an infestation of click beetles, if half a dozen can be called an infestation. I consider it so because I stepped on one this morning while making my morning smoothie and it clicked under my toes and upset me. The worst part is that the specific intermittent clicking mimics either standard house noises or sounds a little like someone walking downstairs and occasionally making the floors creak. So for the last few nights I’ve sworn I’ve heard someone downstairs even though no one is there. I suppose it’s nice to know there’s an actual sound I’ve been hearing, but on the other hand, it’s a bug. So not so nice.

So this weekend will likely be a big cleaning weekend, at least on Saturday. If I haven’t collapsed from the combination of meeting work deadlines, auditioning, and traveling for work. But it needs to be done. And then Sunday, we’re going to visit Boyfriend’s parents’ new property and getting lunch with them. It sounds like they have a lot of land around the house they’re building so it should be fun. And, of course, I will need to grab some quiet moments for a cup of tea.

And that’s really what it’s been. I’ve had some time to myself to sit and be quiet, but I haven’t felt like doing anything concrete with the time. I’ve watched some Netflix, and even started crocheting again since I now have a living room that actually gets air conditioning. I’m working on a project I started ages ago with wool I bought two years ago, but it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done. And winding the yarn and crocheting is soothing, as long as my hands aren’t too sore from aerials!

I’ve been less invested in exercising this week. I’ve had to be in to work early, so I haven’t had the time or energy for an early-morning run. And my shoulder has started hurting, either from aerials or from toting a heavy laptop around, so I’m skipping one of my aerial arts classes this week. But the weather has been nice and I’ve been trying to get out and enjoy the sunshine and walk around. I’ve seen some plays that friends of mine are involved in, and going to theater always involves walking from the subway station to the quirky little neighborhoods where these things happen.

I’ve also updated my skin care and beauty routines a bit. I’ve found my first “Holy Grail” product, I think, and come up with some new recipes to increase my arsenal of homemade products. But I’ll post about that in detail later rather than talk too much about it now. I promise, I’m going to take some time to take pictures and put together a few posts while I have the quiet evenings. Since I’m not acting, I really do have more free time. And yet, I still feel so busy all the time…

Long Walks and Getting Caught in the Rain

As part of my attempts to be healthier, I’ve started walking more often. It’s not fitness walking, but instead I try to take a few long strolls per week. On the weekends when it’s easy to lay around all day, sometimes in the middle of the work day to break things up, and lately I’ve been getting Boyfriend to go for a nice walk before dinner some evenings when he’s home early.

The other day was one of those days. He actually beat me home. For once, I was the one working the 10+ hour day and he got home early to start dinner for me. But I managed to get home early enough in the evening that we had some time before it was really time for dinner. The sky was mostly blue with a few big white piles of clouds, so I thought it would be nice end to the day or beginning of the evening.

I like taking walks with Boyfriend. I walk fast, so he slows me down a bit, and we talk a lot. It’s nice to have that reconnect, a reminder of why we’re together. Sometimes we talk about work or about the house, or about plans we want to make with friends. When I’m in a play, we’ll talk about that. This time, I vented a little about work, and then we planned a party we want to have soon.

As we turned the corner for the last leg of our walk, probably less than a quarter-mile from home, it started spitting rain at us. Since we hadn’t heard any thunder, and could still see clear patches of sky, we figured we had a little time.

Five steps later, the sky opened on us. The rain fell in sheets of water, completely soaking us through. We decided to run for it, but it was longer than I thought it was, and I ended up tiring out. Plus, it was raining so hard that gasping for breath occasionally resulted in drowned sputtering. Boyfriend stayed with me while I panicked, worried that it was about to start lightning on us, and then went on ahead to open the house once it was in sight.

Once inside, we checked the parts of the house that leak to make sure nothing would be ruined, and then peeled off our soaking wet clothes. I was still in my wrap-front jersey dress and a pair of stockings from work. These went over the shower bar in one of our bathrooms, and we found clean towels and dry clothes. Then, I wrapped up in a blanket with a beer and a good book while Boyfriend cooked dinner. It was exciting, and ultimately a bit invigorating. And then we settled in for an uneventful evening.

Channeling Agent Carter’s Strength

It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been moving into a new role at work, and it comes with a lot of new skills to learn, a lot of things to take care of, and a lot of people with whom I must interact. I’ve talked about the confidence boost that red lipstick gives me in the past, but I thought I’d mention a new lipstick I bought, along with a new television show I’m watching.

I finally started watching Marvel’s Agent Carter last week, and I love it. From the opening sequence of each show, they make it clear that this show is about a strong woman who’s been relegated to the background by a chauvinist society, much the same way I talked about the women of The Bletchley Circle found after the war. I mean, this was a woman who fought with Captain America, and now she’s mostly getting coffee in the SSR office.

I could talk about the plot, but it’s such a comic-book-perfect blend of intrigue and action that I leave it to the reader to check out this show. Also, I was unfortunate enough to wait until only the final five episodes of the 8-episode first season were available for free. So I came into the plot in the middle, but still found it gripping.

No, instead, I think I’ll talk about Peggy Carter’s faces. She makes the most amazing disapproving faces whenever she’s ignored or talked over. The show is faithful enough to the ethos of the era that she can’t just shout out and say “Hey guys, I know what I’m talking about and you’re being a bunch of jerks!” She has to keep her mouth shut and find a way to subtly maneuver situations to her advantage. It’s eye-opening, but also familiar in a way. When she finally saves the day and that is taken from her by a pompous colleague, she is able to maintain poise, even while another colleague becomes indignant on her behalf. And she does it all with her signature dark-red lip.

Hayley Atwell, the actress who plays Carter, announced last December that Agent Carter’s lip color is none other than Besame Cosmetics’ Red Velvet. While on my search for the perfect red, I happened to email a rep at Besame asking about their lipstick, and Red Velvet was one of the shades they recommended, along with Red Hot Red, a bright, warm red inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Well, when I saw Besame lipsticks were now available at Sephora, I jumped. I’ve been dissatisfied with the feathering of my go-to Poppy red, and Red Velvet is different enough from anything I currently have.

I have to say, I love the formula, the packaging, and the experience. I also love the color. It’s a very serious red, and makes me feel like a serious person, which has been fantastic this week, when I have to hold my own in meetings. Sometimes I have to keep my mouth shut when a superior is talking, even if I disagree with what he or she is saying. But just because I’m quiet, doesn’t mean I’m submissive, just like Peggy.

And I’ve gone ahead and ordered Red Hot Red, too!

A New Month and a New Start

It’s the first of July, and the beginning of the second half of the year! The end of a month always feels a bit like a mini-New-Years-Day for me because it’s the perfect time to take stock of life and see what might need changing. June found me facing some uncomfortable truths about the state of my health, and so I’ve made a commitment to move more, even buying a fancy fitness tracker to do so. I’ve also resolved to spend the month of July re-vamping my eating habits by adding lots more fruits and veggies. With our housemate gone, I have the freedom to use noisy appliances in the mornings, and so I can make my favorite green smoothie with breakfast. That, along with a big salad with lunch will go a long way towards filling my belly with healthy, vitamin-rich veggies, so that I will hopefully be less tempted by the quick and easy snack foods that led to weight creep and other health bugaboos.

This is Boyfriend’s and my first month of having our house all to ourselves! I’ve already told you about some of the garden improvement we’ve undertaken in the past month or so, but now we get to redecorate most of the downstairs of our house! I already have a plan for each room, and hopefully we won’t have to buy too much, but it will involve some heavy lifting. Right now, it’s kind of amusing how we’re watching a television on the floor in the living room rather than bother bringing down our stand, but it works for now.

I’ve also started making an effort to exercise more. In addition to aerial class, which I’m trying to do twice a week to build my strength up for a while, I’ve also been running a couple times a week, and hopefully will be fit enough soon to run with Boyfriend on the weekends. He would slow down for me, but I feel bad when I have to stop and walk and complain. And I’m also trying to just walk more. When I’m not running around to meetings at work, I try to park as far away as I can, and take walks during the day. It’s also nice to get some fresh air and sunshine, really, although I’ve taken to wearing one of my large sunhats when I walk in the midday so I don’t get too much sun!

Hopefully, July will prompt a bit of a new beginning for me, with better health leading to a better mood. Is anyone else taking advantage of a mid-year tune-up?