Blossom Viewing

Last week, I bemoaned the creeping entrance of spring and lack of flowering trees. This week, the local flora decided to prove that they were not entirely beaten. Sunday, our local cherry trees reached official “peak bloom” and Monday, after a gloomy morning gave way to a gloriously sunny afternoon, I decided to take a little walk and view the blossoms.

I made my way down to the sidewalk that winds around the Tidal Basin and watched as a relatively scant group of tourists took photos and just generally enjoyed the beautiful setting. All around me, trees had burst into bloom, with only subtle reminders of the departed early brethren who were lost in our late snowstorm. The remaining blossoms still made a lovely picture, and so I took a few.

The cherry blossoms against the blue-green of the water and the azure blue of the sky reminded me of old paintings. Gnarled branches punctuated with pink and white stood against their backdrop like impressionist almond blossoms .

Of course, I gave in to the temptation to take selfies in the blossoms, but the bright sunlight meant that few of them turned out well. I tended to have that little worried crinkle between my eyebrows as I tried to withstand the brightness of the day.

But all in all, the day left me warmed, relaxed, and with a renewed sense of peace after seeing the beautiful reminders that no matter how long the winter, spring will come eventually. And it has left me in the mood for cherry blossoms in everything. Perhaps I shall go on a quest later for some sakura sweets.

Signs of Spring

It has been a strange season this year. Winter was, for the most part, mild and uneventful, other than one or two exciting days. But we managed to have quite a few weeks of unseasonably mild temperature. Followed by a snowstorm the week that we thought we would be gearing up for springtime.

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In my city, we celebrate the cherry blossoms, and so the beginning of spring is always marked with glee by local merchants, and by the tourists who come every year to see the blossoms. But our teasing warm spell and subsequent snowstorm brought the blossoms out early, only to freeze them on the branch. So we lack the profusion of pink and white flowers to mark the celebration and need to make do with the cherry blossom decals that pop up all over town. It’s a bit of a forced cheery sight, but reminds one of spring.

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This year’s spring is going to be a bit more subtle, a bit of a slow crawl out of grey, chilly days and towards brighter, warmer ones. A hint of green as the leaves bud on the trees. A flash of pink or violet as small flowers that resisted the early warmth crawl out of garden beds and lawns. And it is looking for these tiny creeping steps towards spring that keeps my spirits up through grey days, freak snowstorms, and chilly evenings. I yearn to wear short, floral dresses, no stockings, and sandals, but I have to cover over everything to keep warm still.

You see, technically, spring came on Monday. But it still doesn’t feel like spring, either meteorologically or emotionally to me yet. I’ve found myself mired in the quagmire of winter thoughts, bundling myself up in blankets and resorting to comforting food whenever I have the chance. Piling on down at night, and even sleeping in socks when necessary. I need a warm day and some sunshine to pull me out of this funk. I need some real springtime.

And now, the signs are there. We just need the rest of spring to join them.

Lips in Bloom: Pink and Coral Lip Colors for Spring

As I mentioned before, springtime has me eschewing my usual red lipsticks for lighter, sheerer shades to match the lightening of the days and warming of the weather. While sheer pinks and corals are a bit less fraught with the need to find just the perfect shade, there is still a joy in finding something that fits you well. Here are a few of the shades I’ve been enjoying lately. Unfortunately, adhering to my recent lack of time to invest in blogging, I haven’t had a chance to photograph swatches of these products, but look for swatches on Instagram this weekend!

Pinks are a shade that I’ve been wearing since I started wearing lipstick. Most of my pinks are of the “My Lips But Better” variety. I tend to get sheer shades that let my own color peek through. One of my earliest go-to shades was Gabriel’s Sheer Rose. It’s a very warm pink, and almost borders on coral. But lately, my absolute favorite pink is Urban Decay’s Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Ladyflower. It’s a lovely rose pink, gives a subtle blush to lips without being either too unnoticeable nor too bold, and the lilac-colored metal tube just fits the whole aesthetic of a spring lipstick. Plus, the formula has a somewhat sticky emollience that stays on my lips and doesn’t leave me reaching for lip balm after a few minutes.

Coral is a color I’m trying to like. I like the shade in and of itself. The set of the play I was in last year was painted a rather garish salmon-coral-pink shade that I mocked along with the rest of the cast, but secretly loved. But I’ve had trouble finding a shade I like on my own lips. My first foray into the shade was Nyx Cosmetics’ Life’s a Beach, which is fabulous and bright, and people say looks lovely on me, but I feel like it makes the rest of my face look washed out. It’s veering into Malibu-Barbie territory, which is not bad, but not me. I feel not-tan enough to carry the shade off, and that is a situation which is unlikely to change. In order to ease myself into the idea of coral on my lips, I’ve also found Wet ‘n Wild’s Balm Stain in Coral of the Story. It’s nice and sheer, but provides a lovely pop of coral and really helps get me used to seeing orange on my face.

While I don’t reach for full-on red lipstick as often, I do still like my cherry lips during spring. And what a perfect time to try out a Korean lip stain! I’ve recently tried Etude House’s Fresh Cherry Tint in RD301, a somewhat warm-pink, softened shade. It looks red at first, but stains the lips a popsicle-red-pink shade that looks healthy and lush. It will cling to the center of my lips and wear off unevenly if I’m not careful, but it has a lovely feel and color for casual weekend days in spring. I especially like it for Sunday morning coffee dates because it does not transfer much, if at all.

(Please not that all products were purchased by me and none of the links are affiliate links)

Five Things I’ve Been Enjoying Recently

I still have a backlog of photo-editing and post-writing to deal with since I’ve been busy and stressed, so here’s another quick, unplanned post. Spring has definitely sprung in the city! Trees are fluffy and pink and white and yellow and purple. There are hyacinths and daffodils out on my walk from the train station to my office. And it’s even getting a bit warmer. So I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve been particularly enjoying the last couple of weeks as we move into spring.

  1. Magnolia Oolong tea from Simple Loose Leaf: I’ve talked about this before, but this really is a lovely tea. It’s the same Jade Oolong I reviewed a while ago, but with a very light magnolia floral scent and flavor added. I love it as a daily cup when the weather is warm, but not hot, and the sights and scents of spring are everywhere. It’s very seasonally-appropriate and helps remind me that the rich, warming black teas of winter are no longer needed.
  2. Hada Labo UV Perfect Gel: Sunscreen, guys! Since it is now fully light for both my morning and evening walks to and from work, it’s the perfect time to mention my new favorite sunscreen. It’s Japanese and unfragranced and sinks in beautifully. It does leave a bit of shine initially, but I give it 20-30 minutes before applying makeup and it settles right down. It’s a lovely gel texture and I think the hydrating ingredients offset the alcohol that gives it its lovely texture and ability to absorb weightlessly into skin.
  3. Pink and coral lip products: I love a red lip. But lately, I’ve been reach for spring-y lip colors, which means pinks and corals. Coral has been tricky for me, as I’m not generally a fan of orange, but I’ve found some products to help ease me into the look. I’ve also been loving sheerer lip colors for the spring, as it’s a much fresher look. Plus, my lip color matches the azalea bush that’s already started sprouting buds: Coral Bells.
  4. Pink clothing: I own a lot of black and dark-colored clothing. It’s rather a go-to color for me. But the warm weather has me feeling light and youthful, and to me, this means pink and pastels. I wore a pink chiffon dress from Mod Cloth the other day to work and got so many compliments, I wore it again a couple weeks later!
  5. Veggie noodles: One of our most unexpected holiday gifts was a Veggetti from Boyfriend’s parents. I’d looked at spiralizers before, but never decided to actually buy one. So when we got this, it seemed like a neat way to try spiralized veggies without shelling out for an expensive machine. But who wants to eat a lot of raw veggies in the dead of winter? Plus, a lot of the good veggies for spiralizing aren’t available until spring. Well, the zucchini and cucumbers are here and I’ve started spiralizing. We had a spiralized cucumber salad with sushi on Saturday and spiralized zucchini and carrots as a base for grilled chicken yesterday after a heavy Easter lunch called for a light dinner. It’s a lovely way to eat raw veggies, especially now that the warmer weather has me craving fresher food.

What is everyone else loving for spring?

On Burnout and the Rest Cure

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in two weeks. Well, I’ve had a phenomenally busy couple of weeks. I’ve also felt less-than-inspired. That’s not to say I’ve had nothing to write about. I’m still gleefully trying out new skin care products from Korea and Japan, as well as some handmade things. I’ve started tweaking my hair routine. And just after my birthday a couple weeks ago, Boyfriend took me on a lovely outing, during which I took many, many beautiful pictures that I have yet to download from the memory card of my camera.

It’s daunting to tackle, to say the least. And I’ve been tired, mentally and physically. Rehearsals have started running later, and I’ve gone and gotten myself cast in another show already, so I have the looming prospect of double rehearsals again that preemptively paralyzes me.

And so I decided to just step back. I know that posting regularly is good to keep an audience, but I’m sure readers prefer quality posts to harried ones. Even this post was a gamble, as I have nothing really new to share with you. Just my musings on “self-care” and forgiving yourself for not meeting arbitrary goals.

And maybe a few tantalizing hints at things to come. So here’s a future attractions:

  1. I will finally get my birthday outing photos processed and do a big post about that. Probably picture-heavy, and they will be lovely pictures. Spoiler: it involves flowers.
  2. A possible theater update. I’m currently rehearsing a show set in the 20s, and just got cast in a late-Victorian-era piece, so it fits in well with my preferred vintage aesthetics.
  3. A skin care update, though this will be a long time coming. I’m still testing and hope to have a routine finalized (at least for now) by the end of April.
  4. A hair care update. Again, this is a work in progress, but I have a more concrete regime in place right now, despite the potential changing of exact products.
  5. Of course, I will be musing about springtime. The cherry blossoms and tulip magnolias are blossoming and soon I hope the wisteria will be out as well.

So that is where I’ve been lately. I hope to be back soon with more updates!

Florals for Spring

As I sit at my desk at work sipping a mug of jasmine green tea, I inhale the heady floral scent of it. I love florals. I wear floral prints, I love the scent of floral perfume, of floral tea, I decorate with flowers where I can. And now that we’re in the full throes of spring, nature has responded with her own florals.

Floral tea is one of my favorite flavors. I don’t go in very often for flavored tea, save the classic Earl Grey blend, but floral flavored teas will make me forget my preference for unadulterated teas. Green tea with jasmine. Oolong tea with the sweet scent of magnolias. Black tea with roses. The perfume of the flowers mingles with the perfume of the tea itself. My favorite blend is Earl Grey tea with red roses and a splash of rosewater, to supplement the fragrance of the roses. It’s lovely with just a touch of honey or sugar.

I’ve baked flowers into my cookies, cakes, and scones. Rose petals, lavender, and rosewater come together with butter and sugar for a fragrant treat. I received a madeleine pan for my birthday several months ago, and it might be time to bake a floral-scented batch of tiny French cakes.

And of course, it’s the time of year for flowers. I shared the photo above of a rose I got after my matinee this weekend. The theatre company had decided to have roses for all the mothers and far fewer mothers showed up than expected, so I got a rose of my own. It now sits on my breakfast table, brightening up the place, and bringing it’s soft floral beauty into my morning routine. It makes me want to have flowers more often, although there isn’t a very good source of them nearby. Some of the farmer’s markets, though, have great buckets of flowers on occasion, so perhaps I will start haunting the stalls waiting for them to have another lovely addition to my table.

Happy spring, all!

Wisteria and Sunshine 

This weekend, my show opened, so the weekend was busy, to say the least. But I still got a moment to sit and relax and enjoy the lovely weather on the deck. The view reminded me of the ad from Enchanted April, which I also watched this weekend. And I do enjoy wisteria and sunshine.

Sunday was the first really warm day we’ve had since spring began. I had risen early to set my hair for a matinee performance, and had watched the film with my breakfast. The local bakery has chocolate-cherry bread for sale on the first Saturday of each month, so I had special bread, tea, and melon. Then, as the weather warmed up, I found myself with an hour to spare while baking a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for the post-matinee party. So I made another pot of Earl Grey, grabbed a book of short stories, and found a shaded spot on the deck to sit and read and sip tea. You see, Boyfriend and I plan to move at the beginning of the summer, and I thought I ought to enjoy it while I can.

I took a little turn around the yard at one point. It’s not a long walk, but you can see there is some interest. There at the back, there’s what looks a bit like the foundations of an old stone house or shed. I examined it a bit, although I’d looked at it before, and went over to check out the jungle of flora growing around the decorative basin to one side. Quite a lovely little garden. So lovely, in fact, that I decided I didn’t want to leave after all. But that is a story for another day.

Updates and Musings

So it’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. The weather has warmed. We’ve all thawed out. And some things have changed.

The tweeds have gone away, even my beloved tweed overcoat. And the rain coats have come out. I’m moving to spring dresses. I’ve even ordered some new dresses from a dressmaker I’m excited to tell you about, once I have my most recent batch of dresses, and photos. And I have new tea adventures to tell you about. I’ve joined Simple Loose Leaf’s tea subscription service, and have been enjoying their teas.

I’m still doing theater. Right now, I’m in a play set in the 1940s, so I’m having a blast with costumes, hair, and makeup. I even put one of the other ladies’ hair in a victory roll during rehearsal one night and she was so tickled because she thought her hair was too fine for it. I was excited to have my own vintage background to draw from to make suggestions.

That said, I’m moving more towards vintage-inspired and vintage-appropriate pieces rather than actual vintage. For one, vintage pieces just aren’t realistic for my day job, and I need pieces for which I can care easily.

Which brings me to another change: I’ve started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up about the Kon-Mari method of tidying. While I’m not ready to do the whole house, I’ve put some of her suggestions into place, and for the first time in a while, I’ve got my clothing managed.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m still crocheting, drinking tea, and loving all things vintage and British. So I hope to get back to posting on a more regular schedule and sharing my vintage life as it warms up!