Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Egg Nails!

For the past week, I could not get the image of purple nails with yellow polka dots out of my mind. Is just struck me as a lovely, Easter egg-y look. Unable to control myself any longer, this is how it ended up looking.

I still happen to think it's pretty festive, but the yellow is perhaps less punchy than I would have liked. It is rather difficult to find a good yellow nail polish, wouldn't you know? I used Essie Under Where? for the base and Revlon Top Speed in Crystal Glow for the polka dots. I think I might give the Revlon a shot on its own some time this weekend, and I'll definitely do an individual review for the Essie next week.

I'm off to New Jersey tonight to visit the family for Easter, so expect a couple of lovely posts from the Garden State!

Miscellany #3

There's just something about walking around the quiet parts of the city that I find very soothing. I love the lights at night, and every once in a while I happen upon an East Coast house smack dab in the middle of it all. It pleases me to see those and reminds me that home is never as far away as you think it is.

I hope you're all having a lovely Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Essie Resort Collection 2013: First Timer

I happened upon the 2013 Essie Resort Collection and, of course, had to pick up a couple of shades. I mean, they were just screaming, "It's time for the beach!" at me. How could I resist? The first is First Timer, which looked appealingly green with tropical blue undertones in the bottle.

As I suspected, it had an exceptional cream texture, and could definitely be a one-coater if I ever find the patience for precision. I was a little concerned about the color on my nails, as it seemed much...punchier, even neon, than it had in the bottle, but when I woke up this morning, my early suspicions were confirmed. The topcoat I used seems to have altered the color, as I can still see bits of the true color peeking through. I'll have to pick up a better topcoat, but based on what I see around the edges, it should be a bit mellow compared to the current shade. I definitely anticipate this color making a number of appearances this spring and summer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

That is a really cool dog, and that face is how I feel about not having a dog. Now you know how I feel today? But seriously, how sweet does that cuddly Golden Retriever look?  Although I must admit, she has wayyyyyyy too much hair to shed for my taste.  I'm more used to the smaller, short and smooth-coat variety of dog.  They're just so agreeably sized.  I love 'em all, though!

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope the spring is creeping up on you sans snow, but if it isn't, I hope you have a friend, human or animal, to keep you company anyway!

Lipstick: MAC Girl About Town

Friday, March 22, 2013

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen Flat-Roasted Chicken

As you may know, Spring hasn't exactly rolled into Chicago in the friendliest of ways.  I've taken this quite hard, and I have tried quite a few things to cheer myself up.  But one of the most lovely things I think you can do to comfort yourself when the weather just keeps beating you down is to have some solid home-cooked food.

Since I obtained the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a few short days after its release, I've been working my way through it, and my, has it been spectacular. This is one of the least complicated recipes in the book, I'm convinced even a cooking noob could totally execute it with maximum deliciousness.  The chicken turns out wonderfully juicy, and the potatoes are simply divine.  If you so chose, a simple salad would go wonderfully with this meal, but I prefer to be honest with myself about what I want to take up the most room in my stomach.

Out of respect for the book's author, Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman, I'm going to decline to post the specific recipe here. I heartily encourage you to pick up a copy of the cookbook, which is available on Amazon, as well as a number of other outlets.

This meal definitely bolstered me for the continuing cold weather.  Is there anything you like to cook when the weather gets you down?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let Me Wear Your Clothes: Mindy Kaling

So, I don't know if any of you watch The Mindy Project, but it is only getting better with each passing episode.  More importantly, however, Mindy Kaling looks impeccable in every episode (which makes me extra sad that her appearance is a constant joke on the show, even if it is tongue-in-cheek).  But anyway, I really loved her outfit from Tuesday night's episode, and I thought I would try to compose it for myself, rather than duplicate exactly.  Here goes!

1, 2, 3

Voila!  What do you think?  Would you go for it?  Now that I look at what I've pulled together, it's a little on the bumblebee side, no?  Ah well, perhaps there's another Peter Pan collar out there that would soften it.  C'est la vie!

Do any of you watch The Mindy Project?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Empties #1: Fill 'er Up?

A quick rundown of some of the goodies I've worked my way through recently:

Clearly, one of my best photographs.  L to R we have:

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic:  I got this as part of the Liz Earle skincare trio, and I have to admit I quite liked it.  The scent is very soothing, as long as you don't hate powdery smells, and it did leave my skin feeling refreshed.  I can't say that it was like, a WOW product in terms of what it did for me, but it was a nice extra step in my cleansing routine that I miss.  However, given the flat-rate shipping fee to the U.S. from the Liz Earle site, I think I'll be waiting until I start to run out of the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser so I can order both at the same time.  Liz Earle, $21

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Tonic:  Now, this I feel quite a bit of love towards, on account of the scent and how refreshing it feels.  This is actually my second bottle of the stuff, and it really makes my skin feel super awake and extra clean.  I particularly love it during the warmer months, it really takes away any extra grime your may have missed with your cleanser, and the fresh scent leaves you feeling super duper renewed.  Definitely on my repurchase list.  Bobbi Brown, $29

Soap & Glory Calm One, Calm All Bubble Bath:  BEST.  SHIT.  EVER.  Seriously, I never liked taking baths and then I had my little sister bring me a bottle of this from when she was in England.  I am fully in love.  I love the girly scent, I love the amount of bubbles it creates, I love the sassy packaging, and I LOVE how smooth my skin is after I use it.  If only I felt this way about everything, my brain would be happily filled with woozy swoony endorphins all the time.  For now, it'll just have to be my twice (thrice?  Whatever the verbal derivation of four is?) weekly soaks.  Sephora, $16

So, all things I will surely use again (I'm actually almost through my second bottle of the bubble bath, eek!).  Have any of you tried any of these?  Would you give them another go?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Thing That's Happening: Animals on Clothing

Admittedly, I know this is a thing that is continuously happening, but I think it's happening in a slightly more fashionable way right now (I'm looking at you, generic shirts with majestic wolves).  Exhibits A, B, and C:

L to R: Here & There Tee, Printmaker Blouse, Saddleback Sweater (all via Anthropologie)

I really love Anthropologie.  I try to pretend I don't because I don't have that kind of money right now on account of being a starving artist, but really, such adorable stuff.  I know that there's a much wider range of clothiers that have clothes with animals on them, but how cute are these tops.  Especially the one with dachshunds.  I love dachshunds!  Since this is my blog, and no one tells me what to do, probably I will do a whole post on human fashion featuring dachshunds one day.  But that day is not today.  But I love these tops!  Do own any of these tops?

Do you own any clothes with animals on them?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chicago St. Patrick's Day 2013: A Classy Affair

Chicago celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Saturday (and Friday and Sunday, and maybe last Thursday, too), so some of my pals and I took off to have a look at the very very very green river. It's a tradition that the Chicago River is dyed green every year and I must say, it's quite a hue.  Nearly fluorescent, in fact.  Against Saturday's gray sky, it left quite an impression, you can check out my instagram to the right to have a better look at the water.

Wanting to be as festive as possible without baring ourselves to the cold (my friend knows a warm hat when she sees one), we did our nails in Revlon Posh with accents of Essie Good as Gold and Set in Stone.  After some good wandering around the Loop, we decided to head north and ended up having a late lunch at The Barrelhouse Flat in Lincoln Park.  Uncharacteristically, it wasn't totally packed to the gills, so we got to enjoy the fare and a good drink.  I guess everybody else wanted green beer?

Hope you had an enjoyable weekend, celebrating or not!  Anyone end up in the paddywagon?

Friday, March 15, 2013

New: Reader Outfit Spotlight

When nothing is facing you but gray days and the same insane clothing combinations intended to keep you warm, what do you do to stay jolly?  It's as good a question as any, and one I've been considering quite a good deal lately.  I always feel like spring should make itself known as soon as March rolls around, even though after 5 Chicago winters, I know that isn't how it works.  Honestly, I need to relax.  How many times a day do I really need to check the weather channel?

So, my friends, what is the solution?  A poor actress can only buy so much to cheer her up before important things like needing to buy food and pay rent butt their way into the picture.  I think, however, I have come up with something that will amuse me, and you, too.

Challenge: Send me a picture of you and a brief description of your outfit, and I'll pick my favorite(s) and do a little feature every Wednesday.  I think it will give us all a chance to expand our mental wardrobes and see what's going on outside our own little spheres.

 - Don't be nasty.  You know what I mean.
 - Be sure you have permission to use the picture.  I don't want anybody getting up in my grill about that.
 - Selfies are fine, I actually think they can show a lot of personality, but make sure we can actually see your outfit.
 - If you send me a really tiny image, I can't use it, so make sure it's big enough to be a full-sized picture in a post, 480 x 640 pixels
- Make sure all photos are either in PNG or JPG format.
- Send all pictures to with the words READER OUTFIT SUBMISSION in the subject line
- All photos must be submitted every Monday by 11:59pm CDT

I can't wait!

Thinking Outside the Shamrock

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm sure we'll all be seeing any number of people swathed in green and shamrocks and other insignia generally associated with the day.  Don't get me wrong, that's all a load of fun, but how much mileage can you get out of that gear?  One weekend, maybe two, in a whole year?  So here are some fun accessories that you could wear all the way into next fall and beyond!  If I had to snag just one of these, I think it would be the Samantha Faye Clover Necklace.  It's just so sweet!

Anything strike your fancy?  What'll you be doing this weekend?

Green beer tastes the same as regular beer.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Miscellany #2

Before the opening of Dar Williams at the Old Town School of Folk Music - Nick Offerman signing a handsaw at the Music Box Theatre - A creepy weird tree on a sunny day in Southport Corridor

It's been a really wonderful week, I got to see Dar Williams at the Old Town School of Folk Music, which is one of my very favorite places in Chicago.  Although I wasn't too familiar with her music, it was a really beautiful show, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  On Friday, I got to see Nick Offerman after a screening of his movie Somebody Up There Likes Me, and I got to ask him a question, which was really lovely.  Most people were just asking if they could come up and take a picture with him, but my actress self was offended that nobody understood they could ask someone successful a really cool question.  I'm currently dogsitting, and as I was walking my charge, I noticed a very interesting tree that has yet to shed its winter gloom (hard to blame it, considering the weather is still mostly in the 30s).

My companion for the week. I think I'm in love.  If only I could get a dog!  Do any of you have furry friends?  Please share, I do love the animals!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Merz Apothecary - Lincoln Square

Merz Apothecary is an old-timey corner drugstore-style pharmacy with locations in Lincoln Square and the Loop.  I took myself over to the Lincoln Square location, which is closest to their original location to have a look at what was on offer.  It's really charming, with stained glass detailing in the front window and shelves packed with everything from Burt's Bees products to holistic medicine ingredients.  With the sheer number of products packed into the relatively small space, it was a little difficult for my brain to sort all of the input!  Full to bursting with old world charm, the store also stocks a rather special brand, one that can be a bit difficult to find in stores (as opposed to on the internet) in the U.S., in my experience:  Dyptique.

I've been dying to take a whiff of some of these candles since they first popped up on my radar about a year and a half ago, and I seized my chance yesterday to make my way to this adorable spot.  I have to say, I could not have possibly imagined how much I would enjoy the scents of their many very expensive candles.  I desperately wanted to obtain a Figuier candle right then and there, but the banking gods frowned upon me and I decided against it, lest I raise their ire further.  I also found Choisya and Baies rather enticing, quelle surprise.  But the single most captivating item was the Philosykos Eau de Parfum.  Oh my, it was the most heavenly fruity scent that has ever graced my presence, distinctive without being overpowering, and distinctly feminine.  At $140.00 for 75mL, it's up there, but I intend to make it mine some time in the next 12 months.  I'd be interested to see whether or not it suits for the summer months, but I have the sneaking suspicion it's a good year-rounder.  Oh, Marc Jacobs Daisy, shall I forsake you so soon?  Non, I do still adore you, but Philosykos, you will be mine.  A budding love affair, indeed.

N.B. Chicago is home to one of the few Dyptique boutiques in the United States, and I do intend to take a trip there when I make my first purchase, but it is rather less conveniently located than Merz, and the weather was really not too pleasant yesterday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Raincoat Rundown

L to R: Michael Kors, Burberry, J. Crew, Yumi on Modcloth

Disclaimer: I know these are not all raincoats, strictly speaking, but they are coats that I would wear in the rain, preferably accompanied by a charming umbrella.

I like the color blue, can you tell?  As this city makes the slide into the rainy season, I can't help but be a little excited by the possibilities afforded by the drop in temperature.  During the winter, Chicagoans largely abandon fashion for the cocoons provided by The North Face and other low-temp masters.  But now that the worst of it is passed, fingers crossed, I'm looking forward to seeing all the lighter jackets and coats traipsing about the city.  And yes, traipsing.  That is what one should do when the kinder months make their approach.  If I had to choose any of these, I would definitely go for the J. Crew Colorblock Sail Jacket.  Already being in possession of a trenchcoat, which will surely make an appearance at some point, I think I need something with those proportions, and I love the idea of taking it into late spring will all my cheery clothing.

What's your favorite transitional, wet weather coat/jacket?

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Cravings

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Some little somethings that I've had my eye on this month (or longer).  Believe it or not, a simple makeup palette has spurred my interest in seeing a movie, Oz the Great and Powerful.  And I would happily attend the movie in everything pictured above.  I had the pleasure of giving the mascara a try a while back, and I quite liked it, in spite of the plasticky brush.  The others are just wonderful cheery things that I would like to be mine.

What have you got your eye on this month?  Always looking to add to the list, you know...

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Springboard

Or rather, a spring nail, catapulting me toward the impending season.  I recently signed up for a Julep Maven subscription and, although I am not yet ready to give a full assessment of it, I must admit I like this color very much.  Named Debra and described as a smoky taupe, it's much closer to the beige end of the spectrum than some other greys (although it's hardly reading grey at all in this picture, it is in fact, and our walls are not -- they're blue).  It's got a nice cream finish that you could totally pull off in one coat, but let's just say that I wasn't feeling practically perfect in any way while doing my nails.  (Do I ever?) What do you all think of it?  Yea, or nay?  I think it's the perfect transition color between the sunless days of winter and the promised cheery days of spring.  Hey, there have been two consecutive days of sunshine.  If that doesn't cheer you up, what will, my friends?

Thank you all for joining me on my first full week here at Stranded in Chicago.  I look forward to whatever comes next, and I hope you'll stick with me!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Miscellany #1

 A delicious spread, cooked and sent with love to Chicago by my friend Sophia's grandmother.

Miniature snowmen outside my apartment.

Revlon Pink in the Afternoon Super Lustrous Lipstick
Algunas cositas that I've collected in the past week.  I can't wait to really take a stab at the lipstick, I think it could be a great pink for me, even though I haven't had drugstore lipstick in a good long time.   While out walking, I found those little snowmen.  They sure have a lot of personality.  My friend Sophia invited me over to enjoy an Indian feast, home cooked by her grandmother and shipped in a cooler to her doorstep.  It was a delicious feast.

Hope you're all having a lovely week.  Anything interesting ahead for the weekend?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Topshop Eye Crayons

Picture 1: Marble (top), Rust (bottom)
Picture 2: Rust (top), Marble (bottom)

You know, technology sorely vexes me sometimes.  I just discovered that an excellent photo I took of the Topshop in downtown Chicago was the victim of a botched iPhone upload.  So not only did I learn that, but it took me forever to do it because iPhoto is very bad about telling me where it puts my uploads. Rant over.

So, these are a couple of goodies I picked up on impulse one day.  I had read a few good reviews of these from bloggers in the UK, but you never can tell if the American version is going to be the same, so I wanted to approach them with an open mind.  They retail for $14/crayon, which is definitely in the low mid-range, but maybe a bit more than I expected from Topshop.  Then again, their prices in general versus quality seem a little inflated.  I digress.  So I shimmied on in, wearing my disgusting gym clothes (God forbid I ever be able to swatch or try on anything in the store), and I selected these two shade out of what was, admittedly, a limited range.  The color of the Eye Crayon in Rust reminds me of Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Copper, although the finish and lasting power do not compare to the more expensive BB shadow.  Still, I got a good 4-5 hours of it before I needed a touch-up, and in the pencil form, application is a breeze.  What it lacks in staying power, it makes up for in how easily it blends as opposed to the BB. Definitely a great alternative for on the go.

The Eye Crayon in Marble snagged my eye because I'm always looking for multi-taskers to reduce the sheer number of items I have in my bag every day.  The color is somewhat reminiscent of one of my very favorite shadows, Bobbi Brown Metallic Eye Shadow in Champagne Quartz, but without the pink undertones.  There's also something about it that reminds me of the NARS Multiple in Copacabana, but it does have a bit more of an opinion color-wise, than that product (WHICH HOLY SHIT IS AVAILABLE IN ST. BARTS AGAIN I JUST LOOKED OMG SO EXCITED WEARING IT ALL SUMMER NATCH).  Ahem, anyway.  I've been using Marble just to open my eyes up a bit, for a quick highlight, or to just slap a little something on my eyes when I don't feel like the whole shebang on a given day.

The product is definitely on the soft side, so don't push too hard or you may end up with a sad, wasted, broken-off bit of cream eyeshadow (not that I have personal experience with that, erm.)  Sorry to blather on!  I hope you all enjoyed, for those of you not located near a Topshop, you can order through their website.  I think these are a fun addition to my makeup correction and I can't say I regret this particular impulse buy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lilacs are Blooming

Well, not quite.  But a girl can dream, can't she? I'm hoping some wishful thinking will bring the fair weather upon us, although considering 7-10" of snow is in the forecast for today, I'm not getting my hopes up too high.  Nevertheless, I've slapped Essie Lilacism on my nails, and I quite like it, as purples go.  Its got a cream finish, but went on quite streaky, so I had to do three coats instead of my usual two.  Turned out quite well, I think, but you know me, I can never quite leave things alone when they're finished.  Cue Deborah Lippmann I Love the Nightlife.  This polish makes me feel confusion, primarily.  On it's own, it's pretty blah, but it doesn't make a great top coat (not to be confused with topcoat) either, and the glittery bits aren't that shiny.  I'll certainly give it a few more tries, but I don't know that it will assert itself strongly enough to find a place among my favorites.

I don't know friends, I feel a bit medium about this whole look.  Maybe it's just that it's too much wishful thought versus the reality of the environment.  I think I may have to make a turn to more pastel greys for a smoother transition from the dark depths of winter to the colorful joy of spring (here's hoping it comes sooner than May).  Tell me, how could I possibly have thought lilac would be an innocuous color when those flowers are clearly wily SoBs just waiting to draw you into their lovely looks?

And I'll leave you all with that insane thought.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saving Face

With the weather continuing to insist that it is, in fact, winter, I've been relying on a few moisturizing treats to keep my face and my hands from chapping the limitless wind.  First up is the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, which moisturizes while it cleans.  The nice, fresh smell wakes you up, and a gentle scrub with a muslin cloth removes any extra dead skin. Then I've been slapping on the Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream, which is doubling as a moisturizer and foundation for me right now, to great effect.  It doesn't slick me out, even in my T-zone, and the color lasts all day.

To keep my pout looking perfect, I dig that oldie, but goodie, Fresh's Sugar Lip Balm.  It really beats away the windy wiles of the city while I walk to work. I may be blowing through it a little quickly for the price, as far as I'm concerned, but it's doing the job for sure. Finally, I like to apply L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream to make sure my hands don't get all dried out and cracked and such.  No one likes that, no siree.  Honestly, it does an okay job moisturizing, but I don't much care for the scent.  It's reminiscent of baby powder and diapers, although it does dissipate quickly, to its credit.  Still, for the number of times I need to moisturize my hands in a day, I don't feel like smelling it.  C'est la vie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Burberry Lip Velvet Long Wear Lipstick

Oi, this is my lovie.

Burberry's Lip Velvet Long Wear Lipstick in No. 306, Pink Amber. I am not even going to pretend I have any other love for texture in the lipwear department.  What a sinful mouthfeel (I know that's supposed to do with food, but fuck you, too, eh?).

The color is the perfect, like, my lips, but in the perfect shade of pink.  Am I going to show you? No, you loon, I'm camera shy and I have a huge honking stress zit/wound on my chin on account of the sun never coming out here.  Here's a swatch, just because I'm feeling nice.

But I tell you, I have rarely been so enamored of a texture.  It's the perfect combination of a moisturizing lipstick, such as Bite Beauty's offerings, and the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (and the wear time is much better, oooooo, I'm such a bad girl, betraying NARS like that).  Someday soon, I mean to hop my way down to that beautiful new Burberry flagship on Michigan and do some striking damage to my bank account at their makeup counter.  But I'll have to wait until some kind of free food month, natch.

Have you fallen for any Burberry products yourself? Aside from their sinfully wonderful trenchcoats...