Monday, July 28, 2014

Albeit Nourishing Rose Lip Balm

I will probably never buy By Terry Baume de Rose, if I'm being perfectly honest with myself. I love the idea of it, but the reality is that I can easily become overpowered by rose scents and if I have that much money to spend, I'm gonna go for something a little more fun.

That being said, I am always looking for something soothing for my poor, chapped lips, so when I stumbled upon Albeit's Nourishing Rose Lip Balm in Anthropologie, I decided to give it a whirl.

I don't regret it one bit. In case you're not familiar, Albeit is Anthro's in-house cosmetics line. I quite like their nail polish and matte lipstick offerings, so I don't suppose it's any surprise this is a hit with me, as well. The balm has an almost gel-like texture that leaves a lovely shine on the lips and lasts a good couple of hours on me. The very subtle rose scent dissipates quickly, which is a plus for me, and I've definitely noticed my lips looking healthier lately.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We're All Supposed to Be Wearing Kimonos

Or, at least, that's what it seems like this year, right? Not that I have a problem with it. As a proponent of the maxi dress (looks fancy, feels like you're wearing a blanket in public), obviously I can get behind the idea of the kimono. Loose fitting summer wear with cool patterns that are secretly just glorified bathrobes? Yes, please.

Now, what is generally being referred to as a "kimono" in the fashion world is not, in the strictest sense (or any sense, really), a kimono. That moniker belongs to a specific garment originating from Japan. That's all I'm going to say about that, because this is not a history blog. (This is a history blog.)

At any rate, I've been perusing the internetz, and I found some of these trendy garments that would make an interesting addition to a late summer outfit. I say go full-on print crazy! Go big or go home, amiright? What thinks you?

Summer Kimonos

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orly Neon Heat

Wearing loud as hell nail colors probably ranks as my favorite thing about summer. My all-time favorite, Essie Punchy Pink, having finally bitten the dust and proving GD impossible to get a hold of, I'm always looking for another neon pink to add to my collection.

Here we have Orly Neon Heat. Orly has some strong contenders in the neon department, and I am loving their redesigned bottles. When I spotted this sucker on sale at Sally Beauty Supply, I knew I had to give it a go.

This is a nearly neon magenta pink creme with great opacity that dries down to a satin finish. Application was a breeze, it was nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two for good measure. This may sound odd, but as soon as it hit the nail, I knew it wasn't going to be quite what I was looking for. The telltale problem of a true neon is that the formulas tend to be streaky mofos that are near impossible to level out and dry down to a totally matte finish. It came out much darker than I expected it to, and though I do like it for its own sake, it won't fill Punchy Pink's place in my heart.

I can't call it a failure, that's for sure. This is a really excellent summer pink. If this is the kind pink you've been looking for, look no further, it's pretty awesome. You can usually find Orly on sale at any of its typical locations, if not, just give it a week and check back. And Punchy Pink? I know you're out there, I'll find you, baby.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Numbers 29, 33, and 34: The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

One, Two, Three
I have read A LOT of Margaret Atwood's work, starting (of course) with The Handmaid's Tale as some of my required reading in high school. Still, I resisted reading her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake for the past eleven years. One of the things I like best about her writing is how beautifully she narrates from a female character's perspective. Oryx and Crake was her first novel written from the viewpoint of a male character and, without knowing anything else about the book, I avoided it.

I know now that this was wrong of me.

Oryx and Crake is awesome. Atwood limits the reader not only to the main character's knowledge, but to his stream of consciousness. She reveals the background of this world through his fragmented mind, a mind tortured by both his past and his present. I don't want to give anything away, so all I'll say is I'll be damned, if this isn't one of the finest stories I've read in the past decade. Just fucking read it.

The Year of the Flood makes a powerful case for itself as the strongest book of this trio. Rather than a true sequel in the sense that most people have of the word, the events run concurrently with those in the previous book. Here, Atwood splits the narrative duties between two women whose connection becomes clearer as the reader moves through the tale. The prose, as always, rings with clarity and precision as it fills gaps in knowledge from the previous book, giving a lush impression of a world gone horribly awry and yet, somehow, still full of hope. You don't have to read Oryx and Crake to understand what's happening in this book, such a rarity in most trilogies, and it stands on its own as another excellent addition to Atwood's canon.

In Maddaddam, however, some important nuances and connections might go unnoticed had the previous two novels gone unread. It serves the purpose of joining the first two and forming a cohesive whole. While not quite as stylistically and emotionally captivating as Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, it provides a welcome sense of closure to the world created in those novels. Though sad to see it end, I did not feel unsatisfied in any way other than my typical sadness at having reached the end of a great story.

Honestly, I think if you start this trilogy at any point, you won't want to leave it behind until you've read all it has to say. Of all the books I've read so far this year, none has been so fascinating or touching as these three (and I have already re-read a book this year that makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME). I suggest you get your ass on over to the library, or if you're not feeling patient, buy 'em up. These are worth adding to any collection.

N.B. Do yourself a favor and don't read any little breakdowns or copy for these. Discovering what's between the covers is part of the magic.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Getting Into DIY (I Hope)

You know, I was talking to my mother, who is in the midst of decorating her new house, and we were discussing curtains for the master bedroom. Having decided not to spend a fortune on something in a room hardly anyone would see (and window treatments do tend to run up the bottom line quite a lot!), she admitted that she's just going to have someone else hem the less expensive panels she's chosen. This inspired me to reveal a truth about my family.

"Mom, we're just not crafty people. We just aren't."

And that's okay. As a creative person, it's long bothered me that I get sucked into projects and then find I lack meaningful follow through and the ability to plan in a way that prevents me from making mistakes, but I've mostly made my peace with it.


We are people who love a good deal. And pretty things. And DIY is a great way to get both those things in one fell swoop. With that in mind, I've been bookmarking some clothing DIYs that I'd like to complete before the end of the year. You know, nothing with a sewing machine, since I don't have one (and have entirely forgotten how to use one anyway), just little projects to give a stab. I love personal little touches, and I think it'll be a fun way to end up with something unique.

On my list:

A Beautiful Mess - Bleach Painting on Textiles D.I.Y.

I really like the idea of being able to pick up a simple, cheap shirt, and turning it into something whimsical. Since it doesn't have to be precise, I think it'll suit me nicely.

I love A Beautiful Mess, for the record. Just an all-around wonderful lifestyle blog with some really lovely photography. As the fall approaches, I like to use lightweight scarves to accessorize my outfits since the weather can be a little changeable, and you never know when you're gonna get a warm or cold burst of air. I'm secretly in love with the starts, so this idea appeals to me greatly. A little more time intensive, we'll see if I have the wherewithal for it.

I will never stop loving glitter, it seems. I think I'd like to do this on a cardigan, and I'll definitely be going the thrift shop route to find that. On an oversized men's cardigan, like grandpa-style, the glittery goodness will have a delightful contrast of mood. Like the rest of Chicago, I'm all about layering once we start the slide back into the colder months, and I certainly won't regret adding a sweater to that collection.

So I think that's a manageable list to accomplish in the next few months, and not too difficult of one. I'm also toying with the idea of knitting a large gauge blanket, but that may be more of a financial and time investment than I feel like making at the moment.

Are there any projects you're considering? Do share, I love collecting ideas!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Drugstore Favorites

I love makeup, as if that weren't already abundantly clear. In the past two years, I have truly come to embrace it all, from high to low. In that spirit, I thought I'd share some of my favorite items from the drugstore.

L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara first appeared on my radar after it's UK release. The volume I saw from this product instantly captivated me. My lashes, generally speaking, are quite full and long, so if I'm going to wear mascara, it had better make it look like I'm wearing fakes there's so much volume. This hits the nail right on the head. It's a really wet formula, which I love, though after it's been open a couple of months and dries out a bit it can be easier to layer. Since I'm usually a one-and-done girl when it comes to mascara, I prefer it brand spanking new, but I still love love love it. You're looking at my next tube of it up there, as I've used it so much in the past three months that I'm almost out. Unheard of for me!

L'Oreal Lineur Intense Eyeliner in Black Mica is the best liquid eyeliner I've ever used. I've had this since longer than you're supposed to use eyeliner for and it's still not done! A totally awesome amount of product. The felt tip is super easy to work with, and I love that the formula dries down so quickly. This is the first liner I've tried that let's me do a true, clean cat-eye. The color is also pretty damn perfect, as black as I could ask for from the drugstore and dries down to a nearly-matte finish.

Milani Baked Powder Blush in 05 Luminoso is a cult favorite. I know everyone talks about this shade, but it really blows most other blushes out of the water. It has a beautiful, buildable texture with just a slight hint of shimmer in a peachy pink that instantly brightens up my face. On the occasions when I've stopped sweating long enough to actually wear makeup this summer, I reach for this over all others.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in 25 Bad to the Bronze fills that essential nook in my collection when I just want to sweep on some eyeshadow and take off (and when I say "want," I mean when I have slept so late that I barely have time to do that, let alone a full face). It's a true bronze that you can just blend out with your finger to give the illusion of carefully done eye makeup, and it lasts all damn day. I. Love. It.

NYX Butter Gloss in 05 Crème Brûlée and 07 Tiramisu take turns on my lips, with the former taking the warmer months and the slightly darker latter shade owning the cooler climes of winter. They just have the most lovely texture, and a pleasant vanilla scent that avoids being cloying in any way. I always have one of the two of these in my bag for the moments when I need some natural-looking oomph.

It's Been A While! and July 2014 Julep Maven Box

I'm sure you know that I've been absent since 'round about the time of my little sister's graduation.  It's been absolute madness for me in the last six weeks as I've been rehearsing a show! We just opened on July 6th, it's an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland during which we travel throughout Lincoln Park here in Chicago. For more information on the show (which is free, btdubs!), visit Nothing Without a Company. </end plug>

On to the beauty bits!

I haven't taken a Julep Maven Box in aaaaaaaaages. Probably not since December or January. I just hadn't been too intrigued by the offerings, and the formulas can be so hit or miss, and I figured that I could use the $20 on something more useful, like food. #realtalk But I had enough Maven Jules (their fancy term for points), so I figured I'd check out July's offerings. I selected the It Girl Box from July's The Poolside Collection, and added on a glittery America-tastic topcoat. 'Tis the season, ya feel?

The box included the colors Dawn, a "citron creme," Linden, a "pool blue creme," and Braiden, described as "graphite stardust," which is Julep's textured glittery finish a lá OPI's Liquid Sand and Zoya's PixieDust.  It also had some Tootsie Rolls in American flag wrappers, but I ate them before I took pictures. Duh. So far I've only had the chance to give Dawn and Linden a try, here are some of my thoughts.

Dawn is as true a yellow as I've seen yet among polish offerings. This leaves me a little disappointed, as I was kind of hoping it would lean a bit to the green side of the spectrum, but I don't mean it as an actual criticism. Application was a bit annoying, streaky and a little gloopy on the first coat, but things leveled out with the second coat into a wholly opaque finish. Above is two coats with a topcoat. Wear was good, but not exceptional, lasting two days on me without chipping (that's normal for me though, I'm doing a very physical show and my hands get banged around quite a bit).

Linden is a dusty true blue that's fully opaque in one coat.  I did two for good measure, and there was no staining with a base coat, so that was nice. I don't know what kind of cracked out pools Julep checked out when it decided to name this, but "pool blue" it is not.  Wear was good, not great, again two days without chipping. Liked it, didn't love it, but the good opacity will make it a nice addition for nail art, I think.

Overall, a good batch, I think. I'll report back on the other two, when I get around to it, but with the 4th having already come and gone, not sure when I'll get around to that glitter topper (thanks UPS, for pretending my house doesn't exist). If you feel moved to become a Julep Maven, you can use my referral link HERE.

Hope you all enjoyed!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Local Spotlight: RedAva Designs

This past weekend was the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square. I didn't have too terribly much time to see everything, but while I was wandering about, I came across some really beautiful handmade jewelry by RedAva Designs. This Chicago based jewelry company has some of the niftiest pieces I've seen recently. The clean lines of the designs were perfectly balanced by the interest of the materials, and I really found almost every piece captivating in some way. Click through the links below to check out a few of my favorites!

One, Two, Three

I just find the pieces utterly charming, and they could be dressed up or down depending upon the occasion, and isn't that the best kind of jewelry? We here at Stranded in Chicago are all about versatility. And nail polish. As if that isn't clear enough. I DIGRESS.

But seriously, I'm super pleased to have discovered these lovely little accessories, and I can't wait to add some to my collection.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really like this stuff. Kthxbye.