There's something I'd love to know: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? I've worked from home for the past 2 and a half years, and my uniform has long been a dress of some kind. Dresses are essentially public pajamas from a comfort standpoint, and they always make people think you're really put together (even though you know you're wearing public pajamas). My closet is comprised of 80% dresses of various lengths, fabrics and fits.
Once we got the Stay at Home orders here in Minnesota, my day-to-day really wasn't all that different, aside from becoming smaller and more contained. But as the days inched through March, into April and May, my fear, anxiety and depression levels sky-rocketed (along with those of the rest of the world). And suddenly, I began wearing a lot of lounge wear (along with the rest of the world). The radical shift in what I was wearing struck me one week while doing laundry, when I realized that I was folding 6 pair of yoga pants and assorted tee shirts. Not a single dress or item of clothing that could pass for anything but "comfort" wear. That's what I needed, then. I told myself I'd start wearing real clothes again once we got back to normal.
We're obviously nowhere near back to "normal" at this point in the pandemic. However, I'm really tired of lounge-wear yet not ready to fully embrace my pre-COVID wardrobe. My wardrobe, like life, seems to be stuck in a weird, in-between-place. Which brings me to: shorts suits.
Over the past few weeks, I've seen a few of my favorite fashion bloggers - like Allison at Curvy Girl Chic - styling a shorts-suit combo, and I'm very into it. There's something really appealing about the casual/dressed up vibe of a shorts suit. So I peered into my closet to see if I could come up with separates I already own, and what do you know? I did!
The shorts are Lane Bryant and the jacket is Charter club. Something new, created out of something old. How delightful. Tell me: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? Bonus points: What's a current trend you're looking at with new interest?
I have another round up of products that I've used up. Quite a few of them will look familiar, but there's a lot of new-to-me stuff in here, too. Let's get started!
That's what I'm tossing into the recycling and trash bins this month. What products have you finished up? Anything good we all need to know about? Let us know down in the comments.
I test a lot of products, and only a small selection of them make the cut for a Twin Cities Live segment or earn a spot in my makeup drawer. At this point, I have a good idea about what products I'm going to like and will work for me. But every once in a while, my initial judgement proves wrong. I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong.
I should say, I don't mind admitting now when I'm wrong. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wasn't always great about it. Especially in professional settings, I was afraid that being wrong meant I was stupid, or incompetent or (God forbid) imperfect. I've experienced a massive shift in how I perceive being wrong - there's no shame in admitting you don't know something, or in changing your mind once you get new information - and I'm a better wife, friend, employee, and all-around person for it.
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer, price varies by retailer
I'm not sure I would have purchased this moisturizer if not for the pandemic. I'd run out of face moisturizer during the early days of Minnesota's Stay at Home order, which meant I needed to find a replacement at one of the two businesses I was making infrequent trips to: the drugstore or the grocery store.
There's something about the Olay brand...I know they have good products, backed by proven ingredients and science. BUT. I just don't get excited about their line. I don't know why! They have good stuff, but I rarely consider them for purchase. Plus, they're a drugstore brand sold at high end prices. That always trips me up. In any case - I was getting desperate and needed to buy a moisturizer at the drugstore, so here we are.
I chose the Micro-Sculpting cream from the Regenerist line because I liked the claims (hydrates, improves elasticity and firmness) and the ingredients ( Vitamin B3, Amino-Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Antioxidants). I bought a 0.5oz sample size for $11.99 to ensure the cream wouldn't inflame my reactive skin or cause any other issues before investing in a full size (1.7 oz) jar.
I feel so petty typing this out, but the first few times I used the cream I just felt like, "Whaaaah - I don't want this!" It seemed so basic, so boring, so whatever. But that little red jar won me over. So much so that I wound up buying a full size of the fragrance-free formula. I can't say I really minded the original, fragranced version all that much (aside from the fact that I try to avoid unnecessary ingredients like fragrance in my skincare, in general) - the scent is a light fresh/floral that's kind of nice. I really appreciate having a fragrance-free option, though.
What won me over?
I bought the Stretch Concealer at the Glossier store during a work trip to New York in February, and it was the one product I knew I wanted and was going to love before I set foot in the store. I'd read tons of reviews and watched a lot of fellow beauty enthusiasts on YouTube rave about it. So that was a no-brainer purchase.
Everything about this concealer sounded perfect to me. The claims were that the product was a buildable concealer that could handle everything on your face - dark circles, blemishes, redness - and do it with a natural, glowy finish. Also, there was an interesting claim that said it was formulated with "elastic micro waxes" that move with the skin instead of caking on top of it. My dry, 40-year old face thought,"Uhm, yep. That's what I'm looking for!"
When I actually put the concealer on, initially, it was a total bust. I'm pretty sure cursing was involved. Under my eyes, the luminous formula accentuated my puffiness and the slid all over the place. I couldn't bring myself to powder under the eyes, so that was a loss. I tapped the concealer into the skin with my fingers to tone down redness on my chin, cheeks and nose, then set it all with a setting powder. My face was greasy as hell within minutes. I could feel the product just sitting there. It was baffling. I chucked the jar in the back of my makeup drawer and silently seethed every time I dug past it for something else. Until...well, until I got tired of moving it around the drawer and decided, "ONE more time. I will try this thing ONE more time and then it's finding a new home." And suddenly, I really freaking liked it.
What was different?
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Face Mask, $3.49
This one is going to surprise anyone who's watched a recent TCL segment or stood behind me in line at the drugstore, because I have very publicly proclaimed my love for this sheet mask. It's wonderful in so many ways: comes in two pieces to ensure a great fit, feels cooling the second it hits the skin, leaves my face feeling hydrated and plump and amazing. I love this mask. Except,I'm not really into sheet masks right now.
Between the environmental factor (so.much.packaging) and just a general shift in preference away from the sheet application, I'm setting this one aside in favor of the Hydro Boost Overnight Gel Mask. It provides the same benefits with way less packaging. And I just prefer the feeling of a light gel on my face rather than trying to keep a sheet mask from sliding around. Call me fickle, that's OK. But for now, I'm trading the sheet for the gel.
There you have it: three products I've changed my mind about. What have you changed your mind about, lately? Let me know in the comments.
Oh, you might also like Products I've Used Up.
As we're all adjusting to wearing masks, there are a few considerations I've found myself up against.
How have you adapted your makeup routine to work well under a mask? I'd love to hear your favorite products and tips!
I'm a white woman who has called the Midwest home for most of my life. That life of mine is what it is because I was born white. I didn't always know this, but I certainly do now. And I know it's my responsibility to continually educate myself on my blind spots.
I needed to learn the language and the history of race in America so I can confidently articulate what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, in my day-to-day life. Maybe you do, too. The work of Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson were foundational components of my education.
It's not the job of any black person to educate me - it's my job to get educated - so I'm especially grateful for these books.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
"In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life."
"Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt . . . it's for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action."--Salon
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue And Other Thoughts On Cultural Appropriation, by Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson
"American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit. Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America."
What books are you reading or have you read that have helped shape your understanding of and participation in conversations about race? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
It's always such an honor to be able to answer the specific questions that viewers send in to Twin Cities Live. This week, I tackled one that many of our healthcare workers are facing. And as wearing masks becomes something we're all going to do for the immediate future, it's possible that many of us will suddenly be confronted with break outs or extra dry patches on our faces as a result. Here are a few ideas for how to deal. And if you have anything tried and true to add, leave it down in the comments for all us!
Also...did you notice that a certain someone made his live television debut? Anyone who knows Gravy is not at all surprised that he slept through the entire thing.
This video is not sponsored. Opinions are based on my experiences. Your experience may differ and if that's the case, I'd love to hear about it.
You might also like My Planner Has Been Ruining My Life (Maybe), and Three Products That Surprised Me.
I put together a video that features three beauty products that surprised me - in a good way! I picked each of them up on a whim and didn't really expect to like them as much as I do. Check it out and let me know if you've used anything recently that surprised you, for better or for worse.
This video is not sponsored. Opinions are based on my own personal experience with a product. Your experience may differ.
Following in the footsteps of March, April was another reading-heavy month. If there were any doubts as to how I'm managing self-quarantine, let this clear that right up: I'm reading. A lot.
April's selections were split 50/50 across fiction and non-fiction. Not something I did on purpose, but in retrospect I can see how that makes sense. I bounce around between the need to escape from reality and a curiosity for how other people handle life. Do you tend to favor one genre (or sub-genre) over another, based on what's happening in your life?
My two favorite books this month were The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. The Authenticity Project is a work of contemporary fiction that follows the intertwining lives of six strangers brought together by a green notebook making its way across London (and a bit beyond). Each person who comes into possession of the notebook writes his or her deepest secret and then passes it along. The notebook brings each of them together in unexpected (and sometimes, not so unexpected) ways. It also included a couple of twists that kept me on my toes, along with a satisfying ending. Pooley's writing style is fluid, and she injects a lot of humor and heart into this story.
Books for Living was published in 2016, and I stumbled upon a used copy at my favorite neighborhood bookstore (Cream and Amber, in downtown Hopkins, MN if you're wondering). This work of non-fiction is a follow-up to Schwalbe's best-seller, The End of Your Life Bookclub, and I hoped it would be the perfect thing to pick up and put down before bedtime. It was. In each chapter, Schwalbe introduces a book that provides context and texture to his own life. The books span genres and include a mix of classics and contemporary selections. What really stole my heart and made this a book I looked forward to opening each night was Schwalbe's affable tone, vulnerability and openness to sharing personal stories and insights that wove into the books he chose to highlight.
The two books I liked the least this month were It All Comes Back to You by Beth Duke and Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller and Dr. J.J. Petersen. I read Marketing Made Simple as part of a book club at work (my job is in marketing for a tech company). I had moderate expectations for the book and it didn't manage to meet that mediocre bar. I know this is lazy, but I don't really care to expend much more energy talking about it, so I'm not going to. If you're interested in marketing and want to know more about why I can't even with this book, let me know in the comments and we can chat about it there.
It All Comes Back to You on the other hand...whew. This one is complicated. The book is set in both present day to tell the story of Ronni, an assisted living nurse who has been left a life-changing amount of money if she writes the life story of one of her favorite residents who has died; and the past, as it jumps back in time to tell the story of that vivacious resident, Violet. I stayed up late (11:00 p.m. on a work night!) to read the book because the story was engrossing and well-written, with plenty of twists and turns for the two characters for whom it was mostly easy to root for. I say mostly because Ronni's story at times became a little muddled, especially a life-changing romance that just never quite felt right to me. One of those major plot twists came at the very end of the book, and it left me with such an overwhelming sense of ickiness and dismay that I couldn't possibly encourage anyone to put themselves through it. Unless you like that kind of thing, in which case by all means.
What I Read in April
There's a meme circulating that several people have sent my way. It's a Facebook post asking,"What's been your biggest waste of money so far this year?" And the response is, "A 2020 planner." I can relate.
I didn't just buy one planner for 2020. I bought multiple planners, in part because I love the feel of paper and a good pen in my hand. Plus, I get a rush out of opening a new planner and seeing all the fresh, open space for what I could schedule into my life. Also, I value time management and think it's important to have a vision for my life and put action toward creating that life. Buuuuut...let's be real. I bought EIGHT (!) planners this year. There's more to it than just loving stationery, a blank page, and goal setting.
Here's the deal (I think). I have a subconscious belief that the perfect planner will make my perfect life come true. If my life isn't coming together the way I'd hoped, it's because the weight of the paper in my planner isn't right. Or because the monthly calendar view is broken out at the beginning of the planner, separate from the daily planning pages (I hate that). Or because the goal tracker is broken out by quarter and placed at the back of the book, instead of by month and included in the monthly spread. (Fellow planner nerds are tracking with me. How about the rest of you? No. Fair enough).
Subconsciously, I've believed that the planner itself is what's standing between me and the life of my dreams. So, how are things going now that all eight (!) of my planners have been rendered temporarily obsolete?
To be honest, it's a relief. Now that I'm not obsessively planning every moment of my day, I have the space to find the moments that mean something. I no longer feel the weight of setting SMART goals for every aspect of my life. I no longer feel the pressure to constantly check something off a to-do list. I no longer feel that I need to be looking at next quarter, next month, next week or even tomorrow in order to be satisfied with how my life is going.
Now, I'm not saying that I won't crack open one (I'm choosing ONE and going with it) of my planners again once Minnesota's Stay at Home order is lifted and the pace of life picks up again. Although the book may once again serve a purpose - helping me feel like I have some control over my life - I'm not going to allow it to become a distraction or a scapegoat. It's a tool, but it's not what is keeping me going in life. I'm keeping me going - or holding myself back. The planner is just along for the ride.
Tell me: How do you plan your day, your year, your life - whatever. Has that changed since the pandemic started? Have you learned anything new about yourself in this area?
Also: You might be interested in Use the Nice Dishes.
I have quite a few products to share - two of which are very clearly not used up, but I am so done with them. From left to right, we've got:
This is a place to celebrate all the parts of yourself that come with age and experience. I'm here to share with you what I know and to explore with you the many (many) things I don't.