playtime: blue lips

On February 18, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


It’s cold and snowy here. What could be more fitting than blue lips?

Possibly…blue lips with finely milled glitter atop and a blue-violet gradient?

I do like these OCC lip tars. A little laborious to apply, as lip brush definitely required, but good opacity and pigmentation.This particular color is discontinued but there is still a great color range. I have this whole plan to have a true red, an orange, a pink, and a blue, such that I can mix orange, rose, and blue-based reds at will. Comme une artiste.


on the menu: chocolate pecan banana bread

On February 17, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_1654I like the banana bread recipe from this retro 1968 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. The chocolate and pecans are my contribution, along with some other little substitutions and additions. For whatever reason, it’s never turned out so well before. Mysteries of baking.



Why is it sometimes crumbs bother me in photos (and I will make a tiresome effort to get rid of them), and sometimes they seem to add a kind of unposed and appetizing authenticity?

Oh, and I had a soft-cooked egg, too (note to self: 3 minutes is not enough). With soldiers, as they say. Eggcup performance going strong.


into: face oils

On February 16, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


I have naturally oily skin but I like to treat it as if it is sensitive, dehydrated skin. Oily ≠ hydrated.

My preferred method of hydrating, protecting, and nourishing my skin is: face oils. For years now they have nearly taken the place of moisturizer altogether, especially at night, and my skin hasn’t been this soft and healthy since…before puberty. The lighter oils aren’t any greasier/heavier than a standard sunscreen, and many absorb completely within half an hour or so. They are also extremely soothing after exfoliation or skin treatments and rarely cause the stinging that the chemicals in some moisturizers can.

A good quality oil is often cheaper than a good quality moisturizer, and a little goes a long way. Most can be used for your hair or in the kitchen as well (not to mention as makeup removers and cleansers). I find dropper bottles the most convenient. Not too fussed about brands here, I just look for organic, 100% pure options and go for whatever is reasonably priced. Different oils provide different benefits, and I like to rotate several depending on how my skin is feeling on a given day.

argan oil.  Healing and nourishing, antioxidants, fatty acids, etc. I’m sure you’ve heard. Lightweight, absorbs quickly, no scent. I like this one and this one.

apricot kernel oil. Vitamin A & fatty acids. Healing and good for especially sensitive skin. Also quite light, and, like argan oil, good for when the skin is blemish-prone.

rosehip seed oil. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, good for skin regeneration and treatment of scarring. You can go not so cheap(though I found this one discounted at TJ Maxx), or you can go really not so cheap. Downside that this dyes your pillow orange, upside is your skin the next day. Thick and rich, can really only be used at night or on isolated dry patches.

jojoba oil. Similar to the skin’s natural oil so it absorbs beautifully and has no distinct odor. Trader Joe’s has a good price. Inexpensive enough to use all over the body as well.

sweet almond oil. I tend to use this on my body rather than my face as it is especially moisturizing, inexpensive and has almost no odor. Absorbs well into the skin (unlike, say, baby oil, which is basically mineral oil, which provides a barrier of protection  but is difficult for skin to absorb (like petroleum jelly)). Great carrier oil for making your own blends. I like to add random essential oils to scent it (many of which also have skin benefits, but do your research first). Recommend frankincense (go smell frankincense), patchouli (not just for the 60s anymore), chamomile, lavender, peru basalm, ylang ylang.

Then there are blends, which can be very expensive indeed. Watch for cheaper blends bulked up with cheap oils like safflower. They will moisturize but don’t have the benefits a concentrated, high quality oil will. I have some of these but they are for the oil-guzzling body, not the face.

I don’t regret acquiring the Clarins rebalancing oils, which are precious but smell amazing and are packed with great nutrients. The Blue Orchid one smells especially awesome. Kind of a sweet, light, compelling patchouli. [Men, go put this on your face and just see what happens.] If, like me, you have a thing for cardamom, try the Santal one. Or, you know, choose one based on your skin concern. Smell before you buy, is what I say about these.

I’ll do a separate post about the oils I like for my hair, which are many. Will also soon experiment with olive oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil, and castor oil in various contexts. We’ll see how it goes.

N.B. I didn’t like evening primrose oil, which, without heavy dilution with some nice-smelling stuff, smells actually rancid. Some oils should be stored in the refrigerator as they will go rancid, but this one smells unbearable anyway.

on the menu: grilled ginger salmon with kale, fleur de sel

On February 15, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


Fleur de sel is so pretty.

Ginger, garlic, herbs de provençe & tellicherry pepper on wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. Wonderfully rich, fatty texture on this fish, which I was careful not to overcook.

Lots of ginger.

After I took the photo I added even more parsley. I have a thing about piling on herb garnishes until ‘garnish’ isn’t quite the right category for them anymore. More like, ‘incorporated side dish’.

roses are red (sometimes), lipstick is red (sometimes)

On February 14, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


I’m not so interested in Valentine’s Day but I am interested in roses and lipstick. And, more and more recently, the color red. And love, and kisses. And let’s see…and chocolate when it is very good and very dark, elegant lingerie, cookies, champagne, gestures of affection, frosting…

Due to the ubiquity of many of my favorite things, ultimately I am pro V-Day.



NYC lipstick in Retro Red. If you're going to draw on a mirror with your lipstick, use the 99¢ one. And are you SEEING this lip print? I'm pretty pleased with this lip print. One take!

NYC lipstick in Retro Red. If you’re going to draw on a mirror with your lipstick, use the 99¢ one. And are you SEEING this lip print? I’m pretty pleased with this lip print. One take!

♪ ♫  Andre 3000 – Happy Valentine’s Day   ♫ ♪

Happy Valentine’s.