on the menu: warm grains salad

On February 28, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

A mix of grains and vegetables is a flexible formula I often put to use.

IMG_1533

This is a mix of brown rice, long-grain wild black rice, and quinoa cooked with raisins and pistachios, then tossed with sauteed string beans and fresh tomatoes. A garnish of fleur de sel and toasted almonds, and a [very] light dash of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.

This grains + vegetables concept can go in so many excellent directions. I also really like adding curry powder and cider vinegar to the base of grains (which might also include millet or cous cous), and any number of vegetables can be appealing in. I’m thinking Brussels sprouts, roasted beets, roasted sweet potato, broccoli, kale…I especially like a blend of cooked and raw. Like: raw celery, scallions, ginger, tomatoes, or cucumbers.  Alternatively the grains part of the equation could be flavored with saffron or coconut, or replaced with lentils…

I keep thinking it would be so good alongside fish but I keep kind of forgetting about the fish in the moment. I’m going to eat more fish, though.* I aspire.

*Maybe if I blog it, it will come true…

inscribed

On February 26, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I don’t usually like words on [my] clothes, or shoes, or bags, or…anything to be worn. I don’t want my T-shirt talking to you, with some room for exceptions when I think the design exceptionally charming or neat. I got that J. Crew kiss tee I wanted, for example:

03948_KP6761_m

And, though I don’t know that I would wear it, I have a soft spot for this Flight of the Conchords tee:

i-like-to-rock-the-party-glow-in-the-dark-351

vendor images

When it comes to jewelry, though, I’m more flexible. Perhaps because jewelry is a kind of extension of the skin, at least when worn directly against it, and I’ve always liked and toyed with the idea of a tattoo of a word. Or of several words somehow significant to me (perhaps together, perhaps isolated and scattered, in some appealing script). I still quite like the idea but don’t see myself committing to anything anytime soon (neither, though, will I rule a tattoo out in my mind. Have not forgotten the plan to experiment with henna).  Though there are some questionable ones out there, I find tattoos so interesting – or I find all species of body decor interesting, the tattoo being a particularly ancient* and powerful example.

*How incredible are these ancient Siberian tattoos?

Coming to the point then:

I got this necklace.

IMG_1850

wearing it here

This ties in with what I was saying about  being a bit cheesy, I suppose. [What if I am! There is nothing I can do about it, really.] Evidently my exceptions all revolve around love and kisses. And rocking the party.

Well, I like it. Love is a concept worth thinking on, worth keeping in mind. I’m going to wear it. I like the idea of an “M” as well, though my whole name would be, for me, too, too much.

This piece is also part of my preparations for summer, when I intend to wear several dainty gold necklaces of different lengths layered together with a minimally buttoned white shirt. It’s all part of the plan.

sun kissed

On February 24, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_1785

I am a long-time fan of Michael Kors as a designer, his sleek mono and duochrome ready to wear collections are (often, at least) clean and sophisticated; sporty, basic separates glammed up with chic tailoring,  luxe fabrics, and an elegant neutral color palette. I was curious to see his new makeup line and, though I find it a bit concept-heavy with the whole ‘sporty sexy glam’ thing (each piece in the collection is categorized for one of these three aspects of a woman who is all of these things, and this is the woman Michael Kors’ designs for), the line is what I would expect – sleek, chic, just a little bit gaudy.

His clothing designs are recognizable, his makeup and accessories are even more so – he is resoundingly known for gold statement jewelry and generously bronzed skin. Between the bronzed skin and the active, sportswear-style designs he is for me a quintessentially American designer. Wherever possible the pieces in the makeup line feature this square of gold made to look like a historic building plaque (a bit of cheeky ego there), and, as with his collections, gold is the recurring theme (remember how we love gold packaging?). As sun kissed, golden skin is his trademark I was particularly interested to try his bronzer, which does not disappoint. I found a deal on the darkest shade, Beam, a dark, shimmery copper that serves as a bronzer and highlight in one.

IMG_1775

This has a subtle shimmer, not something to cause concern unless you are absolutely against it. Many like matte bronzers because they look natural (provided one has chosen a suitable color) and can double as a contour powder and, while I have matte bronzers of my own, I reach more often for this. Looking actually natural (as opposed to looking made up to look natural) is a certain kind of look I only sometimes want.

I’ve been using it with this large Real Techniques powder brush, which is not the best of that range (not the softest) but which is large, densely bristled, and inexpensive (any fat, broad brush will do). It works a treat for bashing on large areas of color, and I find that the powder is finely milled enough and the color close enough to my skin tone that I don’t have to worry about being at all precise. This I like. So I dab in, maybe tap off the excess, maybe not (maybe having powdered beforehand, maybe not, which just changes the intensity a little), bash it on such that the curve of the brush tip lines up roughly with the curve of my cheekbone, swish any product left around my temples and maybe the bridge of my nose, and done. It’s not too obvious but I suddenly look healthier, with a bit of a glow going on. Sun kissed. Which is such a beautiful, apt phrase. Looking as if I have been given numerous kisses from my benevolent lover, the sun.

I like that this has a pink-red rather than an orange undertone, which gives a more realistic sun embraced effect (I turn pink when sunburned, which is the logical extreme of sun kissed, not orange). The other colors are pleasing as well. The compact is large, making it unsuitable for travel but great for using a really big brush (undoubtedly the most satisfying way). If you are in the market for a bronzer, this is a lovely one.

weekend distraction: Sali’s perfume tour

On February 23, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve mentioned before how much I like and am willing to listen to Sali Hughes, the beauty editor for The Guardian. She’s sensible (with a kind of dry, intelligent humor I like), well-researched, well-spoken, and we share a soft spot for perfume and tarty makeup. Her recommendations are solid across the board and she has this great In the Bathroom series of interviews I enjoy, where she interviews friends of hers (about their beauty routines and favorite products) in their bathrooms. I don’t know her really, of course, but I like her. One gets the sense, reading and watching her, that she smokes and swears and makes excellent observations, and you’d want her at your party.

She’s made a video walking through her favorite perfumes and it is just the kind of mini-introduction to excellent perfumery I wish I’d had ages ago and still find useful and interesting now. She has great taste, with stress on high quality ingredients and complexity of scent. Her favorites include a mix of masculine and feminine, intellectual and fun, and she moves through quickly enough to keep interest, peppering the tour with great bits of data for the perfume-curious.

[I want to do a tour along these lines myself. Still working on video over here but it’s only a matter of time.]

I’m definitely going to seek out samples of a few of the unfamiliar scents she highlights here (esPECIALLY that Roja Dove vetiver, but I’ve been meaning to look into Atelier Cologne and more of the Frederic Malle line as well), and, though it’s no coincidence, am pleased to note that a number of her favorite brands are favorites of mine as well. Take note of the brands she highlights, as they are great ones to look at (I mean, look into getting samples of – get samples! Try fragrances on your skin before you buy!). Even if your favorite scents are not her favorites (and why should they be?), these are brands producing beautiful fragrances worthy of being called perfume. They are, in many cases, not inexpensive, and this is no coincidence, either.

the morning routine

On February 22, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

There was a post recently on Garance Dore’s blog about morning routines in which a few people chimed in with the key aspects and products of their regimen. I enjoyed this post so much, as I enjoy so many kinds of detailed glimpses into the daily routines and practices of others, especially the ones most often done alone, the result public but the process private.

IMG_1886

The morning routine is the kind of thing that varies widely from one person to another, and from one day to another for any given person. It’s the kind of thing one often doesn’t think much about (rather like, as a small child, for a while it doesn’t occur to you how bizarre your parents are; you don’t know any other parents, you don’t know any other life). These kinds of routines, often established early in life, changing periodically—but perhaps not consciously, perhaps arbitrarily—highly personal and often featuring illogical elements (ingredients you use independent of scientific evidence to prove their efficacy, a faithful order of operations which, if compromised, throws off the whole morning), often entirely unknown to any but you (often entirely uninteresting to anyone but you), are deeply interesting to me.

Here’s my morning routine at the moment:

10 mins: Shower (maybe, if time), shampoo every few days with Klorane Chamomile or Organix Coconut Milk shampoo (not too fussy about shampoo, have a few inexpensive/good ingredient options at any given time, and these change a lot). If my scalp is feeling dry, maybe once every few weeks, I’ll use Phyto Phytéol Intense. Condition with whatever is on hand (these change a lot as well), I like Neutrogena Triple Moisture and the L’Oreal sulfate-free line (the rosemary mint ones), as well as conditioners from Organix and Pantene. For body wash I often use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. I like the peppermint and eucalyptus scents (not so much the rose), want to try the almond next. Once in a while I’ll get something more luxurious like the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras body wash. Exfoliate with a loofah or sugar scrub. I don’t shave anything without a compelling reason.

1 min: Massage conditioner (this Awapuhi Wild Ginger line from Paul Mitchell smells great) throughout the hair and an oil blend into the ends, throw into bun and pin into place. If it’s humid or I want a bit of added shine and definition, I’ll add some Aveda Brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade to the top layers.

1 min: Moisturize with a blend of sweet almond oil and brazilian nut dry-oil. Put on underwear. [Possibly also a bra but nothing else. This is key, giving the moisturizer a chance to be absorbed. Also, though, this has been the routine for so long that it feels totally wrong to have clothes on at this point in the process. If I accidentally put clothes on here I get confused (now why did I do that? we don’t do that…) and take them off again.]

2 mins: Wash face, massaging cleanser into skin for a full minute. Currently switching between the Neutrogena Grapefruit scrub (though I think I prefer the one with no exfoliating beads) the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser and the Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser but there are many I like. [Unquestionably I have too many, as a result of a couple of quests. Nighttime is an entirely different story, with its own set of products.]

2 mins: Brush teeth (I really like my electric toothbrush).

2 mins: Apply moisturizer plus treatments as needed (currently liking this Olay one but not loyal to anything, I like a lot of French pharmacy brands as well), eye cream (one or the other of these Vichy ones, but again not loyal, and not sure if I quite believe in eye cream but, well, I bought it, so I will use it) and sunscreen, lip balm, deodorant (this Vichy one or a Dove one). Tap cream or gel blush onto cheeks (often Tarte cheek stain in Blissful, just with my fingers).  Brush eyebrows (maybe a few quick swipes of Benefit Gimme Brow to define). Apply perfume, currently loving Bruno Acampora Musc for winter but I switch it up a lot (or go without). If I’ve got extra time I may apply a natural, brown mascara like the Almay One Coat Nourishing Mascara. I’ll curl my lashes beforehand if feeling fancy.

1 min: Get dressed.

et voilà

total time: 18 mins

There are extended and severely truncated* versions of this routine as well.

*i.e. dampen and regroup hair, brush teeth, wash face, sunscreen, tinted lip balm or lipstick (which can be later tapped onto the cheeks). 6 minutes.

How about you?

Alternatively, any suggestions for me?

Pages:1234»