winging it

On March 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx


I often don’t take the time to do structured eyeliner but I often like the look, and keep meaning to wear it more. I especially like it with an otherwise bare eye (except for some mascara maybe, but no liner on the bottom lash line), and I like it more still with an otherwise bare face.

I like gel liner and a fairly stiff angled brush for winged/cat-eye liner. This is MAC’s Dipdown gel liner, a dark brown, and a bit of a plum Tarte Smoldereyes pencil on top of that (these pencils are great, super soft and blendable).  There can be some trial and error getting the flicks more or less symmetrical but I tend to do what I can and clean up/shape them up after with a cotton bud. I really could not manage makeup at all without cotton buds.

I like doing a smudgier, softer version with a soft pencil, too, or just eyeshadow. Or doing it in gel liner first and running over with a pencil or shadow to soften (or hide imperfections in a substandard line). As for the philosophy of the flick, I think there are so many shapes that can look good (even a poor execution can look good with enough smudging, a smudging brush is a good investment), and it’s just a matter of practice.

Part of the reason I don’t bother with winged liner, I think, is because it seems like I have to put such a lot on for it to be visible. The flick has got to be pretty dramatic or it is just lost in the crease of my eye somehow. Then there is the issue of time. I really enjoy makeup, and enjoy the transformation and the playfulness of it, but I’m not always (or even often) willing to take the time. It’s an interesting piece of data: that I could look basically as nice as I please (as polished, as well made up, as presentable), if only I would take the time to do it. And I guess kind of interesting too that I usually won’t bother. It’s as if, if I know that I can look really nice, what does it matter if I do?* As if looking like you could look better is as good as actually looking better. Is this the key to the charm of ultra-casual, messy-chic looks? The emphasis on the quality of the raw canvas? [Which may itself be an artificial effect? i.e. no makeup makeup, or stylized disarray?]

*Which is a valid question. Which gets at the question of the motivation behind making any effort at all. Which is reminding me to reread bits of The Feminine Mystique, which I recommend highly.

But I digress…


These earrings are white glass cabochons made from tumbaga, and ancient alloy of gold and copper. Found them in a cool little jewelry shop in Harvard Square that carries handmade jewelry by Latin and Latin American artisans.


It rains in Boston. 

Kamik rain boots, Banana Republic trench (thrifted), Mulberry bag, Zara scarf. I really like this trench but I think I’ll replace the buttons with those of a darker color for more contrast.


Listening to this Herman Dune track, a good song for a rainy day:




on the menu: cocoa banana nut muffins

On March 30, 2014 by theseventhsphinx



This is really a quick bread but I baked it in muffin cups instead of a loaf pan. I was craving muffin-shaped things, and muffins are so easily shared.


I used the Cocoa-Nana Bread recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours (recipe here), with the cocoa powder much reduced (I didn’t have enough, but it’s delicious this way too), and chopped pecans added in.

So moist that no additional topping is necessary. Delightful.

weekend distraction: the Mabel dress

On March 29, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Came across this dress on pinterest recently, the Mabel dress from Curator,  and it is everything I want it to be; loose, soft, luxe, simple, light. It shows what is to me just the right amount of skin in the cut around the arms and throat. And pockets! Love the jade color in the second image particularly.



Basics are notoriously hard to get right. Like a T-shirt or jeans, it’s difficult to find a dress that fits well and drapes well and genuinely suits one. This one is very near the top of my wishlist at the moment. This was my introduction to Curator, a small brand out of San Francisco created by two friends in 2001, and I’m going to investigate further on the strength of this piece.

images from

reading: Loos, Buddhism, money

On March 26, 2014 by theseventhsphinx


Girls Just Want to Have Funds, Susannah Blake Goodman — One really ought to know about money. I’ve been wanting to be more intelligent and strategic about my handling of money for a while. This is just the kind of book I wanted, clear and introductory.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos — Edith Wharton called it the great american novel, the diary of a 1920’s gold-digger who serves as the ideal unwitting narrator, revealing so much more than she relates and entertaining us along the way.

“A gentleman friend and I were dining at the Ritz last evening and he said that if I took a pencil and a paper and put down all of my thoughts it would make a book. This almost made me smile as what it would really make would be a whole row of encyclopediacs. I mean I seem to be thinking practically all of the time.”

“I seem to be quite depressed this morning as I always am when there is nothing to put my mind to. Because I decided not to read the book by Mr. Cellini. I mean it was quite amuseing in spots because it was really quite riskay but the spots were not so close together and I never seem to like to always be hunting clear thorugh a book for the spots I am looking for, especially when there are really not so many spots that seem to be so amuseing after all.”

“…when a girl has a lot of fate in her life it is sure to keep on happening.”

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Thich Nhat Hanh — A compact guide to maintaining awareness in daily life (as if there were any other kind…). I’ve been reading about Buddhism as I recently came across some reference to it and realized how poorly I understood it (realized that I couldn’t explain it), but vaguely remembered finding it very interesting and useful in a research session some years ago. I’d been looking for something with the balance of spiritual and logical that Buddhism has because I often find life sad and difficult, am prone to melancholy (plus I am irritable, and often don’t like to be around people), and live too much in the past and the future (or some alternate reality) rather than the present, where life is actually happening. That is, my mind is not so healthy as it could be. The logic of Buddhism is appealing; instead of allowing your mind to succumb to reveries or frustrations of the past (illusion) or hopes for the future (illusion), which are often the root of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, you focus on the moment at hand, which it is inherently wonderful to experience. As you approach experiencing the moment at hand with truth and clarity, difficulties naturally fall away, unmade by wisdom.* Sounds nice, right? I can achieve it now and then. I think the logic holds. The origin of the title is the concept that there is no path to peace, for peace is the path. Get it? [I think I get it…] Enlightened yet?

*There’s rather more to it. I suggest reading a book.

It’s a very flexible system, beautifully simple and therefore easily adapted, I can see why it has gained such a following in the west. Karma and reincarnation come in at a more technical level, and while I wouldn’t say I believe in them (what is the point of believing in things, exactly? Or not believing?), I cannot help but find them compelling. They make for such a good story.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh — About to start this one.

Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World, Lama Surya Das — A really excellent overview of Buddhism with clear introductory practices. Especially good for western readers as it is couched in the experience of the author, who grew up in New York and so serves as a cultural (east to west) and temporal (ancient system to modern life) translator. You could think of this as an elaboration on the previous two titles, the first of which (and I suspect the second also) is extremely concise and not especially forthcoming. Easier to follow with this text in mind.

the fisherman’s sweater ii

On March 24, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

It can take a few wearings for a piece to be integrated into my wardrobe, with the first few wearings somehow stilted or off. It’s too new, I overthink it, I try to do too many things at once. I didn’t love this look, in retrospect (and it wasn’t that long ago):


I thought: I can do this better.

Not just wear the sweater again, though this is also certainly part of the plan, but try this look again. This torn jeans, oversized sweater, leather accents, minimal embellishments look. I want the lip to be brighter and more transparent, I want the eyes smudgier, I want a different hair/head situation. Bigger hair. No hat. Or not this hat. This hat needs different hair entirely (cue entirely new vision).

[What I imagine to be a common practice of trial and error is less notable (less potentially galling) when one is not in the habit of publicly recording what one wears…]

Anyway. Sometimes I want a do-over.* And not to do it “better”, exactly, as I think that’s not a very useful word here, but more in line with the spirit of the concept, the original vision. The effect in the first case is too polished, too tightly controlled, not casual enough – given the reference point. It looks fine, but it’s not how I wanted to look.

*This is distinct from liking a look so much that I want to try infinite variations of the look, which I suppose isn’t a bad definition of a clear personal style.

This is more what I was thinking.



I swear I was trying to make a neutral face here. I think my neutral face is just not very friendly.


Carraig Donn sweater (thrifted), AG jeans (thrifted), Ann Klein loafers, Skagen watch, Mulberry bag (thrifted). On the lips: MAC lipstick in Speak Louder. On the nails: Barry M Gelly nail paint in Satsuma. I think gold liner is such a great alternative to brown. Oh, and this is the Michael Kors bronzer at work, though I recently tried the Hard Candy Hula Hula bronzer and found it a great budget option in the same deep, shimmery style.


This nail color is incredible, a saturated mandarin orange. Better angle:



Why why why do I not wear my hair like this all the time? OK, I know why, but here is my official reminder to change my ways.