Friday, February 28, 2014

Urban Decay Naked Lip Gloss in Beso, Liar, Naked and Nooner…Reviewed, On and Swatched

A barely there product…but it does wear well.  See the shades on and whether you like the very light coverage or not.

The Balm Instain Blush in Argyle Review, Swatches and On

I love this pink!  Adds a youthful glow and wears beautifully.  Very pigmented so use a light hand (but it does blend well!).

Guerlain Meteorites in Medium 3 On, Swatched and Reviewed 2014

For those aiming to regain our youthful glow…

Sugarpill Heartbreaker Palette Review, Swatches and Look

Love this!  Vibrant and lovely…together or in a simpler look with other colors.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert Gates

I only occasionally call books great and this one is great.

Sure it drags occasionally...but only because the author is meticulous.  Gates was Secretary of Defense during both Presidents Bush (the second) and Obama.  Former CIA director and with quite an impressive resume of service overall, he left his job heading a university to come back and deal with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other matters.

And he confronted politics.  Which often didn't put the soldier or even our country first.

This book is carefully written.  Yes, Gates does express his frustrations with those around him when he served.  But how refreshing to hear the truth about what really goes on in government for a change.

I ended up very much liking the man and the book.  Excellent read.

Book Review of This Is Not An Accident by April Wilder

This Is Not an Accident is a a quirky book.  Author April Wilder does an excellent job of drawing us into her characters' worlds, though we might not always fully want to be there.  And these stories are mostly dark, of people not quite in touch with themselves and a little lost.

I like how she uses details to describe, the classic showing and not telling.  Sometimes I didn't really feel fully comfortable with the narratives and people coping within them.  My world is more ordered.

But sometimes we should exit our comfort zones.

These stories range from a woman obsessed with driving, to a man still not over his ex-wife.

The stories end early and the book adds a creative writing instructors evaluation form and a novella of You're That Guy.  The latter is about the children of a man who was a prominent game theorist until he turned a little nutty.  And now the father has died and his children cope with their inheritance and all that they perhaps never faced in the past.

This book is very eclectic but fun.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Giveaway: Win a Copy of the Savage Girl Book by Jean Zimmerman

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perfume Giveaway: Samples of Parfums Rétro Grand Cuir and the Dame Perfumery Scottsdale Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes Review

Jojo Moyes likes to write about lovers somehow separated.  Often, it's circumstances but too frequently the people themselves get in their own way.  In The Last Letter from Your Lover both intrude.

In the 1960s, Jennifer gets in a car accident with her memory wiped clean.  The driver of the car died in the accident but she's slowly recovering.  Still, her memory proves tricky and she struggles to remember her life before the accident.  Jennifer seemingly has it all…an attractive and successful husband, a beautiful home and many friends.  Her family is supportive.  Why does something feel absent?  And is her disquiet related to the accident or deeper?

Then Jennifer discovers a love letter stashed in a book and signed only with a B.  Gradually, she tries to piece together her own love story, which she's unable to remember.

Years later a journalist, in her own troubled relationship, finds the letter and tries to piece together the story of the two lovers.  Did they have a happy ending?  Perhaps if  she can learn from them she can find her own contentment.

Moyes doesn't feel compelled to create the most likable or sympathetic charactors.  Beginning writers often feel compelled to do otherwise but the resulting idealized people don't read like real life.  These characters struggle with who they are and aren't always likable.  For me that added to the story.

This book is a great love story.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

NARS Matte Multiple in Laos and Vientiene Review, Swatches and On

Super warm toned and pigmented, these melt into my skin.  If you like mattes, shading and cream formulas you'll love them.  They last about 6 hours on me as eye shadow or blush/bronzer and two on my lips.  Laos is opaque enough for me to wear as a lip color…rare with cheek/lip products.

See more in the video.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Masks Chapter 3: A Youtube Novel

I’m just too busy to worry about a broken date. 
            I swatch a selection of corals on my inner left wrist.  Eye shadows, blushes, lipsticks, glosses and even a lip liner.  I can’t tell the fucking difference, powders or creams, leaning toward pink or orange.  So I grab some makeup remover, wipe it all off, start swatching it again and still can’t discern anything.  My oracle has died and all the ashes look the same.
            Shit.  What an asshole.  Brad knows how much I worry about money, always and with the deep paranoia from never having any growing up.  He grew up in a normal home with all the safety that privilege confers.  My mom sold cosmetics, always Estee Lauder, after my dad killed himself when I was two.  Now you know how Gail and I bonded at yoga one day.  Some things, and definitely people, will forever remain a mystery.  Why?  For one thing, they’re dead.   But for life and people both there is no easy answer, as with a multiple choice question where all we need do is pick a, b, c or none of the above.
All I know is that my family struggled and for too many years I hated the man who deserted us.  A quick bullet and all his problems got dropped on our shoulders.  Now I mostly work and date men who’re too arrogant to imagine a world without them.  Like Brad….the asshole who just told me to lose weight if I wanted funding.  As if my profitable business is a joke.  And while he advises, I create.
            The light from the sunroof is hitting at just such an angle that my corals glow.  Wow!  Now that effect is gorgeous.  Imagine light hitting a woman’s cheek bones like that.  She’d be an angel, glowing and alive, but also ethereal.  Standing, I stare down at the colors haphazardly slayed before me.  A rainbow of options, much as I might yearn for black and white choices.      
            Even though I have real work to do and my phone has begun to ring I ignore it all and go over to a big cabinet in the corner of my office.  Looming large and bursting with old products, I open it and grab some glittery shades and balance them in a hammock I make of my shirt.  Digging through the drawers with my free hand, the other holding my shirt, I dig for other shimmers I can remember.  More organized and patient people would also start grabbing brushes but I know what I need to see and want it fast.  I’m escaping a fight and trying to turn that energy into a creative outlet.  It beats eating, which I’ve evidently been doing, and alcohol, which I just might do tonight.
            Digging through the drawers some more, I know what I need:  a bronzer and all the soft shimmers I can find.  No chunky glitter, just the softest shimmer. Ad a bubblegum pink. I want to make an angel powder with a peach undertone, as pinks are too cliché and I want a beach angel, as befits my locale.  Why can’t I mix those pinup girls of the 1960’s with a beach and a soft angel sheen?  It works in my mind and I walk back to my table, gently laying out my powders in a heap. 
            I can see the girls in the ads, one with almost white hair and light green eyes, with the other very dark.  They both need long hair and contrasting skin tones.  But warm undertones and in white bikinis on Santa Monica Beach.  No Tahiti here.  Surfboards and opaque coral lipstick.  Super retro.  With blues, greens and an almost white, sparkly, on their eyes.
            My phone rings and I knock my knee into the table as I crack the powders out of their compacts with a pencil.  Then I mix, ignoring traffic, the phones and a siren.  My eyes well up with tears and I know that I’m escaping my breaking relationship by trying to create, which comes so easily in a way that men never will.
            Why does he do this?  And again I see that smile, wicked and full of fun, but ultimately so empty.  I want to get away but then he says something funny and acts like he knows what I should be doing and I fall for the act yet again.  But slowly I’m losing myself.  I can’t help but wonder if he does provide my company funding whether I’ll eventually lose the company someday too.
            The term sheets he sends others are so full of traps that, if anything goes wrong, they always disadvantage the company to Brad’s advantage.  Money men hold the strings, contractually, or they don’t provide funding.  And once you take that money you start to run.  Fast and successful and they’ll shower you with more and make you run faster so they can double down on a winner and increase their earnings.  Get tired or fall behind and they swoop in to “save” the company, including kicking out founders and bringing in new management.  I know all this because of the stories Brad tells me.
            “They take the money because they’re greedy to succeed faster or desperate,” he says about entrepreneurs.  “We exploit the greedy and ignore the desperate.  Everyone has a way that they can be manipulated and it’s my job to find it.  I need to do that so my own investors make money and I keep my job,” he told me at dinner a few nights ago.  A nice overpriced Italian restaurant with waiters imported from Southern Italy.  I twirled my pasta, trying to spear a scallop amidst tomatoes while he picked at a huge grilled Branzino fish nestled in a bed of roasted potatoes.
            And I wonder how I got here.  So I mix my powders and wonder if he’ll finally dump me today, solving one problem only to create another.  We’ve been fighting a lot lately.  He’s been disappearing more and I know he broke up with his previous official girlfriend only after we started dating.  I didn’t know then that he had a “girlfriend” and probably a few women “friends” on the side.  But what goes around comes around and I can see a few warning signs, my weight included.
            Los Angeles is a competitive city when it comes to men, especially attractive and wealthy ones like Brad.  My friends all tell me to appreciate him more, work harder to keep him happy and all of that crap.  As if I don’t have a company to run.  I cry into my orange/brown/shimmer powder and smear some on my wrist.  It’s perfect and exactly as I imagined.  I can make my sea angels come alive and bring that glow to regular women.  But I can’t seem to make my man happy.  If he’s still my man.
            Can I still add this concoction to my new line?  Probably not.  But I can introduce new products after a respectable wait following the initial launch.  These don’t fit the spare aesthetics of the initial concept but I was already planning to build complimentary add-ons later.  The whole line is coloring driven, with “prescriptions”, or recommendations, based on undertones, hair and eye coloring.  Even personal style.  I had a software engineer write a program that can customize a million flattering looks so customers don’t need to judge for themselves, unless they want to.  Why make people rely on online swatches or bad fluorescent lighting to pick colors?  Why not customize looks and product lines based on complex but easily programmable algorithms? It isn’t like a computer can’t do so in a second.  And women want to look more beautiful.  A match made in heaven.
            Brad called me a genius when I pitched him the initial concept so I went ahead with it.  But that was about six months ago.  Now we fight over the fact that he’s frequently rude and impatient and my tone isn’t always correct.  Another tear hits a dusty coral mound and I realize I’m feeling sorry for myself.  He has always hugged his smartphone and acted like an asshole – it just bothers me more now.  Why?
            My phone keeps ringing but Frankie, my assistant, has been doing a great job of dealing with all those people calling.  I have a button I can hit when I don’t want to be disturbed and believe me it’s on.  I don’t freak out often but I know that when Brad threatens he means it and he just hit my weak spot.  This company is all I have and at this point I’ve invested too much in this new line not to get that additional last bit of funding to meet ALL the orders I have.  Indeed, I actually got too many orders, usually a good thing, if you can fund them.  And he knows it and I guess I should have expected he might pull this sort of cheap trick to try to get part ownership in the company.  Brad, my advisor and confidant, knows better than anyone how successful it is! 
            I remember when I first met him and he made me laugh so much.  He was tan and tall, we bumped into each other literally, when I backed into him at a friend’s Fourth of July party.  Brad was juggling a few beers while I was rushing back to my best friend with two overstuffed barbequed burgers.  That difference would always divide us.  I like to eat while he prefers to drink his calories.  Different personalities, right?  I think so.  I dig into things while he likes to keep all light and distant.  Full versus inebriated. 
            “Want a few beers to go with that?  Your boyfriend would want a drink too,” he said, and smiled in that crafty way he has when he thinks he’s being smart.  And I fell for the trick.
            “Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend,” I responded quickly, not wanting to discourage such an attractive man whose eyes ran up and down my expanse, legs covered by only scraps of some denim shorts I could pull off then.  “This is for my friend,” I finished lamely, the light dawning.  And of course he asked me out and suddenly, before I knew it, I had a boyfriend.
            I met him because I didn’t want to.  I hate how when I say that I really don’t want to date I end up dropping into a relationship.  And my company was just as demanding then as I was expanding distribution into major retailers.  Brad was my ready shoulder.  I had so much work to do then.  And now.
            The phone rings again and I finally kneel in my overstuffed chair studying the mess and bending over my table.  I know none of the calls is Brad.  He’d never show such weakness.  He lets everyone wait and knows the power of not responding or reaching out first.  A negotiating tactic he taught me.  I’ll die before I call so soon to apologize for hanging up on him.  Meanwhile, he’ll never apologize for his transgressions, which I consider worse but he’ll just laugh about it with a friend over drinks later.  I know him that well by now.  I too have been that companion lounging with him at some dark bar, in awe over his prowess in life.
            My door opens and I brace myself.  If someone at this company ignores my closed door and do not disturb phone block I know it’s serious.  Frankie, my vegan part time yogi assistant rushes in, her zen calm gone and clearly agitated.  Many of those I hire come from yoga since my studio is one of the few places where I actually meet people as I’m mostly working or with Brad.  What got her so riled up?
            Frustrated, trapped, but not quite desperate, I lean over my table and blow, watching my magical glittery powder lift off into air, dispersing like the ethereal dream I know it is.  Later I’ll deal with angels and craft an image around that concept.  For now, I need to deal with real people and life itself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NARS Matte Multiple Review Altai and Siam

These are beautiful.  A smooth and easily blend able formula that can be used wet (lighter application) or dry (more pigmented application).  These are about half the size of a regular multiple at the same price.

Siam is a deep rich and bright poppy (orange/coral/red) and works equally well on lips and cheeks (softly on eyes too).

Altai is very light and my skin tone is pretty light.  I need to use a careful hand then get lovely shading. Too much and I blend it away.  It also works as a soft eye color.

I get about 6 hours wear on eyes and cheeks, 2 on the lips (but Altai is too brown to be a lip color on me).

Love these!  But I love mattes and am willing to do a little extra work with cream formulas.

NARS Narsissist Palette: An Honest Review

I really like this palette!  I do see a slight quality difference from other Nars shadows I own but the quality is still excellent.  Muted and smokey, less glittery, sophisticated.  This palette is more like the LORAC Pro or Laura Mercier Artist Palette from Holiday 2013 than the Urban Decay's Nakeds.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jeffrey Dame's Amazing scents..a must have...

I got lucky and won some samples of two amazing scents by Jeffrey Dame.  One of my favorite blogs, A Kaftkaesque Life ( ) held the giveaway.  She writes much better about scents than I do…

But I love the two I got.

And I've learned a lot about boutique scents over the past year.  Not mass produced (and sometimes pricey indeed) they add a level of sophistication completely missing in the mass market fragrances.  Literally, they smell completely different (and better).

The first I got was the Parfums Retro Grand Cuir eau de parfum.  Complex and rich, it is a unisex fragrance that picks up depth as you wear it.  With a hint of leather, it also wafts cistus-labdanum, clary sage, birch tar, orange flower, geranium, lavender, violet leaf, carnation, rose, cinnamon leaf oil, tarragon, pine moss, musk, sandalwood, patchouli and rosewood oil.  It wears like a burning fire, with flowers in the background and a leather wearing scotch drinking man.  No one can fully describe this scent you just need to wear it.  I love it.  Available:

100 ml for $155.00 at and I am hopeful you will add it to your collection - or gift your significant other.  If you have a moment I encourage you to leave a comment on your experience with Parfums Retro Grand Cuir at and at

I also got, according to Mr. Dame (and which I love!!): 
"a special preview sample of my new Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli eau de toilette from Dame Perfumery Scottsdale.  Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli is one of a collection of eight new women's fragrances [plus five new scents for men] which will be offered in the Dame Perfumery Scottsdale boutique which opens this coming September 2014.

Dame Perfumery Scottsdale 
eau de toilette spray 100 ml

eight eau de toilettes for women.  mixes which bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.  which one will be yours?
  • Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli
  • Verbena, Freesia & Musk
  • Cassis, Rose & Sandalwood
  • Lime, Gardenia &  Benzoin
  • Mandarin, Neroli & Cedar
  • Passion Fruit, Orange Blossom and Vetiver
  • Peach Blossom, Violet & Vanilla
  • Pear, Waterlily & Amber

Love these…boutique scents are a whole new level of sophistication.

The Balm How 'Bout Them Apples Review, Swatches and On

Six shades…all creamy and almost opaque (blend able to sheer).  I like them a lot better on cheeks than lips and get 5 to 6 hours wear (but only 2 to 3 on lips).  They do fade beautifully.

What a great mix of colors to have!  If you like cream blushes, which I think look more natural oftentimes.  Including these.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Perfect Palette Tag

Best Packaging:  Hourglass Ambient Light and YSL Flower Crush Palette
Color Payoff:  Smashbox Shades of Fame and Coastal Scents 42 Double stack Palette
Most Versatile: Lorac Pro, Urban Decay Naked 1 and 3
Best for Travelling:  Benefit Cabana Glama, Too Faced The Bronzed and the Beautiful and Nars old palette
Biggest Regret:  EM Cosmetics Life Palette in Day Life
Best Color Names:  Kat Von D Spellbinding Eye Shadow Palette
Least Used:  Marc Jacobs Style Eye-con No & in The Starlett
Most Used:  UD Naked Basics and Smoked and YSL Pure Chromatics in 9
Most Loved:  Urban Decay Vice 1 and 2

Desert Island:  Tarte Jewel Box and Too Faced A Few of My Favorite Things

Bite Beauty Honey Lacquer in Dolcetto

A perfect nude (peach/pink/nude with no glitter…).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Up Side of Down by Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle has written a very compelling book.  A writer for The Atlantic and formerly The Economist, McArdle has hit on a very right idea.  We need to fail to learn, to risk, to dream, to dare, to create and to succeed.


And I like the book.

But, I wish McArdle had used her journalistic skills to do more research and less autobiography.  While her life and related stories are interesting, they are antidotal and not research.  Her reliance on them weakens an excellent books.

Still, I recommend the book highly and whipped through it.  We all need to begin thinking this way and approaching failure as a positive step if it's used constructively.

My background is very Silicon Valley…and in that part of the world if you don't fail sometimes you aren't dreaming and daring big enough.  McArdle embraces that ethos and explains it.

Must have reading!

Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick I Naked, Naked2, Lovelight, Streak and Anarchy - divine

Beautiful…so see them on.  Amazing formula…

Lorac Pro Palettte is still among the best ever in 2014

Lovely mix of mattes and shimmers.  Perfect shades and shadows.  Blendable and flattering, with an edge so you can create a smokey eye too.  Lot's of imitators exist.  But this one is the bomb…classic for a reason…

Too Faced Sweethearts Blush in Peach Beach

I love this blush!  But it isn't long wearing, is super shimmery and is almost more a bronzer/highligher than blush.  Adore it anyway…

Kat Von D Lock-It Longwear Foundation in Light 44

Heavier coverage and great for photos or videos.  Long wear…but heavy...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Too Faced La Creme in Juicy Melons, Bumbleberry and Loganberry

Juicy Melons might be my favorite color of the line.  And I love this formula.  Very similar to the more pricey YSL and very creamy, smooth and glowing.

Urban Decay Lip Junkie Lip Gloss in Midnight Cowboy, Naked, Wallflower and Peroxide

These are .34 oz versus .13 for the new collection and colors by Urban Decay.  And they're more pigmented….?  Works for me!  Oh, and I love the colors I have….

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

EM Cosmetics Life Palette in Day Life by Michelle Phan and Loreal Review and Swatches

This whole set is 1.33 pounds and contains 26.8 grams of product.  That’s a lot of product!  I had mixed feelings.  I hate the lip products (faded fast, the little pots are inconvenient and get dirty and the shades weren’t original) and really liked the 3 darker blushes.  The lightest one I can’t figure out how to use on me, and I’m pretty inventive.  The eye shadows were mixed but use a primer!  They do fade fast.  And I think the two cooler toned ones (the cranberry and grey based ones) are more night than day looks.  I really liked the warmer brown and peach quadrants.

So, four quadrants: 

Girls Day Out

Perfect Rose – Blush

Grab Your Purse – Shadow

Rush Hour – Shadow
Things to do – Shadow

Busy Lady – Shadow

First Priority – Shadow

A Pink Moment – Shadow
The gloss is Sweet Raisin and the lipstick is Berry Busy.

This look is the most dramatic and best suited for dark complexions.  I also think it’s more a night look.  Too much red and pink, especially combined on my eyes, is a tough look for me to pull off.  Nice colors though,

Coffee Break

Cappuccino – Blush

Espresso – Shadow

Cocoa – Shadow

Biscotti – Shadow

Lottsa Latte – Shadow

Beige Frappe – Shadow

Creamy –

The gloss is Morning Peach and the lipstick is What’s Nude.

This quadrant is my favorite and creates a natural and neutral day look.  Warmer toned browns, with some leaning cooler.  This whole set seems to be cool to neutral or warm to neutral with some of the other ( or warm) throw in.  This makes for some interesting combinations but I do think the whole set, overall, is more suited to brown eyes than to my blue.

Weekend Brunch

Pinched – Blush

Nibble – Shadow

French Toast – Shadow
Ballet Flats – Shadow

Peach Gelato – Shadow

Girlie – Shadow

Creme - Shadow

Gloss is Parisian Nude
 and lipstick  is Roses

Peach theme  with a not there blush.  I really liked this quadrant, again, for a natural day look.  The palette has a lot of lighter shadows.

Day Dreaming

Day Dreaming – Blush
Onyx Dreams – Shadow
torm Kiss – Shadow

Fantasy – Shadow
Silver Lining – Shadow

Light Violet – Shadow

French Kiss – Shadow
Gloss in One More
and lipstick n Misty Mauve

Super great for smoky eyes with greys, purples and even a blue/black.  I really like these colors but in a day palette?  Still, a fun set.

Yes, the packaging gets dirty.  This is a fun set with fine quality and pigmentation.  Use a primer and enjoy.  Youth focuses, it also has a sheet with look descriptions.  The Life Palettes are now $59 and you get 15% off your first purchase when you log into the website.  EM has great customer service.  And you get a little magnetized travel compact in which you can put your lip colors to protect them from the shadow fall out.

I’m on the fence regarding this one.  Some very pretty shades but I won’t use the set overall.  Nothing much sets it apart.