MOBOT Orchid Show 2015

The best photo I've taken in the Missouri Botanical Garden
The best photo I’ve taken in the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of those local treasures that I sometimes forget is quite so special as it is. A short drive from my home, this National Historic Landmark is the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the country.

I am a member of the Garden, which means that I get free entry anytime, and free or reduced admission to most Garden events. I also get reciprocal free admission to many other gardens in the US. It’s a good value, $65 a year, I only wish that the hours were extended, since they close daily at 5 p.m., which means I (and most worker bees) can’t usually visit on a weekday.

Two of my favorite shows that the Garden puts on are the Succulent Show in the summer and the Orchid Show in the winter.  This past Friday I had the day off work and finally got to see the Orchid Show.  The Orchid Show kicks off in January, with a members-only preview night (I went to that a few years ago, it’s wonderful to see the show at night) and then lasts for a few months. The orchids are brought in and built/planted into an artificial rain forest-type environment. Ideally I would have loved to have a docent next to me and spend hours learning about everything I was seeing. I find that, as I get older, I don’t want to just ooh and aah at pretty things, or laugh and point at ugly things, or sneer at things that are disgusting, I want to understand. I want access to someone who can explain to me why the tree grows this way and how its environment pushed it to do so. I want to know the adaptive function of those strangely shaped leaves. I want to know how animals and plants integrate to form these environments, and how we’re (almost probably) destroying them. Everything I learn about, I want to learn ten layers deeper. Lack of access to experts on every topic frustrates me. I just want to understand more.

Anyway. Here are some photos. They are pretty. I have taken them and edited them in ways that help me build an imaginary world in my mind. This is the world I’d live in if I could choose – a world I built myself, full of dark things and bright things and mystery. I hope you like them.

Building this show must be so delightful.
Building this show must be so delightful.
Seeing the show at night is my preference, but things do seem to glow in the daytime.
Seeing the show at night is my preference, but things do seem to glow in the daytime.
Come with me, and you'll be... in a world of pure imagination.
Come with me, and you’ll be… in a world of pure imagination.
Take a look, and you'll see, into your imagination
Take a look, and you’ll see, into your imagination
IMG_1293
We’ll begin, with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation
What you see will defy
What you see will defy
Explanation
Explanation
If you want to view paradise
If you want to view paradise
simply look around and view it
simply look around and view it
anything you wan to, do it.
anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world? There's nothing to it.
Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know, to compare to pure imagination
There is no life I know, to compare to pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free.
Living there, you’ll be free.

If you truly wish to be.

 

New Mascara Three Way

I’ve been cheating on my fave Tarte Gifted mascara lately, experimenting with some other formulas. Short story – Tarte is still my everyday favorite, but some of these others have definite merit. (and one is a major fail.)

The contenders.
The contenders. Benefit, Dior, Make Up Forever

First is a total luxury indulgence, a splurge on a day when I felt bad. (It was worth it.) Dior Addict It Lash $27.50. It’s really not that much costlier than the others I mention here, but I think that anytime I see “Dior” I just think luxury. Plus it IS very close to $30 for mascara. I mean. That is kind of nuts.

I’d first tried this in a 100-pt perk deluxe sample from Sephora, and I was really impressed. This is a long-lash, not a thick-lash, formula. So it’s best on days when you’re wearing little to no eyeliner and you really want some long fluttery lashes to contrast with your lid. It’s a really nice formula, doesn’t clump, and best of all it doesn’t give me panda eyes by one hour in.

diorBrush
Brush from Dior Addict It-Lash

 

The brush is rubbery with short bristles and it dispenses an appropriate amount of product. The packaging is also incredibly sleek and makes me feel happy whenever I see it on my dressing table. Would definitely repurchase, although this will not ever be my everyday mascara.

Benefit Roller Lash
Benefit Roller Lash

Benefit Roller Lash $24 Firstly, the name. In my world, the word “Roller” almost always comes with “Girl” after it. So I keep wanting to call this “Roller Girl Lash.” But it has nothing to do with Roller Skates, and everything to do with old-fashioned roller technology. This mascara is supposed to help your lashes hold a curl.  I am not sure if you can see from my out of focus photo above (camera could not make itself focus on those tiny hooks) but the spikes on the brush here have little barbs at the end, supposedly to hook all your lashes. I really liked this mascara, but I will say that it’s a really REALLY wet formula. Once you apply it, you need to sit very still and wait for it to dry. If you touch your eye area before it dries, your lashes will form one giant clump of mono-lash. Not kidding, it’s weird. But that said, if you comb through your lashes after application, it’s really good stuff. I am really curious to see what it will do in another week or so once the tube dries down some.

I don’t know that it made my lashes curlier, because mine curl naturally, but I did like the look, very much. Not a lot of panda eyes with this one, either.

Lastly and leastly, we have this hot mess of Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara $24. Just look at this photo below, firstly:

Look at that disgusting mess there.
Look at that disgusting mess there.

OK just basic tech here, if you’re going to have a brush with this kind of extreme point at the tip, the inner rim of the tube (which should remove excess product from the brush) will not be able to clean it correctly. I mean, obviously. That will never work. You either have an inner rim small enough to clean that small tip, which will remove all the product from the base of the brush OR you have an inner rim that can remove the right amount from the base of the brush, thereby leaving the end covered in goo, as we see here. So when you pull this wand out, the end is completely glooped up. That’s just a fail.

Then, when you actually put this stuff on, you have maybe 10 minutes before it starts falling down/flaking off and turning your under-eyes black and smudgy. By the time I had driven to work I looked like I’d had a major crying jag. I don’t think that’s the kind of “smoky” I am into.  Nothing more to say about this really, it’s  a crappy, ill thought out brush and a super crappy flaky formula. Total fail.

It’s been fun to experiment with some different formulas though, and know that when I am in a mood for a different lash look I have some options. Have you tried any of these, or my favorite Tarte mascara? Let me know in the comments!

You Made Me (Want To) Love You – Bésame

Agent Carter wearing her signature lip in Bésame 1946 Red Velvet
Agent Carter wearing her signature lip in Bésame 1946 Red Velvet

Like most other women I know, I am a little obsessed with Agent Carter.  Bad-ass vintage lady-spy? Yeah, I am into it. So when a post went around Tumblr detailing what makeup she used, and how anyone could create her signature lip, I found a brand new company to check out – Bésame Cosmetics.

Bésame sells cosmetics based on vintage formulas, in old-school packaging, with a retro advertising vibe. The 1946 Red Velvet lipstick that Agent Carter sports is frequently sold out, and I honestly need a new red lipstick like I need a roundhouse kick to the head, but I wanted to try something from the brand! So I settled on this lovely, vintage inspired Brightening Violet Powder ($22 at Bésame and Sephora.)

Brightening Violet Powder
Brightening Violet Powder

Described on the site as:

 A translucent violet powder that brightens any skintone. The finely milled formula sets makeup beautifully, leaving a soft, matte finish and a subtle violet fragrance. Wear it alone, over foundation, or around eyes to instantly lighten dark circles.

  • Formulated without Parabens
  • Gluten-Free
  • Made in the USA

It seemed like the kind of thing anyone could use, and that packaging just looked adorable, perfect for my dressing table. So I ordered it from Sephora (free shipping, samples, points) and received it a few weeks ago.

Overall, I am disappointed with the product, and wouldn’t purchase it again. For one thing, the packaging, which I assumed would be a vintage metal tin style, is plastic. It’s cute and everything, but it’s plastic. The box it came in was perfection, but that box gets thrown away, and you’re left with a pretty ho-hum plastic container that does not pass for vintage at all.

BesameClosed
Nice design I guess, but very basic plastic.

The package I got doesn’t event match the packaging shown on Sephora’s site (although it does match the packaging show on the Besame site.) I liked the idea of the burgundy (which matches their overall branding) much more than I like the lavender and yellow/cream combo.

This is the product packaging shown on Sephora's website. See why I assumed it was a metal tin?
This is the product packaging shown on Sephora’s website. See why I assumed it was a metal tin? It looks like a tin in this shot.

 

Also, the product is really hard to get to. I suppose this might be designed to carry in a handbag, so it’s got several fail-safes to prevent it spilling. But that makes it difficult to use or to apply evenly. You have to unscrew the top, take out the puff, flip up the plastic interior lid then… what? Shake some into the lid?

When I placed the puff in this opening and shook the package upside down to expel some powder, almost no product was deposited onto the puff, and what was deposited was in tiny pinprick sized mounds. So you can’t really get a smooth or even application with this system. You can shake some product into the lid and then press the puff into that, but then if you dumped out too much you can’t really put it back in. My best results have been tapping some into the lid, then using a brush to apply.

BesameOpen2
Cute, but hard to get at.

The powder itself is nice enough I guess. The scent is light and innocuous. The violet color does not translate to the skin, except as a brightener, as they describe (your face doesn’t have a purple cast.) It does an OK job at stopping shine, but it doesn’t do well for me in the under-eye area, it makes any fine lines I have much more prominent.

For the $22 price tag, I think there are better options out there, with nicer, easier to use packaging.

I would say that all three of these (which I’ve used personally) are comparable in effect, and the MUF and Tarte products are easier to get out of the packaging. I know there are some other drugstore options (I think e.l.f. makes an HD powder) which would probably do almost as well. So, my thought is that you could save your money on this one.  I am sorry this is the first thing I bought from the brand, because it makes me bit reluctant to try anything else in case it’s also overhyped. If you’ve tried any of the lipsticks or compacts, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In Which I Begin to Dabble in Korean Beauty Products

Since I’ve pretty much bought one of everything the US has to offer by way of beauty stuff, I have recently been branching out and trying some of the many cool and buzzworthy beauty and skin care items from Korea. They’re a bit difficult to track down in the US, but with patience you can find them – sometimes for really good prices, even!

Lisa Eldridge has done two great videos lately about Korean skin care and beauty trends – one a tutorial and one a haul. So instead of parroting what she said, I will just insert those here:

I had been trying to get hold of some SkinFood products for awhile, but they don’t actually retail them through their website.  I checked Amazon, and found several stores that sell Korean products to the US market, and a few of them even offered some items with Prime shipping! Here are two that I thought had good selections:

BB Cosmetic and k-beauty.

I also ordered some products from a site I saw mentioned in a YouTube haul  – MemeBox (not pronounced “meem” box, like I thought, actually pronounced mee-mee box.) They sell individual products as well as pre-filled beauty boxes with a selection of themed items, which sell out REALLY quickly.

I’ve bought quite a few things in the last couple weeks, and I haven’t tried everything yet—but here’s a haul/selection of the things I’ve purchased and some initial thoughts.

Fun Fun Travel Kit - this set of four masks came in my first Memebox. Look how cute the packaging is!
Fun Fun Travel Kit – this set of four masks came in my first Memebox. Look how cute the packaging is!
I haven't used these yet, but I am excited to try them.
I haven’t used these yet, but I am excited to try them.
This mask also came in my Memebox - but I am not yet brave enough to put the snail slime on my face. Also, I kind of want to know first how they harvest the slime. Is it cruelty free slime? I don't want them killing slugs so that I can have less tired looking skin.
This mask also came in my Memebox – but I am not yet brave enough to put the snail slime on my face. Also, I kind of want to know first how they harvest the slime. Is it cruelty free slime? I don’t want them killing slugs so that I can have less tired looking skin.
Thes products from Skin Food I bought on Amazon. I guessed on the colors, and happily I guessed correctly.
These products (BB Cream and Dark Circle Concealer) from Skin Food I bought on Amazon. I guessed on the colors, and happily I guessed correctly.
I love the packaging of the BB Cream, with a pump on the tube. The product is nice so far, I would compare it to my Ole Henriksen BB Creme, but with more coverage. The undereye concealer is definitely more moisturinzing than a typical American brand. Not as much caking under the eyes with this one. Also, both very reasonable on Amazon - the BB Cream was $10.85 and the concealer under $8. Both with free Prime shipping.
I love the packaging of the BB Cream, with a pump on the tube. SO handy. The product is nice so far, I would compare it to my Ole Henriksen BB Creme, but with more coverage. The under-eye concealer is definitely more moisturizing than a typical American brand. Not as much caking into my fine lines with this one. Also, both very reasonable on Amazon – the BB Cream was $10.85 and the concealer under $8. Both with free Prime shipping.
I got two masks from Skin Food as well. One pore minimizing one, which I've used already and one sugar scrub, which I have not used.
I got two masks from Skin Food as well. One pore minimizing one, which I’ve used already and one sugar scrub, which I have not yet used.
This is a little lighter consistency than a clay mask, as it's made from egg whites instead of heavy clay. Same principle, it dries on your skin and draws out impurities, but this is not at all harsh or drying.
This is a little lighter consistency than a clay mask, as it’s made from egg whites instead of heavy clay. Same principle, it dries on your skin and draws out impurities, but this is not at all harsh or drying.
This sugar scrub looks fun doesn't it? I am expecting mild exfoliation and good smells.
This sugar scrub looks fun doesn’t it? I am expecting mild exfoliation and good smells.

The next things I got were some products from a brand called TonyMoly. Their products are well known for having extremely cute packaging, and recently Sephora started carrying some of the line. Sephora acts as if they’re the first one bringing K Beauty to the states, but I found this TonyMoly stuff on Amazon for less than Sephora was charging, with free shipping.

The first thing I got was this face mist. I got the one for oily skin, so it's not quite as moisturizing. It's pretty refreshing, will undoubtedly be even more so in the summer. I keep it on my desk at work. So adorable.
The first thing I got was this face mist. I got the one for oily skin, so it’s not quite as moisturizing as the one for dry. It’s pretty refreshing, will undoubtedly be even more so in the summer. I keep it on my desk at work. So adorable.
Here it is with the lid off. I've read that this is re-fillable, so you can put something else in here when this is done. I don't know what. The liquid inside smells a little bit like baby powder.
Here it is with the lid off. I’ve read that this is re-fillable, so you can put something else in here when this is done. I don’t know what though. The liquid inside smells a little bit like baby powder.
I also got this Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base.
I also got this Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base.
Here it is with the lid off.
Here it is with the lid off.
And here's a swatch. To be quite honest, I don't see much of a difference with this product under makeup. On a no-makeup day it would probably be a little brightening and moisturizing.
And here’s a swatch. To be quite honest, I don’t see much of a difference with this product under makeup. On a no-makeup day it would probably be a little brightening and moisturizing.
The last thing I will show are these Lemon Hug Cheek patches. They're supposed to make your cheeks... shinier? More flushed? More moisturized? I am not 100% sure.
The last thing I will show are these Lemon Hug Cheek patches from It’s Skin. They’re supposed to make your cheeks… shinier? More flushed? More moisturized? I am not 100% sure.
Closeup!
Closeup!

I tried a sheet mask on Sunday with a friend of mine – it was the first sheet mask I had ever worn. We both tried the TonyMoly Rice Wine mask. It was very cold and really saturated with liquid, more than I had thought it would be. Now that I have tried them, I understand a bit better what the deal is. The sheet mask is basically really thin papery fabric that’s saturated with serum. The mask keeps the serum from evaporating, so lying with the mask on leaves the beneficial liquid in contact with your skin much longer than it would typically be if you just applied a serum as you usually do. The sheet mask that I tried on Saturday didn’t have much in the way of immediate results, but it did feel refreshing, and I will definitely keep trying them.

OK so that’s it! My first foray into Korean skin care items! I am enchanted with the charming packaging on their products, and I am excited to see some improvement in the overall tone and evenness of my skin. I will keep you posted and let you know if any of these items turn into favorites.

I Became Gradually Impoverished While Reading This Article

(bolding for emphasis mine)

Missouri Lt Gov Kinder wants to receive daily allowance

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder wants more money for doing his job.

The Republican officeholder is asking legislators to put money in the budget for a daily expense allowance when he is working in Jefferson City.

Kinder lives in Cape Girardeau and maintains a second home in Jefferson City.

He receives an annual salary of about $86,000. But Kinder says he’s experienced “gradual impoverishment” during his decade in office.

His salary is less than other statewide executive officials, but well more than the $36,000 that legislators receive.

One of the lieutenant governor’s duties is to preside over the Senate. Kinder wants to receive the same allowance that legislators get, which is $103 a day. He’s seeking a per diem whenever he’s in Jefferson City, not just when the Legislature meets.

So a couple of outraged points here. You know how the biggest argument against raising the pathetic minimum wage we have in this country is “if you don’t like what the job pays, go do something else?” Well, I fail to see how that logic doesn’t apply here. According to Republican bootstrap logic, some jobs aren’t designed to make you wealthy – some jobs aren’t even designed to let eat regular meals! So if Kinder is unhappy with his salary and thinks he has the skills to get paid more elsewhere he should move on. Simple. Arguing that his job is Important Work and he really feels compelled to do it For The Greater Good (like firefighting, teaching, police work or waitressing,) that’s not a good argument, clearly. Go where the money is, that’s the capitalist way.

Next – this is a guy who has conspicuously attempted to defraud Missouri taxpayers before, thinking that he’s entitled to live pretty swank on our dime and getting spanked for it a few years ago.

See:

JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says his campaign will repay the state for more than $35,000 in hotel bills in response to a Post-Dispatch story that revealed taxpayers picked up his tab while he attended sporting events, society galas and Tea Party rallies in and around St. Louis.

The newspaper reported Sunday that Kinder — a Republican widely expected to run for governor next year — spent an average of more than one night per week over the last five years at a hotel in St. Louis or St. Louis County courtesy of state taxpayers.

Those trips included mundane duties such as ribbon cuttings and award programs, but also charity balls hosted by his campaign contributors, a World Series party and the wedding of a political friend.

For real now? These shameless assholes. They don’t give a fuck. Not a single solitary one.

Next – this guy wants an extra $103 as a “per diem.” Per diem literally means “per day” and is meant to cover incidental expenses like meals and parking and sometimes accommodation.  So think about this: the current minimum wage in Missouri is $7.65. A person working an eight-hour day in Missouri would earn $61.20 pre-tax. This shameless windbag is asking to be gifted 160% of what a minimum wage worker earns in a whole day, just for his gods-damn meal and incidentals allowance.  He wants this ON TOP OF his regular salary of $86k, when the mean Missouri wage is $42k. Double the average, more than 5x what a minimum wage worker would earn, and yet he feels impoverished.

How? How does he have the effrontery, one wonders.

In addition (or due to) his stunning lack of insight on this topic, he’s a REPUBLICAN. He’s a republican in MISSOURI. You know that means that he spends most of his time plotting and planning to make life as difficult as possible for the average and/or poor person, filing lawsuits against healthcare reform, making abortion more difficult, trying to dis-empower unions, getting embroiled in stripper scandals, fessing up to not paying property taxes on  one of the three properties he owns in Cape Girardeau.

So, he’s become “gradually impoverished” while working for the government, maintaining two homes, and half the time staying at the Chase Park Plaza on my dime. How could he fix this impoverishment? What cost-cutting measures could he enact to allow him to scrape by on $86k per year?  Hell, I dunno, sell a house maybe? You’d have a spare. Eat more ramen. Do your own laundry? Go to fewer strip clubs? Golf less? Who the fuck knows, maybe ask your cleaning lady how she gets by, she might have tips.

Leave your cost-cutting and budgetary tips for Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder in the comments.

Simplify, Simplify then Simplify Some More

“The last year has been challenging” is an understatement on par with “the sun, that’s a pretty warm place.” The last year has stunk and has trampled my spirit to mush.

My reaction to the circumstances of the last year was  that of magicians everywhere – use distraction. Just divert myself from the horrible feelings, the unbelievable truth, the paralyzing thoughts. Buy things, click on things, fixate on the small things and avoid the big things. Don’t think too much, and don’t think about anything important if you can help it. And that worked for awhile. It did the job it needed to do. I bought carloads of makeup and clothing and shoes and real books and ebooks and anything else that would give me momentary peace and gratification. It was distracting, but I didn’t wear the clothes, I didn’t read the books, I didn’t use the makeup. Money and time I could have spent on other things was frittered away. That’s OK though. I needed that at that time. But that’s not a long-term workable pattern. Eventually for my own mental health I needed to break out. And that’s what I am doing now.

Since the winter holidays I’ve been doing my best to refocus my brain on things that are productive. I’ve been feeling physically terrible, so that’s been an added challenge to the process, but I think the breakdown of my body was the last straw to also push my brain over the brink, and force me to make some changes. The first thing I did was decide to stop buying things. I focused on clothing just because my closet is bursting and I have too many things hanging with tags on them. So I am going to try to go a year without buying any new clothing aside from essentials like replacement underpants.

I spent a lot of time browsing ASOS and ModCloth and other sites, it was a minor compulsion. What’s new today, what’s on sale, what’s on clearance, who has a new coupon or discount code? Agh, who cares? I needed to stop. To aid myself in this process, I unsubscribed from promotional emails from virtually every store. No more ASOS or ModCloth promotions in my email, trying to get me to click links. No more BaubleBar or Beauty Brands or J. Jill or Nordstrom. I unsubscribed from almost everything. Political updates? Gone. Donation solicitations? Gone. Sephora stayed because, you know, Sephora. So did Overstock because I like to buy home goods from them.

That change immediately did a few things – it cut out all the crap email I was getting and made my inbox very clean and easy to manage, and it stopped triggering me with SALE LAST CHANCE SALE TODAY ONLY SALE NEVER BEFORE SEEN DISCOUNTS type emails. I didn’t want to click on anything because I didn’t expose myself to it in the first place. Kind of weird for awhile without all those distractions, but now I am used to it.

But my mood didn’t improve, it got worse. I was more anxious, more sad. My brain was rudderless.

So I cleaned things out of my house, I threw things away, I reorganized. I have piles of things I want to donate, books and clothes. I de-cluttered so my space is happy and peaceful and calm. I bought things I needed, furniture and tools. But still, I felt even more paralyzed and stricken.

Part of that is, I know, because my vertigo made it impossible for me to do as much physically as I wanted, so I had to spend too much time sleeping. Vertigo is exhausting. I will say that again because it needs repeating: Vertigo is exhausting. 

Instead of shopping online and going places and distracting myself in those ways, I obsessively watched TV shows by the entire season. I moped around in my pajamas. I refreshed Facebook constantly. My brain still wanted out of reality. I downed anti-anxiety meds like candy, and yet I was still incredibly depressed and anxious. The last few weeks have been particularly bad in terms of anxiety, so now I’ve decided to simplify even further. I’ve stopped (For now? Forever?)  using Facebook. I have read, and I believe, that for people like me who are prone to depression and anxiety, Facebook exacerbates those conditions, and (for me) leads to living an internal life that’s based on what other people are thinking about.

I don’t really want to care what other people are thinking about – at least I don’t want to care on the regular. I want to focus on my own thoughts. I need my own internal landscape to be the most compelling thing for me, instead of constantly distracting my obsessive-prone brain with what everyone else’s outrage or triumph of the day is. People are important, but I am finally buying in to the concept that you can know too much about them without knowing much that’s authentic.

I am still using other sites that don’t feed my compulsion. Tumblr and Instagram seem to be fine. Pretty pictures are good for me, and I don’t have to follow conversations. I can share or not share, I can look or not look, it’s all OK. I’ve stopped reading much news, because it just upsets me and I think it’s mostly bullshit. My RSS feed is OK. Twitter I had stopped checking a long time ago, and aside from auto-posts that go there I don’t see me using it much in the future.

I’ve also adjusted some of my meds, and now with everything all combined (the simplification, the continued simplification and the extended simplification) I am finally starting to see an improvement in my state of mind. Last night on the drive home I was plotting novel concepts, instead of thinking about horrible news, or some imagined insult, or a scathing retort I was going to make to an imbecile. Over the weekend I read most of an entire book. I hope to read more this weekend. I still did watch five episodes of NYPD Blue last night (or at least had them on while I did other things) but that was mostly because my sleep schedule is still erratic and I don’t have a ton of evening energy.

I want my life to be about my life. The only way I know to do that is to have less stuff and fewer of other people’s thoughts in here with me. I want to think my own thoughts, revel in the softness of the cat I am petting, enjoy the flicker of the candle in my living room and let my imagination take my mind to all the magical places it wants to go. I can’t do those things if I have mental clutter.

Anyway, that’s my journey this year. Refocus on my own brain, my own self, the parts of me that are real and unique and worthy of my time. I hope it goes well. I will let you know.

Here's where I weigh in.