Yesterday’s Grand Bargain – Beauty Brands Lash Bash

Tarte Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara and Seche Vite polish restore.
Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara and Seche Vite polish restore. Bonus Oogie Boogie in the background, because it’s that time of year. 

This is the last week of the Beauty Brand’s Lash Bash, which is an every-so-often event in which Beauty Brands discounts their premium brand mascaras to $10.99 per, in order to draw you into the shop so you buy more things. It’s when I stock up on my favorite Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay mascara, because it’s normally $20. So I popped in there at lunch to pick up some backups.

While there I perused the clearance section (as you do) and saw that they had Seche Vite polish restore on clearance. My current bottle is at the halfway point, and the 50% off sale was a good bargain (regular price $6.98) so I picked up two bottles. When I checked out, the product rang up at $1.75 per bottle though – 75% off! I went back and picked up two more bottles, since the stuff never goes bad. I won’t run out of polish restore for a long, long time.

Overall spend was around $31 including tax, for about $68 worth of product. I felt most triumphant. Lash Bash lasts until Nov. 1, so go and treat yourself!

So I Threw a Tea Party for a Bunch of Witches

I decided in September that I needed an Event to Plan. Something fun, something I could look forward to and spend time thinking about. That event turned out to be a Witches Tea.*

Design mine, printed on perfectly horrific stationery from Evil Supply Co.

Set on the last Sunday before Halloween, my witches tea consisted of me, my lady friends, awesome witchy costumes, lots of booze and food, and no tea whatsoever. The event, as advertised, was: “friendly to toads, bats, snakes and owls, but is utterly unsafe for men, spiders and children.”

I had the very best time from conceptualizing the event to designing the invitations and sending them out.

Never forget the joy that beautiful correspondence can bring.
Never forget the joy that beautiful correspondence can bring.

Also, I liked the idea of having only my ladies over. Who wants a bunch of men stomping around the house being loud and monopolizing all the conversation? A party with just ladies has a different vibe, one that I very much enjoyed. I also loved getting dressed up just for us, and having fun just for us. Turns out I am a very big fan indeed of ladies-only events.

This party was a very effective tool for me to manage my moods, it gave me something to anticipate, plan and organize around, it kept me busy and brought me great pleasure. It also made me get my house organized, which is a tremendous benefit to knowing you will be having a lot of people over.

The day turned out to be a lovely (if warm) one—it was 80 degrees on October 26th, which I don’t think anyone could have planned for, so it was a bit warm to be swanning around in full-on witchy regalia. But everything turned out wonderfully, all the same. Here are some photos of the event. I wish I had taken more.

This was my one Pinterest inspired food item that was not an abject failure. Not only adorable but tasty – Batty Bites.
Jack-o-Lantern carrots and Reese’s mini witches brooms. Cupcakes from Whisk, which you should definitely try if you’re in the St. Louis area.
My friend Cat made this horrific thing, which turned out way creepier than even she expected.
It did not get LESS creepy as we ate more and more of its brains out.
Early on, my witches formed themselves into natural spell circles.
Louis gets some special witchy bonding time.
This witch placed a pox upon my cattle, rode her broom backward into a rainstorm and smote my tiny dog.
These witches gain their power from sunbeams.
What witch party could possibly be complete without an apple-dipping station?
First post-setup, pre-party cocktail for a very tired and happy witch.
Witchy feet up before the first guests arrive and the madness begins.
Stairwells are excellent for decorating.
Another shot of the table so you can see my awesome tiny pumpkin.
Another shot of the table so you can see my awesome tiny pumpkin.

Everything was lovely. Not pictured: mummy hot dogs, deviled egg eyeballs, pies, cookies and cocktails galore.

Lovely and terrifying.
Lovely and terrifying.

I also took a formal portrait of all of us witches together posing on my front stairs, and made it all old-timey, but I am keeping that one private.

Things I’d change:

  • Well, the weather. But I’d need an advanced spell for that. It could have been cooler, I was worried about the house being warm.
  • More lawn furniture. It would have been nicer if people could have sat on the back patio. Sadly I have not yet invested in patio furniture, so maybe that’s a thing for next year.
  • Less Pinterest – I only stressed myself out with some of these failed Pinterest things, when the store is full of lovely foods to buy.
  • Move the apple dipping station somewhere more centrally located, so people would have eaten more. I think having it in the corner of the counter wasn’t the best place.
  • Take more pictures. I didn’t get pictures of the fun drinks or the lovely sangria I made.

Recipes that actually worked:

Recipes that failed:

  • Phyllo Witch Brooms – No, screw these things. My phyllo wouldn’t stick together at all (I tried brushing with butter AND then I soaked it in water. That was the dryest phyllo ever.) also at that temperature they burned in the oven within 10 minutes.
  • Witchy Fingers – don’t use pre-made dough with these. They turn into puddles.

I hope you had fun seeing all my witchy planning processes and how they turned out. I am strongly leaning toward throwing this party again next year, but I have to get over this one first, before I decide.

*Witches Tea. Not “Witches’ Tea” plural possessive. A tea with witches, not a tea belonging to multiple witches.  I debated on that one, but for logic’s sake and for design’s sake there is no apostrophe after the “s” in Witches.

Timely Manor in October

October always will be the best of all possible months. The weather has been glorious, the colors beautiful. The trees look like they’re spreading multicolored gifts on the street every time the wind blows.  St. Louis could not be more lovely. The light at this time of year makes everything look magical, dust motes dance on wind gusts, it’s the only season in which I feel really truly alive and as if I am in the right place.

This is my favorite time of year inside the house, as well. Decorating for Halloween is one of my most favorite things to do  (I usually start shopping in August, and sometimes start decorating then too.) This year I am getting ready for am upcoming party at my place, so decorating has been even more fun than usual.

Here are a few snapshots of life around Timely Manor in the season of Halloween:

The madness begins!
It begins…
Paper Halloween straws with bats and Jack o’Lanterns.
From a set of Halloween ornaments I ordered from zulilly.
From a set of Halloween ornaments I ordered from zulilly.
Trick or Treat sign found at a thrift shop, holiday placemats and candles from TJ Maxx.
LED candle, witch hats, webs. Hanging “Bones” sign from World Market a few years ago, if I remember correctly.
I have been coveting these Pottery Barn caged raven lights for years, and I finally got them on sale! Yippee!
Timely Manor, in all her stately night-time glory (the cats in the windows are cut outs that my mom used in her windows when I was a wee lass. They’re some of my favorite childhood possessions.)
The lights from inside. So spooky! Wrapped around the concrete planters my mom helped me put out this spring.
The lights from inside. So spooky! Wrapped around the concrete planters my mom helped me put out this spring.
The steps with mums in daylight.
The steps, with mums, in daylight.
Bat-house cloche has got to be my favorite Target buy this year, the Beware sign was $2.49 or something ridiculous in the Halloween aisle of a local Walgreens. The Halloween tree I’ve had for years (it’s out year-round.)
Another year-round item. Specimen cage from Pottery Barn, with air plants and moss. Raven to quoth at me from time to time.
Another year-round item. Specimen cage from Pottery Barn, with air plants and moss. Raven to quoth at me from time to time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos. I’ve certainly been enjoying my home. Good luck in your own decorating adventures, if I take any more photos around the party time I will share.

Take care, be happy, may it always be autumn and never winter.

What’s Missing

When your brother dies it’s like… it’s like you had this huge bag full of goodies. A big bag, bursting with Christmas presents and birthday cake and jokes and hugs and love and pizza and road trips and old stories. Because that’s what people are to us, right? Living, breathing unpredictable sources of entertainment and connection and (hopefully) joy.  The bag for a brother is also full of petty squabbles and boring sibling rivalry past and future. It’s got a shared understanding of your parents’ weirdness. But mostly it’s a huge bag of all the things you love and count on and think of as part of you. It’s there, it’s one of your possessions. It always has been, it always will be, yours. You don’t even think about it, you can shove it in the back of a closet for weeks or months or however long, because it’s so firmly in your possession you know you will never let it go.

But then suddenly it disappears. And you keep reaching for it. When you need a joke or a hug or when it’s a holiday. When you need advice or to remember the details of that one story – you reach for it but the bag is gone. The contents are gone. There’s a big space, and that space used to hold all your certainty, and all your understanding of the future, and now the space is empty. All the promise, gone. All the laughs-to-come, gone. The pizza parties, the Christmas trees we were meant to decorate together, gone. He’s gone, his life is gone, his future is gone.

It hits me at the strangest times. I saw a baseball shaped bookend, he would have liked that. The other night at a show a man said he was grateful for many things, including that he didn’t have cancer. I couldn’t stop crying for half an hour.

And I don’t know that I am that fragile, you know? I think I am doing well. But the weirdest things sock you in the jaw, right from nowhere. From the space where that bag used to be, I guess, from that great gaping emptiness that lives in the place where I stored the files labeled “brother.”

Let Me Know If You Need to Talk

When you go through a tragic event, everyone says to let them know if you need to talk. But no one actually wants to talk. I see it in the faces of people I try to explain my feelings to—and I get it. It’s really hard to know what to do in the  presence of that kind of pain.

Who would want to share in the unmitigated hopelessness of the bereaved? And even if they did for some reason want to hear about it, who could ever understand? I can’t even understand my mom’s pain, nor she mine – so how could someone wholly disconnected from us even pretend to?

Who could grasp how I want to crack open my skull and carve my brain out with an ice cream scoop and fling it against the wall – just to stop the thoughts it is producing? What help would it be for someone to hear that? Can they say anything to change what’s happened? Can they offer any hope? No, there isn’t any. What has happened is done, and I have to learn to live with it.

This horrible crawling in my brain, the reminder that things are bad and will stay that way forever, death is final, those are things that time will temper, but the sad facts will never change.

So I don’t think I will tell anyone to let me know if they need to talk, ever again. Those words, like “I’m so sorry.” are empty and meaningless. Well intentioned I know, but hollow and trite all the same.

There is just nothing, nothing that helps. Nothing that makes the truth fade away, nothing to make it better or less wrong and twisted. The world is all garbled, I do not like it here, and I have no power to change it. So I will sit here with it, I guess, and no, I don’t need to talk.

“Again we fail to make amends
And wend our way between intents
And looking back, not moving on
Oh but something’s always wrong.”

MAC Rocky Horror Collection – Sin Lipstick

Sin and Vino
Sin and Vino from the MAC Rocky Horror collection. $17.50 and $16, respectively.

I just had to have something from the Rocky Horror collection, just because. I had zero need of additional red lipsticks, but I wanted one. I really wanted to get Frank N Furter, which seemed the most wearable red to me, but the roll-out of these online was really screwed up. First I heard they would be available on the 29th of September, then Oct 2. They never went up on the 29th, but then I got an email that they were available on the 30th. I went to buy Frank N Furter, but it was listed as “Coming Soon” when all the other three colors were available. What? So then I had a quandary. Buy another color? Wait for Frank N Furter to go on sale? Wait and buy both at once? I was at work (like, you know, people ARE at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday) so I couldn’t just sit and refresh the site until the lipstick was available (was this a programming error? If so, fire everyone.)

I am glad I went ahead and bought Sin, because by the time I checked back in an hour or so, Frank N Furter had not only become magically available but had also sold out. As had all the other colors. Oh MAC. Get it together.

Since I didn’t think I had a good liner for Sin, I bought “Rocky Horror Lip Pencil” which is a re-promote of the permanent color Vino. I was on the fence about it, but it said Limited-edition M•A•C Rocky Horror packaging so I decided to go for it.

See? Limited-edition M•A•C Rocky Horror packaging it says.
See? Limited-edition M•A•C Rocky Horror packaging it says.

You can always buy the regular Vino, and the products are listed on the site as two separate items.

Vino or Rocky Horror Lip Pencil
Vino or Rocky Horror Lip Pencil

You can see which one I ordered:

Clearly I got the Rocky Horror one, if it actually exists.
Clearly I got the Rocky Horror one, if it actually exists.

And yet, there IS no special packaging, this stuff is just plain MAC packaging. You can see it in the photo at the top of the page, it’s plain as can be. That kind of thing pisses me off.

Ugh. Now I don’t know if I want to bother contacting them to complain or what. Anyway, on with the review.

The lipstick is nice, if you like MAC mattes, which can be dry and/or patchy. Exfoliate, moisturize, line well, it’s not a low-maintenance look by any means.

What I do like about it is that you can apply it in a less-intense way, with a lip brush, or in a super intense way from the tube, and both looks are still very opaque.

Top is with lip brush, bottom is with two layers, one from the tube.
Top is with lip brush, bottom is with two layers, one from the tube.

I didn’t need it, I like it OK, but the whole experience for me is very much soured by their misleading copy about the packaging. So 3 stars out of 5, am irritated.

Edited to add: I emailed their customer service, we will see what they say.

Edited again to add more: This was the answer I got from MAC

We are happy to provide you with the requested information regarding the Limited Edition Rocky Horror Lip Pencil in Vino. The outer packaging for this product is not different from the regular product, however, the pencil itself is actually a shinier black. The regular Lip Pencil is much more matte. We regret any confusion caused. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

I think I am going to send it back, just because I am cheesed off. The Sin lipstick is really growing on me though, I am wearing it with a heavy coat of Fresh Sugar lip balm under, so it’s not so dry.

The Nothing

Photo by Kilian Schönberger

It’s a beautiful night, really. The temperature is too hot for late September, so the light doesn’t match the atmosphere. It’s dark at seven but still eighty degrees. Other than being cheated of earlier-onset socks and sweater weather, there’s not much about which to complain. It’s disorienting though, the beautiful fall light, which should accompany chilled and dark breezes, winter winds blowing in a warning— but the air is hot and still and saturated with mosquitoes.

It adds to the overall feeling of strangeness, of time lost, of a life off kilter. It reminds me that things are just as wrong as they seem. Why shouldn’t the light match a different season, and why shouldn’t I be scratching  my ankles deep into October? The world is changed, and these are the signs to keep me from forgetting.

Thing is, I don’t believe in signs. So I know my head and all its ideas are bullshit. I know my brain is seeking patterns to make sense of a flood of information it has yet to decide how to handle. On top of feeling angry at myself for this continued sadness, now I am also angry with myself for trying to fight a way out of it. There’s nothing my brain can do to please me, because I know my brain is doing what grieving people do and I don’t want to be one of them.

I keep telling people I am glad they don’t understand. The compassionate part of me probably is glad. The other part of me, the low, cruel part, hates them for not understanding. That part leaps up with vicious joy when someone reports bad news. Anything from a flat tire to a dying pet. GOOD I think. NOW YOU KNOW. YOU HAPPY PEOPLE. Serves you right for having a life that went on when mine ended.

I stamp that part of me down quickly, that’s the part of me I can’t afford to feed. But she’s down there, no matter if I try to starve her, she’s down there sucking sustenance from your pain. You need to know how it feels, she thinks, and she sneers at all your happiness and joy, all your apple-picking and days with family and last of the summer sunshine snapshots. Your birthdays and milestones and oh-so-adorable photos of children whom the world has yet to touch with rough hands.

You’re worthy of only her contempt, and she knows your comeuppance is near at hand. She lives in me, with the sad girl, and the strong girl, and the capable girl. She lives down there with the girl who wants to rest, and the one who wishes she could laugh, and the one who just wishes things could please go back to normal. All of them in there, jockeying for space – is it any wonder the me that houses them can’t sleep? It’s loud. And I prefer quiet.