Going Shopping: Makeup Edition

Beauty bloggers have been one of the biggest revelations of the internet for me. Before the rise of youtube makeup tutorials, the most detailed tutorial I had witnessed was the episode of Full House where Aunt Becky teaches DJ the art of natural-looking makeup.
Tom Ford Beauty is always a treat to look at.

Tom Ford Beauty is always a treat to look at.

These days, being able to watch makeup tutorials and look at swatch comparisons feels pretty close being in heaven sometimes. For one thing, it’s made online shopping that much easier, as sometimes you can just tell that something will be perfect for you. I also find it calming to watch someone who is clearly experienced at what they do demonstrating makeup techniques, or talking about their favorite products. It all feels very genuine.

However, there are times when testing something in person is necessary. I recently went on a quest for a new foundation and I figured, if I wanted to do it right, I would have to match my shade in person. Shopping can be a hectic experience even at the best of times with crowded stores to overly-enthusiastic sales people. It’s the opposite of the calming makeup tutorial. So, I began my quest with some trepidation.

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How to ‘do you’

It’s the holiday season, which apparently means we’re supposed to run around the stores acting like people possessed, if I’m to believe the non-stop news coverage of Black Friday.  We also had to contend with Cyber Monday this week, as we pulled ourselves out of our post-Thanksgiving depression, induced by obligatory family time and the crushing realization that the year is almost over.  I don’t know about you, but I’m already feeling like an utter failure this season.  My artificial tree is up, but the lights aren’t working, so forget ornaments just yet.  I updated my Amazon Wish List, but it’s only got three things on it now that I don’t even really want.  I’ve started my shopping, but at the rate I’m going I won’t be done until Saint Patrick’s Day.

I don’t have answers to everything, but I do think I’ve cracked the code on ‘how to do you during the holidays.’  Time, money, and energy are a precious commodity, so you have to set boundaries.  Like most people, I am not immune to parental guilt trips, which is why I’ll be spending 7-9 days driving the length of California this Christmas.  Okay, maybe I still have work to do on drawing better boundaries, but I’m finally confident in saying NO to buying gifts and spending money on things that don’t inspire me.

Last night my partner’s step-dad sent us a picture and a link to a turtle tea set that my mother in-law likes or that he wants to buy her (it’s unclear to me which of the two it is).


Kathy Ireland’s Turtle Bay Collection

My immediate reaction was, “Excuse me, I have to call everyone I have ever met.”  Thank you, Cordelia Chase.  My next thought was more practical, how much is this turtle tea set going to set me back?  It turns out that the going rate for this puppy is more than I want to spend.  A younger, more easily influenced Christina, probably would have caved and just bought a teacup and saucer and deeply resented the dent in her checking account.  But the older I get, the more thoughtful I am about how I spend my hard earned money.  At the very least, I need to be excited by what I’m buying as gifts in order for them to have any meaning.  I hope my mother in-law gets her tea set if that’s what she wants, but she won’t be getting it from me.

Over the years I’ve picked out thoughtful things like a leather handbag and wallet when she went into real estate, and Christmas Fiestaware to add to her regular collection of colorful dishes.  This year we’re going the local food and handmade goods route, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I have faith that even if it does take me a little longer to cross everyone off my list, their gifts will be perfect for them and perfectly me.

So, what is on your shopping list and wish list this year?

My Winter Addiction

It’s that time of year again. We’ve set the clocks back, and it’s pitch dark by 5:30 pm, and the days are still getting shorter. By the time 9 pm hits, you feel like you should already be asleep because you’ve been enveloped in darkness for so long. As someone who actually likes winter, and spends a good portion of the summer hiding from the sun, I have to admit that the ever-present darkness around this time of year even gets to me. It’s tough to work up the motivation to do anything except curl up in bed after about 4 pm.

Since it isn’t actually feasible for me to go into hibernation, I’ve found that a good way to combat the darkness is to literally brighten it up. In other words, candles are my winter obsession. After all, at its core, the holiday season is really about bringing some light and warmth to the dark, right?

The onslaught of Christmas and holiday themed candles is already well under-way. Bath and Body Works, always on top of seasonal changes, has had their winter/holiday display out for several weeks now. On the other end of the price spectrum, Diptyque has unveiled their set of holiday candles for the season, and they’re just as stunning as ever. However, my favorite candle fragrance of the moment is something a little less obviously geared toward the holiday theme.

bendels chai

Henri Bendel’s Chai candle is my current addiction. I recently visited New York, and Bendel’s had one of their Chai candles burning in the store. It was the best sales technique – I was sold instantly. There’s no other way to describe it: this candle is like living in a chai tea latte. It’s the absolute embodiment of comfort.

I’ll be honest, Bendel’s candles don’t burn as evenly as I would like. Burning down the last third of the candle can be a messy business sometimes. However, the intensity and projection of the fragrance make up for it, and make this brand worth it for me. Burning one Bendel’s candle at a time is more than enough to leave my apartment smelling great for an evening, and even throughout the next day.

Bendel’s Chai is my obsession at the moment, but it doesn’t matter what particular candle brand or fragrance you prefer. Candles are a relatively simple way to (literally) brighten up an otherwise dreary evening. A great candle or two always make me feel just a tiny bit more cheerful about dragging myself away from the warmth of my comforter. It’s a chic way to bring a touch of festivity to what can otherwise be an overwhelmingly dark time of year.