Friday, August 19, 2005

Skin schizoid.

And the saga of my skin continues.

I've always had oily skin. But since moving here, my skin has kind of dried out, and this last week it's gone completely nuts. I've broken out AND my skin has just dried out. I spent twenty minutes in front of the mirror today trying to deal with the fact that I had a pimple next to my mouth AND the skin around it was flaking off. I figured that now was not the time to be slathering on toners and my blue herbal moisterizer. So I ended up making a trip to the Kiehls counter. Yet again.

I discussed my problem with the girl behind the counter and she recommended the Ultra Facial Moisterizer SPF 15 which I think will be good for winter, since I'm sick of layer an SPF overtop of my original moisterizer. I had a supersample of the Ultra Facial Moisterizer without SPF awhile ago, and if I recall correctly, it was fairly nice. Not as matte as the Blue Herbal, but not terrible, either.

She also recommended the Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub which I had been eyeing the last time I was there, but I was given a sample of their (godawful) Milk, Honey, and Almond Scrub. I wanted to use this right away, but I'm about to go out (thankfully to a bar with very dark lighting so I won't be fretting over my skin's schizophrenia) and I was worried about putting make up over top of freshly exfoiliated skin. I'll report back on this later.

I also finally used my Crabtree and Evelyn La Source Peel-Off Revitalising Mask and it was a piece of shit. Perhaps if I had someone else giving it to me, it would have been fine, but it was a disaster. You get a powder, which you then mix with water, and then you slather it onto your face to a recommended thickness of 1/4 of an inch. I don't know exactly who's face this was made for, but I am 5'10 with a massive head (really, it's huge. I have to buy men's hats) and I still had half the product left over by the time I finished.

You're then supposed to just "lie back (face up) and relax" (the face up part really irritated me. Exactly how stupid do the people at this company think we are?) for 15 minutes to let it dry. But I had to clean out the bowl I mixed this crap in first, so I was doing that, as this horrible stuff dribbled down my face, and I looked in the mirror before finally just giving up and lying down, and I looked like the Loch Ness monster. It would have been kind of comical if I wasn't just so stressed out and pissed off by this product.

Then when I was peeling it off, it didn't even have that familiar "peel" feeling that you should be getting from peel off products. It was more like peeling... rubber off my face. It didn't seem to actually be yanking anything out of my pores, and maybe I'm just weird, but if a peel-off facial doesn't hurt even the tiniest bit, I just don't feel like it's working. It didn't really leave any noticeable difference on my face, and it was hell trying to wash off the thin, dried bits around my eyes and hairline.

Overall, I give it a super huge thumbs down. It just wasn't worth the effort, and didn't even seem to DO anything. I was really disappointed, especially since I actually really like the La Source Deep Cleansing China Clay Mask.

Anyway, regarding the whole oily skin thing I mentioned above, the friend I'm going out with just arrived and listened to me air my grievances about this, and she suggested that my skin is starting to adapt to Calgary weather. Toronto is right on Lake Ontario, so it's humid all the time, whereas Calgary is in the sub-desert and is much windier than Toronto. So now I'm just completely confused as to what to do with my skin. Stop putting so much crap on it, I guess.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Top ten summer scents

A sort of meme that I discovered from Lipstick is My Crack.

Top ten summer fragrances, in no real particular order:

Crabtree and Evelyn Rosewater Eau Fraiche
This is also a fragrance that I tend to put on in the winter when I'm dreaming of drinks in a garden and sitting out on the balconey watching a sunset. It's hard to find a rose scent that doesn't smell like Great Aunt Edna, so I'm really impressed with this one. I'm not always a fan of C&E, and I find that lately they've been doing a lot of weird things with the company policies (hand massages? Um... please don't touch me. I have nothing against you. Just don't touch me), but I'll risk it in order to get this stuff. It's gorgeous and delicate and ever so feminine.

L'Occitane Magnolia Eau de Val
I am a big fan of the Victorian-style single flower perfumes. I especially love L'Occitane's version of Magnolia because it's very fresh and modern without losing its history. It has an almost watery smell to it that just makes it perfect to mist on when it's a hot, dusty day in the city (which this city has definitely not been having on a regular basis this summer).

Fruits and Passion Lemon-Vanilla Eau de fruits
I am not normally a fan of fruity smelling perfumes. They bring me back to the days of junior high and satsuma bath gel and body oil (ah... satsuma. You have ruined so many scents for me). However, this one fades quite nicely to a sort of intriguing warm scent that is very sweet and tropical without being overpowering. It's a bit dishwashing liquid-y when you first put it on, but after five minutes it just becomes heavenly.

Patyka Hesperide
This is one of those scents that segues perfectly from summer into fall. In the summer, the lime notes really open up the fragrance and make it sparkle, in the fall the heavier base notes sort of take over. This scent reminds me of campfires on the beach and limeonade.

The Body Shop Pink Pepper Eau de Parfum
Once I graduated from high school I rarely if ever set foot into a Body Shop. I find that most of their scents have this weird waxy quality to them, where no matter what I put on, it always just smells like The Body Shop. However, a friend gave me a gift certificate there, and so I ended up going in and wandering around for awhile before finding the pink pepper. It's such a lovely, distinctive fragrance, and while it does have that weird Body Shop scent when you first put it on, it fades to a nice, bright sort of scent. It's very pretty and is oddly one of the few perfumes I wear that I constantly get complimented on.

Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin
This is a beautiful scent, there's no other way to describe it. The description mentions Carribean beaches, and that's exactly what it reminds me of. I wore this on the first vacation I ever took with my boyfriend (we went to Cuba) and it makes me think of sitting in La Bodeguita del Medio with a copy of The Old Man and the Sea in my purse. While I'm sure that he probably smelled like leather and sweat, this is a scent that makes me think of Ernest Hemingway every time I spritz it on.

Fresh Violet Moss
I am a sucker for anything with violet in it. I think it's such a gorgeous, delicate fragrance, and it seems to be one that's really fallen out of favour with a lot of companies lately. Which is why I'm completely addicted to the version by Fresh. For one, violet isn't used as a top note and it's really given a place to shine. This is a fresh, crisp fragrance. It's like a yellow cotton sundress in a bottle.

Demeter Pick-Me-Up Spray in Pomegranate
Demeter fragrances are all summery in their own way. They're very young, and fresh, and very, very distinctive. I'm fond of the pomegranate scent, although Gin & Tonic is another favourite as well. Although I'm aware that pomegranates are more a winter sort of fruit, I've latley become accustomed to the pom-tinis a friend makes, and the scent has become one of my favourites of the summer.

Bvlgari Omnia
I'll admit, the only reason I first picked this up was because I liked the bottle. But I sprayed it on, wandered around the store for a few moments, and then went back immediately with some sort of paranoid notion that they would be sold out already. Because it was THAT good. I don't know if this really counts as a summer fragrance. I've been wearing it this summer, but it's been raining and miserable all summer, so more likely this is a fall-winter fragrance, but if you happen to live in a miserable schizophrenic climate like I do, you could do worse than spritzing this on and then surruptitiously smelling your wrist all day.

The first cologne ever (and the origin of the word cologne) and the first cologne I ever bought in my post-Body Shop days. This fragrance is light and crisp with a sweet lingering scent of lemon drops and summer. This is probably one of the fragrances I wear the most, even though I have issues with fragrances I have to dab on rather than spray on. It's light, non-offensive, and when you're wearing it, you're wearing a piece of history. How many people can say that they wear the same cologne as Napoleon Bonaparte? People who wear 4711, that's who.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hot Springs Heaven

The problem with a blog is that it's far too easy to just say "eh... I'll write in it tomorrow." Especially since I've been having a severe drought of any real discoveries or obsessions lately. I've been working my ass of, both in literal work, and I've finally started going to the gym several times a week. So, yay!

Calgary has been absolutely miserable for the last few days. It's raining constantly, the heater was on when I woke up this morning, and it's been hovering over zero for the last few days. In August. This is unacceptable.

So I've been dreaming of hot springs. Growing up in the east, as I did, most of my encounters with western Canada came in the form of hot springs. Radium Hot Springs in Banff, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Nakusp Hot Springs, I have spent a lot of my childhood in hot springs. So I always assumed that hot springs were just a given in western Canada, possibly because of that Rudyard Kipling quote about Alberta having all hell for a basement (sadly, I was in university before I figured out that he meant oil and not hot springs). And since then, whenever I have been out west, I've made a point of hot springing it. Except now that I live here, it would be a little weird to live my life in a hot spring.

My point simply is that it's been completely miserable, and I want to go hot springing.

However, I have grown out of being content to swim around in a sterile, cement-bottomed pool. If I wanted that, I could go sit in the hot tub at the YMCA and watch small children throw inner tubes at each other. In the last 5 years of my life I've become obsessed with finding the perfect natural hot spring.

It started with Ainsworth Hot Springs. Admittedly, it's half sterile, soulless pool, but the cave makes it all worth it. It's like taking a steam bath in the Mezazoic period. This is the type of place I would recommend if you're a bit squeamish about camping and you don't care for bugs, or if you want to get a massage after the pool. This is a great romantic getaway sort of hot springs. It's got everything you could want, except a lack of other humans.

My current favourite is Hot Springs Cove. It's difficult to get to, and it's not exactly surrounded by 5 star hotels, but that's its charm. This is the type of place that, if you plan your arrival carefully, you can pretend that you're the only person on earth. In university, we used to have long drunken conversations about what we'd like to be doing when the world ended, and I'd still like to be floating in one of these pools, completely content in my choice of locale for the apocalypse. Yes, I'm weird. But it's a great hot spring.

While I'm still out on the west coast, I'll mention Hotsprings Island. I've only been here on a package tour, but it's become my new holy grail, the type of place where I just want to retreat to for a few weeks and just chill out. It seems like an excellent place to actually get in touch with your thoughts.

If you plan your trip just after the snow melts, or just before it falls, or you have a particularly good set of winter tires and a head full of batshirt craziness, you can try the Liard Hot Springs. I would recommend that you either bring a battery-operated boombox or a tamborine or something to make noise, since I've bene up that highway a few times, and it's not uncommon to see bears grazing at the side of the road (and even less uncommon to see stupid, stupid people getting out of their cars to take photographs of them). This place is amazing, though. If, for some reason, you are driving to Alaska, you have to stop and see it. In October, it is truly a wonder of the world.

I've also found this list which has a fairly in depth list of hot springs in the Kootenays. Other than St. Leon, I've never been to any of them, but I guess that's given me an idea for a road trip this year. Awesome.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Trying to cover of the smell of death

My boyfriend came home yesterday with a box of Cuban cigars which he showed to me like he had dug up treasure. I was less than impressed.

"Those things smell like ass."

"But they're really, really good! Do you want one?"


"But they're good."

"You're smoking those on the balconey."

"But it's cold out!" For the record, it was like 25 degrees. It was just windy.

"You're smoking those on the balconey. And you'd better hope there's mouthwash in the bathroom, or else you're sleeping on the chesterfield."

He pouted, but eventually called one his friends who lives on the fifth floor and they sat out on the balconey with their horrible cigars and smoked them. "Kelly," he yelped, sticking his head into the door.

I was sitting on the chesterfield watching Canadian Idol (judge me if you must, but that show is awesome. Awesome to the point where I no longer want to stick Ben Mulroney's head in a blender) and I looked up at him, scowling as the smoke wafted into our apartment. "What?"

"Can you get us some scotch?"




So he then came into the apartment carrying the foul thing in his hand and proceeded to get the scotch and glasses. To his credit he wasn't smoking it, but he still carried it through the living room and kitchen. I didn't say anything, because I knew he wasn't trying to be cruel or get his vengeance on me, he's just a little dim sometimes. I opened all the windows, but the scent was still lingering when I went to bed. I misted the entire apartment with L'Occitane's Green Tea Eau de Bienvenue (Green Tea's Eau de Welcome, by the way, is a stupid name). I could still smell it this morning so when I went for a walk to get a cappucino, I decided to go to the Starbucks in Bankers Hall so I could make a stop in at Crabtree and Evelyn. My taste for Crabtree and Evelyn has waned lately, but they'd had some interesting new home fragrance products last time I was in. Naturally, those fragrances were limited edition, but I did pick up Evelyn Rose room spray. It's really lovely. I am a big fan of roses, but not so much a fan of rose perfumes, since they tend to smell stodgy. This one is really beautiful, though. It's light, and airy, and adds a feminine touch to the room.

I misted it around, and am currently enjoying the scent of an apartment that doesn't smell like a burning diaper. In fact, I'm liking this stuff so much that it might replace L'Occitane as my room spray of choice.

As I was misting it, though, I wondered if by trying to eliminate the lingering scent of cigar, I was just trading one cancer for another.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I hate Kitson

I don't get Kitson. Everyone I know who goes to LA comes back gushing that I have to go to Kitson because I will love it and I will come back with half the store. Every time I think that Kitson has undergone some sort of stylistic revolution in the last few months, and then I log onto the website and wonder if my friends think I've had massive head trauma or something. I've never seen a store so expensive where everything looks so cheap. Browsing through this site feels like wandering through Claire's or Ardenes, or some other store aimed exclusively at 12-year-olds. Maybe I'm just getting old.

I ended up at the Kitson website again today. Other than the skincare, I has a really hard time finding things that I liked. Most of the time I was just recoiling from the screen, making a face that I would have been ashamed of had anyone been there to see it.

Okay, there were a few things that I sort of liked, this Curious George sweater, for example. But $325 USD is far too much to pay for something with Curious George on it, and would it have killed the model to put on a bra? I find the presentation is a big reason of why I can't stand Kitson. I don't want to see dry, ashy hands or nipple-itis while I'm shopping. It doesn't take a genius to realize that building a brand depends a lot on selling an image and a fantasy, and very few people aspire to dishpan hands and ogling from men in manpris.

Otherwise, I just found most of the site about as repulsive as its layout. These Chick by Nicky Hilton sweatpants, for instance. Sweatpants? They are not couture, bitches. They are not fashion. They are for wearing at the gym and sleeping in, although I even find sleeping in sweatpants depressing (sweatpants are a depressing thing for me, I don't know why). Also, they make the model look like a wide load. I don't want to know what they'd look like on a regular human being.

I hate these roadkill shoes and I'll hate them even more when I start seeing Eva Longoria wearing them everywhere. They look like the Deliverance equivalent of Uggs, like they were constructed out of squirrels and opossums scraped off an Appalachian rural route. I can't imagine the logic behind the group of marketers who allowed those to see the light of day.

I am normally a fan of statement-making jewelry, but even I can't get behind this necklace. It appears to be so heavy that it's making the model's chest sag (okay, so, really it's not. Buy a bra, Kitson people!). I keep expecting it to just keep growing and growing until the model is tangled up inside it like vines in the rainforest.

The more I look, the worse it gets. Like these mink sleep masks. I'm not a fan of using the skins of animals that aren't common food animals. Anyone stupid enough to spend $195 to put mink on their face (as an aside: WHY? I have creams on when I go to sleep. The last thing I need is my sleep mask shedding onto my cheeks so that I wake up covered in fuzz, or picking fur out of my contacts all day) should have to eat mink stew for the next three weeks. It's the circle of life.

Having seen this store, I completely understand how Hollywood manages to provide Go Fug Yourself with such ample ammunition.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

...yes, appearances ARE everything

I have been having a lousy day where little things that could go wrong, did. I got stuck in traffic because a U-Haul broke down, I got lost trying to find my new dermatologist, I had to wait for an hour and a half for my appointment anyway, I appear to have lost one of my brand new bras, I dropped a pile of paper and now all my work is completely out of order, and my boyfriend is out of town so I'll have to dig through my closet for my plush pug, Herman, to cuddle away my woes. Ah, August. Why do you torment us so? We should be all lying on the beach, sipping fruity-rummy beverages with umbrellas, and letting the world move by. Maybe Green Day wants to sleep through September, but August is and always will be the cruellest, most stagnant month. A month that is too hot to shop for fall clothes, but too late to care about summer ones. Damn you, Auguest.

Originally I thought that I could cure my woes by admiring the simplicity and sauciness of this skirt, but then I realized that I've been spending more time with my beer than I have been with my treadmill. It's making the size 0 model look like she has a gut. It would make me look like Homer Simpson.

I then read this Daniel Akst article that I found via Jack and Hill and it depressed me more. I think I agree with it, but I'm not sure. Mostly because I think that most attractiveness is in the attitude of a person, and quite frankly, I don't think I've ever met a person who's primary attire is sweatpants and who hasn't repulsed me. It's not so much the idea that a person has to aspire to some twiggy or pre-set standard of beauty, nor do they have to spend thousands of dollars. Putting the effort into your appearance just gives you that extra oomph that you need. Taking care of yourself equals taking pride in yourself, and that itself is what projects that attractiveness.

I'm not arguing that looks are completely unimportant, because superficially they are the first thing that draws a person to us. In a photograph, that might be the only indicator of attractiveness, but there are still things like eye contact, posture, and facial expression to consider. A scowling beauty might not photograph as nicely as a smiling average woman.

I just think there are too many variables to empirically measure attractiveness. And attractive is such an arbitrary word. I don't find men that I'm "supposed" to find attractive actually attractive. I think Paul Walker is duller than an interview with Nicole Richie, but I'm intrigued by the caginess of Paulo Costanzo's features. If that makes sense.

Okay, I just sort of launched myself into this argument without thinking it through first, and what I'm trying to say is that appearances matter, but your attitude shines through in your appearance. If you take the time to put on mascara, and put on a nice outfit, the time to accessorize, and maybe spritz on a little cologne, you're just going to feel better about yourself, and that is going to show. If you roll out of bed and throw a hoodie over top of your pajamas (yeah, what's up with that? I see high school girls doing that all the time and it weirds me out. When I was in high school, even on days when I had five minutes to catch the bus I still managed to put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Hoodies are the enemy, girls. They swallow your torso and make you into a big, amorphous blob. Just say no) not only do you look like you have poor hygene practises, you're going to go through the day reflecting to people the fact that you just don't care about your appearance. And that in turn lowers your attractiveness.

I'm not suggesting that we have to go back to top hats and stockings and garters. All I'm suggesting is that maybe we all take the time to look like we give a damn about ourselves. Say what you want about not conforming to society's standards, taking the time to look good shows that you also take the time to feel good.

Yes. I'm done with this lameass rant. I'm going to go find Herman, now.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Wedding bells

I spent the weekend at my boyfriend's cousin's wedding. I've come to the conclusion that if the time comes, I can easily marry into this family. We arrived at 11:00 in the morning on Saturday and went to the pre-wedding reception at the groom's parents' house and the first thing people did was put a beer in my hand and then kiss me hello.

It's kind of funny, I was wearing a knee-length seersucker skirt, a red tank, red pumps, and a white cropped blazer (waist-length cropped, not, like, degenerate cropped), and I was really worried about the kosher-ness of wearing white to a wedding, even if it was in the afternoon. I was futzing with it in the hotel room before we got to the pre-reception and my boyfriend just rolled his eyes and put on his own blazer before mumbling about the heat and asking if it would be okay if he just wore his tie with a short-sleeved button up shirt.

"Sure," I said. "Why don't I get you some horn-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector?"

He stared at my for several seconds. "Uh... why?"

"Because you'll look like you work for NASA."

He laughed in that way where I know he wants me to think that he thinks I'm clever, but really he doesn't. He wore the blazer, though.

I don't know why I worried, though. I have an upbringing of attending Easter and Christmas services at the United Church, this was the first Catholic ceremony I have ever attended and I was incredibly nervous about what I was wearing. Turns out I shouldn't have worried. There were flip flops paired with ridiculous boho skirts (seriously, the madness needs to stop), polo shirts, I think I saw denim. It was very surreal standing outside after the church and seeing the bride in a little sea of white tulle and sequins and the groom in his tuxedo, and their parents all very formally dressed standing with a bunch of people who kind of looked like they were going to a picnic.

That said, even though I was being internally snarky at the beginning of the night, I eventually met most of the people in the clothing I disliked, and 95% of them were awesome. Between this blog and the fact that my closest friend in Calgary is a fashion buyer, I sometimes forget that clothes don't necessarily make the person. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop making fun of tragic ensembles, however. Or that I won't sometimes want to be friends with people who put their clothing together beautifully. I don't know what I'm saying, because as I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend's family drinks a lot. Right now I'm just thinking about putting on a hydrating mask (yay! Dry, disgusting, flakey hangover skin! Awesome.) and then napping on the couch while watching The Newsroom on DVD.

Also, I don't know what the DJ was smoking, but at one point, he put The Pussycat Dolls 'Don't Cha' (or however it's spelled. I have very little patience for people who purposely mangle the English language) and all the adults exchanged startled glances and reached for their drinks. There are certain songs that just seem wedding-inappropriate and 'Don't Cha' is one of them (Leonard Cohen's 'Everybody Knows' seems like a good second choice. As does The Police's 'Every Breath You Take' even though I know two misguided people who chose that as their wedding songs). I did get a laugh, however, when my boyfriend's 19-year-old brother said, "sure, if I wanted crabs." Which, again, a lot of drinking. Not as funny to you guys.

What do you consider proper wedding attire?