actually cheap summer makeup solutions

It's summer. Makeup melts off your face (especially with 100+ temps and humidity). Magazines have all sorts of tips and products you can use to prevent that from happening, but they're usually absurdly expensive.

So here's what I've found that's dirt cheap and will still do the job.


You should have a facial primer. Even if you don't wear any makeup over it, it still fills in pores and keeps your face from getting as shiny. And if you do put makeup over it, it'll stay longer and you'll have to use less of it to get good coverage. I resisted it for a long time because of the annoyance of an extra step, but especially in the summer, it's definitely worth it.

The problem is, even the drugstore brands are at least 10-12 bucks. Rimmel has one for about $7, but it's got a tint to it, and it only comes in one orangey color.

Solution: Claudia Stevens primer. It's five bucks at Sally Beauty Supply. It's not quite as nice a consistency as Smashbox's or Mac's primers, but it does the job.

Eyeshadow Primer

Again, I resisted for the same reasons: cost, extra step. And then I realized it's pointless to spend time putting on eyeshadow to have it disappear after an hour or two.

e.l.f. (available at Target) makes one for a dollar. And it works better than Smashbox (generally the upper level competition, though it's slightly less of a cult favorite Urban Decay's Primer Potion, which I've never tried. Both of those run about 20 bucks). Last night I put e.l.f.'s primer under black shadow, and it still had not budged after 5 straight hours of dancing - the last two at El Parador for salsa, when I (and everyone else) was sweating by the bucketful.

To sum up: good stuff. For a fucking dollar.

Oil Blotter Sheets

Again, e.l.f. For a dollar. You can normally get some for about five bucks or as much as twenty, but these seem to work quite well. I was especially impressed that it continues to keep your skin more matte afterward, as if you'd used a particularly effective powder.

Gel Eyeliner

Wins awards for staying put even after I washed my face. You could wear it in the pool and it wouldn't move. The Ulta website lists it as $9, but I got the smoke shade for $2 bucks the other day - I think they're switching out the packaging, so all the Ulta brand stuff is on clearance.

You do need an eyeshadow brush, but those are pretty easy to find for not much (I use Avon's, which was $3).

Benefit Feeling Cheeky Minis

Again, a cult favorite. But the full sized versions are $28 a piece, which is way too much of an experiment for my teacher budget. I've been using these travel-sized versions all summer, though, and they still haven't run out. The trio is exclusively at Sephora, and it's only $15. Put on one of the tints after your primer and base but before powder, and you get a really nice, natural glow. It lasts all day, and the colors are both perfect. They don't look makeup-y at all.

As lip tints, they're also really nice - they go on smoothly, and don't pool color in some areas more than others. Again, really natural looking, and they don't melt off your face like gloss and lipstick do in the heat. They seem to moisturize somehow, too. I still don't know if I'll put down $28 for the full size, but for $15, totally worth it. I get way more compliments on how I look when I'm wearing them.

Eye Gel

I started using an eye cream a few months ago, but in the heat and humidity, it was too much. Olay's Revitalizing eye gel is ten bucks (you never find any sort of eye cream for ten bucks), and protects your skin without feeling heavy or greasy in the heat (or making your eye makeup run).

Let me know if you have any other cheap, effective products, or if you try these and they work for you~


things I like this week, vol. 13

A Buddhist story about strawberries and desire.

. . .

A trio of images from Susie Bubble:
This one . . .

. . . this one (with bonus punny title) . . .

. . . and this one.

. . .

Ulta nail polish in Smoke Screen - same color as the monsoon clouds. (It's slightly more purple than this picture, depending on the light.)

. . .

Rumored to be an aphrodisiac, and delicious besides. The big bottles are available at Trader Joe's for 8.99.

. . .

I love how she moves her feet.

. . .

oh yes . . . and Spotify.


a visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Ah, the long awaited post (so long that I'm sure that anyone who cared has forgotten). When I visited my sister in Virginia, she told me I had to stop and see the Picasso exhibit at the VMFA. Tickets were completely sold out, though, so I just wandered around the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Fabergé exhibits instead.

I basically took pictures of everything I want for myself.

First stop: Nouveau-era belt buckles. Apparently these were big back then - they had hundreds. These were my favorites. (I took pictures of all of the placards, too, so if you want specific info about something, comment and I'll post it.)

Detail of the foot of the bed.

Such a pretty writing desk.

Tiara. Want.

Sarah Bernhardt's Self-Portrait as a Sphinx. It's also an inkwell. She was a freaking sculptor, too.

Tiffany Glass punch bowl. It was shown at the World's Fair in 1900.

I don't sneak pictures of lonely old men in public places, or anything. I was really taking a picture of that awesome stained glass window in the background.

Detail of the stained glass.

Squash lamp!

A different lonely old man in a public place.

Venus and Love carved into an elephant tusk.

Art Deco bracelet.


A huge statue of a swan in a fight with a serpent.

It doesn't translate in pictures, but these eggs were incredible.

The one on the right is a fake - they had a whole display case like this, with fakes next to real ones.

If you ever happen to be in Richmond, it's definitely worth seeing in person. They have the largest exhibit of Imperial Eggs outside of Russia.


on human trafficking

We heard on the news the other day, in something we didn't pay much attention to, that a family in Arizona was coming up against slavery charges. At the time, Colin scoffed, thinking that it was probably an over-zealous prosecutor.

And then I read this article this morning (read it before you read the rest of this post). It doesn't sound at all like an over-zealous prosecutor to me. In fact, it seems frighteningly accurate, and strikes way too close to home.

I went to school in Flagstaff. The I Do I Do/Sweet Nothings store is right on the main road in town. It is a large, grey brick building, with a painted sign split between the two store names, despite being clearly one store. (That link is to a store review--creepy as hell now that the allegations have been made.)

I went in a few times while I was a student. It was half bridal boutique, half lingerie/sex shop. The bridal boutique wass sort of cheap and ordinary; the lingerie was racier than what else could be found in Flag, and there was a selection of sex toys. I remember thinking it was oddly juxtaposed with the bridal stuff (a virgin/whore complex if ever there was one), but chalked that up to a cultural difference or just typical Flag store eccentricity.

I only ever saw Asian women in the store, you see. I guess now they must've been Vietnamese, but I wasn't saavy enough then to be able to identify their nationality. I remember specifically the woman who sold me a pair of shoes--she was middle aged, incredibly sweet, tiny, attentive. I remember less well the woman who sold some friends and I a lingerie set for a bridal shower, but recall that she was pleasant, too.

When the article got posted to my newsfeed today, a friend said something about the vibes in that store always being weird. She's right. When I closely examine my memory, it was uncomfortably low-ceilinged, and the florescents were sort of dim, and there were no windows. And there were always so few customers. There was an air of desperation about it. I took it to be the desperation of a store that might go out of business, but who knows what happened to those women if they didn't make a sale . . .

Anyway. I am sort of shocked, and feel horribly guilty, that I on two occasions appear to have directly funded human trafficking. The phrase "dead Chinese" and all its awful connotations have been haunting me ever since I watched Biutiful; I have for a long time simultaneously worried about people being exploited to bring me cheap goods and attempted to push it out of my mind. Who has time to research the business practices--usually overseas--of every company for every product they buy? Who has the money to only buy things labelled "fair trade?" And yet I never dreamed I had bought something from the hands of someone who had literally been enslaved.

And the net of my mind pulls in other experiences: the first time I got a pedicure, for instance, at one of those prolific, oddly-named nail shops in a strip mall. There was one man, very bossy, presumably Vietnamese, scolding a herd of women as they attended to customers; and I remember distinctly the phrase "white privilege" floating indelibly up to the surface of my consciousness. Here I was, white, sitting in something very like a throne, with a tiny Asian woman, head bowed, washing and pruning my feet. I didn't like the man in charge. I didn't like the vibe in that place. And now I wonder how well anyone keeps an eye on those sorts of businesses. Was that vibe I got just one unpleasant man? Are those women being treated perfectly well and legally? Or were there other people being illegally and horrifically exploited just under my nose? What about the countless businesses I've patronized without getting any bad vibes at all?

We tend to forget, in this part of the world, that Mexicans aren't our only illegal immigrants. We also forget that that phrase doesn't only mean that they're exploiting our country's benefits, as so many of the pundits and down-home whitefolk would have us believe. It is far more horrifying that "illegal immigrant" very easily means that we are exploiting them.


things I like this week, vol. 12

This McQueen dress is infinitely better than that other dress, and something I would much rather wear.

I'm in love with the candle sconce.

In an unrelated coincidence, this is my favorite color. The swatch is Pantone's Twilight Purple; I would love to take down that horrible birdhouse wallpaper and paint the downstairs guest bathroom in it.
. . .

Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system.

. . .

But as a writer, my inner life is my only instrument. I understand the world only by my attempts to shape my experience on the page. Then, and only then, do I know what I think, feel, believe. Without these attempts (the word essay derives from “attempt”) I am lost.

(Fair warning: as both a mother and a writer, this article had me tearing up by the end. Not so much with sadness, but with how much it resonated.)

. . .

A powerful post on loss, trees, and finding peace.

. . .

Man on a pole.

Freckles, piercing eyes, wavy hair. Except for its unpredictability, wavy hair is the best of both worlds.

Boozy watermelon rosemary lemonade. If I had the patience for making my own infusions, this would be at the top of my list. (Instead I gave the link to a friend who does take the time for such things.)

The snapped bow-strings make the picture.

A secret bookstore.


it’s the sangria laughing, pt. 2

Keys of rain
Rain keyed in
Slanted horizon and a girl looking perpetually over her shoulder
in a dead Sea
Things are not as you believe
A wandering Jew and his daughter
stopped to drink some water
and found only
salt tears in the sea
If you believe
in stars in a field of grass
and sailing ships without masts
I cannot help you

There is only
watered down wine
and people losing track of time
oozing across tracks that don’t exist
because time is an illusion

The world spins on an axis that wobbles


as I walked out one evening

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
W. H. Auden


ice and fire

I took these pictures in February, when we had several hard freezes in a row here in sunny Tucson, Arizona. Back then there were several pictures of frozen fountains floating around my facebook feed, but few were as frosty as this.

I assume that this sort of thing doesn't happen often in places that regularly get freezes, since they're usually smart enough to do things like drain waterpipes to keep them from exploding.

The pipes in this fountain were fine, but people all over the city had burst pipes and many had to go without water for several days.

In contrast, we have some of the pictures I took at our fourth of July party. We had a great time, but the only time I pulled out my camera was to try to capture the sparklers (disappointing shots, at least with this camera) and then, later, and slightly tipsy, of the candle and the bonfire.