Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rubber Match

In case you have been in a coma, or had your arm stuck in between two boulders since September (welcome back, by the way!), or something, you probably have noticed that this has been a pretty crumby winter in New York City, weather-wise. It's been really snowy and cold and slushy and mucky and generally awful. Which usually I don't mind, because it gives me a good excuse not to wear heels when I leave the house (almost never), and to instead wear my black rubber Hunter wellington boots.  I happen to love these boots because, whenever I put them on, they make me feel like the lady of an English manor going out to oversee the grooming of my horses, even when I'm really just going to CVS to buy toilet paper.
However, lately, my charming ladylike rubber boots have started to look a little worse for wear, what with the mud caked on them, and the water spots, and the rubber "blooming" some weird white powder at the seams. I still feel like I'm in an English manor when I wear them, but now I'm more like the disheveled old squatter who mucks out the rabbit cages.
So, I started to wonder about cleaning my boots. What, pray tell, I asked myself, shall I use to spiff up my wellies? (obviously, I was speaking in a British accent when I said this).

AND THEN inspiration hit me like a ton of rabbit pellets in the face- what else is made out of rubber and gets mucky and muddy and needs to be cleaned? That's right- tires! I hopped right out and bought some Mothers Tire Shine (That's just what they had at my store- I am sure other brands, like Armorall, would work just as well). Spray the polish onto a clean soft rag and rub it into the boots. Let them sit for 10 minutes, and then use a dry part of the towel to buff them to a bright shine. You'll be back to feeling like your royal self again, in no time, your ladyship.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Save Your Skin

As I've mentioned (confessed, really) before, I have worn the same makeup types and brands for so many years, it's amazing that most of them are still in production.  I recently had to stock up on some discontinued lipgloss on eBay- a pretty gross thought, really, but desperate times call for, well, pre-owned lipgloss. However, I recently was looking through photos of myself on Facebook (oh, come on, you do it, too) and I noticed something disturbing- I have a tendency to get shiny a few hours after I get made up. And not in that pretty-fresh-dewy-glow way (more in a I-just-rubbed-a-slice-of-pizza-on-my-forehead way). I first noticed this issue in a series of photos from my friend's wedding last summer (witness the horror at below right), but I consoled myself that it was a warm summer day, and I was probably just a little overheated. But my distress increased as I flipped further and further back in time, and realized this has been a bit of a chronic problem. Like, since forever. How did I not know this about myself, you ask? I'll tell you how- denial. It's powerful stuff, people.
And as if that wasn't enough, this discovery coincided with another unpleasantness, which was the arrival of my first legitimate facial wrinkles. Pretty much the same day that I stopped getting zits with regularity, my skin decided to inflict a different kind of punishment on me, in the form of smile lines and crow's feet (which can also be spotted in the photo at right). Ugh. It became clear to me that I needed to add a new weapon to my grossness-fighting arsenal. Luckily, my friend T, whose make-up skills have evolved since college, showed up just in the nick of time with exactly what I never knew I needed: BareMinerals powder foundation ($25, from It's a super-light and natural looking powder that looks and feels way better than a liquid foundation; it just gently masks the flaws and leaves you looking like you. And it's SPF 15, too, so it actually prevents more wrinkles! Plus, it's made entirely out of natural minerals that won't poison you or clog your pores, and cause the acne to show up to the party, too, when you fall asleep with your make-up on (which I never do, particularly not after friends' weddings). My only suggestion would be to try to get to a Sephora store, or a make-up counter that carries BareMinerals to make sure you pick the exact right shade for you (there are 20 to choose from)- the only thing worse than a wrinkly oil-slick is the Kabuki mask of wrong-color foundation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sweater Weather

I grew up in California, and, in case you were wondering, what the Beach Boys and Katy Perry have told you is true about us California girls.  I was tan and wore flip-flops, shorts and bikinis all year. There was nary a boot, turtleneck, or scarf to be found within 100 miles of my closet. So, needless to say, when I moved to Boston for college, I was more than a little out to lunch and wildly unprepared for winter. Suffice it to say, I brought twelve sarongs with me, and zero coats.
The first day it really got cold that fall, I had to wear all of my clothes at once in order to keep from freezing on my way to the dining hall. Over the course of that year, I picked up a thing or two in the classroom, but what I mostly acquired was a collection of sweaters, which the intervening years of my east-coast residence have only served to multiply. And, strangely, I have come to love sweaters. The problem with sweaters, though, is, unlike sarongs, you can't just throw them in the laundry. And, if you, um, glow like I do when the radiator kicks on, dry cleaning can get rather pricey. Luckily, after years of trial and error, I discovered a method for washing my wool and cashmere sweaters at home, which leaves them cleaner, fresher, and softer than dry cleaning.  Which is good, because I now pretty much wear a daily uniform of jeans and cute sweater from October until May. The rest of the time, I'm back in shorts and flip-flops. After all, you can take the girl out of California...

 Step 1: Fill your sink with hot or warm (you heard me!) water and a squirt of Dawn, or another gentle dishwashing liquid, and carefully place your sweater in it. Contrary to popular belief, hot water is not damaging to wool, but regular laundry detergent (even Woolite) and agitation ARE. So avoid the urge to swish or agitate the water once you have put the sweater in, and just let it soak until spots are dissolved. 
 Step 2: If your washing machine has a Delicates setting for "Rinse" and "Spin", you can move your sweater into the washer and use those two cycles to, well, rinse and spin it. If your washer doesn't do that, gently drain the soapy water in your sink, and refill the sink with warm water a few times until the sweater is rinsed. Then, carefully transfer the sweater to a dry towel and roll the towel until the sweater is just damp.
Step 3: Transfer the sweater to a dry towel, and lay it out flat, in the shape the sweater will be worn. Allow sweater to dry completely before folding and putting it away.  See- no sweat!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things.  -John Burroughs