London souvenir contest winner!

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We have a winner! A package of London souvenirs will be going out to commenter #12, Kerri!

I'm hoping my best vacation ever is this coming weekend when we visit my parents. It is as close as we come to vacation, and it should be beautiful in NC with the leaves changing.

Posted by Kerri | October 19, 2010 7:49 AM

Congratulations, Kerri!

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Interview chic

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interview wear?.jpgRecently, the ladies over at Acdemichic wrote a very interesting series of posts on interview wear. I followed the series with a lot of interest, especially because none of them advocated wearing a stolid suit, at least not unless you have to.

For my recent interviews, I've been sucking it up and wearing a suit. It's my basic black pants suit from Banana Republic, usually with a printed or solid brightly colored collarless shell and heels. Respectable? Yes. Appropriate? Yes. Boring? Hell yes. And I don't even a little bit like myself in it.

So, for today's interview, I decided it spice things up just a little bit. The interview is for a technical writing position at a small company, rather than a huge one, so I thought it would likely be my best chance to try something just a bit different, and certainly more comfortable. What do you think? Still interview appropriate? Could I go even farther astray?

I'm wearing:
-gray wool pencil skirt with white pinstripe, Banana Republic, thrifted (similar one here)
-The Limited Top Rate Cardigan in Gosford Pink
-The Limited Tiny Ruffle with Lace Tank in Gosford Pink (color no longer available)
-Circa Joan & David Dayna black pumps, via Nordstom Rack (no longer available)
-silver typewriter key necklace, via Uncommon Goods (gift from Mark)

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I know a lot of my readers are makeup lovers. And I know a lot of you are fans of/participants at/interested in BlogHer. So, here's an opportunity for you. Go take the BlogHer Women and Beauty Cosmetics Survey. It'll take about 15 minutes of your time, and help BlogHer out. As a bonus, taking it enters you to win a free conference pass for BlogHer 2011, which I can already assure you will be awesome.

To sweeten the pot, come back here and leave me a comment after you take the survey, and I'll enter you into a contest of my own, with a beauty/makeup prize. Go!

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Fall, and appreciating where I'm at

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I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like Virginia, and that I'm basically already counting the day until we're out of here. That being said, I know it's in my best interest to try to enjoy the things that are enjoyable about living in this part of the world.

One of those things is fall.

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Vacation wardrobe recap

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As I've mentioned before, I love Maggie Mason's packing light series. Before I even left for London, I planned to emulate her series and show you all what I wore in London. Unfortunately, I didn't really think much about it while I was there, so my photos aren't great. Still, I tried.

I didn't get a picture of Saturday, the day we flew in. I know I wore a navy jersey tunic (Ann Taylor, thrifted), gray tights (can't remember who they're from, Target probably), and tall black boots.

Sunday: Columbia Road Flower Market, Brick Lane Market, St. Paul's Cathedral, Spitelfields Market
Grace on the Millenium Bridge
I wore: purple corduroy skirt (thrifted, H&M), ruched sleeved short-sleeved black sweater (Ann Taylor); gray suede slouch boots (Report, via Nordstrom Rack), two Superhero Necklaces.

Monday: Tate Modern Art Museum, Fortnam & Masons
Grace and Mark on the Millenium Bridge, St. Paul's in the background
I wore: skinny jeans (NY & Company), navy tunic with embroidered detail (Ann Taylor, thrifted), tall black boots (Bondo, via Amazon), vintage silk scarf (bought at Spitelfields the day before).

Tuesday: National Gallery
Grace & Mark in Trafalger Square with lion statue (National Gallery in the background)
I wore: skinny jeans, gray t-shirt with detailed neckline (August Silk, via TJ Maxx), long black cardigan (thrifted), gray suede slouch boots. Late in the day, the button fell off the black cardigan, so I replaced it with a burgundy jersey open cardigan I bought at Long Tall Sally that morning.

Wednesday: The London Eye, Houses of Parliment & Big Ben, Hyde Park, Liberty of London
Grace in front of Big Ben
I wore: teal jersey shift dress (Ann Taylor), black tights (Long Tall Sally), tall black boots, black leather jacket (thrifted)

Thursday: Tower of London
Grace at BloodY Tower
I wore: black asymetrical neck jersey dress (Calvin Klein via TJ Maxx), black leggings (Long Tall Sally), burgundy open front jersey cardigan (Long Tall Sally), high black boots

Friday: British Museum, Burrough Market, Victoria & Albert Museum
Grace on the steps of the V&A Museum
I wore: skinny jeans, turquoise tank top (Target), black and white polka dot cardigan (thrifted), high black boots

Saturday: Kensington Palace
Grace in the Enchanted Palace exhibition, Kensington Palace
I wore: black sweater dress (BCBG Max Azaria, thrifted), black leggings, tall black boots, teal recycled sari scarf (gift)

No picture for Sunday, the day we traveled home, either, but I wore the dress and leggings and boots from Saturday topped with the burgundy open front cardigan--a great plane outfit, very warm and cosy.

Things I brought that I didn't wear: yoga pants (brought them to sleep in and didn't), red raincoat (it didn't rain!), black and white patterned jacket (it looked stupid with the stuff I intended to pair it with--should have tried it on before I packed) and three pairs of too-small tights. I felt like I definitely had the right amount of clothes, but I didn't pack enough accessories, or accessories that worked right, so I was dressed a little bit plain. Also, I need to remember to pack sufficient socks--I ended up having to wash mine out in the sink and dry them on the towel warmer more than once!

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Big BenMuch as I would have loved for it to be otherwise, it was simply not realistic for me to bring gifts back from London for all my friends and readers. So, I decided on the next best thing--a London souvenir giveaway! This is a non-sponsored giveaway--all the things in my prize package are bits and bobs I picked up while in London. As it's stuff I picked out, it's the kind of thing I'd love to get when someone comes back from a trip--think exotic candy and foreign fashion magazines. Nothing super touristy, and nothing super spendy, just a few little things to make you feel like you were there with us.

To enter, leave me a comment telling me about the best vacation you've ever been on, or the place you'd most like to go. Same contest rules as usual--extra entries are available for Tweeting or Facebooking the contest, or turning a new reader on to my site. I'll draw the winner in a week. Good luck!

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Vacation in photographs

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We're safely home. Wonderful trip-I can't even pick a best part. The photos don't do it justice, but I thought I'd share a few anyway.

Heather at the Columbia Street Flower Market:
Columbia Road Flower Market

Sign seen from the bus:
Sign seen from the bus

St. Paul's Cathedral:
St. Paul's Cathedral

Latte served with a tiny ice cream cone at Fortnam & Mason:
Coffee and tiny ice cream at Fortnam & Mason

Houses of Parliment and Big Ben:
Houses of Parliment and Big Ben from the Eye

High tea at The Orangery:
Tea at the Orangery

Enjoying our last night with some room service:
Room service! Last night of vacation

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London, Day 6 & 7: The final chapter

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EP_Spell_large_2.jpgThis is it--our last night in London. Mark and I are both so exhausted we've barely got our eyes open. It's been a truly fantastic trip, though, topped off today by a visit to the Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace and high tea at the Orangery on Kensington grounds.

I'm not particularly interested in the monarchy, or in royalty in general, but the mix of creepy fairy tale and bizarre art of the exhibition was just perfect for me. I loved every minute of it, and definitely found myself curious about the stories to which the displays were--sometimes directly, sometimes not--referring.

Yesterday, knowing we were running out of time, we put the vacation pedal to the metal and hit the British Museum, Burrough Market, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Notting Hill. It was exhausting, but well worth it--the V&A is fantastic and we had great pizza in Notting Hill.

Photo via Enchanted Palace website.

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I didn't check in yesterday, because I spent the last few minutes of my evening, which I had previously reserved for blogging, trying to figure out how to alleviate the discomfort caused by a gigantic blister just at the base of my second toe. Before my next major trip, I need to learn to embrace sneakers as a legitimate fashion choice. Really.

Hard to believe, but our trip is already wrapping up--only two more days here! We've seen so much already, I shouldn't complain. Still, there are so many things we haven't prioritized or that haven't worked out, I know I'm going to go home feeling like a second visit here is in order.

To catch you up, we started yesterday with a visit to the London Eye, which I loved. What's there not to like about a huge Ferris wheel? It was clear out and the view truly was spectacular. After the Eye we walked around the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, and watched a pick-up football game played by uniformed schoolboys, for maximum Englishness. We had a pub lunch (steak and ale pie and mash for me) and then walked through Hyde Park and attempted to go the Kensington Palace, but were there too late, so just saw the sunken garden instead. Then we headed to Liberty. Wow. There were very few things in the store that I could justify buying at those prices (though I didn't leave completely empty-handed), but it was incredible. I see now what Anthropologie is trying (and mostly failing) to do. The fabric room was one of the more amazing things I've seen recently. It was breathtaking for me, a non-sewer, so I can't even imagine what it would do to my needle-inclined readers. We ended the day with an Indian meal near our hotel.

Today we headed to the Tower of London. As far as tourist attractions go, it's exceptional. The prisoner's graffiti alone is worth the price of admission, though I suspect most people are more interested in the crown jewels (turns out they're shiny). I also enjoyed the displays on torture and execution. Guess I'm just gothic that way. After the Tower we went to the little market at Whitecross Street for a street food lunch (I had some so-so pad thai and an excellent custard tart). Mark and our traveling companion friends were ready for a rest then, so they headed back to the hotel and I hopped a bus to Oxford Circus to check out Primark and Top Shop--couldn't help but get the goods on the clothes I inevitably choose from Polyvore. It was really crowded, and most everything was well outside my size range, but it was still a good time and I did grab a few new makeup products and a great Wonder Woman t-shirt. We got dinner at a nuevo English restaurant near the hotel, which turned out to be a mistake.

Oh, and I stopped at a shop for more Jaffa Cakes and flavored Kit Kat bars. Can't forget that!

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London, Day 4: Klimt (and Jesus)

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Today, I saw this. And I nearly wept.

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Then I saw this, and I really did weep.

Then I saw about 50,000 pictures of Jesus.

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London, Day 3: Ode to the Jaffa Cake Bar

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I already knew I liked Jaffa Cakes. I'd tried them before.

However, I was not prepared for the Jaffa Cake Bar.

It's a Jaffa Cake, in bar form. More cake, layer of orange, dark chocolate.

And I'm going to need an extra suitcase to get my stash home.

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Also: Today we went to the Tate Modern, ate Turkish food, went to Fortnam & Mason, and had fantastic French tapas. And I still didn't get any tights.

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London, Day 2: The Fashion Edition

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I spent a good deal of time today sitting on the top deck of a double-decker bus, stopped in traffic/construction, observing the fashion of the people on the street below. So, here's what they're wearing in London:


  • A ton of women's oxford type shoes.

  • Ditzy floral mini dresses

  • Tights (which I still have not obtained).

  • High-waist pants and shorts, with almost corset-like buttoning.

  • Scarves. These seem to be required by law.

  • Skinny jeans for men.

I expected to see more women in high boots and skinny jeans--there are some, but I think there are more at home than here. Here, the trend is definitely oxford style shoes, and skimmer flats. The scarf thing is ubiquitous. And the men aren't wearing as many of those weird slicked forward hairstyles as I expected.

Also? Things are closed on Sundays here. Like, everything. But that's the only complaint I really have. I kinda love it here.

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London, Day 1 (in list form)

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Thoughts on London so far:


  • The trash in London smells markedly different than the trash in New York.

  • Hotels that let you check in way early when you've just come off a red-eye are a wonderful thing.

  • Malaysian food seems to be something like Thai meets Chinese, and is good, but greasy and meat-heavy.

  • Relatedly, Ipoh white coffee is the most amazing thing ever.

  • I could very easily spend the entire week walking around, listening to people talk, and looking at old buildings.

  • I brought three pairs of tights, and they are all too short. 90% of my planned outfits revolved around these tights.

  • Gilchrist & Soames BeeKind products are lovely.

  • Jet lag is real, and red eyes are brutal.

Tomorrow, we're going to:

My goal for tomorrow is to actually take my camera with me when we leave the hotel, so hopefully I'll some pictures to show you then! Well, that's my second goal. My first is to buy tights that make it all the way to my crotch. Wish me luck!

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My makeup bag

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Yesterday, Sal at Already Pretty posted her Lazy Gal's Makeup Kit. Amused by how many of the same favorite products we share, and having been enamored with the same inspirational she was--Sonja at Hello Beauty!--I thought it high time to share my current make-up routine with y'all.

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Korres Face Primer, $28

I didn't use primer in the summer, because it seemed like one more layer to melt off, but I'm back to using it this fall. My current selection is Korres Face Primer. I like it because it's silicone free, moisturizing, and goes on in a really smooth, light layer.


Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Makeup, $6.50-$9

I already told you all about this stuff. I apply it with my finger tips and a little goes quite a long way.

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Benefit Boi-ing Concealer, $18

Like Sally, I'm a huge fan of this "industrial strength" concealer. It covers all my problem spots without feeling like I am coating my face in grout. The light color is a great shade for me, too--I tried the medium first, and that was a disaster. I sometimes apply it with a finger tip and sometimes with a concealer brush from EcoTools ($5).

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Clinique Almost Powder Makeup SPF 15, $23

Powder is another layer that I mostly left off in the warmer months, but I am back to using now. I've been using this Clinique powder since I started wearing makeup, and I'm completely happy with it. It goes on nice and sheer, but keeps the shine down. The neutral tone is perfect for me. I apply it with a long discontinued Lancome powder brush.

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NARS Blush in Orgasm, $26

This is another long-time favorite. I am among the masses who are very dedicated NARS Orgasm fans. It's the perfect blush color. The only drawback is that it really doesn't have great staying power--by the end of the day, it is completely gone. I am thinking of trying something else for daytime for that reason. I apply mine with the blush brush from EcoTools ($8).

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Sephora Lemon-Aid, $20

This is another product on which Sal and I agree, and I use it the same way she does--smear it on my eyelids and under my eyes with my finger to cover up dark circles and make me look well-rested. Easy peasy!

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MAC Eyeshadow in Phloof!, $14.50

Unlike Sal, I have no fear of eyeshadow. I usually start mine with a base coat in a beige/off-white/sand color, and MAC's Phloof! is my favorite. It's the longest wearing eyeshadow I've ever come across, and the only slightly shimmery off-white color is a perfect shadow base. I've been wanting to try a completely matte base color, though, so I may try something else soon.

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Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Get Figgy, $19

Another place I agree with Sal! She uses her Benefit Creaseless Shadow/Liner as shadow, smearing it on her lids with her finger. I use mind for a liner, applying it to the top lash line with with the pointy end of the Sephora Collection Double-Ended Smokey Eye Brush ($18). I love this stuff because it stays on all day, without flaking or creasing, and it's easy to apply, unlike pencil liners, which I cannot for the life of me master.

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Blinc Kiss Me Mascara, $24

I still haven't found my perfect mascara--the one that makes it look like I have naturally long eyelashes without stiffening them up. Recommendations are always welcome. This one, however, is pretty good. It goes on easy, looks pretty natural, and is absolutely waterproof. I'm still a little weirded out by the "tubes" left on my washcloth when I take it off at night, but that's not a huge deal.

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Tarte LipSurgence Natural Matte Lip Stain in Hope, $24

This is my last overlap with Sal. I'm a very fickle lip color consumer--I have a ton of different lipsticks, glosses, stains, and balms, and I use most of them in rotation. However, like Sal, I'm always on the lookout for something that will actually stay on, and this stuff does the trick. It also has this really nice minty feeling/smell going on. I wear it either alone, for a matte look, or topped with Buxom Lips in clear Krystal ($18) for shimmer. I also really love applying a pencil, rather than a tube or wand--it seems to be an easier way to keep the color within the lines of my rather thin top lip.

Whew! As usual, I am stunned by how much it takes just to create my "everyday" look. It honestly only takes me about 5 minutes to put it all on, though, so I guess it's not that bad.

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Sometimes, the cheap stuff works just fine

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perfekt gel.jpgmaybelline.jpgA while ago, I told you all how much I loved Per-fekt Beauty Skin Perfection Gel. I said:

It's amazing, y'all. It looks more or less like gel-ish foundation but goes on almost as a powder. It's not heavy duty cover up or anything, but it smooths everything out and gives me that porcelain doll look. It lasts all day (and I'm talking long days), even through sweating, and I can skip everything else (powder and blush or bronzer) if I want and still look polished. Score on all fronts. Plus it doesn't smell. I didn't realize how much smelly cosmetics pissed me off until I realized there was another option.

I felt that way until my little tube was finished. And then I was sad, because even though I loved the stuff, I really felt like $57.50 for a 1 oz tube was just kinda ridiculous.

But guess what? There's a cheap version. In fact, a really cheap version. Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Makeup. I almost never wear drugstore makeup anymore, but I bought this on a whim to see if it would maybe, possibly approximate the Per-fekt stuff, and it does! It has the same light texture, going on easily, not feeling heavy, and looking matte and almost like a powder. Plus it's available in way more colors, and the "Light 1: Porcelain Ivory" shade is a perfect match for my skin. And it's about $8 per .65 oz jar. MUCH cheaper than the Per-fekt stuff.

Looking around at reviews of it, I see that some people are claiming it makes them break out. So far, I haven't noticed it having that effect on me, but I also don't wear makeup every day, so that may be something to look out for. Also, I think it might cause issues for people with dry or flaky skin, since it's very matte. Otherwise, I can't recommend this lovely cheap option highly enough.

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The Sketchbook Project

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The Sketchbook Project: 2011
Thanks to Mary at Unmitigated, I now know about this. The Sketchbook Project. My friends, it's a little piece of brilliance.

The deal is:

Each artist is sent the same blank Moleskine sketchbook. We've only got two rules: first, the book must be used in some way - no sending us back an empty book or a completely different book! Second, the sketchbook must stay within its original dimensions (because we don't want to have to provide an extra suitcase just for your book while we're touring the country).

Each book will be given a barcode so we can easily catalog it into The Brooklyn Art Library system. Once we catalog it, artists will be able to track where on the tour their book is viewed and how many times someone pulled it from the shelf - we want to make sure you can stay connected with your sketchbook!

You pay $25, they send you a Moleskin. You use it for any creative thing you want and send it back. Then, the whole collection does a US tour, then is housed permanently at the Booklyn Art Library.

Tell me that isn't the coolest thing ever? Public art journaling! I'm so in, and I think you should be, too.

Get on it, if you're interested. There are limited books available, and registration is only open until 10/31.

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2010 Goals Check-in #5

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October 1, so time to check in on my goals:

1. Take at least one overseas trip.
This is happening! Reservations and plans have been made. We're headed to London this month.

2. Read 30 books.
Big progress here. Last month I was at 16, this month I'm at 19, with two more in progress.

3. Get to a healthy size.
Nothing good to report here. I went to the doctor this week, and learned that I am a .3 away from an obese BMI. Yay.

4. Save $500/month.
Negative progress. My savings account is being quickly depleted by my current underemployment. There isn't a whole lot I can do about it right now, though, so I'm just hoping to get this back on track once I get a more stable job.

5. Give 5%.
Still more or less on track.

6. Start retirement savings.
No change. The account is open, but not yet funded for 2010, and I don't know if it will be.

7. Join something.
Fail.

8. Write a novel.
No progress and a a complete lack of desire. Maybe NaNoWriMo will inspire me in November.

9. Create something.
Honestly, I don't even know what this means at this point.

10. Remember birthdays and send cards.
I know I sent at lease one in September. Hopefully that means I'm getting back in my groove.

Things aren't looking great, are they?

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