Saturday, May 26, 2012

Malling Antiques

There's an antique mall near my home that I visit about once a quarter or so. With the new house coming our way, I decided to check it out because 1) it had been a few months and 2) there are a few select pieces of furniture Mr. Burly and I don't have, so we're planning for those future purchases. (Product at this mall does not move too quickly, so I can go spy a piece and have a decent chance of saving for it before it is gone.) While I did find 1 item that fit the parameters we had in mind for it (just got to save now) and another that I hadn't been looking for but can be totally functional (just got to save for that, too), the better part of these trips is always the, um, "treasures."

What did I find today? (click to embiggen any picture)

1973 Playboy lifestyle guide:

More Indispensable: the space needed for cartoon tits, instead of  sizing & spacing text accordingly
Contents: I'm sad I neglected to visit "The A to Z of Sex" now. Rest assured, if the book is still there on the next visit, I will provide an update. Anyone have a letter preference?
But in case you were interested on their advice concerning sexual harassment...

You misspelled "Creepy":

Seriously, though, I have issues with infantilized things in adult situations, like wedding attire

I'm constantly reminded that I should purchase a record player in order to build an ironic vinyl collection. Would it be more ironic if I just collected terrible vinyl sans player?:

I do actually own records without a player. The one that started it?  A recording of Wonder Woman stories.

If I actually had the money to waste, why yes, yes I would put a large embroidered screaming flaming cock on my wall:

He's screaming because he's missing a toe. That, and  his general existential rage at his being.  I would name him Proust.

2 Birds, 1 Stone:

Q: How do we afford to remodel our rec room/ basement? A:  Start an illegal gambling hall in that very basement! Brilliant!

Lastly, panthers humping trees (matching floor lamps):

And they're not even excited about it. But apparently they grew bored with each other. This is why you don't open up your marriage if you can't communicate, kids. These two panthers are going to go home after this failed partner-swap experiment and have an ugly fight about who's idea it was. There will be no make-up sex, just misery and hatred and self-loathing. They'll divorce. One will turn to the bottle, the other to constant plastic surgery until no shade of its former self exists, and it is too hideous to look at. The End.

Mr. Burly: Those are....lamps?
Me: Yes, it's cut off in the picture but on top you add a bulb and a shade. Then you have matching panther-humping-tree floor lamps. But I don't know what type of shade you'd put on those...
Mr. Burly: Leopard print.
Me: Now that's just offensive to the panthers.
Mr. Burly: But...where would they even...There's no where to put those things!
Me: Flanking the front door. Duh.
Mr. Burly: Oh God...

(Don't worry friends, those entering the new house will still be greeted by Bucephalus and not some sad dendrophiliac panthers)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Home Teasers

While Mr. Burly & I hang in home-purchase limbo (i.e. that terrible time of financing between purchase agreement and closing), we are making many important decisions, namely: paint colors.

I don't know if I've worn him down in the four years we've been together, that COLORCOLORCOLOR is the way to go, or if he wore me down and I selected slightly less bright colors than if left to my own devices, but agreeing on colors has been practically painless.

A couple of weeks ago I went to [LOCAL BIGBOX HOMESTORE] to raid paint swatches. I discovered that I don't quite have the energy to agonize over swatches like I used to. So I picked up any book of pre-matched swatches that held any color I liked. Translation: I left the 2 or 3 books of earth-toned swatches and accompanying inspirational room pictures (if I want to see earth-tones, I'll go outside thankyouverymuch)(also, THANKGOD earth tones just aren't that popular right now). You know what? Pros are hired to make these families of colors that go well together. Why would I fight that? They make these huuuuge families of coordinated-but-not-totally-matchy-matchy colors. There's a ton of selection within these books. Selection that WORK. Which is what I would be incapable of otherwise.

So I picked up the books, and edited further the colors I didn't want. Translation: Taupe and all it's taupe-y ilk. Then I presented the selection to Mr. Burly.

Actually, for all the selection I had, I think I really only presented about 2 collections of colors. I dunno, maybe he peeked at the others when I wasn't looking. But I showed him the super-colorful palette I loved, and the other super-colorful-but-only-slightly-less-bright palette I also loved. And he was cool with option #2.

He's also contributed some great ideas toward painting design. Love Mr. Burly.

So, I feel it's too early to be completely forthright with the colors. I'm gonna be annoyingly vague (for anyone who doesn't know me), instead.

Dining Room: My favorite color!
Living Room: My favorite neutral to go with that color!
Hallway: Will match either the Dining or Living room!
Kitchen & Bathroom: Staying the current color for the time being (so, it will clash with the palette in general) - but the kitchen has so little paintable surface to begin with, and the bathroom needs the least amount of work out of all the rooms, so we're opting for no work at all. It goes with our current bath stuff anyway.
Master Bedroom: The complementary color of my favorite color!
Guest Bedroom: Same complementary color, plus a neutral!
Office: The most contended undecided space, I want a new color to the mix, but that might be too much. So it might just match the Living Room. Stay tuned!
-Large Rec Area: Undecided, likely to remain white for a while
-"Bonus" Room: I think we're just shutting the door to this room. Really. Not even thinking about it, probably, until we're ready to address the basement as a whole, which will be a long time from now.
-Laundry Room: WONDER WOMAN! Somehow this makes perfect sense to me, even if it is a little bit logically awkward to others, but it's totally going to be my Wonder Woman/ other comic Showcase room. Because I don't particularly showcase my stuff, but I have a lot of it and don't just put it away in boxes. And there's a closet in this room (which makes little sense for everyday use) in which I can properly store my costume pieces.
-Half-Bath: meh. falls under the same level of concern as "Bonus Room."

Heck, maybe Mr. Burly has plans & designs for the "Bonus" Room that I am unaware of. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Birchbox: First Impressions (not a specific box review)

I'm coming at Birchbox from a weird place.

I rarely use makeup. And I've finally figured out my skin 15 years after puberty, so I'm reluctant to change that regimen. And I'm picky about hair care products. And perfume gives me raging headaches. I care about my looks insofar as they don't make me get up any earlier than I absolutely have to. I'm slacker chic. Wash-n-go. Why do I need to complicate this?

Because I straddle this weird space in the world...

You know what, it's not me, it's a lot of us women.

We straddle this weird divide in the world. It's not terrible to put a better foot forward than the one that just stepped out of bed. But that also doesn't mean that we have to break our backs, bowing to the patriachy's demands that we put hours into our looks when they, well, don't. Fuck that noise.

I am Slacker. Chic.

I'll do some minimal work to look better, but if you think I'm going to take half an hour out of my sleep, or internet time, or dance & fitness classes, or craft time, or home maintenance time, you are sorely mistaken.

And my internet time is varied. I'm not going to spend it poring over beauty blogs & pinterest fashion boards. Not all of it, anyway.

And I'm straddling this weird divide where my undergraduate degree had an emphasis in marketing. And I saw those cynics, my brethren, and thought: Fuck, I don't want to be them (except that I kinda still am). So I stand astride this chasm where Facebook can't properly advertise to me because I don't give them enough information. All I do is "x" ads that pertain to weight loss and baby-making because Fuck. Facebook. if they think that because I am wimminz that I hate my body or I have a ticking biological clock. Because I don't and I don't.

But I don't want to waste my time seeking information that marketers could simply bring to me if I just let them.

Targeted marketing is a double-edged sword. I get it.

So I hear about Birchbox. And I go to Birchbox. And I tell them I have combo skin, and above all else I'd most likely splurge on hair product. That I'm 30, and my household income is $X. That I'm concerned about acne, and I like organic stuff....among a handful of other details. I like this marketing model. I don't care page ads in magazines. Those tell me nothing. And I despise - OK? DESPISE - the thought of paying full price (or even using a coupon and maybe paying slightly less than full price) for a full-size product that I. May. Just. Hate. (Really, that's the most likely outcome.) So - I tell someone what I'm looking for and they send me samples? Magical! Marvelous! YES!

I mean, these details + magical makeup algorithm I assume they have (but my first box indicates maybe they don't) / paying $10 a month and sitting on my butt until a box of wonder arrives each month = magical beauty routine makeover that makes me look better in even less time, right? RIGHT??

OK, maybe not so much. It's not like they have incentive to give me products I like, because I'd probably just take them & run. Unsubscribe. Be an unmarketed-to hermit again.

Step 1: Create problem
Step 2: Create solution
Step 3: Market the problem as the solution
Step 4: Market the solution as the solution
Step 5: Profit

So I fill out the profile, and I send in a suggestion. It seems a simple enough suggestion, really. And it's a suggestion that's REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME IF YOU WANT MY $10/MONTH.

So, here's my email:

PLEASE add a "no fragrances!" option. I'm highly sensitive to the chemicals used in almost all perfumes to prolong their staying power. I'm excited to be trying Birchbox, but I'm really hoping I'm not paying for a monthly subscription to headaches followed by re-gifting product to all my friends. If it is at all feasible to add this tweak to the profile as you grow/ expand, I really hope you'll consider it.

Thanks for taking a minute to read/consider,

Here's their reply:

Hi Mox,

Thank you for writing in and I apologize for the delay in response! At this time we are unfortunately unable to omit certain product skus. We hope to be able to do this in the near future, however, at this time it is not possible for us to do so. We understand if this makes it difficult for you to continue with us, however, we hope that you pass along the occasional trouble product along to some lucky friends!

Please let me know if I can help with anything else and have a great day!

-Her name here
Tone deafness where I say "I'm selfish and want this all to myself and therefore do not want to pass things on to friends" and she replies with "maybe you can pass things on to friends, lololol" aside...
Magical Algorithm Fail:
I mean, what good was it for me to fill out a profile if it isn't actually programmed to exclude SKUs based on preferences? I mean, I could totally just click a box that says "By clicking this box I understand that I'm going to get a completely random assortment each month that has nothing to do with any preferences I might have." I would maybe still pay $10/month after that.
But really? Chemical sensitivity?! More than having the option of telling you I get my beauty info from blogs or I'm interested in Birchbox b/c I'm too freakin' lazy to take my butt to a store. More than having the option to say: I like "trendy" things. More than having the option to say: My hair is "color-treated."  More than telling you my skin is "combination." Of all the preferences you need to know, I'd think chemical sensitivity should be pretty high on that list. You know why? 
Because This:

Because of all the May Birchboxes that went out, there could've been any combination of 52 items.

OK, that's a strech. 

Because This: 

Because there's 4 items, right there at the top, that are not perfume and met my other preferences. Because there's 31 more options below those four that meet the following criteria:
1: Not Perfume
2: Not duplicating another item I received this month (in general, i.e. no second nail polish of the 2 or 3 other nail polish offerings they had).

Admittedly, Birchbox has a LOT of perfume to shill, judging by the product pages. 

Oh, and Because This:

Digression: I worked in a theatre (like, live plays theatre). Sundays were Fantastic, let me tell you. When the old ladies put on their Sunday finest for God, not only in their polyester JCPenney 2 piece suits & pearls, but their Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, as well. We musn't offend God's eyes OR olfactory senses. So, they go through their day, church, post-church lunch, then finally their matinee. And it still reeked by the time they got to the theatre. OK? STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN. And I had to accommodate them, holding my breath (futile). Then work the rest of my shift with a headache, then go home and have a headache until, oh, the next day or so. 

Don't get me wrong, a person needn't bathe in perfume to trigger a headache. No, no, no. Sundays were just the worst of it. Most perfumes, even in low doses, set it off. Go to the mall and walk by a Bath & Bodyworks? Nope. Department store makeup counters? Nope. Just don't go near them. Shoot, someone can just pass yards from me on the street and if their perfume is more emulsifier/binder/colorant than scent then HEADACHE. 

Maybe you'll understand why I'd prefer a perfume-free box of samples through the mail right about now...

So, I'm giving Birchbox at least 3 months. But I'm not happy with the first box. I'm giving it 2 of 5 stars. The rankings are thus:
1 star: absolutely nothing I enjoyed (and thus would not consider purchasing)
2 stars: Some products are OK, some not, and I'm unlikely to purchase any of them
3 stars: Like some products, the rest are OK (nothing, or at most 1 item, unenjoyable), might consider purchasing a product on impulse at a store (not through Birchbox)
4 stars: Strong like of some products, rest are OK, will strongly consider purchase through either store or Birchbox
5 stars: Love of a product, definite purchase straight through Birchbox.

OK...I kinda feel like I just went off the deep end. But that's it. It makes no sense for me to be a Birchbox subscriber. So I've subscribed. Because that's how I roll.

My First Birchbox: May 2012, Gossip Girl Edition

So, I signed up for Birchbox* and received my first box on May 10, 2012. Here's my review of the items:

First, What I Got:

In the Birchbox reviews I've seen online, there tends to be lots of oohs & aahs over the packaging. Well, you're dealing with a cynic here* so my review of this packaging is: Yes, it looked good. They keep it simple and bright, and fun. It's a little like Christmas with the layers of tissue paper to work through, which obvs feeds into the excitement that one is splurging a little with a monthly gift of beauty goods. So that's cool & all. I'm a pragmatist, it could be shipped without the special wrapping if it got me another sample.

So it was themed: Gossip Girl. Is the theme a new thing for them? I haven't spotted any references to themes in previous months. ANYway, Gossip Girl. I've never seen a second of this show. BTDubs, I don't have cable TV, just cable internet. And I barely "do" makeup as it is* I'm totally Birchbox's target market, amirite?

So there was this theme, as much as anyone could have a theme when handing out samples of beauty products from any beauty product retailer that will give them to you. (I give Birchbox too little credit, probably. Somebody is obviously working ahead on coordination of such cross-promotional efforts. See? Cynic*)

Onto the products!

Arquiste L'Etrog parfum: Main notes are Headache, with an ethereal undertone of Nosebleed. Finishes with fruity notes and bronchial swelling. Sidenote: everytime I see the parfum name, I read "Le Frog." In all seriousness, the parfumerie's description of its product is: "Warm notes of citron, palm leaves, and myrtle combine in this transporting scent, inspired by the aromas of a medieval harvest festival in Calabria, Italy." Sure, that sounds about right. But the thing is, I have major perfume sensitivity. In fact, as soon as I made my Birchbox profile and saw there wasn't a "no perfume" option, I emailed them that suggestion.* Chances are they're never going to send me a perfume that doesn't give me a headache, because high-end perfumes are always full of emulsifiers, bonders, and colorants. You know what parfumerie doesn't use that shit? Demeter. I. Love. Demeter. And you know what else? Because they don't load up on that migraine-inducing crap, their perfume rarely lasts more than 2 hours (on me, at least). Which is perfect for me. But they're not likely to ever be a sample for Birchbox. But I digress...(Dear Demeter: SAMPLE-IZE FOR BIRCHBOX, PLEASE. Dear Birchbox: COURT DEMETER FOR SAMPLES, PLEASE).

Color Club nail polish in Disco Nap from their Foil collection: I'm really pleased with this. It is a good one-coat nail polish. In fact, I like it enough that I almost got over the fact it is gold (not a preferred color of mine). I thought I'd wear it again, but changed my mind to give it to a friend. I'll look at picking up a CC Foil in another color. It's a nice metallic with a subtle shimmer. If this were in silver, or a gun-metal grey, I could maybe even use half of a bottle (as I rarely paint my nails, I never see the bottom of a bottle. ever.). First chipping: approx. 27 hours after painting, pretty average for me (I've had worse, I've had better). Removes easily (i.e. no obnoxious glitter bits that won't come off).

Notecard: It's a notecard. It's designed well enough, and I'll use it (since I use every scrap of paper that crosses my path, ever). But, it's a notecard, and as far as stationery goes, I wouldn't buy this design as, like, a personal signature piece or anything.

Twistband: Annnnd, it's a headband. It holds my hair back as well as any other headband I've encountered, which is to say: If I wear it to ballet and start to do a series of fast turns, it will fly out of my hair. It is designed to avoid the headband headache, and it does do that. I'm not a fashion headband wearer, they are purely practical for me (well, I own fashion headbands, but I can never get them to look right). As I have a house to paint in a couple of months, this will do the job nicely keeping hair off my face.

beautyblender cleanser: Dirty little secret: I never washed brushes before this. However, I never did my foundation with a brush before this either (eyes, though, ewww. I know! I know!). So I used more brushes than normal this weekend, and washed them all with beautyblender cleanser, and am pleased with the product. It smells a little...vegetative, being soy-based and all, but I watched excess product buildup foam out of the bristles and wash down the drain, and the brushes are now clean and soft. 

Dr. Jart + Waterfuse BB Cream: GAH. OK. I'm in love with the concept of the BB cream, having now been introduced to it (in short: four-in-one moisturizer, serum, sunscreen, skin tint/blemish cover). Dr. Jart definitely evened out my skin and brightened my complexion. BUT this shit is for the driest of skins. I have combination skin, but can make it until 5 or 6 before I shine. With Dr. Jart, I was shining by 11 a.m., and positively lacquerous (new word!) by 2 p.m. It was RIDICULOUS. So...I'm hoping to get a new BB Cream sample, better formulated for combo or oily skin, in a future Birchbox.

So, that was my Birchbox for the month of May. I'll say this is... 2 out of 5, stars. I'm giving Birchbox at least 3 months until I evaluate the continuation of the subscription.

*for my general thoughts on Birchbox, the company, the concept, and why the hell I'm participating (spoiler alert: I don't know), and how that informs my voice/presentation of these box reviews, and how I rank them, see post: Birchbox: First Impressions

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Writing is a hard habit to build...

when it was quit in frustration a couple of years ago. I still have a thesis to write. I have too many student loans to not write that thesis.

Tomorrow morning is the home inspection. Upon clean bill of home health, Hubs will be confetti'd with paint chips.

Things with which I eventually want to populate this blog, but have yet to form/write my thoughts around:
Home/Craft/DIY projects
Things found in the feminist blogosphere, and how I relate to them (sidenote: stepping into feminist blogosphere seems to paint a target on one's back, which is something I do not handle well. This item is a stretch for me.)
Funny shit
Non-instagram photos. Because I'm a Windows phone user (but even if Instagram goes W-phone, I'd ignore it).
I also have a Zune. Hate-on.
Maybe I'll try to write about music, too.
Comic things....maybe. I mostly enjoy reading, not so much dissecting & discussing.
Burlesque? Indy has a rockin' Burlesque scene.
My failed fashion experiments
and life in general

there's a lot out there...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If I gotta do it small,

then I'll do it small.

Just a quick post tonight to say that a purchase agreement has been made on what we hope to be our first home. Home stuff will quickly take over this blog if I am to continue posting. You've been warned.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Failing Ambitiously

Short and sweet, it's late: Let's give this blog thing another shot.

ETA: Dear God isn't my choice of template OBNOXIOUS? perfect.

ETAA: It WAS obnoxious. Updated because shiny.