Pastel Mania

Pastel Swabs_zoesaysIt being Spring means my love for pastels can blossom for a month or two before it has to shrivel away again for ten months.

Most people associate pastels only with babies. I get that. Should I ever have children, I will have an incredibly difficult time narrowing down colors for the baby’s room. (Official warning to the husband here.)

But I have always been drawn to soft colors. Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Spring; perhaps 80s marketing left an indelible impression on me to the point where my passion for pastels is embedded onto my DNA.

Whatever the case may be, it is Pastel Season and it makes me happy. All the candies are pretty, wrapping paper and tissue explode from displays in my favorite colors, and the world is a gloriously soft rainbow.

To that end, I had a crochet order to fulfill this past weekend and when I was finished, I decided that nothing would complete me more than making some amigurumi Easter eggs.

I only began with three but it’s a pretty safe bet I will make a few more of these during the week. While I am not a religious person, I do love the symbolism that Easter brings: renewal, growth, birth, and of course pretty stuff.

These crochet eggs are so incredibly easy to make and take hardly any time (or yarn) at all. Mine were made with an F hook (3.75mm) and some scraps of DK yarn. I want to keep challenging myself with the different patterns and color changes and add a flower blossom or two to the next ones.

Since the order I was fulfilling happened to be some amigurumi duckies, what could make for a cuter photo session than baby ducks and eggs?

Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Happy Pastels Everywhere!

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Moth to a (Pink) Flame

When I was a child, I had a raging sweet tooth. It required a lot of ’round the clock feeding and was rarely satisfied.

I had the cavities–and now have the fillings–to prove it.

As a girl who has always been a sucker for anything in pretty colors, especially pastels and especially things in the pink family, I have always been drawn to food items that came in pink. Cakes and candies swathed in this color trumped all. (I believe the British call these “sweeties.”)

Pink + cake = Zoe craves to eat it.

That is the formula of my life, best illustrated by this food pyramid by a delightful artist out of Seattle. Thank you, Cakespy.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-16.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-14.

I’m happy to say that as I matured, I grew out of my insatiable need to have pure sweets in my belly for the better part of my existence. Over the years, I have thought about some of the the “foods” I used to eat on a regular basis, and I cringe (and so do my teeth).

I possessed a much higher tolerance for crazily sweet and/or tart candy growing up. SweetTarts, Starburst, Skittles, Warheads, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Fun Dip, Now ‘n Laters, Fruit Rollups, candy necklaces…anything and everything in that spectrum and I consumed it like it was my job. (If only!)

One of my lasting all-time favorites, though? Nerds. There was just something about those teeny little candies that got me every time. They even put my two favorite flavor-colors together, pink and purple, into one box, so I could just ingest pink and purple to my heart’s delight.

On a recent road trip, I purchased a box of Nerds for when I would be driving and I needed something sweet to crunch on. It helps keep me more alert when I’ve been driving for long periods of time.

I saw the box of Rainbow Nerds at the store and knew it would do the trick.

Nerds Box

As expected, it lasted me the entire trip home. I even had some leftover. When you’re on the road for hours upon hours, you have a lot of time for reflection. One’s mind wanders. As I was nostalgically eating my rainbow candy and wondering why the hell it was SO freaking tasty, even to my thirty-three year old tongue, it hit me that this particular blend of flavors made me think, “This is what pink tastes like.”

Which sounds ridiculous, I know. But that is exactly what the mixture of flavors in this box makes me think of–pink!

And when you look at them, there are supposedly a varied amount of flavors here; it seems like there’s lemon, orange, apple or watermelon, grape, strawberry.

Nerds Hand 1

If you’re wondering what I did after taking this picture, I had to shove all of them in my face, lest a tiny morsel fall and start a nerd avalanche. It was awesomesauce.

Put them all together, though, and you get this pink tasting flavor (YUM) that explodes in tang once you get to start crunching on them. Talk about addicting.

The thing is, I really don’t buy candy anymore, save for something chocolate on occasion, but colorful, pure sugar candy? No way. I’ve just plain moved on from it.

And yet Wonka, that crafty bastard, has managed to keep my interest in this one particular candy, a relationship now spanning twenty-five years. These teensy, delicate, food-colored bits that are nothing more than hardened syrups and sugars still do it for me. And now that I’ve declared this “the taste of pink,” I foresee myself buying another box as a treat sometime down the road.

On the one hand, I want to embrace my quirky passion for this Zoe-tailored treat. On the other, I feel like a sucker to Mass Marketing, who knows exactly what they’re doing when they target kids at the earliest of ages with their extreme flavors and bright colors.

I have SOME self-control. I won’t be stocking up on Rainbow Nerds as if they’re going to disappear from shelves like Twinkies did (for all of what, a week?). But I know I’ll be back.

Being an 80s child means I have some majorly strong attachments to the things I grew up with. Nerds have withstood the test of time. They’re just as fun to eat as they were when I was a kid and now they embody the flavor of pink in my adult mind.

Wonka: 1 | Zoe: 0

The Virtues of Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Like exercise or flossing, cleaning one’s makeup brushes is something makeup bloggers and aestheticians strongly recommend doing if you regularly beat your mug with all kinds of pretty products, as I am wont to do.

Like exercise or flossing, I need to do it way more often than I actually do.

I think the pros do this multiple times a week. Bravo to them. I don’t make the time to do it, though I know it’s much more hygienic to do it that often.

Gross consequences of never washing your brushes are things like big old clogged pores and eye infections. Conversely, if you buy super cheapy brushes that don’t last longer than a few months, you can always just keep buying new ones every so often.

However, if you are serious about makeup, you know the importance of investing in at least one or two key brushes. I’ve been given several sets over the years and have plunked down more money than I care to say on a couple of really solid brushes that have lasted me a long time.

Cleaning one’s brushes also increases their longevity, so it’s a good payback system.

There are dozens of suggestions out there for how to clean your brushes and with what. I find that a few drops of tea tree oil and a little gentle shampoo (or even something like Dawn) works really well. Tea tree oil kills the germs and the Dawn or the shampoo sudses out the oils and dirt. (Not sure if “sudses” is a verb but I’m going with it.)

I took the liberty of taking some photos of my process today. You can see that I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue with cleaning mine. They all needed to soak for quite a bit and be rinsed out really thoroughly before they were clean. I went through at least three bowls of pink, dirty makeup water.

So don’t be like me and literally let dust build up on the tips of your brushes. Soak those suckers as often as you can make time for it. Your face will thank you for it!

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

Assemble your soaking bowl, cleansing soap or shampoo, and your tea tree oil.

zoe says 060213-2

Get those babies in there, letting the tea tree oil disinfect.

Second set of brushes...

Second set of brushes…

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, and lay on paper towels.

Rinse THOROUGHLY, gently squeeze out the excess water, reshape, and lay on paper towels.

Pretty maids all in a row...

Pretty maids all in a row…

Be sure not to put them back in their containers right away, since you want any excess water to drip onto the paper towels. If too much water sits at the base, it’ll get mildewy and disgusting. Nobody wants that.

Lastly, you can help the drying process along by gently blowdrying them when they’ve air dried for a while. Then you’ve got nice, clean, fluffy brushes to help you look your best again.

Soapbox

Bath and Body Works Soap

Photo courtesy of danabronsteter on Flickr

A couple of years ago, I made the decision that from then on out, I was going to be a “fancy” soap buyer. I was doing away with the dimestore soap. Does anybody even use the word dimestore anymore? I know nobody says “five and dime,” though I think that is just the cutest name ever for what we now call Dollar Tree. Not knocking on Dollar Tree – you can get some deal$ there.

I have tangential nostalgia issues.

Back to the soap. This morning, we ran out of hand soap in the bathroom. I know, right? Call the newspaper. That is, if you still have one in existence. Anyhow, it wasn’t just the end of the soap, it was the end of the water+soap mixture in the bottom of the bottle, as well. That’s srs bsns. If you don’t know what I just said, that’s internet speak for, “We’re not messing around.” It’s time to get thee more soap when the watery stuff is gone. I will like, freak out if I don’t have something proper cleansing my hands. (For me, bar soap is a last resort, though I will use it.)

Being the internet addicted diva that I am, I promptly sat down at my computer and browsed Bath & Body Works’ array of fine hand soaps for a few minutes and took advantage of their sale. (Do they ever not have a sale?) Five more bottles of hand soap are now on their way to me. Side note: they’re already using words like Spook-tacular and have Halloween-themed bottles of soap. Really?

Back to the point about how I purchased five bottles of soap. You wouldn’t think two people would need so much. We really do go through it faster than you’d think. At least, those of us who frequently hand wash do. Plus, the extra bottles let me decide which scent I feel in the mood for and then I don’t have to get in the car and go somewhere each time I run out. Which, as we’ve established, is at a rapid clip.

Whatever it is about B&BW’s soap, it feels “fancy.” And they know it. They have me in their Target Demographic sights and I have been pulled in. I’ve bought whatever they’re selling and I come right back to the trough for more. Some people prefer to shop at Crabtree & Evelyn or Williams Sonoma for their fancy soaps. All well and good. But I feel comfortable with the bright colors and hundreds of scents that they manage to re-create each year, not to mention the slightly-more-fancy-than-average plastic packaging that B&BW offers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think a person is slumming it if s/he doesn’t have fancy soap. Plenty of people are perfectly fine with a bar of Zest adorning their faucet. For a long time, the “aquarium” series from SoftSoap adorned my own sinks. Good smell, decent soap, average price, available just about everywhere. Somewhere along the way, after trying B&BW’s soap, I decided to stick with it. For a Super Smeller Girly Girl like myself, it just seemed the natural thing to do. I get to mix it up with the smells and textures and my hands will come away clean, soft, and amazing smelling. Win win win.

Plus! If I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to trudge up to the mall to face society and consumerism, shopping online in my pajamas affords me the luxury of having the soap brought to me, not to mention the fact that I don’t have to talk to any sales clerks or wait in line behind the woman trying to return used antibacterial hand gel.

All pluses.

All of this having been said….Are we amazed at my ability to discuss something as innocuous as soap yet? Fancy soap on my sink is like Folger’s in your cup. If ya know what I mean, and I think ya do.

Poor Man’s Lancôme Mascara

Foreword: I minored in French and it never ceases to frustrate me that I can’t get the proper accents on French words – at least easily. I went out of my way to get the one for Lancôme, but not the rest of the words listed. My apologies to anyone who cringes at this, as I do.

Most of you know what a devout fan I am of Lancôme. See “Bottom line, these are awesome.” In that particular post, I laud the traits of Lancôme’s L’Extreme mascara.

Their Definicils is one of their best-selling, and it is also very good. This post refers to their Hypnose Drama mascara. For some reason, I can’t get on board with the regular Hypnose, but I tried a tube of Hypnose Drama and I’m hooked. I love having mascaras that produce different effects and this one definitely gives you that lash ‘wow’ factor. It’s very black and gives the lashes lots of volume and oomph, if you will. I go between it and the L’Extreme, depending on my mood.

The illustrious tube of Hypnose Drama

However!  I have found myself unable to splurge on Lancôme before, seeing as each tube of mascara is at least $24. Desperate times call for desperate measures and so I found myself staring at all the mascaras in my local drugstore not too long ago. I knew that there were certain brands that had good reputations and I had also remembered seeing an ad for a relatively new mascara from Maybelline….So for less than half the price of a tube of Hypnose Drama (about $11.50), I went ahead and purchased Maybelline’s Lash Stiletto mascara in black. Tada!

Lash Stiletto

And the results are in. This is HONESTLY the most similar mascara you will find to Lancôme. It even has the same chemical in it because it has the same funny smell. (I never thought mascara smelled before but whatever product they’re using in these two is distinct. L’Extreme doesn’t have it, nor does Definicils.) Your lashes don’t dry like twigs, it’s a very black, glossy mascara when you put it on, and your lashes look absolutely gorgeous. I’m going to post a photo below of me just wearing the mascara below. The quality isn’t amazing (it’s a tad orange) but it’s not terrible. You can definitely see my eyelashes standing out.

So this is definitely on the list of Zoe Recommends. You save money and you look fabulous. Way to go, Maybelline. My hat is off to you. This is not to say that you should cut Lancôme out of your life or anything – that’d be plain ridiculous – but as a short-term alternative to the best mascara in the world, this one will do very nicely.

Anybody else tried it and loved it? Leave me feedback!