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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Me and the Sea

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I have a strange dichotomy with the sea. Seas = beaches. Beaches are hard to find when you grow up in landlocked states like Missouri. If you want some sea, you have to go and find it.

When I have found it, I have stared and contemplated for long periods of time (what felt like little eternities), soaking it all in.

No matter the weather, these bodies of water mesmerize me.

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I become very aware that I am in an otherworldly place, someplace else that is not my day-to-day. Perhaps the sea is my “somewhere over the rainbow.” The rhythmic sounds of the waves, sometimes gentle, sometimes harsh, lull me into a state of inner peace where I am much more easily able to put away my cares. My favorite nature sound is listening to the ocean to help me get to sleep when I’m feeling anxious or experiencing insomnia.

Despite my love for the beauty and tranquility of the water (this is where the dichotomy comes in), I don’t feel the need to live near one.

Some people require being in close proximity to bodies of water. My mother is one of those people. She takes her pleasure from the lake(s) she lives close to; I truly think it grounds her.

But for me, I prefer to keep the specialness of the sea apart from my daily life. In addition to seas and oceans making me feel as if I’m on vacation, which I enjoy preserving, I also do not possess skin genes that allow for high doses of sun on a regular basis. In another life, perhaps I’ll have gorgeous skin that browns like a turkey at Thanksgiving. But in this life, I have pale, incendiary skin, suited for shade, air conditioning, and computer work.

When forced to be outdoors for any length of time, sea or no sea, I swath my skin in high doses of SPF sunblock, the better with which to help me be an outdoors(wo)man for a few hours.

Me and the sea are tight. I can’t wait until the next time I’m near one, so I may dip my toes into the frothy water and drink in the salty air.

Until such time, I’ll remember the sea fondly with previous memories and look through others’ eyes who have captured it in places I will probably never go.

The Lonely but Beautiful Path

This post was in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Recently, I signed up for The Daily Post from WordPress.com–and I’m so glad I did!

I usually have a few drafts in my back pocket but the daily inspiration really gets the creative juices flowing.

I decided to partake in this week’s photo challenge just for fun and because it had been a while since I’d done a photography post.

This week’s theme is “masterpiece,” and it can have a wide interpretation. Almost immediately upon thinking about the word masterpiece, and what kind of image might best represent that concept, one of the photos I shot last year rose quickly to the surface.

The Seattle Great Wheel towers over the bay and is, in my mind, an architectural masterpiece. It is also a mode of transportation that allows one to go way up in the sky and see some of the most beautiful sights (or, “masterpieces,”) in the United States–those of the stunning city of Seattle.

It was difficult to choose which photo I wanted to use but I decided on this one for the composition and because the Great Wheel is only mostly visible; the fact that some of it didn’t make it into the frame suggests how grandly colossal it is. Albeit enormous, it is a graceful sight to behold as it gently completes its rounds.

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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.

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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.

Shoutout to my dawg October

There are only six days of October left, people! The last day is Halloween and then the day after Halloween, we’re in this, “Now what?” kind of mode. “Now what” being November.

I have posted before about one of my favorite months, that being the month of May. It’s not just my birth month but has some of the best weather (depending where you are in the country) and is, overall, a happy sunshiney type month.

In the aforementioned post I just referenced, I mention that it’s one of my two favorite months. However, I misspoke. I actually have three. Originally I was only referring to May and December (because I do love me some Christmas and the start of winter) but I was completely and totally overlooking October. My humblest apologies to October because I absolutely love it.

Zoe Says her reasons for applauding October:

  1. It’s the tenth month of the year. As a gal with a May birthday and lover of symmetry and all numbers being multipliers of five, its place in the calendar year is tops. 5+5=10? We get October!
  2. It’s full-on AUTUMN (okay and usually Indian Summer, too). It’s when the weather finally turns from summer to cool, crisper days. The leaves turn stunning, brilliant colors of yellow, orange, and red. They flutter to the ground in a lilting dance, aided by Mother Nature’s breezes.
  3. The leaves on the ground turn crisp and make a lovely crunching noise when you walk through them.
  4. As the weather gets chillier, especially at night, the smell of woodsmoke permeates the air, whether it’s from people conducting weenie and marshmallow roasts, folks staying warm by their fireplaces, or groups of people having a good old-fashioned bonfire.
  5. One word: hoodies.
  6. Pumpkin comes back with a vengeance and we begin consuming it fervently. It’s in our drinks, it’s in our desserts,  there’s something called pumpkin butter, we toast the seeds, we carve them for fun.
  7. Orange is really in.
  8. Halloween. Candy. Trick-or-treaters. Decorations. Ghosts. You get the idea.
  9. Apple orchards are prime for picking fresh apples, which will also become many desserts from now through December.
  10. Hay rides, scary or non.
  11. Beaucoup de autumn photos! Seriously, Tumblr this month has been crazy with posting all these glorious fall pictures. Guilty!
  12. Last but not least: another month with TONS of birthdays, including my brother’s! I’m in May, he’s in October – it’s pretty fantastic.

And because I have absolutely been taking tons of pictures of anything related to autumn this month, I am posting a handful of my favorites for your viewing pleasure. I hope October has been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me! Make these last six days count.

Last of the blooms

At the end of the path

Dappled leaves

Leaves on bokeh

Serene autumn landscape

Zoe Recommends: Old-Fashioned Whiskey Sours

I am all kinds of excited for today’s post! Due to some adult content, if you will, I have a few things I need to mention before getting to the meat of things:

  • This is a post about alcohol. Please use common sense when consuming adult beverages, especially whiskey.
  • This recipe uses raw egg white. If you are allergic to eggs or have a severe phobia of consuming raw egg, you can choose to omit the egg white but you will lose out on a huge part of what makes this recipe so delicious.
  • This cocktail will change your life.
  • Kthxbai

One of the very first cocktails I ever got into was the whiskey sour. My grandfather on my dad’s side was known for making the best ones, even though I was never old enough to be able to have one and fully appreciate it when he was alive. Even though I never knew the taste of his whiskey sours, I did know that what most bartenders nowadays consider a whiskey sour – isn’t one.

Because I was dying to find a REAL source for old-fashioned whiskey sours, I scoured the corners of the interwebs, since I couldn’t ask my grandfather. (Who, by the way, was born in 1905, so when I say old-fashioned, I mean old-fashioned.)

I came upon this article from Seattle Weekly and knew immediately after reading it that I would be doing a post on making this woman’s recipe. Favorite line? “Lazy bartenders…sullied the drink’s reputation by doing nothing more than pouring a shot of cheap whiskey and topping it with a squirt of some neon piss out of a gun or a plastic bottle.”

Spot on!

I personally can’t stand the pre-made, neon green sour mix of present day and was thrilled to find out what actually constitutes a sour is a blend of simple ingredients like lemon juice and simple syrup.

And, because I planned ahead, I already did a blog post on how to make your own simple syrup. So check that out before proceeding.

Another reason for my being excited to present this cocktail recipe to you is that I not only made it and liked it but I took photos. We all love a good story told by photos, don’t we? I’ll post the cocktail instructions at the end, though I’m just copying it directly from the article I referenced above.

You will need the following:

You’ll also need something to put all of these ingredients in – preferably a cocktail shaker. If you do not have one, any tightly lidded container will do. I used a Mason jar.

I don’t have a photo of me pouring a shot of whiskey into my jar but that is what I did. Pretty easy to do and to imagine.

Next up: squeeze half a lemon!


The recipe calls for a “dollop” the size of a quarter of the first runny clear egg white that comes out of the shell. Because I was taking photos, I decided to use my handy dandy egg white separator. It looks like this:


I cracked the egg into the little plastic holder so I could catch the white below:


I took a tablespoon of the egg white and added it to my Mason jar. I then added “half an ounce” (I admit it, I eyeballed that) of simple syrup to my Mason jar. That’s about one tablespoon.

Now we’re ready to shake! REALLY shake it – it’s going to give you this creamy, delicious froth from the egg white that makes your whiskey sour all velvety.


You’ll have a mixture that looks like this:

Almost ready
If you have a little strainer, get that out. You definitely don’t want chunks of pulp in your whiskey sour (unless that’s how you roll) but I like mine smooth as silk.

Strain! I had shaken mine with two cubes of ice to get it REALLY cold before pouring it over more ice but you don’t have to do that. If you have a formal cocktail shaker, you’ll be able to get more of the egg white foam on top of your drink.


Mmmmmmm…….


Some people put a cherry in or a garnish of an orange or lemon wedge. I really just wanted to enjoy the drink as-is and it’s still very attractive and yummy looking, if I do say so myself.

Serve and enjoy! And just for fun, a couple more ooo and aaahh shots:



By far, making my own has given me the supreme gratification of saying that I now make the BEST old-fashioned whiskey sours. I have made these a couple of times now (actually, Kevin made the first batch) and didn’t get sick from consuming raw egg. Just be sure to use FRESH eggs and keep these babies cold.

Have I inspired you to try making these? I really hope so. I’d love to hear back if you do! Recipe below. Cheers!

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For two whiskey sours, shake:

Juice from one lemon
Two shots of whiskey (more if you like your drinks strong)
1oz. of simple syrup, which amounts to two tablespoons (adjust to taste, of course)
2T. of egg white, though you can add more if you want more froth

Strain and pour over ice, if that’s your thing.

Garnish if you wish and then ENJOY. These are seriously kickass. Zoe Recommends!

First Photography Post! “The Junk Shoes”

This morning, I asked Kevin if he would mind very much if I threw out his beat up pair of New Balance shoes since he’d gotten some new ones for Christmas.

“I need a pair of junk shoes,” he replied, “so don’t throw those out. But I’d be happy to throw out the even older pair of shoes than those.”

My mouth went agape. He had shoes older and crappier than the ones in my hand?

He did. He really, really did.

Behold, Kevin’s super incredibly old junk shoes that loveliness forgot long ago:

They were so decrepit and time worn that I immediately pulled out my camera and started snapping photos.

Slightly confused at what I was doing, he asked, “Why are you taking pictures of my nasty shoes?”

“Because I’m going to blog about them, of course,” I answered breezily.

Now it was his turn to look aghast.

“You’re…going to blog about this?” he asked me uneasily.

“Yep!” He was out of options. The photos were quickly accumulating on my camera.

Since he couldn’t do anything about it, he got into the spirit and finally started showing off all the “features” of the shoes that told me they should have been in a landfill a couple of years ago. Here’s the hole he highlighted for me:

And another:

There’s nothing else to say except thank God he has me around.

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Author’s note: This is my very first “real” photography post. I know that the post that had the picture of the gas light being lit technically holds that title but I felt I had more depth and artistic creation with this pair of shoes, so I have dubbed this post with said worthy title. Thanks for sharing with me in my creative journey! Feel free to leave any feedback, whether it’s about the craptastic shoes that Kevin was still willing to wear while doing “junk work,” or how I shot them.