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.

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Paying Homage to Pretty

So even though I usually keep the photo posts over on my photo blog, I wanted to share a little bit over here because that’s how much I love staring at pretty, sparkly, lit up Christmas trees.

I think the pagans were right on the mark with this whole tree idea.

Even at this very moment, my tree is sitting lit behind me and I keep turning around to look at its pretty lights and the reflections on the ornaments. Having a beautifully decorated Christmas tree helps to make up for not having a fireplace or mantel, something I grew up with and adored. (Someday….!)

Below are one picture I slated for Zoe Says and another from Flickr that I’m linking here because I couldn’t decide which look I loved most. Ah, the magic of editing software.

However, if you want to see more, because obviously I took lots of different shots from different angles and processed them differently, go here or here.

What are your favorite holiday decorations? (We have stockings up, too, but they pale in comparison to the tree.)

Tree Triptych

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 5-5 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!

————-

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!

If you are looking for “Zoe Says Photography” —

Hi there,

I have been getting some web hits for those seeking out another person who apparently has her photography business name under “Zoe Says Photography.” It’s not me. Yes, I have a blog called Zoe Says and yes, I have a Photography category. I’m not the person who goes by Zoe Says Photography, though.

I don’t know who this person is, it’s just a nomenclature overlap. This should reinforce for us all a couple of things: unique names really don’t exist anymore; and without the internet, I never would have known about it.

After doing a bit of hunting around, I found out that the business is based in Texas, so at the very least, we are in different areas of the country. So, for any of you who landed here looking for that person’s website, sorry to disappoint (but perhaps you’ll stay a spell and enjoy one or two blog posts) but I am not the woman who will be taking your portraits. Unless of course you’re in the Illinois area. Then by all means hit me up.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by the blogger Zoe Says and not the photographer of Zoe Says Photography.

But I’m all…this is hard!

Before I get to the meat of this post, does anyone remember the scene from Will & Grace when Jennifer Elise Cox plays the valley girl nurse who freaks Grace out? I can’t tell you how many times I have recited the “This is hard!” line over the years (that’s what she said).

Note: I used to have a YouTube clip here that showed it but NBC had to yank it because it’s copyrighted and we’re not allowed to enjoy watching that scene for free.

It rarely gets any better than that, though Modern Family and Parks and Rec could probably creep up on that level of brilliance.

Anywhoosits, I don’t know about you fine folks but I have had a doozy of a week. Thankfully, it’s gone from worse to better as the week has progressed. Better than starting a week off great and heading into the weekend feeling sucky because…well, it just sucks. And hey, the final Harry Potter movie is out, so at the very least we have some decent cinema to see, right?

So as some of you may know, I started up a side photography business not too long ago. I’m a few months into portfolio building and have a couple of sessions under my belt, plus 4,000 other photos I have taken and edited on my own with an ever increasing critical eye. I am working diligently each and every day to get this kite (if I may liken my business to a kite) off the ground. But I’m all, this is hard! I’m a pretty patient person by nature, except I tend to equate hard work with results, which means that when I have put my blood, sweat and tears into something for a certain amount of time, I expect to reap the reward. If I were pursuing photography merely as a hobby, then I’d definitely be well into my apprenticeship, if you will, and I’d have no pressure on my shoulders to step out of my comfort zone and interact with <gulp> strangers.

However, since I am bound and determined to see this thing through for the long haul, I know I have to bide my time and put in the effort each and every day before the results will start trickling in. I don’t know a thing about running my own business but I guess any successful proprietor starts off that way. I’m learning a special skill (a trade?) and learning how to manage it all so that I may actually have, you know, a livelihood outside of my office career.

I’m not completely new to the whole side business venture, however. I tried Mary Kay out for a year and my two cents is if they changed their business model in just a handful of key areas, I think they could be way more successful than they have been the last fifty. That’s not to say that the original Mary Kay didn’t bust her tail but the corporate sales giant does not encourage making an honest living anymore. The products for the most part are pretty decent, although some can be vastly overpriced. However, because their business model is a multi-level marketing scheme, it’s not about the product at all but the member recruitment.

The profit margin is rather slim if you just want to hock product, unfortunately, which is all I ever wanted to do. After a year of trying to make it work, I turned in my faint hopes of remaining an Independent Beauty Consultant. If any of you fair readers out there have thought about entering into Mary Kay or want to do some serious research on the matter, check out Pink Truth. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to discourage anyone who has actually found a way to make Mary Kay work for him or herself. This was just my personal experience, obviously.

In this recession we find ourselves in, business ventures and start-ups seem to be the hottest ticket right now. I know more than just a couple of friends who are working to make their side hobbies turn into full-time enterprises. Photographers, bloggers, bakers, candlestick makers, decorators, designers, Etsy store owners, you name it. It would be wonderful if we could all see our dreams through to fruition. I certainly hope to be one of them.

Shameless plug: and if anyone out there would like a photo session courtesy of yours truly….here’s where you can find me.

And into the weekend we go!

Update: I had to shutter ZV Image Creations in 2014 but I keep my portfolio on Flickr, as linked above.

Exciting announcement!

I believe I have one or two people who follow me here because I post stuff about photography once in a blue moon. Not to say that that will stop happening altogether BUT…

I have officially started up a separate photography website!! I dubbed it ZV Image Creations. Over there, I will be writing posts strictly related to all things photography, including but not limited to editing, techniques, or even other photographers/vendors. I am ecstatic about this because not only am I making all the decisions about how to customize the site, which tickles me, but I can legitimately build a side business, which has been something I’ve been working towards for quite some time now.

The bones of the site are up and I will continually be tweaking a few things here and there but for right now, ZV Image Creations version 1.0 is up! (ZVIC also looks kinda cool….but I’m biased.)

Eventually there will be an e-commerce section (galleries/shopping cart/prints) but that is a work in progress as I continue to build my portfolio.

And if any one of you fine readers happens to be a photography enthusiast or a professional, please feel free to contact me with any constructive feedback.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here chair dancing (mostly because I’m excited but also because Lady Gaga’s new album is badass).

Makeup Porn

I didn’t really know what else to call it when a woman takes photographs of her makeup that looks good just sitting there, even when she’s not wearing it.

Since I am striving to kick this photography thing up a notch or two, I just decided to grab a few things that I love, place them in relatively good light and work the Manual setting on my camera. I also happened to have a nice glossy piece of white paper sitting around so I threw the stuff on there and started clicking.

Specifically, this color of lipstick called “Wannabe” that Lancome sent with my gift with purchase is out of this world. It’s very hot pink and very me.

Won’t you ooh and ahh with me?

This was excellent practice for me and I loved the final outcomes, especially of the lipstick photos. The white paper + editing in PSE really did the trick to get a more professional look.

Happy (Easter) weekend!

Lipstick and Brush

Wannabe