Month: January 2017

What I Read: All the Mysteries

Well, not all of them, not yet anyway. Thanks to Sherry, I recently discovered the Phryne Fisher series, and quickly read my way through the first 3 books. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about the protagonist, although I appreciate that she’s not your typical 1920s detective. (Weirdly enough, Phryne’s spending habits stress me out. I am perpetually worried that her seemingly endless supply of funds will run out. As I said, weird.) I unreservedly love the author’s attention to detail (especially for clothes, swoon) and ability to recreate the atmosphere of the era and location (Melbourne, Australia). I’m a bit miffed that the books are rather pricey; I like buying my favourite mystery novels, as I tend to re-read them periodically, but the series is some 20 plus novels strong and counting, and at $15+ a pop I don’t fancy my odds of collecting the whole lot. I haven’t been to the public library in years — it may be time for a visit.

On a related note, if you love the fashion described in the books as much as I do, I suggest checking out this Reddit sub for some Phryne #styleinspo.

For Christmas, one of the gifts I bought my husband was a copy of the Atlas Obscura, which struck me as the sort of thing he would enjoy; he is forever looking up obscure factoids on Wikipedia, and emerging from some unlikely rabbit hole hours later, way past his bedtime (ahem). To be honest, though, it also looked like the kind of book I would enjoy reading as well, and indeed I have been dipping in and out of it over the last few weeks. It’s similar to an encyclopedia, except with more photos. Would definitely recommend for the adventurer-at-heart in your life.

Branching out a bit from the usual here, but I would be remiss if I did not tell you to watch the new Victoria series on PBS (Sunday nights). I have been waiting for this show to come to our side of the Pond for months, and so far it has not disappointed. If you’re a stickler for historical accuracy, you may be disappointed; but if you love watching gorgeous people wearing gorgeous clothes on gorgeous sets, then you will be hooked. The cast is led by Jenna Coleman, whom you may recognize from Doctor Who (which I have not watched since Rose and the Tenth Doctor parted ways) and who is fantastic as teenage “Vicky”, and Rufus Sewell, who is always fantastic and whom you may recognize from my occasional drooling posts. Sewell plays Lord Melbourne, who was a sort of (much older) father figure to the young queen at the beginning of her reign, prior to her marriage to the “dreamboat” Albert. By rights, this should make the Vicbourne “ship” a tough sail except that I am *totally* on-board, no questions asked — and that is even after Lord M rocked some truly unfortunate looking high-waisted trousers in the premiere episode. Albert who? I have an enormous soft spot for RS as Aurelio Zen — another, too short-lived “must watch” series — but Lord M might be one of my favourite roles of his to date. His chemistry with Jenna Coleman is strong enough to make me sit through the palace servants’ Downton Abbey knockoff storyline without too much grumbling.

[Fun historical fact: Lord M was married to Caroline Lamb, who had an infamous fling with Lord Byron. The spouses apparently reconciled after the scandal, only to separate again later. He never remarried. He also didn’t look as dashing as Rufus Sewell but then again, nobody does. The man would have chemistry with a phone book, and I volunteer to play the part of said phonebook in any future screen adaptation.]

On to some interesting articles … this Refinery29 post took a look at the (typically negative) way in which women with fertility issues are portrayed in pop culture — The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, anyone? Personally, I think it’s just a part and parcel of the problematic way that women in general are depicted — female characters are frequently either negative stereotypes, Mary Sue improbabilities, or completely lacking in agency. And I say that as a white woman, who at least gets to see characters who look like her, no matter how unsatisfactory their personalities and actions. Invisibility in the media is still, in 2017, a thing that women of colour have to deal with, sadly. On that note, I am really excited to go see Hidden Figures.

On a style-related noted, The Fashion Law recently featured a good article on counterfeit couture. Knock-off designer bags are a well-known issue in the industry and among consumers, but few people realize how pervasive counterfeiting is; everything can and is being knocked-off, from clothes, to all kinds of accessories, to perfume and make-up — and with the off-shoring of so much luxury manufacturing, the counterfeits are becoming harder and harder to distinguish from the real deal. One thing that the article did not touch upon was the dark side of the counterfeit business; I know that, in the past at least, the trade in knock-off bags was linked to gang activity, which added a whole other level of ethical/moral issues to the discussion. I’m not sure if the same is true nowadays, and particularly in respect of high end counterfeits, and I’d be interested to read more on that topic.


Dress, Lida Baday (thrifted); blazer, H&M (thrifted); belt, Anthropologie; shoes, Sam Edelman (thrifted); bag, MbMJ
Dress, Lida Baday (thrifted); blazer, H&M (thrifted); belt, Anthropologie; shoes, Sam Edelman (thrifted); bag, MbMJ

I love a pretty, embellished elastic-backed belt — they’re functional (comfy too) and ornamental at the same time. I got this one years ago at Anthropologie (on sale) and I wish I could find something similar again, but I’ve had no luck the last few times I went to the store. Oh well. The one I do have worked nicely against the somewhat masculine print of the dress, and the colours paired well with the plum blazer. I kept my other accessories very minimal to make sure that the overall result wasn’t too dressy for the office. In the past, I reserved this belt for special occasions, because it *is* on the flashier side, but I think this shows that it can be “dressed down” if necessary.

hashtag: short hair don't care
hashtag: short hair don’t care
not a black belt
not a black belt

I have not had any luck in finding a better version of this H&M blazer which I love in all respects except quality. In fact, I don’t even mind the ponte material itself — it’s the lining that’s driving me crazy. It feels so incredibly plastic, and it’s almost entirely non-breathable. I hate it! Most of my blazer linings are polyester blends, and none are quite this bad. I’m not sure why this one is so different. Here’s hoping the thrift gods send me a suitable replacement soon because this blazer is quickly becoming a staple.

did I mention pockets!?
did I mention pockets!?
blazered up
blazered up

My Skin Care Routine

NOTE: All links used in this post are non-affiliate links to product pages on Amazon.

Over the years, readers have asked me to share my skin care routine, and I have always demurred. The reason for my reticence was threefold. One, for years, my skin care routine was too basic to qualify for that nomenclature; the only products I used were a drugstore cleanser and moisturizer of no particular distinction. Two, I was deeply uninterested in skin care until very recently. And three, I am fundamentally lazy, so if something doesn’t interest me, I’m rarely motivated to write about it.

But now! Things have changed. I blame it on getting older. Ever since I left my teenage years behind, my skin has been relatively problem-free. No discoloration, no acne, some enlarged pores, occasional blemishes, mild sensitivity, seasonal dryness. With age came the fine — and not so fine — wrinkles. The worst are the ones on my forehead (especially my Resting Bitch Face-enabling “elevens”) and the smile lines around my mouth. The rest of my skin is much the same as always, but those wrinkles are a pain. So much so that I started seriously considering Botox last year. The drawback was not so much the injecting-toxins-into-my-face part (which my husband is forever harping about) but the cost. I’ve always been cheap about skin care — which is terrible, I know. Instead of running to the cosmetic office, I decided to get “serious” about my skin care as a last ditch effort. So, now, I have an actual bona fide skin care routine, and I’m actually pretty thrilled with it.


I got into the habit of using wipes to wash off my make-up a while ago, and stuck with it because of the convenience. I use the Kirkland brand ones from Costco. Previously, I used Pond’s cold cream for make-up removal and it worked quite well, especially as I did not use a night moisturizer at the time and the cold cream was quite nourishing. I use micellar rose water to clean the skin around my eyes (whatever bottle I can find at Winners). Then the needling begins.

On recommendation from a friend, I bought a Derma-roller with 0.5 mm needles. She said that it, combined with a regimen of vitamin A and vitamin C serums, is what her doctor friend swears by. Good enough for me to try it, especially as the Derma-roller was inexpensive ($15 on Amazon, here). I put a thin layer of light moisturizer on my skin before needling it, and use very light pressure. My skin is a little bit rosy and tingly afterwards, but I have never had broken skin or any inflammation. I use the Derma-roller every other day, and follow it up with a few drops of pure rose hip oil. I bought mine at Winners (the brand is Oliology), but this one is a bestseller on Amazon.

On nights when I don’t use the Derma-roller, after the cleaning wipes, I use the CosRx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol Toner recommended by Xin. I also slap on some CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid on my nose and forehead where I have enlarged pores. I follow this up with a few drops of Oz Naturals Hyaluronic Acid Serum with Vitamin C, and then the rose hip oil.

I still occasionally use sheet masks (Tony Moly ones are my fave) but less so than before, as I am quite devoted to my Derma-roller/BHA lotions schedule. On a somewhat related note, I recently switched to a 100% silk pillow case, to see if it makes a difference, wrinkles-wise. It has taken some time to adjust to it (it’s more slippery and cooler than a regular cotton pillow case, neither of which is something I particularly like), and I can’t say that I’ve seen a tremendous difference in the interim. A silk pillow case is also supposed to eliminate bed-head, although that’s not something I struggle with (my pixie probably looks better when it’s a bit tousled). This lady certainly loves hers [note: this is a review of silk pillow cases I randomly found online].


I don’t use a cleanser again in the morning, though I will use a pad soaked in micellar water to wipe under my eyes if remnants of the previous day’s mascara miraculously reappear overnight. I use the CosRx BHA toners (same as above), followed by the hyaluronic acid serum, and lastly Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence sunscreen with SPF 50. I am embarrassed to say that I never used to wear sunscreen regularly (unless going to the beach) because I was used to the thick, zinc-based sunscreens that are sold in stores here; it’s impossible to wear those under make-up. Not so with the Biore sunscreen; it’s more like a light moisturizer than a traditional sunscreen. I add my foundation directly on top of it, and find that it sits quite well.

What are the results of my new regime? Well, for starters, my skin is the softest ever, even in the dead of winter. Seriously, it’s rose petal-soft. I also have eliminated the flakiness I used to get on my nose (a side-effect of our weather — truly, the winter air here hurts my face).  I do think my skin looks “fresher”, but that’s a very subjective thing to measure. As for my wrinkles … alas, they are still there. Some days, I’m almost convinced they’re less visible; other days, they’re no better than before. It’s still early days, though, so I’m happy enough with the results to stick to the new routine. I know I need to also start drinking more water, which will hopefully help. All in all, I’m putting off Botox … for now.

For anyone curious, I wrote about my everyday make-up routine before, and not much has changed in the interim. I have swapped a few of the products in the last year or so, however, so here is a quick run-down of my current arsenal [Note: most of these are cheaper to buy at the drugstore, but I’m linking to Amazon for convenience]:

FoundationRimmel 25 hr Lasting Finish liquid foundation
Powder: e.l.f Tone Correcting powder
Concealer (under-eyes): Essence Say No to Dark Circles (bright rose)
Blush: Hard Candy Glow All the Way Ombre Baked Blush [cannot find on Amazon; I buy mine at Walmart]
Eyeshadow: L’Oreal Color Riche eye quad (rose nude) for the crease (I use one of the two middle pans); L’Oreal Color Riche Mono cream shadows (mademoiselle pink and little beige dress) for the lids
Eyebrow: Essence Eyebrow Designer pencil (blonde) and e.l.f. eyebrow duo (medium — I use the powder to set over the Essence pencil)
Mascara: L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly (black brown)
Liner: L’Oreal Infallible eyeliner (black brown)
Lips: Rimmel Colour Rush lip crayons (I basically have most of them, but my favourite is Not An Illusion)

everyday make-up
everyday make-up

Of course, I love to hear about other people’s Holy Grail skin care and make-up products (especially the inexpensive ones), so please share yours in the comments.