May Flowers, Finally

Top, Vanessa Virginia (via consignment); jeans, Pilcro (thrifted); bag, Coach (thrifted); shoes, Ferragamo
Top, Vanessa Virginia (via consignment); jeans, Pilcro (thrifted); bag, Coach (thrifted); shoes, Ferragamo

This top was a consignment store impulse buy. I was drawn to the floral print (what’s new) and I was distracted by my kids, so I didn’t have time to ponder its purchase in-depth. Still, it could have been worse. The blouse is cute, and it works wonderfully well with my white cropped Pilcro jeans, which came out of hibernation as soon as the first warm weekend happened. And not a moment too soon.

all about that bag
all about that bag
late bloomers
late bloomers

My favourite new thing, however, is this Coach Willis cross-body bag. I scored it, brand new, at Goodwill for $40. It was a relative splurge, but it was precisely what I had been hoping to find. Most of my bags are on the larger side, and I had been finding myself missing a smaller bag, preferably with a long strap, on the weekends. My husband and I are headed to Palm Springs at the end of the month, and I especially wanted that smaller bag for the trip. I hadn’t been looking for a burgundy bag in particular (any neutral would have worked), but I didn’t hesitate when I saw this rich, dark maroon colour. My instincts were correct; it has already proven to be a very versatile colour, and the perfect size for non-work days. I have been wearing it non-stop on weekends, and the patent leather looks to be of a kind that will hold up well.

I initially wanted to go neutral with my shoes, but I eventually went a different route because it seemed like a (rare) opportunity to wear my Tiffany blue Ferragamo flats. Gorgeous colour, hard to wear — at least, given my current closet. However, that’s not even their biggest drawback; no, that would be the fact that they are mega uncomfortable. I haven’t worn them nearly enough over the last 3 years to break them in, so they continue to give me massive blisters every time I wear them. It’s odd, considering how comfortable other Ferragamo shoes have been in my experience, which goes to show that you should never take things like comfort for granted. But hey, if anything is interested in a beautiful pair of shoes to admire (or wear at their own risk), let me know — I think I’m ready to be talked into parting with these for good.

(Also, pssst, I finally managed to update my Blog Shop page, so check it out.)

white before Memorial Day
white before Memorial Day
rules, what rules?
rules, what rules?

The One Where I Got Microblading

Don’t worry, no bloggers were harmed in the making of this post.

After spending 36 years learning to accept the things I didn’t love about my body, I recently realized that I am old enough now to afford to fix some of them. My eyesight was a big one; after 20+ years of glasses and contacts, I finally got Lasik a few weeks ago. The thought of waking up to something other than a blur is beyond exciting. But that is not what this post is about. This post is about something far more superficial: my eyebrows.

My eyebrow situation has been a low level annoyance for an awfully long time. Teenage over-plucking left me short half an eyebrow, and the remaining ones weren’t much to write home about — bushy but thoroughly blonde, which means that they were high maintenance AND pretty useless. “Putting on my eyebrows” has been a necessary daily ritual for years; without a well-defined brow, I look extra colorless and alien-like. I’ve become fairly adept at giving myself good arches, but always hated the extra hassle every morning.

Enter microblading.

When I saw my first microblading video on Instagram, I was confused … and intrigued. It took me a while to figure out what was happening (probably because I was watching the video with the sound off), but I immediately jumped on the internet to learn more. I’m old enough to remember old skool tattoo make-up, so I had some reservations at first. Some of the “after” photos that came up in my searches were less than inspiring, but it was clear that, when done well, microblading had a lot of potential. I particularly liked the fact that, unlike things like eyelash extensions for example, microblading is a longer-term solution. As I learned with gel nails, I simply don’t have time for monthly maintenance appointments in my life at present. Microblading lasts between 1 and 3 years, which struck me as a manageable commitment, both for my wallet and my face.

The big thing, as you might imagine, was finding a reputable place to have it done. Many of my friends had heard about and were interested in microblading, but no one I knew had done it. This was not the sort of thing I am comfortably leaving up to Yelp, either. I had kind of resigned myself to not doing anything about it when, a couple of months ago, I was referred to a dermatologist for an unrelated matter. [PSA: getting your moles checked is easy and it’s┬ácovered by government health care. The peace of mind that you don’t have melanoma: priceless.] That dermatologist, as it happens, also owns a spa. I figured it was worth asking and, sure enough, microblading was one of the services they offered. Anyway, long story short: I did it.

Groucho Marx = #eyebrowgoals?
mid-procedure / Groucho Marx = #eyebrowgoals?

Don’t worry, this was NOT the final result. I had to take a photo of this stage of the process because it reminded me of the first (puzzling) glimpse of microblading I’d ever had. Here’s a before-and-after comparison:

Top: natural sans make-up; Middle: with make-up; bottom: microbladed, no make-up
Top: natural sans make-up; Middle: with make-up; bottom: microbladed, no make-up

I LOVED my results. My friends loved the results. Even my mom loved the results … and that’s saying a lot, because my mom is firmly in the anti body modification camp. (I’m still not sure if she realizes that this is basically a face tattoo. I hope she’s not reading this post.) The process itself was fairly straightforward, and the pain more than tolerable. It took about 3.5 hours, during which time the aesthetician measured and sketched my “new” eyebrows, selected the colour, applied the topical numbing cream, and went over the after-care with me; there was about a half hour wait for the Lidocaine to kick in, and then the actual microblading took about an hour or so. I would say the pain was similar to what I feel when I get my eyebrows threaded. (For what it’s worth, I have a low pain threshold but fairly high pain tolerance. This definitely registered as “pain” but only at a 2 or 3 on a 1-10 scale. YMMV.) After the microblading, she applied the layer of pigment all over (as seen in the first photo), and I waited another 15 minutes or so, before she wiped it off and I was done. The skin around my eyebrows was a little bit red for the rest of the day, and I felt some tingling that evening, but nothing too major. My eyebrows looked great right from the start, although the aesthetician warned me that they would look darker during the healing process than afterward. There is a whole regimen that you’re supposed to follow for the 7-10 days, with the key thing being not to get your eyebrows wet. This is how I looked 2 days after the procedure:

everyday make-up (bare eyebrows), no filter
everyday make-up (bare eyebrows), no filter

As they healed, my eyebrows became less red, which I was happy about — I didn’t want the end result to be too close to my hair colour, as I prefer an ashier brow colour. All was going well … until about the 5 day mark when I started stabbing. The scabbing itself wasn’t super noticeable but when the scabs started to fall off … well, most of the pigment seemed to go with them.

I FREAKED OUT. Big time.

I began to frantically google my situation, which yielded some reassurance that this could be normal. I had been warned that the strokes would get lighter (and the strokes less crisp) as my eyebrows healed, but I was not expecting this. It seemed … really drastic. My follow-up appointment wasn’t for another 3 weeks so there wasn’t much I could do except suck it up.

Here are my eyebrows at the 14 day mark (2 weeks before my follow-up):

Eyebrows pre-follow up appointment
Eyebrows pre-follow up appointment

You can see how much fading occurred (more on my right than my left eyebrow). They still looked better than au naturel but not nearly as defined as immediately after the original procedure. I started to pencil them in again in the interim, and hoped that the colour would get fixed at my next appointment.

And it was. Sort of.

Again, they looked great immediately after the procedure (an abridged version of the original). The healing was much quicker (with less scabbing) the second time around as well. But, as I had come to expect, there was some colour fading again. It was nowhere near as drastic as the first time. Overall, although slightly lighter than I’d like, my eyebrows generally look fine now without any make-up/filling. There is a small exception; the tip of my right eyebrow is a bit lighter than the left — not by a significant amount, but enough to bug me, so I do touch it up with pencil during the week.

Here’s my eyebrows (without make-up) about one week after my second appointment:

Natural eyebrows, post-follow up appointment
Natural eyebrows, post-follow up appointment

So my caveat/warning for anyone considering micro-blading is this: do not be surprised by how different your eyebrows look after the healing process is done, prior to the follow-up appointment. Most pictures you see on social media are taken immediately after the procedure is done, not weeks after the healing process is over, and I find many to be quite misleading. Also, if you are very fair, but prefer having darker eyebrows, be sure to communicate that clearly to your tech and be prepared for some push-back. Mine was concerned with going too dark, even on the follow up, which remains something of a regret; I love the shape she gave me, but I wish she’d gone darker.

So was it worth it?

This was not an inexpensive splurge ($375 plus tax), and I am honestly torn on whether I would do it again or not. I think it will depend on how long the results last; anywhere from 1-3 years is the norm, but I am worried that mine will “wear off” sooner. However, even with the lighter colour, it has made a considerable difference in my daily make-up routine, so it was worth it from that perspective. I’m just not sure yet if it made $375 worth of difference. Time will tell.

What I Watched: Master of None

I’ve been binge-reading thrillers lately (Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine) so I don’t have a lot to report this week. What I am dying to talk about, though, is Master of None. If you’ve seen it, you don’t need me to tell you how good it is. If you haven’t … don’t wait, run and watch it. You can thank me later. You WILL thank me later.

The first season is excellent, but the second season is superb. Some of the episodes, like Thanksgiving and New York, I Love You are among the best TV I’ve ever watched. I love Denise, and Denise’s relationship with Dev. I have a not insignificant crush on Brian. I want to move into Arnold’s apartment with its books and its tiny chandelier. I am fond of and strangely invested in too many recurring characters to count. I love the way that the show builds its characters and their respective relationships; there’s continuity and a sense of growth, but none of it feels too pat, too “written for TV” if you know what I mean. It’s like a tapestry, weaving together diverse characters and stories. And the diversity is not of the token variety, either. The show doesn’t hit you over the head — “look how progressive we are, wink wink” — but it’s also unapologetic about spending time with issues and plotlines that, in different hands, would read as very “episode of the week”.

So, again, I say: watch Master of None. You will not regret it.

OK, now I want to talk about two specific things. One, when it first came out, Master of None got a lot of press for being a show that reflected the experience of immigrants’ kids (i.e. first generation Americans). I was intrigued by this because, well, I’m an immigrant and I’m of the same generation as Aziz Ansari, who co-wrote the show. The difference, I realized after I started watching, is that I am actually not a first generation Canadian. I was born overseas and came here as a teenager. So, while there are some similarities in my experiences versus those reflected in the show, there are also some key differences. Like friends who also emigrated as teens, I find that my experiences are a mix of “old country” (similar to those of my parents growing up) and “Canadian” (like my peers). So I was left wondering if my own children, who are actually first generation Canadians on both sides, will have experiences like Dev and Brian. To be honest, neither my husband nor I are strongly attached to our respective ethnic backgrounds/cultures (myself, in particular) so I don’t think there will be a significant “gap” between our kids and us as they get older.

Second, we need to talk about Francesca. I adore Francesca. I adore her in a borderline creepy way, where I simultaneously want to be her best friend … and to actually be her. She is so damn beautiful. She’s also funny and sweet, and if she is borderline Manic Dream Pasta Girl (I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t) she’s so charming that it doesn’t even matter. For what it’s worth, I don’t think she’s a good match for Dev, but I can’t blame the guy for trying. I would be trying too. Pretty much the entire Internet has fallen in love with Francesca. And most of us are now desperately googling “Italian girl style” when what we really want to know is: how can we look like Francesca? I mean, yes, actually looking like her is out of the question, but dressing like her? Projecting that same playful, polished elegance? How does one do that?

Not that I’ve thought about this way too much in the last couple of weeks (except that I have), but I think the key difference between French and Italian chic is approachability. As someone who feels like a dork a good majority of the time, the coolness factor of French style is where I’ve always felt that I fell short of that particular ideal. Italian chic seems like it might be more … achievable? Maybe? Sure, it’s about simplicity and impeccable tailoring, but there is also an element of fun. I don’t like polka dots that much personally, but maybe florals can be my polka dots? Can someone distill down the essence of Francesca’s style? I feel a wardrobe overhaul coming. This interview with the costumer designer for the show is a good start, but I need more details, dammit. More analysis. Break it down for me. Pretty prego.

And if you’re dying to talk more about the show like I am, let’s chat in the comments. I’ll throw on a SPOILER warning too, because that cliff-hanger ending … ooof. We NEED to talk.