Thursday

Transition update: The big-enough chop!


I did it. I cut my hair. Whenever the weekend showed up, I toyed with the idea of putting on my long johns and wind proof coat and venturing to the mall salon to just get it over with. This Tuesday, armed with a Pinterest image, I did just that.

My intention for the cut was to get rid of enough of the relaxed ends so I could attempt a wash and go style. It's gotten to where putting my Curlformers in took me twice as long because I couldn't make myself sit still and focus on the tedious task.

But I didn't want to lose length all over and end up with a rounded shape like when Felicity chopped her hair (oh, I feel older every day) because then I would look like a walking set of cheeks and a chin. So my hair was flat-ironed and cut short in the back, with more weight at the front and sides that I could pin back or add more definition to. I came home, got in the shower, put some gel in, and hoped for the best.

And guess what? I can wash and go! I have curls, just like that! This is a major adjustment, trying to figure out how to style this cut and texture in a flattering way, but so far, I think it's sort of cute and fun. Maybe when I wear it straight I can use some wax to do the piecey pompadour look Jennifer Lawrence pulls off so well.


Tuesday

Book review: "The Program" by Suzanne Young

I don't eschew young adult fiction as a matter of principle, but I also don't seek it out. For every Hunger Games YA book that's insightful and well-written, there's gotta be at least three Twilights.

But the premise of The Program by Suzanne Young was irresistible. Think 1984 meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Sloane and James are high school sweethearts who have been each other's main support through the unfathomable suicide of Sloane's brother, who was James's best friend. He wasn't the only loss they've endured: Suicide has become a teenage epidemic, thought to be contagious, and several of their friends have succumbed. The cure for the epidemic is The Program. Locked away and drugged for six weeks in a facility that wipes away "infected" memories, teens who have been flagged as a suicide risk are unwritten and rewritten, and return to squeaky clean lives where people around them know more about who they are than they do. Sloane and James show emotion only to each other, because they never want to be carted off to The Program and made to forget their romance. But The Program is always watching.

I imagine that as a writer, having teenage characters is freeing. You can explore vulnerabilities that you're supposed to have overcome by the time you're an adult, and if done with sophistication, you can resonate with a much broader audience than teens. The Program is one of those good YA books that's easy to read but not dumbed down.

This isn't a fluff dystopian. Young has written a terrifying novel where every paranoid fear is justified. The futility of Sloane's fight to keep her memories is sickening. Whether any part of her will survive and piece together clues of her past kept me clicking forward on my Kindle for hours at a time.
I've often thought that I'd love to Eternal Sunshine out whole chunks of my life. But what would be left? Would I, like Sloane, have all the grief but be confounded by not knowing its source? Would I be drawn to the same people? Young's book makes me want to hold my painful memories in a safe place, where I won't lose them but where I won't constantly revisit them. Because without them, I'm not sure I'd be the same Liz.

As for the greater societal questions the book brings up. Is The Program evil? I'm sure any parent would choose it over risking the loss of their child. And yes, some people get so lost in their agony that they are incapable of making a healthy choice for themselves.

While the book didn't touch on many valid alternatives, it makes me think about how mental illness is treated.

I'm sure that for many people who need care, it is never addressed. And while I'm on Team Take Your Meds If You Need Them, I remember how quick a doctor was to try to prescribe me a sleeping pill when I made a comment about insomnia. (And yet they get all cagey and weird about refilling my migraine meds.) There's this approach to addiction, eating disorders and other ailments that focuses on intensive treatment for a few weeks and then meetings and maintenance. But even if you can take a month off your life — and not many can — isn't it hard to readjust? Then we've got the Baker Act and psychiatric holds, which to me sound traumatic and too brief to even scratch at a problem. There's therapy, but often people can't afford it or don't go because they think it's indulgent or means they're wearing a big "Hey everyone, I'm crazy!" sign.

So my point is, I think we have a climate where a last-resort solution like The Program could one day exist, because the solution isn't obvious, and we tend to seek one-size-fits-all answers. That makes the book so much more terrifying.

A sequel that wraps up the story, called The Treatment, comes out in April.

Friday

This and that

A roundup:

Hating: I can't take much more of winter. Feigning artistry by practicing with my DSLR and snapping details of the snowy desolation is the sole perk. It's not that big of a perk. I'm tired of the binding layers and the miniature mountains of ice and mud. I'm tired of brine on everything. There's a reason people get on antidepressants in winter. I had to be the one idiot to call it quits during the saddest season.



Also hating: my hair. I'm so bored with it. I'm thinking of big chopping sooner than I'd intended (for the non-transitioning, that means cutting off the remaining chemically straightened ends and allowing my natural curls to spring free) but my new growth still seems so short. I've never had short hair before.

Knitting: My first cable project is coming along. I'm making a scarf using a gorgeous blue yarn that stains my fingers and needles every time I work with it. This is the pattern that I'm using. I can't believe I never cabled sooner. It seems intimidating but is pretty simple, and makes me feel like a more impressive knitter than I am.



Reading: The Program by Suzanne Young. I'm 247 pages in, and it is gripping! Up until 4 a.m. not even feeling sleepy gripping. It's YA fiction about how a suicide epidemic — a similar theme to a book I started for NaNoWriMo, but mental illness suicide epidemics are a real thing — gives birth to a creepy, compulsory system that wipes teens' depression away, at the cost of also taking their memories. Even those who they love most are erased from their consciousness, being blamed for the "infection." The sequel, which will wrap up the story, comes out in April, and I'm glad it won't be a longer series. Even though I'm enjoying it, it's so hard to make the time commitment to serial fiction when there's so many wonderful books to read in the world. And the other thing about YA dystopia is that anything in the teens-taking-down-the-government category or its ilk makes my cold, adult heart condescendingly question, "Could they really, though?"



Thinking: I want to be more mindful of the clothes I buy. We rarely realize, except when tragedies happen, how much we consume that is the fruit of unfair labor practices. I'm pretty uneducated about the topic to give any advice, but I want to feel good about what I wear. That's easier said than done, because there's so many steps in the process between textile and store hanger where lack of oversight — or just greed — can promote exploitation. Even if workers who sew our garments get fair wages, that doesn't mean that the cotton farmers were paid fairly, for example. So it's unlikely that any retailer will pass with flying colors. I'm not going to sit here and say that from now on, I'm never going to set foot in a store again without reading a full report on its foreign labor practices, because that would be disingenuous and would come back to bite me in the ass later. But it's something that I want to learn about so that I can make better, if not perfect, choices.

Listening: To Bastille's Bad Blood. What a fantastic album. "Pompeii" might be the banger, but there's not a single dud.

Monday

Using a pencil brush to warm up your winter eye makeup

My MAC 219 pencil brush was one of those purchases that I thought would be routine-changing, but I've never gotten much use out of it for it. This look changes that because it's all about the pencil brush. I used it for this defined eyeshadow look and for smudging and blending my liner.


Prime. I used Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden (matte beige).
Use a wet pencil brush to draw a V shape at the outer corner of your eye. This is NYX Rust, a gorgeous metallic red. (I have the NYX eyebrow pencil in Charcoal through my brows.)

Blend the edges with a fluffy brush. This one came in an Ipsy bag and is from Mirabella.

Add a bit more of the color with a dry brush (so it's less pigmented) to fill out the V shape and approach the center of the eyelid.

Shade the rest of the eyelid with a matte brown. This is Faint from Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette.

Line the top and bottom lash lines with brown. This is from Wet and Wild and I'm using a MAC gel liner brush. I added Urban Decay Abyss liner in the inner corners. I read that blue liner makes the whites of your eyes look whiter. Were I doing this look again, I would probably extend and blend the blue liner out more.

Highlight with a gold liner (Urban Decay's Eldorado is discontinued, last I heard, but gold liners are abundant in drugstores) in the inner corner and fill in the waterline. Gold waterlines really warm everything up, and bonus for me, this stood out a lot when I put my glasses on. I hate my glasses sometimes because the frames obscure whatever I do on my lids, but skipping eye makeup makes me look like a walking pair of specs!

Curl the lashes and apply mascara. Here I used L'Oreal Illegal Length fiber mascara.



A few more notes on wearing red eyeshadow. Make sure you neutralize any redness on your face and in your eyeballs (I had my eye drops on hand for this look!) because if you don't, red and reddish eyeshadows will make you look sick or strung out. The gold on the waterline is my favorite part. You could do a nude liner or white in the waterline to neutralize redness there, too.

What do you think of my look? What's your least-used beauty tool?

Friday

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I'm moving domains!



Yup, we're doing this.

I'm going to attempt to move my blog to my new domain name, glowingclever.com. I'm going to try to redirect visitors to emeraldsandstripes.com to the new domain automatically, contact Bloglovin to update my URL so that my site's followers don't drop off the face of the earth, and I'm going to try to migrate my Disqus comments.

Even if things go perfectly (pray for me!) there might be some chaos during the process. You might not be able to access the site. I have a backup plan in case stuff goes haywire, so I'll try to keep anyone interested updated elsewhere, like on Twitter (I'm @lizandstripes).

Why did I pick Glowing Clever?

It's a play on the phrase "boxing clever," which means using your resources and tricks to the best effect. Makeup — the original purpose for this blog — is about using clever tricks to make the most of what you've got. When you use makeup right to look like your most radiant self, I would say that you're "glowing clever."

I also think of that lightbulb people get over their heads in cartoons when they think of a great idea. While I still want to focus on makeup and style, my blog topics lately have included entertainment, recipe attempts and some personal stuff, anything currently lighting up my brain. So I think the name fits that way, too.

Thank you in advance for your patience if stuff gets weird around here for a bit! And as always, thank you for reading. Anyone showing up to my little Internet corner and sticking around really blows my mind.

EDIT: If all else fails, my Blogger address is emeraldsandstripes.blogspot.com. That should still be accessible.

Thursday

Disco super bargain fly

Sequin top, Nasty Gal (here's a vintage checkerboard sequin top on Etsy) // Perfect Fit long-sleeved tee, J. Crew //
Cardigan, Target // Blue flared coat, Guess, from an outlet (similar color) (similar silhouette) // Levi's Curve ID jeans //
Francesca's bag (similar)// ShoeDazzle Shalene boots (similar)

Whenever I browse styles on Nasty Gal, I'm taken aback by how out of my price range so many items are, and how ridiculously marked down they all are eventually.

I spotted this Disco Moves Tank, originally $58, before when it was slightly reduced. I spotted it again recently for $5 final sale, with only size small left. Such a heavy discount justified the risk of the shirt not fitting. Now it's sold out, but there's still multiple sizes available of a matching skirt.

I like the top, but $58 is ludicrously overpriced. The shape is billowy, but the sequins give it structure, and that means it doesn't skim over the body, so it's not the most flattering if you have a larger bust. It's also got some finishing issues, with long plastic threads poking out when they should have been woven in or cut short or something. That's an easy enough problem for me to remedy, but it would have annoyed me a lot if I'd paid full price for the top.

Everything else is a well-worn closet oldie aside from my beanie. I finished it last week and adore it. I restarted that hat twice! The first time, the ribbing pattern got shifted about an inch into my knitting, so I restarted. The second time, I can't even tell you what I did, but I kept knitting away for days before I finally accepted that I was doing something gravely wrong and needed to unravel.

Speaking of knitting, this outfit, particularly the sequin top, was a hit with my knitting group, although I had to get on my soapbox when ladies were saying, "I couldn't pull that off" or "I would look like a hooker on a Sunday in that." First, hooker on a Sunday is a valid styling choice (see: Nasty Gal). Second, anyone can pull anything off! The key to sequins is to layer under and over with solids and wear more neutral, sophisticated accessories, such as a structured white bag.




Saturday

Reasons you should binge-watch Doctor Who

Level with me, my beloved. What are you doing this weekend? Nothing exciting or fun, I bet. I'm assuming because the country is covered in a sheet of ice that you're going to sit inside, watch TV, eat Oreos and pass out on your couch.

Allow me to do you one better.

You can eat all the Oreos your heart desires, but what will be on your screen won't be your usual lazy day programming. You are going to fire up Netflix or Hulu, and you are going to watch Doctor Who.

You've been missing out for too long. There's so much that I want to tell you about Doctor Who and why it's an important show to me that would just be lost on anyone who doesn't watch, so I'm going to state my case in hopes that one day, you'll be as obsessed as I am and we can talk Who until the cows come home.

Source: Wikipedia
A primer

If you really still don't know, Doctor Who is a long-running British adventure about an alien named the Doctor. He's a Time Lord who travels in time and space, often with a human companion (he's fond of our species) and manages to find and neutralize trouble through his supreme intellect, resourcefulness, and devastating charm. His species avoids death by regenerating into brand new bodies when mortally wounded. As a result, the Doctor has been played by a dozen actors.

You'll hear references to the classic series and the new series. The show began in 1963 and ran through the eighties. There was a TV movie in 1996, and then the show picked back up in 2005. It wasn't a reboot in the sense of erasing the previous series, because it is a continuation. I've seen all the adventures of the Ninth through Eleventh Doctors and only some stories with the First, Second, Third and Fourth Doctors, so I'm much more knowledgeable about the modern era and recommend you start there, too, with the 2005 episode "Rose." Once you get into the show, you can and should delve into Classic Who.

Here, a few compelling reasons to watch:

1. "He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there."*

When you watch Doctor Who, you start seeing the world differently. "Royal blue" becomes "TARDIS blue," meaning, the color of the Doctor's spaceship, which looks like a retro police public call box but is bigger on the inside. Capes, striped scarves, trench coats, Converse sneakers and bow ties become inside jokes. And the words "Bad Wolf" will no longer conjure images of Little Red Riding Hood.

You'll think of history differently, too, because you'll know that Shakespeare's most famous lines were the ones he heard from the Doctor. You'll know the royal family has werewolf in its DNA. You'll see this Van Gogh painting and know Vincent was painting the TARDIS (I want to believe). You'll know what really caused the fall of Pompeii. And you'll know that Queen Elizabeth I and Marilyn Monroe had one peculiar common  thread — at their point in time, they were married to the Doctor.

And you'll know the future. You'll know the sun expands five billion years in the future and mankind has long abandoned Earth. That there's a Queen Liz X. That scientists will live on a planet orbiting a black hole without getting sucked in.

*Spoken by Tenth Doctor companion Martha Jones. She was a brilliant, gorgeous physician who loved the Doctor, but he didn't fancy her back. His loss.

2. You're shallow.

There's no shortage of beautiful eye candy on the show, starting with the Doctor. In recent years, the Doctor has been played by younger and younger men with cheeky grins and nerdy-hip wardrobes. That's going to change this year, with the casting of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, but you know what? I'm on record as saying that Capaldi is kinda foxy for an older gentleman. He scares me in a good way. And I have a soft spot in my heart for the dandy Third Doctor from the classic series, bad special effects and all.

But if the Doctor doesn't do it for you, the companions might. Doctor Who always has something for Daddy, from the Fourth Doctor's sexy savage companion Leela to my favorite of all, Rose Tyler. The Doctor also travels with eligible bachelors, including the brutally hot Captain Jack Harkness. Go ahead and Google his picture. Return once you've placed your jaw back in its proper position.

3. You probably already love the actors.

Doctor Who has become the Harry Potter of my adulthood, and if you love Harry Potter as much as I do, you'll be delighted to know that there's been a lot of crossover with the actors. The most notable is David Tennant, who played the Tenth Doctor and also the villainous Barty Crouch Jr. This post has a list that surprised me, even though it excludes notables such as the actor who played Arthur Weasley, Mark Williams, playing the father of Rory Williams, one of the Doctor's companions, and further investigation reveals another interesting casting overlap. John Hurt, who played a very special character on the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, was wand-maker Ollivander in the Potter flicks.

4. You love challenging your brain.

No one is as smart as the Doctor, and no one is as twisted or demented as current showrunner Steven Moffat, who you already know and respect/despise if you watch Sherlock. The Doctor travels to future worlds so beyond anything we can imagine. He faces enemies and challenges straight out of your worst nightmares, like terrifying monsters that delete themselves from your memory as soon as you look away, but who plant orders in your brain you can't ignore. That funny feeling you have when you forget what you're saying midsentence, or when you feel a chill up your spine like you're not alone, but when you look again, no one is there? That's them.

The show has challenged my imagination and expectations. The scenarios seem insurmountable, but the Doctor always finds a clever solution. That doesn't mean he always wins. There's loss in Doctor Who that breaks your heart, and the Doctor himself is a difficult man. He's a champion for good, but he has destroyed lives simply by being who he is. He's watched planets burn.

So you've got imaginative scenarios, complex characters and exciting stories. But if that's not enough for you, I can promise that if you watch the show, you will be treated to plot twists, mysteries and surprises that will leave your brain scattered in pieces across the floor. There are episodes I rewatch that still leave me shouting even when I know what's coming.

5. You're a romantic.

This has to be experienced. I can't tell you about the love story of the Doctor and Rose, or his later relationship with River Song. I can't get into what those characters represent for me because that's enough for a dissertation. But I promise you, no chick flick has made me cry or been as life-affirming as Doctor Who.

The Doctor's love life, while tragic and poetic, is a source of great comedic moments. I love the episode "School Reunion," where the Doctor's current companion, Rose, meets Sarah Jane Smith, a companion we saw in the classic episodes. The verbal sparring between jealous Rose and reminiscing Sarah Jane are brilliant.

6. The Internet will get exponentially funnier.

Once you're a Whovian, your Pinterest time will become consumed with pinning Who-related images. And you'll find these two videos enthralling. I particularly love the Teens React clip, because it gives me faith in our children. They make good television choices.






I've done as much as I can do without writing you a novel. Must I get on my knees and beg? Consider it done. Go watch Doctor Who and I'm sure your life will be changed.

Thursday

Soon-to-be formerly known as? Contemplating a name change


I am thinking of changing my blog and domain name.

I had some ideas and woke up this morning feeling certain of the name I want. Now it's a matter of determining how I can redirect everything without breaking my site. I might be able to CSS up a cute little ombré menu with the right tutorial, but I know about as much about 301 redirects and whatsits as I do football. So, I know nothing.

But as far as the name change itself, I can talk myself out of or into anything. I might do it tomorrow or never. It's not that I hate my blog name, it's that I've been feeling some misguided embarassment about it that's triggered my overthinking, insecure ways. I've started thinking that rather than cute and evocative, my blog name is uncreative and holding my blog back. And I know it's more than likely that I'm overthinking something categorized firmly in the "no one gives a flying fuck" file.

From a more positive perspective, I've thought of how a new name might reflect me and what I like to write about better. 

There are some practical considerations for my readers. I'm going to try to update Bloglovin through their support people so that I can change the URL but keep the followers. My understanding is this is possible. I want to make it so anyone typing the site's current URL will be redirected to the new one and that any existing links will update. That's the part I'm having difficulty figuring out. I'm going to probably keep my YouTube name the same because I don't do enough with my channel right now to justify the extra effort — I definitely don't want to have to make a new channel. I'll get a new email address but keep the current one active, and my Twitter will stay the same. I think I can migrate Disqus and keep all my comments, too, but again, the devil is in the implementation.

What do you guys think? I haven't told you the name I settled on in case I can't figure out how to change it and am stuck. Have you ever had to do redirects and such? Can I do this without wrecking everything and having to start from scratch? Did you lose readers?

And can anyone recommend a good nerd to help me who won't roll his or her eyes too much?

Tuesday

The horrors on the way to a Pinterest-worthy dessert: Sugar cookie bowls with white chocolate and Oreos


On a scale where 10 is Nigella Lawson and 1 is Carrie "I keep sweaters in my stove" Bradshaw, I'm probably a 4. I am not a domestic diva. I can accomplish a convincing display when given a recipe, but I'm skittish around knives, fire, heavy pieces of cast iron, basically anything you need to be comfortable with to succeed in the kitchen. Just let me eat my chicken McNuggets in peace and quit judging, OK?

I wanted to bake something for my office's Super Bowl potluck. I went on Pinterest and looked for bite-sized desserts and saw a few interesting ideas, but wanted to invent something.

I saw those cookie bowl pins floating around. I also saw the real-life posts that showed the horrors that ensued when unsuspecting bakers, deceived by the seeming simplicity of using an upside down cupcake tin to mold dough into cute little bowls, opened their ovens to find an overflow of failure and broken dreams.

But I laughed at failure! I texted Sophie, who actually knows about baking, and consulted her about my idea — to use pre-made sugar cookie dough to make bowls and fill them with melted white chocolate and crushed Oreos.

The outside would be a crispy cookie, the inside would be Oreo bark. The world would never be the same. Sophie gave me some suggestions, and with her blessing that it would work, I dragged my husband to Giant Eagle to buy ingredients.

Monday

Impersonating Dr. Martens

INC International marled cable-knit sweater, thrifted (similar) // Jimmy'Z angel wings thermal (old) //
Old Navy floral jeans (smaller print) // Soda combat boots (via Amazon) // Coach Outlet quilted nylon bag
(eBay listings) (similar, leather [mucho $$$]) // J. Crew necklace (similar motif) (similar colors)

I tried white patent Dr Martens boots at the mall and was enthralled but unable to justify spending $120 on wild shoes. Because I am an Internet fairy, I found this almost identical pair on Amazon, and with expedited shipping still saved $86.

The obvious difference is the Soda boots have a zipper. This is a great addition and makes it so I never have to cram my ankle and pants in and re-lace when I'm certainly already running late.

With the exception of my J. Crew necklace (which I got on sale a year or two ago but was still pricey), this whole outfit is a bargain. The Coach bag is from an outlet, the sweater is secondhand, the jeans are from Old Navy, the earrings were DIY and the black thermal is something I've had since high school or early college. It's from Jimmy'Z, a defunct offshoot of Aeropostale, and has angel wings on the back in sequins. I miss that store.



Combat boots are not good for yoga poses, nor is balancing heavy bags
Love the marled yarn in this sweater. Beautiful texture.

What was the last item you bought that was a lookalike of a more expensive piece?