mollyringle: (parfumerie)

It’s been easy for everyone to bemoan how much 2016 sucked. I don’t need to rehash the more traumatizing parts of the news for you.

Instead I’m going to write a post of things that were good in 2016. For me, at least.

Of my novel-writing projects:
Immortal’s Spring was released in June, and wrapped up my Persephone-myth-based trilogy. By that time I had also finished writing The Goblins of Bellwater, about which you’ll hear more soon, and started writing (rewriting, actually) Boy in Eyeliner, a guy/guy love story in modern day with many a nod to '80s new wave music and fashion. I just finished a complete first draft of that and will be hitting up some beta readers to critique it in a couple of weeks here. I have been completely loving it, proving that immersing myself in a creative project I genuinely dig is the way to save my sanity.

Of music:
The Monkees released a new album, and it was awesome. Yes, I was as surprised about that whole sentence as you are. Such a treat for us lifelong Monkees fans.
A few other groups I’ve discovered this year and adore (not to say they all have new albums this year, just new to me): Bleachers, Børns, Nicole Atkins, Julian Casablancas, Temples.

Of TV:
Grantchester has been a British-murder-mystery delight.
New Girl is appealingly funny so far.
Gilmore Girls ran their revival (discussed in an earlier post).
I’ve watched the first episode of Call the Midwife and am much inspired and will watch more.
New Sherlock underway, hurrah!

Of skin products:
My fussy, sensitive skin is actually liking the routine I give it now, with many of these products being ones I first tried in 2016. None of them cost ridiculous amounts, either, which is good because I’m also fussy about not spending too much on products:
Wash morning and night with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (and wash really well, but with fingertips only, no washcloth or other harsh scrubbing)
In morning: simple rosewater as toner (I like the food-grade Cortas brand; comes in cute glass drink bottle, and you can in fact put some in your drinks or cooking too if you want), and follow up with a little bit of Toulon Cellular Defense Face Moisturizer.
In evening: I usually don’t bother with toner, and put on some Oz Natural Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer.
Special treatment for the aging eyes: I like the movie-star trick of dabbing a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around my eyes, morning and night. Also, DON’T RUB YOUR EYES. Yeah, it feels good, but you drag the skin around and cause more wrinkling, bagginess, and discoloration over time. Crow’s feet from smiling, though: I embrace those.

Of perfumes:
Some tried in 2016 that I loved:

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel: a “Dad’s aftershave” kind of scent, nice and cheap too, but especially fresh and bracing. Hint of powdery violet in the mix as well.

Agent Provocateur: also nice and cheap. Considering I usually only LIKE rose scents, not love them, I’m surprised how much this has grabbed me. Musky, elegant, reminiscent of red lipstick; reminds me of something Satine in Moulin Rouge might wear.

Gres Cabochard: yet another that’s inexpensive. Handy that way. A lot of similarity to Robert Piguet Bandit (which I also love), in that it’s a strange but captivating green-plus-leather blend. Bad-ass in an old-fashioned way.

Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun: “vegetal” is a good word for this one. It almost smells like celery sometimes, but in a sweet and earthy way, thanks to the immortelle and other notes. It lingers and stays warm and alluring, and is decidedly unique.

Tauervillle Incense Flash: this is a big YES for those of us who like smoky incense scents. With a suggestion of campfire in this one. Beautiful.

Profumum Roma Audace: vetiver done smooth. Warm and green like an overgrown humid summer riverside.

Solstice Scents Sycamore Chai: warm slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, drying down to a lovely and non-cloying marshmallow-vanilla.

Solstice Scents Maplewood Inn: sweet mug of chai with a fire burning in the hearth and freshly split pine logs next to it.

Papillon Salome: makes me think of Colette’s stories: a woman's apartment dedicated to shameless sensual luxury; cigarettes and long-slept-in bedsheets, but also fresh pretty flowers brought in daily, and the nicest of soaps in the bath.

...and I'll stop there. For now.

mollyringle: (fruit)
My mom called me the other day to tell me about this Underworld-ish place she suddenly remembered: the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, California.

A Sicilian immigrant almost a century ago hand-carved rooms and passageways in the hardpan beneath the thin farmland soil, and used it as a living space, a cool refuge from the hot California summer sun. Down there he also planted several fruit trees that could receive sunlight through skylight-type openings above. Fruit trees underground, people! It's my Underworld! It's even designed after the ancient Roman catacombs, so, properly Mediterranean.


Amusing addendum: my mom lived in Fresno in her teen years, and found out about this place when she was out with some friends one night. The guys said to the girls, "We're going to show you this cool place, but you have to tell NO ONE." At the time, the Underground Gardens were just fenced-off territory with "no trespassing" signs around it, so they had to sneak in with flashlights. Apparently most people in the city had no idea it was out there; you can't see much from ground level.

So my mom was late getting home after exploring the place, and her parents demanded to know where she'd been and why she hadn't called. (This was the 1950s, well before cell phones.) She finally broke down and told them about it, begging them not to get anyone in trouble. Her dad (my grandfather) declared, "Daughter, I sell real estate insurance. I know every square foot of this area, and I know there is no such place. Where were you REALLY?"

And that forever remained his final word on it. He never believed her. (He died more than 20 years ago.) But now you can tour the gardens, which really do exist! :)

http://www.undergroundgardens.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forestiere_Underground_Gardens
mollyringle: (Grace)

1) Mix some brown sugar with my usual face-washing substance and rub it on for some exfoliation. My mother, who has lovely skin, has a nightly ritual of scrubbing her face with a mixture of sugar and oil. I think she uses just canola oil or some other cooking type. I don't know about your face, but mine would break out for a week if I used canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or pretty much anything else from the kitchen on it. (Trust me, I've tried.) So I hit upon the solution of mixing brown sugar with my usual CeraVe cleanser, and doing that a few times a week. My skin likes it just fine and it results in a healthy glow and a soft texture.

2) I don't use powder to combat oily sheen. That'll only clog pores. Instead I splash on some water a couple of times over the course of the day, blot dry lightly with a towel, then smear a folded square of toilet paper all over my face and neck to pick up the extra dirt and oil. The water gives my skin some hydration and the TP takes away the grease. Costs nothing, looks great.

3) Oldie but goodie, supposedly popular with many a movie star: I apply a light layer of petroleum jelly around my eyes, morning and night. Costs way less than fancy eye creams, and works pretty nearly as well.

I hope you appreciate how I refrained from telling you that you should do these things, and detailed them only as practices that I personally have found helpful. Fashion magazines and I are different that way.

mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
You guys! I found a natural deodorant that actually works. If I sound surprised, it's because I've only tried certain widely distributed natural deodorants (let's just call it Bob's of Vermont) that did *not* work.

I don't mind using ordinary deodorants/anti-perspirants like Degree or Old Spice--in fact, I love Old Spice's tongue-in-cheek marketing, and their scents are often pretty much unisex. However, lately I didn't like how those type of products left my armpits feeling like they'd been caked with Turtle Wax. And sometimes I still smelled sweaty despite the layer of wax.

So, going on web reviews and my general love of surfing Etsy, I tried Fat and the Moon's Deodorant Cream. Hallelujah! It works! And considering it's been 90 degrees here in Seattle, and we do not have air conditioning, the stuff has been put to the test for reals. I do not smell sweaty, even the next morning, yet I don't feel caked-and-waxed at all either. The cream smells nice--bracing herbal natural oils like bergamot and tea tree--but not strong; it wouldn't combat your chosen perfume. And it soaks into skin readily and doesn't seem to leave any marks on clothes. So once again: hallelujah!

By the way, when I ordered it I also bought some of their Lip and Cheek Stain. It's similarly lovely-scented (rose geranium), and feels fabulous on the lips, with just a subtle amount of color. Haven't tried it on cheeks yet. But from these two products I'm confident in saying these folks create great products.
mollyringle: (comet)
One type of Christmas card or holiday image I always particularly liked was the star of Bethlehem scene: a lovely star in a deep blue winter night sky, over the warm yellow-tan hues of desert sand and camels and torchlit Middle East ancient buildings. Not because of the religious moment, but because of the colors and the beauty of the composition. So I think one reason I long to visit the Southwest, especially in winter when all we have up here is gray, is that they have that same color palette going on, with the adobe and the dry clear skies.

Santa Fe, NM, San Miguel church

Santa Fe, I will be in you, someday sooner rather than later if I get my way.
mollyringle: (parfumerie)
In the company of my lovely young cousin Sally ("young" for me now includes people in their 20s), I recently procured a bunch of samples from Blackbird Apothecary here in Seattle. Following are my notes upon them all, should you be curious.

Montale White Aoud: When I see "aoud" (or "oud" as it's often spelled), I expect spices and exotic woodsiness. Therefore upon spraying this one on, without having read anything about the notes, I went, "Whoa! Rose! Didn't expect that." It is however a Halloweenish, exotic rose--some eerie darkness and plenty of spiciness under it. Reminds me of something Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab would create. Am not sure yet I'd go for a full bottle, but I'm enjoying wearing the sample.

Montale Full Incense: Yep, full Catholic-mass incense. Almost identical to Comme des Garçons Incense Avignon--I even put them each on, one on each arm, and tried them side by side, and still could barely tell a difference. Which is to say, I love them both and will probably have to decide which one to get a full bottle of, one of these days. I do get the feeling Full Incense lasts longer and has more "throw," while Avignon costs less (accordingly, perhaps). It's a tough choice.

Comme des Garçons Play Green: Supposedly it's got all kinds of "green" notes such as basil, lime, juniper, and more, but I get almost totally spearmint and vetiver. And it's a pretty good mix actually. The vetiver doesn't go that strange burnt-firework-smoke place on me that vetiver sometimes does; the mint keeps it in check and makes it fresh. Meanwhile, the vetiver does deepen and darken the mint enough that it's more mysterious and interesting than simply "summer and gum." Really good for when I'm in a mint mood.

Blood Concept AB: Hmm. There's a freshness throughout which is interesting and appealing. At the beginning I caught a decent apricot-like smell, and later on hints of an incense-like smell, both of which were surprising. But overall I couldn't shake the cool/metallic note that dominated, and made me think I'd probably not wear this on a regular basis. 

Comme des Garçons Incense Ouarzazate: From its notes and description I ought to love it, but...I don't. It doesn't come across as authentic enough. It reminds me of things like those berry-scented cheap incenses that don't actually smell like berries, or "sandalwood"-scented soaps that don't actually smell like sandalwood. If your chemistry mixes with it better than mine, I can see how it'd be mystical and exotic, but it isn't mixing with mine. I do love Incense Avignon, though, and want to try the others in the Incense series to see how they compare.

Comme des Garçons Red Sequoia: An initial blast of hairspray and Sharpie marker settles into rather pleasant fresh-cut woods. But the cosmetic sweetness sticks around too much for me, making it feel false rather than natural. I do love my cedar scents, but on this I'll pass.

Meanwhile, I also obtained these two from L'Occitane's online site:

L'Occitane Cedar (labelled Cèdre de l'Atlas on the bottle): As befits its very green-dyed juice, this scent is as green as cedar can be and still be called cedar. It's like the whole living tree, boughs and all, with some of the surrounding green forest too, rather than the dry wood chips or pencil shavings you may expect from a cedar. It reminds me almost of Diptyque Philosykos, another full-tree perfume, though that one is the full fig tree experience while this is the full cedar tree. In any case, I love cedar whether dry or green, and this is a lovely perfume. Easy to wear for either men or women, and fresh while still being woody and sexy.

L'Occitane Labdanum (Labdanum de Seville, on the bottle): I love the rockrose/cistus shrub's scent, which is called labdanum in the perfume world, and I had to buy this after smelling a friend's bottle of it. It doesn't actually resemble the shrub too closely, but it *feels* similar to the scent wafting off a rockrose's sticky leaves: resinous, warm, dry, and sweet, all in an attractive balance. As with the other L'Occitane scents I've smelled so far, it's very approachable and wearable, not too crazy or daring. But it's pretty enough that people have complimented me while I'm wearing it. A keeper.
mollyringle: (Takeshi-bored-by pear_icons)
Should anyone be curious, I started an album of photos of what some of my characters look like. But you who have read my novels are encouraged to suggest other ideas for dream casting.

Meanwhile, why any straight woman, bi person, or gay man is going to be doing anything the rest of today other than gazing at this photo of Adrian Grenier, I cannot imagine:



(He's my Hades for the work in progress. Or bloody well close enough, because, I mean, look at him.)
mollyringle: (Frolijah)
If THAT post title doesn't earn me some spam, nothing will. But it's true: I am seeking such things.

One thing that helps me in writing novels lately is to find photos of people who look about like my characters. They can be famous or unknown; doesn't matter. "Casting" the story this way often helps me bring the character to life a little more.

So for my Persephone-and-Hades novel in progress, I am taking applications--or more accurately, suggestions. Show me olive- or tan-skinned, dark-curly-haired, beautiful candidates for the two title roles. (In my version, Hades is more a romantic lead and less a scary kidnapper. Similarly, Persephone is more a charming protagonist and less a victim.) The tricky part for me is that they have to be pretty young, for I am writing this as mature YA. So, think age 17 to 25. I do not know much about celebrities in that age range anymore, for I am aging. Help an elderly woman here.

All set? Okay, go! Post photos!
mollyringle: (butterfly - Pushing Pixels)
Put together and photographed by me this morning on a beach in Seattle...



No paint (or other artificial color), no photo editing; just the right colors pulled from the mix and put in rainbow order. Easy to replicate on most beaches. At least, most beaches around here. Perhaps not on those all-black-sand-and-rock beaches in Hawaii.
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
We've just returned from a couple days on beautiful Mount Rainier. Here's a mini photo travelogue. The pictures are big, but as such you could use them for wallpaper.

Okay, I don't know why, but when you click on these, it might first say "You don't have access," blah blah blah. But if you copy and paste the link, it should work. Why? I wish I knew.

The mountain herself, from the Paradise area.

The view from our room at Paradise Inn, elevation 5,400 feet. None too shabby. That Inn, by the way, closes to most guests in early October, and in mid-winter is buried in snow up to its third or fourth story.

Some of the famed gorgeous wildflowers. Predominantly lupines here.

The boys at the highest point of our hike, which was probably a little over 6,000 feet up. (Mount Rainier is about 14,000 feet high, for perspective.)

A glimpse of the turquoise waters of Snow Lake.

Speaking of snow...oops, there appears to be a snowbank over the trail. That's leftover snow from winter, not early autumn snow, I'm pretty sure. Incidentally, I'm the one wearing a small child on my back, and the other lady is an unknown fellow hiker.

The Tatoosh range at Rainier's feet.
mollyringle: (iPod)
"There's nothing about this haircut that suggests the name 'Bob' to me." - Steve

photos! )
mollyringle: (perfume ad)
I just received my first ever Sephora catalog in the mail, and oooh! Six little peel-and-sniff fragrance samples inside! Granted, I'd probably only wear one of the scents, but that's how sampling goes, and it's a pleasure to try them nonetheless.

(The one I'd wear: Ralph Lauren Romance, a scent I've long enjoyed but have never actually bought. The catalog calls it a "sparkling floral"; "a sensual essence of velvety woods, exhilarating florals and seductive musk." I get mostly "soft sophisticated floral," reminiscent of trying on expensive sweaters at Nordstrom's.)

So, ladies who love sniffing samples, get thyselves onto the Sephora mailing list. Men who want to please their women, get them a gift certificate.

As to the rest of the catalog, it seems to contain a lot of stuff I'd render fun but unnecessary, like sparkly powders in many scents and shades, and cosmetic cases in odd bright colors. But I've definitely got my eye on the Hershey's Lip Balm Trio Set in vanilla, almond, and milk chocolate flavors--all SPF 15!

And offline again I go for another extended set of days, most likely. The crazy-busy-ness of spring is upon us.
mollyringle: (Doctor Who 10 - ego)
...that I have lived up to my own prediction and already fallen into belly-tingling crushhood with David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. I would like to blame this shameful fangirliness on my female LJ friends (I'm lookin' at you, [livejournal.com profile] dirae, [livejournal.com profile] modmerseygirl, and [livejournal.com profile] sopdetly, among others) who primed me for the Ten Love, but really nobody else can cause me to crush on anyone. I've only seen two full episodes of season 2, but have come to the inescapable conclusion that he is one lickable hunk of geek-chic manliness (really, does it get any geekier than playing The Doctor?)--chirpy voice, silly facial expressions, horn-rims and all.

So I'm now in that annoying spot where I want to see all kinds of fanfic, videos, photos, and icons (I did pick up three new ones already) but have to be careful not to spoil myself on later episodes; yet I also don't want to rush through the remaining episodes because I must savor them. They are of limited quantity and the first time is always so precious.

No double entendres consciously intended in this post. They just crept in by themselves.
mollyringle: (sex/kiss-Stage Beauty)
All righty, I'm hooked! Sometimes takes me a full season to see how they round things out and maximize the drama, but I do get there if the show's worthy, and I call the new Doctor Who worthy. spoilers )

It was a real treat to get a glimpse of David Tennant at the end there! I was fond of Nine and his loverly accent, but I got over my minor parting sadness when Ten-Nant arrived and ran his tongue around his new teeth. Let's face it, he is totally my type, what with the wide eyes and untamed hair. Lest you need convincing of this being my type, let's review a photographic sampling of just a few of the many Boys I Have Obsessed Over In My Lifetime:
The Monkees
Robert Smith of the Cure
Elijah Wood
Toby Stephens, especially as Mr. Rochester
And of course my husband.

Yeah. No hope for me. Bring on the Ten!
mollyringle: (Grace & baby by beyondrecovery)
Today my husband was flipping through a magazine with our son, and when they encountered a photo of Winona Ryder, baby Z pointed at it and said, "Mama." He was insistent about repeating it even when Steve tried to explain that it wasn't actually Mama.

(By the way, Steve thinks maybe it was this picture.)

So there you go: to the baby who spends all day with me, I look just like Winona Ryder. Sweet!
mollyringle: (fruit)
My favorite place for gorgeous high-res wallpaper:

InterFaceLift.com.

I've been meaning to recommend it for a while, but after seeing this photo today, I knew I had to tell you at once. So pretty!

Also, I rip some of them off for icons occasionally. Too lovely to resist.
mollyringle: (Yaquina Head lighthouse)
Been a while since I gave you a random list of remarks. Let's try it again!

1. YouTube is a wondrous place whose members provide us with much video goodness. However, after some serious scientific inquiry, I must conclude that YouTube also has the absolute dumbest, mind-numbingly lamest user comments of any page on the internet. "lol thast sooo hot whats that song in teh bakgrond pleeeze luv the vid thxxxx XP!"

2. Clinique's Cream Shaper eyeliner is the best eye pencil I've tried yet. I guess it's worth it to spend more than $3 on eyeliner. Bye bye, Wet 'n Wild! Note: I have the Starry Plum color because I read that purples are good to make green/hazel eyes "pop" (sounds painful), but it basically just looks black until smudged. Am curious about the green shade (Egyptian) too.

3. There's no such thing as a healthy real tan, and no such thing as an attractive fake tan. If you use fake tanner you are feeding this ridiculous beauty standard that says pale skin isn't as good as darker skin. Yes, I understand about looking dead sometimes and wanting some color to liven things up, but that's what blush is for. The look of blood circulating: good. The look of sun damage: bad. As for legs? Psht, who cares? Honestly, fake orange legs look worse than pale white ones. Embrace your natural tones! Don't let anyone tell you they're not up to par!

4. I'm sure the fact that I currently have a crush on a very pale English vampire on the telly has nothing to do with point #3.

5. For taming frizzes and poofiness in hair, however, I do advocate the use of "product". But smooth hair doesn't mimic the look of any disease or damage, so it's not entirely hypocritical of me when taken with point #3. I have health in mind here along with prettiness.

6. What podcasts do you enjoy listening to? Navigating the iTunes directory tires me, so I'm looking for recommendations. I have eclectic tastes, so name anything you like. But in particular lately, stuff about writing or forensics (the crime-solving type, not the speech-giving type) is most pertinent to me.

7. Politically lately, to the degree I pay any attention to politics, I'm calling myself a centrist. Everything in moderation. Morally and spiritually, I don't know what to call myself. My main central value is respecting and enjoying life. Note that I don't just mean one or the other; not enjoying it disrespectfully (e.g., hedonism) or respecting it somberly (e.g., monasticism), but always both at the same time to the highest degree of compatibility possible. So what does one call that?

8. Happy Memorial Day weekend!
mollyringle: (Giles - librarians)
In case you don't read my fandom journal, I'll mention that I have gotten deeply into "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" lately. We're on season 6 at the moment, so no spoilers, mmkay? Anyhow, I thought the time was ripe for some picspam of pretty much all the guys who have been major characters so far, since, goodness, aren't they lovely?

Read more... )

To be cross-referenced, though not entirely cross-posted, a couple of places.
mollyringle: (Takeshi-bored-by pear_icons)
Grr. Amazon.com is delaying my shipment of the new Masterpiece Theatre 'Jane Eyre' DVD. I caught only a bit of it on PBS, am totally satisfied that it shall rock, and eagerly await seeing the whole thing. But I guess I have to wait another week or two.

Jane Eyre is such a beloved book that its many film adaptations have tough critics among the fans. I'm a huge fan myself--Jane Eyre is one of those love stories I imprinted on, having first read it when I was about 14 and never having dislodged Edward Rochester from my heart since. The Timothy Dalton film version is generally respected for its faithfulness, but it has a very low-budget look about it, and one criticism is that Dalton is too good-looking to play Rochester. In the BBC's latest version, the delectable Toby Stephens plays the part, and on the question of whether he's too handsome to play Rochester, I say: hell yes he is, and I have no problem with that.

I mean really: watch this clip and tell me your pulse doesn't pick up a little. Just look at photos if you want. The Jane Eyre book fans are embracing this adaptation and swooning over him, and it's gaining mainstream popularity too. I predict it will do for our dear Toby what the Beeb's Pride and Prejudice did for Colin Firth. And I have to say, I was drooling over Toby years and years ago when most people had never heard of him. But I'm willing to share him with you if you insist. ;)

So while waiting for the DVD's, I can continue to watch grainy videos on YouTube. *sigh*

(Cross-posted to two of my LJ's.)
mollyringle: (Dirk - wrath)
Me, leafing through catalogue that arrived in mail: Victoria's Secret really doesn't do nursing wear, do they.
Steve: Aren't all their clothes nursing wear, really?

Good point. Accordingly, I now have some bra-top tanks that do, indeed, tug aside well enough for nursing. I'm pretty much wearing tank tops of some kind all summer, with open button-ups over them for layers.

Our 4th of July was fairly uneventful, which is fine with me. We went to a small barbecue gathering, and viewed a few fireworks from the West Seattle Bridge on the drive home. Though I'm a patriot and all, I often complain that the 4th is a really obnoxious holiday, not for patriotic reasons but because it inspires people to be loud and dangerous and pyromaniacal. My family has made fun of me for this observation, but honestly, can you tell me the 4th of July isn't loud, dangerous, and pyromaniacal?

However, it did rain a bit. Which was especially funny since there was no rain in the forecast. The weather here just seems to know when it's the 4th of July, and rustles up some rainclouds accordingly.

Think I'll go make some more fandom observations. Or take baby for a walk, since he's getting cabin fever. Yah.

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