Friday, August 31, 2012

Great Falls Park on Lost in DC

You could go to Great Falls, one of the National Parks in Northern Virginia, on a nice, sunny day.  You could go early in the morning to avoid traffic and crowds, even.  But wouldn't it be more exciting to go on a rainy day?  Especially if one of your companions is already sick?  

In April, I planned a trip to Shenandoah National Park on a foggy day and we couldn't see two feet ahead of the car once we were halfway up the mountain.  And just wait, I went to Monticello this month on a rainy, foggy day.  Best of both worlds, right?

I really have the worst planning skills.  I just shouldn't be allowed to plan things.  [read more...]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Matt!

I am so very lucky to have the friends and family that I do.  Today, on my birthday, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this blog, be it by writing a post, taking a picture, sharing an idea or helping me edit and revise my own work.

And I can't even fathom how to show my appreciation to all the awesome people who have already made my first birthday on the opposite coast magnificent (hyperbole is not enough!).  I've had friends and family in town (which is why I've been such a neglectful blogger lately, shame on me) and my Best Jess is still here, celebrating the actual day-of with me.  Over the last two weeks I've been to Monticello, Great Falls Park and the DC Botanic Gardens (and we're not done exploring yet).  I have Lost in DC drafts backed up, so there is much in your future.  

In fact, I've taken far too many pictures and will probably spend most of tomorrow editing, then get at least one post out tomorrow night.  My crochet has completely gone by the wayside, but I will pick it back up this weekend.  It would appear that there is also sewing in my future...that should be...interesting.  The basil, mint and blackberry plants are all still alive, so happy birthday to me on that (poor things).  Seth and I are working on our next Breaking Down Beauty post.  And my friend Ludka took some great pictures at our local LUSH store so we can share some newness with you that we're really excited about.

And now the thanks part that is probably only interesting if you actually know me:
For those of you who sent snail mail birthday wishes - you know I love it and I got some new stationery just for you.  A super huge thank you to Cristian and the crew for kicking off my actual birth-day with a phone call from the other coast at midnight - so great to hear all your voices again, but seriously - no Billy Joel serenade?!  Best Jess and I honored Cristian's awesome birthday surprise by sharing a  bottle of Chilean wine (do I have to return her to the West Coast?).  And much, much, much appreciation to my super creative, lovely, funky lady-family, The Youngs, who left birthday wish pictures in various places for me (often involving swearing, so delicate sensibilities beware).  And of course, I've received all kinds of gifts, from things to help me be crafty to fancy owl-y accessories and, of course, lovely bath products from LUSH.  A birthday without those just wouldn't do.

Happy Birthday to Kevin, my eternal birthday buddy.  Sorry, you're totally stuck with me. 

And Matt, I know it's not your birthday, like ever, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Go watch Titanic and think of me.  No, wait.  Don't.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh the Humanity

I do not consider myself a particularly fashionable person.  While I have my own style, it's more about comfort and function than being on trend.  But I do appreciate fashion, even if you'd never know it by looking at me, and I do occasionally check out fashion blogs.  I've been pleased to find that my body type is actually represented by some blogs.  And I've found even more diversity since I became a member of CapFabb (Capital Area Fashion and Beauty Bloggers).  Obviously I'm not going to be writing about style or fashion any time soon, but I do write about beauty products on The Thinnest Skin.  Since joining CapFabb I have noted that it is mostly about the fashion world, but my fellow members are a very kind and generous group who take the time to answer all questions, go to each other's blogs and events, and really just support each other in full.  

They also prove that you can be fashionable at any size, in any shape, etc.  I feel my self-esteem rises more from looking at their blogs (and seeing all differents kinds of men and women represented) than it ever could by looking at the advertising in magazines, on television, or on billboards.  I am proud to call myself a member of this extremely diverse group of people (size, shape, age, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, etcetera).  If anything, I feel a bit guilty at times for not participating enough.  Perhaps that is why I feel I would be remiss if I did not state my utter dismay at an article from Washington Post Express that was shared with our group.  I may not be a fashion blogger, but I do support the fabulous fashionistas who brave the blogging world every day, in DC and elsewhere.

Mary and I have had quite a few conversations about haters.  We are often disappointed (and mystified) to find women hating on other women.  We just can't get used to the idea that anyone would find it necessary, but some women seem to consider their entire sex competition and do their best to keep other women from succeeding.  And though this article states that both men and women write fashion blogs, women are clearly targeted (see all of the examples the author lists throughout the post) - men appear to be just an aside here to cover the author's ass.

Jennifer Barger's My Blog, My Self post from August 24th 2012 is a remarkably negative and catty view of fashion bloggers in general.  She seems to typecast all fashion bloggers as insecure ninnies who need regular validation of their fashion sense.  Or "mostly for compliments...without much useful advice."   Both petty and inaccurate.

I have no doubt that some fashion bloggers fit the bill here, but to throw the entire group into that pigeon hole shows a serious lack of research and some misplaced vitriol.  What self-righteousness!  Criticizing these people for not allowing modeling agencies or fashion magazines to dictate who gets to have their picture taken and shown to the public.  Oh, the humanity!  Thou dost protest too much, my dear.  Your insecurities are showing.  

When I shared this with Mary, she said, "The article itself is pretty shallow.  While there are narcissists who blog about their style, there are many (perhaps more) who are creative, artistic and entrepreneurial.  And why not?  Women are getting their names out to the public - it's a form of networking, of developing business contacts, a career, or just sharing something fun.  To look down one's nose at these people shows a lack of insight into the whole blogging phenomenon."

But don't take it from us, since we don't even blog about fashion.  Instead, read the eloquent and well-researched response that Rachel posted on Fair Vanity.  It is far kinder to the author than I'm feeling right now, but I appreciate that Rachel took the high road.  Don't forget to scroll down - a couple of the bloggers that Barger wrote about left comments under the Fair Vanity post.

One thing I can attest to, though I haven't had the experience on this blog, is that weeding out negative comments isn't a way to make ourselves look good.  It's a way to eliminate trolling.  I have seen some pretty vicious trolling on other blogs and I am fully aware that whether or not my blog is successful, I could easily fall victim to the same thing.  Internet trolls have only one purpose - to harass other people.  You can disagree with me all you like, you can comment in a negative way on one of my posts and I will keep it, as long as it's appropriate (constructive, not offensive).  But if someone leaves a comment that is only meant to harm one of the LostGirls contributors or another reader, of course I'm going to delete it.  I'd also like to note that it's easy to criticize how other people moderate comments when you don't have to. If you'd like to let the editor know how you felt about this article, contact the Washington Post Express at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breaking Down Beauty: Tampons & Dioxins on The Thinnest Skin

Why start with dioxins, you ask?  Well, this whole discussion about possibly toxic beauty got started with two things.  

The first was a rumor I heard in the late nineties and only recently asked Seth, my chemistry guru, about.  What I heard was something along the lines of, "I don't use mainstream tampons anymore because they bleach them and they get contaminated with dioxin."  Of course, I had no idea what dioxin was, but I also don't use tampons (I'm weird that way), so I didn't really think about it again until...

The second was information that I came across online that stated there are several "toxic" ingredients being used in the cosmetics industry.  The information seemed to be presented in a pretty reasonable way and I'm no chemist, but I tried just doing a general search online and came up with all kinds of things being used in cosmetics that various people were claiming to be toxic.  My thought was, "Why are they allowed to put all this stuff into cosmetics?!"  

Instead of letting the panic continue, I called Seth and and gave him the skinny.  He felt it was an interesting thing to research.  Since I had just remembered the tampon/dioxin rumor, we started there.  So, in case you were worried, we do realize that tampons aren't cosmetic.  [read more...]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Breaking Down Beauty: Definitions on The Thinnest Skin

Some Basic Definitions from Seth:

Before proceeding we should first agree on the definition of the following key terms: chemical, toxic, organic, synthetic chemical, natural chemical.  [read more...]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lazy Ramen on Uncrafty

Meg shared a pin on Pinterest with me the other day that she was really excited about.  A great, but simple ramen recipe that she ended up making the next night.  We were talking about how expensive fresh noodles are and how you can just get a package of Top Ramen for 59 cents, toss the spice packet, add your own mix of sauces, veggies, meat, whatever and -  voila.  Seriously, why didn't I think of that?  Loving her idea, but not liking some of the ingredients in the recipe she pinned, I decided to make a very dumbed-down version.  [read more...]

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stumbling Uncraftily Along on Uncrafty

I've heard mention of Stumble Upon for quite a while now.  It's one of those things that I kept meaning to get around to, but then I'd get distracted by, you know - a puppy...or something shiny, and forget.  I finally took the time to check it out when I saw how many site views I get thanks to Stumble Upon.  The majority of my new visitors come through that way, so of course I had to go see what people are on about.  I wish I'd joined earlier.  I really like the concept.  There are so many things to read online and doing searches only gets you so far.  It's nice to select your interests, click the Stumble button and get something fun to read or interact with.  [read more...]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Culinary Revolutionary

Julia Child, who would have been 100 years old today, broke a lot of rules and defied a lot of standards during her lifetime.  She did not fit the standard of television beauty (taller than most men and middle-aged, to start), but she was the first celebrity chef, thanks to her TV show on PBS.  She did not grow up obsessed with the culinary arts, but went from having little interest in food to being a cultural kitchen icon who wrote and collaborated on several cookbooks, having survived a rough start at the famous French culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu (her characteristic optimism and fearlessness at work).

Julia was determined, joyful and inspirational.  With her husband Paul, who is said to have sparked her initial interest in French cuisine, she started a food revolution, and what a team those two made.  Their love story is extraordinary.  The kind of story too many of us no longer believe in - a successful partnership involving both friendship and romance.  And Paul never seems to have felt threatened by his wife's success.  On the contrary, he inspired, supported and worked alongside her.  Given the times they lived and loved in, their accomplishments in life, work and their marriage are impressive.

Julia Child left a lasting impression on me.  When I was a kid watching her on TV, she looked too tall and sounded too funny to not be a bit awkward, but she was terribly confident and had a great sense of humor.  The first cookbook my mother bought herself was by Julia.  As well as the first one she gave me (you can read more about that on Uncrafty).   Julia was a remarkable role model for women.  She proved that you can be a feminist, a chef, a successful businesswoman and be happily married - all at the same time.  I am currently looking forward to reading the newest of her biographies, Dearie.  But there is a slew of books that celebrate her life available, including her own memoir.  If you feel the need to be inspired lately, here's your chance:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breaking Down Beauty on The Thinnest Skin

I have spent the last four days getting my house ready for visitors from California and Utah (for my birthday).  Lots of dusting and furniture moving and reorganizing and more laundry than you can shake a stick at.  During my breaks from extreme housecleaning, I have been researching cosmetic ingredients and terms for a series that Seth and I will be doing on The Thinnest Skin called Breaking Down Beauty.

Breaking Down Beauty: Introduction

There is a glut of misinformation out there about beauty products and cosmetic ingredients.  It can be very hard to figure out what is true and what is misunderstood.  Misinterpretation of scientific findings can lead to erroneous and alarmist statements.  Having worked in the natural foods industry (which includes beauty products), I heard a lot of different things from supposedly reliable sources and I never thought to question the accuracy of the information or do my own research.

These days it is also becoming more difficult to separate fact from fiction because certain key words appear to have been redefined by the industry.  Seth, PhD in Chemistry from MIT, has volunteered/been coerced into exploring the different meanings of toxic, organic, synthetic, natural and chemical.  Are these terms just savvy advertising?  A way for one cosmetic company to slam another?  Or are there real reasons to worry about what companies are adding to their products?  I imagine it may be a mix of all three.

The aim of this series is to try to help you (and me, because I want to know too) sort through all the marketing, hype and misconceptions.  [read more...]

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Beat-Box Kind of Day

I got completely absorbed by Incredibox last night, which I found via Stumble Upon.  It didn't take long for both Meg and me to record our own geeky compositions and share them with each other.  This is a great program just for fun or for showing the kids how to make up their own songs.

They don't have the embed option up and running yet, but if you'd like to listen to my composition for Meg called "Shabumpkin" here.  And you can listen to the one I made for Mary called "Pita" here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

For the Moblins

I have been doing a bit of babysitting this month for a friend of mine.  Her toddler is not afraid of monsters and completely understands that the moblin (which is how she says goblin) that lives in the storage closet of my house is not to be disturbed, but is not mean and won't eat her.  Unless she's stinky - moblins like stinky things.  Did you know?

I am always amazed at the way kids' minds work and the amount of joy they get from the littlest things.  Every time I show this little girl something new, she is so delighted and it is so genuine.  She is smart and fearless and she told me today that my cat Ricochet is her friend (he's in love with her, so yeah).  I think less about the stress in my life when I'm around her and after I drop her off with her mom, I feel lighter, if more sleepy than usual.  She makes me use my brain and gets me off my behind and out of the house.  I even write better because I'm not sitting in front of the computer all day.  It's a nice change.  From here on out, I'm going to refer to her as The Moblin on this blog, at least until someone tells me to cut it out (it might end up coming from The Moblin, herself).

Anyway, I have quite a few friends who have kids and I've promised all of them that I will try to include some stuff for kids and parents on this blog whenever I can.  This has been a bit difficult for me, as I don't have children of my own yet.  But I have been inspired by the moblin child I've been looking after, so I now have a few things to share with you.

California Baby Overtired and Cranky Bubble Bath:  I love the smell of this bubble bath - it is very subtle and calming.  We tried it out the other day and The Moblin loved it - especially because it comes with a bubble wand.  I don't know that the essential oils in this changed her mood at all (she wasn't overtired or cranky at the time), but I can tell you that the next time I'm stressed out, I'm going to use it for my own bath.

LUSH Rocketeer Bath Bomb:  I bought one of these when they first came out, then completely forgot about it.  Now I'm glad that I did - it was a big hit with The Moblin.  It even got her to scrub all over (thanks to the blue foam it left on her skin) and it didn't irritate her skin at all.  This bath bomb fizzes and floats around the tub, leaving trails of brightly colored foam in its wake, turning the water blue, then yellow, then green (without leaving a stain in your tub).  As with all LUSH bathing products, it left the whole house (and the child) smelling lovely.

Classic Disney, Vol. 1: 60 Years of Musical Magic:  The Moblin knows all the melodies to these songs, but is now also learning the words.  She has most of Part of That World down (she knows more than I do).  I'm very sad that this doesn't include Poissons from The Little Mermaid (I'll have to get Vol. 3 for that), but at least it's got Under the Sea.  Sorry, we're big on Ariel this week.  This doesn't have all my favorites, but it does have a lot of hers and that's more important...I guess.

Rick's Reads: A Collection from the Blog:  Rick Riordan is one of my favorite children's authors (Percy and The Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, The Heroes of Olympus).  He has written reviews for a wide variety of books for all ages.  I adore Riordan even more now that I know he's a Jim Butcher fan (a great recommendation for anyone who enjoys SFF).  He is also a dad and his reviews often reflect whether his kids liked the book he gave them to read, which is pretty darn cool.

We haven't had a chance to try out 123 Favorite Kids Song 1-3 yet, but it's going to be in the rotation fairly soon.  We enjoy Disney music, but there is more kids music out there to enjoy and quite a bit of it is educational to boot.  Once I've gotten the kid reaction, I'll let you know how this one turned out.  I'm pretty sure it will be well-received, considering how many songs I recognize from my own childhood from the very long list.

This post is for Sarah, a very sweet lil moblin.  For Tepi, who always trusts my book recommendations for her kids.  And, of course, for Tam-Tam and Wyatt - sorry it took me so long to write this!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Squirreliness on Lost in DC

My bird feeder is certainly not the prettiest, but when I realized how many birds we get in our yard, even without one, and found one in the garage, I immediately went out and bought birdseed.  I hoped I'd get to see a few songbirds.  I had no idea just how many birds and other creatures I'd get to see.  When I comment excitedly on all this, people look at me oddly and ask, "Don't they have wildlife in California?"  Uh yeah, tons, but you're not going to see very much if you live in the suburbs in an apartment building.  The last place I lived in Northern California was very pretty, but it is very different living in a house in such a lush place.  [read more...]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wonky Crochet on Uncrafty

I discovered just last night that I have not been doing standard single crochet.  What I've been doing isn't technically wrong - it is single crochet and I have completed four scarves already using it.  However, I've been doing single crochet through the front loop only.  [read more...]

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser Review on The Thinnest Skin

You may remember my review of Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Soothing Lotion and  how much I loved it.  A few weeks later, I am still excited to use it every day.  However, it did take me a while to decide on using the cleanser from the same line.  I don't usually trust that all products in a particular line will work as well as the first one I fall for.  I have been burned before (literally, in the case of an Aveda product that had cucumber extract in it, which it turns out I'm allergic to) by thinking that everything by a particular brand must be used together.  In most cases, it is simply not true (it's called "marketing").  I've found that picking and choosing carefully is the best way to go and I rarely love every single product I try in a line, no matter how much I love the brand.  [read more...]  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Temporarily Marilyn

This month marks the 50 year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death.  Marilyn is still a sex symbol in today's world, as well as a great example of doing the most with what you were born with.  Men and women love her still and a quick image search online will grant you a plethora of photographs of both her and today's celebrities impersonating her.    As a beauty icon, she is also celebrated by many professional makeup artists, which is how I came across this article, tweeted by Beauty Report (which tweets about beauty news).

When I first started reading the article, I had hoped it would be about the beauty that Marilyn Monroe was born with (as Norma Jean Mortenson) or about highlighting your best features with makeup or the right clothing.  Something along those lines.

"I care about what she's done in showing the way for women to embrace what I called their 'Inner Marilyn.'  I care about her being remembered as the greatest groundbreaker ever for makeup and women's sex appeal."  ~ Sally Hayes, permanent makeup expert
The article starts off saying that the makeup experts don't care about Marilyn's past, which  sounds great - a lot of people have judged her for the things she went through, the things she did to make it in Hollywood, the people she slept with, etc.  Like all celebrity, she has been revered as much as she has been reviled.  But this article goes on to let women know that Marilyn worked very hard to completely change her appearance and here's how you can, too - permanently.  Just imagine if Norma Jean had access to permanent makeup, hair removal and body contouring.  

"She didn't have today's lasers which could have helped greatly to minimize her hairy arms and peachfuzz on her face,' says Las Vegas Celebrity Cosmetic Surgeon, Julio L. Garcia, M.D. 'Being a full-figured girl, she didn't have today's body contouring options either.  And she didn't have the power of permanent makeup to save her time and effort, enhance her appearance, and give her added confidence being photographed everywhere she went."
First, I can't recall anyone ever mentioning having an issue with Marilyn's arm hair, facial peachfuzz or her curves.  Especially the last, since she was known for being curvy and womanly - that's one of the reasons she's a sex symbol!  In addition to that, I am dismayed at the idea of Marilyn getting permanent makeup.  Some of my favorite photographs of her are those where you see her without any makeup on.  Norma Jean was beautiful and yes, she worked very hard to create the Marilyn Monroe she played off-camera.  It's those natural moments, such a crazy contrast to the icon's standard image, that makes her so much more interesting to me.  That contrast is the first thing you notice about her that makes you realize how much she changed herself, how hard she worked to have the career she did.  The more layers you peel back, the more you see what a survivor she was.

Now I'd like to share with you a fantastic NPR interview of Lois Banner by Diane Rehm.  Banner recently published a biography of Marilyn Monroe that has more research behind it than any of its predecessors.  I hope you will take a moment from your day to listen to Banner talk about Marilyn with such admiration for the woman she was (all aspects of her).  She talks about all that Marilyn survived and all that she did.  Marilyn's mother was institutionalized when she was young, so she was constantly handed off to different family members, often in different towns.  There is evidence she survived sexual abuse in her youth.  And despite being pigeon-holed as a dumb blonde even off-camera, she was a businesswoman who controlled her own career, owned her own production company and strived to improve working conditions for women in Hollywood.  Marilyn Monroe was not just a pretty face, not just a pinup girl and though she dyed her hair blond, she was by no means dumb.

Marilyn changed her name, used makeup to change her face and adopted a breathy, sexy voice to make her all that much more memorable.  But I still can't see her going through painful surgeries to change her body or her face.  I certainly hope she wouldn't have because I look on her as a great rolemodel for women who aren't built like a twelve-year-old boy.  Women who don't feel the need to wear spanx or make their bodies virtually hairless.  Makeup is fun, it's interesting, you can use it to highlight your features or completely change your face, but it's temporary.   Even Marilyn wasn't Marilyn all the time.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Uncrafty Hands Pt. 2 on The Thinnest Skin

For those of you who want a hand wash that lathers but are worried about your crazy dry hands, there are a lot of moisturizing handsoaps on the market.  If you're like me and forget to apply lotion regularly, these soaps can help keep your hands from drying out.  If you're a fan of Bath & Body Works, they have a line of moisturizing hand soaps in various scents that cleanse without stripping moisture.  Cold-process, all-natural soaps like the one pictured below from Plantlife are supposed to be the best moisturizing and non-irritating soaps you can find and I know for a fact that your local Whole Foods Market (or local natural foods grocer) will carry a few different brands (honey, oatmeal, goat's milk and shea butter are great ingredients to look for in these soaps).  Then there's Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Cream Soap Bar which contains pure cocoa butter and Vitamin E and has been long trusted by moms-to-be.  [read more...]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uncrafty Hands on The Thinnest Skin

As those of you who read Uncrafty know, I learned to crochet in July.  I am really excited about being able to make things.  In fact, I crochet any time that I can - watching TV, waiting for something to bake in the oven, while on the phone, etc.  Because I have sensitive skin, some of the yarns I've used have irritated my hands and, as all crafters know, yarn and other media will suck the moisture right out of your skin.  [read more...]