Friday, January 29, 2010

My Finances Are Reflected in My Face

I love skincare/beauty product posts.  Don't you? My turn!

While perusing bridal magazines long before I had met Kevin (embarrassing but true--whatever you did it too!!), I remember reading about prepping your face for the wedding by getting monthly facials for at least 6 months ahead of time (or something like that).

Now, back when I used to work at a corporate law firm in midtown making a fat-ass salary, I would have totally been all over that.  I even got excited, thinking of having a valid excuse for getting so many facials! Wheeee!!!

By the time I got engaged, however, I had left the firm and started working for the government. Which let me tell you pays significantly less (that's an understatement).

What does this have to do with skincare? My rambling almost makes me forget.  Anyway, you could see the marked difference in my skincare regimen as my checking account balance dwindled.

When I Was a Rich Lawyer

This was my skincare regimen before:

Cleanser, toner and day moisturizer: Pola Vitax line, $139
Pola is a Japanese brand, and the Vitax is a mild line of products good for those in their 20's and 30's.  Overall I felt that they kept my skin in good shape, but nothing earth-shattering.

Serum: Obagi, $88

The Obagi-C RX serum is a splurge.  This product contains hydroquinone, which is usually available by prescription.  It's supposed to work wonders on any discoloration, like sun spots or acne scars, but it takes a few months to see the results. You can't use this when you're pregnant.  There's a night cream that goes along with it but it smells oh so lightly of urine.

Nighttime cream: L'Occitane, $60

This is actually the cream mask, but a saleswoman told me that I could use it as a night cream, which makes it much cheaper than the cream that's packaged as night cream.  It smells totally yummy and a little goes a long way.  However, if you have sensitive skin it might be an issue because it irritated my mom and sister's skin.

Facials: Jurlique, $125 (or something like that)

Actually, I only got facials about twice a year from Jurlique (they were gifts), but boy did I love them, and I wanted them everyday.  Even if my face fell off, I wanted those facials everyday.

Now That I'm an Underpaid Toiling Bureaucrat Lawyer

Cleanser: Cetaphil, $7.99
The Cetaphil is gentle and effective, with a pleasant scent.  I've heard that it's recommended by many dermatologists.  Apparently the non-lathering quality doesn't strip your skin of essential moisture and oils (you need some, or your face overproduces oil).

Serum: L'Oreal Skin Genesis, $22.99

To be honest, I'm not totally sold on the L'Oreal Skin Genesis Serum.  It's a little too light for me and I think there's some alcohol in it.  If anyone has some fav drugstore serum recommendations, let me know!

Day Moisturizer: Complex 15, $9.79
Source ($9.79 at

Right before and during college, I used Complex 15 on my face and hands.  Someone once touched my hands and exclaimed how soft they were.  Why I ever strayed (probably because of the clinical, boring packaging), I don't know. This stuff is the bomb.  It feels a little thin, but it absorbs so quickly--not just dries quickly, but really absorbs.  After a few seconds you feel like your skin has just drunk a gallon of water.  It feels amazing. 

Sunscreen: Aveeno Positively Ageless, $9.99

While SPF 70 is an unnecessarily high number, there wasn't a choice.  I like this product because it smells nice (only a slight sunscreen smell), although it doesn't absorb terribly well.  It kinda makes me "glow", as I see it (some may call it sweaty. tomAYtoes, tomAHtoes, people).

Night Cream: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, $13.49
I use this on my body, and during the winter have also used it as a night cream for my face.  It is affordable (that's a big tub) and uber moisturizing without feeling too greasy.  

"Facial": Oil of Olay Regenerist Microdermabrasion kit, $24.29

About once a week, I use the Oil of Olay Regenerist Microdermabrasion.  While not the cheapest drugstore product, it is definitely cheaper than getting a dermatologist do it for you (although yes, less effective).  This stuff smells uber yummy. 

My face is still here and alive, so I think I'm okay with the drugstore products.  I do miss those Jurlique facials, though!

Whether drugstore or indulgence, which are your favorite skincare products?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Little Kitchen Porn

As I mentioned, my sister developed an immutable ambition to create the following for our wedding as favors:

We're not sure yet whether the wedding cake cookie towers (WCCT) will work out, but even if they don't, she is trying a bunch of cookie recipes along the way, as well as testing their freezing power. If the WCCT don't work out, at least we will still have a cookie recipe to use for plain ol', non WCCT favors.

Hi, y’all!  I am 3pugmama, the magnificent, the marvelous, the sister of the mostest Miss Pug!  She asked me to write a ‘guest post’ re: the Making Of The Favor Bag Cookies.  Since I am, well, DOING ALL OF THE WORK.

To begin.  LovelyPug (as I like to call her when I am feeling affectionate) told me of her vision of lime and lavender shortbread cookies.  Nothing too complicated, she said.  Just throw ‘em in a bag, tie a name and table# to them, and set ‘em out on a table, she said.  How wonderful! I said.  What a lovely complement to your overall wedding color scheme! Not to mention LovelyPug is, some would say unreasonably, obsessed with lavender.

Wait a minute, I said.  Where the hell are these cookies coming from?

"You’re going to make them!" PITAS said (Pain-In-The-Ass-Sister, as I like to call her when I am feeling annoyed).

And she commenced with the furious emailing of potential cookie recipes.  Out of the contenders, I narrowed it down to shortbread (this, this, and this) and sugar cookies.   I decided to find us the best recipe, which could then perhaps be used in the WCCT.  I also wanted to test how well the dough froze.

So one fine morning when I was feeling particularly energetic, I catalogued my pantry, and made a quick trip to the local Whole Paycheck for extra ingredients (must. use. fair. trade. must not contribute to grower enslavement).

For Xtreme lime flavor, I used lime zest, juice and extract.  For ultimate lavender flavor, I used organic lavender buds (from my garden! Picked and dried by yours truly and the PITAS) whizzed with sugar, as well as home-made lavender extract.

Since this was going to be purely for taste and longevity (the real cookies will be baked at a later date and then frozen for the event), it was a simple matter of rolling the dough into logs for the fridge.

For the real thing, we'll roll out the dough and use a round cookie cutter. For now, feast your eyes on raw cookie dough logs.

After a couple of days’ chill in the fridge, and on a morning when I was feeling particularly manic (read: being completely ignored by the husband), I sliced those babies up and baked them.

I was optimistically worried I would have a problem narrowing down the options.  STOOPID.  The first batch, um, MELTED.

The second batch tasted like flour and butter, which would be fine, except that I had wanted them to taste like LIME COOKIES.  Luckily, the lavender shortbread and both lime & lavender sugar cookies were a hit. With the husband.  And, well, the 3 pugs.

(Ignore the marred one in the middle -- I may have gotten a little too eager)

They’re all now safely tucked away in the freezer.  Waiting for the moment a month from now, when I will present them to PITAS and get the final verdict – which cookie will reign supreme?!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And the Craft Gene Goes To...

My sister has much more skills than I do when it comes to crafting things.  For example, while I love baking, I'm lazy. One bowl brownies over layer cake? Done. Drop cookies as opposed to cutouts? Done.

My sister, on the other hand, has taken a cake decorating class, now makes all her own stationery, sews sweaters for the pugs, etc.  Here's an example of her handiwork.

And yes, it has a drawstring collar.  This craftiness has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantages?  More goodies for me.  Someone who will use the Gocco after the wedding and make it worth the money. Etc.

The disadvantages?  I post about the ridiculous lengths to which Martha Stewart & Co. go to create wedding cookie favors that I wouldn't even mentally touch with a 10-foot pole, clearly mocking the trouble it would take to make fancy confectionery favors.

My sister, in a bizarre instance of completely missing the point, takes the post a sign that there is absolutely no way she could possibly live with herself without trying the most complicated creation among the bunch.

Remember this?

I practically snorted at how this was too much for me, considering my skills. But oh no, not for my sister (and for probably quite a few of you out there). A mere minute after the post went up, she emails me: "Those wedding cakes are adorable! We can totally do them!"

Aaarrgghh. The word "we" in the "can totally do them" sentence did not go over well.  We had an email spat where I told her how off the wall she was, but she refused to budge.  Finally, she pointed out, if she wants to do them (and is actually excited about them), then who am I to complain? She's right--I'd *love* to have those (and not have slaved over them)! Bake away, sister!

Anyone have someone take charge of a project in your wedding that you would not have done on your own?

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Think I Have a Slight Fever

In my last post, I wrote about my aversion to having children (which stemmed from the fear of being a big ol' loser at parenting).  Anyway, so strangely enough, as my relationship with Mr. Pug progressed, I found myself more and more open the idea of raising kids.  It's now to the point that I have baby fever--I really want a kid and I will steal one if I have to (also keep in mind that I'll be close to 34 when we get married, so I better get crackin'...I am kidding about the stealing part).

The fever has led me to do things like this (not advised):

So, how did this happen? I'm not entirely sure.  Let me throw out a few things that I'm thinking.

**This are just my thoughts. I completely understand that the idea of having and raising children is very personal and unique to each person, and my reasons are that--only mine.  I'm not trying to impose my reasons on others or undermine others' thoughts on this issue.**

I think I want to have children with Mr. Pug because:

Being with Mr. Pug has made me realize that, while we do not by any means have the perfect relationship, I am capable of having a loving, stable relationship with someone (this was not a strong assumption of mine in the past).  I think that our love--and not just romantic love, but really a deep caring for a person who is your partner and family member--can serve as part of a foundation for a loving family. Something about being with him and being in this loving partnership makes me want to share that with others.

My concerns about my abilities to raise a child have been undergoing and continue to undergo a change, partly due to my relationship with Mr. Pug.  How?  When Mr. Pug and I became serious, I wanted to improve myself and our relationship, because I love him and I want us to be happy.

My relationship with Mr. Pug and his well-being reflected my state of being.  As in, if I was unhappy, irritable, unable to deal with stress, etc., that would negatively affect my relationship with Mr. Pug.  I wanted to improve--like I said, I wanted us to be happy, because this was something I wanted to last.

While of course in the past I had wanted to improve myself, this time I really took some action, and really saw it as more of a necessity (instead of making half-hearted New Year's resolutions) in order for us to make it.

While working on my weaknesses, I also realized that not only could I be a better person for the sake of myself, Mr. Pug and our relationship--but that as a better person, I could also be a *better parent* than I had previously thought possible.  Basically, being part of a team with Mr. Pug stirred me out of the resignation that I would not be a good parent.

For me, I wanted my lessons and efforts, as well as my and Mr. Pug's better qualities, to go beyond helping our relationship.  If I can foster a loving relationship and home with Mr. Pug, wouldn't that be nice to share with a child, someone who could benefit from our love and efforts?

I know, there's a little gap in logic going from me + Mr. Pug to me + Mr. Pug + child, and I can't quite explain it.

I admit that the gap in logic, at least for me, is probably filled by socialized thinking and a tinge of narcissism.  Mr. Pug and I essentially want our child to benefit from what we know and what we have learned, and for that child to hopefully be happy and stable, in part from what we can show/teach him/her.

But again, why do I *need* to share this with a child? Is that where my narcissism kicks in (and I wish I had a gentler word for that)?  There is a certain desire to see my and Mr. Pug's better qualities passed on to someone else, to see if I can make that child happy and have a good life, and hopefully better than the one I had (not that I have a bad life, but "better" is usually a good thing, right?).  But do I need to channel that into a child? Perhaps not.  Love is something definitely to be shared, but does it need to be shared by raising a child?

This is an important question because I believe it will help frame my parenting.  But I can't quite answer it satisfactorily.  On the other hand, at least for me, I'm okay with an incomplete answer--I know some of the reasons, and more importantly, I have much stronger hope than I ever have before that I can and will be a loving parent.

Hopefully my child will take better to being held by me than this:

(pug not at all amused)

Has being in a relationship changed the way you think about raising a family?  I'm interested to hear what other people think about the desire to have children (or not have children).

Thursday, January 21, 2010


For 32 years of my life, I absolutely did not want children.  I know I'm not alone in this. Walking through crowds of children at a museum or Halloween would literally make my heart beat faster and send involuntary shivers up my spine.  When I thought of children, this is what I would picture:

Jill Greenberg via here

Lest you think I'm an ogre for disliking children, let me explain that my feelings came more from a fear of failure in my ability to raise children:

I was very blunt about my feelings with Kevin when we started dating.  As time went on, sometimes, just for kicks, I would mention something about having children and if he responded affirmatively--as in, going along with my purported assumption that we would have kids one day--I would whip around, point my finger at him and yell "YOU FAILED! You failed the test! You DO want kids, how dare you!"

Notice that this post has been in the past tense.  About a year ago, I started to consider the possibility of having children.  I'll explain more about why I started to have a change of heart in my next post, but until then here's an example of how my attitude began to change--slooowly change. 

Me: Kevin, wouldn't it be cute if one day we could be walking around Central Park with our kid?
Kevin: (pause, looking into my eyes to see whether loving or crazy me has shown up)...Yes, that would be nice.
Me: So you want one? Really? (smiling sweetly)
Kevin: (feeling relaxed) Yeah, I want to have kids with you.
Me: Do you want me to be pregnant and unhappy and miserable?
Kevin: No, no, no, what are you talking about?
Me: Alright then, listen carefully, because I'm only gonna say this once, and in code. Second pug. Puppy. Now.
Don't ask questions, just do it.

Incidentally, we did get a second pug.  Boy, I guess Kevin really wants kids.



What do you prefer, pets or children? Okay no really, if you want kids, have you always wanted kids? And if you don't want kids, are you on the same page as your partner?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Have the Power

Last time, I talked about how Kevin and I do not have the kind of wedding planning relationship that really involves him. Hehe.  So what kind of relationship is it?

Photo by Ananda Lima 

Okay well not totally true.  This is the type of conversation that typifies our wedding planning dynamic: 

Scene #1: Evening of our Engagement Day, at Romantic Dinner
Me: So honey, I was thinking about some dates for the wedding...
He: [smile from face slowly disappears]
Me: It would be great to do it in the spring or fall...
He: [eyes space out, looks down]
Me: But I'm not sure if that would work with our schedules...
He: [starts to shrink in his seat, to the point where I have to look over far edge of table to see him]
Me: And should we get married in California or New York?
He: Can we stop talking about this? This is stressing me out.

Scene #2: The Day I Realize that We Are Going to Have a Formal Ceremony
Me: So originally we weren't going to have a ceremony, because it's such a pain in the ass.
He: Yeah.
Me: But the more I've talked about it with people and thought about it, I think it makes sense to do something.  People like ceremonies, and it gives focus to the day.
He: Yeah.
Me: I didn't want a formal ceremony, but now it seems like we'll be having one.  
He: Uh-huh
Me: Honey, do you mind having a more formal...
He: [cutting me short] Whatever you want, honey [returns to internet surfing]

Scene #3: After I've Addressed the Wedding Envelopes but Before I've Made the Invitations, Kevin Talking on Phone to His Mom
He: [on phone] Yeah, I think we're inviting so-and-so.  [to me] Honey are we inviting so-and-so?
Me: Yes, I've told you multiple times that that we will do so once as you give me their mailing address.
He: [on phone] Yep, the invitations are all ready to go.  Mina just finished them.
Me: [swiping him on the arm] What are you talking about? Those are empty envelopes sitting on the table.  The invites aren't even done--did you see me working on any invites lately? [pause] Hey, do you even know what our invite looks like?

I know I poke fun at the whole "collaboration", but it's because...well, it's funny, in an archetypal/stereotypical bride-groom classic clash way. It doesn't bother me (at least not yet), and in the meantime, this is what works for us.  I make the decisions, tell him about it if I feel like it, and lucky for me--he's been okay with every single thing.

Alright, let's hear about some knock-down drag-out fights that y'all have had regarding the wedding! I'm kidding...okay fine, share a story about how you guys have worked well together.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Is How We Do It

I have made a few jokes here and there about Kevin's non-involvement in the wedding planning process.  Here's an example:

The product of me furiously stamping and hand-addressing one afternoon--a cascade of pretty envelopes, just waiting to be stuffed!  Contrast with:

The image I saw when I turned around to show Kevin my handiwork.

Basically, we're not one of those couples whose planning relationship allows me to say:

"It was so great to have a groom who was interested in the wedding, it made us grow closer" or

"It was truly a collaborative effort, and so special--next, we get to work on our family!" or

"He really wanted to have a [insert great idea] for the wedding, so he researched and came up with [insert plan], and then he went to the [garage/work room/studio/what have you], and created this great [wedding item] with [materials bought from Home Depot] and a [power tool]!"

Sigh.  It sounds like I'm making fun of these sentiments, but if anything I'm a wee bit jealous.  These are awesome sentiments (my hats off to those couples and those crafty grooms!), but since it's not going to happen in this household, our Miss Pug-driven wedding actually works for me just fine.  How exactly does that play out? I'll give you some examples next time.

What kind of working relationship do you have with your spouse-to-be?