Monthly Archives: December 2016

Bragging Rights

The other day I was called out in an online forum for daring to suggest that many women’s obsession with Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags is related to their exclusivity and expense. The writer was affronted and claimed that she only loved her Kelly because it “fit [her] style.”

Hmmm; color me skeptical. You can’t tell me that any number of ladylike bags wouldn’t be equally suitable for her life and wardrobe.

There’s nothing wrong with conspicuous consumption or searching out something exclusive, assuming you don’t have to sell a kidney to afford it. But for heaven’s sake, own it — and don’t kid yourself that you’d love “x” just as much if it were widely accessible.

Our collections can include tangible items, knowledge or experiences. Maybe your passion is finding an undiscovered indie band or movie and being the first to tell your friends about it. Or happening upon a gem of a restaurant or a less-traveled exotic destination.

You might seek out limited edition small-batch bourbon, top-of-the-line chef’s knives, up-and-coming artists, or words of wisdom from an obscure philosopher whose works haven’t received mainstream attention. Your ultimate acquisition may even be a handbag with a long history to match its price tag, which makes you feel chic even when you’re in jeans and an old sweater.

Familiarity breeds selectivity as we become better informed and more discerning. We identify ourselves – if only to our secret selves – with descriptors like “foodie”, “fitness guru”, “car maven”, “tastemaker”, “aficionado”, “intellectual”, etc.  — a shorthand for pride in our hard-earned expertise that also resonates with people who share our interests.  Isn’t it human nature to want to blend in and stand out?

I have many indulgences and intend to enjoy what I enjoy — fully, and without apology. It’s all part of the glorious fun of being alive. Still, I try to acknowledge the subtext in any purchase and be honest with the person in the mirror.

That’s what really fits my style.

Five Faves of 2016

I’ve always been a beauty junkie.  Show me a new product category and I’m ready to try it. This year, a few items leapt from “things I’m curious about” to “staples”.  Here are five:

img_1636I’d been reading about micellar water for awhile but had no idea what it was. Here’s the description from the Garnier (great drugstore brand) website:

Micellar Cleansing Water features micelle cleansing molecules that pull oil and dirt away from the face. Our all-in-1 cleanser gently takes all makeup off, no rinsing, no harsh rubbing. 

And it’s true — on those nights you’re way too tired to do the whole cleansing ritual, just dampen a cotton ball and swipe off the gunk. Remember to follow up with your nighttime moisturizer.


As a recent survivor of foot surgery, I can attest to the need for a serious foot cream. This one does it all, and it’s another brand you can find at the drugstore.


Another Garnier/drugstore find, this refreshing cleanser is a super-quick way to wake up your face, without those environmentally dangerous plastic micro-beads. With older, drier skin I limit this to 3x a week.


This is my favorite weekly indulgence. A British product, this enzyme peel gently removes surface dry skin to prep it for a hydrating mask or other at-home treatment. Smells great, too.

img_1640My #1 find of the year is Maybelline’s new brow filler. Not a pencil, this is more like a mascara with a wedge-shaped tip and tiny little fibers to fill in sparse areas.  I could go all the way to Cara Delevingne territory if I wanted to, but a subtle touch is enough to put back some of the fullness that the years have taken away. I use Blonde, which is a light taupe.

Have you discovered any fabulous products this year? Please share in the comments section!

Oh, What Fun!

Let’s re-name Black Friday, “Insane Driver Day”. The official start of shopping frenzy is less about the sales, whether online or brick-and-mortar, and more about the holiday fog that threatens to engulf even the mildest of revelers. Miraculously, it appears to lift on January 3rd.

I especially notice this at the grocery store. Austinites are generally considerate and polite. But come holiday season it’s every one for him/herself, cutting people off in the parking lot, leaving their cart blocking the aisles, and rushing about as if there will never be another opportunity to buy milk. Gah!

A few suggestions for anyone who wasn’t organized enough to have all their holiday shopping done in July (that would be me and 99% of everyone I know).


1) Always have a back-up plan. If the sweater you wanted to buy Cousin Joe isn’t available, already know that he needs a new iPad cover, gym bag or shot glasses, and move on.

2) Keep some wrapped all-purpose gifts (fancy chocolates, imported cookies, small tins of caviar, champagne, wine, candles, pretty soaps etc.) in an easy-to-find location so you’re ready if someone you never exchange gifts with suddenly surprises you. (Do you hate that as much as I do?) This is especially useful at the office. Take that cardigan out of your desk drawer to make room.

3) Never shop on an empty stomach. You will be cranky and resentful. Keep some peanuts in your purse or car for a quick protein boost.

4) Buy something nice for yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will make you feel pampered. A new lipstick always perks me up; men, you’re on your own as far as suggestions go.

5) Take deep breaths. I recently read that a quick trick to relax is to cover one nostril and breathe slowly several times, then repeat by covering the other side. Failing that, a glass of whiskey or a Xanax should do the trick.

6) Watch comedies and avoid dramas, especially if your family or romantic situation is less than picture-perfect. This is no time to feel inadequate.

7) Plan a vacation for January or February. It could be as simple as a spa weekend or exploring a nearby city you rarely visit. Keep reminders of your trip on your night table so you fall asleep with something positive to anticipate.

8) Don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation. Being over-scheduled will make you tense. General merriment is highly overrated anyway.

9) Call or write to the people you love, give something to charity, soak in a hot tub, and be kind to yourself. That’s the best gift of all.