stowaway: a right-sized cosmetics giveaway.

3.02.2015

stowaway cosmetics giveaway | reading my tea leaves
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that—no surprise—I'm a minimalist when it comes to what I put on my face. If I'm being totally honest, there are many (many) mornings when it takes me until I'm almost down the subway stairs to realize that I left the house without so much as a swipe of chapstick, let alone any makeup.

But none of that means that I don't aspire to looking just a little more pulled together. It's just sometimes hard to justify makeup purchases when I know that I don't put them to use very often. And then there are the ingredients to contend with. And the packaging to consider.
stowaway cosmetics giveaway | reading my tea leaves
A few weeks ago I was working on a little post for Natalie (coming soon!) about my makeup bag and I included a little prayer to the universe to provide a cosmetics company that would make "beautifully effective products, devoid of questionable ingredients, and lovingly presented in matching little packages.
stowaway cosmetics giveaway | reading my tea leaves
And then last week I stumbled upon Stowaway. Makers of right-sized cosmetics designed to make your makeup routine simpler, not to mention, more mobileTheir first collection includes six basic products packaged in sizes small enough to ensure that you'll use them up before they expire. They're paraben-, phthalate-, and cruetly-free as well as being EU compliant. And they're adorable. And they work like magic. Bonus points: Stowaway is a women-founded company selling direct-to-consumer to save you the markups and waste of traditional cosmetics. GO, GIRLS.

Note to self: ask the universe to provide more often.
stowaway cosmetics giveaway | reading my tea leaves

This week, Stowaway is offering Reading My Tea Leaves readers the chance to take home a Stowaway Kit of their own. The kit includes a Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm, Creaseless Concealer, Cheek & Lip Rouge, Creme Lipstick, Effortless Eyeliner, and mascara. (And it comes with the perfect pint-sized makeup bag to carry everything in.)

To enter the giveaway, subscribe to the Stowaway newsletter and leave a comment below complete with a way to contact you and a little note about where you complete your morning makeup routine. (Me? In front of the mirror in our main room. Keeping one eye on the mirror and one eye on Faye.) 

The giveaway will close at 5:00 pm EST on Friday, March 6, 2015 and a randomly selected winner will be announced on Monday, March 9, 2015. Open to US readers only.

This post and giveaway was sponsored by Stowaway Cosmetics. Thanks so much for supporting the smart, innovative businesses like Stowaway that keep Reading My Tea Leaves afloat.

PS. If you didn't see the treat that Stowaway offered in this month's newsletter. Check your inbox!

my week in objects (mostly).

2.27.2015

five little things that made my week:

1. these roses.
roses
{because i treated myself. (ps. refer two friends and get a bouquet just for you.)}

2. this notebook.
notebook
{and the week for giving me the perfect reason for putting it to use.}

3. these frozen blueberries.
blueberries
{and the ridiculously cute way they stain faye's lips (...cheeks, fingers, scalp!?).}

4. these little wire end caps.
caps
{because we did a little home improving this week. more soon!}

5. this robe.
robe
{because i swear it feels like every week requires a recalibration of our morning routine. this week, it included early showers and an hour of work post-shower, pre-dressing. #werkit.}

other things:
a real shaker chair.
we made these last weekend.
woolies.
baby balaclava!
spotted in a cafĂ© this week and sleuthed!
i've been eyeing this all winter. might be just right for early spring.
laughed so hard i snorted.
yours for the night.
advice from old books.
"see potential, then sand like a madwoman."

me in other places:
small-space bloggerinas.
"famous" micro-apartments.

ps. the march (!) newsletter is dropping on sunday. are you ready?

smoothies.

2.24.2015

smoothie | reading my tea leaves
Or, as my nephew enthusiastically calls them: FOOMIES!

We've been guzzling smoothies around here lately. They're the perfect thing to make in the morning and down in between chasing Faye around the apartment, hammering out blog posts, worrying about my book, and getting in the shower! Yay!

I've been winging all kinds of concoctions, positively none of them with a real recipe. Some of them turn out an unappetizing brown color but taste delicious. Some are so tart they make my eyes bulge. Some are insanely delicious but completely resistant to being recreated. But that's the thing about smoothies: they're like a mini adventure before you've even gotten yourself dressed in the morning!

Since some of you guys have been asking about smoothie specifics, I decided I'd pause my gulping to share two non-recipes. Mostly this is a selfish move designed to get you guys to share what you've been putting in your smoothies. When I wrote this ode to smoothies two years ago, so many of you wrote in about adding greens that I decided to give it a whirl myself. Two years later, I'm still at it, but I've got a hankering to try something else new.
smoothie | reading my tea leaves
Here's what I've been doing lately:

The green one (which kinda turns brown):
1 large glug of yogurt (probably close to 3/4 cup)
1 small handful frozen blueberries
1 small handful frozen strawberries
Several glugs of orange juice (probably close to 1/2 cup)
1 large handful greens (chard or kale or spinach'll do)

The brown one:
1 banana
1 large glug of yogurt
1 spoonful of honey
Several tablespoons of peanut butter
1 (smaller) spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
milk enough to make it blendable

PS. Yes! My hilarious tiling hack job is still going strong. The landlord's heinous decorative tile's got nothing on some white contact paper! (Bright kitchen light courtesy of Photoshop, 110%.)

PPS. James and I bought this blender when we first living together, SEVEN years ago. It's the Oster Beehive Blender. We recently had to replace the plastic cap on the bottom of the glass pitcher because it finally cracked. The new replacement cap does not screw perfectly onto the rim of a mason jar like our old one did. We're in mourning. And I'm on the hunt for a metal cap that the originals came with. Why, oh, why Osterizer?!

growing a minimalist wardrobe: winter coats.

2.23.2015

winter coats
It's been a cold winter in New York, but that's nothing especially newsworthy and I'm not one to complain about the snow. This weekend, James and I tromped around for hours in the wintry white slush while Faye dozed in her stroller. We were bundled and it felt good to be out of the house. Imperative, even. 

But despite the general loveliness of a good snow fall, New York winters can be harsh. The buildings create wind tunnels that make you feel like your face might soon fall off. The intersections become booby traps of icy slurry. Everything's coated in a layer of thick white salt. It takes roughly twice as long to accomplish anything because leaving the house means needing to stop for a quick cup of hot chocolate to warm up again. Only me?

You end up practically living in your coat in New York in the wintertime and you need a properly warm wintry one to get through it. Something that prevents you from feeling every single harsh wintry wind. And hopefully something to make you feel like you're still a person underneath all of that wool or down or [insert branded name for warm "technology"]. But finding the one is a challenge.

For my own part, I feel like I've been on a good ten-year-long hunt for the perfect winter coat. There's no particularly good reason that I haven't found a winter coat to really love in the past decade or so. Just the usual reasons: making purchases of any kind between the ages of 18-24; making purchases while pregnant; making purchases while desperate; making purchases while cold.

In graduate school, I broke down and bought a full-length puffer jacket. We'd just moved back to the Northeast from North Carolina. Instead of celebrating Valentine's day amidst blossoming camellias in Wilmington, we were slip sliding our way down Providence's iced-over sidewalks. I needed a sleeping bag that I could walk in. So, I caved and bought one like this one. Five years later it's still keeping me warm, but it's lost all of the loft in the bum, and the arms have developed a shiny sheen from years of rub and wear. Maybe most important of all, while it's quite warm, it's not terribly humanizing. It's not a coat to put on and feel beautiful in. It's a coat for feeling frumpy in. Did I mention that New York City winters are harsh?

To balance out the walking sleeping bag effect, I also have a black wool bell coat that I bought at Muji while I was pregnant last winter and in need of something that I didn't have to stuff myself into. Even then, and especially now, it's comically large. It doesn't have much in the way of a lining, but it works in a pinch when I don't want to look like a female version of the Michelin man. I'd call it serviceable.

So, here's a little report to say that I'm sitting tight and doing my best to be sure that I make my next coat purchase really count. While I'll probably keep my puffer around for blizzards and sledding, I want my next coat to be one that would work as well on a casual weekend as it would to a dinner out someplace a little it special. Mostly, I want it to be coat to feel good in. To be a coat to actually enjoy wearing rather than simply enduring. One that I'll still want to wear in a year, or five, or ten. A tall order, definitely. But even more than most pieces in a wardrobe, a good winter coat seems like something worth giving a little extra attention.

So, I'm taking notes on the subway. Craning my neck to see if I can make out a brand name on a zipper pull. Putting out feelers for a sustainably made masterpiece to call my own. While it seems like everyone in my path is braving the elements in one of these, I'm not convinced that going the Sir Edmund Hillary route is what I need. What winter coats are keeping you guys warm and happy this winter?

A few things on my radar:

If I were to reinvest in a new puffer, I'd probably go with these guys. They set the bar for ethical down production and sustainability super high (and they're currently holding a 50% off sale).  This one looks good for adventuring.

A poncho has to be about the loveliest option for feeling radiant, but I'm afraid it might make most sense for a winter that comes with camellias.

Long and lean in black?

Silvery wool? So pretty. Maybe not precisely arctic blast material.

This peacoat, if only it were longer.

More minimalist wardrobe posts, HERE.

my week in objects (mostly).

2.20.2015

five little things that made my week.

1. buckwheat.
buckwheat
{the perfect ingredient to up our kale salad game.}

2. these gloves.
gloves
{because it occured to me to wash them. still pilly, but so much better.}

3. these diaper covers.
diaper covers
{boiled in baking soda and smelling like nothing at all. which is much better than what they were smelling like.}

4. this book.
cake
{for inspiration.}

5. these vitamins.
vitamins
{just the prenatals i'm supposed to be swallowing. and some vitamin d, not pictured. can you tell i'm on a shake-the-funk bender?}

other things:
six degrees of caffeination.
clutter cure?
stowaway.
baa, ram, ewe.
pop!
sweet slouch.
timeless timepieces.
doesn't get much cuter than this.
portugal!
i need a tribe.

other things:
hammer, nails, and a long-legged sofa..

shake the wintertime blues: move.

2.18.2015

move
This post almost didn't get written.

First I had to double-check the price of two tickets to Puerto Rico. Which led me to wondering about cute sun hats for babies with tiny heads. Which led me to wondering about sunscreen and babies. Which led me to an Airbnb hunt for a non-gross beachfront apartment anywhere with an approximate price tag of zero dollars per night and maybe a fantastic cabana to boot. Which got me to thinking about how much I love margaritas.

And that's not saying anything about the paths I went down while looking for airfare to Hawaii, or Marfa, or San Francisco.

Hi, February. Lovely to see you again.

I'll cut to the chase: Exercising has just never really been my bag. Sure, I played sports. Play being the operative word. My dad was my soccer coach from age 8-ish to 14-ish. But when I wasn't getting bowled over by my own teammates, I was doing arabesques on the sidelines. Then there was a brief stint with lacrosse, which I mostly remember because I got to mold a hot plastic mouthguard onto my teeth and I could never find matching spandex to wear underneath my skirt. In high school I joined the track team, but was sorely dissappointed to learn that it meant having to run.

In my adult life, I've dabbled in sportiness. There was even a period a few years ago when I went to yoga regularly. But that was back when my friend Carrie lived in Brooklyn and we'd go together with the promise of stopping for a grilled cheese from the Court Street Diner afterward. Savasana was my favorite pose.

Suffice to say that when my yoga mat got lost in our move almost a year ago, it was not replaced.

But this week has been rough. I've been all kinds of cranky. Out of sorts and moody and just....February. It should really be an adjective.

"How are you feeling today?"
"Ugh, I don't know. Kinda February."

This is a very roundabout way of saying that I did something wacky and exercised voluntarily. (And I don't mean just taking a long moody walk around the neighborhood, though I did plently of that too.)

Toward the end of my workday, I slipped out of my "work" leggings and into my "play" leggings and set my laptop on the floor and spent thirty minutes working on those arabesques under the gentle dictatorship of Ms. Mary Helen Bowers. And after I got my thigh muscles to stop quivering and my back to stop spasming, I felt amazing. And then I did it again the next day. And again after that.

I realize this isn't revelatory. But it's feeling that way for me. To be honest, in the almost nine months since Faye was born, I've had to constantly measure my days in chunks of hours. There are play hours. And work hours. And the work hours have a number attached to them, usually in the sum of the babysitter's hourly rate. And so those hours are supposed to really count. And lately I've been counting words and chapters and posts and leaving out things like breaths. So. I had myself a little intervention. And now I'm counting port de bras, and tendus, and breaths too. And I'm feeling much better.

RESOLUTION #14,379: Move. More.

PS. I bought the Ballet Beautiful intro bundle.
PPS. The photo above shows my "exercise" set-up. Faye's quilt where I actually do my new routine, not pictured...
PPPS. Now I really want a leotard. And maybe ballet slippers.


make your own: board butter.

2.17.2015

wood butter | reading my tea leaves
It's February. Everyonething needs special attention. It's the time of year for slathering yourself in good smelling things and hoping for the best. Turns out the same goes for cutting boards. And spoons.

Enter board butter. Also known as spoon butter. Also known as the answer to your wooden utensil and cutting board woes.

Here's the thing about being a little bit particular about the things you buy: sometimes it's just easier not to buy anything.  This is usually a good thing. It keeps me from making all kinds of potentially regretful purchases. But sometimes it means I put off more practical purchases, too. I knew I was supposed to be treating my wooden cutting board (and spatula and bowl, etc., etc.). I knew I didn't want to use mineral oil—a petroleum product, I generally try to avoid—but I wasn't sure what to use in its place. For some reason, doing the modicum of research required to figure out that I had the perfect non-toxic, food-grade alternative to mineral oil right in my own kitchen cabinet stopped me from doing anything at all. While I procrastinated, my wooden boards got dried out and sad looking.
wood butter | reading my tea leaves
But sometimes procrastinating has its rewards. During a particularly seredipitous moment on instagram the other day, Abby showed her own recent concoction for getting her boards in shipshape and Camille chimed in, and suddenly I had a little plan worked out. So I gathered all of my wooden things and got them ready for a little wintry special attention. I decided on a wood treatment using coconut oil and beeswax. Coconut oil because it returns moisture to the wood but won't go rapidly rancid like other fruit oils might. (Other good alternatives include walnut oil and jojoba oil.) Beeswax for sealing in the moisture.
wood butter | reading my tea leaves
Like everything else I do, I eyeballed a rough ratio. I mixed one part beeswax with three parts coconut oil. I put both ingredients into a mason jar set inside an old enamel pan filled with an inch or two of water. As the water simmered on the stove, the coconut oil and beeswax melted together.
wood butter | reading my tea leaves
Once all melty, I poured the wood butter into little glass jars that I had saved, and let it cool. Side note: If you're hoping this little project will have the added effect of turning your home into a richly scented haven, you are in luck.
wood butter | reading my tea leaves
A hearty smear or four is all I needed to return a bit of luster to my board. My butter was the consistency of thick frosting and I used my own two hands and an old rag to help slather it onto my cutting board (and every other wooden thing I could get my hands on). Bonus: my dry hands got some much needed attention, too!
wood butter | reading my tea leaves
I gave everything a good rub down with the butter and let all of my utensils and board sit out on an old dish towel for the night before giving them another quick buff in the morning.
wood butter | reading my tea leaves

Board Butter

1 part beeswax
3 parts coconut oil

Melt together beeswax and coconut oil. If you hope to mix a large batch, you'll want to break the wax into small pieces. If you have one, a small dedicated cheese grater could make lighter work of this step. Otherwise, use a knife and brute force.

Once melted, allow the butter to cool (it will change from bright yellow to a paler shade as it cools.)

Apply the cooled butter to your wooden boards, spoons, baby toys and teethers, countertops, etc. Allow the butter to sit overnight and buff in the morning.

PS. If have an old jar with label residue that you need some help removing, some coconut oil mixed with a little baking soda does the trick. (Goo gone, be gone....)

More coconut oil magic, HERE.

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