Category Archives: Materialistic Monday

iPhone Love

I’ve wanted to post about the wonders of my iPhone for about a year now, but I still find myself somewhat sheepish about the fact that I own one.  I want to say to everyone who sees it, “I’m running a business – it was a much-needed tax write-off last summer!!” as if anyone actually cares how I pulled it off.  However, I don’t hide it when I’m in groups like I did for the first few months (when just pulling it out of my bag attracted a large group of curious folks), but I do try to lay low with the thing.  At any rate, I decided to post about it because I realized two things recently:

1)  I’ve had it for a full year now, and I am still madly in love with it every single dingle day; and

2)  Now that the new one is coming out at a far more reasonable price, more people might be thinking about purchasing them, and therefore more interested in what I have to say about it.

So I won’t go on and on, but I’ll give you a few things that have made the biggest difference for me:

* Direct access to my personal and work email accounts anytime I want.  This is useful when stuck in traffic or waiting for a client, but especially excellent when I am traveling.

* Very easy key pad that pops up for typing.  People seem to be frightened of it, but believe me, you get used to typing on it within a few days, and the word prediction feature works very well for me.  I can write long emails, comment on blog posts, and send lengthy, grammatically correct text messages quickly and easily.  As I once wrote about, even a 6-year old can pick it up and start using text messaging well.

* The visual voicemail is just amazing.  I’m a big fan of the little numbers that show me how many voice mails and text messages I have, and I can choose which new message I want to listen to by touching that name or number. If I need to fast forward or rewind, I just move the little bar where I want to listen.  Actually, the whole phone/contacts feature is incredible to me.  Every bit of information in my MacBook’s Address Book is synched up with my iPhone, making it easy to make calls and look up addresses (which can be touched to pull up a map and directions to that location – and now there is a real GPS feature on the new ones).  I have also assigned my favorite photos of family and friends to their contact pages so that when they call I get to see their shiny, happy faces.

* It’s my iPod.  All of my music is on this thing.  And here’s a scenario for you from a drive to work (when I’m not carpooling): the iPhone is connected through the car stereo so that I can listen to whatever I want in the car.  I’m wearing my BlueTooth headset.  I’m jamming to music when all of a sudden, the music is turned down for me automatically because a call is coming in.  I touch my ear piece and answer the phone.  No sudden turning music down or off, or fumbling with the phone to answer.  That’s one smart piece of technology.  As soon as I hang up the call, my music comes back on. This never fails to amaze me.

* The camera on the iPhone is quite good.  I frequently take a shot of a child I’m working with doing something fabulous, and I zip it off to their parents via email in the middle of a therapy session.  As you might imagine, they love getting these.   I also love to send a cute shot to Matt or the grandparents seconds after I capture it.

The awesome thing about the iPhone is that it just keeps getting better.  Apple continues to roll out upgrades that I get automatically by synching it with my computer, and Google seems to be working overtime to make all of their super cool applications work on it.  On my iPhone home page, which I can now customize, I have added buttons for my Google Reader, for Google Talk, and my home/work Google Calendar.   And, of course, a direct link to The Wonderwheel.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and there are plenty of features that I don’t even make use of on this device that I’m sure someone else would place at the top of her list. I briefly considered upgrading to the new phone being released this Friday, but there’s really no point.  I’m sure I could get used to a faster data speed right quick, but the current speed rarely causes problems.  I’m also not that interested in a more expensive monthly plan.  I do suspect that I’ll be ready to upgrade next summer when they come up with yet another version and I’ll be in a different financial position, but for now I am completely happy with the phenomenal little piece of technology that I’ve got.

Okay.  Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.

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Materialistic Monday: Erase Paste

It’s been one hell of a day.  Challenging sessions here at work, pouring rain outside, and trying to figure out if and when I should fly back to Massachusetts to stay with my grandmother, because my grandfather had a stroke last week, is in the hospital, and is likely to head to a rehab facility soon.  I’m not too keen on the idea of my nearly-blind grandmother (who never asks for help) getting around by herself in the senior housing apartment that they’ve only lived in for a matter of weeks.  I should go, right?

But, Wonderfriends, here’s what is getting me through this day – my skin looks damn good.  And I’ll tell you why: Benefit’s Erase Paste.  Dab a little under the eyes, on the eyelids, and anywhere you are sporting a little blemish or discoloration:  poof!   They don’t lie when they say that it conceals and brightens – it actually does.  Even Matt is totally impressed with this product, and that’s saying something.

Now if only I had some Erase Paste for all the bigger stuff in my life…

Materialistic Monday: In Which I Assimilate

“Well, that’s it, then,” he said.  “You’re fully assimilated now.”

I looked at Matt.  Then I looked back at the 9-piece Pyrex Portables set I had just brought home from Target.  I laughed and said,  “You’re right.”

When I was purchasing this fantastic creation, I was thinking, “So this is what happens when you join a church. It’s one of the hidden costs no one tells you about.  You end up buying a crazy contraption like this!”

I’ve always made meals for friends when their babies were born, but in the past few years the births have slowed down among my friends and my give-away cooking for has decreased.  Joining our church, however, has driven the rate right back up.  I agreed at some point to be on a list of people willing to bring meals to members who are ill or newly home with babies or recovering from hospitalization.  It’s not a constant request – there must be enough of us on that list of willing parties – but we have cooked and delivered meals quite a few times this year.  We are also transporting lots more meals to family events than ever before, living near Matt’s family.

More than once I’ve pulled a hot casserole out of the oven at 5 pm only to hand the glass dish to Matt to take out into below zero temperatures to deliver across town.   But recently I discovered a good solution – the Pyrex Portables line.  I just bought one and I have to say, it’s a design wonder.  The nice padded insulated carry bag with comfy handles contains a double-decker storage area.  One level can hold two side-by-side 6 cup rectangular dishes with snap tops (perfect for side dishes), and the other a large covered 9×13 dish.  There are two large hot/cold packs as well.  I’m in heaven!

I was feeling pretty Midwestern when we started going to church in the first place. (San Francisco is one of the cities with the least number of people attending church in the nation – I believe that (only?) Seattle has it beat.) Delivering food to people we’d never met – even more so.  But buying a special insulated bag to deliver the food in any weather?   Well, Matt’s right, I think.

The assimilation is complete.

Materialistic Monday: The NYC Edition

There are those who go to New York to do nothing but shop.

And then there’s me.

As I mentioned, I had a hard time getting my shopping groove on in Manhattan; however, on Saturday afternoon I came close to simply handing over my credit card and walking away, arms laden with large paper bags, in a couple of little shops on 7th Avenue in Park Slope.   Here is what I came home with:

Red Nino Bossi leather zip top handbag.  I also bought a scarf at this shop that I cannot find a photo of.  It’s white with a lot of red and green; it’s very funky and looks cute with this bag.

Dark brown leather Palladium flats that feel like wearing slippers.

Dansko Daphne sandals in light green (finally, some summer colors in these comfy shoes!) – these are really pretty on – the photo doesn’t capture them well.

Bliss pore-perfecting facial polish, purchased at Bigelow Pharmacy in the West Village, a wonderful shop where you will find all of your favorite “vain shit“.   (I did manage to buy one item in Manhattan!)  I snuck a little of this from the selection of produit in my cousin’s shower in San Francisco back in February and have been dreaming about it ever since.  Oh, the clean and shiny.

So?  How’d I do?

Materialistic Monday: Drama Mama’s Secrets, Part Two

You’re back.   I’m impressed.  I’m here to once again hijack Jordan’s blog and barrage you with useless, albeit glorious suggestions. [Here’s Part One.]

Did you do your homework?  Is your skin shiny and dewy?  Are you slurping your fiber shakes and clamoring for more material suggestions?

Fear not, mon amie.  Here’s the scoop:

 

Now, I realize that not everyone has the access to professional discounts that I do, being a card-carrying member of Actors’ Unions – which means that basically, for very high annual dues, I get discounts at hair and make-up places- so I’ve put together some other very affordable and worthwhile treats.

 

I’ve mentioned on my blog that I have a lot of grey hair that was formerly black, and I am too vain to let it go all salt-and-pepper on my ass just yet.  I have to dye my roots every two weeks.  I no longer have $400 extra dollars to spare, as I have a child that requires therapeutic intervention, and it’s really all about her remediation and not my roots, so I do my hair myself.   Which worries me.  I worry that I will have a bird’s nest of blue-black cotton candy that the ladies in our church used to sport.   I now- praise the Lordy Lord – useClairol Perfect 10, which, really, truly is Nirvana in a box.  It dyes hair in 10 minutes, has low ammonia, so it doesn’t stink or burn your scalp, and has really, truly glossy, rich color.  The secret is to only do the roots, ladies, and then “pull” the color through the rest of your hair at the last minute – only for 1-2 minutes.   Rinse and shampoo, and make sure that you use the awesome glossing conditioner that comes with the packet.  Better yet, it’s cheap, and every fashion magazine this month is offering $5 coupons – so scour your Marie Claire this month for your $8 dye job.  Dreamy, this stuff is.  (It’s got me talking like Yoda, for Chrissakes!)

 

Now, for my Spring face.  I use Bare Minerals, as most of us do, and I swear by Lancome L’Extreme mascara. People frequently ask me if I am wearing false eyelashes, and nothing gives me more joy.  I realize that not everyone likes to look like they are sporting stage make-up, but there is something in the artifice that I enjoy so deeply.  I also blush to tell you that I use Prestige liquid black glitter liner, which is perfection if used properly.  Liquid liner is like a loaded gun; one must almost have a license to wear it without looking like Priscilla Presley circa 1966.  The trick is to get the liner as close to the lash line as possible, and to keep the eye open while applying.  I would not advise this maneuver after your morning coffee.    I use MAC Mineralize in Warmed all over the face, to sculpt and to get some color going – I realize that I am of the Latina persuasion, so I warn all of you Anglo-Saxons to go easy on the Warmed.  It’s not for everybody, but for me –Jaysus – it’s a good 10 years and 10 pounds off.  My Gay even sneaks a swipe once in a while!  (I can always tell when he emerges from our bathroom looking like he took a mini Bermuda vacation)   I use L’oreal HIP Cream Shadow paint in Secretive – which provides a nice neutral canvas, as well as being exceptionally long lasting.  Wear is everything to an actor.   I still do my drag as if I’m doing Aida and plan to sweat in a 50 pound costume.  Last, I use Bobbi Brown’s Nude glitter gloss– the whole effect is very Capri, circa 1960, with a little Raquel Welch and a little Barbarella thrown in.   Total make-up time:  6 minutes. 

 

Okay, Wonderfriends.  You have 10 minute hair and 6 minute faces.  You have your skincare and your digestive system all worked out.

 

Last? 

 

Your fragrance.

 

Now, now, stop your belly aching.  I know many of you pooh-pooh the notion of fragrance, but truly, it is the signature that you leave, hopefully, not too cloyingly.

I have thought about this very carefully, and while some of us favor the libidinious musks and woods and deep berries, I realize that there is something dirty about these scents that might not be appropriate for PTA meetings, IEPS, Speech Therapy, or even, yes, teaching Drama.  I have therefore chosen the perfect summer scent:  Kai.

It evokes summer and freshness, is very light and subliminally sexy.  I like it because I wear it – it does not and could not wear me.  It’s beachy and light, and makes you want to wear linen and a tiny cotton t-shirt without a bra, and toss your head back and collect beach glass.    Trust me on this one.  Yes, even Kyra, who professed that most fragrances make her gag.  I believe that Kai would have even our staunchest perfume critic feeling like a goddamn spring zephyr.

 

That was painless, wasn’t it?  Is your head spinning?  Are you still there?  Have you run from your screens, overloaded by the materialness of it all?

I tell you true, Wonderfriends.  The reason for all of this – this- this – pruning and preening and pampering?    You might think me hopelessly vain and shallow.

 

And I would agree with you.There is a deeper reason.  In my training as an actor, we were drilled to be ready to present, to “be on time and know your lines.”  For me – I need to get up
early and tend to my ablutions so that I can be present and ready, game face on, to tend to my children, my students, my mate.  Otherwise, I go into that sweatpant-pajama bottom-land-of-elastic-waistbands- territory that I have fought so hard to emerge from.  So I buff and paint and wax.  And sometimes I don’t.  But just that little-self care – that whiff of a lovely perfume, or the mastery of an eyebrow arch?  It tells me that somebody cares.  Me.  I care.

 

Go forth.  Stun them with your devastating beauty. 

 

I’ll be looking for you.

Materialistic Monday: Drama Mama’s Secrets, Part One

How lucky are you? The faaabulous Drama Mama is guest blogging here today to share her beauty secrets! Get your tabbing fingers ready – there are some real gems here…enjoy!

Materialism is hard work, Wonderfriends, so I’m going to work fast and hard to get you in and out of here on this Monday morning.

The erudite and gregarious Jordan has asked me to guest on this auspicious day, mostly because she isn’t half has materialistic as I am, and partially, maybe, because she’s just tired, lazy, or both and just wants to pass the heavy lifting over to me. Never fear, mon amie, I am willing and able to transition you from the dregs of winter to the dawning of summer in just a few pithy paragraphs. Get your pens ready. And…Go!

First of all, as we move from Winter to Summer, you might notice that you are feeling… squishy, perhaps. Not heavy, but, er, well, not as toned and terrific as you’d like to be as those Land’s End Swimsuit catalogs appear fast and furious in your mailboxes. May I suggest a nice meal replacement that I’ve been doing that is filling and delicious ? (Well, let’s not go crazy here, how about pleasantly palatable?). Fiber 35 is available online, in your local health stores, and what I really like about it is that it does indeed fill one up and keeps things moving, shall we say? A few shakes throughout the day, with a Fiber Smart bar mid-day, and a salad with protein for dinner – an easy and painless way to shape up and clean out. Just in time for Land’s End season. Greet those waves with the semi-self-confidence that you deserve!

Now that your innards are singing, may I bring your attention to your skin? Yes, darling, it is lovely and wrinkle-free, but that long winter has left you –ahem- a little dull and not as baby-fine as you’d like. MAC Moisturelush line is just that – softening and hydrating and really, truly non-greasy. Truly. I would not lie to you. I do the Cremewash with my Clarisonic in the shower (oh, the ecstasy), then the Studio Moisture Fix while I dress and do my hair. By the time I get to my make-up, my face is ready to go. Friends, before I turned 40, I detested the feel of moisturizers. As it became a necessity, I searched vainly for an item that would hydrate me and not make me look like a fry cook in June. The real piece de resistance is the Moisturelush Crème at night – it goes on like a cloud, and is like a mini-facial; once you emerge from your morning shower, the effects of your nightly attempts are butter-smooth and have plumped up even the tiniest of lines – even around the mouth! Couple all of this with your Strivectin, and you are positively entering Dorian Gray territory.

Okay. Pens down. That’s enough for today. Process. Rinse. Repeat. We’ll see you next week at this time for the rest of Materialistic Monday Terrorist Takeover by Drama Mama. Please do your homework.

Materialistic Monday: Rush Hour

Aaahhhh, Rush Hour, how do I love thee…

You are the perfect blend of creamy color that looks good no matter the season and with whatever I’m wearing. I keep you in my purse and also in my work bag for those moments when I need a dash of color: pronto!

Rush Hour, you are perfect on my lips and cheeks, making you the ultimate in quick fixes. I cheated a couple of times – yes, my dear, I know! – and learned that any old lipstick won’t do the trick.

Roses are Red
Rush Hour is, too,
I’ll wear you always
I swear – I’ll be true.

Materialistic Monday: Cashmere

Until January of this year, I had never owned anything cashmere, nor had I bought anything at Bloomingdale’s. Within two days, I had two cashmere hoodies, and Matt liked them so much that he went out and bought one, too. At Bloomingdale’s.

This is all thanks to Kristen. You may know her as a very thoughtful and kind blogger, a wonderful writer. Sure, that’s all true, but I also know her as my personal shopper. Because once Kristen, Queen of Cashmere, found out that I didn’t own a cashmere sweater, she made it her job to change that. You think I’m joking? Exaggerating? I am not.

I will let Kristen herself tell you about her cashmere addiction obsession adoration because I cannot do it justice. First there was the IM chat in which she extolled the virtues of cashmere: it’s soft, adjusts to your body temperature, perfect for a climate like Chicago! Then there was the email with some ideas about where to shop for my cashmere sweater (high end department store sale racks, J. Crew, Lands End). Later, when it became clear that I was interested but wasn’t taking the initiative to buy the sweater fast enough, there was the email with a series of actual links to four cashmere sweaters that Kristen had judged to be the best quality for the best price in stores at that moment.

If someone had told me that blogging would yield a personal shopper in New York willing to help me pick out a good cashmere sweater, I would have started a LOT sooner. Because as soon as I had a free Sunday afternoon, I went to Bloomingdale’s, where they were having a fantastic sale on cashmere sweaters. I took about 10 black cardigans into the dressing room (because Kristen had also insisted I make my first one a black cardigan and at this point I was willing to do whatever she said) and found one I loved so very much that I also bought it in pink (and hey, looks like they still have it and it’s still marked down!).

I cannot tell you how much I love these sweaters, but especially the black one (she was right, of course). I wear it almost every day. I also bought some cashmere-lined black leather driving gloves from Nordstrom after Christmas and I adore those as well. My hands have stayed so toasty, and they’re incredibly soft. Aaaaahh…cashmere.

Right now my black hoodie is waiting to be washed, and I am really missing it. Speaking of washing it, I am still unsure about the best way to care for it. My understanding is that my choices are hand wash or dry clean. When I dry cleaned it once, it came back less soft, but Kristen tells me that hers have been fine and I need to try a new dry cleaner. I found this piece at Friday Style, all about caring for cashmere, that I wanted to share with you and in it Susan Wagner begs me to hand wash it. Anyone else want to weigh in on that?

So, yes. People who tell you that cashmere is wonderful are right. And so are friends who are willing to shop for me. Kristen, have I mentioned that I’m in the market for some spring slacks?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Yes, I am aware that it is Materialistic Monday.

No, I am not prepared.

Yes, I will be at the friggin’ nursery school “gala” fund raiser this evening, drinking wine and finding another $100 worth of items to bid on in the auction so that we’ll have met our friggin’ $500 per family annual fund-raising goal.

Yes, I do think they should just raise the tuition by $500 per year and leave me alone with the fund-raising, already.

Yes, I’ll be praying that someone bids on my donated speech-language evaluation so that I don’t have to purchase anything else at all.

No, I’m not bitter. Why do you ask?

Maybe, if I buy something really fantastic, I’ll try it out on the way home and post about it later. But I doubt it.

Yes, you do have to come back another day for my Materialistic Monday post because I’m cookin’ up a good one.

No, I won’t keep babbling. I need to go home.

Materialistic Monday: Safety 1st High-Def Digital Monitor

Night One
It was midnight last Wednesday. We were wrenched out of deep sleep by sudden, horrible screaming. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”, Lyle screamed in a really unusual, horrifying way. Matt tore off downstairs. Seconds later it changed to, “Mommy! Mommy!” and I followed. But by the time I got down to the kids’ level, Matt was leaving their room, shaking his head. “It’s not him,” he said.

It wasn’t Lyle.

This had happened before. We are in a condo building where three other young children live. If our monitor is on the wrong channel, we pick up the signal from one of them in the middle of the night and get scared shitless for no reason whatsoever. Hearts pounding, grateful that Lyle was fine, we finally went back to sleep.

Night Two
It was 11 pm. I picked up the monitor. “Is this on the right channel for sure?” I asked Matt, who was already in bed. “Yeah, we changed it after last night,” he replied. I felt uncertain. The loud static wasn’t exactly the same as its usual loud static. I switched it back and forth to demonstrate this. But he insisted. And we were both so tired that we decided it had to be fine and was not worth testing. After all, the kids so rarely wake up during the night and our sleep was disturbed last night – we were sure to be fine even if it wasn’t fixed (you see where this is going, don’t you?). So off we went to la-la land.

Until 1 am. Never have I been jarred from sleep in this way. In my life. I pulled myself out of an intense dream (I recall pushing people out of the way in my dream in order to get myself up to the surface of consciousness), only to start screaming. Loudly. I was screaming because Matt was screaming. Matt was screaming because, from somewhere else in the house, both of the boys were screaming. At the top of their lungs. As if the house were on fire. That is truly what I believed (in my semi-consciousness) must have been happening. We could hear someone pounding up the stairs towards us, screaming and crying. I fought my way off of our bed, not even aware of my screaming, and pushed towards the doorway, where Matt had stopped to meet Baxter. Matt turned to me in half-asleep anger, and hollered, “WHY ARE YOU STILL SHOUTING?” Trying to catch my breath, I shouted, “WHERE’S LYLE?? WHAT’S GOING ON?”

Matt could see that Lyle was running up the stairs screaming and crying behind Baxter, but I couldn’t, being trapped in the bedroom and all. Once all four of us were in each other’s arms in the doorway, it became abundantly clear that all of us had been hollering at the very top of our lungs together.

“I had an earache,” cried Baxter.

Um, an earache?! You mean the house is neither on fire nor full of armed militiamen?

“I was calling for you and calling for you,” he started wailing, “and you didn’t come! And then Lyle woke up and he was calling for you, too. When I came upstairs to find you, he got scared and upset and started to scream and chased me. I was so scared that I started running and screaming, too!” We were all shaking.

Holy Mary Mother of God, you have no idea what it sounded like. If not for the storm we were stuck in last summer in Michigan, this would have been my scariest parenting moment ever. We took the kids into bed with us and held them tight for the rest of the night. It took some of us many hours to fall asleep again.

Enter: a new monitor. One that not only does NOT pick up any neighbors’ children but has no static whatsoever. It is clear as a bell. And only one channel that only connects to my own children’s room! Imagine! I could go on and on about this monitor but I’m sure many of my readers have no use for one anymore. Just know that if you do need one, or know anyone who does, this Safety 1st High-Def Digital Monitor is truly amazing and you can read all about it here. It also looks damn cool, like something from the Apple store, which you know will always make us happy. We have always leaned towards the $19.99 baby monitors, but this time no price was too steep to guarantee that we would always hear our kids – and only our kids – during the night.

We’re all sleeping better now.