I Just Found the Perfect Summer Shirt

A cool, easy-going way to enjoy the summer weather.

One of my favorite purchases this Spring/Summer was a trio of loose-fitting button-up shirts from H&M. I already had a vision of a thin loose-fitting shirt, unbuttoned at the top, sleeves rolled up, with the bottoms tucked into shorts. I liked the tom-boy aspect of this image, as well as the practical nature of such shirts: easy to keep cool in the summer heat, offers plenty of coverage from the sun, and no worries fitting into the shirt after a large meal!

So imagine how my pulse quickened when I saw a whole display of such shirts at H&M. I was just going to buy one, but felt torn: was I a classic white shirt girl, a preppy striped shirt girl, or a hip blue shirt girl? I felt like I was all three! Then I looked at the incredible low price, and decided to get all three.

Here, I went on my roof and took some pictures:


#1: Blue Stripes & White Shorts, The Prepster



I really like this shirt because you can spill all sorts of stuff on it and it still won’t look   dirty because it has stripes!  I wore it when I moved apartments this summer, and   it really took a beating and kept on licking.


#2: All White & Jean Shorts, The Everywoman



Amazingly, this white shirt washes clean every time, and didn’t get yellow-y over the summer.  I’ve worn it pretty aggressively all spring and summer and like its two sibling shirts, it has held up really well.  The collars don’t do funny things when you wash them, I never need to iron them even though they are 100% cotton, and the buttons stay on real strong, with conviction dammit!



#3: Industrial Blue & Red Shorts, The Hipster



This shirt looks good on my skin tone.  Sometimes I like to do the half-tuck in front.  I have had these shorts forever.  I got them for 99 cents.



And that’s a wrap!  Remember, look at each item of clothing independent of its label.  As far as baggy button down shirts are concerned, I really see no reason to buy a more upscale brand, I really don’t.

All shirts were $12.99 at H&M.

FILED UNDER: I Just Found the Perfect Summer Shirt, Style & Beauty | Permalink

Make Your Mom Happy in 7 Easy Steps

STEP 1:  Be 18 years old.

It’s time to go to college and your mom looks at you sadly for a whole week.  Finally as you’re loading the car with your 386 IBM PC and dot matrix printer, she says: “Will you be able to cook for yourself there, when you feel like Chinese food?”

You look at her blankly, through the freshman fog of cluelessness.

“Write this down,” she says very seriously, and begins to recite in that age-old poetic form –the recipe.

You scrawl it down on a scrap piece of paper and shove it in your pocket.

STEP 2:  Wait many years.

Really, really, really miss a mom-cooked meal.  Rummage through papers, notebooks, pockets, and other personal crevices.  Find the recipe.  Buy the ingredients: tomatoes, onion, carrots, potatoes, beef, cilantro, star anise, cooking wine, red wine, soy sauce.


STEP 3:  Chop stuff up.


STEP 4:  Put some of it into a pot.

Cook beef in olive oil until white on the outside.  Add onion, soy sauce, cooking wine, red wine, and 1 star anise.  Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to super low and simmer for 1.5 hrs.

STEP 5:  Add vegetables.

Bring to a boil.


STEP 6:  Simmer down.

Simmer on low for 1 hr.  Add salt to taste.


STEP 7:  Throw it on some rice.

Take a picture of it.  Send it to your mom, who now lives across the world from you and has been missing you and worrying if you’re eating well for over a decade.  She’ll be happy, guaranteed.  (And so will you.)

FILED UNDER: Food & Drink, Make Your Mom Happy in 7 Easy Steps | Permalink

My Favorite Sunblock and Why

My internet addiction + My fear of cancer = A great product recommendation for you

I know you’re busy, so here are the Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Sunscreen:

  1. The sun shoots out two kinds of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVB is what makes you tan and sometimes burn. UVA is what gives you premature wrinkles and skin cancer. So UVA is worse. This Means That: When you shop for a sunscreen, you need to make sure that that sunscreen is effective against UVA rays, not just UVB
  2. But it is a lot easier to make sunscreens that block UVB rays than UVA rays. In the United States, sunscreens do not have to specify whether their SPF number (Coppertone has an SFP 90) refers to UVA or UVB rays. This Means That: When you’re looking for UVA blocking sunscreens, you have to look beyond the SPF number.
  3. The Environmental Working Group has an amazing database of information about the effectiveness and potentially side-effects of a gazillion sunscreens. This Means That: you should click here to find out how good your current sunscreen is, and to comparison shop for a new sunscreen.

Alright, now let’s put the attention back on me.  When I was eighteen, I developed an allergy to sunscreen. It would make my cheeks look really red, like I was blushing –I was already a chronic blusher at that time, so the last thing I needed was a permanent taint. My doctor told me that commercial sunscreens made by the big cosmetic companies such as Coppertone, Oil of Olay, and so forth, were not very good because those cosmetic companies just bought cheap reject formulations from research firms.

Or something… too long, didn’t listen.  I was a teenager!

So I started reading ingredient lists on sunscreens and I was able to, by trial and error, find the one sunscreen in Canada that did not give me red face. The thing is, it contained a substance that is common in Europe, but not legally allowed to be sold in America!

So after many years of flying back to Canada to get my sunscreen fix, I decided to look into more local options. Lo and behold, I founded the Environmental Working Group’s database, and I decided to pick the best overall sunscreen as determined by the working group for 2007, the Solar-Rx SPF 30, by Keys Care.

Look at the delicious ingredients:

According to the EWG, Solar-Rx tested well for UVA protection:

Compare that with a Coppertone sunscreen:

So it’s safe and effective, but is it easy to use? Or will it have a consistency like clay, take forever to rub into the skin, and leave a white chalky layer on your skin?

That is a great question because I also bought another sunscreen that came equally highly recommended by the EWG, made by Badger W. Company. Using that product really felt like I was smearing putty onto myself. So much tugging and pulling! If we’re trying to prevent premature wrinkles here, then it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to torture my skin everyday in this way. Furthermore, post-application, the sunscreen left a filmy white residue all over my skin. I looked like Stay Puft:

The Solar-Rx, on the other hand, is smooth and creamy, kind of like Greek yogurt.  It spreads easily on the skin.

Here are all the other good things about the Solar-Rx SPF 30:

  • The smell is very light and completely fades away after application.
  • It has a moisturizer in it, saving you the step of applying moisturizer under your sunscreen. I use it on my face everyday of the year.
  • It does not leave a white film on your skin.
  • It works very well as a primer under make-up.
  • It’s not the cheapest sunscreen, but it’s reasonably priced.

Here is one precaution:

It’s not waterproof. So if you’re sweating a lot or going into water, then you’ll need to re-apply all the time. In fact, last summer on a particularly hot day of sunbathing, I had to CONSTANTLY re-apply the Solar-Rx on myself for the whole time.  People lie out in the sun to relax, but that was the busiest I had been for a long time.

Well, good-luck out there, and don’t get burned!

FILED UNDER: My Favorite Sunblock and Why, Style & Beauty | Permalink

This Japanese Wash Cloth Will Change Your Life

Did your washcloth win an invention prize?

That’s right, the Salux Japanese Wash Cloth is an award-winning wash cloth.

It’s so fancy, it comes with instructions.

SALUX Instructions (color variations in original):

1. Keep your body wet. Soap the wet SALUX cloth… watch the lather grow.
2. Keep SALUX away from the direct flow of water, otherwise soap suds on it will be washed away.
3. Idea for cleaning the entire body.
4. Special texturing stimulates skin and blood circulation.
5. After washing with SALUX, rinse thoroughly. Fast drying… Hygienic… durable.

None of those steps are a joke.

1.  You will literally watch the lather grow with your mouth hanging open.  And after you’re done your shower, you’ll probably feel an urge to show a family member all the suds on your shower walls.  It’s crazy!

2.  However, if you try to soap up your SALUX while standing under the shower head, you will not generate any soap suds.  You’ll feel like you’re scrubbing yourself with a plastic shopping basket from your local grocery store.

3.  The SALUX will scrub you silly even if you, like me, are too lazy to scrub yourself.  All you have to do is move it up and down across your skin, and your SALUX will descend upon your epidermis with the force of a thousand wild stallions.

4.  The texturing is a lot more prickly than a normal shower pouf so if you have cuts and stuff, becareful.

5.  I’ve been reading that regular shower poufs and exfoliating mittens are breeding grounds for bacteria.  I believe it!  But the SALUX is literally a piece of woven plastic and there’s no room for anything… organic to grow.

I ordered mine from an online retailer through Amazon.  But beware! There’s a SALUX SCANDAL going on these days, where certain retailers will send you a FAKE SALUX that’s actually made in China and not this gentle pastel green color but a harsh, fluorescent green!  So do make sure to look up the credibility rating of the SALUX retailer you end up buying from.

Holy shit, I think I spend too much time on the internet.

FILED UNDER: Style & Beauty, This Japanese Washcloth Will Change Your Life | Permalink

Late Night TV Snacking

With wine, of course.

Strawberries are one of the twelve fruits and vegetables that I always make sure to get organic. It makes sense, doesn’t it, that all kinds of bad stuff would lodge in those tiny pits? And that skin! Thin, translucent, more permeable than a teenager with self-esteem issues! Taste-wise, I prefer the smaller, redder, less genetically modified, berries over their bigger, more turgid, less flavorful, GMO’d cousins.

Three kinds of cheese: cheddar, swiss, and goat. If you could only have one kind of cheese for the rest of your life, what would it be? Mine would be cheddar, even though I love brie. Because you can have cheddar plain. With brie, you always want to assemble its friends together for a party in your mouth –figs, preserves, breads and crackers. Have you done this delightful cheese personality quiz yet?

Blood oranges are so dramatic! Sometimes they taste awesome, but as some of you might be able to tell just by looking at this picture, this one was not very sweet nor soft and luscious.

Peanuts are actually a kind of legume, and not nuts at all. Didja know?

Also on the platter: olives and cornichons.

And on the TV? Probably “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Guy is the best!

FILED UNDER: Food & Drink, Late Night TV Snacking | Permalink

2011 Oscars Red Carpet Extravaganza



I know what Scarlett Johansson was going for.  A really made-up dress to show off her famous curves, and a pleasant contradiction with windswept, beachy, hair.  But the light and dark shades of the maroon dress really distract from the shape as a whole, and looks messy, unkempt, and worst of all, frumpy.  A dress like that is hard on the arms –pale February arms especially– so you should be a little bit more aware about where and how you are placing your arms on camera.  Bad dress.  Also, dude, you need to learn how to walk in heels a little better!  You make the red carpet look like it’s made out of ABC gum! (That’s “Already Been Chewed,” for those of you who haven’t been in public school for a while…)

Anne Hathaway

She is wearing a Valentino that the company insists on calling “archival.”  And voilà, a new term is born for describing the things at the back of my fridge.  Here, the proportions of the strapless dress do not fit will with Anne’s proportions.  As a result, the dress starts too low on her chest, and has a sad droopy, deflated look.  The texture of the dress looks like a coarse cheap satin material, like a bridesmaid dress for your worst frenemy.  And okay, matching “statement” red lipstick might work in theory but Anne has a small face with big lips (and a beautiful smile), and the super red lipstick with the super red dress over accentuate her best feature to her detriment.  Also, the back of her dress looks like a second woman dressed in a red dress crouched down to tie her shoe laces, and the two of them got glued together.


Natalie Portman

I’m not wild about this eggplant color.  It’s kind of old, but not in a sophisticated way.  It’s a color that Ms. Krabapple might wear on a blind date.  The cut of the dress with its empire waist and pleating makes sense, I guess, because she’s pregnant.  But I don’t like Natalie’s stylist’s pregnancy dress picks.  Even though she told New York Magazine that she helps Natalie’s wardrobe avoid “pregnancy cliches,” both this dress and the Golden Globes dress were totally predictable, uninventive, and blah.  I think a great stylist would dress her the way Heidi Klum dressed when she was pregnant, which is to wear shapes and cuts that are not only flattering, but surprisingly flattering.  Angelina Jolie also wore some great gowns during her pregnancies.  Did anyone else think that Natalie was on the verge of (sad) tears when she was being interviewed on the red carpet?  Where is her ballet dude?

Women Who Get It

Look at these slightly older women in their later thirties and early forties.  See how they look pulled together?  I don’t love their dresses, but the dresses work with their body types.  I find Sandra Bullock’s and Gwneyth Paltrow’s dresses too geometric and 1990s in a bad unintentional way.
Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz’s dress looks like a dramatization of a quickly spreading wine stain.  But regardless of what they’re wearing, all three women look happy and comfortable, and that’s what counts the most.  Everyone picked colors that work well for them, and hairstyles that are tried and true for them.  Unlike some less mature starlets, they don’t play the “let’s see how gaunt I can get” game.
None of these ladies have wildly fluctuating weights (Mandy Moore, Hilary Duff, I’m looking at you); they have been these body shapes for well over a decade.  Thumbs up to the positive correlation between increasing age and beauty!

(Photos from

FILED UNDER: 2011 Oscars Red Carpet Extravaganza, Style & Beauty | Permalink