A little routine.

There is already snow in large parts of Montana and it’s awful. I am trying to get ready for the cold, the dry air, the static-y hair and all the things that go along with winter. In the meantime, the brief Montana autumn is in full swing.

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This summer has been about things that feel luxurious, work well, and are affordable. As one of those lucky wenches who only gets acne around the end of my cycle, I really only needed to find products that hydrated and brightened my skin, and being on a budget, I searched for a while before I decided on some things, and after several months these four things have made their way and stayed in my routine.

I don’t have the money to experiment a whole lot, mostly just with masks, and these are pretty well-known, respected products, and they did what they were supposed to. My personal favorite is the Mizon ampoule, which feels luxurious, has no smell, and comes in a lovely little glass bottle that feels much fancier than the price tag. This has lasted me three months and I need to buy another! The Ordinary products are all the rage and some of them work and others don’t. These two products feel good and definitely have brightened my skin, and they’re going to last me a long time- I apply them and switch them out about every other night before my final moisturizer and I’ve barely made a dent and it’s been almost three months since I’ve had them. Last but not least is the notorious Pixi Glow Tonic which does exactly what it’s known for. It gives my skin the perfect canvas to apply serums, ampoules, etc. and it makes my skin happy.

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I feel a bit pretentious talking about my skin but as somebody on a budget, it feels neat to find things that have done what I’ve wanted and haven’t disappeared too quickly despite regular use. I love that they’re mostly in glass and it feels really lovely to be a little luxurious before bed and when I wake up and treat my skin right. Do you have any routines, products, or habits that make you feel a bit elevated?

I’m going to Brazil in a few months and I’m trying to figure out what to bring there, where the humidity and unrelenting heat will be very different for my skin than the dry, cold air that has settled in Montana. We shall see.

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Snails and serums

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Current favorites! My skin feels and looks healthier than it has been in some time. I’m not patient enough to try things for a long time, if they don’t do something in a week or two it’s not going to stay in my repertoire. These Elensilia masks are affordable and feel great- I want to try their other mask formula next! I can’t afford to use these more than 2x a week or so. The Pearlessence serum is something I found at TJMaxx and it’s actually working pretty well- I was super dubious, but the formula isn’t sticky, soaks in well, and does make my skin look more luminous. The Mizon Snail Repair Ampoule is something that’s been on my list to purchase for over a year, and I’m damn happy. The little brown glass bottle feels so sleek and the formula is amazing. My skin looks and feels great, and the elaborate ritual of using multiple products before bed and when I wake up is relaxing. It’s just me now, and so I’ve got all the time in the world and a bathroom to myself. May as well fill it with little bottles of things.

This is me dipping my toe in the skincare pool. It’s something!

 

Sensitive skin + eczema: Treatment, support, and questions.

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“You been in some fights lately?” a stranger joked as they saw my hands one summer. They were raw, cracked, bleeding, and red. It was summer, too hot for long sleeves, and I weakly joked that yes, I had been brawling.

This was not entirely false- my body and I were indeed at odds with one another. Eczema, which had affected me as a child, went away until I became a stressed-out college student. It mostly stayed on my arms, though, and I accepted its presence as a bother, nothing more.

However, around 2015, my hands were a mess and I struggled with embarrassment and confusion. This was a new, awful form of eczema, replete with tiny clusters of blisters, insanely itchy skin, cracked and bleeding parts, and overall, extreme physical discomfort. I couldn’t do dishes, handle any acidic foods, or do much that would exacerbate my skin.  I found out that I had gotten one lovely variety of eczema that affects solely hands and feet- JOY.

It’s 2018, and I have, for the most part, found peace and (mostly) respite from my eczema. It’s been on my face, made me nervous for dates, kept me sleepless from itching, offered me up to public humiliation, and made me feel ugly and undesirable. I made this post to show affordable products that help me immensely, answer some basic questions, and offer some links I’ve found both helpful and supportive.

The low down: 

Eczema is basically your body’s inability to produce it’s own protective layer over your skin. This results in vulnerable, rashy, often raw skin. Sometimes it’s mild and just a small patch of dry, red skin and sometimes it can take over your body- everybody is different. It affects 30 million Americans, and there are multiple kinds. I have atopic dermatitis and dyshidrotic eczema.

Eczema is a mysterious bastard, and people don’t know exactly why we get it. It’s been theorized it’s an immune reaction or an allergic reaction, but why and how we get it is unsure. People in polluted areas and cities get it more, and people who have other immune issues like asthma also have eczema, and it could also be genetic! So basically…it could be anything, everything, or nothing at all. Trust me, I know this isn’t helpful.

First and foremost if you suspect you might have eczema go to a dermatologist. A good one! They might take photos of your eczema to track any changes, and they can help you find medicine that will work with your lifestyle and the severity of your eczema. If your derm isn’t taking you seriously, tries to put you on steroid creams or steroids over and over again, find somebody who makes you feel heard.

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Products/things I use and love that help: 

-Vitamin D, Vitamin C, fish oil, and Vitamin E supplements. There is some evidence that taking vitamins that help build your skin’s resilience can help with eczema. Your skin is always trying to heal and repair itself and these vitamins may help your body do that. I figure it can’t hurt.

-AQUAPHOR!!! Aquaphor is my favorite thing. Lotion can hurt raw skin, and one thing that eczema needs is protection. I apply Aquaphor to all my patches- on my face, my hands, my arms, where ever. I may apply bandages over the Aquaphor so it can work better. It isn’t a lotion- it’s a cheap but amazing ointment that you can find at any drugstore for around $5. (It also makes an amazing lip balm!) It’s also super safe around your eyes if you’ve got anything there! This is my number one thing in my life, and I don’t know what I would do without it.

-BandAids for protecting my hands. Cheap, easy, and effective. They can help any especially raw parts heal. I do not use antibiotic creams at all, and only use Aquaphor  to protect my skin.

-ProTopic prescription ointment. This is a non-steroid cream that I use only in extreme cases because it burns a lot. I do not use steroid cream because long term use of steroid creams can make your skin thin, sometimes permanently. Since I have had eczema for years and it hasn’t gone away, I got my derm to prescribe me this. There is also a children’s version that has less of the working ingredients to be sensitive to their bodies.

-Aveeno lotion. Aveeno, I find, makes great sensitive-skin lotions. I also adore their baby lotions and bath products, because the ingredients are so gentle. I use this on my hands as soon as I wake up and before I go to bed, and keep a little tube in my work desk and in my car.

-Scent-free and dye-free laundry detergent. If you have ultra-sensitive skin, your sheets and bedding and pillow cases can also aggravate whatever is going on. Using a sensitive-skin friendly laundry detergent is huge! I use some from my natural food bulk store, but Arm & Hammer also makes a detergent I really like.

Aveeno Baby oatmeal bath packets. These are affordable and amazing. Oatmeal helps calm the itch and a warm (not hot!) bath is amazing for relaxing. Oatmeal baths helped me as a child, too, when I couldn’t sleep.

-Lukewarm/cool showers.  Hot water strips your skin of protection and will exacerbate your eczema a lot! If you can’t help but take hot showers, make them short. Get out quickly.

-Gloves for doing dishes and yardwork. These will help protect your hands, which can be areas prone to eczema and irritation. They have saved me, as hot water doing dishes a lot made my hands not only painful but also made my eczema never seem to go away.

As you can see, I use mostly affordable products that after years of experimentation work for me. Everybody is different. It can take time, so be patient and gentle with yourself.

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What about diet? 

There are some theories that eczema, and some other immune issues, may be caused by gut bacteria abscence or imbalance. I don’t know if I buy these 100% (you can find out more online) but I did find that when I consistently ate probiotic foods, avoided sugar, and ate healthier, my eczema was more manageable. That being said, is that real? Or was it placebo effect? I can’t say. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but it did help.

What about (insert other treatment here-wet wrapping, pine tar, bleach baths, etc.) 

I don’t know about anything else, but there is a super helpful sub-Reddit for eczema sufferers where you can ask questions, get feedback, and swap stories. It has not only been an immense source of support, but I’ve also answered lots of questions with my own experiences. If you’re new to everything, also look for answers here at the National Eczema Association. The Internet is one of the most helpful and supportive places I’ve ever found, and lots of people who may feel shy sharing their stories in person are more than happy to help you figure out things like how to help your children if they’ve got eczema, what if your girlfriend/boyfriend/person has eczema, how different meds have helped different people, etc.

What if my girlfriend/boyfriend/child gets diagnosed? 

If you’re asking this question at all that’s a great sign. Do your own research and quietly help your person make changes if they’re an adult. Maybe buy some products on your own as a quiet “I see you” gift- Aquaphor, lotions, oatmeal bath packets, sensitive-skin friendly laundry detergent, etc. and check in with your person if they’re seeing doctors. If you’ve got a child, oatmeal baths and doctors visits may become the norm. There are lots of resources for parents online. I know my parents had a tough time, but ProTopic helped me a lot when I was little.

Secondly, eczema can make your person feel very unsexy. Be gentle, kind, and especially loving. Our body is pretty much betraying us and giving us ugly lizard skin, and it sucks. Let us know we’re still cute, okay?

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That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll probably update this as time goes on, but please don’t hesitate to leave questions or comments. I’ve had eczema for years, and it’s impacted my life, but it’s something that can be managed and accepted and you’re definitely not alone.

The makeup post.

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To follow up with my skincare post I thought I would share some of the beauty products I love and use regularly!

There are lots of great beauty bloggers out there who focus on using more natural/organic based products and others who focus on luxury products or more high-end. I’m from Montana, where my access to high-end makeup shops was super limited growing up, so I always used drugstore products. Now that I live in Canada and beauty products cost so much more, I have also consistently stuck with using drugstore products.

Again, I am poor and I am lazy. I love trying new products but because my look is pretty consistent, if products don’t fit into my routine well enough they get reserved for special events or for when I’m feeling creative. This is my super pared down, every day routine.

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Eyebrows:

CoverGirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner in Mink

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Soft Brown

I fill in my eyebrows with this eyeliner- I’ve been using it for years. The formula feels good on my skin, the color matches perfectly, and it stays on for a long time, yet comes off with micellar water easily.

I know that a lot of people were on the fence about the weird looking Maybelline brow mascara but I personally like it. It speeds up the process of shaping my brows a lot. I abandoned the Nyx Tinted Brow Mascara because the packaging breaks apart SO QUICKLY (seriously Nyx get your shit together- it shouldn’t be so fragile!). As somebody who needs to be able to throw things in my bag, the sad packaging of Nyx products have made me stop using most of them.

Eyes:

L’Oreal Paris Waterproof Voluminous Carbon Black mascara

L’Oreal Paris Silkissime Eyeliner in Black

CoverGirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner in Mink

I blend both eyeliners on my top lash and use 2 coats of the mascara. All of these products last a long time, and the mascara stays on despite the humidity and frequent rain here without giving me under-eye raccoon vibes!

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On to my favorite part: Lipsticks! I have become blatantly obsessed with the Maybelline Color Sensational matte lipsticks. The formula stays on for hours, is easy to apply, and the colors are fucking gorgeous. See photograph below! Gahhhh.

From top to bottom on the swatch:

Raging Raisin makes me feel like wearing all black, spending time with a resurrected Humphrey Bogart, and heading off in a 1930’s coupe to go day drink and banter.

Touch of Spice warms my skin tone and makes me think of the 70’s in the best ways. For some reason it also makes me want to read in brightly lit cafes and it vaguely reminds me of traveling around Italy.

-Toasted Truffle is a no-nonsense deep brown that makes me feel intimidating and invincible, as well as sexy in an aggressive way that I like. It’s a peculiar color in the best way!

-Lust for Blush is a 1950’s garden party sort of lipstick, the kind you’d wear with a vintage Christian Dior dress and with a perfect martini in your hand as you think that your life is perfect but the patriarchy is really limiting your options.

And there you have it! The products I come back to time and time again on my limited budget and my impatient habits. Happy trails y’all! Tell me some of your favorite products you come back to again and again!

 

 

My (affordable, lazy) skincare routine

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I am no skincare product pro. I would like to make that very clear before I go on. There are marvelous humans across the gender spectrum out there who know so much more about beauty products, skincare, etc. much more than me.

However, my skincare routine has been finessed after years and years of frustratingly stubborn acne and dryness. I also have eczema on my face in some small patches (I will be doing a post about skincare specifically for those of us with eczema!) so my skin is a delicate flower in the worst way. And, having finally wrestled my way into a routine that works, I wanted to share!

My focus lies on not using a lot of products and keeping my routine efficient and cheap because I am lazy and poor (hey grad school!). I only use three products every single day all over my face- an astringent, micellar water, and sunscreen (all from the drugstore!). I apply Aveeno lotion to special parts of my face that are especially sensitive at night so that my skin can heal.

Again, I will be doing a post about eczema and what works for me, but eczema literally means that your skin cannot retain moisture the way that normal skin does, so it’s vital for me to always be moisturizing the eczema-prone parts of my face (otherwise I get what I kindly refer to as lizard skin). Now! Let’s begin.

Daily routine! Morning: I pour a little bit of Clean and Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent on a cotton pad and apply it all over my face. Not too much because there’s acid in there, guys.

Then, I apply a more liberal amount of Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (the waterproof makeup version). I usually brush my teeth or get dressed so that it has time to be on my face before I apply my sunscreen.

After this (you tired yet?) I apply a liberal amount of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 30 sunscreen to my face, neck, and chest. I want to be a nice looking old woman and this is the major step in this plan. Decades down the road I cannot wait to look like a fox because I was a nut about sunscreen! I don’t wear any foundation, so I’m ready to go after this! (Lazy, lazy, lazy.)

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Nighttime: I remove all my makeup every single night before I go to bed. Even after a late night out/alcohol/just tired because of humanity! Because seriously my eyelashes are healthier and longer now, and my skin/every part of my face has looked so much better after I became neurotic about this. My nighttime routine is about the same- astringent and micellar water. I do not moisturize before bedtime, which perhaps is a really bad thing (I don’t wear sunscreen at night, and I haven’t found a plain moisturizer I like to wear overnight), but I do use Aveeno sensitive skin lotion/baby lotions for the sensitive (lizard skin) parts of my face.

Bi-weekly and weekly products: 

I use my Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser about 2/3 times a week in the shower. I don’t use anything else in the shower anymore, and this stuff has really made a difference in the evenness of my skin! It can be super drying, though, so if you have sensitive skin don’t go overboard (again, acid y’all). I skip using my astringent at nighttime if I use it that day. A little bottle of this lasts me several months and it’s $16, which is pretty reasonable.

Weekly/Every other week: I use the Mario Badescu Silver Powder. It only has 3 ingredients and is super easy to use- you get a cotton pad or ball damp and dip it into the powder and apply the mask-like mixture to your T-zone. Do be warned: As it dries, it powders off your face, so for the 10 minutes you leave it on I would be somewhere you don’t mind snowing Silver Powder everywhere. Is it a bit weird? Yes. Does it help for pores/blackheads? I think so! It’s also affordable, because you don’t use a lot and at $12 a jar it goes a looonnnggg way.

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There you have it! My affordable, minimal, and easy to use skincare routine. I do want to find a retinol to incorporate into this formula but honest to god since moving to Canada I balk at all the prices for skincare products. (I bring back everything from Target or Ulta when I go home- no way am I paying ridiculous prices plus taxes here!) Until I make a trip to the States again and can get my hands on (bless you Montana!) some tax-free goods I’m sticking with this.

This is my personal beauty regimen, one developed over years of trial and error like most of us. Thank goodness for beauty bloggers who have helped guide me over the years (shoutout to Arabelle Sicardi, that marvelous human!).

Sunday: Resolutions, lighting, and coffee.

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I love long walks on early weekend mornings. Spending my mornings outside will never be a waste of time. Lately, Victoria has been pulling out the most beautiful sunrises and I finally decided to capitalize on the opportunity to witness one. That meant getting out of bed before 7:30 am which is quite…uh, early? I went to bed at 10, because I am 25 and yet more akin to a grandmum than most humans, and woke up with my camera already charged and my belongings already laid out. I have no life, so planning ahead is mostly easy.

I walked out the door and found the most fluffy, pink-tinged clouds hanging overhead. It was absolutely beautiful. As I got closer to the water I could see the gorgeous glow of the Golden Hour everywhere. Everything fizzled with that vibrant energy the potential of morning brings. In the morning, you haven’t screwed up too badly yet. There is time to remedy mistakes, to kick ass, to figure it out.

31954586930_68100c00b1_c31954584800_0de4675092_c32181440942_2b952288b2_cOne thing I’ve been trying to do more this year is deliberately make more images of myself. Being the type of person who always carries around a camera (or two) means that often, I am making images of everything but myself. Looking through my photographic archives, I do not see my corporeal self. Yes, with every photograph I take there is a bit of me, but I miss out on pictures with my friends, with my boyfriend, with nature. I want to be photographed as well. I want to be present in more than a theoretical way.

Being neurotic, though, this comes at a cost: I hate having others take my pictures. I hate posing or faking it or looking how I think I should look and half the time it shows. What doesn’t help is that over the years I have developed a very complex (read: ridiculous) relationship with my face. My character-filled Dutch nose, my small mouth, and long face, have all instilled in me this idea that my face is hard to photograph. That it doesn’t hold light well. It is rare that somebody else takes a picture of me that I don’t cringe at. And so, I must take matters into my own hands and my own self-timer. 31520863063_e1f02169f4_c

Sundays I have been trying to spend exploring how to best photograph/represent myself. It’s been awkward and a struggle but my long morning walks now incorporate a bit of experimentation and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the results.This morning, for instance, it was immediately apparent it would be very sunny and experimenting with the lighting and angles was quite productive.

After meandering back into the bustle of the town, settling into some coffee and a book felt perfect. The downtown location of Habit wasn’t too busy and I pulled apart a croissant, making a flaky mess, while perusing the dense, spiraling world of Dostoevsky. I bought this tattered copy of Crime and Punishment in the English bookstore near the Bahnhof in Zurich on my 20th birthday and it may sound silly but it’s the best size and the best weight for toting around. One thing Dostoevsky does with his writing is make it so dense that if I don’t keep reading every day or so I have to almost totally start over, and over the years this copy has never had my eyes graze the final page. (Yes, it has taken me over 5 years to finish this book. I always get close but never quite finish it). Part of me wants to never have it end so I can always keep this copy around.

Now, I find myself reading Evelyn Cameron’s diary for my thesis. Grad school work lurks as an omnipresent spectre even during relaxing moments…

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2016 in review

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2016 was one hell of a year. It was full of quiet bliss, clear eyed decisions, hard work, and adventures of a smaller scale that were still very satisfactory. Reunions with friends I hadn’t seen in years, cooking and eating some amazing meals, and being able to breathe for a few months away from graduate school- these are the things I treasured.

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Visiting Seattle to see Exa and Shelby. Logan visiting Victoria for the first time, where we ate all the pho and walked miles every day. Trips to Yellowstone for camping, seeing animals, stars, and pitching tents in the dark. Soaking in hot springs, seeing steam and relaxing in rivers. Driving to Minneapolis with Logan and Everett to see Savages with Mary. Relishing cold gin on the back porch of the Rialto with Ella as the summer sun sets. Taking a canoe down the Missouri on a hot day, covered in sunscreen, surrounded by pelicans, geese, and trout. Going home for Halloween and prancing around in all black, cooking amazing food and feeling the crisp edges of Montana winters whisper around me.

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The darkest part of this year involved 3 months where I moved into the worst living situation I had ever experienced. It drained me emotionally and as a result my school, mental health, and many other aspects of my life suffered. Thankfully, I escaped that horrible situation (thank you Kalin and Matt and Morgan for helping me move!) and was able to go home for a month. Home was chaotic and beautiful. Some rather terrible events happened in our family but we were able to be together for those, and seeing my family weather difficulties together assured me that we will be okay, even if All The Horrible seems to dominate for the time being.

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This year I have felt a bit listless. While many parts of my life- my relationships with loved ones and my family- feel stronger than ever, I have felt off-kilter with my relationship with my body. I haven’t been exercising the way I need to, and while I was living in the Hovel, I didn’t eat well. Mentally, graduate school has presented me with many challenges, and I have felt frustrated at the bureaucracy involved, the endless critiques and some aspects of academia that I struggle with. Self-doubt lingers as well.

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However, I embrace 2017 with open arms. I am now in a beautiful apartment with a lovely roommate. Challenges are coming. Work piles up. I live paycheck to paycheck. But I wake up to the sun every day, and I wake up knowing that I am important, significant, and capable of so much.

I know too that this blog has suffered as a result of my bad living situation last year. Now that I am living somewhere much better, I hope to share more than bare snippets! I want to chat about literature, my favorite things, what matters right now, interesting things that others have shown me.

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Now, time to fully fall into whatever 2017 has to offer.

Read & consume: A list.

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Lusting after this WWII-era lingerie set that men stationed overseas would send to their sweethearts.

Reading The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt and falling in love with his descriptions of Rome and Florence in the 14th century. If you’re interested in humanism, how The Renaissance may have happened, or are a book lover, the main protagonist, Poggio Bracciolini is compelling as a great angle to dissect this amazing wave of art, creativity, and flourishing discovery that emerged from Florence at some point in the late 14th/early 15th century.

Quietly pining for the funds to have a house covered in this Cardiac wallpaper from the Morbid Anatomy Museum. I’ve slowly accepted that if there is a point where funds are available, I will make any abode I have into an ode to all things Gothic and mildly creepy.

Waiting to be home so Logan and I can attempt to make this Nutella and mascarpone torte. (The recipe is in Italian but Google Translate is very handy!)

Loving these flirtatious and forward acquaintance cards from the 1870’s and 1880’s. Young men and women could hand out these business card like pieces of paper which offer to walk women home, introduce men as “kissing rogues”, and serve as ways to circumvent some of the formalities of Victorian norms.

Been wanting to watch this wonderful film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, for some time! Hopefully I’ll find time in a few weeks.

I may or may not have splurged and gotten myself this incredible Opening Ceremony x Kodak hat because everything else in the collection was way too pricey. My love for Kodak and film will never, ever die.

Laughing out loud at the marvelous James Kerr (aka Scorpion Dagger) and his German Renaissance-based short videos, .gifs, and other creations which he cleverly pairs with 1960’s and 70’s rock/punk/garage band tunes (and from whom I have now widely expanded my musical repetoire). This clever dude also got to do some of the animation for the new The Stooges film Gimme Danger (which I very much want to see).

Mario Badescu’s glycolic foaming cleanser has been helping me keep my skin happy with the transition to colder, dryer winter.

Also finished The Medici Conspiracy, a fantastic book about the complex world of stealing, buying, and selling ancient Roman and Greek antiquities. The authors weave a “whodunit” web of tombaroli (local men who “excavate” tombs) to secretive buyers with Swiss lockers full of stolen goods to curators at some of the world’s most renowned museums, who all work quietly together to make it so that much of the world’s ancient antiquities are gotten by ill, destructive, and horrible means.