The 12 Beauty Products That Keep My Routine Quick and Simple

12 Beauty Products That Keep My Routine Simple


So I certainly do not claim to know what I’m doing when it comes to makeup or skin care, or really anything that’s traditionally “girly.” In fact, most traditional trappings of “girly” tend to just be a major pain in the ass for me – I’m honestly a major tomboy at heart. Give me jeans, a band or university tee, and sneakers over nice clothes any day of the week. That said, as I’ve gotten older I have found myself wanting to, well, not look like I’m still 16. So despite my best efforts, over the years I’ve just kind of had to develop a beauty/makeup routine.

But no matter how long I’ve been using makeup, simplicity is still everything to me – quick, easy, no muss, no fuss is the name of the game. Some mornings I’m lucky if I have 10 minutes to spare before I have to be out the door (and honestly, I end up leaving the house without ANY makeup due to time constraints more often than I’d care to admit), and as a result I noticed that I ended up with a very narrow “core” collection of products that I can apply in a hurry and still end up looking good.

Finding these were all a matter of luck and trial and error, but at this point I’ve narrowed it down to a list of 12 must-haves for me. And even though the internet is awash in amazing beauty tips (most of which are far too complicated and involved to spark my interest), in case there’s anyone out there like me, I figured I’d share

Naked Palettes

1) Urban Decay Naked and Naked 2 Eyeshadow Palettes: I don’t wear eyeshadow often, but when I do, these two palettes are my go to supplies. Neutral colors are my jam – I’ve never really been one for loud eyeshadow (honestly, more from ignorance of how to use it than anything else) and so when my mom decided she didn’t like her original Naked palette and handed it to me, it immediately became the makeup item I use most. Downside? They’re pricey at $54 dollars a pop – I’m lucky I got both of these for free (Naked 2 was a Christmas gift from my Aunt). But they’re eyeshadow, so they last a long long time.

Stila eyeliner

2) Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner: This little tube was a godsend for a liquid eyeliner dunce like me. It’s constructed so it feels more like a brush marker than any other liquid eyeliner I’ve ever used, which makes it exponentially easier for me to control – it pretty much feels like using a wet pencil. It made winged eyeliner possible for the first time in my life, and I couldn’t be happier about that – I’ve always loved a good cat eye. It is pricey (it is Stila after all), but in this case I think it’s worth it. Bonus: Totally stays put. Even after I’ve accidentally rubbed my eyes after a long day.

Aveeno moisturizer

3) Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer: Best moisturizer I’ve found for my acne-prone skin. It’s light, not greasy, but still has enough punch to address my perpetually dry spots on my cheeks and nose. Bonus: contains acne meds so it helps keep my skin from breaking out.

Urban Decay primer

4) Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion: I don’t wear full eye makeup often. Because it’s a rather rare occasion, when I do it’s easy for me to forget that I’m wearing it and totally screw it all up by rubbing my eye or something. So when I do put a bunch of effort into my shadow and liner, you can bet this stuff is going underneath it – it’s by far the best primer I’ve used so far. It won’t protect from a full on eye-rub, but it keeps it all in place through all my stupid accidental touches and scratches; long enough for me to remember, “oh yea, I’m wearing eye makeup and shouldn’t do that.”

hello kitty palette

5) Hello Kitty Noir Eyeshadow and Lip Gloss Palette: My other “go to” palette – this time for colors. Unfortunately this one was a limited edition and is hard to find anymore. This was another christmas gift, bought for me because I have a slight Hello Kitty problem, that ended up not only enabling me to toss huge amounts of old cheap makeup (it was a collaboration with Sephora, and so is good quality shadow) but has made working with color a bit more accessible for me. It includes browns, purples, greens, and blues all in handy color coordinated rows – taking the guesswork out of what to use where. Additionally, while they are colorful, they’re still on the more muted side. It allows me to break out of my little makeup box without going tooooo far for my own comfort. Bonus: The lip glosses are pretty great too!

urban decay eyeliner

6) Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil: I love this eyeliner. It’s a pencil, but still gives you a nice, bold, gel-like line. Fast, easy to use, and stays on super well even without primer. A staple in my super-quick-oh-shit-I’m-going-to-be-late makeup routine. Downside: like most Urban Decay products, it’s pricey at $20 for a full size pencil. But Sephora and Ulta often have little sets of them on sale around the holidays.

full n soft mascara

7) Maybelline Full N’ Soft Mascara: This has been my mascara of choice since I was first allowed to wear it – in fact, this brand was the very first tube of mascara I ever owned. And I still love it. Perfect for everyday use – defines while staying soft and without being too flashy or clumpy. My only complaint is that they stopped making the Black-Brown color and that Very Black is now the only option.

Batiste dry shampoo

8) Batiste Original Dry Shampoo: This stuff was a life saver for me. My hair is thin and straight and limp – and because of that, the “shine” that comes with healthy hair actually translates into looking greasy on me (it’s actually WORSE when it’s freshly washed, believe it or not). This stuff not only mattes up the finish, but adds texture so that I can actually put my hair up. Due to my financial fast, this is a product I’ve relegated to emergency use only – I’ve switched to a DIY version for every day (post coming soon) – but it’s not quite the same.


9) CND Stickey Base Coat: This, in combo with #10 is what enables me to paint my nails and have them last for more than a day. Lovely stuff.


10) Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Clearly Quick Top Coat: Part two of my “keep my nails from chipping for more than a day” combo. Thanks to this and the CND, I can actually make a manicure last for the work week. Bonus: SUPER fast drying, but doesn’t cause shrinkage the way Seche Vite can.

lemony flutter

11) Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter: Lovely stuff. I’m not good about keeping up with my hands, and so Lemony Flutter is a god send when things get really bad and everything starts cracking and peeling (gross, right? Nail blogger I am not). I put it on before bed and by the time I wake up in the morning I can see a visible difference. Downside? Again, pricey. But it lasts forever – I’ve had my current tub three years now.


12) Pampers Sensitive Wipes: I saved this one for last, because I’m sure many of you will find this one bizarre. Because they’re baby wipes. Like, for wiping poop off baby butts. But honest to goodness, these things are the best and most effective makeup removers I have ever used. I had always struggled with makeup removal, particularly eye makeup, and after years of issues had settled on just avoiding makeup as much as possible since the only thing that seemed to work were those super expensive makeup remover wipes (most liquid eye makeup removers irritate my eyes and skin), and buying them for everyday use just wasn’t in my budget. But then I was tipped off to the baby wipes thing by a fellow cast-mate in my college opera as a solution to removing stage makeup (which is basically like trying to remove permanent marker – it’s awful). A few swipes and it’s all gone. It was supposed to be just for heavy stage makeup, but when the opera was over, my skin was clearer and healthier than it had been in years despite having basically been spackled over for the last week, so I just kept using them. A bit of experimenting with brands, and ultimately I settled on these Pampers Sensitive Wipes as the best for make-up removal – just as effective (even on eye makeup!), but gentle and doesn’t dry my skin out when I do use them daily. Bonus: they’re WAY WAY cheaper than the branded “makeup remover wipes” and honestly work better and are less drying.

Any of you fans of these things too? Do you have any recommendations for me?

[disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned above in any way – I’m just a happy customer!]

Pysanka Wednesday

vine egg front 2013

Today I have an egg that I actually made last year, but never got around to sharing anywhere. Last year I didn’t really make enough eggs for my lines to fully even out, so a lot of the line work is a little wobbly and uneven – you can really see it in the close-up. Overall though, I’m fond of the design. Not too busy, but also not too simple. I also really like how the vine around the egg came out. The orange band through the middle of the vine was actually a mistake, but I ended up really liking it. Now if only my lines had been a little more steady… I may have to give this design another shot!

side vine egg 2013

Redoing the Bookshelf

Books all over table

I don’t know what it is, but something about the sun shining in and the ability to have the windows open and a breeze rushing through the apartment just makes me want to clean and decorate. Unfortunately, satisfying that urge can be difficult when you’re on a strict spending fast – no, I can’t buy those new throw pillows; no, that bookcase is not purchasable right now…

So to satisfy my urge I set my sights on rearranging our single big bookcase – it belongs to the apartmentmate, and is a beautiful, antique behemoth that has its home in our dining room and doubles as a liquor cabinet. Me and the apartmentmate agreed that it’d look best with a collection of antique(ish) books inside, and so over the past few visits to my parents’ house, I combed through my stored collection for as many old-looking books as I could find.

So far I’m pleased with the results – I swapped out many of the newer books that had been stored in the cabinet with old tomes, and it’s starting to look really nice. The only problem is that I have too many books! A really well balanced bookcase has room for some decorations and knickknacks after all, and so far I’ve only been able to work in my little Japanese and Ukrainian dolls…

Favorite Bookcase Decorations

But at least they’re cute!

“What Greater Gift Than the Love of a Cat?” – Charles Dickens

genghis closeup

Last Friday morning we had to say goodbye to our cat Genghis Khan, my best friend of almost 14 years.

sleepy siblings

He was never supposed to be mine. When we brought him and his sister home in August of 2000, he was actually supposed to be my brother’s cat – his sister Chakka was the one I had picked out. But that night, this little orange pain in the ass of a kitten decided he liked me instead.

genghis and toy

It took about two weeks of my brother and I constantly trading kittens before we just gave up. Their very different personalities began to show as they made it clear whatever intentions we had for them were not going to fly. The grey one was more reserved and shy, but she was obviously gravitating towards my brother. Chakka would hover around his feet, sleep on a chair next to his bed, and hesitantly creep closer to him on the couch when she thought he wasn’t looking. And when my brother would hand her back to me? She’d be gone in a flash.

siblings cuddling

Meanwhile, Genghis consistently and obnoxiously inserted himself in whatever I was doing… at all times. Working on homework? Here, let me walk all over that for you. Watching TV? Here, let me climb on your head with my razor sharp kitten nails. Reading a book? Let me lay on that for you. Working on the computer? Wow, this keyboard is comfortable. Practicing the double crochet stitch you just learned how to do? Ooooh, your thumb looks awfully tasty…

Genghis sitting on my chest

His little tiny orange face was constantly finding its way to mine. When he’d appear, I would pick him up without a word – he was small enough to hold with one hand at the time – and just hand him back to my brother. But within 30 seconds he’d be back, nudging his face back into my book, or batting at my hand on the computer mouse.

in box

Eventually both my brother and I just gave up and accepted that while we each may have picked one of them out at the adoption center, ultimately it would be their decision who “belonged” to who. And the orange tabby had decided he was definitely mine.

Kitty cuddle party

From that day on, Genghis was my constant pal, and for the next 14 years he was attached to my hip. Every single night that I have spent under my parents roof since, he was right there in bed with me, tucked under my arm with his head on my shoulder like a pillow. And I mean every. single. night. I perpetually had little claw marks on my right upper arm from where he would knead as he purred and eventually fell asleep. He was my leg warmer when watching TV – even in the stifling heat of the summer, and I certainly dared not move him for fear of getting a nice new gash in my arm. My reading pal, my gaming buddy, my paper-writing companion. He had made it clear way back when he could still fit comfortably inside my size six shoe that I was his. As the years pressed on nothing about that changed.

Leg cuddler

When I went to college I’d return on break to a circle of cat hair on my bed where he’d been sleeping every night in my absence. During grad school when I’d have dozens of books and papers sprawled out on the basement sewing table, prepping for an all-nighter to study or finish a paper, he’d be there, perched on the couch cushion that needed mending on the corner of the table, watching over the process until I was done. Then as the sun began peaking through the windows, he’d follow me up to bed, if only for a short half an hour before I had to get ready to leave.

Genghis and knitting

Even when I moved out for real in 2012, every time I’d return for my Sunday night visits – or any other night or for any other reason – we’d fall back into old patterns. For all my mother would call and tell me he’d finally “defected” to her, as soon as I set foot back in the house, he’d be mine again, if only for a short time.


Over the years he had gotten a bit slower, a bit stiffer. Thirteen is well into the “elderly” category for cats, after all. It was about this time last summer that we noticed he was limping a bit – he had a penchant for weaving in and out between people’s legs as they walked, and so we assumed one of the many times he tripped one of us must have caught him the wrong way.


The limp went away rather quickly, but after that injury the arthritis set in rapidly, and over the past year it had grown steadily worse. His hips started to splay out – to the point where my mom was convinced there was a tumor growing in the joint – but he was still getting around fine, albeit a bit more slowly than usual, and he wasn’t in any pain.

cuddling with rusalka

The vet consulted with us over the phone several times – actually taking Genghis to the office was out of the question because the vet feared that putting him in the car after almost 11 years not leaving our house might cause more stress than anything that was going on with his hips. He (the vet) remembered well that the vet visits when Genghis and Chakka been young and healthy had almost killed not only them, but all the people who had to handle them as well. The cats had been born feral, and so even as young resilient cats the vet visits had stressed them out to the point of serious concern – it’s why we stopped taking them in the first place. The vet agreed that it was best that way, unless it became truly dire – Genghis didn’t seem to be phased by the stiffness nor did he seem to be in any pain. He was still his normal, pain in the ass, trouble making self – just slightly slower and occasionally wobbly. Besides, at age 13, even if we did take him in odds are there was nothing we’d be able to do. Putting a 13 year old cat through any sort of massive orthopedic (or otherwise) surgery was just out of the question.

Genghis being silly

And so Genghis soldiered on. He was still perky, filled with personality, and forever picking fights with not only his sister, but also our 128 lb. blonde labrador, Rusalka (shown below at decidedly NOT 128 lbs). He faced his growing stiffness with astounding tenacity – never letting it phase him in the slightest. His resilience even managed to win over my father, who has never really been terribly fond of cats and honestly had a particularly antagonistic relationship with Genghis over the years – I swear Genghis made it his business to irritate him. Up until the last year, my dad had only really tolerated him because of how important he was to me.

with puppy rusalka

Then Thursday night, my mom called me and told me to come home. It was time. He went downhill quickly – all of a sudden that day he pretty much lost use of his back legs. He couldn’t get them underneath him anymore, and even if we helped him, he had lost control of his paws. We knew it was going to happen sooner or later, and starting about six months ago we had begun to talk about the inevitability of it. But nevertheless, it still came as a shock. His condition had seemed to plateau over the last three months, staying steady. The only consolation as I drove home Thursday night was that he still didn’t seem to be in pain – in fact my mom had said he seemed to have lost all feeling in his haunches.

genghis piano

And so I stayed with him that night. We had one final night with him tucked under my arm, kneading and purring quietly and contentedly as he fell asleep just like it was any other day – and as I definitely did not. The vet appointment was at 9 – I didn’t get to go with him because I had a final scheduled for 10 that morning and the vet is 45 minutes away from the school. It had already been rescheduled once so I could attend my brother’s graduation, and so rescheduling again was out of the question. The vet, upon examining him in person, basically confirmed that his over-the-phone diagnosing had been correct, and that what had happened is that the arthritis simply became too advanced, moving up to his spine and ultimately cutting off all feeling and control to his lower half. What had happened to make it so sudden is that one of the vertebra probably shattered from the erosion. The vet said we did the right thing by allowing him to live the last year peacefully at home – that just as suspected, what was happening was not something that he could have fixed or really alleviated much at all given the cat’s history, and personality. He also said that indeed we were right, and it was time. The damage to his spine had reached critical mass, and if let go would start to cause a whole host of other problems for him in the next few days – problems that WOULD end up causing him immense pain.

window watching

And so we said goodbye. My mom was there and held him as he drifted off. I should have been. I’m sure my students knew something was wrong – I couldn’t exactly hide my swollen, red-rimmed eyes. But as heartbroken as I was- and still am – I know that it was time. He lived too good of a life, and was too good of a pet for us to allow him to suffer. He deserved a dignified, painless send off.

So here’s to you, Genghis, you little orange asshole. You chose me, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I’ll miss you forever, and to borrow a page from the Hans Wilhelm book that shaped my childhood: “I’ll always love you.”

curious genghis

Pysanky Friday


I finally got around to varnishing those pysanky I teased on instagram a ways back, and so today I have one of them to share with you in detail. I was still getting my sea-legs back on this batch, so you’ll notice that my lines aren’t all terribly straight. This particular egg (which I’m calling the “Big Vine” Egg) was actually the result of a catastrophic mistake – those massive vines on the side were NOT supposed to be that big. But that’s what happens when you’re not being attentive and get a big blorp of wax smack dab in the center of your egg.

Big Vine Egg

The top and bottom of this one came out much better than the middle – I’m a big fan of the star motif for the bottom of eggs. Not my favorite of the batch, but not the worst either. But I’ll save the rest for another day! Happy Friday!

big vine egg bottom

(Just a note on size – these are regular large chicken eggs – the photos are just big to show detail)

I Have a Sweater Problem…

All pulled out

…A very big sweater problem. And it’s just a tad out of hand, as you can see.

While I must admit that some things are a little tighter around the middle area than they used to be, I’ve been relatively the same size on top for about a decade now and my taste really hasn’t changed that much. I’ve never been really daring when it comes to trends, so most of the items I go for are pretty classic (or as more than one person has put it “boring”… I like classic better) kinds of styles. As a result, nothing really gets purged unless it shrinks or felts in the dryer.

However, until this new financial situation of mine hit, the buying never stopped. Sweaters ended up stacked and piled three and four deep in the spaces I did have for them, and I still had a horrifying amount left over to shove into storage containers. And as they say, out of sight, out of mind. Every year I end up forgetting what I have and wearing the same 10 sweaters all winter.

And that was okay… when I had the space to store all those sweaters I wore once every few years. I don’t anymore. My closet in this new apartment is literally 1/3 the size of what I’ve had in every other place I’ve lived (that INCLUDES college dorms!), so the massive sweater collection proved to be an even trickier issue to deal with this winter. Basically by January I had resigned myself to the fact that I needed to do a ruthless purge. So as I dragged everything out to put into storage for the spring and summer, I came up with a plan.

worn sweaters

First, I took out every sweater I had here and set them all out on the bed, sorted into two piles: those I had worn this winter, and those I hadn’t. The pile of sweaters I’ve worn can be seen above, the unworn below. From there, I sorted the unworn sweaters and took out any I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to wear again – whether that be because they were from my HS days when I preferred my sweaters to be much tighter than I’m comfortable wearing them now, or because they’re just old, pilly, and clearly on their last leg (arm?).

Even after disposing or donating what I knew I could that moment, I was still left with a sizable unworn pile. But at least now I’m down to a collection that fits into the two underbed boxes I use to store my off-season clothing.

The plan is to do more sorting once I pull them back out next winter. When that happens, I will try on each and every sweater; the ones that don’t fit me at the beginning of winter will surely only get worse as I gain my winter weight, and so those will immediately be donated.

Ideally I’ll be left with a collection that’s been pretty much halved, and then from that point on I need to hold myself to a rule of “one for one” – for every sweater I bring in, one’s gotta go. At least until I have that dream home with the giant walk-in closet…

Sweaters I havent worn

…but I suspect that will always just be a pipe dream.

Are you a sweater junkie like me? If not, what’s your clothing vice?

Miso Soup Love

Miso Soup

There’s nothing quite like miso soup, particularly when you need something satisfying and light, but FAST. Well, satisfying, light, and fast that’s still warm and comforting that is. I never have been much of a salad girl.

But anyway – miso soup is not only fast, but it’s easy to make and to customize. All you need is dashi stock (Japanese fish broth), miso, some tofu (if you like it) and really, anything else you want to throw in.

For the dashi stock, I just use granulated dashi stock, since it’s hard to find katsuobushi in this area and I feel weird ordering it from amazon because they market it as a cat treat (cats apparently like it a lot – although I’ve seen mixed advice about it actually being good to feed to them). But it’s just as easy to make from scratch if you have access to the ingredients. Here’s a detailed guide to making dashi from scratch on Just Hungry.

Whatever method you use, once you’ve got some dashi heating, separate about a cup out into a bowl, and mix in your miso into that until it’s all smooth and liquidy – I use a heaping tsp of miso per serving of soup. Then dump it back into the pot, along with your tofu and other ingredients (Most people and restaurants add nori and scallions – but I didn’t have any of either around at the time) and let it simmer for a bit, stirring every once and a while to mix up the miso (it will settle to the bottom over time).

My miso soup isn’t the fanciest. But not a whole lot about me is the fanciest anyway – this was a utilitarian meal, so I served mine with a LOT of tofu and over rice to bulk it up since I didn’t have any other ingredients on hand. But you could easily add fish or vegetables to this to make a hearty meal in and of itself (although cooking time will probably be longer!).