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The Red Leather Jacket

Top: Topshop, Pants: Zara, Shoes: Steve Madden; Bracelet: Coach 

I worked my way through college as an English tutor, selling cosmetics in retail, and working for my parents in their restaurant.  Sometimes concurrently.  Each had their own complexities and taught me how to work with a variety of personalities in a variety of settings.

The director of the tutoring center at the college was an eccentric European woman.  She was about a foot shorter than me, had a very thick accent, and everyone was afraid of her.  Everyone guessed where she was from; everyone was afraid to ask.  Finally one day, I just had to know, so I knocked on her office door and asked, "Where did you grow up?"  She paused for a really long time before she responded, and then she asked me to come in, shut the door, and sit down.

I did what she asked the whole time expecting to get into trouble.  Maybe it was wrong to ask personal questions?  Maybe it was none of my business, and she was going to let me know?  I sat there for what seemed like a lifetime, and she just sat and looked at me.  Gradually I realized that her eyes were tearing up.  "I forget that you students come and go.  I think that everyone knows my story.  I have to remember to tell people every year.  It's my duty."  She was a Romanian Jew who was lucky to have made it to London with her mother prior to 1940.  Her brother had remained in Romania and been placed in a concentration camp.  She had married a man who worked for the government, and they had eventually moved to America.  She had gone to college and graduate school receiving her degrees in linguistics.  "People are afraid of me.  Because I'm the boss.  Because they can't understand my accent.  Because they think I'm always angry.  Maybe I am always angry, but I think I'm just sad."

I grew close to her after that.  She convinced me to become a teacher, and I think she was probably influential in getting me hired for my first teaching job.  I worked at that school for 12 years, first as a student and then as an instructor.  She was the most disciplined person I have ever known.  She ate the exact same meal every night for dinner.  She made the food in advance on the weekend, portioned it all out into individual servings, and ate them all week.  Cheese tortellini.  The exact same number on every plate.  I asked her how she could eat the same thing night after night.  She liked the routine.  "I eat a big meal for lunch every day.  Always something different, but for dinner, I put on my pajamas, I get comfortable, and I eat this food."  We had the most in depth discussions about beauty products.  When she found out I worked retail as well, she opened up to me about her love of shopping and beauty.  She was 40 years older than me, but we could talk the same language.  I still remember learning about alpha hydroxy acids from her.  She felt that unless she could see skin peeling off, she didn't feel it was working.  I went in the gentler approach myself.  She loved Chanel.  Shoes, bags, especially necklaces and belts.  I knew that her husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I knew she didn't want to retire, but there was really no other way.  I interviewed for her job, but someone else got it.  She left a note in my mailbox one day asking if I could stop by her office during the day.  At that point, I was only teaching evenings.  I had a day job, a baby, a life away from the school, and after not getting her position, I knew that I would give up teaching soon.  I made a point of going to see her because I didn't know if I would ever again.  "I have something for you," and she handed me this red leather jacket.  "I don't know why I bought it.  It needs someone tall like you."  I was very touched that she had thought of me.

Every time I go into the closet to get rid of this jacket, I just can't do it.  She passed away not that long after leaving the school.  That time in her office was the last time I saw her.  I tried Googling her and got no results.  The biggest lesson I learned from her: never assume, never guess, just ask.  There's never any harm in asking.

Linked to Monday Mingle


Buxom Product Reviews

Thanks so much to Bare Minerals for sending me a wonderful package of products to try.  I do love almost all their products, so this was an incredible treat for me.  I credit Bare Minerals with improving my skin so much, and the Buxom lip glosses are my favorite.


     Hot Escapes Bronzer in Tahiti
     Hot Escapes Bronzer in Maldives
      Call Me
      Here's My Number
      Doors Unlocked
      Pick Me Up
      Ring My Bell
      I'll Be Waiting
      Knock Twice
      Come Over
Proactive Refining Mask


Any Suggestions

I am at the painful stage of growing out my hair, and I'm looking for suggestions on how to apply eyeshadow on droopy eyes.


Bare Minerals Eyeshadow: Starlet Karen
True Gold Matte

Smashbox Eyeliner in Midnight Brown
Tarte Lipstick in Sweet Dreams


Old School

Cardigan: DKNY Cozy
Sunglasses: Coach
Tee: Old Navy
Pants: H&M
Lipstick: Tarte Sweet Dreams (Sadly no longer available)

We literally took these pictures at my old school, UCLA, where I graduated with a degree in English literature, eek, exactly 20 years ago.  In addition to dating myself, these pictures are pretty dated, too, as they were actually taken back in January.  A lot has changed in my life since then, and I can't particularly say I was in the best place emotionally when these were taken.  I've mentioned before that leaving my job was not an easy thing to do, and truth be told, the last month I was there was full of emotional highs and lows.  It's very exciting to move on to a new phase in your life, but change is always filled with so much unknown, it's hard to embrace.  I did let my weight shoot up again during that period, and looking at the results in these photos where I feel I'm just kind of puffy all over, made me realize that I had to stop overindulging.  I'm happy that I've made adjustments in my diet that have made a difference.  The final difference is my hair.  Looking back at the color here when I'm hating where I'm at in the growing out process makes me sad.  I really liked having my hair this dark, which is my natural color.  But I know it was just too dark.  I really can't wait to be gray.  How crazy does that sound?


Summer Tux

Blazer: H&M
Tee: Old Navy
Pants: Kenar (Old)
Belt: Halston
Bag: Just Fab

So finally I think you can see how the hair is growing out in these pictures.  I'm definitely at that horrible line of demarcation stage.  A just went ombre on her hair, and I've taken to joking that I'm ombre too just a little more than she is.

I so want to like this Halston belt.  I've had it for about a year.  It's a lovely color and texture, but it fits really oddly and it never stays snapped.  This one might have to move on.

I've been using this bag for the last few weeks continuously.  It's from Just Fab, and if you haven't checked out their site yet, you should think about it.  Now on first glance, it's full of lots of platforms and not so age appropriate things.  You do have to dig a little bit, but the pieces are inexpensive and a better quality than expected for the price.  I do tend to stay away from imitation leathers on sites like this, but this bag is a sturdy canvas with the lace overlay.  The edge is imitation leather, but it's subtle.

I've heard from a few of you that you are enjoying the videos.  I appreciate your feedback.  The next one is really going to rely on your feedback because I need suggestions from you, so stay tuned for that.

Linked to The Pleated Poppy


July Product Review Video

And today I decided that every beauty product comes in a tube.  No matter the shape or size of the container, it's a tube.  I need to work on my vocabulary.



June Favorites Video

A word of warning first, I play with my hair and talk with my hands A Lot.

I felt like I was making a significant number of changes to my skincare routine in June.  Maybe it wasn't so many after all.  Still working on the lighting in these things.  

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose in It
Beauty Mint Shimmer Lip Stain & High Shine Gloss

Shirt: StyleMint
Bracelet: Coach (Similar)
Lipstick: Dior Andaleuse


Summer Shades

The hub and I always joke that this will be the location of our next house...when we win the lottery.  This housing complex was graded and then left to sit during the recession.  It's been a great place to take pictures with the view overlooking the city.  Now that the housing market is picking up in Southern California, we were surprised to see that they had been working on three of the lots at the bottom of the hill.  There may actually soon be a house in this spot.  Better buy a lottery ticket today.