LBCC Historical sells cosmetics and apothecary items which use or recreate historic recipes. Since I’m using their products every day, I wanted to show a little love for my favorite staples.
A Fine Honey Lip Salve, 1747
My taste in lip balms of any kind include guidelines like ‘doesn’t taste like petroleum’ or ‘is not reminiscent of cough syrup.’ It has a really delicate top note of mint over the honey, it’s not sticky, easy to apply, and the tin doesn’t make me want to find a crowbar. The perfect balm for my dry lips. Available here. $5.00 USD
1370-1800 Herbal Astringent (not currently in stock)
This smells. I won’t lie, it smells exactly like what it is: a vinegar astringent full of herbs. Your loved ones will avoid your face for the first few minutes after you use it, should you not be following it immediately with your moisturizer of choice. My acne tends to run light to moderate, and while it hasn’t perfectly nuked my acne from orbit, I’m finding it a lot easier to manage my acne than I did before using this. $16.00 USD
1896 Cleopatra’s Enamel for Whitening Hands and Arms
I have terrible under eye circles. My allergies are using on the EXTREME setting, so blood flow around my sinuses isn’t great, and I sneeze and eye water enough to make me feel like I need new skin. All of that combined leaves me with dark circles, lots of tiny burst blood vessels across my face, and an endless stream of people saying “You look tired” or “Are you feeling well?”
To supplement my trying to cover up my status as Allergen Queen, I’ve been experimenting with using this on my under eye circles. It’s only been a few weeks, but I feel like the sheer gothic wells of darkness under my eyes are more into the ashy grey neighborhood now. Regardless, while the texture is gritty, it does have a lovely skin softening affect. Available here. $10.00 USD
1745 French Powdered Rouge
This looked bright enough on the screen to make me nervous, but I’ve been happy with it since the first time I tried it. The rouge is easy to blend out, you can use very little on a brush, and it gives a nice crisp glow, like time outside in winter without that whole risk of freezing. Available here. $5.00 USD
1857 Civil War Cucumber Cold Cream
This is one of the few beauty products I keep in my fridge. Outside the fridge this is very feather light consistency, separates easily, and it’s harder to catch any scent. If you keep it in the fridge it has a cold cream weight, but it’s almost buttery as you spread it over your face. It’s also easier to smell both the cucumber and the neroli in the cream. I only use it as a moisturizer, so I can’t really speak to its effectiveness as a makeup remover. I do have very dry skin in patches across my face, which this has improved tremendously. I have almost no dry patches showing under my makeup now. Available here. $10.00 USD
1772 Scented Jasmine Hair Oil – Toilet de Flora
When even my stylist is stoked about the state of my ends and my hair in general, I am doing my job when it comes to taking care of my hair. I put a few drops of this on my hands at night, and rub this into my ends, maybe the bottom two inches of my hair. My hair’s healthier and much easier to style since I started using this, and a drop or so spread across your fingertips is great for smoothing down flyaways around your scalp before running out the door. Available here. $12.00 USD
I’ve bought twice as much stuff from them, but these are the favorites I use every day, or nearly. I could easily drop another $100 on their shop at any time on something I haven’t tried (have you seen their face powders?). There’s always something new and interesting every time I look.
All products were gleefully purchased with my own money from the LBCC Etsy store, which you can check out here.
Even if I don’t feel up for dealing with foundation when I roll out of bed, I’ll still put the effort in for eyeshadow. I’m not much of a matte kind of gal, so today is all about six of my favorite glitter filled, shimmery brands.
The Chrysalis palette has to be one of the best palettes I’ve owned. Moody, a little romantic, and a few shades that lean towards neutral in a pinch. If you’re a little anxious about going bold and dark, the texture base shades in the palette will help you dial down the intensity of some of the darker shades. I have a few of her single pan shadows, which serve as an excellent reminder that there’s always something new and different cycling through the line. It’s an all around great line for people who want to take adventurous steps with their makeup with a good quality brand. Available at Sephora.
I bet you knew this one was coming! UD was one of those lines that drew me in as a preteen, goggling over the glitter and colour of a friend’s older sister’s makeup. My makeup shelf has three UD palettes on it, one of which is a build-your-own (an empty four slot pan, and four of my favorite UD shadows). UD products make good gifts for the glamorous goths, punks, and retro vintage beauty queens in your life. Available at Sephora and Urban Decay.
Vegan, cruelty free, gluten free, and full of some amazing pigments. I use their mineral eyeshadows, which are loose, shimmery shadows packaged in a sifter. I can’t speak to their matte shadows, but their mineral shadows have a much loved home in my makeup case. I tend to shy away from deep intensity shades, but Concrete Minerals has more than enough highlighters and soft-toned shadows to satisfy my sometimes pigment-shy preferences. Available at Concrete Minerals and Femme Fatale Cosmetics.
One of my friends took a trip into their shop on the hunt for a “mermaid” eyeshadow for me, and surfaced triumphant with a shimmery blue called Atlantica. Atomic Cosmetics is local to Seattle, and is run by a biochemist who made it her mission to put out makeup free of as many scary chemicals as possible. Good for anyone who likes shimmer, and a less chemical-filled beauty experience. You can find the AC line at their shop, at 617 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122.
Glamour Doll Eyes
At this point, if I count all the samples, I have a lot of Glamour Doll Eyes shadows in my makeup case. Their formulas are forgiving for people new to use mineral eyeshadow (I looked pretty funny learning to apply it). They’re also in a beautiful range, from basic neutrals to glam douchromes. Likely a good buy if you have oily eyelids like me—they’re one of the few brands that doesn’t just melt off my lids over the course of a day. Available at Glamour Doll Eyes.
Femme Fatale Cosmetics
If you fear committing to a large shadow based on the swatch you saw on screen, FFC has mini sifter sizes, as well as a larger size for when you know that a shadow needs to be yours forever. These are beautiful loose mineral shadows, and the ship time from Australia was absolutely worth it. I have yet to find a match anywhere stateside to the FFC shades, and will continue to happily order/wait for my shipments when it means I’m getting beautiful shades like nothing anyone else has. Available at Femme Fatale Cosmetics.
It is really easy to hate your job. When I found myself singing “Everything is terrible forever” to myself recently (to the tune of “Do you want to build a snowman?” from Frozen), it hit me that if I’m frustrated with some projects to the point of making up grim showtunes, there were some books I needed to reread.
Over the years since I got those books, I’ve had moments that made me want to get the fuck out of publishing. These were my books to rally with. If I needed assurance that I would one day not be stuck in an untenable place work wise, I read Save the Assistants. It’s comforting and catty, and has some simple advice on hanging on to your sanity while you ripcord from a bad job to a better one. It’s like watching the cool part in a chick flick where the heroine says she will give no more fucks about things that don’t matter, and pursues her career goal with more zeal than most people have in their pinkie.
Starve Better is a manual for, well, starving better. I wouldn’t be a writer if I was in it for the sweet room full of gold coins, but it pays the bills. Nick’s book, if you follow the advice, will make you more aware of the ways you can make money off your writing now instead of dying of malnutrition while writing the Great American Novel. Get paid for stuff that isn’t the Great American Novel, because you can’t write it if you’re dead.
Booklife isn’t wholly applicable to everything I do as a writer, but it’s invaluable for making me assess where I am with my work at the time I crack it open. If I feel like I’m stagnating or lost, and I don’t have the time to talk about it for hours with a friend, this is what I reach for. It’s a book that makes me plan, and think about what writing I want in my future future. Make notes, write in the margins, get my thoughts out about what I’m doing now v. what I want to be doing. Uncomfortable as a process goes, it’s still necessary for me.
Had I ever been given the chance to give all three to someone else, I’d probably call them Books For Hating Life Less. That’s what I use them for, at least.
Lipstick is one of my favorite cosmetics. Even if you’re not wearing any other makeup, it can be a little buoy of confidence, something to cheer you up, or a little pop of colour to make you feel pretty just when you need it. I wanted to share a few of the lipstick companies in my makeup kit, with a FYI that I typically choose cool tones. I tend to look cartoonish and a little jaundiced in warmer shades.
You can snag these spiky, punk-packaged lipsticks at Sephora, and if you like cool purples or raspberries, you should check out my favorites: Wolvesmouth and Bauhau5. Her Chrysalis eyeshadow palette is also incredible, and her pressed powder blushes are ridiculously easy to blend. And her eyeliners. Did I mention it’s a great makeup line?
You can find Rituel’s products at their website, as well as many of their lovely stockists. I highly recommend Against Nature, Love In Madness, Written In Blood, and Fortune Teller. If you’re brand new to cream blushes, Rituel’s are some of the best I’ve found. They give a nice subtle dash of colour, or you can build them up to a brighter hue with layered application.
Did you watch Agent Carter? I bet you did. Her lipstick was none other than their Red Velvet. One of my friends picked out their Merlot shade for me, and I adore them both. Because they’re modeled on vintage cosmetics, the packaging, size, and the shape of the lipstick itself will probably feel unfamiliar in the hand at first. The tube feels metallic, and the lipstick isn’t that sharp single peak like most modern lipstick, it’s actually more of a sloping A shape at the top. Don’t worry about it, though, because it’s still easy to apply, and requires very little getting used to.
They’re local! They’re full of glitter! And they’re run by a biochemist doing her damndest to keep the scarier chemicals in life out of your cosmetics. My current favorite lipsticks from Atomic are Jinxed, and Cabaret. I also use a BB cream from Atomic, as well as one of their foundations. If you’re in Seattle (or just passing through) I cannot emphasize how much fun it is to shop there.
Taking your first steps into unusual, wild shades of lipstick? Melt is a great first outing. I have a tube of Dark Room, which is a lovely beet purple. And Monday, May 11th, they’re having a sale. 25% off all their cosmetics, and the sale code is meltmilli. Sale runs from 12 a.m. – 12 a.m. PST.
If you dig my makeup bag and want one of your own, look no further than Concrete Minerals. Their eyeshadows are equally amazing.
Freelancing is one of the most exhausting things I’ve done in my life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and often administrative tasks feel like they’re derailing my creative duties, and vice versa. Because of the added dimension of chronic illness in my life, anything that keeps me organized or inspired is worth its weight in gold. Below are some of my favorite links and books for keeping myself on target and enjoying what I do.
The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron’s book is one of those classics that gets recommended for good reason. If it works for you, it really works for you. It’s not a how-to manual to writing, or painting, or any given art form. It’s…creative therapy, I guess? Though the affirmations to say daily usually make me laugh, and I often raise my eyebrows at the tone of the book, it’s been slowly forcing me back into regular journaling, which usually gets me to shake off enough mental chaff to have a great wordcount day. For me, the takeaways from Artist’s Way was the importance of creative routines, telling my inner critic to shut up till I’m done with a draft, and to pay attention to why I was avoiding particular projects.
The War of Art
Steven Pressfield’s book is applicable across most creative jobs. What we perceive as ‘writer’s block’ or ‘artist’s block’ is generally our own negative inner monologue, our fears, depression, and the cold rock of chronic illness and fatigue sapping your will and confidence. These are all things that take effort, time and persistence to work with. Pressfield’s book reminds the reader that the balking to start, continue, or finish our art is something we have to fight. It’s simply a part of life, we kick its ass, we keep going. When I’m dealing with inertia on a project, I like to read this book to feel both assured that my experience is normal, and reminded that I can get past it. I really loathe the term “inspiring read,” but it’s one of those books that will at least lure you back to your workspace to try again.
Director Tai Uhlmann has some beautiful advice on keeping perspective when a project is close to you. This kind of struggle is hardest, I think, with autobiographical projects, but it’s easy to become too consumed and over-identity with our art to the exclusion of who we are when we’re not engaged with making a specific project. This is a good read for anyone who gets tangled up in their art, or has issues keeping a grounded perspective during projects.
Short and sweet tips from Jessica M. Thompson on how she stays on point with her screenplay. Worth mining regardless of your creative specialty.
Paper is one of those things that I’ll be fighting till I die. Old invoice forms, mail, you name it. This is just a few brief suggestions from office stylist Sayeh on organizing your own paperwork mountains and keeping them from taking you out in an avalanche.
Kitty Horrorshow’s mini guide for staying productive with clinical depression is so incredibly useful, and there’s a lot of applicability to creators with chronic illness and disability. If you haven’t thought about managing your art and your physical/psychological resources, this is a good place to start thinking about those things. We are not lesser artists or professionals because we have to do frequent accounting about our health and our creative output. When we manage both our health and our art, we are being the best artists we are capable of.
When it comes to beauty products that my friends want to talk about, my nail polish collection is at the top of the list. Today, I’m sharing a number of links to some of the sites I’ve bought many of my favorite polishes from.
Mckfresh Nail Attire
With shades with names like “Horrorland,” it’s no wonder this is one of my favorite Australian brands. With spooky names and tons of glitter, this is the line for you if you like rich, dark jewel tones, or bright summery holos. Available via Femme Fatale Cosmetics and their Etsy.
FFC is an Australian company that ships overseas (yes!), and carries an abundance of nail polish and other cosmetics. I’m fairly partial to Femme Fatale’s own brand of nail polish, and I’m pretty sure they’re who I bought my very first bottle of Pretty Serious Cosmetics polish from. In addition to a number of polishes and cosmetics under the Femme Fatale Cosmetics brand, they also carry a variety of Australian, European and U.S. brands.
This is where I’ve bought most of my uslu airlines nail polish, but they carry a number of cosmetics, perfume and spa product items. They’re a great stop if you’re looking for something a little unusual for a gift.
One of my favorite brands, Zoya is a great polish for anyone just getting into the swing of doing their own nails. The consistencty of the polish, the brush and the top all feel natural to grip and use. I have shaky hands, but the more natural a grip feels, the easier it is for me to use that polish. My hands down favorite from them is Trixie, an incredible silver metallic shade.
Llarowe carries a number of indie nail polish brands, in addition to their own line of polishes. They’re fast, efficient, and carry an excellent array of shades and companies.
I’ve chased down some indie nail polish that was out at other stockists through them, and I have zero complaints about them. Fast, well packaged, reasonable selection.
A Canadian company that I’ve ordered from multiple times, Harlow carries both North American and overseas brands. I’ve discovered some neat companies through their site. Their speciality is nail polish, but they carry a number of lip products and other cosmetics as well.
Holographic shades abound with some lovely creme colours, as well as a number of shimmers and multichromes. Personal favorites of mine include Arcane Fire and Epoch.
Shades run the gamut from shimmery metallics to some of the most aggresive holos you’ll ever find, and their packaging is gorgeous. U.S. based, so shipping is swift inside the States. Available on their website and via their Etsy.
I Love Nail Polish has ultra-chrome flakies, chromes and holos in its arsenal, making it likely that there’s something for everyone among their shades. I love the weight of ILNP bottles, which does a lot to allay my fears that I’m going to knock a bottle over mid-manicure. Their polish lasts well, and I’d say is much more vibrant in person than on a monitor. Available on their website and via their Etsy.
With luck, some of these stockists will inspire you to try new shades, companies, and enliven your own nail polish collections.
There’s a publisher (and an editor) I want to tell you about.
Brian White is the mastermind behind Fireside Fiction, which puts out Fireside Magazine. Fireside pays 12.5 cents a word for fiction. They work with diverse writers and artists. Fireside isn’t just a magazine publishing genre fiction (and yes, they mean any genre), it’s a community. Writers who make friends and care about each other as people, and as peers. Artists who can say with pride that they share common ground as artists for Fireside. And “slush” readers, the never trumpeted enough entry point of publication, the submissions editors who pass stories up the chain, circled many times with You have to buy this.
Fireside is also its readers, who are brought together by their love of their favorite authors, being given a chance to discover new favorites.
All of this make Fireside amazing, and the man spinning the plates behind this is one of the best editors I have had the pleasure to call a peer, and a friend.
I don’t need a reason to call out good work or good people. But Brian’s birthday is this Saturday, and whether you know him or not, becoming a part of Fireside would be the perfect gift. Submit fiction. Buy back issues. Support their Patreon. Preorder Revision, the first novel Fireside Fiction is releasing, a flat out amazing sci-fi novel by Andrea Philips. Gift friends who need new fiction a subscription. Be a part of something strange and luminous and great.
Apparently, this is the week American journalism loses figures it cherishes dearly.
Bob Simon did work as a foreign correspondent, was one of the faces you may associate with “60 Minutes,” and his young face may have appeared on your television during what would become his award winning coverage of Vietnam. He died in a car accident on Wednesday at the age of 73. If his name escapes you, or you’re not familiar with his work, he’s worth a Google search or two. When a journalist dies their family is in the first circle of loss. And while their peers and colleagues feel it as well, the public keenly misses the faces, voices and words of people they grew to trust and turn to, often over the course of decades. For a jumping off point, CBS has a piece on Simon to get you started.
Then the world lost David Carr on Thursday night. Carr wasn’t a broadcast journalist like Simon, this is the guy you’d know from print. His column at the New York Times is (was?) one of those confluence columns where culture and government and a little bit else all came together. He collapsed at the age of 58 in The Times newsroom, and was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. If you’ve never read his stuff, this response he gave when asked to recommend a book about journalism has a Carr amount of intensity to it. Not a guy who wrote or said things in a lackluster manner.
They were talented men whose work was appreciated and followed with good reason. This weekend, look up some of their old footage, their old writing. For nostalgia and with respect, should you be familiar with them already, or with curiosity and new-found knowledge, if you’re not.
Ryan and I got married in September, which made the month a whirlwind I still only mostly remember.  Our honeymoon to the coast of California was marvelous and full of spooky historic buildings, the Pacific Ocean, and the creepiest “Scarecrow Festival” I have ever seen. We ended our honeymoon with dinner among friends in Oakland, and moved hotels to go run games at Big Bad Con the following day.
Big Bad Con this year had some big steps for me as a GM. I’d never run games at a convention before, and I am still blown away by the first group of players I had. It was one of those sessions where people are building on each other’s narratives, making the pitch-perfect decisions involving failure and growth, and giving an incredible amount of energy and sincerity to the story. I was also using Monsterhearts, which I’ve only played a handful of times, and I feel it’s both a poignant and potent game, emotionally. It was challenging and rewarding, and it taught me a lot. 
While we were there, me and Ryan were able to play a session of Jason Morningstar’s Night Witches, which has translated the historic arc of the Soviet women’s night bomber regiment to tabletop play.  From start to finish, the game is doing amazing things, and it’s base DNA from Apocalypse World has been heavily modified to make the best use of the AW engine with what Jason’s doing. I’ve never seen a roleplaying game do what felt like a good job with unit/squad mechanics, and Night Witches does. The moves in every playbook have change over between day and night moves, reflecting the different circumstances of these women’s lives. The Night Witches flew at night, so the night moves reflect the actions and risks undertaken every mission. Day moves focus on the inter/intra personal details of the pilots’ lives during the war. I can’t wait for it to come out, and if the concept has you hankering for your own copy, you can check out the Night Witches Kickstarter.
Halloween was busy, which is why a certain link didn’t get posted on Friday. The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls is a steampunk anthology brimming with monsters, clockwork fiends, and some dark tales. My story Red in Winter appears, which is my bloody take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable. It has Pinkerton detectives, serial murder, and a small town somewhere near the West Coast being dogged by a determined and cunning wolf.
In addition to Red in Winter coming out recently, my article “Storium’s Analog Heritage” made its appearance in the Analog Game Studies journal this morning. They’re a new journal, but their archives are already a treasure trove of interesting design food for thought. 
1. Never doubt people when they say you won’t remember much of your wedding, or the month around it. I should probably be grateful I miraculously mostly remember the ceremony.
2. Hopefully, I’ll carve out some time soon to discuss that experience in depth in a different blog post.
3. Jason has visited WWII via games before. If you haven’t read/played Grey Ranks before, you should look it up. The game is about the young Polish partisans, and their lives before, during and after the Uprising in 1944. Like Night Witches, it’s a potent game that doesn’t shy away from the emotional trauma of war, within its narrative or mechanically.
4. I played Dread with friends last night (Ryan was running) and I have So Many Thoughts about Dread’s design right now. May dump them into a blog post.
Though I’m rarely one for zombie related media, Spoiler captured my heart a few years ago when it graced the internet with its presence. The short film is a night in the life of a county coroner after humanity has ‘won’ the fight in the zombie apocalypse. It’s a bittersweet, intriguing take on life after the zombie virus has entered our lives.