Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Susan's Turquoise Collection

This week, I am kicking-off what I am calling "Jewelry Week" with a guest post by my beautiful friend Susan. Susan and I go way back to junior high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We even sang Madonna together on stage at a talent show once (okay, she sang, I croaked). Susan is now living in the San Francisco area working on her Master's at seminary school. While we haven't seen each other in ages, we recently reconnected through the magic of social media. One of the things that I have always been in awe of on Susan's social media feed is her epic collection of Native American jewelry. I recently asked her if she would be willing to share some of her favorite pieces with us and she graciously obliged. So here she is, in her own words. Enjoy the collection!

How I did I get into this? It started when I saw a Native American necklace at a thrift store, and that started my fanaticism with Turquoise, I just love it!!! I was fortunate enough to be able to start a collection very quickly with a couple of credit cards (although this is mostly paid off by now!) 

All of my pieces are Navajo - I just seem to prefer the Navajo pieces to other tribal pieces like the Zuni pieces, because they're bigger and bolder than the Zuni style.

My favorite pieces are the bigger turquoise belt buckle (I always get compliments on it), and the smaller belt buckle. I actually got at a shopping mall from a Muslim vendor who was willing to bargain with me. I couldn't decide between the two of them, so he gave me a good price for both!

I got the earrings from him too, made from Kingman turquoise. My favorite ring is on my middle finger, made from Red Mountain Turquoise (bc of the red in the matrix--It is most likely the same turquoise in the smaller belt buckle), but the vendor really made me pay for it!!! It was worth it, however, because of the size and shape of it. My favorite cuff is on the table on the right hand side. I love the mosaic work of it, and also the color is so crazy blue green. I find that's how I like my turquoise--blue, with some green in it. That color is very soothing and serene to me, like being in the tropics and looking at the water.

 All of these pieces are pre-owned vintage. I love that about these pieces, they have a history! It's unusual, but people pay good money for that quality, the preowned vintage condition (unpolished quality) of these pieces - it's almost like the more tarnished, the more valuable! I often find these pieces looking under "Native American jewelry" on I love Etsy and always seem to find good stuff on there! I never get sick of turquoise and if I can, I look for other pieces. I think the oldest piece I have is (so they said) from the late 20's

I love wearing these pieces - it's like wearable art. Some people collect, but just have it on display, which I would never do, what's the point?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sunscreen Safety

Yes, it has taken me nearly two whole weeks to get around to doing the post I meant to do when I returned from Kefalos on the Greek Island of Kos. And yes, I realise that this is the end of the summer and you are probably not wanting to be thinking about sunscreen, but trust me, you need to think about it. We all do. And until recently, I never realised how much.

This past summer, I spent some time getting to know the Environmental Working Group's Sun Safety Campaign webpage, and had a pretty serious education about the composition of the sunscreens I have been absent-mindedly slathering on my corpus. Despite the fact that I work in a healthcare profession and consider myself pretty well-informed, I came to the realisation that a lot of the things that I had been led to believe were safe products actually appear on the EWG's "Hall of Shame" naughty list. Yes, they have a naughty list, and some of the products on it will surprise you. You are probably using at least two or three of them right now. Naughty you.

Dissecting the finer points of what makes a sunscreen safe is too long a process to go into all in one post, but allow me to direct you to the EWG's 2015 Guide to Safe Sunscreens, where you can learn all about the things that a lot of the mass-marketed chemical sunscreens have in them, like ingredients that can cause organ system toxicity (including hormonal, developmental and reproductive toxicity! I know, right!?), and issues with filtering out UVB radiation without adequately protecting against UVA (a common theme among many mass-marketed chemical sunscreens). Even the old-school, mineral sunscreens that are supposedly the safest are not immune to poorly-conceived ingredients. Among the most prevalent problems with some of these types of sunscreens are nanoparticles. Apparently our advanced technology that has improved cosmetic formulations by leaps and bounds has done so in part by creating these tiny particles that can actually be taken-up into the body via the skin and absorbed, creating all manner of chaos once they build up a presence in the body. Gaaaah!

Armed with this new evidence-based information, I decided that my most recent vacation was going to be one where I road-tested some sunscreens, all of which that had a #1 rating from EWG. All of the sunscreens that I tried were mineral-based, and most are easily found in the USA. Those of us outside of the US may have to work a bit harder to find some of these EWG-rated sunscreens, but if I can do it, anyone can. I am also going to be shamelessly inserting my vacation photos into the narrative here, just because I can.

Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Sunscreen

Usually I like to build-up to the best product, but what the heck. This ultra-gentle mineral sunscreen was the winner of the trip by a long shot. I often buy sunscreen for babies because they tend to forego the heavy perfumes and dyes and keep it simple and gentle. This sunscreen spread incredibly easily for a mineral sunscreen and blended-in better than any mineral-based sunscreen I've ever used. It stayed on well, and left a minimal white cast on the skin. You are always going to get a bit of a cast from a mineral sunscreen, but this one was pretty much undetectable on me, and I have quite medium to olive skin. Especially in the Greek sun. The scent was a lovely natural citrus that dissipates quickly, and even my husband, who is generally not a fan of mineral sunscreens (they stick to all his man hair) really liked this one. They also make a Thinksport version which I aim to try the next time I'm in Florida. I would definitely buy this again. Grade: A++

Babo Botanics Clear Zinc Sportstick Sunscreen SPF 30

I have to say, this one was a bit of a surprise to me. When I uncapped it, I thought I was looking at a big lip balm. The formulation is very shea buttery, exactly like a natural lip balm. Although it says it is unscented, it has a very light, almond-shea-buttery scent, which I actually really like. At first, I was hesitant to use this on my face (its intended location), thinking its heavy emollient quality would clog my pores, but I did it anyway. Not only did I never burn once, my skin was soft and smooth as a baby's butt the entire trip, and I did not break out. This stuff stays on well in the water due to its very emollient nature, but I don't think it would be possible to wear this for intense sport or under makeup - too thick and slippery. However, this is a great portable option for the face if you are going to be in the pool or sea, as it really protects the skin. I really didn't notice a white cast at all, and I even used it on my d├ęcolletage towards the end of the week, with much success. I'd buy it again, yes. Grade: A

Elemental Herbs All Good Sunstick SPF 30

This is really pretty much the exact same formula as the Babo, right down to the "unscented scent". I think maybe the Babo had slightly more glide and was a bit easier to spread, but that might just be because that was the first one I opened and used in the hot weather. Whatever the case may be, this is pretty much an identical product to the Babo, but I'm giving it a B+ instead of an A because of the possible spreadability issue. But really, there is no issue. Everything I said about the Babo applies to this product as well. Grade: B+

All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 Spray

Sadly, the pump did not work on this bottle (a common problem I had read about in the reviews). Because of this, we had to sort of pour it on ourselves, and ended up using way more than we probably would have in one go. The bottle only lasted one day, and one proper application each. This sunscreen spread really well and didn't leave too white a cast, but the thinner formula makes it necessary to reapply more often. To be honest, I think if my pump been working, I may not have put enough of this stuff on to be adequately protected. That said, it worked well, stayed on well, and I would be interested in trying it again. They make a formula in a tube, so maybe next time I'll try that, although I hear the tube version is quite thick and pasty; probably exactly what makes it effective. Grade: B-

Episencial Babytime Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35

This one was my least favourite, although I hasten to add here that it worked well. This one took some pretty vigorous rubbing-in, and despite my efforts, I still had a pretty noticeable white cast about me. I don't mind looking a bit white on the beach, but I always found it funny that after a day at the beach, I would go into the shower one colour and come out tan. This sunscreen is probably the most like one of the old school mineral sunscreens of the bunch that I tried, but it is still far and away better than the chalky stuff of days gone by. I noticed that this sunscreen would gather anywhere you had a bit of dry skin or hair - anywhere that wasn't a perfectly smooth surface. I probably wouldn't buy this one again, but it is effective, and I will use the bottle until it's gone, because that's how I roll. Grade: C

Monday, September 21, 2015

Missoni Knit Dress

I realise that this is the second Missoni thing I have showcased in as many weeks (here's the first). I guess I can declare that officially, it is probably one of my favourite design houses of all time. I love the intricacy involved in how they put together their knit fabrics, the colors they use…and I love how lightweight a lot of the pieces are - even those that are made from wool (perfect for transitional weather and er...unpredictable climates). I especially love that it started out as a family-run textile business in Italy that has managed to keep re-inventing itself to endure decades in the fashion industry; all the while retaining its unique and unmistakable point of view.

This particular specimen is a lightweight knit dress that is about the easiest thing to wear on the planet. You just pull it on over your head and you're done. Easy to layer under things, easy to wear on it's own, easy to love. The fit of this dress to me is the perfect way to do something more form-fitting. It's not skin-tight, but just form fitting enough to be a great day-into-night transition piece that makes it the perfect dress to be lurking with intent under that respectable blazer that you wore to the office today. You know…the one that really should let its hair down more often and have some fun.

Missoni dress, similar / Dune booties (old), similar , similar 14k gold coin earrings (old), similar

This post has been shared with Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish's Turning Heads Tuesday, High Latitude Style

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Perfect Closet


I was recently made aware of a site called Compass; a real estate platform that boasts some seriously glamorous New York properties in their cache. Right from the start, the very first property I clicked on while browsing their site I'm absolutely, 300% certain I've seen as a location in several movies I've seen over the years. I can practically see the script...

The tastefully-lit lobby of a swanky Upper East Side doorman building. A BLONDE WOMAN dressed in head-to-toe Lanvin enters with two perfectly-groomed standard poodles on their leads. The woman makes her way across the lobby towards the elevators, her Manolo Blahnik heels clicking against the marble floors. The concierge smiles and nods at her. She enters the elevator without acknowledging him. 

I suppose I should mention here that I am not receiving any kind of payment from Compass for this post. It's just that gawking at high-end properties simply tickles the recreational real estate voyerism center of my brain, and therefore needs no such incentive. It did however, get me thinking - dreaming even, of closet space. My perfect closet space. Wouldn't we all love to have the opportunity to design a closet so perfect, so very you, that you wold be tempted to never come out, even for meals?

For me, despite the evidence of the above photo, my dream closet is actually a small affair. I mean, look at that picture at the top of the page. There appears to be a juice bar in the closet. Or should I say there appears to be a juice bar in one part of one section of this giant closet complex. You know you have a lot of stuff when your electrolytes get so depleted going through your clothes that you need to have a green juice delivery system at close proximity. But I digress.

I wouldn't need a huuuuge closet to be happy. I've always lived in relatively small spaces, and small fits my needs, as long as it's organised. Basically, my requirements are:  1) that you can walk inside it, so that you are surrounded by all your lovely things, like a big, chic hug, 2) that there is a place to sit down and ponder, try on shoes, or even just sit and read, and 3) that there's real, natural lighting and plenty of mirrors for keepin' it real. None of this underlit, skinny-funhouse-mirror business that you sometimes get in department stores bent on fooling you into thinking you're 31 again. I want to know how my 44 year old rear looks in those jeans, not my 31 year old rear.

I would also like to see some color in there. Apart from the colorful glow coming off of my clothes, that is. Like its owner, my dream closet has an irreverent streak bent on fun, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Why should it?


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The HD Fashionista

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the addition of videos to my blogging repertoire. While I know that there is no shortage of video material out there in the blogosphere, I realised that a lot of the product reviews and other various and sundry things I was struggling to capture in writing would be better served in a visual capacity. Fear not, I am a writer at heart. My video intention is simply to keep things light and fun, if not downright ridiculous. Therefore, let me start by introducing a new series to the blog.

Meet The Drama Queen - a modern-day, 40-something heroine who endures a series of fashion and beauty-related malfunctions in the only way she knows how. I intend this to be a series of short films that serve no other purpose than to (hopefully) entertain you. You can view the videos here on the blog, on my Vimeo channel, or on my YouTube channel.

The Drama Queen: Episode 1 "Moisturizer" from Kristin Buchholz on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Last Gasp

Hello again internet dwellers! My apologies for a slow last week. I had to work quite a lot last week, and spent the remaining time either asleep, wishing I were asleep, or plotting and scheming for the next time I could be asleep. I may actually be sleeping right now. After a while, it gets hard to tell.

It's that time of year when fall is definitely in the air, while summer is still trying its hardest to hang on. For us here in Scotland, summer never really got started, so really it is breathing both its first and its last at the same time. These poor hydrangeas only just came into bloom in the last week, it's been so wet and cold. Look at all that moss. That's an epic amount of moss, even for Scotland. So a first and last gasp for summer then. Basically there's a whole lot of heavy breathing going on here right now.

I almost walked right past this rust (Burnt Sienna? Raw Umber?) Marni top when I originally saw it at TK Maxx. I had one of those moments where I thought that the color wouldn't suit me and my silver-streaked hair, or go with anything in my wardrobe. Fortunately, I came to my senses pretty quickly. When you find a heavy silk Marni top for under £30, you do not walk past it. You also don't listen to that stupid inner voice telling you that something won't suit you without trying it on. Luckily I took my own advice, because this top is super comfy and feels luxurious to wear. I paired it with something that is usually reserved for much colder weather, an equally luxurious camel hair blazer from Ralph Lauren. The blazer (last seen here), has a silk lining, and teamed-up with the silk Marni blouse, there is a whole lot of slippery luxury going on all in and about this look; I'm like a really well-dressed and comfortably posh eel underneath this jacket, and it feels great.

As an homage to the still-warm (sorta) weather, I thought it would be fun to pair these items with something that is still referential to summer, so I chose white skinnies and cork wedge sandals. I like the effect, and I was really surprised how much I like white and camel together, so I will be using this bag of tricks again as the season progresses. Watch this space.

Ralph Lauren camel hair blazer (via eBay), similar / Jag jeans (old), similar / Marni blouse (via TK Maxx), similar / thrifted Franco Sarto wedges, similar / coin ring (old), similar splurge, similar bargain / 14k Byzantine necklace (old), similar

This post has been shared with: Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Not Going Quietly

Okay, full disclosure - last week, my husband and I escaped to the beaches of Greece while the blog ticked away all by itself. Sneaky, right?  More on that later this week. Anyway, we're back now, so don't be mad. Besides, it's me who's mad... I guess this is my official post-vacation whine. It's always going to be a bit depressing going from the vibrant colours of the balmy Mediterranean back to perma-grey, but for some reason, this time I just felt it more. Summer never really took hold this year, and now there is the distinct look and feel of fall in the air.

Retailers too have moved into the new season with disappointing resolve. When we landed back in Scotland, we spent the afternoon walking around in Glasgow before heading back up to the highlands. Naturally, I went and had a look at the offerings in the shops. Just you know…for science.

I have to say that the offerings in the high street shops were pretty uninspiring…and not just because I am in whiny post-vacation mode either. Everywhere you look, everything is black, burgundy, black, camel, grey, and black. Did I say black? There's black. I know black is the fallback choice for a variety of looks, for everything from "edgy" to "safe", but I can't help but feel like it's just a bit of a foregone conclusion. Upon closer inspection,  I've found that even the fall trends are a bit ham-fisted and lacklustre. Black and white, military, fur trimmings, ponchos, seventies folk….it's all been done, and pretty recently at that.

While normally I usually see at least one or two seasonal trends that I feel I might want to incorporate into my fall wardrobe, this season just leaves me feeling stranded.  I feel like the S.S. Fashion Industry has hit the doldrums while sailing through several past seasons worth of flotsam and jetsam. She's just sort of bumping her hull up against past-season bits and bobs that are floating about and waiting to see what sticks. Once she's collected enough all-black looks and ponchos and military jackets and fur handbags, we'll then start the somber floatilla towards winter, probably picking up a gale force 8 wind along the way.

I'm having none of it. I'm not done with color yet, so I'm not going quietly into The Dark Season. That's why I love my Missoni sweaters. I don't have many (they're kinda pricey), but they make me instantly happy, with their zig-zaggy chevrons and space-dyed colors. Okay fine, it's not the vibrant hues the Med, but it's a start.

Missoni sweater (last season), similar / Calvin Klein jeans (old), similar / Calvin Klein pumps (old), similar / glass ring purchased at art fair, similar

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Not Shorts & A Tee Shirt

You guys! We had a hot day! Just one, mind you, but it was like, a really warm day. It was this past Sunday, and I was actually home to enjoy it. It was the kind of day where you only really want to wear shorts and a tank. I am constantly looking for pieces that are as comfortable as your sloppiest shorts and a tank but you would actually not mind being seen in if you got caught out and about.

It just so happened that this sweatshirt material skirt (last seen here, and here) fits the bill. It is also something that I have had for a while, so it was fair game for August's Green Necklace Buy Less Wear More Challenge.

This skirt is so comfortable, I practically have to keep checking to see if I remembered to put my bottoms on. Same goes for the top, which despite the fact that it looks like your basic tank, is actually a very thin silk-knit sleeveless sweater, and it breathes and feels great on - also making me feel as if I may have forgotten to get dressed.

So essentially, this is me naked. Hubba hubba…and all that.

thrifted August Silk tank, (similar) / H&M skirt (old), similar / Target sandals / John Hardy peridot and tsavorite silver and 18k ring / silver and peridot ring (old), similar / Murano glass necklace (old), similar