What’s In My Bag

Usually I don’t carry a purse during the weekend if I can avoid it, but this is what I had in my bag today and what I usually carry to work.

Brown leather Franco Sarto purse purchased in 2003
Small green Clinique makeup case
Victoria’s Secret vegan hand moisturizer (I love this)
Aveda hand moisturizer (has too much fragrance and is irritating to my skin)
Body Shoppe Hand Sanitizer
Wet ‘n’ Wild Glassy Gloss
Bare Minerals foundation
Eco Tools concealer brush
Glasses with case
Forever stamps (under glasses case)
Japanese currency
Target receipt
Kotex tampon (one of the only brands that has a chlorine free formula)
ELF face blotters
Brown leather wallet

What’s in your bag?

How to Find Authentic Bloggers

Hold on to your hats because we’re taking on bloggers: The Phony, The Disdained and The Loved.

Most readers and fellow fashion bloggers value authenticity in the blogs they read. How would you describe blog or blogger authenticity?

Authentic blogs have a voice. I don’t mean an academic or expert voice. An authentic writer will have a style that gives the reader a feel for how he or she speaks. More than anything else, that makes an authentic blog.

When it comes to your blog how to you infuse it with that true or authentic feeling?

Blogging publicly is trial and error. Starting off, I tempered my language to sound like an “expert,” which is exactly what will make a writer sound phony if they are a layman in a subject area. I’ve made an effort to develop my own voice, which is more authentic. I think I’m on my way but with miles to go.

Have you stopped following a blog in the last three months? What made you lose interest?

While I routinely move blogs in and out of my Google Reader, there is one in particular that stood out. Before I begin, it’s important to note that I think Twitter is a powerful tool that can make you love or, unfortunately, dislike a blogger.

I witnessed one blogger tweet in rapid fire making blanket statements about what made her stop reading a blog. For example (and this isn’t what she said, but you get the idea), “I will remove a blog if you post everyday about your cat!” or “I will remove a blog if you post all about Angelina Jolie!” To me, that’s just hurtful. What if those cats are the happiest thing in that blogger’s life? What if they truly love Angelina? Who am I to judge? I found this person’s behavior on Twitter to be rude so I removed her from my feed.

We can’t communicate effectively on our blogs, something we don’t live in real life. What are some ways you try to live an authentic life?

I try to be honest, opinionated and forthright in my life while being polite, kind and compassionate. (Although upon rereading my answer to the question above, you’ll have to be a judge of whether I was unkind or not!) Not always an easy balance to strike! I hope the ideals and traits I cling to shine through my writing, commenting and interactions in the blogging community. However whether they do or not is up to you, not me.

Give a shout-out:Which bloggers do you think are truly genuine and why?

There are many bloggers who are genuine and to pick just a few just wouldn’t be fair (to me especially!). So to every blogger who has said a kind word to me, who has helped me with my blog design, who have held random conversations with me and introduced me to new things–thank you! I find many of you to be genuinely likable people. You can check out my Daily Reads so find out which blogs I read frequently.

What I Read This Week

What caught my eye, made me think and got my blood pressure rising this week.

Sarah Frasca, a professional makeup artist introduced to me by Veshoevius, took on animal testing. The argument boiled down to: Can a cosmetic company like MAC, which does not directly test on animals, be considered cruelty free if they use chemicals testing on animals by external companies?

Daydream Lilly featured a man who writes love lettersto whoever wants one.

This week outfit posts caught my eye, struck my fancy and had me thinking, “I wish I had more style.”

The Button Owl hung out in a field with a whimsical dress and a sparkly vintage shrug.

The Style Activist dressed up for her first day of class.

How I Went Vegetarian

My vegetarian diet has been a point of debate for over a decade. When I was around 11-years-old, I gave up eating meat because I was rebellious. Since then my rebel spirit has transformed me into an animal rights activist. Over the years, many people have confronted me about my vegetarianism.

These conversations aren’t going to get any easier now that I am what one may call “Vegetarian Plus,” a phrase I really have to credit my partner for. After reading about Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet on Leia’s Delights, I decided to purchase the book. The book, like its title says, attempts to promote a healthy diet that doesn’t include products made from animal suffering. While there is some controversy over Silverstone’s veganism, I learned a lot about the horrors and pains animals go through for us to enjoy delicious cheese.

Am I an Addict?

Since I already know that I am lactose intolerant, the prospect of giving up cheese and dairy actually wasn’t all that frightening. Most people I encounter absolutely freak out when I suggest they stop eating cheese is they suspect they are also lactose intolerant. Familiar responses include, “WHAT?! I LOVE CHEESE! I can’t give it up!”

You know why you love cheese? Because it’s like an opiate (source: The Kind Diet)! People are literally addicted to cheese because it is addictive chemically. No wonder why people are so defensive. Knowing this makes me more angry than anything and it has me thinking: Do I like cheese as much as I think I do or am I an addict?

For that reason, I have given up cheese and dairy totally. I have been dairy free for five days during which my stomach has felt a million times better. A vegan friend of mine and a fellow animal rights activist told me that in the first 30 days of quitting dairy, she had more energy than she knew what to do with.

A Fake Vegan

I don’t claim to be a vegan: Just a vegetarian on a mission to live healthily. I’m not going to be crazy about the milk used to make the pizza crust I’m eating. Maybe I should be, but I’m out to prove to myself that I break my addiction to dairy.

6 Ways to Serve Your Community by Volunteering

In the 7th grade, we were asked to write an essay on who was our hero. I remember standing around at the back of the classroom when my friend, an African American girl, asked me who I wrote about. I told her Dr. King was my hero. She looked at me and said, “I wrote about him, too.” That moment has stuck with me for over ten years. To me, that moment for exemplifies the call to serve. That two young women, one white and the other black, could look at the same man and see a hero.

Dr. King gave humanity a call to serve. How will you answer?

King has played an important role from my first interactions with African Americans as a young white girl from a rural white community in Pennsylvania to my courses in college to my years of service with AmeriCorps. Through sharing my experience with service, I hope to inspire you to serve your community.

If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

Excerpt from King’s speech, The Drum Major Instinct delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, on February 4, 1968.

Over the past two and a half, I have served my country through a government sponsored full-time volunteer program called AmeriCorps and have completed over 3,000 hours of service. I knew from a young age that I wanted to serve and briefly considered military service, which I decided against since I consider myself to be a nonviolent person.

Not everyone can or even wants to commit three years to service. I’m not here to say that’s the right path for everyone. But I do believe we can incorporate service into our everyday lives whether it’s holding the door for someone, picking up litter or donating to a charity. Anyone can serve.

6 Ways to Get Started on Volunteering in Your Community

  • Organize a community cleanup with a local non-profit focusing on the environment.
  • Foster animals from an animal shelter.
  • Donate what you can to a cause you care deeply about even if it’s just $5 or $10.
  • Visit the nursing home and hang out with the people who live there. What stories do they have to tell?
  • Tutor and mentor young children through an organization.
  • Speak out against hurtful, racist and homophobic language when you hear it. Change the way people speak negatively about others.

Volunteering Resources

How to Use Paint Brushes as Makeup Brushes

What’s a cheap girl to do when it comes down to dropping $20 on a single MAC brush? Listen, I know they’re the best but I also know I can purchase close to ten (with a discount) paint brushes for makeup application.

This is exactly what I did in September. So what did I learn? Keep reading to find out if it’s worth it to purchase paint brushes to use as makeup brushes.

You can find most of these brushes at your local craft store for under $10. All the brushes were of superior quality and show high durability even after five months of usage. Normally in craft stores paint brushes are categorized by levels ranging from 1 to 3 (beginner to expert). Most of these brushes are considered mid-range or expert paint brushes.

The Good

Works well for: Blush, Bronzer and Contouring
Best with: Powder Based Products

What I like: As you can see by the rubbed off lettering, this is one of my most used brushes. This brush holds a lot of color in its bristles, which is great for people who don’t like a lot of product. When I pick up a fair amount of product, only about half of it makes it to my skin, which works well for building color. This brush is also useful because you can turn it sideways to its most narrow part of the top of the brush and use it to contour your face. Since this brush is so dense, you can easily utilize both sides without mixing colors.

What’s not so good: If you like a lot of blush or bronzer and prefer not to build the color, then this brush may have some shortcomings for you.

Works well for: Corrector, Concealer and Lipstick of Lip Gloss
Best with: Cream Based Products

What I like: This synthetic brush is great for cream based concealers and correctors. It also can function as a lip brush and work with glosses and lipsticks. I primarily use it as a concealer brush and it gives great build-able coverage and blends products well. The product that works best with this brush for me is the Bobbi Brown Corrector. It applies it under my eye absolutely perfect.

Since the bristles are taklon, this brush will not hold a lot of product following application. In other words, what you pick up with the brush goes on your face. You won’t be wasting your product!

What’s not so good: From my experience, this brush works very well with cream based products. If you don’t own a lot of cream products, this won’t be a great brush for you.

The Alright

Works well for: Eyeshadow
Best with: Powder Based Products

What I like: Again, as you can see by the faded lettering, I use this brush for eyeshadow application. This works as a good basic eyeshadow brush.

What’s not so good: Since this is a dense brush made from natural hair, it holds a lot of color. Much like the blush brush above, only half of what the brush picks up ends up on my lids, which makes me feel like I’m wasting my eyeshadow. I wouldn’t recommend this brush, but I can’t say it’s horrible because I do use it often.

Works well for: Eyeshadow
Best with: Powder Based Products

What I like: This brush is great for applying a highlighter color to any part of the lid and brow bone. It’s small enough that you have a lot of control over how much and exactly where the product goes. It also works well for creating a “V” at the outer lid.

What’s not so great: This brush “is what it is.” With very specific purposes it’s not very versatile.

The Useless

Works well for: Eyeshadow
Best with: Powder Based Products

What I like: If I’m in a hurry and want to apply one color to my eye, then this brush is relatively useful.

What I don’t like: I’m not sure why I bought this brush. Its size makes it relatively useless since its as large as my eyelid. To be honest, I don’t often reach for it and can’t imagine I’ll find another purpose for it. I would not recommend purchasing this brush.

Verdict’s Still Out

Works well for: Eyeliner
Best with: Cream and Powder Based Products

What I like: So far this brush does exactly what I bought it for: applying eyeliner. Since I’ve had it for less than a month, it’s hard to say how versatile it is.

What’s not so great: I used this brush to apply liquid eyeliner, which dried very quickly to the bristles. Aside from that, I haven’t had any terrible experiences.

Is It Worth the Dough?

If you’re starting out with makeup, these brushes are a great way to see what tools are most useful to you in your day-to-day makeup application. Of the six, I would recommend the Blush Brush, Concealer Brush and Detailer Brush. For the other brushes, your money is better spent on drugstore brushes of a comparable quality.