Great White Snark: March 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random (VICTORIAN!) Product Review

So I hate it when I buy products without reading reviews, because I feel like if I've read the review at least I've done my homework. So here are some reviews of products that have withstood the test of time and been in use, for good reason, for possibly hundreds of years.

Although "the Victorian" only technically lasted from 1837-1901, the late 18th-early 20th centuries get lumped in this category. I don't really mind, but my history major friends might disagree entirely. Anyway, I ADORE this era in history (the 19th century is awesome, particularly in Britain), and some of my favorite cosmetic/toiletry items came about at that time. And I wanted to share some of them with you.

1. Witch Hazel

This is probably my all-time favorite product in this list. It works WONDERS as a facial astringent and is totally acceptable to be used by both sexes. In fact, my dad uses it in place of after-shave. It has a really soothing effect on the skin, deeply cleans pores, and acts as a brilliant facial toner. I use it nightly (mostly because I have the skin of a pubescent 15 year old, but that's beside the point...) and it helps remove the last bit of oil and makeup on my skin before bed. A lot of people complain about the smell, but that's probably my favorite part of it. Although, again, I've grown up smelling it on my dad, so I might be a little partial to it. I love it. It's indescribable apart from "witch hazel" (kind of like, how do you describe how chocolate tastes apart from "chocolatey?"). According to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, it's been in commercial production since the 1870's, and dude, it is definitely one of those things that I think, "THANK GOD someone discovered this!" You can pick it up ANYWHERE (drugstores, grocery, Wal-Mart, etc.) and it usually runs about $1.50. You can get "expensive" witch hazel for like, $3 and it comes in a pretty bottle, but it's no better than the cheap stuff. There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't try it.

2. Rose Water

Like witch hazel, I use this as a facial astringent. It's not quite as deep cleansing as the witch hazel, so I use it a bit less, but it does just feel cleansing, refreshing and wonderful on your skin. Plus the smell is incredible. It has a light scent of roses--nothing overwhelming. My mom has better results with this on her skin than I do, so I think if your skin tends to be a bit drier than oily this might work better. You can also pick up Rose Water with Glycerin, which acts more as a light moisturizer if you have really dry skin. I get mine at Whole Foods, but any organic grocery should have it. If you can't find it there, see if you can find it in an Eastern/Indian grocery. A lot of Indian and Muslim recipes use rose water in place of alcohol for flavoring. Sometimes I dab some on my neck and wrists before bed for a really light rosy scent. I've also mixed rose water, and rose and jasmine essential oils and occasionally spritz my sheets with it. It has about a million uses, and if you're a fan of rose scent, it's totally worth picking up.

Get it here if you can't find it in stores.

Speaking of roses....

3. Smith's Rosebud Salve

Apart from being edible and beautiful to look at, roses have about a million other uses. They tend to be really softening for skin, and Smith's has got making roses into awesome cosmetic products down to a science. Formed in 1895, Smith's has been producing rosebud salve for over a century, and doing an awesome job doing so. You can use it on your skin, but as previously mentioned, my skin needs no extra moisturizing, and rosebud salve would be a really thick moisturizer. If you have dry skin, by all means, try it! I love this for my lips. It smooths out any and all cracks and dry spots, prevents chapping, and helps keep them moist and supple WITHOUT being too thick and greasy. Awesome to use as a lipstick base too, ladies. I also LOVE that they've since come out with one infused with mint! I love mint lip balm. I'm so used to Burt's that it's weird for me to use a mint-less lip balm, and while this still hasn't quite taken Burt's place, it's a very close second. I know Books-A-Million used to sell Smith's, but I'm not sure if they do anymore. If you can't find it, Sephora sells it and again, it's worth picking up.

4. Caswell-Massey Products

I recently picked up a set of Caswell-Massey's Elixir of Love No. 1 bar soaps and OH. MY. WORD. I am enamored with it. The scent is incredible. Caswell-Massey was founded in 1752 (I KNOW, RIGHT????), making it the oldest perfumer in the world that is still up and running, WITH GOOD REASON. My family has always used Caswell-Massey products and I always sort of wrote it off as being too heavily-scented and cloying for my use. I was totally wrong. I adore the Elixir of Love scent. It's equal parts light and floral and flirty, and sexy in a "Oops, I showed my ankle" way. It has a really neat backstory, too, and is based on a Victorian era (mid to late 1800's, I believe) recipe. Heck, if it was cool back then IT'S COOL TO ME. Every ingredient in the fragrance supposedly helps you fall in love. HOW AWESOME IS THAT. From the inside of the box:

"-Jasmine: With buds that open by moonlight. The scent of dreams, imagination, longing.
-Lavender: Like magic it both soothes...and excites...the hearts of men.
-Artemisia absinthium: The ritual symbol of Lovers. Caswell-Massey's time-honored way to add tempting warmth to fragrance.
-Egyptian Musk: a fabled aphrodisiac. Once deemed so precious, only royalty could wield its rosy power.
-Passionflower: The name says it all: Desire bursting forth in all its glory.
Softly blended, they create a beguiling web of scent...The original potion for Love Everlasting."

HOW BADASS IS THAT, YOU GUYS. I can totally imagine Victorian women, in their nine layers of clothes, getting all blushy reading that when they got a box of this as a gift from some admiring gentleman or best friend. AWESOMESAUCE!!!

The soap lathers up into an awesome foam of bubbly goodness and then rinses away super cleanly (enough even for my skin). Each bar is hand-pressed in an antique mold, making the bars themselves miniature works of art. The packaging of CM products is lovely, too. This is the only brand my dad favors instead of witch hazel, and while I always think of it as a more manly scent, my mom adores Caswell-Massey's Sandalwood which has some of my favorite product packaging EVER. They have a lot of lighter smells (Lily of the Valley is nice, Vanilla Orchid is really nice too), and tons for guys (No. 6 was George Washington's fav). Unfortunately, most of their stores have closed, but you can get it at their website. Also, I picked mine up at Stein Mart, so you might check there too to see if you can find and smell it before you buy. I've shopped with the website before and my experience was very professional and expedient. Not sure about their return policy, as I've never returned anything.
If, like me, you get off on the idea of using products used by the likes of George Washington, John Adams, the Kennedy's, Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn and EDGAR ALLAN POE, then definitely try out Caswell-Massey's stuff. It might seem a little old-ish and stuffy, but some of their scents are much lighter. And I think it's incredibly sexy when young people rock "old stuff" in a young, refreshing way. Costly, but soooo worth every penny.

Oh, also. On a semi-related note, since Witch Hazel and Rosewater tend to come in ugly bottles, I made some pretty ones so they look nice sitting on my bathroom counter.

I just bought the bottles at my local craft store, printed up some Victorian product labels, literally TAPED it on there, embellished with ribbon and stickers, and BOOM. Done. :)

That's it! I hope you guys enjoyed it, and let me know if you use or end up using any of this stuff! I'd love to hear about it.

Also, this is just out of my own curiosity, but have any of my gentlemen readers ever shaved with a straight razor? I'm equal parts horrified and fascinated with the idea and just wondered if any of you had ever tried it and how it worked (read: if you came out ALIVE).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your GARDEN grow?

Victory Gardens were grown during World Wars I and II under the pretense that gardening would help extend the life of food rations. Lots of people did garden in the hopes that growing their own food would help out, even in just a small way. Not too sure about that hat that looks like an internal organ (stomach maybe??? Help me out, Beth!), but her gladiator sandals are awesome.

My Mom and I decided to start a garden.

Some genius out there came up with these really cool things. They're trays with little individual sections made of peat. You fill them with soil and drop two seeds in, and then, once they grow big enough, you just tear apart the sections and drop them into the ground. Because they're made of peat, the whole thing can go straight into the ground! No plant-death-by-transplating. Also, you can start them indoors. It's like gardening for the florally challenged, which we are.

We planted the above vegetables (repetition would be obsolete).

Carrot seeds! Look how tiny they are! All the seeds (except beans) were pretty small. I'm kind of baffled how they go from being that tiny to like, a plant. Way to go, God, that was quite clever.

A pouch full of magic beans. :)

So this is what they looked like on Day 1:

And this is what they look like today!

Look how teensy weensy our lettuce is! It boggles my mind that lettuces start out so smallish!

The beans and radishes seem to be doing the best. If these beans keep it up, I may well be able to climb to the castle in the sky to fight the giant and get the Golden Goose. This is my goal.

This is the garden plot we made up in our backyard so that when they're ready, they can go in. The neat thing about the peat tray (well, there are lots, but this is one of them) is that it's re-usable. You just have to buy refill peat pots and then you can go again! I think once these are out, we're gonna try some squashes. Will keep you posted.

We also have some potted plants. They probably won't go into the ground....unless they get epically giant or something. I believe you're looking at a red pepper and a strawberry here.

Also, we got a pineapple. It apparently takes three years for them to go from seed to maturation. I'm not sure how old this one is, but I can pretty much guarantee it won't be until next Spring/Summer before we're able to eat it.

This one is probably my favorite just because it's called a BEEF MASTER tomato. He's just too epic for words. I wish I'd taken a pic when we first got the Beef Master, because he was about half the size he is now. Apparently, radishes, beans and tomatoes do really really well in Florida.

So total: two rows of radishes, carrots, lettuce, beans, red and green peppers, patio and BEEF MASTER tomatoes, strawberries and a pineapple. I'll keep you guys posted as to whether or not the Victory Garden is indeed victorious. If I never mention it again, either assume it's going swimmingly and I'm just being lazy, or that they all died and am too ashamed to admit it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I have no mouth and I must scream.

The bus driver sings in a foreign language, which I know for certain is not Latin, Spanish, French or Italian. Something distinctly foreign, I think, perhaps Jamaican or some other island dialect. There is no music.

He wears worn and faded leather fingerless gloves, looking like a pop star super hero out to fight traffic and safely transport people from point A to point B, taking the whole thing very seriously. On the seat next to him, a briefcase is propped open. Two bright, gaudy images of the Sacred Heart of Christ, saturized in pinks and gold foil, are pasted to the inside of the lid. Behind them, a bald eagle against an American flag and a cut-out of a very nice looking bus. Perhaps an ambition, like, "If I wear these gloves and drive well enough one of these days maybe I'll drive that." What gets me the most is the inordinate amount of pens he has in his briefcase. Well over 20, perhaps even 30. I wonder how much cause to write a bus driver must have over the course of an 8 hour day. "For, there was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery," Pip observed after moving to London. Being a student, I think I have one of the writiest jobs out there, and I only carry four pens with me at a time (due in part, perhaps, to how hard it is to find single, affordable, green ink pens).

The damned machine squeals so loud one can't even hear one's thoughts over the screeching and springing of seats, shocks and tires. The girl across from me silently mouths words from her iPod and I wonder how she can make out the melody over the shrill whining of this brilliant machine. What would happen if we crashed? I doubt the school would care. There are, after all, 54,000 more students with whom to replace the two they'd lose. That's all the bus is. It's a chattle-mover. A squealing, hulking, creaking body-transporter.

As I exit the false bell tower extolls an appallingly electric melody I can't place. Yesterday it was "Scarbourough Faire." They've even removed God from the bell-towers. It's an emotionless observation; I'd rather start the day with Simon & Garfunkel anyway.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sometimes, I miss her so badly it physically hurts.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snark Attack (for your pleasure).

In browsing the web this week, I stumbled across some excellent snark to share with you.

1. An article from The Onion.

2. An awesome piece of snarktacular WIN, courtesy of Failblog.

3. Every movie I've ever seen, and every movie that's ever won an Oscar. I wish I'd thought of this.

4. FINALLY, someone has poked significant fun at those ridiculous feminine product commercials. I've always thought the dancing-on-a-beach-in-white-tulle-skirts thing was a little...sketchy.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, faithful readers. Enjoy it! :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser (only thing going through my head today).

Today was an odd day. Not entirely unpleasant, just...odd.

I can't go into certain details because this is the kind of humor that comes at the expense of others. But broadly:
-I laughed harder in my Survey of Rock Music class today than I have laughed in a long, long time. Laughter hurts so good.
-Charlie Daniels is a badass fiddle player, and there are people out there who will CUT YOU if you dare to disagree (also note: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is only $0.99 on iTunes).
-Awkward lunches are awkward and I am thrilled to be single. I went to the doctor's the other day and he was like, "So, Mary, are you dating?"
*curious look* "And that's...okay?"
"Quite so. Should I medically concerned about chronic singleness?"
*cue laughter* And no, you guys, being single is NOT a disease.
-Good friends are awesome and I suggest you all get one. Preferably ones who laugh too loud, bestow excellent hugs and give you crazy-awesome advice. They're all the rage this season.
-I made a discovery that was both frabjous and...elementary. I found that the Lewis Carroll section is RIGHT NEXT to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle section in the library. It's good to know that, should I ever need to, I can potentially wile away hours reading The Diaries of Lewis Carroll (Volumes 1 AND 2!) and The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook without ever getting up off the floor.

On a semi-serious note, I had this moment today. I'm not sure how to put it without sounding like a cheesy, self-help, self-proclaimed "guru," but it was kind of this moment of getting back in touch with the child-Mary inside. I think we all have a "Little Us" inside and a lot of time we lock them up and tell them to shut up because things like playing dress-up and pretending to defeat pirates will not pay the rent. I didn't do any of those. Rent-paying included.

But I did go to the library to do some research for a paper. I love my major and I love getting lost in the Victorian lit section. Anyway, so, I'm in the library, lipgloss long washed off from eating and laughing, hair in a messy messy bun. No skirts, dresses, or leggings, just jeans and converse. I got all sweaty running up the stairs so I took off my sweater too. It was pretty much basic Mary in a tank top, jeans and glasses. I'd never wear that out of the house, but it was the most comfortable I've been in a long time. I may do it more often.

I had a great time perusing all the rows and getting lost, having to use the step-stools and laughing out loud when I STILL couldn't reach the books, and sitting cross-legged on the floor skimming pages. That's the kind of stuff I used to do and enjoy in third grade and it was refreshing and reassuring to know that I still enjoy it now.

I love dressing up and playing with makeup like I did when I was a kid, and I do it now for the same reason. But it's so easy to get lost in making impressions and doing these things for superficial reasons. I encourage EVERYONE to experiment in fashion, makeup, hair and other forms of aesthetic self-expression. Just don't lose touch with the Little You inside. They like to come out to play sometimes, too.

{PS: I had a dream last night that I was kidnapped by an air-balloon pirate ship. Robert Downey Jr. was the Captain (and Alyssa Milano was the first mate. Wtf, I've never even seen anything with Alyssa Milano in it, but whatever, we were bff's) and we were going to the Island of Puppies. I am so not joking. I wish I was. Floating pirate ships, RDJ, and puppies are apparently my deep, dark, subconscious desires.

Awesomesauce. }

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.

I have no idea, so here's Gangsta Barney singing 50 Cent.

I turned 21 on Wednesday.

Mom decorated everything in PINK and it looked so pretty (and yes, that's a pile of fashion mags. My family knows me well. *_*)

The day started off on an awesome note when my bestie took me to breakfast (complete with a Spiderman balloon. You KNOW you're jealous.).

The weather outside was DIVINE and since we weren't able to make our yearly picnic-on-the-beach this year, my Mom and I decided to take the Winter Park boat tour. I went, I think, when I was like, six, so needless to say I remembered nothing about it. I can't even remember what happened two weeks ago, much less YEARS ago.

A couple pieces of real estate I wouldn't mind owning...

My grandma sent me the most gorgeous pink and white roses...totally made my day. I don't get flowers all that often, but NOTHING brightens a room (or my mood!) quite as much as fresh flowers.

Capped the day off with dinner at Red Lobster (mmm, scallops). I also, instead of traditional birthday cake, opted for chocolate-covered strawberries and Petit Fours. My mom did get a teensy weensy regular cake though, because my grandparents stopped by and when it's someone's birthday, apparently guests expect HARDCORE BIRTHDAY CAKE.

Overall, it was an awesome, beautiful day. I've been really leery of 21 for a LONG time, because there are certain expectations that people (read: society) expect you to uphold on your 21st. For reasons completely of my own (and non-religious, in case you were wondering), I don't drink at all, and so I was all like, "Crap," about being 21 and having to scooch around that issue. Alas, it flew without a hitch and was one of the most decadent, beautiful days I've had in a really, really long time. Thank you to everyone who made it so! You all mean the world to me, and I really appreciate you and everything you say and do.

Monday, March 8, 2010

And now for something completely different.

-Fashion inspired by "Rear Window." If you haven't seen this movie, get off this blog and get to Netflix or Youtube RIGHT NOW.

-I found this analysis of Tribbles vs. Guinea Pigs extremely useful (I almost named Sherman "Tribble," btw). Useful, but mostly amusing.

-Speaking of Sherman, this is one BIG ASS guinea pig.

Also, a humorous bit of UCF Fail for your entertainment (click to enlarge):

That is all.

RDJ does the stuff.

"I think you end up doing the stuff you were supposed to do at the time you were supposed to do it. "

"I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you've done."
-Robert Downey, Jr.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


So I promised Alice in Wonderland sets by the end of this week. I had hoped to have them posted yesterday morning, but alas, midterms had other plans for me. Still, Saturday is technically the last day in the week, so I'm still not entirely late (for a very important date). Without further ado, I present to you...

Mary's Alice in Wonderland Inspired Sets for Both Men and Women!
{Click on any of them for larger view and product details!}

"So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her. There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"...the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on..."

Let's face it. The White Rabbit is definitely a prep. He is obsessed with punctuality and every last detail of his clothing is pressed, primped and laundered. For these looks I focused on a preppier take and pastel colors (because he is, after all, a rabbit) paired with your classic black and white.
Keys to this look: a vest or waistcoat, structured pieces, a timepiece of some kind (guys, you can get a bona fide pocket watch at Wal-Mart for $9. No joke.).

"The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.'Who are you?' said the Caterpillar."

I had wanted to make a few sets exclusively for guys (because you always get the shaft when it comes to fashion), and the Caterpillar was definitely one of them. For inspiration, I looked to a lot of vintage stuff, namely old photos of the band Cream. Stores like Fossil and Lucky Brand
deal a lot with this look, too. Vintage prints (paisley omg) and sunglasses, a hat (just for the hell of it), and some kind of well-worn looking blazer contribute to the toked-up intellectual look. I picture the Caterpillar as the sort of hippie-esque philosophical best friend you have who lives in a loft or basement someplace with a conversation pit.
Keys to this look: Vintage details, bonus points for scarves or ties tied as an ascot

"They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other's neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had `DUM' embroidered on his collar, and the other `DEE.' `I suppose they've each got "TWEEDLE" round at the back of the collar,' she said to herself."

I had absolutely no intention of doing Tweedledee and Tweedledum when I started this project, but in the haze of boredom caused by studying, I churned this out during a 15 minute study break. As you can see, they're identical sets, one for she and one for him.
Keys to this look: Stripes, suspenders, flashes of red, playful details

"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin; but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

I always pictured the Cheshire Cat being equal parts mischevious and helpful. Beneath his grinning exterior, I think he's one of the few people in Wonderland who is willing to help Alice. He also has a vast knowledge of the whimsies of Wonderland, making him a closet intellectual. For these looks, I focused on eccentric details (the crazy headphones, Doc Martens, etc.). The Cat is, after all, mad.
Keys to this look: Bonus points for stripes, eccentric details and accessories, a smile.

Okay, so I did two Alice sets. One is casual, and one has dresses. Also, I'm sorry, Gentlemen, but the Alice and Red Queen sets are just for the ladies. I didn't think any of you would prefer to run about in robin's egg blue or crimson dresses.

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

This is the more casual Alice set, for you ladies who detest wearing skirts and heels (notice that I was so kind as to give you flat-heeled options...I despise heels too!). The left and middle outfits are directly influenced by Burton's portrayal of Alice, with the drapier, flowier fabrics. The gray jacket in the middle is so epic I couldn't leave it out, and it lends a whimsical feel to just about anything you put it with. I also LOVE the "Drink Me" necklace. :)

These are your more canon Alice looks with light blue dresses (white tights optional). For a more Burtony feel, I chose the middle dress with the differing shades of blue, and adding stripes to just about anything makes it feel more like Tim! I also love the idea of pairing something really simple and feminine with something more edgy like striped tights, so go for it if you feel so inclined!
Keys to this look: pairing feminine details with more gothic/edgy ones, anything in shades of blue, Wonderland-esque accessorising, imagination

"Who's been painting my roses red? WHO'S BEEN PAINTING MY ROSES RED? Who dares to taint with vulgar paint the royal flower bed? For painting my roses red someone will lose his head!"

I had two really distinct visions for the Red Queen in my head. One was definitely the more edgy, gothic, horrifying "OFF WITH HER HEAD" queen. And the other was a more feminine, regal, heartsy queen. Instead of trying to blend them into one look, I decided to keep them separate. Obviously there's lots of red, and the recurring theme of hearts in both looks. I guess it just depends on what kind of girl you are, or how you're feeling on this particular day. ;)
Keys to this look: Red, heart and playing card accessories, confidence

"`Your hair wants cutting,' said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
`You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; `it's very rude.'
The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

Ahh, my favorite (except, perhaps, the Caterpillar). My most sincere apologies to the gentlemen for the sheer and utter lack of creativity. There is a disturbing shortage of clothing for you which has any sort of print, pattern, color or excitement to it. I did the best I could. The Mad Hatter's look is great, because it's completely dependent upon whoever wears it. This is the time to experiment with mixing prints, odd silhouettes, different proportions, anything crazy and unorthodox! I think a blazer is almost necessary to this look, and that's the place you want to go mad. For the ladies I chose a floral print and a polka dot jacket with a BOW. Gentlemen, again, the utter lack of creativity on behalf of the mass marketers when it comes to blazers is deplorable. But you do have some stellar accessories, which is why I chose a couple of interesting scarves (my favorite is the floral print! I do not think this is a girls-only thing, but not every guy wants to wear florals, so I included stripes. Again.). And the one necessity to the Mad Hatter's look is a HAT. There are some great options out there right now for ladies and gents, and don't think that there are certain people who can't wear hats. I think you can wear anything if you have the confidence to pull it off.
Keys to this look: A HAT, interesting or mixed prints, bow details, scarves, anything zany

I hope you all enjoyed this! It was intense putting it all together, but I'm glad I pulled it off. And I had a blast. I've always loved Alice in Wonderland, and now it's coming into the lime-light, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Even though I am a little sad about commercialization and all that, but I trust it all because it's Tim Burton. Anyone else and I'd probably be put out.
Hopefully my work above has put you in a brillig state of mind to create something beamish and outgrabe!