Blogger Appreciation Month Week 3 - Joanna Goddard: Products

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Joanna Goddard who writes A Cup Of Jo. Over time, I've picked up more than one great recommendation from Ms. Goddard. Most notably, two great sunscreens - one from Josie Maran (which we use on ourselves and the kiddo) and one that's somewhat less pricey from Say Yes To Cucumbers which has been great for the kiddo and which comes in stick form (super convenient for getting it on his face but not in his eyes).

So, I thought today I'd share with you my five favorite cosmetic products:

1. Tarte BB Cream.

20130717-113913.jpg This stuff has changed my life. Worn alone with a little (tinted or not) lip gloss, I'm all of a sudden way more pulled together and "adult" than I was the 45 seconds before I rubbed it all over my face. Bonus: it does nice things for my skin while I'm wearing it!

2. Cocoa Butter Lip Care Stick from the Body Shop.

20130717-113958.jpg This is what Chapstick wishes it could be: it's thick enough to make an impact when your lips are feeling chapped but it's great as a gloss when your lips are in great shape too, it's never sticky, and it tastes great. I wear it alone all the time, but even days I want to be more made up, I use a lip pencil all over my lips an then this on top.

3. Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Tone Correcting Eye Cream

20130717-114253.jpg A couple of years ago, Consumer Reports did a study of a bunch of anti-aging creams and found that Oil of Olay's products were the only ones that really lived up to their claims. Also, putting this on immediately makes me look brighter and more awake.

4. Frederick Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream.

20130717-114044.jpg My hair used to be stick straight and, since I've had my son some of it has turned wavy. So, I can't vouch for this on super curly hair but it's pretty amazing on everything short of ringletts. Picture this: you fix your hair. It looks good. You rub a pea sized dollop in your hands and then work it through your hair and - BAM! - now you look like some professional hair person did your hair. I bullied my friend Sarah into trying it just the other day and she was instantly won over - it could have been a commercial.

5. Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System

20130717-114528.jpg Okay. I don't have the Mia. I have an old version that you can't get anymore but if I were buying one today, it'd be the Mia. I also have a Clarisonic toothbrush and I feel like the company's products are excellent in general. The "skin cleansing system" does a great job of gently but thoroughly cleaning my face and helping keep my skin nice - a lot nicer than before I had the Clarisonic.

As you can probably tell, I'm not so much a "makeup" person as a "try to keep my hair and skin looking nice without too much makeup" person. But I think what's great about that is that, when you (or I) want to add makeup on top, it's even easier and prettier.

Leave a comment with your favorite product. Or try one of mine and let me know how you like it!

Blogger Appreciation Month Week 3 - Joanna Goddard: An Introduction

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Joanna Goddard who writes A Cup Of Jo.
20130715-155911.jpg Ms. Goddard is a delightful blogger and I always look forward to seeing her posts come up in my reader. What are the things that I love about A Cup Of Jo? I'm glad you asked.

    - The excellent use of images in every post. They add energy and, in longer posts, I feel they really compliment the sense of pacing in the writing.

    - The writing style. Ms. Goddard writes in a way that, to me, feels honest and open and very specifically personal to her and her experience. The result is her repeated ability to touch on not-so-easy topics in a way that's meaningful and graceful.

    - The kiddo posts - from advice to recommendations to super-cute stories about her son* - her blogs about parenting are always great. (I love this one.)

    - The recommendations - Recipes! Gear! Gift Guides! Outings! Shoes, Shoes and more Shoes! If she's recommending it, chances are pretty good I'm putting it on some Pinterest board for later.

    - The Friday link-a-paloozas! These are like blog-candy: every Friday, Ms. Goddard posts a bunch of links to all kinds of awesome and interesting stuff around the web. Sometimes I save this post in my feed 'till I really have time to explore all the links - it's such a treat!

This Friday I'm going to try to post my own super-link-fest here. If you have a favorite internet thing, post it in the comments! Maybe it'll make the list.

*Ms. Goddard recently gave birth to a baby boy! Congratulations to her and her whole family!!

Blogger Appreciation Month Week 2 - Maggie Mason: Life List

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Maggie Mason who writes MightyGirl. A major through-line of Maggie Mason's internet presence is the idea of a Life List. She made her own . . . I'm not sure when, but years ago. Then she started to spread her idea. She created Mighty Summit and then Camp Mighty - small and larger scale retreats, both designed to help people fulfill their Life Lists. Most recently she founded Go Mighty - a whole company devoted to using Life Lists to help people better themselves and their worlds/communities.

All along, I've been like "Life List. That's cool. Not my thing." As an actor in NYC, I've generally felt that my career goals - and the interim steps to achieve them - were my life list. And, when it comes down to it, I don't have 100, I have one: to be a working, NYC-based actor who fully supports herself as an artist. That would be huge.

Still, this week is all about Ms. Mason so I've been gearing up to take my own stab at a Life List. I went back and read hers, I've poked around Go Mighty a bit more than I had before and a funny thing has been happening: as I've been reading and thinking this time around, the whole Life List thing feels a lot less "not my thing" than it did before. Maybe it's having a kid and not having the freedom to do whatever whenever anymore that's all of a sudden bringing me around to the idea? Or just the general (and generally different) perspective I have now versus the one I had then.

Life Lists and I still aren't running towards each other across a field with open arms but I'm feeling much more ready to take a stab. Here goes:

1. Return to dine at Chez Marcel. 2. Sleep in a fancy grown-up tree-house. 3. Visit Greece to see the birthplace of modern drama. 4. Make awesome Halloween costumes for my kiddo every year 'till he's too old. 5. Become a better sewer so that I can make (simple) pieces of clothing. 6. Finish my play; have a reading. 7. Take a bike vacation with the kiddo. 8. Take my mom on vacation for Mother's Day in 2014 (Bermuda?!). 9. Produce the web series. 10. Visit New Orleans and eat all of the things. 11. Attend a clam bake on the beach. 12. Have an oyster party where I get a bunch of oysters and shuck them and then we eat them with delicious cocktails. 13. Become an Intermediate Ukulele player. 14. Own an ice cream maker and make my own. 15. Perform the role of "Dotty" in Stoppard's Jumpers 16. Visit India 17. Make delicious Floating Island. 18. Go curling (ideally in Canada). 19. Get serious about Badminton. 20. Have a professional encounter with Jon Stewart. 21. Visit the Sol Lewitt walls at MassMOCA 22. Go back to Hawaii and become a solid "beginner" surfer. 23. Have a spritz in Venice. 24. Take a vacation with my husband and son AND a bunch of other friends. 25. Smile for a photo without feeling badly about my teeth.

Phew. That was hard. But also fun. Take a stab at making your own Life List and link to it in the comments so we can all see!

Blogger Appreciation Month Week 2 - Maggie Mason: Manic Pixie Dream Blogger?

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Maggie Mason who writes MightyGirl. Here's a pro-tip from me to you: don't vacuum your computer with the regular vacuum, even if you're using the fuzzy attachment on the end of the hose attachment thing.

20130712-203311.jpg Here's another pro-tip: When you need to fish something important out of a vacuum bag (a number 3 computer key, perhaps) use disposable wooden chopsticks. They prevent your dunking your hands in dirt and yuck and you can just throw them out after.

So why was I vacuuming my computer? Because the corner of my home - behind the sofa in the living room - that counts as my "office" has been having a bug problem. Teeny tiny little grey bugs. I first noticed them because I'd be sitting there working at my computer and feel a tickle - "what's this little bug on my hand? Oh, look, more on the computer." I'd squish them and move on. But earlier this week it became clear that the bug situation was escalating so today, I found myself standing in Bug Corner, as it is now known, trying to suck up all the little jerks.

And during all of this - indeed, all week - I've been thinking about Maggie Mason. How could I honor and appreciate her here? And, truly, her writing has made me such a better blogger than I would otherwise be (which is not to say there isn't still some room to grow).

Suddenly I remembered that Maggie Mason once had a bug problem! And she had great advice about how to clean a computer (much more specific than mine above). That made me remember her homemade salad bar (so clever!) and snack dinner (Number 2 in this post but read the rest of it too; I think about number 5 a lot).

As I thought back on so many great posts, I think what makes them all so great is that Ms. Mason shows a lot more than she tells. When she writes about her bug freak-out, she doesn't explain that she was freaked out and analyze the many ways and reasons that's the case, she just freaks out in writing and we get it. Of course that's a generalization and there are times that some explanation is called for (and even then, I think she has a nicely light touch). Still, I think this is why it's been so hard to find ways to blog "in homage" to her - she's just a good writer writing about her life. If I can manage to be a good writer writing about my life, it won't look like an homage to anyone (I don't think), but we can all know that Maggie Mason had a hand in the matter.

Blogger Appreciation Month Week 2 - Maggie Mason: An Adventure!

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Maggie Mason who writes MightyGirl. Blogging in homage to Maggie Mason is daunting. So often she's blogging about all of the dynamic and exciting things she's been doing. She's creating cocktails. She's traveling places and taking photos not just of where she is, but of the genius items she packed for maximum fashion and minimum baggage.

As I was trying to think of what I could share with you that would at least be in the vein of MightyGirl, I remembered a super-fun adventure I had with my friend Rob not so long ago.

Via Tasting Table (if you don't know about it, check it out), Rob and I signed up for a class to learn how to make classic cocktails. The class was taught by Simon Ford who was amazing - a charming font of cocktail knowledge both culinary and historic - and the Tasting Table folks provided amazing snacks to keep us from falling over too quickly from all of our . . . ahem . . . studies.

Here I am paying close attention to Simon early on:


Here's Me and Rob about half-way through enjoying some old-fashioneds:


I learned a lot in the class but the thing I've used most, is this recipe for a Classic Rum Daiquiri: 2 oz Rum 1 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice 1 oz Simple Syrup (or to taste) Place ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a glass.

Who knew that THAT was a Daiquiri? Not I! It scratches the cocktail itch and comes together in a beautifully breezy way. Try it!

Blogger Appreciation Month Week 2 - Maggie Mason: An Introduction

This month I’m appreciating a handful of bloggers I love and admire. This week, I'm looking at Maggie Mason who writes MightyGirl. I wanted to link to the first post on MightyGirl that I ever read, but I can't find it. This was years ago - before gmail and so certainly before google reader (and its subsequent and tragic demise). It's too bad you can't read it in its original form but here's how I remember it: Ms. Mason was in the park and she saw a little girl playing with a plastic bag (that used to hold some sort of bread, I seem to remember) and the little girl is overheard saying "Bag, I love you." BAM! I was hooked and I've been reading her - and randomly saying "Bag, I love you" as my own personal inside joke - ever since.

As I've thought about how I would introduce and appreciate Ms. Mason (who would probably appreciate many things more than these blog posts) I've begun to wonder if choosing her to point out isn't a bit like saying "Have you heard of this guy VanGough? He's quite a good painter" or "Allow me to bring the cuteness of puppies to your attention."

Blogger neophyte that I am, I charge ahead nonetheless. By contrast, Ms. Mason has literally written a (if not THE) book on blogging (which I own). She also created (and later sold) a suite of other Mighty-branded sites: MightyGoods, MightyHaus, and MightyJunior. I've read along as she created her own life list (more on this later) and then her own camp, conference and company centered on the life list idea. I can't even . . . there's so much more. Please just read her very impressive bio here.

The bottom line is, I've been reading Ms. Mason longer than I've been reading any other blogger and it has been exciting and impressive to watch as her accomplishments have racked up over the years. Her content is great, her writing is really fun and she sets the bar really high for what it is to be good at this blogging thing.

July is Blogger Appreciation Month (on my blog)!

I've been reading blogs for a long time and blogging consistently for hardly any time at all, relatively speaking. As I've been blogging more often I've found two things:1. The more I blog, the easier it is to blog - ideas come more readily and posts are written more easily when less time passes between posts. (This is not dissimilar to what I've found writing short plays for Too Much Light . . .) 2. I frequently have the impulse to employ the styles and devices of my favorite bloggers. Generally I resist this impulse - those ladies (they all happen to be ladies) have worked hard to establish their voices and grow their audiences and success, who am I to come along and pluck up their gems for my own gain? - BUT for the month of July I'm going to go the other way.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This month, I'll be highlighting my favorite blogs - and the ones which have the greatest influence on my own style - both by pointing you to some favorite posts and by creating my own posts in homage to each blogger.

Leave a comment and let me know which are YOUR favorite and/or most influential blogs!*

*See what I did there with the "leave a comment" thing? Tons of other bloggers do that all the time which, in turn, makes me feel self-conscious doing it myself. But I really do want to know what you think! So I'm claiming "leave a comment" as my own from now on. :)