Weekend Links: No One Else Was in the Room Where it Happened

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” 
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Guys, it’s my last officially day of holiday (weekends are just lovely bonuses) so I’m dropping the links post early. I’m spending the day reading, writing, and generally goofing off.

My second week of holiday did not include a glamorous vacation, but it DID include fantastic calls and chats with friends, some insanely good vintage shopping, a bit of a health reset, and general errand running. It’s been a very good break. Let’s catch up on the week that was together, shall we?

Even by 2018 standards, this week’s political news was nuts. In one week, President Trump destabalized the NATO alliance, trashed and undermined a key ally, legitimized and supported an adversarial leader, and disputed the analysis of his entire intelligence community on the world stage. The statements at the joint press conference in Helsinki were so bad that his team had to spend a day in the Situation Room to develop a media clean up operation and the best they could come up with was the claim that the president misspoke…a claim which he managed to bungle further by ad libbing statements that basically mirrored the ones that got him in hot water in the first place.

I’m completely unsure what to say about this week’s political news that isn’t uselessly “shouty.” I don’t expect to be able to convince anyone who thinks the administration’s sloppy summit, sloppy attempts clean up, and internal consistency problems are acceptable that they aren’t. that ship has sailed. But if some of the more extreme parts of the internet are already road testing the idea that “it’s fine for Russia to have interfered because a democratically elected opponent who I disagree with would have been worse,” then I genuinely fear for the next few years of the country.

The tacit agreement between Mr. Trump and the GOP (they wink at his outrageous behavior and probable personal enrichment in exchange for getting their legislation signed) has worked domestically. It’s breaking down spectacularly internationally. At some point, they will have to make a call as to whether or not this bargain continues to be worth it. Conscious tool, or useful idiot doesn’t matter if both options are awful for the country.

The July 17th episode of The Weeds is fairly measured and thoughtful discussion on the wider situation with the President and Russia, and what the actual range of potential issues are ranging from outright kompromat to the (far more probably and likely) that both parties have kind of ended up in this situation through a years’ long series of events and relationships that neither party dreamed would end up where it has.

Out of curiosity, how dumb does does the White House think the rest of the world is? It is absurd to say that the president misspoke one word in one line and take that explanation at face value, when he’s been parroting the same lines for years at rallies, in interviews, at (rare) press conferences, and across his Twitter feed. Here, the NPR Politics desk breaks this story down.

Finally, the New York Times published a pretty amazing article claiming that the president was briefed on the intricacies of the Russian operation to spread disinformation well before his inauguration, and also claiming information from sources connected to the Russian president himself. Which makes Mr. Trump’s continued muddying even stranger and frankly suspect. Here’s the thing, since the beginning of this investigation, I haven’t thought it likely that Mr. Trump ordered “collusion” or cooperation with foreign governments during the election (I believe his business ties to Russian oligarchs are of far more interest and a potential source of opinion influsence). I think it’s far more likely that people around him may have done so more blatantly, the question being was Mr. Trump aware of it and to what extent. But he certainly makes things worse for himself at almost every turn. He’s made the Mueller investigation personal when its remit is Russian interference in the election and not Mr. Trump; if he stopped tweeting about it, it wouldn’t get nearly as much airtime. He goes on stage and flatters the dictator who his own intelligence community says is waging information warfare. He flounders his own half-hearted corrections. He has connected the idea of his presidency being legitimate to Russian interference. He’s a walking self created crisis.

I love Gillian Flynn.

There is a lot of ugliness in the world

UNLESS.

With my past work in the property industry, I am fascinating by reporting into this aspect of the Trump Organization. What property it’s bought, how, and with whose money. This piece on his investment in the Turnberry golf property is particularly interesting for all of those reasons.

I am very curious to follow this pilot project, as there is very interesting research about there about the positives and negatives about this concept. It’s one I support in theory but want some real world evidence on.

A deep dive into the decision by the Obama administration to not make a bigger deal, either internally or internationally, of presumed election interference. Interesting that they use the same excuse as Mr. Comey: the best of the bad options. In both instances, I’m not sure I agree.

This bonkers story dropped the same day as the bonkers news conference in Helsinki. Bonkers. The official paperwork.

Royal watchers have a jewel-based theory about the Queen’s inner workings on Mr. Trump’s recent visit. It’s an entertaining thread if nothing else.

In related news, oh please, you narcissistic windbag.

British politicians aren’t in the clear here. I present you this story of “things getting out of hand.”

They fill the stage and that’s not even all of them. Their bravery is inspiring.

Taking Time

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

I am bad about this to the point of commentary from my colleagues who point out when I have not taken a holiday, especially in periods of high stress and hectic projects and encourage me to book my next holiday. It’s a very strange, but very nice thing to be encouraged by bosses to take time off regularly–it’s antithetical to the American work culture (according to Forbesless than a quarter of Americans take all of their available vacation, and I KNOW I am personally one of them).

Time off is built into British work life and I’ve had the experience of bosses policing my requests–not because I was asking for too much time off, but because they thought I wasn’t asking for enough. It is assumed that regularly scheduled holidays, even a three day weekend every couple of months or so, keeps workers more balanced and productive. I have been amazed to observe how holiday time is respected. On one occasion, early in my British working life, I checked my work phone for emails on a day off, saw that an urgent request had come through and immediately responded. The recipient thanked me and then scolded me for breaking my holiday to provide him with something he himself had stated was important, and forbade me from responding to anything else until I was back in the office. This was astounding and confusing to me!

I’m a big believer in time off. But I’m also a badly inconsistent practitioner.

Over the past year I’ve been working on a contract that’s been deeply interesting and rewarding. The work is challenging, the people are nice, the location is great, and there’s a lot to do (which is something my hyper personality requires). But it’s also been a hectic year with constant surprises and challenges, with a stream of unexpected projects and short deadlines. Because I was running a small team, I genuinely was afraid that if I took time off, I’d be responsible for balls dropping or delays, or…oh I don’t know. I had a vague sense of dread about being out of office that I couldn’t shake.

At a certain level this is fundamentally egotistical. The world spins on without you, and it’s important to be reminded of this fact.

Paradoxically, my feelings were also mixed with a sense of Imposter Syndrome because…the world spins on without you. Because I was managing a big contract and wanted so badly to do a good job, I think a part of me was strangely afraid that people would cope without me in a crisis, and what would that mean? Also, please note, fundamentally egotistical.

Last September Jeff and I spent a week in Greece and it was one of the most relaxing and restorative breaks I’ve ever taken in my life. It may be a silly thing to say about a fairly standard holiday, but it felt like a profound experience at the time. I needed it badly, felt great after I got back, and the sense of refreshment stayed with me a long time. When I was back in London I was emotional balanced, better at my work, and much better equipped to handle the flow of projects. We were in our 30s and this was the first holiday Jeff and I had ever taken that didn’t involve family or friends of some kind. There was no agenda, no purpose to the trip except to press pause on life for a moment and the positive effect of doing so was intense.

And then, like an idiot, I waited nearly a year to take significant time off again. It showed. I was getting anxious and overwhelmed by things that would not have phased me in a more rested state. I had to expend more energy to focus and concentrate than I needed to. My anxiety was ratcheting up.
“I think…I need a holiday,” I mentioned tentatively to a coworker during a coffee break.
“YES, YOU ARE LONG OVERDUE,” was her disconcertingly swift and loud response.

Et voila. I booked two weeks off and we went to Prague for one of them. Ironically Jeff was summoned back to work this week due to some crises but we’re now looking at what mini breaks we can take through the rest of the year to get in the travel that we have been reminded we desperately need and thoroughly enjoy. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the surprisingly great summer weather, wandering through my favorite neighborhoods, and indulging in some vintage scouting. I’ve still be checking my work phone more than I should, but I’ve

There will always be a crisis you don’t expect, there will always be an unanticipated hiccup that your coworkers will need to deal with. They will. And your work will still be waiting for you when you get back. The world spins on, after all.

 

13 By Halloween Panning Challenge

“Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping.” 
― Oscar Wilde

The beauty community (blogs, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) sometimes collaborates on panning challenges where participants select items to use up in a designated period. While not a beauty blogger in the slightest, I caught wind of the latest of these online and decided to unofficially participate as a way to make me use items in my beauty arsenal–mostly for the weird and wonderful pleasure of adding them to my empties pile. And so, behold my assembled victims for the next 3.5 months:

Some of these are easy wins, but I want to motivate myself to finish them up to be able to move on to products I like more. I’ve opened up the tubs so you can see how much of the skincare items I have left to use, and that tube of No7 cleanser is at least half empty already. Both the Lush Sleepy lotion and Kiehl’s Facial Cream are about 75% done each and are gorgeous products in their own right and part of the reason I want to use them up is for the pleasure of probably repurchasing them again.

Sunscreen is a tricky item because almost all of them are inelegant and hard to use with makeup, or leave a highly noticeable white cast. My favorite sunscreen is still by Thank You Farmer (which I first profiled a year ago) and which I still highly, highly recommend. Even Jeff tries to swipe it when I bug him about wearing sunscreen. This Etude House sunscreen is at least 80% used up, but it’s not my favorite SPF product because unless my skin is very well hydrated and I’m able to spend some time on my makeup, it looks chalky and plaster-y on my face. In other words, while very effective as SPF, it’s not the easiest to use product. However, for weekends spent mostly at home, working out, or just general running errands when I’m out in the sun, it’s perfectly serviceable. The best way I’ve found to use it is as a touch up product or at the end of the day when I try to walk home from work (which takes at least an hour and in the summer is in direct sunlight). This tutorial and the corresponding items like a DIY cushion compact are brilliant for this.

A couple more skincare in profile, products from The Ordinary which I’d also like to use up: the Caffeine Solution for eyes and their Rosehip Oil. I’m not sure about the effectiveness of the first, but that’s because I’ve not really used it consistently enough to give a good review, hence it’s inclusion in this project. The second is included to get better use out of my oil products in general, which I love and which are effective, but I am often too lazy to use properly, in terms of working it into my skin and layering with other products to avoid mess and maximize results.

Make up is a lot more fun to use up but is so difficult to do. There is almost nothing more satisfying to me than a completely empty lipstick tube because it happens so rarely–not because I don’t wear lipstick (as you all know very well), but because I have so bloody much of it.

To that end, I’ve been ambitious and picked three well loved lip products to try and finish up entirely in the next three or so months. You can see below how much of each I have left to go. I’ve also decided to try and use up, or at least use a significant chunk of, my Glossier concealer which is already pretty well loved. I’ve picked one of my many perfume samples to use up, this one is a heavy rose scent which isn’t my favorite, but if you can’t wear floral scents through the height of summer, then what is the point? Ditto for my Body Shop bronzer which has seen service in the wars, if its appearance is anything to go by. I’d like to at least hit pan on this product by Halloween if I can–I think committing to use it up entirely isn’t remotely feasible. Whenever I see women use up powders or bronzers in a matter of months I always want to shake them and demand how it’s physically possible.

I love this foundation (originally recommended by X) but I’ve owned it for a couple of years now and need to use it up before it goes off. A badly shot close up for your delectation:

Ultimately makeup is a perishable good, which is the point of these kinds of self challenges. I genuinely don’t understand people who hoard it past the point of expiration; it’s a waste of resources and prevents you from getting enjoyment out of a product you probably paid good money for. Part of my challenge in not buying makeup this year (which I’ve already transgressed like the weak willed creature I am) is about remembering that owning things is futile if you don’t use them.

Over the years I’ve bought items that I’ve loved but have been frightened to use (what if I damage/ruin it?!) or have tried stupidly to conserve (what if I run out?!). This is useless. Both options are pretty well inevitable so you may as well love what you own and learn to be more selective about what you spend your money on.

Weekend Links

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

We’re back from Prague and what a joy it was to have a break from the news…but what a week it was. Between threatening the NATO alliance, praising the NATO alliance, trashing the British Prime Minister in an exclusive interview to a tabloid, being unwilling to answer questions about that interview when he visited the PM’s house the next day and walking back his statements, and messing up protocol when visiting the Queen….President Trump…honestly, he met my expectations. All of this bullshit and nonsense is absolutely par for the course. Can you image Prime Minister May touching down in the US and criticizing the President’s trade war with China from a podium in the Rose Garden, while opining that Speaker Ryan (or for the sake of argument, Secretary Clinton) really would have been a preferable president? No, because that would be INSANE.

The curve this man is graded on continues to astound me. I take refuge in the protests to confirm that not everyone is letting him get away with it.

Meanwhile we have a Supreme Court nomination who cut his teeth in the Ken Starr investigations and has some interesting ideas about how presidents can or cannot be held legally accountable while in office, former FBI agent Peter Strzok gave the most full throated rebuttal of the Deep State conspiracy theorist trash of anyone actually in or formerly in the government (which is sad and which I think is part of the reason that the oversight committee has not, at least at time of writing, asked the other party in the Sexting Scandal Lisa Page to testify publicly), and the Mueller investigation just handed down more indictments and have now formally laid out specifically how the Russian government took action to attempt to affect the 2016 elections (the documents are worth reading). And finally, the president once again used racist and enthno-nationalist dog whistles throughout.

And England lost their World Cup match. UGH.

Happy weekend!

So, it’s going well, then?

Going super well!

Sometimes I ponder how much power Senator McConnell has wielded and to what ends, and I want to punch something. Then I donate to a cause a I care about and encourage people to register to vote and feel a tiny little bit better.

A bit of statistical analysis on the president’s statements over the past two years, given his recent running off at the mouth.

Sali Hughes and Caitlin Moran talk life, writing, beauty products, and the need for a wide range of girls’ story being told in fiction in Sali’s brilliant In the Bathroom series. Part 1. Part 2.

If you know anything about the relationship between American Evangelical and Mormon communities, this is incredibly funny.

Oh Henry Cavill, I want to root for you and then you shoot off at the mouth like this

Ooh, poisonous books?!

This unexpected benefit of Britain’s heat wave delights me!

Whatever you opinion on the actual subject, Brexit arrangements are a trainwreck in slow motion.

Later the same day, holy shit. This is a bloodbath as politicians scramble to not be holding the hot potato when it hits, to mix my metaphors.

As a military brat with three generations of military service in my family, this enrages me and should enrage more of us.

More diversity in romance novels, thanks!

I appreciate the gesture, but there are also a lot of much more recent killings of black men and women who deserve additional resources and attention. This murder was a landmark event in American society and is one of the sparks of the organized Civil Rights movement and deserves an ending…but so do many more ordinary men and women. Black Lives Matter turns five this week, by the way.

Oh Roger Stone…always saying the quiet parts loudly.

A nice archaeology story to break things up a bit.

Maddening. Maddening and bad.

Were we asking for this, friends? I’m unsure.

Yes, I definitely struggle with this concept more than I should or want to.

“The erosion of the division between public and private has been coming for a while now.” If you’ve been following the gross “Planebae” story and it’s aftermath, this piece is required reading about the scary new reality where everyone, everywhere is a public figure now, and what the consequences of that may be.

To say that I’m crushing on Alex Ohanian and Gareth Southgate of late would be colossal understatements. Positive masculinity role models for all!

And finally, 50,000 people were expected to protest Donald Trump’s visit to the UK. According to the Evening Standard, 250,000 showed up.

Let’s end with a good news story:

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Empties!

“There are no ugly women, only lazy ones” 
― Helena Rubinstein

My nosy love of these kinds of posts and videos continues unabated and so, in the interest of science, I’ve been hoarding items since November (just after I posted my last bathroom shelf tell all) to see what I kept using and coming back to. And also because I’m keeping track of the beauty items I use up in a calendar year because I am a ridiculous woman who loves nothing more than keeping lists. Leave me my weird pleasures without judgement.

I keep all my empties in a couple of bags under a bathroom sink so I had no idea how much stuff we were dealing with until I upended them on the coffee table for the purposes of documentation.

Here’s the grand total. Good lord.

Let’s break this down into more helpful batches, shall we?

I’m absolutely positive that I’m missing bottles of this category but say hello to the bath and body care we’ve made it through in the past few months. I love baths but it’s been sweltering hot for weeks now and I haven’t had a hot soak since about April. Otherwise, in spite of evidence to the contrary, we don’t have brand loyalties in this category and almost always buy body wash when it’s on sale.

Next up: hair care. The continued bane of my existence. My trusty T Gel continues to keep my scalp at bay and most other items in this category are also the result of sales at Boots. I made it through another bottle of Living Proof dry shampoo as well as a travel size Klorane and a similarly petite can of Elnett. I’m not sure how my Oskia cleanser made it into this batch, reorganize that in your head to the skincare category…which is still coming up and which is a doozy.

I have made it through a pathetically small amount of cosmetics during this time, at least as far as fully panning them is concerned. I’m not counting single eyeshadows or other items yet and will tally those up later in the year after I’ve hopefully racked up a few more empties to show off. Makeup takes forever to use up and this, if nothing else should be the reasoning that helps me stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to my shopping goals for the year…but as you know I’ve succumbed to another highlighter like the weak-willed fool I am.

Ah well! I’ve used up a brow pencil, a brow gel, a mascara, some sample sized primers and a satisfying amount of perfume in the past six months, including a full bottle of Glossier You which I really, really like. And which I’m forbidden from repurchasing until I use up yet more perfume lying around my house because there is still an obscene amount on my bathroom shelves. I also used up a full lipstick which qualifies me for some kind of beauty hoarder Olympics I think, but which is not shown here because in the process of holding on to the tube to lovingly add it to my empties stash, it ended up in a bag that was absolutely soaked in olive oil after a tragic farmers market incident. And if that isn’t the silliest sentence I’ve typed in a long time, I don’t know what is.

Holy mackerel. Okay, let’s talk about skincare, the category of products that takes most of my money and where I definitely have brand loyalties to speak of. I’ve made it through multiple Glossier cleansers, serums, and moisturizer tubes, as well as several bottles of The Ordinary’s Hyluronic Acid. The Ordinary features in a few other products which I finished and linked but will not be repurchasing for the time being. Trusty stand bys in the form of Clinique, Bioderma, and Kiehls are tucked in here, as are a few South Korean skincare items. The SoKo women know their SPF and serums, and if you have not yet tried either, do yourself a favor. I discovered the Thank You Farmer SPF several months ago and went through it in record time; in fact I ended up on a ridiculous waitlist to replace it when it was gone and did the rare thing (for me) of back ups against the day that I ran out again.

Good lord.

What I’ve Bought: Summer Update

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.” 
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

Kittens, I feel like it’s time to confess my purchases for the summer! For a recap and a bit of a sense of how I’m tracking items, here is my first update on this project. In the past couple of months I have been shopping, but I’ve also been continuing to edit out old or unused items in my house and closet. I’ve had a couple of, ah, shopping indiscretions but at the end of the day, I’m doing pretty well.

As you read this I should be in Prague (unless something annoying has happened with our travel plans), so expect future posts on that next week. In the meantime, here’s what’s cause me to put down my credit card in the last three months:

  1. A pair of shorts
  2. A summer weight shirt from Gap
  3. A pair of work trousers which were unanticipated but necessary when I discovered that my other lightweight trousers, ah, didn’t fit anymore. At all. This was a humbling purchase. I maximized the opportunity, though, by finding a pair from LK Bennett on ridiculous discount and are wide legged, so as to channel Katherine Hepburn
  4. A leopard print dress
  5. A pink cotton shirt, because I’ve decided I’m exploring my WASP heritage this summer (sartorially speaking)
  6. A linen shirt, because we don’t live in a nation with air conditioning!

Confession: I broke my makeup no buy challenge. I don’t want to dwell on it but let’s just summarize by saying there was a night out, G&Ts were involved, I happened to be in the vicinity of a NARS store just after their new highlighter formula launched….and well, we’re very happy together.

I also snagged a blush by & Other Stories…because Into The Gloss made me do it… Shut up. It was on sale.

Oops.

Taco Joint

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” 
― Orson Welles

Hey, you know what we haven’t had in a minute? A good old fashioned food joint post! Come with me to one of London’s most popular markets and we’ll rectify this…

It is rare to find good tacos in London, at least if one is a snobbish American who demands authentic Mexican food who turns up her nose at the pathetic offerings found in most British pubs? Do not smother stale chips in sour cream and canned “salsa” and call them nachos, we are going to fight.

Thankfully, Jeff and I discovered a remedy. Welcome to El Pastor, overlooking one of the more iconic entrances to Borough Market.

Oh look, several of my favorite things!

I am pleased to report that the guacamole is delicious and the tortillas authentic. Jeff nearly wept when the carnitas passed muster!

El Pastor is walk in only, which means that you need to be a bit mindful of your timing since Borough Market is inevitably crowded. But the food is worth the wait, if a bit pricey. If you are feeling particularly flush, there is a robust drinks menu and an entire menu dedicated only to Mezcal. This is precisely the kind of place you want to visit for a summer date night when you don’t want to break the bank, but still want to have an above-the-ordinary-takeaway kind of meal. Eat outside if you can and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the market.

Two words, of immense value to any American in London: salsa verde.

Borough Market is a great spot, even if the vast majority tourists show up to graze on free samples and then leave. There is an excellent brewpub called The Rake around the corner, a whole lane dedicated to street food, and every kind of food under the sun available to you, from boutique bakers to leading dairies. And of course, Southwark Cathedral hovers over the whole thing, boasting the area’s history which stretches back through Shakespeare and Chaucer.

All in all, if you’ve never been to the area, or simply haven’t been back in a while, come on by for a visit. Start with the tacos, but then just wander around a bit. I guarantee you won’t get bored.