“One Lovely Blog” award

Hello, everyone! I’m so honored that the talented Laura of the blog Looking Joli Good nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Please be sure to check out Laura’s blog — she’s always posting new and intriguing content. She’s much more disciplined about it than I am.

Here are the “One Lovely Blog” rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
  • Share 7-15 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 9-15 bloggers you admire and contact them to let them know.

Facts about me: 

  • I love backyard birds and am constantly refilling my feeders.
  • I have three lovely indoor cats and also feed a couple of feline neighborhood wanderers. After dark, a posse of raccoons visits my back deck to nibble on cat food, as does a very sweet and shy possum.
  • I recently started taking weekly tap and ballet/stretch classes. So much fun!
  • I’ve lost 46 pounds since February and want to lose 35 more.
  • When I was a reporter, I interviewed four presidents: Reagan, Ford and both Bushes. I also interviewed three first ladies: Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford.
  • My husband and I worked at competing newspapers. We met at the scene of a stabbing.
  • I first got interested in makeup and skin care when I was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Chemo makes you look tired and dries out your skin. I didn’t want to look ill.
  • I have been to 18 Rolling Stones concerts, but my first concert was the Osmond Brothers. My dad took my friend Debby Carter and me to see them at the Los Angeles Forum. He says it was one of his most generous acts of fatherhood.
  • Two places I want to go before I die: the Greek Islands and Portofino, Italy.
  • My hair has been brown, red and platinum and lots of colors in between. Golden blonde works best.
  • I’m a proud University of South Carolina Gamecock and I’m pretty sure the Chicken Curse is real, at least as far as the football team goes.
  • I was the reporter who broke the “Ozzy Osbourne Urinates on the Alamo” story. He was a hilarious interview. Sharon was intimidating.
  • I believe having a few close, loyal friends is better than having a lot of semi friends. I love my girlfriends Kelly, Nikki and Diane from high school; my sister, Allison; and my college roommate and lifetime co-conspirator, Jill.

These are some of the bloggers I enjoy, in no particular order. Check them out and give them some love:

Thanks again to Laura for nominating me. Remember: If you have a passion, blog about it!


Keeping a journal: Life is in the ‘dash’

At the end of everyone’s life, there’s a dash; one that links their year of birth and date of death. That simple little dash represents a lifetime of experiences, from first dates to last dances, from youthful optimism to middle-age crazy, from cradle to the grave.

I thought I knew my grandmother, my father’s mother. She was a constant in my life, particularly during my college years and beyond. What a character she was, by turns generous and selfish, kind and cruel. The only girl among six brothers, she was named Lady Iola because her mother wanted her to be addressed like royalty. Perhaps that went to her head, because she lived life her way, taking no prisoners and making no apologies.

Lady Iola was daring, bold and vivacious. She was a flapper girl and a scandal in her small South Carolina hometown. She bobbed her hair, she went to wild parties, she rode down Main Street standing on the running board of handsome boys’ cars. She tinted her cheeks with red crepe paper when makeup was forbidden. And she married my handsome grandfather not once, but twice.

IMG_0389All of these stories she shared with me, and I thought I knew her well. She lived into her 90s, growing more tempestuous and demanding as the years went by. She had a tongue that could soothe in one moment, cut you to the quick in the next.

Not long before her death, Lady Iola gave me something special: her combination scrapbook and journal. In those pages, I discovered a woman I’d never known. Inside the book were vintage Valentine’s Day cards from boys she’d known and loved, well-read letters from friends and beaus, and photographs I’d never seen: my grandmother as a young bathing beauty, a flapper, a World War II single mother, a 40s glamour girl. There was even a card from my grandfather mourning the death of a premature baby, which was a sorrow she never shared. I read the pages and mementos time and again, discovering new secrets, new facets of the woman I thought I’d known so well. I was proud and honored that she’d shared such private memories with me. IMG_0387

Reading my grandmother’s journal prompted me to build a journal of my own. For me, it’s a record of my past — a way to go back in time to relive moments, some happy and some less so. It’s the story of triumphs and failures, of memories tender and terrible, of friendships won and lost, of good boyfriends and bad breakups. Like my grandmother, I’ve saved cards and letters, remembrances of people who wandered into my life for a short time as well as those who entered and stayed. There are trinkets too: a dried homecoming mum, ribbon still attached, from the first boy I ever dated; tickets to the Broadway play I attended with a college beau; tickets to my first college football game; playbills from shows attended with my husband.

What will happen to my journals? Perhaps they’ll go to an as-yet-to-be-born grandchild. Perhaps they’ll go to my daughter. I hope whoever reads them is as entranced as I was by my grandmother’s journal, for they’ll tell the story of a woman who was more complex, more unique and, yes, more interesting than she might have sometimes seemed — a woman who was loving but flawed and who lived a rich life during the dash.

The fab five: Beauty gurus for grownups

hqdefaultYouTube and Instagram have transformed the beauty game. A large and varied lineup of amateurs and experts have amassed huge followings eager to learn about the latest in skin care and makeup. Instagram is where you’ll see snapshots of beauty gurus in all their poreless, perfected glory. YouTube is where you get the before and after images, learn about the latest products and see how they’re applied.

I confess that I spend hours watching videos and scrolling through photos because there are some incredibly talented men and women out there. These individuals can blend eyeshadow until it’s as smooth as body butter and draw winged eyeliner sharper than Angelina Jolie’s perfect cheekbones.

The truth, however, is that the vast majority of those gurus are on the younger end of the age spectrum. Some of the best are barely out of their teens. While I learn a great deal from them, many of their makeup looks and color choices are clearly aimed at a young, edgy market that excludes baby boomers and older millennials. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to five talented experts — all of whom just happen to be British — whose common-sense advice encompasses all generations. They’re the beauty equivalent of the Fab Five (or Fab Six if you want to get technical and count the Pixiwoo sisters separately).

Lisa Eldridge: Lisa is one of the most well-regarded makeup artists in the industry and her client roster includes the rich, famous and infamous. She’s created looks for everyone from Kate Winslet to Kate Moss, from Cate Blanchett to Katy Perry. Lisa has also worked for companies such as Shiseido, Chanel, Lancome and Boots No. 7, as well as designers like Chloe, Alberta Ferretti, Prada, Donna Karan and Moschino.

Lisa’s social media channels are resources for practical advice and clean, classic, wearable makeup looks. She’s an expert on the history of makeup and has created numerous historically accurate makeup videos showcasing various eras. You’ll find her YouTube channel here and her blog at lisaeldridge.com. I’ve already preordered her upcoming book, “Face Paint: The Story of Makeup,” from Amazon.

Wayne Goss: Some of the best makeup artists are men and Wayne is at the top of the class. If you want honest information delivered in a cut-to-the-chase, honest manner, he’s your guy. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.) Wayne keeps things simple, whether he’s demonstrating how to create a smokey eye or create Kim Kardashian contours. He’s both charming and disarming: If he thinks a product is rubbish he makes no bones about it. Wayne has deservedly amassed nearly 2.2 million YouTube followers and launched his own line of high-end makeup brushes. You’ll find his YouTube channel here.

Caroline Hirons: Caroline is the Swami of Skin Care and her advice and recommendations have changed my skin for the better. I can’t even begin to fathom how many products she’s sampled in more than 18 years in the beauty industry. Caroline has represented a who’s who of top brands, including Sunday Riley, Hampton Sun, Kate Somerville, Zelens, Sjal and Pixi. She keeps things real and comes across as someone who’d be a blast to be around. Check out her YouTube channel and her blog. Your skin will thank you.

Sali Hughes: Sali has been the resident beauty writer for The Guardian U.K. since 2011. She’s also written about beauty, style and relationships in publications such as Elle, Red, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, winning two Jasmine Awards for beauty writing along the way. Sali’s YouTube channel features reviews, tutorials and interviews with leading beauty experts and celebrities. I particularly enjoy her “In the Bathroom” series, in which she tactfully invades — yes — the bathrooms of her interview subjects to chat and cheerfully check out what’s in their beauty cabinets. I recently read Sali’s book, “Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion” and thoroughly enjoyed it. You’ll find her YouTube channel here and her blog at salihughesbeauty.com.

maxresdefaultSam and Nic Chapman: The Chapman sisters describe themselves as “makeup artists, vloggers, bloggers, beauty boot camp instructors, moms and more.” All I know is that I love their YouTube videos, which feature in-depth tutorials — some classic, some slightly edgy, some celebrity-inspired — along with product hauls. Sam and Nic have a combined 30 years in the beauty industry, having begun their careers as makeup artists while in their teens. They’re also the brains behind the Real Techniques line of makeup brushes, including the new, luxe Bold Metals collection. Collectively known as Pixiwoo, you’ll find their YouTube channel here. Their joint blog is at realtechniques.com.

Photos: Sali Hughes and Caroline Hirons share a laugh; Sam and Nic Chapman’s YouTube filming setup.

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