What is a description?

A while back I wrote a different blog with more regularity and ad sponsors and felt it was successful. Even further back than that I wrote a newspaper column. You remember newspapers? That bit of writing was like pre-mommy blogging and it was very successful. But today I ask what is successful?

What brings this introspection? Something as simple as reading another blog and being inspired. As I read I discovered a blog link up (which I rarely join) that was interesting. It’s a Finish The Sentence Friday link up and the sentence to finish this week is: I hope my life is described as.

That is a powerful sentence to finish, especially for someone of advanced age as myself, but let me try.

I hope my life is described as Mom. Simple. Straightforward. One word. Mom.  It’s the best thing I can think of about my life  in a long list of careers, jobs, hobbies, roles. It’s a description with no regrets and here and there a couple of regrets. It’s a description encompassing not only human beings I gave birth and raised but four legged, two winged and finned creatures I nurtured.


 

 

 

 

 

Sure, I’ve cared for others in different ways: wife, friend, assistant, romantic. Those roles only took a little bit of me. My position as Mom was me. It IS me. Grandmother is me too, but I could never be that without being Mom.

Step-mother is me, but that’s a bonus. That’s a treat. That’s me baking and sharing goodies.

Mother-in-law? A high wire act. That’s me carrying a lot of hearts in my hands and trying not to step the wrong way for fear of dropping them. But both are still Mom. 

I hope my life is described as worthy. I hope I was worthy of the blessings bestowed on me as a Mom to fur, fins, feathers or flesh. I see that it was all worthwhile. Every headache, tummy ache, sleepless night, plaster cast and suture worth it. Every minute of worrying, caring and feeding was worth it.

 Do I still care if my hair is right and my skin and makeup on point? Yes, and I always have. Do I care if my recipes and bakes are tasty and look great? Of course, that’s a part of me. Parts of me; not all of me.  

 

If you’re interested in joining this link up you can do so here and to read the words of my fellow blogger who inspired me you can do that here.  Also, if you are interested in reading more of my words, my children’s book is available HERE

Talk soon,

                                                           Ge-Ge

Oh those little macarons!

macarons

Those pesky little sweet treats are so hard to get perfect.This batch is pretty near perfect, at least for me. They are a plain cookie with a a mango passionfruit curd inside. That weird looking red stuff on the top is freeze dried raspberry. Let’s scratch that up to the live and learn world. Freeze dried raspberry tastes great and grates easily but it scorches if you put it on top of macarons while they bake.

Here’s the truly sad part of this macaron saga of mine: I made a perfect, gorgeous batch with my four year old grandson. We had limited tools and lots of distractions. How did they come out so well? My DDIL’s sheet pan was perfectly flat so that when I banged it; all the air bubbles went out. The worst part? Not one photo was taken and the macarons were all gobbled up within fifteen minutes. But, here are some photos of my trial and error. I’m planning on trying another, different recipe I found in a Great British Bake Off cookbook and I bought a new, nice flat pan.

Chat soon!

vanilla macaron filled with homemade blueberry curd. Yummy.
Homemade blueberry curd. Yummy.

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat About Learning New Things

In our last post we veered away from the world of beauty and delved in the world of TV baking shows.  More realistically, we delved into my ridiculous obsession with The Great British Baking Show.  

This pushed me to thinking that maybe I’m not such a bad baker after all.  And  while I’m doing all of this baking, I’m not putting on makeup and doing my hair.  So  what am I doing writing about beauty products?

That’s what made me realize I need to expand on what I write. I need to embrace all things Grandmother and write not just about looking better in my golden years but also about other Grandmotherly pursuits like baking, cooking, Grand-babies etc.  Don’t you agree? 

Now lucky you readers this is the FIRST in this newly incorporated Grandmother Style Blog.  That’s what I’m calling it.  It’s similar to Lifestyle blogging but  I’m not  really cool like that ’cause I’m older and slower. 

So if you enjoy learning and learning about new things and reading more reviews then please continue following me and PLEASE leave comments. 

Chat soon,

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat about Baking BAD Macarons…

Hello!

Welcome to the very first post in in our new Grandmother Style Blog format.

Today we are working on making the ever popular macarons. I’ve made them a lot and had great success but this time I tried using the Italian Meringue method.

As I’m of Grandmother age, I’m not a novice to meringue making but I had no idea there were meringue varieties. Thanks to The Great British Baking Show for using both the Swiss and Italian versions of meringue and making me aware they existed.

What I believe is a great part about what I am about to post is that these are bad macarons.

My attempt at these, using a more difficult recipe is a FAILURE and I’ve got the photos to prove it. However the BEST part is that I learned a lot and I’m not afraid to try again.

I’m including a click button so that you can jump to the blogs where I found the recipes because these are the hard work of others and I don’t claim them.   

Usually I’ve used the French Macaron method, and most recently the recipe here from Indulge With Mimi. I’ve had pretty good luck with that and find inspiring ideas there.

The recipe for Italian meringue is here at  Serious Eats.

The macaron recipe is from Everyday Annie

Both of those recipes work, it was not their fault I failed.Allow me to make a list of the BAD as well as the GOOD about this dainty sweets

1. Do you see the slight browning on the edge of a few there? pale blue macarons with browning on partEither my oven was too hot or I left them in too long. There should be NO BROWNING of the macarons.

2. Lots of negativity going on with this photo. First, bumps on the top. pale blue macarons with bumpy tops and ripped edgesThose are air bubbles and I should have carefully popped those before I put them in the oven. 3. Do you see the darker blue edge on some of those? That is where they touched each other in  baking and they should NOT TOUCH. My batter was too wet so they slid around and into one another.

4. Now for a positive!    Do you see that sort of “ruffle” around the edge of the cookie? Those are what are referred to as “Feet” Even though my batter was too thin and my oven probably too hot I got good feet going on here.  Looking at the pink ones before       they go in the oven they are super flat. And in this case too runny.  Looking through the oven door you can see them rising up on their little ruffly feet. Hurrah!

5. Next and totally my own issue, is the color.  I was making this practice batch for a July 4 party so I wanted Red, and Blue macarons that I planned to fill with some left over cream cheese icing in the fridge.  The rule of thumb with gel food coloring is less is more. Well, for me to get a dark sort of American Flag blue and red, I needed to go with the more is more concept.  But if I was taking these to a baby shower, I think they would be on point.

6. Lastly just look at these uneven messes. A circle template, that I downloaded and printed from a search engine, is really helpful to make them even. In my case, it was of little use since my batter failed. You can use a silicone mat they even sell them with circles but I prefer parchment since I’ve had (usually) success with it.

If you draw your own circles on the parchment, be sure and flip it over because the pencil will imprint into your macarons. (ask me how I know)

There you have it. What NOT to do to bake macarons using the Italian meringue method. But honestly these simple tips apply to any method you use to make these delicate little darlings.

Please be sure to comment below if you’ve had success or failure in you macaron baking.

Chat soon,

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat About The Great British Baking Show

Let’s Chat About The Great British Baking Show

Okay, I’ve never pretended to like to cook or bake. Also, this little corner of the interwebs is supposed to be about beauty. Hmmmm? Well, food is part of beauty. It’s definitely a part of all of my excess beauty. (What? You don’t know that expression? Well, a wonderful friend of mine used that phrase whenever she gained a few extra pounds. It’s a great expression and I’ve adopted it as my own.

Now where were we? We are watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. (This post is NOT a paid advertisement and I have not received any compensation to discuss this program)

I’m pretty sure I’m late to this party, mostly because I don’t really care to bake or cook. THEN we watch The Great British Baking Show and it’s all I can think about is baking.

Considering that I started baking when I was little (first project swapped salt for sugar) and then married as a child and continued baking, one would think that I loved to make food. NOPE. It’s work. It’s a ridiculous amount of work. Fast forward to working in the big ‘ole corporate world and I was tasked with making cupcakes for an entire floor. Again, more WORK.

Then one day I’m flicking around the channels and there is The Great British Baking Show and I’m hooked! What is it about this show? Suddenly I’m reading recipes in the way I normally read E!News.

From many reviews I’ve read, the show is so popular because everyone is so nice to each other. Ok, that’s fine. My obsession is that it’s kind of like a puzzle. Present me with a puzzle and I’m set for hours.

The Great British Baking Show has an interesting formula that you can discern easily if you watch enough. We see the interesting men; one professional, one blue collar. The ethnic usually a male and a female. The youngster. The housewife. And a scattering of men and women of varying ethnicities and professions. Ok, we get it. There’s a formula. But what is really amazing is that they don’t try and undercut one another. They are collegial. And much more collegial than any group I’ve ever worked with in real life.

Better yet, the recipes that they work on are inspiring. I’ve made Chelsea Buns and have never eaten one in the UK. And, my next project is Mary Berry’s Madeira Cake; which I’ve never tasted or heard of. This show is crazy in how it inspires me to get back into the kitchen.

What about you? Do you like to cook and or bake? Do you watch this show? do you like it? Let me know in the comments. That’s where the real fun chat goes.

Best,

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat About…

Squats (again!)
Yes, we discussed doing squats daily in order get in a touch of fitness easily everyday. Well…how’s that going for you? For me it pretty much ceased. But why? When something is so easy to take care of would I cease?
Human nature I believe. Even though I created as a habit while I was brushing my teeth, I still stopped. The side effect for this? Back pain. I’ve got a terrible back, Scoliosis with 30plus degrees at each curve, so my back hurts most of the time. Exercise, in almost any form, helps with that.

Now that we’ve moved across the country I had to seek out a gym or instructor to help me. Especially since I was failing at doing my hundred squats at home.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with al the trial and error I handled while finding a suitable workout. (you’re welcome)
What I am going to share is my final happy discovery. Barre3.
Have you heard of this?

Lucky for me, I’ve got several “bonus” daughters and two of them are Barre work out fanatics. One is actually an instructor; sadly living thousands of miles from me but her dedication to the style really informed me. Another one of my little ladies completely transformed her postpartum body.

One of the added advantages I’ve found with Barre3 is that energizes me. A lot of the time after I’ve gone to the gym I’d be worn out completely and useless for the day. Now, I’m excited to go first thing in the morning and come home and get a lot of other things done. Win!
Another bonus that I love about Barre3 is that there are classes at all different times of the day.

What is Barre3? It’s one of several Barre method studios but in particular the workout includes elements of Yoga, Pilates and Ballet. There’s a great loud soundtrack going on in the background too. What I know about ballet fits on the head of a pin but I’ve spent years doing Yoga and love it. Pilates I’ve tried but never did more than a video. Therefore, it wasn’t an huge surprise taking part in the first workout.

Another lovely bonus that I’ve found is that everyone is super friendly and encouraging. The instructors take a moment to reassure that we are all in this together and the studio is a “safe” space. Which is great when I’m not feeling very limber some days and have to head to the barre and hold on or use some of the helpful modifications the instructors offer.

What do you think? Have you been keeping up with your one hundred squats a day? Do you go to the gym? Do you think you’d like to try Barre3 or one of the other barre method experiences out there? Let us know in the comments below so we can have a lovely chat.

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat About…

Meal Service Plans

It’s not something I brag about but here it is: I HATE to cook. Capital letters are needed because I really really hate to cook.

The short story is, I raised three boys. There was a lot of cooking involved in that endeavor. I’m not going to try and fool anybody by saying I cooked well then. But I cooked nourishment. They all three grew and thrived and are now excellent, well nourished, adults.  They all three cook, one of them an actual foodie.

As for now, my hubby professes to enjoy cooking but dislikes having to plan.  I get that. Enter meal planning and delivery services.

We started out using Blue Apron. We loved it. The hubby learned a bunch of new techniques and it made us adventurous cooks and eaters. Yes, I cooked a bit.  The groceries came packed well, with ice and the recipes were printed with photos on sturdy card that I wish I had saved in a binder.

As much as we enjoyed Blue Apron we thought we would try Hello Fresh simultaneously. We had a free offer and gave it a try.  It was fine but not nearly as memorable as Blue Apron. 

One of the really great things about all of the meal planning/delivery services that we’ve tried is that there is no contract to lock into.  So, when we had to pick up and move across the country we were able to press the pause button on Blue Apron and head out West.

Fast forward a bit and we are moved into our newly built house and awaiting our Blue Apron. Unfortunately, that didn’t work since our address was not really on any delivery maps.  Sadly, we canceled that service.  But I will still re commend Blue Apron to anyone who asks.

As time went on we decided to look into other services because we were just plain hungry.  We decided to try Home Chef. It had great reviews and we saw that it was also available in the local grocery store which gave us hope they could find our house.  They can and do, every week. Every week unless we put them on hold. Again, no contract so easy to place on hold.

The recipes and ingredients with Home Chef are simpler to follow and easier to put together but less adventurous. One important aspect I’ve discovered with Home Chef is that some of the meals are really DELICIOUS. All caps necessary again.  A few of the meals have really made me sit up and say Wow! The meals come on time, packed well with ice and the recipes are printed on sturdy card with photos and this time around I know to save them in a binder.

I realize that this space is supposed to be about beauty but what is more beautiful than saving time and eating well? Right?  

Have any of you tried a meal planning and delivery service? How was it? Do you have a favorite? Let’s chat in the comments below.

This post has no affiliate links and I was not paid any money to write about these services.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Let’s Chat About…Retinol

Let’s Chat About…Retinol

Retinol. Of course you’ve heard of it. It’s been “THE Thing” for skincare for a couple of decades now. It once was only available via prescription but now it’s available in many strengths in many brands.

That brings us to, of course, the BIG question: Does it work? Well, frankly, yes. Yes, it works. At least for me.

But (you knew there was going to be one of those right?) what product and what strength is the one that works?

Nothing is going to beat the prescription (or a face lift) but I stumbled upon a great brand of over the counter retinol skin care that I love and will keep on using. When I say I stumbled upon it I’m not kidding. I was on Amazon on maybe Prime Day or Black Friday one of those HOT sale days and this product popped up for such a low low price I grabbed it.    

First off, notice how dinged up the top is so you know I’ve using it. Secondly, this is not an ad or paid review; I bought this with my own little dollars.

Here’s the run down.

  1. It has virtually NO fragrance. That’s a huge plus for me. Certain scents trigger migraine with me but mostly why do I want something competing with my perfume?
  2. The top of the jar.The jar has a sort of pump but not a big sticking up kind of pump. And it releases small amounts of product at a time so you have much less waste.  Maybe you all are familiar with this kind of pump but it was a new one on me.
  3. It soaks in beautifully. No greasy feel and no burning.
  4. Finally, I see results. My biggest body part hatred lately is my décolletage. You know where I got intense sunburns in the 70’s? It looked like rawhide there for a while but since using this product for less than a year my hatred has mellowed to dislike since I can see a bit of difference. Not overnight. Not ten days. Over several months.

There you have it. A quick review on a product I use, love and recommend.  Here is the link. Remember is you use it I receive a very small commission, so thank you. 

What I really want to thank you for though is for  your comments after you try it.  Come back and share what you think about it.

Talk later,

Ge-Ge

Let’s Chat About Micellar Water

Let’s Chat About Micellar Water

Let's chat about micellar water

 

 What is micellar water and why do you need it? Better question: why do I LOVE it?

Here is a copy and paste of the Wiktionary  definition: 

micellar water

 
 

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micellar water (plural micellar waters)

  1. (cosmetics) A colloidal suspension of micelles composed of surfactants in water, used as a cleanser. This usually has a viscosity close to that of water. This has similar uses to other human cleansers, such as liquid detergents (ie. body wash, shampoo) and liquid soaps.
 
Basically, it is soap and water in a bottle. Right? There’s even all kinds of DIY projects out there for you to make your own. If you are into making your own stuff cool. Me? I make lots of stuff but when I can get a bottle of micellar water at Walmart for under $5, I’m pretty good with just buying it.  Again, up to you.
 
Now for the real question, why? I love this stuff because it cleans away anything, like makeup, that didn’t come off with my nightly cleanser. More than that, I LOVE this stuff in the morning because I don’t want to wash off all of the good moisturizing I’d done the night before. Do you get that? 
 
Let’s walk through the routine real quick once more. Evening, wash face of all makeup and grime using gentle cleanser. Next apply moisturizer, serum and eye cream. Oh and vaseline the lips. Now, the next morning do we really want to cleanse all of that good juicy moisture away? The answer is no. And unless you sleep in a dumpster your did not collect more dirt and grime on your skin while sleeping. In walks micellar water. 
Naturally, you are saying “But I’m in the shower, can’t I wash my face?” You can do what feel right to you but for me, right before I start putting on makeup (shower wash or not) I use the micellar water on a giant cotton ball and to me, it feels like I’ve readied the face for the daily makeup application. Pictured is the brand I use. 
 
 
Think back, if you will, to when Toner was a thing sold at cosmetic counters? The younger me used it in the same way that I use micellar water. I even had a very high end rose water type that I loved but now I can’t afford it even if it still exists. 
 
Let’s wrap up the message here: Micellar water equals a great gentle toner and will work as a secondary makeup remover.  It doesn’t work great on mascara or all day lip color so keep a back up of makeup remover.  Can  you use it as your over all face cleanser? Try it and see. It’s inexpensive, easy to find in stores or online and easy to use.  There’s your answer and mine.

 

 

Please comment below about YOUR experiences with toner or micellar water so we can continue this chat.

Talk soon,

Ge-Ge

This post and the photos within it contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Let’s Chat About Exfoliating

Let’s Chat About Exfoliating

Exfoliating…

It seems that January has turned into a theme of learning about makeup, even when you are of a certain age.  This is a great theme in my opinion and I have my Facebook makeup junkie groups (of which I belong to many) for putting this idea into my head. So, thanks all of you in FB land.

What we makeup junkies have learned, through trial and error and reading blogs, talking to experts etc., is that there is one vital step to learning about makeup; skin care.

You must take care of your skin. If you were an artist you wouldn’t paint on an old ripped, dirty canvas would you? Well maybe you would if that’s your style but that won’t work for skin.

My skin is very dry. Like Sahara dry. Which means, as I’ve noted before, moisturizer is my best friend. However, there is one other step which I take BEFORE the moisturizer. That step is exfoliating.

If you’re saying that you’ve never done this before and the thought makes you anxious it’s ok, because you likely have exfoliated your face and just didn’t call it that. have  you ever scrubbed your face with a wash cloth? Yes? There, you exfoliated.  It’s that simple. You sloughed off dead skin cells. That’s all it is.  Now, let’s complicate things…

You don’t want to scrub too hard or scrub like that every day. Ok? Not bad.  You can also but products (there’s always products on products) to use that match your skin type and may possibly improve your skin.  Here is where we go complicated and offer some important advice.

A dermatologist is an educated skin expert. A visit to the dermatologist is worth the time and money to get a baseline look at your skin. If you are from the 1970’s like me, in all likelihood you sat in the sun with baby oil on your skin and an double record album covered with tin foil. Right? So do yourself a favor and see the skin Dr.  Ok, check that box.

As for products, as I’ve said there’s a plethora. (what a word but it’s accurate) All you can do is try some. Your Dermatologist may recommend some too. Or the folks at Ulta, Sephora etc. may offer some. So, here’s my list and feel free to try them or ignore them.

Cetaphil face wash. This is inexpensive, gentle and can be used with a wash cloth whenever you like.

Neutrgena makeup removal wipes. These I love but they’re a bit pricey.  I’ve read some girls use baby wipes but I have not personally tried these.

Exfolikate by Kate Somerville is my all time favorite and I only use it once a week or less.  Also, it’s VERY expensive. It’s green and scrubby (is that a word really) and it makes my skin feel like satin. 

Finally, Angels on Bare Skin from Lush. This product I’ve used for years. Even one of my sons, who is high school was acne prone, uses this product. It does have some sort of “twigs” in it and it has a clay-like texture (oh and it’s expensive too) but it also gently exfoliates and makes my skin feel satiny.  Why, you ask don’t I just use that everyday.  Well, because with my very dry skin I occasionally (read weekly) need extreme exfoliation and through trial and error I discovered that the Kate Somerville gives me the result I desire when I’m feeling like my skin is “dull”.  Does that make sense. 

Of course since you may be new to this beauty stuff you’re shaking your head and saying this is all too much. But, I’ve been at this FOREVER and it took me a long time to firm up what products or cleansing routines worked for me. I’ve been to all of those home parties where they try to sell you the 20 step method. This is simply what works for me and it’s not everyday. Cetaphil cleanser, yes maybe everyday. At least at night to clean off the makeup.  The above list is what I do. You can work out your own system, and I hope you will.

Please, leave a comment below and tell us what you’re trying, what you’ve tried and how it’s going. We love to really chat in the comments.

Talk soon

Ge-Ge

 

 I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.