Beauty buys of the week

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As I’ve written on this blog before, I am a longtime fan of the Paula’s Choice skin care line, founded by Paula Begoun of “Don’t Go the Cosmetics Counter Without Me” fame. Her toners, exfoliating BHA liquid and really gentle benzoyl peroxide lotions are some of my perennial faves. And I just got a couple new products that I’m pretty happy with.

Anti-Aging Eye Cream
For many years, Paula has maintained that if you’re using the right facial moisturizer that doesn’t contain irritants, you should be able to use it around your eyes — no separate eye cream needed. So it’s a big deal that she has finally come out with an anti-aging eye cream. And it’s worth the wait. It has the consistency of really thick shea butter (remember Elmer’s paste with the stick in the middle?) so it stays put and doesn’t creep into your eyes and cause tears. It smooths and blends really easily and plumps my tired eyes. I can literally see fine lines sort of blur away. I put it on in the morning and at night.

Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Refine Retinol Serum
After recently reading yet another article where a dermatologist says retinol is one of the 3 must-haves in any woman’s beauty arsenal (the other two? antioxidants and ceramides), I went in search of a retinol product. Prescription-strength has always been too much for me. Lots of derms recommend RoC as an OTC option but it has caused me breakouts in the past. Avon supposedly has a good one but where the heck do you buy Avon?

So I did what I always do when I need beauty product advice: I asked my sister. Branda is a gifted makeup artist, certified aesthetician and fellow Paula fan. She uses this retinol serum from Paula’s Resist line (for anti-aging). I love how light the clear serum goes on, the dewy glow it provides and the hint of retinol that makes it OK for nightly use. The official marketing claims say it repairs wrinkles and sun damage, builds collagen and diminishes dark spots. Maybe it’s my imagination but I feel like the out-out-brown spot on my cheek has already faded a little bit.


Scenes from last week

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The October skies have been so arresting this year.


Beautiful fall morning out our back porch.


Kids’ Halloween party fun: “witch’s snot” (slime from Target)


The foyer of a restaurant I’m currently writing about. So M.C. Escher.


A movie ticket stub from earlier this year discovered in the pocket of my puffy vest. I love finding these. I don’t consciously save them but I also semi-consciously stuff them in my pocket and forget about them. I took the kids to see Paddington after dropping off husband at the airport for his business trip to Northern Ireland. A perfect movie for such a bitterly cold and gray Sunday afternoon, with a whole week ahead of us with one of our tribe missing.

Late bloomer


1st – 5th grade: a perpetual disappointment to my gym teacher Mr. Doritan (“you’ve got the PUSH the ball,” he would implore)

10th grade: Cut from the volleyball team

Freshman year at Ohio State: faithfully walked across campus to do Buck-i-Robics on Sunday nights

Age 23: Moved to L.A. and decided to try a kickboxing class at Bodies in Motion in Santa Monica (red acrylic nails? check. white bike shorts under bloomy black Umbros? check.)

Age 23 – 26: If I wasn’t working at the magazine or attending movie screenings at night, I was working out. Total gym rat. Kickboxing. Spinning. Almost. Every. Day.

Age 27: Back in Ohio, and back at home with parents. At a crossroads and in a what-am-I-doing? free-fall, with no gym to flee to, started running outside. That spring, ran first 10k.

Age 28: Now living in a cute apartment in Grandview, began teaching Spinning a couple nights a week.

30s: Somewhere in this decade, living near a running trail, I became a homeowner, wife, mother, corporate professional and runner. Never went past 8 miles.

39: For the first time, ran the Whitetail Deer trail half-marathon in September. Couldn’t believe the beauty, not to mention the treacherous terrain. Fell once.

40: Won the female category at a trail 25k. In November. What misery.

41: By now, had many race bibs in my top drawer. For the first time, ran the Columbus Marathon.

42: Got some Altra trail running shoes like the ones Patagonia ambassador Jen Shelton wears. Every bit of inspiration helps.

I never thought of myself as athletic until very recently. I guess it’s never too late.

Chicken with goat cheese and basil 

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{the studio shot vs. the reality}

As I’ve said at least once on this blog, chicken breasts are to my refrigerator what black suit pants are to my closet. Such a versatile staple yet so often I find myself staring at them waiting for inspiration. What the hell do I do with you two?

This Barefoot Contessa recipe is a good one for the chicken breast problem. In the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook, Ina uses boneless breasts. Online, she’s bone-in all the way. I prefer bone-in and had some left over that I needed to use, so that’s what we did. And it’s SO easy. You just slice rounds from a log of herbed goat cheese and stuff them under the skin of the breast along with a few leaves of fresh basil. Olive oil and lots of salt and pepper on top. Then roast in the oven for a bit. They come out with a surprising lot of flavor.

We were lucky to get this on the table that particular night so forget about side dishes. If I’d had my act together, I would have done asparagus. And I’m pretty sure the guidelines of food photography suggest removing food from its pool of oil on the tin foil-lined baking sheet first–not to mention photographing your dishes in daylight vs. your kitchen at 7:30 p.m. But that’s how good this chicken tastes. Overall, I still considered it a win worth sharing with all of you.