Month: November 2014

When to Spend

by Lindsey and Kelsey

There comes a time in every (non-trust fund supported) adult’s life, when he or she must start looking at price tags. When we start paying for things with our own money, strange things start to happen. Maybe you keep buying Tide detergent because it’s what your mom always bought without ever thinking, “Hmm, Squeaky McBubbles detergent is much cheaper, so maybe I should give it a whirl.” There’s a certain kind of comfort in familiar packaging. Or, if you’re price conscious, maybe you’ve frequently ventured into the generic or store brand product world. Spending less on a product of equal quality can be oh, so satisfying.

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This is our cousin’s cat, Maz. He’s a big spender.

While we Left/Right ladies encourage your thrifty explorations, there are some household and toiletry products for which we’re not willing to compromise. Some of these are generics that have tried and failed to woo us, and some are the “just nopes” that we can’t bring ourselves to sacrifice. We all make choices. These are ours.

Lindsey

Frozen Waffles

When I got out of grad school, it was 2010 and nonprofit jobs were hard to come by. I worked for a little under a year at a college library, which paid…well, not much. I scrimped and saved and tried all kinds of cheap food. Some were good. Some were bad. Storebrand/offbrand frozen waffles – a staple in my freezer for quick breakfasts or lazy dinners – fell into the latter bad category. Nothing compares to Eggo brand waffles. Nothing. Trust me.

Lipstick/BalmRed

As a youngster, I bought ALL the makeup. Hot pink blush. Teal eyeliner. I tried it all. Experimental was my middle name. (Now it’s just Shea.) Anyway, as an adult I’ve settled into a low maintenance beauty routine. Moisturizer only on lazy days. Light foundation, blush and neutral shadow to work. Mascara and eyeliner only on special occasions. The one constant every day? Lipstick or lip balm. If that’s main the makeup category where I spend my money, I want the good stuff.  Current favorites (from most color to least) are: NARS Fire Down Below, Clinique Whole Lotta Honey, Fresh Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment and Smith’s Rosebud Salve. If you want one lip product, pick Smith’s. I want to be buried with it.

Kelsey

Coffee

My name is Kelsey, and I’m a coffee snob. But, let’s be honest, I really don’t feel any shame about this fact. I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but ever since I landed myself a grown-up job, a coffee beverage has become an integral part of my leisurely morning. I will get up early, just so I can laze around for an extra 30 minutes casually sipping my soy latte. I grind my own coffee, and I order whole beans from Stumptown (in Portland) about once a month. It’s so worth it.

Writing UtensilsIMG_0219

Being left-handed, I’m obsessed with nearly any writing utensil that makes pushing my pen/pencil across the page a little easier to manage (vs. lucky right-handers that glide right with ease). This action almost always results in a fine patina of graphite or ink on the side of my hand (left-handed shout out: I know that you all know what I’m talking about). That said, I also write very small and precisely, so I prefer a .3 or .5 engineering pencil (faves: GraphGear 1000 ; rOtring 600 ) as well as fine point felt-tipped pens, as they dry quickly (faves: Le Pen ; Sakura Micron ). Fountain pens are also included in my pen indulgences (fave: Lamy).

Both

Toilet Paper

So, we split the “both” category between us, and I, Lindsey, ended up with toilet paper. I’m kind of stoked about it, to be honest. This is a product we all use every day. Every. single. day. I cannot scrimp on an item so important to daily life. That thin, hotel grade slop? No thank you. Not only is comfort an issue, but say you want to grab a square to sneeze or blot your lipstick? It won’t work, I tell you. If you’re going to splurge, treat your booty to the best. Oh, and for the record, Kelsey and I differ on what’s best. I prefer Cottonelle Clean Care, while the kid buys Charmin Ultra Soft. The choice is yours.

Skincare

Whereas I (Kelsey) save all the money on makeup compared to my sisterface (because I don’t wear it), I make up for that (get it?) by my obnoxious number of skincare products. Funny thing is that while my skin was never that rebellious as a teenager, you can still get acne for the first time in your twenties (stress is real, you guys). The best thing that I have found for my at-the-moment angry skin is a retinoid cream. You can find this stuff OTC, but you may also procure a prescription for a stronger variety. It has SO MANY BENEFITS from helping with acne to reducing/preventing wrinkles etc. etc. Moving on,  Lindsey and I have recently been using the same Clinique moisturizer with SPF, that we adore. If you need any encouragement to use SPF on a daily basis, see here. Finally, a shout-out to Kiehl’s for having an amazing alcohol-free toner.

What about you, dear readers? Anything you’d add to the list?

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Lenita’s Chocolate Pie

by Kelsey 

This recipe is brought to you by my friend Anna’s grandmother, Lenita. Anna made this pie in college a few times, and the first time, I probably demurred something about preferring cake to pie then proceeded to eat it straight out of the pan with my friends. To this day, it is one of the very few pies that I genuinely adore.

I’m made this delight a few times since college, and I still eat it much the same: wearing sweatpants, standing over the counter in my kitchen, fork in hand. Plates are for amateurs.

The recipe is below (to make 1 pie), with a few additional comments from me (i.e. how not to make my mistakes):

1 ‘deep’ dish pie crust.  She used the frozen ones and you bake it for about 2-3 minutes before you add the filling. (if I’m using a frozen pie crust, I’ll throw it into the oven at the same temp. for the pie-baking: 350 degrees. I’ve also made homemade pie crust once, which I did not regret, although I did regret making it too thick/not cooking it long enough beforehand).

Filling

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa.                Get a good one like Hershey’s or similar. It’s worth it.
  • 3/4 stick butter               Don’t use light butter or margarine. (Words to live by, am I right?)
  • 1/4 T. vanilla
  • 1 can Pet evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks – beat well and set aside
In a double boiler (remember, fancy word for bowl over a pot of boiling water – I bought mine on – yes, you guessed it – Amazon) add sugar, flour and cocoa. Gradually stir in the Pet evaporated milk over low-medium heat for at least 5 minutes. If you don’t get it hot enough, it won’t cook. (Straight talk. I tend to put mine on medium-high. Also, keep a close eye to ensure that your water in the double boiler does not run dry.)
Sweet double boiler action.

Sweet double boiler action.

Take a few spoons of the hot mixture and add it to the beaten egg yolks. Stir well and then add a few more spoons and stir again. Gradually pour the egg yolk mixture into the bouble boiler and continue to stir and cook until thick.

Last, stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
Meringue
  • 3 egg whites*
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. cream of tarter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
Beat egg whites with electric mixture at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks are visible when you lift up mixer out of meringue. Spread over the top of the pie filling. Bake 10 -15 minutes on 350 until golden brown.
*Real talk. For those that love to eat raw cookie dough and brownie batter as much as yours truly, I tend to  buy pasteurized eggs, as I’m also paranoid (read: salmonella). That said, pasteurized eggs, for some reason, do not make good meringue, folks. For this recipe, I suggest using non-pasteurized eggs. Also, I tend to use 4 eggs whites, because I don’t play around with meringue. I want some serious volume on this pie.
Look at that volume.

Look at that volume. If meringue were hair, this pie would have its own shampoo ad. You know what I mean.

Body Positive

by Lindsey

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. This seemed like the right week – a week filled with nude magazine covers and advertising debacles (both of which are happening more frequently) – to share the mental notes I’ve been collecting for the past few weeks. This post is personal, and I imagine it will be for many of you reading it. Let’s just dive in to the self-esteem/body image pool of doubt together, shall we?

First, I’ll tell you a little about me, just to get my baggage out of the way. Mmmm, baggage.

Since puberty, I’ve been chubby (though I prefer the term curvy). I’ve never seen my abs. My thighs have never had a gap. My face is round. My hips and breasts are full. I don’t look like the rest of my family, including my co-blogger Kelsey, who is 6’1″ and thin

We Solomon sisters, in all our diverse-bodied glory.

Solomon sisters, in our diverse-bodied glory

(though she often doesn’t believe me when I say that). I’m told I resemble more bosomy great aunts, but they aren’t around for comparison. I’ve always loved food and hated working out, but I try to eat semi-healthfully and exercise a couple of times a week. In the past year, I was put on a medicine that made me gain quite a bit of weight rather quickly, so that’s also fantastic.

I also come from a family ripe with their own insecurities, which I’m sure is common. And this is no fault of theirs, it’s just to make the point that we learn from our surroundings. My parents have fluctuated in weight all their lives, and they talk often about gains and losses. At big family holidays with my dad’s family, my very thin uncle will drink half a beer to avoid calories and needle my dad in a brotherly way about his weight, though he’s (currently) in the normal range. My aunts compare gym tips and talk fiber and how they look great for their ages (which they absolutely do). I am the only – and have always been the only – overweight cousin in our tight knit group of seven. The difference is there, but the negative feelings I internalize about those differences are my own doing.

The real low point of my self-esteem issues happened not at my heaviest, but at my most insecure. I spent years – that’s not an exaggeration – feeling like I wasn’t good enough to even attempt a move on one particular guy because I was heavier than him. That’s the honest truth. I would make excuses to myself and others, saying, “Oh, he just doesn’t like me that way” or “I don’t want to ruin our friendship.” Both of those statements were (I believe) true, but it doesn’t change the fact that the biggest thing holding me back from the attempt was my belief that I was big. As a feminist, nay, as a person, I’m ashamed to admit this act of self-esteem-based cowardice.

So, that’s me. I know I talk a lot about family and fitting in, but we all know that’s not the real problem. We’ve all been trained to think a certain way about beauty. Look at the most recent Victoria’s Secret “The Perfect ‘Body'” controversy, in which an advertisement with that slogan featured ten thin, “perfect bodied” models in Body by Victoria bras. It certainly did not represent every body, let alone even a smattering of body diversity. Luckily, VS got the memo, but, as they only changed the words of the ad, it still looks much like they only care about dressing those blessed with society’s favorite beauty standards. I appreciate brands like Dear Kate who have responded with a more diverse representation of models.

(Side note: I once went to a yoga class titled “Yoga for every body!” I thought it was a beginner class. People were doing inversions within the first fifteen minutes of the class, so Victoria’s Secret isn’t the first to pull a switcheroo with this particular turn of phrase. The class should have been called yoga for people who are already really good at headstands. But I digress…)

When I tweeted something about said controversial ad, someone accused me of shaming the models for being thin and working hard for their bodies. Calling attention to the blatant irony of the image and phrasing is not thin-shaming, which is just another side to the multi-faceted body-shaming coin of misery. Even women I’ve met in the real world who look as close to model-esque as I’ve ever seen often don’t feel like they look like models. The thing that I’ve learned from my thinner friends, or, well, just my friends in general, is that we all have our hang-ups.

Honestly, if anything deserves shaming, it’s the overuse of Photoshop. I’ve looked at fashion magazines since I was very young, and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to look their best on a glossy cover. It’s when those general standards of brushing off zits moves to enhancing waists and cleavage and butts and lips that things go too far for me. Let’s look to two celebrities in contrast, both of whom don’t need editing. Keira Knightly recently went topless in a photoshoot to counteract all of the enhancements that had been made to her body over the years, showing her small breasts as they are. In contrast, Kim Kardashian showed off her very heavily Photoshopped assets (pun intended) on the cover of a magazine, offering up the kind of Disney-princess trimmed waist that is all but unattainable. They’re both beautiful, and I have no problem with nudity. They both look really great in their respective photographs. The contrast between their approaches deserves attention, however, in that one is actively fighting against the Photoshopped mainstream, while the other builds her brand around “perfection.”

Speaking of celebrities, I was taken aback with I found out Diplo was shaming Taylor Swift’s booty on Twitter today. (And I was taken to laughing when I saw Lorde’s response.) There’s a special kind of meanness that comes with insulting a person’s appearance. I’m not saying I’m above it – we’re all mean to each other. I’ve made comments I regret. You’ve made comments you regret. We’re probably the meanest to ourselves. To quote Lena Dunham’s Hannah on Girls: ““Any mean thing someone’s going to think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour!” And this is where we get to the part about making things a little better for ourselves and others.

As much as we all struggle with our self-image, self-esteem, self-pity, etc., we have to remember that things are changing. The fact that images like the one from Dear Kate exist is a testament to that. That there was such an outcry against Victoria’s Secret over their mislabeled ad is a point in that direction, too.  Slowly, clothing brands are taking notice that we aren’t all straight sizes – we are curvy, tall, petite and everything in between. It’s not that we don’t have a long way to go, but things are moving forward toward inclusion.

Another personal step in the right direction is to expose yourself to the many body types that exist in the world. I find Instagram especially useful for this. I follow accounts from models and actresses, yes. I also follow accounts that are all about showing body positive examples of all shapes and sizes. One of my current favorites is self-proclaimed “self-love advocate” @honorcurves, who started the #HonorMyCurves hashtag. It may sound hokey (and sometimes it is), but you can’t read some of her posts without being inspired by the beauty of your own body and the bodies of others.

Finally – and this is the ultimate kicker – we have to work to own our own bodies, our own shapes. Though I’ve definitely not overcome my hangups completely, I’m not trying to hide who I am. I’ll wear what I want to wear, horizontal stripes be damned. I’ll buy the size that fits me, not worrying about whether the smaller number makes me feel better about the physical space I take up. I’ll try to exercise more for the sake of health, not weight loss. I’ll work not to attach my worth to my waist size. Most of all, I’ll try to be kinder to others and especially myself.