Thursday, 16 February 2017

Brief, sunny

1. THE SPRING CAME

Spring is here, A Sa Pa Ring is here.

(temporarily)

(ssssh, I'm going to scare it away)

We've had two days of the most exquisite sunshine and warmth and I have enjoyed one of my top five favourite (and rare in Belgium) things: watching the menagerie in the sun. I LOVE chickens lying down in the sun, scaly legs and wings extended for maximum vitamin D, utterly peaceful for a few minutes out of their busy schedule of SCRATCHING THE SHIT OUT OF WHAT USED TO BE MY GRASS, ARGH HILLARY or the dog seeking out a warm patch on the floor, then lowering himself carefully onto it. The tortoises, who are currently in our bathroom, are just out of hibernation and mainly concentrating on eating everything in sight, but that is also pleasing to watch.



2. HOWEVER THE SUN IT BURNS
There have, however, been some problems, most notable among them being my face. You may recall that a few posts ago I was giving it all this "I've stopped using any kind of beauty product and it's made absolutely no difference," in a slightly smug way. It turns out that what was in fact happening was the winter, when the ambient light levels in our house hover somewhere between stygian gloom and pitch dark. The arrival of the sun has unfortunately revealed a starker truth: FUCK. I look like a disappointed camel. Or possibly something Lord Canarvon dug up in the Valley of the Kings, but didn't bother bringing home because it was too degraded. It's bad: blotchy, scaly, lumpy, spotty, dusty, all the bad words that end in "y". I had an actual work meeting with an actual person outside my home on Wednesday and was forced to confront the hideous truth in the process of attempting to look like a human woman you might ask to do copywriting. It involved a lot of 6 year old concealer and some light whimpering.

Any suggestions? Yes, I know I used to write a beauty blog, but that was years ago and indeed, I am still using the dregs of products I was given free back then, 5 years ago. What can I use that (i) does not cost €1000, (ii) will not give me spots (iii) has some chance of de-Ramses-ing me?


3. Sabotaged by own child
Vignette from Belgian family life:
Accompany F to town hall to get his ID card done (a year late, what's a year between friends, eh). Lady on desk refuses his photos and sends us to get new ones done. Knowing the town hall photo machine, I set off on a mad dash around nearby shops to try and assemble the necessary €6. Get back. Queue up for machine. Finally get in. Machine cash option is BROKEN and it now has a new, shiny card option which it never had on any of my 413 previous visits. Curse. Complete administrative drudgery, return home, tell T about photo machine saga, whilst handing over unnecessary sweets purchased for change. T, in mild amusement, "oh yeah, my mate broke that machine this lunchtime trying to get my ten cents coin out of it." Gngngnngngngngn. Basically, I have been screwed over by MY OWN MONEY.


This entirely pointless post merely to say: I have put the December reading up. I done it quick, loike, because otherwise it would never have got done, so don't be expecting any insights. It wasn't a great month, intellectually speaking. I think I spent most of it sick or asleep. I also have January ready, but since that will require creating a whole new page and last year that process nearly gave me a nervous breakdown, let's all enjoy December for a few days. Remember December, when we thought that 2016 was the biggest pile of rat shit imaginable? A time of innocence, my friends. Any reading recommendations from you chaps?

(nb. I have added up and I read 87 books in 2016, of which 28 (32%) were by men. I don't know why I think this is interesting, but apparently I do. I suspect that's a higher percentage of men than usual (checked, yes, 22% in 2014 and 27.5% in 2015. DAMN YOU, PATRIARCHY))

33 comments:

Jonathan said...

I bought my other half a copy of "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" a little while ago - she has been making good noises about it, so I expect I'll read it next. I took a chance on it at Christmas without looking at Amazon reviews - if you go look at them, you'll end up ordering it.

I've been reading "Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore", but kind of lost interest a third of the way in. I'll probably finish it, but more out of stubbornness than anything.

Esme Weatherwax said...

Read the above. Peered at own face,shuddered, but am mustering the temerity to offer solicited advice based on no self care evidence whatsoever: drink more water (duh!), almond oil rubbed on liberally twice daily and dab off the excess with witch hazel after a good old soak in period.

Yep. That sounds like a brilliant cheap plan! So why don't I do it then?!

Jealous of your sunshine, but scaly legs give me the heebs at the gross, reptilian, if you were a bit smaller and we were a bit bigger type reminder of who their rels were.

I too miss the heady naivetee of ratshit 2016 too - almost a pleasurable moanathon in comparison to whatever this fucking 2017 shit is going for.

No reading tips, sorry, attention span too short, as is cognisant wakeful time not at work, but I do recommend jigsaws as the new occupational therapy denial tool. Oo gimme that "soft click technology" baby yeah...

Sarah Duff said...

Han Kang's 'Human Acts' is extraordinary, although I've had to put it aside for a moment because it's relentless (in a good way, but there is a lot of violence). I'm reading Amy Liptrot's 'The Outrun' in the meanwhile. It's exquisite and sharply painful and beautiful all at the same time. Stef Penney's 'Under a Pole Star' is very long and about polar exploration and is immensely entertaining in a not-particularly-challenging way.

I'm going to read 'Why did you lie?' after I've returned to 'Human Acts'.

I don't know heaps about make-up, but swear by the Body Shop's Vitamin E night cream. It is truly made from fairy dust/the tears of unicorns.

Sally said...

I am the greasiest 43 year old in Northern England at the moment, so I mainly wash my face using Tesco's ultra strength anti bacterial hand wash which is the only thing that seems to stop the spots. Other than a flame thrower. My mother has read the Daily Mail today and has rung me up specifically to tell me I'm deficient in Vit D and that's why I have chilblains/spots/general malaise.

Reading wise, I am re reading Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies. I find reading historical fiction deeply soothing, as it has happened in the past and therefore is not stressful or modern/anxiety making. My anxiety ratchets up in the winter and only way to calm it is to talk to sheep and fat pony and read like mad. I really fancy Neil Gaiman's new book on Norse Mythology.

We start lambing in 4 weeks - must remember to send you some photos of our most photogenic lamb...will let you know how it goes xxx

Catherine said...

Hilary looks like a Light Sussex, notoriously scratchy chickens (the speckled sussex are lovely on the other hand.)

I've just read 'The Brittle Star, by David Langdale. BEST book I've read in ages, utterly absorbing, one of those you forgo telly for...

Anna Maria said...

I am currently impressed with the following: The Ordinary, which is a high-tech, but affordable brand of skincare, available from Asos. Also - M&S own brand Absolute Sleep cream. Their Pure ranges are also brilliant and great VFM. I think I had already recommended Pixi Glow Tonic, but it relatively cheap, and results are instantaneous (it contains acids that gently exfoliate). Also High Potency range from Origins, but it's pricy. I have also liked moisturisers from a brand called Kadalys.

CJ said...

Chilean rosehip seed oil, all the glow you will ever need. And "We Were The Mulvaneys", Joyce Carol Oates. It has stayed with me in a happy way.

Catharine Swash said...

Loving your peaceful photo of Hillary and Weepette...

WOL said...

It occurs to me that Hilary the hen is misnamed. You should rename her Hendini in honor of her escape artistry.

cruella said...

Reading ("reading") Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety. If I ever thought Wolf Hall was roundabout, all about important things happening in a side conversation between servants and the like, HAHA, I knew NOTHING. I am a very fast reader even in my non native language English, but this is like I've just learnt to decipher the alphabet. Brill, though. Every slow line of it.

Face: Someone said Babor and miracle ampulles (ampuoules? "ampuller" in Swedish). I have no idea. And another one said Cetaphil (what kind of a name is that anyway??).

Waffle said...

Catherine/WOL - SHE IS KILLING ME, but I love her. What to do.

Sally - I demand pictures. Even of the ugly lambs.

Esme - Nope, water is a dealbreaker. Any other liquid except vinegar is possible.

Sarah - People keep telling me to read The outrun to a degree where it is clearly impossible for me NOT to read it. I will submit. I mean, it does sound right up my street.

Waffle said...

Cruella/Sally - Basically, my reading hasn't recovered since rereading Place of Greater Safety last year. I just want to read Hilary Mantel over and over again.

(Cruella - like BUTB, there is a sort of awful, wonderful, heart in mouth momentum that builds up thro' POGS, once you've learned the kajillion names)

Linda said...

Sunscreen: I use La Roche-Posay 50+ Anthelios XL non-perfumed dry touch gel-cream. It works and it isn't expensive. For many years, I've used sunscreen every day, winter and summer, rain and shine, and my almost-70 year old face looks a lot younger, IMHO.

Patience_Crabstick said...

It never occurred to me to check the percentage of male authors that I read compared to females. A new bookish thing for me to obsess over!

The Reluctant Launderer said...

Random thoughts, in no particular order:
Books: My husband tells me that I only ever read books by women. That isn't strictly true; it might be true, however, that largely speaking, I only *enjoy* books by women. Except David Sedaris, of course.
Skin: for years I have been slapping jojoba oil on my face - for cleansing (takes off 6-year old concealer a treat) and moisturising. Means I only have one item to remember to use. Oh, and sunscreen for daytime. I can't tell you how many people remark on the fabulous of my skin. (Hahahaha. OBVIOUSLY not one person, at all, ever, my whole life - but I put that entirely down to my living in a sweating cess-pit of humidty and skin boils, and honestly, I don't think there's a product invented which can make any non-Asian person look good here. However - in colder climes the jojoba seems to calm things down. Neil's Yard sells a nice one, if you're interested.) I've also started gobbling zinc supplements and lots of vitamin c every day, because someone told me both were good for skin. It's so far made no difference to my skin at all, tho my lurid-green wee amuses the children no end.

Helen said...

I second The Outrun, Amy Liptrot. And Waitrose bottom butter (seriously).

Helen said...

p.s for your face, not your bottom, I thought to clarify

Anonymous said...

I third The Outrun. It is glorious! You will love it. By the time you're finished, if you've never been to Orkney, you may also want to move to the Rose Cottage on Papa Westray, just saying!

Gemma said...

At the risk of sounding like the worst kind of Belgian Hippy - Dr Haushka's rose day cream *fixes everything*

Kirkycheep said...

For cheap and also delicious, this is brilliant as a night cream - the texture takes a bit of getting used to but it makes your skin lovely and soft. It's no good as a day cream because it makes you too shiny. http://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/57164/Homemade-Whipped-Extra-Virgin-Coconut-Oil-Lotion

Nicola said...

.....Spring is here - life is skittles life is beer.........goodness I love your blog but the Tom Lehrer reference has pushed me out into the open. I second the suggestion of stuff from The Ordinary - very reasonable prices and effective stuff. Would especially recommend 5% Lactic Acid (bit like Pixi Glow Tonic effect but gentler), their Marula Oil and the Hylauronic Acid serum - this is fab, very moisturising without being oily so good for the daytime. Otherwise stuff from REN. To my shame I gave up on POGS but adored Wolf Hall (and Fludd - have you read Fludd?) and was mesmerised by BUTB - I felt like a rabbit in the headlights reading that. Anne B didn't stand a chance. Recently finished The Essex Serpent which I enjoyed but it felt a bit inconclusive and I couldn't help agreeing with one Amazon reviewer who said you could tell she taught creative writing....

ganching said...

Have you read Elizabeth Taylor yet? If not I will send you one as I now have duplicates!! I am currently re-reading them all and finding them as wonderful as I did the first time I read them (about 100 years ago). Seriously I am happy to send you one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
I'm going to be starting a new job in an actual office soon and I need advice on what kind of clothes to buy so that I look presentable without feeling very uncomfortable all day. I currently wear any old jeans/ pyjamas because I work from home. Soon I'm going to be surrounded by capable, self-assured "proper" adults who feel at ease in suits and high heels. I'm basically terrified about this, how should I go about it? I got a navy sack dress from Uniqlo that is pretty basic without being too casual (at least I don't think it's too casual!) but I'm at a complete loss as to how to go about choosing what to buy. Any advice would be most welcome!

Waffle said...

Anon - As you know, my working wardrobe is also mainly hobo and I have major problems when I have to be out in public.
I think a sack dress is a good start - my best and most useful work things are black, relatively sack-ish dresses. What are your feelings on silk shirts? The ones in & Other Stories are very well priced and look instantly grown up and smart, I find, with some kind of plain trousers that need not be anything nice or special (I have some H&M black ones, elasticated waist, totally fine). Check M&S for shoes that are comfortable and wearable and not hideous, yes I know this sounds improbable but my best ever boots are M&S.


Ganching - I would absolutely love that. Is there anything I can send you from here in return?

cruella said...

Anon: I am no style icon what so ever, but I work in the Swedish parliament where you're supposed to adhere to some sort of business casual dress code. Thus, being the gloomy Swede, darkish hair, blue eyes and a sallow to green complexion, I've settled for the monochrome (don't do colours well). I suggest for you sth along these lines: sack dress, one pair dressy jeans, one pair black wide trousers, one black skirt, one or two shirts (black/white/striped), boatnecked jumper to go with skirt, wide trousers or jeans. Tights. Black booties. Flats. Black short jacket. VoilĂ . To be assembled.

Good luck with new job, please tell!

Anonymous said...

Waffle and Cruella, you are both lovely and your advice is very helpful.
Waffle, I like the sound of H&M elasticated waist trousers. I have never formed an opinion on silk shirts but I will definitely bear them in mind as well because I need all the help I can get with looking instantly grown up and smart. Shoes are a whole separate issue as I develop intense rage very quickly if my feet are uncomfortable and it's probably best to avoid that in a new job! I will have a look at the M&S website and see what I can find!
Cruella, I think the dress code will be pretty similar. Yes, I think monochrome is my best bet and your excellent capsule wardrobe advice is just what I need. In my case, my complexion isn't sallow to green, it's Celtic blue/ purple-tinged with a tendency to flare up in reddish welts for any reason at all really, even just a tiny scratch and my skin is immediately on guard against whatever threats it imagines to be out there. Wide trousers sound good and it's definitely time for some new jeans as mine are all faded. Thank you very much, both of you! :)

Anonymous said...

I wait to get my book ideas from you... looking forward to January and thanks so much for the Ruth Galloway series recommendation. I'm flying thru those. Have you read any Charlaine Harris? She has a great older series the Harper Connelly's, physic who-funnies...... you're welcome.
***StacyZ**

Anonymous said...

Damn auto correct. Psychic Who-dunnits
***StacyZ**

Anonymous said...

Hello from sunny South Florida, where I welcome the gloomy rainy days like you do the sun. Anyhow, I use Palmers cocoa butter (the firmer on in...tub??) and Olay Ultra Moisture with Shea Butter for my face. I have roseacia and psoriasis on my face but regular buffing and and moisturizing you wouldn't know to look at me.

Anonymous said...

The Olay is a body wash, but I like for my face

jane said...

Recommendations:

- Beauty product: Nars bronzer. Brilliant. Easy. Makes you look healthy (even glowing).
- Book: His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet

maggie said...

I suggest, for skincare that you have a look at the website of the Canadian company, Deciem. They have a number of beauty companies under their umbrella, including The Ordinary, mentioned by a couple of commenters above. Their stuff is science based and very affordable. Their Instagram, @deciem is also worth following for new product announcements and store openings - they've just opened a store in London this week. Everything they make can be purchased directly from them online, they ship worldwide.

Helen said...

Those chickens know how to relax.