May 2020 Ipsy Glam Bag

So today my May 2020 Ipsy Glam Bag arrived— and I have to say that the special add-on I purchased for the teenager was more exciting than my goodies.

Huda Beauty Sapphire Obessions

This eye shadow palette came with a full set of make-brushes. The colors are fairly true to what you see on the cover. The teenager’s school colors are blue and gold, plus who doesn’t love a good splash of glitter.

But the glam bag… I’m not impressed with the color scheme of the actual bag. The brush from FARAH is a blending brush and has a lovely soft texture.

The Benefit Roller Lash mascara I’m not going to open right now because I recently ordered black mascara that came with my last bag.

Same story with the AutoBalm Day2Night eye shadow — the color is fairly identical to not just one but two of the recent colors sent. So I will also save this until I use the earlier product. Good news is, it’s one of my favorite eye shadow colors, a neutral bright beige with some shimmer. Hides my tired eyes.

The Moroccan Magic Maruka Honey Lip Balm will also remain sealed as I’ve gotten lip product in every Ipsy bag and don’t leave the house enough to need an extra in my purse. I’m not even sure where my purse is.

So that leaves the Soroci Spot-Light Eye Cream. Which I am actually excited about trying. I’m old— my under eyes could use some firming.

I put some on and it feels good. Only time will tell if it makes me any younger.

Here’s the video the teenager took of me unboxing my treasures: Unboxing May 2020 Glam Bag

And I decided to use this month’s bag to store unopened cosmetics and store it in our cupboard so that if the teenager and I need something we have it in reserve.

The found t-shirt

In the fall, I bought myself a new very warm coat and cashmere lined gloves from Land’s End. I was very excited about it, and in the enthusiasm of potentially being warm this winter, the t-shirt I ordered was forgotten.

It was a simple white t-shirt, but not fitted the way I like them, so I suppose that’s how it got relegated to the back of the closet.

Today I found it.

It’s a tad wrinkled, but it’s gleaming, crisp and white. In this Coronavirus pandemic, it’s suddenly exciting to have something new in my life.

So amid the decisions of today—Can I start wash and hang it outside it is my work day too busy and my boss might get upset if I step away from my computer for ten minutes? Do I use my lunch break to take the teenager to the hardware store? Should we visit two grocery stores this weekend or is that too irresponsible?—I feel new and put together.

New white T

Celebrating Hess’s and Hollywood at the Allentown Art Museum

I love beautiful custom dresses. So I knew I wanted to see the costumes from the Golden Age of Cinema currently winding down at the Allentown Art Museum.

It includes a costume worn by Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop.

And a Judy Garland dress if I recall…

I initially didn’t want to go because I really didn’t understand how ornate these costumes were. And some of them were almost 100 years old!

But what finally made me go was an odd pairing with the costume exhibit, a special day of programming celebrating now defunct local department store Hess’s.

My Hess’s Memory

My family never visited Allentown. We lived in the Slate Belt and my parents were born in New Jersey so I don’t think they considered Allentown part of our territory.

And Hess’s was fancy. The Patio Restaurant. Chandeliers. Imported French Fashions.

The flagship downtown department store was as swanky as Sak’s but right here in the Lehigh Valley. The opened in 1897 and closed in 1996.

They were purchased by the Bon Ton, which just closed this year. Bon Ton didn’t need the fancy downtown store.

My high school journalism teacher, and a mentor to me in everything writing and in many other ways, took me and maybe a couple others to a workshop at the Morning Call office in Allentown.

Afterwords, we visited the Patio. I remember being shocked and I think I had a piece of the famous strawberry pie.

They say those pies weighed 10 pounds a piece.

Hess’s reminiscing at the museum

The connection to me is obvious: Golden Age of Cinema; Golden Age of Retail.

The museum even displayed some hats and dresses from Hess’s.

My friend Gayle and I were first in line for the museum on Hess’s day and eventually the line snaked down the block.

We watched a documentary, listened to some stories and toured the costumes. Then we had strawberry tarts. I was disappointed because they had said they were serving Hess’s Strawberry Pie.

But in all seriousness, the Art Museum did an amazing job.

If you’re interested in the PBS 39 Documentary about Hess’s, it’s on YouTube.

Hess’s Documentary (1 hour)

Birthday Breakfast for the Imaginary

In my free time, I write fiction. My husband says it makes me an easier person with whom to live.

My writing focuses on a Parisian high fashion house inclined to supernatural events. The creative director is Étienne d’Amille and he’s been in my life for decades.

So, he’s my best ever imaginary friend.

He was born during the interwar era in France– March 14, 1959. Every year I try to mark his birthday in some way. When he turned 50, I took a group of my friends (the ones who “knew” him, i.e. read about him) out for dinner and margaritas.

Many of my celebrations are quiet meals at home, where we often discuss what we’d get him for a present or what he might be doing now. 

This year, I made steak au poivre.

For breakfast.

A day late.

I had intended a lovely dinner, perhaps even by candlelight, for this charming imaginary Frenchman whose memories I confuse as legitimately my own. Then I agreed to work for a colleague in the evening and my mom visited taking my daughter away. (She would have been extremely disappointed if we ate the steaks without her.) To further complicate matters, my husband and I used the early afternoon for other activities (or more accurately, one adult activity) that I’m sure Étienne would have also enjoyed.

This particular version of steak au poivre has its own “comedy of errors” moments but let me say, it might have been my best ever. After college, I became a vegetarian. This lasted eight years primarily for two reasons: 1. I don’t approve of modern factory farming and 2. I hate touching meat. Étienne, though, as a Frenchman and a divorcé, likes to cook so I got over my discomfort of dealing with meat “for him.”

Étienne’s Belated Steak Au Poivre

  • 4 small chuck tender steaks, angus beef (I got mine on markdown at Target)
  • black peppercorns
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • half a stick of butter, cut into four equal pieces of on tablespoon each
  • garlic powder (should be shallots but I didn’t have them. I often substitute fresh chives but didn’t have them either)
  • 1/2 cup brandy (I’m a liar. I didn’t have brandy. I had ginger brandy and spices rum, so I mixed them. It worked.)
  •  3/4 cup heavy cream (I’m lying again. I didn’t have cream, so I used half and half)

The process 

(I put photos on Instagram: angelackerman.)

With a heavy-bottomed skillet (mine, of course, is Le Creuset), smash peppercorns. I couldn’t find my grinder, which had my peppercorns in it. I did find a small container of peppercorns and salt that had exploded from the grinder at some point.

Next, pat steaks dry and smash them with a skillet too. Cooking can be great as a form of anger management. I bet Thug Kitchen would agree.

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt and press the peppercorns into the meat. Cook them to desired doneness and place in a warm oven.

Now, the cream sauce.

Take half the butter and cook your shallots or chives or whatever. I added about two teaspoons garlic powder. When it’s appropriately incorporated pour in the alcohol. When that starts to bubble, add the cream and slowly bring it to a boil. Let it slowly thicken, then add remaining butter. When it melts and blends into the sauce and you just can’t take it anymore, smother those steaks and eat!

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG

Back to School shopping

My daughter enters the fifth grade tomorrow. In her district, this involves moving to a new school and riding the bus with the big kids. I have never really taken her back-to-school shopping. Instead, I quietly purchase the necessities and her grandmother buys her an outfit or two and that’s the end of it.

Not this year.

She’s older so I thought I’d make back-to-school shopping a lesson in how to handle money. We started by taking $200 out of her savings account. I had already purchased the sneakers, jeans, new coat, backpack and school supplies required. We also had cleaned her drawers, sorting everything by size and removing the items that were too small, soon to be too small or just not her style any more. Those will be passed on to another child.

At the bank, she filled out her own withdrawal slip and we headed to the counter where the teller asked her how she preferred her money. She left with an envelope of mixed bills. We kept the receipt so she could keep that inside the envelope and track her purchases. I took a “mommy” envelope for the times where she would need me to pay with my credit card.

She made a list of items she wanted. With our list in hand (and eventually forgotten in her wallet) we went to the thrift store. The thrift store I frequent is a little… shady. I told my daughter not to bother trying anything on, that we’d buy it, wash it, and then try it. If it didn’t fit, we’d donate it away. We arrived during 65% hour.

We found a pair of Ralph Lauren corduroys, skinny style, with snaps at the ankles. We found two tank tops with the built-in shelf bras. We found a camouflage tank top and a polka dot long sleeve shirt. By far, her favorite discovery was the black cropped sweatshirt, zipper down with a hood, covered with Muppet style fuzz. Total spent: $8

Next, we headed to Target. Since I work at Target, we have my employee discount plus an additional 5% off if we use my RedCard. Hence, the Mommy envelope. And this particular sales week had $5 off a $20 Target brand underwear purchase. We bought two bras, ten pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks, and a pair of buckle laden black ankle boots. Total spent: $50.

After Target, we went to the mall. I have a Gap visa which I opened one year when I wanted to buy the child a coat. The extra percentage off made the deal sweeter. This summer, the financial company offered 10X reward points on purchases outside the Gap. So, when typically it requires $1,000 in purchases for a $10 Gap gift card, this promotion meant you received a $10 gift card with only $100 in purchases. I “earned” $50 in gift cards for making the Gap card my primary card for the summer (which I pay off in full every time the bill arrives).

My daughter found a cropped sweater, a cropped red zipper down sweatshirt and a sweatshirt dress with pocket in the front. She paid $9. I put it on my Gap card and she gave me the cash for the Mommy envelope.

Now a Mommy-daughter shopping trip is never complete without lunch. Child wanted wings. She loves chicken wings on the bone. Her first thought was Buffalo Wild Wings. But after consideration, she decided on the pub near our house. I’m sure Shruty’s Pub appreciates that she chose to support the local, family-owned business.

Our final stop was The Crossings Premium Outlets. I explained to dear daughter that her money wouldn’t go nearly as far here. Her first stop was Charlotte Russe. She bought two shirts for $23. Then we visited Forever 21. She found a leopard print skirt, a nice blouse, and an umbrella for $38.

“Mommy,” she said, “this place really does eat your money.”

She had grown tired at this point. But she really wanted shoes. Women’s shoes. We went to one outlet and it was athletic shoes which didn’t interest her. We had several shoes stores lined up in front of us: Merrill, Easy Spirit and Bass among them. But those are all sensible shoes. The one at the end of the row interested me most and I knew it would appeal to her too. Nine West. We entered and I think my daughter found nirvana.

Now, my daughter is ten. She wanted some heels. She can’t wear heels to school, and she’s spending her own money, so I don’t want to tell her what to buy. I allowed her to pick out one pair of ridiculous sparkly strappy shoes. She wanted two. One pair was platform. She didn’t keep those. She decided on a beaded pink pair and a pair of leopard pumps. She spent $45.

The depletion of her envelope made her visibly sad. She opted to stop shopping and bring home the remaining few dollars.

I asked if she understood why we shopped in the order we did.

“What would have happened if we came here first?” I asked.

“I would have spent all my money,” she said.