Retail Therapy: 5 Sephora Items On My Wishlist

I’m no stranger to retail therapy. I try to hold myself back, but sometimes it’s just what I WANT RIGHT NOW. Kinda like stress eating! If I was independently wealthy and I could visit a gigantic Sephora right this second, these are the items I’d grab to soothe myself.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche GingersnapOrigins Energizing Essentials set because I’ve heard wonderful things about Origins, I’m jonesing for skincare lately, and the sizes in this sampler are pretty generous.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick in “Gingersnap” because that color. I’m also fairly smitten with the idea of Bite Beauty products. Everything is food grade (not that I’m snacking on my lipstick) and they’re supposed to be excellent quality.

tarte Tartelette Tease eyeshadow palette for traveling mostly. If I get the new job I’ve been interviewing for, I’ll be traveling to NYC a few times a year for team meetings and whatnot, so it’d be nice to have a small, trusty eyeshadow palette that covers the day and nighttime bases.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in “Light Warm” because I tried a sample, and it blew my freaking mind. Seriously. I hardly ever find a concealer that super duper impresses me, but this stayed beautifully, brightened my under eyes, and added some extra coverage to my nose where I have a really hard time getting my foundation to stick.

YSL tint in oil rose youYSL Volupte Tint-In-Oil in “Rose You” even though it’s indulgent and crazy at $32. These oil tints are supposed to be wonderfully hydrating, and I find that I avoid reapplying lipstick throughout the day. Once my initial morning color wears off, I can see something like this being an afternoon go-to.

What products are you lusting after lately? 

Just Stop

I am in a hard place. Those of you who know me online have known this for a while. Those closest to me know the full extent of it, and I chose to write this in this space because it’s the most private from my everyday life.

This week was painful for several reasons. Hell, the last year and a half has hurt. The problem? A toxic work environment. I’ve spoken of it at length, raged about it online, generally bitched and moaned in order to loosen the steam valve on my brain to make it tolerable. I feel betrayed by a place that gave me so many riches as a student. Now, as staff member, I just feel degraded.

This week was a second job interview for a position that I would never have dreamt for myself and for which I hope with all my heart. The initial charge of that potential opportunity, a new future, was like a high I haven’t felt in years. Like I might actually have a chance of being valued and trusted in an exciting, challenging work environment. Now, I wait. I am not good at waiting. I do feel that I have sold myself short in what I could do professionally. I will try harder, reach further going forward.

Waiting makes going to my current job even harder. When I say it is toxic, I don’t know how to make it clear just how horrible. We are a community of people with lackadaisical leadership. No structure. Pure chaos. Constantly set up to fail but expected to make it work…somehow. However. Friends dragged to HR for their perceived sins, all of us scrounging for new opportunities. Anything. Anywhere.  While we are not a team, we are a community. A group of frustrated friends who take turns being at the end of our respective tethers. Leadership is oblivious even though we’ve spoken. I want to gut the place with fire.

I’m sick several days per week. It usually starts on Sunday as the anxiety rises in anticipation of what Monday will bring. A good day of praise? A day to be thrown under the bus? There’s never any knowing.

This past week I had two hematologist appointments. I was so relieved to find that five months after my last of 17 iron infusions, my hemoglobin continues to rise. What passed through my mind? If I decide to quit–if I physically and mentally cannot stick with this, and if I don’t have a new job lined up–I don’t have to worry about those monstrous medical bills from bi-weekly iron infusions. A little solace, maybe?

On Thursday I felt less than ok. A bit like I was walking around underwater. I came home from work at lunch and slept for four hours. Just slept. Nights are full of wakefulness, days are headaches, stomach spasms, knots in my body.

I am mentally plugging along. Throwing on charm for interviews. Head down, grinding forward in my daily duties. Smiles for friends. My body, on the other hand, shows me the truth. Just stop. You cannot continue.

Inside my head, I’m curled up in a tiny ball with the shades closed and the blankets pulled up. Waiting. Hoping. Praying.

Something has to change. Everything in me says…just stop. Stop reading. Stop writing. Stop doing. Just breathe. Something must change, and it will. The pain of waiting is unbearable. Something will happen even if I have to walk away from this work and put us in a position to struggle.

I know my husband would not fault me for it, but I am trying my best to wait until I can pin down the next thing that will fortify my half of the responsibilities.  If you miss me, know that I am just getting by.

I do not need pity, but I certainly do and have appreciated your virtual hugs and well wishes. I have to write these things to work through them. 


5 Favorite Body Products and 1 DIY!

Dry skin girl, right here. In winter it’s terrible with all the cracking and flaking. Crypt keeper status.

Every year I’m on the hunt for the best of the best in body care products because I don’t just have a problem with a flaky face, but I itch everywhere if I can’t nail down some great products for my back, legs, arms, everyyyyything.

Some links below are Amazon affiliate links and will result in a wee tiny profit for me if you click through and purchase. 

NIVEA In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion: My mom got me onto this. I’d seen plenty of YouTube reviews of it leading up to winter, but I seriously had my doubts. Shower lotion? Wouldn’t it wash off to the point of being completely ineffective? Woudln’t it make my shower slippery and potentially result in a broken neck? I can safely report that neigher of those things are true. While this hasn’t replaced a regular lotion regimen, it does give me a little extra moisture in problem areas like my hip slopes that tend to get dry but where I often forget to add additional lotion.

bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub: This is stinking expensive, but I have a tip…look for it at Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx for about half the regular price. I love lemon scents, and this body scrub is exceptionally smooth, creamy, and smells delicious. I slather it onto my arms and legs and any other dry patches before I turn on my shower water and it really helps exfoliate. My husband uses it on his gritty elbows, and it’s made a huge difference.

Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub: This is similar to the bliss scrub, but it’s a little denser, not as creamy, but it’s certainly very scrubby. I love this one for the sweet, maple scent (don’t worry, it’s not so mapley that you’ll smell like a pancake). Since it’s a denser consistency, you really need to hose down in the shower before you apply it or it’ll bunch up and crumble off. Soap and Glory used to be at Sephora, but they’ve moved to Ulta, and while this product is about $15, they regularly run a $3.50 off of $10 purchase coupon that’ll bring this one down a little further.

Bath and Body Works Ultra Shea Body Cream: My absolute favorite body lotion! While I have dry, sometimes sensitive skin, the fragrances in Bath and Body Works lotions don’t bother me. I slather my favorite scents on before work in the morning and before bed at night to stay good and moisturized. I go through about a tube per month at this rate. Right now I’m working through the Strawberry Bourbon Vanilla scent which lasts all day, and the Limoncello which is a little lighter, and the scent wears off in a few hours.

Magical homemade body lotion: A friend at work brought some homemade lotion to work, and when I tried it, I fell in love. This is a simple mixture of baby lotion, coconut oil, and vitamin E cream that moisturizes so, so well. This is good enough that I can slap it on my craggy lizard feet with some socks at night and it moisturizes very deeply and thoroughly. I prefer not to use this on my hands during the day since it takes a little longer to soak in than most lotions, but it does an amazing job on really dry skin and cracked fingers, and I think it’d be great for sensitive skin gals since you can choose your ingredients and use an unscented baby lotion base if you’d like. Get the recipe here.

Remedy Remedy Roll-a-lotion Applicator. This thing. It looks cheesy, but it is miraculous! I tend to get really dry, scaly skin on my back and at the base of my neck since I like to wallow around in too-hot shower water. Ever since my husband bought this for me, though, I don’t have any problems. I fill it with a thinner formula body lotion like Bath and Body Works body lotion (not the Ultra Shea Body Creams, though that would probably work) and apply it after showering. Voila!




Making the Brain Space to Reflect: A Secret Wish

I was a fairly reflective child, teen, young adult. I was always reading something, writing, drawing, designing clothes, taking my She-Ra action figures out for a spin, singing to the sunset, and those other whimsical things kids come up with when they live in the sticks with nothing else to do in the days pre-dating social media. In those earliest days, even before remote controls.

As a college student studying art, I could spend hours in the studio. Whole days locked away with a project, a Discman, and a CD sleeve. Hours alone, silent, feeling out the latest assignment.

In graduate school studying the relationships between folk tales and graphic narrative, it was hours at the computer in the digital archives, reading books, and putting words to keyboard.

Then I grew up. That is, I got a job–several, in fact. Had a baby. Became a single mom. My internal life was the last thing I wanted to think about. Laid off and hoping for another job, every day was about looking for something new, maintaining what little work I had.

Then I got married…the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I am so fortunate to have a husband who is my partner in every way, and with that comes the brain space to reflect a little. To reflect again. For so many years, it seems, I was just trying to get by. Just surviving…trying to find enough head space for work, motherhood, and self-care (ie reading).

Blogging has always given me room for creativity…even when things were hard. But I’ve also had a very solid wall erected around me. If someone had asked me in the last six years what my dreams were, I would’ve said I don’t have dreams anymore. Who has time for that when there’s real life to take care of?

I had a hard time deciding whether or not I should even start this blog. I’m so proud and content with my first home online, Estella’s Revenge. Will I have the time and creativity to maintain both? Is this idea of a “hub” for what I’m doing of interest to anyone but me?

Time will tell on all counts, but this space is my space to dream a little. Because, you see, I have a secret wish. A secret wish buried so deep in my chest that I don’t speak it. Only the people closest to me know. It’s not a dream so different from other people…many of you reading here, or who know me from Estella’s Revenge. This is my space to dream about writing whatever I want. No topic is off limits.

It’s also a space to dream about making writing a viable thing. I can honestly say, after 11 years of blogging, that writing is what I love best in the world. I love the community that has come from blogging. I love the friends I’ve made. I feel less alone for having written all this time.

I don’t know if I can make writing a thing that makes me enough money to live on. And I’m not sure that’s even the point. I do know that nine years ago I turned down a PhD at the best university in my field because I wanted to write things that more people would read. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than an academic community.

I’m 36 in November, and it’s time to write. It’s time to take these fingers out for a spin, and this is something of a testing ground. Nothing on my book blog will change…it would break my heart if it did. But this is a place to stretch my legs, play with words, and see what I can do. An escape and a test lab all at once.

I want you along for the trying.

Absolutely Indispensable Apps

Note to Self PodcastI recently started listening to the Note to Self podcast produced by WNYC studios thanks to Shannon from River City Reading. The show’s tagline is “the tech show about being human,” which could not be any more intriguing to me. Note to Self recently did a short podcast series called Infomagical, which is all about fighting information overload. You can bet there are more posts coming up on that topic, but for now, one of the Infomagical daily tasks prompted this post.

Day 2’s task was to tidy up cell phone apps KonMari style. I managed to trim down my apps by about a third and shuffle them into folders that take up less than one screen on my phone. Success!

And the apps I’m left with, a few in particular, I consider indispensable.

apple podcastsWe might as well start with Apple’s standard Podcasts app. I have a half-hour commute each way to work, so I like feeding my brain with podcasts rather than listening to inane morning radio.

I’ve been on an organizing jag lately, and ever since I read Getting Things Done by David Allen, I’ve adopted Evernote as my daily organization system.

hootsuite appWhen it comes to work, I wear a lot of hats, but one of those hats is managing multiple social media accounts for the university where I work. Hootsuite is by far the friendliest app for handling social media on the go. Live Tweeting, anyone? Especially if you’re cross-mojonating between Twitter accounts. Oy!

red cross tornado appThis one might seem a little random, but if you live anywhere near Tornado Alley, it doesn’t hurt to have the Red Cross Tornado app. This one has come in handy for my family a few times as of late. We don’t have network TV in our home, so having several touch points for weather alerts is integral.

I’m a lazy ass who doesn’t make her own coffee in the morning (mostly because of that commute I mentioned), so I stop by McDonald’s for a medium or large cup of coffee every day. The McDonald’s app has a punch card for McCafe beverages. For every five you buy, you get one free!

Now, help me feed my addiction. What are your indispensable apps? 


13 Things I’m Not Sorry For

  • Wearing smoky eyes to work
  • Correcting PhDs’ grammar for a living
  • Bookworming
  • Making money writing
  • Being a blue dot in a really red state
  • Not wasting my worries on standardized testing
  • Introverting
  • Loving my own damn haircut
  • Not always putting on an engaged facial expression
  • Leaving marriage toward the bottom of my priority list
  • Having a “tone” in my emails
  • Being tickled about clothes, shoes, makeup, and home decor
  • Not really liking cats (there, I said it)

What’s Going On Here?

In the year 2015, I got tired of being sorry. Well, first I got really angry. Then I stopped being sorry. Then I read a comic called Bitch Planet where women who do “wrong” are sent to an intergalactic prison. If Bitch Planet was a reality, I would’ve gotten shipped off at some point down the line.

But let’s back up a little. I started blogging in 2005 at It’s a book blog, a very active one, and occasionally I’ve written about other things there. But as 2015 rolled into 2016 and as my head began to fill up with thoughts and opinions I hadn’t ruminated on in years, I decided to start this site to catch all the things I wasn’t documenting and to be a hub for Other Things I Want to Do with myself and my writing.

So I’m here. This is my place to write about what I love, what I like, what I loathe and not be sorry. Anything goes. Age brings clarity and fewer fucks to give.

Women who are shipped off to Bitch Planet are considered non-compliant. That’s where the title of this site came from. The network part works two ways. This site is the middle of a network of things that I do, but it’s also I place I hope other women will share their own thoughts about…whatever. We’ll start with not being sorry.


The Man With the Gun in the Park Today

This post originally ran at

I was born and raised in Texas. I was raised in a gun culture. Nowadays, every American has to realize that they have been raised in a gun culture, but some locales are more…boisterous…about it than others. Undeniably, Texas holds onto a “wild west” persona. A badder-ass-than-you take-my-guns-and-die pompousness.

Texas recently became an open carry state. That is, licensed gun owners can carry their weapons in public, over their clothing, in approved holsters. This is an especially polarizing issue even among gun owners.

Today I saw my first open carrier in public. Throughout the debates about campus carry and open carry, those in favor of guns are quick to point out that on the whole, gun owners are a responsible, reverent lot who cherish their guns and wouldn’t do things that are against the law to endanger owning them…or ya know…going to prison, so imagine my surprise, playing with Greyson at a favored local park, when I looked up and saw a man with a gun in a holster on his leg. Was I scared? Oddly, no. Not at all. The man was playing with his kids…a toddler and one younger, just able to walk. I was sitting on a bench across the park watching my own child run and play.

While I wasn’t scared, I was most definitely angry. There’s a sign at the front of the park declaring it a weapon free zone. I get so sick of hearing how responsible gun owners are, and they’d never put their ownership in jeopardy. Apparently this carrier was lacking in common sense and the ability to read.

Another excuse that slays me is that gun carriers have a RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. All caps for a reason. Imagine someone shouting it to the rooftops, if you will. But I have to wonder, in that moment, in a park full of children, mothers, the elderly, and one other dad, who was he worried about protecting himself from?

Finally, I am selfishly upset at having to explain these laws and these behaviors and this culture of intimidation and violence to my child. My son did not notice the man’s gun today, but what if he had? How does a parent answer those questions? Recently, Greyson got in trouble at school for telling a classmate, “I’m gonna kill you!” when he was angry. Lord knows where he heard it. It could’ve been anywhere. Of course we had a long talk about what that means and why it’s unacceptable.

But today, in a children’s play area at a park, a man was carrying a gun so he could kill or harm someone if he needed to. The truth: don’t say “kill” son, but you definitely have the right to wield a weapon made for killing.

And we wonder where we went wrong.

6 Home and Digital Lifehacks

This post originally ran at

Ahhh, lifehacks. We all have ’em. Little things we do or habits we adopt to make things easier. Personally, I always like learning about other people’s little tips and tricks, efficiency habits and whatnot, so here is a short selection of mine.

Note: none of this is sponsored. I just like and use this stuff. 


Wake up with a smile. Mornings set the tone for the whole day, and for the longest time one of my least favorite things was getting my 5-year-old up and around in the morning without any major meltdowns. After quite a few hits and misses, especially since he started kindergarten, we turn his light on 10-15 minutes before he has to get up, and then I massage his back and head with a battery-powered massager to bring him fully around. The kid wakes up smiling and giggling, and it’s a lot smoother transition into picking clothes for the day (another harrowing activity with a young ‘un) than what we did before.

Rotate your products. I have a lot of makeup. This was not the case for most of my life, but now that I’ve immersed myself in this particular hobby and creative endeavor, I have way more products than I actually need. I keep a large’ish makeup bag of products…a weekly makeup basket if you will…which is a mix of items I use daily and some items that I rotate out weekly. I always rotate my eyeshadow palettes by week to get use out of all of them, and I also rotate other color products like blushes and lippies. Everything gets used, and I don’t get bored. The downside (kinda): it’s quickly apparent what I don’t like and what I should’ve skipped buying completely.

Multitask your food. This is not a new concept in the slightest, but it’s something I have to be really mindful of. This past week I wanted to streamline our cooking as much as possible. I wanted to cook at home, have “real” food, but also cut down on the work because my husband was out of town. I had a pound of venison sausage in the freezer, so I made pizza with a small portion of the sausage, and we threw the rest into a pot of chili when he got home. Real food made at home, lots of iron for me, leftovers for work, and nothing went to waste. Same deal with a crock pot of chicken thighs or some taco meat that can be re-purposed throughout the week.


Tag, tag, tag. And cross-tag. Whether I’m using email, a project management software at work, or Evernote for organizing my everyday, I find myself completely dependent upon tags. If something is taggable, I’m tagging it. I’m one of those people who wants to put things into multiple categories if multiple categories apply, and tags make that easy. They also make for easy searching when I can’t quite remember where I’ve filed something. This sounds super simple, but it’s really easy to overlook the tag function…especially in a new-to-me software or app.

One-stop savings. I love savings. If I’m shopping in person or online, you can bet I’ve looked for a coupon somewhere. However, I’ve also been on a mission to curate my digital life, so I’m not really down with receiving a gazillion digital coupons. With that in mind, I often use a universal coupon app like Shopular to see if there are any applicable deals to my online shopping or my in-person purchases. It’s easy to search by store and get a quick look at the available offers in the area.

Earn money back. Kind of in the same vein, when I do shop online, I hate paying shipping. HATE! In fact, I often won’t buy anything online if I can’t avoid the shipping cost or earn it back in savings. helps with some of this. It wrangles a site’s active coupons and promotions into one place and by using their affiliate link to go to the site you’re shopping from, you earn a percentage of your money back. It’s completely legit with checks or PayPal payments sent to you quarterly. This negates *some* of the shipping costs, and since we always do a lot of our holiday shopping online, I can earn at least a little bit back during that time of year.

Now this is where it gets really juicy. What are some of your favorite lifehacks? I need to know!