Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Questions, More Answers

Ask The Pretend Goddess

*Pretend Goddess, 
I'm throwing a holiday party in my home next weekend. I invited many people but only people I consider a friend. I invited co-workers and friends I have outside of work. Apparently, a co-worker that I did not invite found out and approached me at work about my upcoming party. She seemed hostile and angry that I didn't include her. She told me she would have invited me and that she was hurt. I told her I was sorry and pretended I was in a hurry and walked away without talking to her further. I avoided her when I saw her yesterday. Did I make a mistake by not including all co-workers? 

A: You only made a mistake if you're the boss. If you're the boss then you don't include your employees in a holiday party that takes place outside of the office. The exception is if all employees are invited. Then I would keep it in the office or a public space. 

However, you said co-worker so I'm assuming you are not the boss. You are though in a delicate situation because now you have a co-worker, someone you probably see and have some sort of relationship with on a daily basis who is upset with you, which has already affected your work environment. With that said, no, you did not make a mistake by not including this person. You said in your question you only invited people you "consider a friend" and the fact that this person confronted you about it at work tells me you made the right call. First of all, you never confront someone you have a personal issue with at work. If you had any friendship with your co-worker outside of the office, I'd think they'd ask you about it outside of the office or via email so not to be in ear shot of would-be gossipy co-workers. 

Unless there is some office policy against socializing outside of work, you are entitled to invite who you want. You really don't owe this person any explanation but since you work together and I presume you'd like your working environment to be pleasant, then I suggest you address the fact that she was not invited. You won't be able to avoid her forever. 

Keep it short, direct, and don't be overly nice. You are, after all, a little put off by the hostile approach. I'm going to assume you are, as I would be. You never know who the crazies are. This person sounds a little too intense for my taste. Send an email. Simply write: "I apologize that you are upset that you were not included in my holiday festivities. Space is limited and I chose to only include those who I have a personal relationship with outside of the office. Thank you for your understanding." Had you been approached differently, my advice would be different. 

*I've been engaged for over four months and my wedding is in less than two months. No one has offered to throw me a shower. I'm surprised that my best-friend hasn't offered. I was engaged twice before. She threw one and co-hosted the other. Since it doesn't appear that anyone is going to throw me a shower, can I throw one for myself?

A: I have to first note that I've been staring at your question for ten minutes. Not because I don't have an answer, but because I'm genuinely worried about your state of mind and your narcissism. Okay, no, you do not throw yourself a shower. That's tacky. Do you blame your friend for not throwing you a shower? Give your friend a break, and dear misguided reader, you're lucky she's still your friend. Instead of wondering why no one is throwing you a shower, you need to start examining yourself. I believe you have issues. You're on engagement number three. Why? Ever make it down the aisle or do you just like people throwing you parties and receiving free kitchen goods? With two previous showers down, I'd say you have enough place settings and blenders and don't need anymore. 

*Pretend Goddess, I wear white after Labor Day but people tell me you can't wear white in the winter. I say they're wrong. Who's right?

A: You are. Tell your friends to pick up a Vogue every now and then. Heard of the color, winter white? Even regular white is acceptable. To clarify if I may, your stark white denim, cotton capri pants, and white shorts should remain put away as should your white sandals. Last week I wore a white cashmere sweater from this season. Common sense with all clothes. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Smokey Eye or the Bold Pout?

Perfect eyes

I'm not saying you have to choose between having smokey, smoldering eyes or a brightly painted lip, you can have both. Granted if your goal is to look like a Joan Collins reject or a low-class call girl, then yes, by all means cake it all on. 
Now, there are always legitimate exceptions to every rule. Drag queens on stage, those attending red carpet events or a runway model can get away with bold eyes and lips. I'll even say you, on occasion, can get away with both, but darling, if you don't know how to do it properly and are not familiar with the phrase "less is more" or how to tone both down a bit, then you can't wear the look so don't even try as you will fail. 


I can't tell you how many times I'm at a store or restaurant and see such horrid make-up offenses. My maternal arms want to give the misguided offender a hug. I then of course want to wipe their make-up off and drag them caveman-style to my headquarters and show them the error of their ways. Oh dear readers, it's all about color selection and application. 

Just last summer I admired the lipstick that a friend of mine was wearing. She's a little tanner than I but we both have the same color hair and eyes. I didn't even test the lipstick before I bought it. Shame on me! When I stood in front of my mirror and applied the nude lipstick, I gasped. Yuck! I looked like a washed-out corpse. 
I suppose I thought nude lipsticks are created equally, though I should know better. There are pink, peach, brown, mauve, and many other shades of nude. You must know which ones are best for you. 

Until you find your perfect nude, this works: if you look at the color of the inside of your bottom lip, that is your color. You want that color enhanced. Don't match it completely. Use it as a springboard, if you will. Take that color and take it up only slightly. Day or night, that color lipstick will work despite what you choose for your eyeshadow, without fail. Personally, I prefer a sheer lipstick. My go to is Chantecaille's Tea Rose. On me, it is a cross between a sheer natural light red/pink. While not usually a fan of gloss, and I don't consider this collection a true gloss, I'm quite fond of Laura Mercier's Mini Lip Collection in Soft Nudes. The collection is great for all skin types. There is a pink, peach, brown, and mauve color in the collection and all match my skin type. Try it. Might be a great collection for you as well. Just dab a little on the center of your bottom lip and pat all the way around, smack your lips, and there you go. 

Nudes and sheer colored lips are perfect for the smokey eye look. If you cover your entire lid with any color without defining and blending, you have failed. 

I highly recommend asking a friend who knows how to apply make-up to teach you the correct techniques or ask them who they know who applies make-up well. Most people will know someone. If you were to ask me, I'd show you. After I lose my patience with you and I inevitably would, I'd send you to one of two people. The first woman is who I buy my make-up from here in Dallas. She works at a certain counter and will get whatever I need from four or five different counters. She can also tell me who knows how to apply make-up and who just sells lipstick, if you know what I mean. The other woman is a make-up artist in Dallas. I'm lucky, I have a trusted make-up saleswoman and access to a make-up artist who taught me a few application tricks and how to correctly buy make-up.

Department store saleswomen or men are sometimes helpful with the application. One made me look like a hooker and one did a fantastic job (making me not look like a hooker). Both tried selling me an assortment of products with each stroke of their make-up brush. Stay quiet and let them finish. If they don't do what you asked, simply cross them off your list, wash your face and maybe try again with someone else. A little advice if I may, you don't have to layer on the mascara for the smokey eye look. One "artist" thought creating tarantula eyelashes were key to the look. It's not. 

Like I said, I've had bad experiences and good. I hesitate to say to go straight to a make-up counter and ask them to do your make-up. I don't care what you say, their job is to sell you the products they sell. It is important to note that just because they sell make-up doesn't mean for a second that they know how to apply make-up. I assure you of that. Ask them. That's key. Tell the person behind the glass counter what look you are trying to achieve and who their best artist is and make an appointment to see them. Rule of thumb: a good make-up artist uses more than one brand. 

I must digress even further from the original point of the post for a moment. If you are at the Chanel counter at your department store to buy a must eyeliner (Precision Eye Definer), your sales associate can go to other brand counters to get anything you request. They work on commission and want your business and for you to be a return client. Don't be afraid to say to the Chanel associate that you'd like to try say the Trish McEvoy Barely There Essential Lip Pencil, which is a must anyway. It's a chubby lip pencil/lipstick and it belongs in your make-up bag. My point is, don't feel pressured to buy all your make-up from one counter. 

While I encourage certain drugstore brands, it is rather difficult to test lipsticks when there are no testers and no one there to tell you that you're blind. Same goes with eyeliners. You want an eyeliner that is easy to apply and blend. It should go on smoothly without force. Blending your eyeliner is key to creating the perfect smokey look. And you really need to play with different colors under the right light and mirror. You won't know if the color is right if you're judging the color based on how it looks in plastic wrapping at your local drugstore. Regarding eyeliner, if you have to pull your eyelid to apply the liner, then it's not right. It's not the best pencil for blending. Though I will say that Revlon has a great budget friendly eyeliner. It goes on smoothly and is true to color. 

To save money at the make-up counter, I like to buy eye shadow palettes with the shades I wear most. Neutrals for day and anywhere from grays to plum shades for evening. 

When I choose a bold red lip for a night out, I like to use creamy light eyeshadows with a dark liner. Laura Mercier cream shadows have a classic look. They pair well with not only the right shade of red but will also work with most any lip color. Please know, that not all reds are the same. My best red is one with blue undertones, yours may not. 
Two of the above Laura Mercier brand eye shadows that blend well together and look great on most skin types are: Platinum and Gold. With that said, I encourage you to test for yourself. 

Pale skin tones cannot always wear the same colors that someone with olive skin can wear. Everyone can wear nude lips, though. I promise! There is a nude color made for every skin tone. I can't stress that enough. 
Everyone and I mean everyone, even red heads, can wear red lipstick (if it's the correct red), and everyone can have the smokey eyes. If you don't know how to do it, then wait until you learn. You may have to try several different make-up artists or read a few how-to's but you'll get it. 

Jennifer Lopez can sometimes get things right

Hilary Duff 

The infamous home-wrecker  (Angelina Jolie) does know her make-up
or her make-up artist does. 

I dislike Kim Kardashian's make-up
more times than not (see below) but this time she got it right. 

WRONG!! This doesn't work. Best example of tarantula eyes. 

For tips about eyeshadow techniques I recommend these two sites:

Chanel Precision Eye Definer

Some of my chosen products: 
Laura Mercier Eye Basics
Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card For Eyes
Laura Mercier Metallic Cream Eye Color

Chanel Professional Eyeliner Duo

Trish McEvoy The Essential Pencil
Cover Girl LashBlast Volume Mascara

Laura Mercier Portable Palette (Warm Neutrals)
Chanel Luminous Intense Lip Color
Laura Mercier Soft Nudes
Chantecaille "Lip Chic" Lip Color

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday's Advice. You asked, I answered.

Each week I will post questions I receive and answer them with the honesty and straight to the point approach you deserve. I won't sugar coat. If you can't handle the truth, I suggest you don't ask. 

Dear Pretend Goddess,
 I have been happily married for almost 10 years. My husband is a nice, caring man. We have children and a wonderful life together though I find myself thinking of my ex a lot. More than I should. I google his name every once in awhile in hopes to find out where he is in life. I found his Facebook page. Sometimes I think I'm obsessed with him. Should I reach out to him and let him know that I still think of him?

*Um, wow. I'm not sure this is a question for me. Do you have a shrink? No? Get one. 
Let me start off by saying, no, you should absolutely NOT contact your ex. Leave him and what was in the past. Stop googling him and stop looking at his FB page. It's not healthy and it is unbelievably disrespectful to your husband. 
Are you as happily married as you say? A happily married woman who is obsessed with searching for her ex online? Hmm. 
Stop. Stop it now. You are obsessed. There is no question about it. 
Listen and listen carefully: if there is something going on in your marriage that is prompting you to continuously search your ex's name, then you need to talk to your husband (about the issues, not your obsessive online searches) and seek couples counseling. With that said, ask yourself what you hope to gain by contacting an ex from so many years ago? You're married with children and chances are, so is he. Leave the past and what you had where it belongs, in the past. 
I'm not saying I never think about an ex from time to time. I don't think that's unnatural. There are even songs that are still painful to listen to if I hear them on the radio. You know what I do when the song comes on? I switch the station. 
I'm not saying I've never googled an ex's name either. I have. But I can honestly say it wasn't in hopes to contact him or to reach out to him. I was curious and that is natural. Though you have crossed the point of natural curiosity. When I did google my ex I saw his life was as predictable as I had thought and I was satisfied with him as an ex. 
I'm married like you and want to stay that way. You need to say good-bye to the fantasy of your ex and concentrate on your reality. 
By the way, you will come across as an absolute fool if you contact your ex. You'll regret it. You will lose much more than your dignity and self-respect. 
Now go give your husband a hug and refill your meds. 

Dear Pretend Goddess, 
Who do I tip over the holidays? Do I pay extra to my housekeeper?

*Yes dear, you do pay your housekeeper extra. Give the tip or as I say, holiday bonus at the first of December or as close to that as possible. The reason is so they have extra money for their own holiday shopping. Plus, giving the bonus early in the month is thoughtful because it allows them the time to do their shopping without worry. How much to tip? Well, that's up to you. I double my housekeeper's salary. 

You also want to be generous to your hairstylist as well. I give a holiday bonus and a present. That's just me though. She makes me beautiful and I love her dearly. 
Rule of thumb: anyone who performs a service for you on a regular basis should receive a holiday tip. 

Don't forget your doorman if you live in a building or guard, if you live in a gated community. I usually gave baked treats when I lived in a gated community though. That is up to you. Also, be a bit more generous to valet attendants and wait staff this holiday season. 
Parents, if you plan on going out on say New Years Eve or a holiday and use a babysitter, you better pony up the cash. If doubling what you'd usually pay an hour is too high, then pay time and a half. Still too much? Then don't go out. 

Now, I must draw the line somewhere. A few years ago my paper delivery man put a card in my mailbox asking, yes asking, for a holiday tip. He was even so bold as to enclose a self addressed stamped envelope. I was appalled. I do not tip when someone tells me to. I don't get the paper anymore because I'm not sixty years old and read my news online. I threw his card away. It was tacky. I don't doubt extra cash would have been helpful for him and his family, as he suggested in the card but he broke a rule and asked. 

Dear Pretend Goddess, 
I'm in my early 20's and I'm deeply in love with my boyfriend but I'm also in love with a woman whom I've been sleeping with for the past several months. She and I have have something I've never had with anyone else. I don't think I'm a lesbian. I'm probably bisexual because I love my boyfriend too. The other woman knows I have a boyfriend and is pressuring me to end it with him to be with her. I don't want anyone to get hurt. 

*You didn't ask me a question but I will give you my thoughts anyway. 
I don't think you are bisexual and I won't say if you're gay or straight. I think you already know on some level if you are gay or not. Whichever is okay, okay? I think once you grow and experience life more, you'll gravitate toward a specific gender. This answer is based on me asking at least ten of my gay friends who are well past their twenties. What your sexuality is at the moment is not the issue. 
What's not okay is that you are cheating. Doesn't matter if it's with the same sex, it's still cheating and it's wrong. If you're not ready to come out and I suspect you're not, you need to at the very least end it with your boyfriend. 
You didn't just experiment with another woman out of curiosity, you've been having an affair that has gone on for several months. 
Let me add that you are not "deeply in love" with your boyfriend otherwise you wouldn't cheat. 
As well as ending it with your boyfriend out of fairness to him and yourself, I'd suggest ending it with the other woman too. At least for a while to process your feelings and who you are as an individual. I can understand her pressuring you to end things with your boyfriend because what you're doing isn't fair to her either. 
Maybe after some time apart from both, you'll have a clearer understanding of who you are and who you want to be with. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Holiday Gift Guide is here to help with all those people in your life who either "have everything" or are simply hard to shop for during the gift giving season. I love holiday shopping. No, I'm not one of those. You know the people that make a mad dash to the local mall a week before Christmas with only hurried presents and little thought about the recipients. Well, maybe I shouldn't judge what most people do. The very thought of going to a mall during the holiday season makes me want to put a fork in my eye. I started my shopping the first of October. Obnoxious, I know. 
Wooden Tree and Ornament Set
Fall season is when I start listening to my friends & family. The rest of the year I usually stare at people blankly while nodding my head pretending to listen. If say a friend mentions a sweater she wants I write it down. If I hear, "I love this__ but I can't buy this right now," I know I'll buy it. 

Then there are times I'm shopping for myself in a store or online and while I don't find anything for myself, I find the perfect gift for a close friend. Never a mention of this particular item in our conversations but know that it is the perfect gift.
So many gifts are not. Unless you really know someone, I would stay away from an array of things while shopping for someone. What to stay away from?  Perfumes, scented creams or any body product for that matter. That is unless you know the person well enough to know their taste in scents. For example, my friend Brooke has known me for twenty-six years and knows that if she buys me lemon, gardenia, or rose-scented anything, I'd love it. I have to add that there are a few scented products that are the exception, as you will see from the below list. The scented products I've recommended are light and heavenly. I dare anyone to disagree. 

I was reminded of why one needs to be careful when shopping for scented products earlier in the day while testing products. I received a sample of scented organic banana cream. I opened the lid to smell and just as I suspected it smelled awful. I was haunted by the smell of artificial bananas for the next ten minutes. I smiled and thought, "If anyone were to ever buy me this, then I would know they don't know me." I rolled my eyes at the jar of cream when I read, "organic." As if I'm to say, "yea organic cream!" No, I could care less. Also, I love the smell of banana bread baking in the oven. I just don't want to smell like something edible. Stay away from such creams for someone as a holiday gift unless you know them well enough to know that they want to smell of artificial flavoring.

Think about the recipient's personality when shopping for a gift, the colors and decor of their home, their personal style, and products or items they already own. Sometimes you can go with an item they already own and expand on it. For instance, if you are shopping for someone who loves cooking and they have a Le Creuset dutch oven, perhaps buy them a set of mini cocottes. They are great for individual servings. If you don't know what cocottes are, you will. 

Now are you ready for The Pretend Goddess' 2012 Gift Guide? Good, because I just watched Oprah's Favorite Things and I was quite disappointed. Yawn. 

Keep in mind these are items I feel make great gifts for any occasion, not just for the holiday season. 

Gift ideas for any of the categories below are endless. If these specific items do not fit your budget, then similar gifts can be found at different price points at any department or specialty store.  

Click on the name of product for ordering and product information. 
Home, Office, & Kitchen

Lucite Trays at iomoi

Glass Coasters by iomoi

Enamel Picture Frames by C. Wonder
Colored Glass Votives by C. Wonder

Shopping Charm Notecards by C. Wonder
Shoe Correspondence Cards by Smythson

Gift Receipt Card by Bella Muse

2013 Calendar Gift Box with Silver Easel

Gold Wishbone by Jayson Home
Six "Marseilles" Flutes
Mice Cheese Board by C. Wonder

Mini Cupcake Maker by C. Wonder

Mini Cocottes by Le Creuset

Peace & Love Coasters by Jonathan Adler
Flowers in a Can by Fred Flare
Carriere Freres Candle                    
The Vynbar Classic Stainless Steel Vertical Wine Rack

"Bacon is Meat Candy" Bacon of the Month Club
Tasting Room Wine of the Month
The Gospel According to Coco Chanel


Polka Dot Vase by Kelly Wearstler
Vitamix Professional Series 500 Blender
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

Pajamas, Robes, & Lounge Wear

Lorient Short Pajama Set
Lorient Long Robe by Marigot
Classic Long Cable Sweater by Marigot
Flannel PJ Set by Gap
40 Blinks Ultralight Sleep Mask by Bucky
Vintage Short-Sleeve Pajama Set

Dot Slippers by Gap
Sweater Robe by Victoria's Secret

Jewelry, Beauty, Fashion & Miscellaneous

The Essential Scarf by Everlane
Monogram Jewelry Box by C. Wonder

NARS Andy Warhol Edie Set

Clarisonic (1 speed) Mia

Tech Touch Gloves
Wrenz Birdie Speakers

Arrow Bangle

Frederic Fekkai Creme Luxueuse

Hasbro Electronic Catch Phrase
Best of Lips Palette by NARS

Strummer Sunglasses by Oliver Peoples

Body Milk by Santa Maria Novella

Pop Phone Handset by C. Wonder

Metal Water Bottle

Metallic Python Embossed Reversible Belt
Bomb Coin Wrap Bracelet