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Month: December 2015

Very American Questions About Christmas Trees

Very American Questions About Christmas Trees

Very American Questions About Christmas Trees

For whatever reason, the process of getting a Christmas tree has really brought out my Americanness. I hadn’t considered myself a big stickler for traditions, but suddenly, I’m trying to recreate an American Christmas tree. I’ve made compromises, but I’ve also promised myself to stock up on certain decorations the next time we go to the US.

Despite spending Christmas here before, I’ve remained pretty clueless as to how O’ Tannenbaum works here. These are some of the important questions I’ve been irritating my husband with.

1. Do you know what a tree-skirt is?

I tried to find a tree-skirt on Amazon (Amazon.de that is. Amazon.com has a whole section of them!) without much luck, so I decided to ask my husband if he even knew what one was. He did not. I tried describing it, and he seemed to have no clue what Germans actually put under the tree. When I asked him how he intended to keep needles and sap off of the floor, he suggested we put a trash bag under it.

His lack of a proper solution made me question whether his lack of knowledge about tree-skirts was a German thing or just a Mr. Faultier thing, so I asked a friend whose family had lived in both the US and Germany. She wasn’t sure if they could be found here either, so we asked her mother who informed us that Germans usually use blankets. Not trash bags like Mr. Faultier suggested.

If you don’t know what a tree-skirt is, it’s usually a round blanket or small, festive tarp that is made to wrap around the bottom of the tree. It’s got a hole in the middle and a split from the middle to the outer edge that can usually be tied or velcroed together.

Photo by jenn - She also made it herself! Maybe I should knit one for next year.
Photo by jenn – She also made it herself! Maybe I should knit one for next year.

Essentially like a skirt for the tree. I had planned on making my own from a table cloth until we stumbled upon a small round rug. It goes under the tree and stand instead of wrapping around, but it has the same look and makes it easier to water the tree. I’d call this a cultural-compromise win.

Tree Blanket
Bonus points for the Christmas squirrels.

2. Where can I get a star for the top of the tree that lights up?

Apparently like tree-skirts, light-up stars are not a thing here. The most common top-of-the-tree decoration I’ve found so far are these fancy spike things that remind me of Prussian helmets that saw pictures of in history class. There are stars, too, but they just sit on top of the tree and might be covered with glitter and not lights.

Growing up, we always saved the star for last when decorating the tree, and plugging it in was our big sign that the tree was finished, and we were ready for Christmas. I don’t normally get very homesick, but the idea of not having this moment with our tree in Germany made me miss home quite a bit.

American Christmas Tree
My family’s tree from last year. Look how bright the star is!

I haven’t found an adequate replacement yet. My current plan is to buy one of those sparkly stars or spikes and to hunt down a light-up star for next year – even if I have to pick one up over Thanksgiving and make it work with our electricity.

3. Why are all the trees so fat?!

German Christmas tree people seem to leave the trees as nature intended, instead of grooming them in to full, symmetrical cones. This means that they end up puffy on the bottom and sparse on the top, sometimes with empty sticks reaching for the sky at the top that you have to trim off yourself.

American German Christmas Tree Comparison
Left Tree Photo by cathryn040, Right Tree Photo by Hans

We weren’t looking for a big tree, but we needed a fairly narrow one for our apartment. Unfortunately all the small and medium ones were quite wide. It seemed that the width did not vary much, just the height. We managed to find a big one that looked like it had gotten squished on two sides, which ended up fitting into our space perfectly – after we cut off the top bit. It’s much bigger than Mr. Faultier expected. I think he wanted one shorter than me and ended up with one taller than him!

Our Christmas Tree
Mr. Faultier also thinks I put up too many ornaments.

We do have these weird bits growing up at the top that I suggested cutting off. But apparently it’s a ‘King Tree’ and I’m not allowed to cut his crown.

ChristmasTreeCrown
I suppose it looks majestic?

I’m pretty happy with the tree, even with my conflicted feelings about its crown. It makes the apartment feel very homey – and it smells good, too!

Sleek MakeUP Garden of Eden Palette

Sleek MakeUP Garden of Eden Palette

If you followed me on Snapchat (FaultierBeauty), you would have seen that I got myself a present a bit ago. I had been doing a pretty good job resisting some of the Amazon Cyber Week sales, but several Sleek eyeshadow palettes kept popping up. I’ve seen some good reviews of Sleek, so I’ve been wanting to give them a try, and the opportunity kept presenting itself last week.

Many of the palettes tended to be quite dark, but then I spotted the Garden of Eden palette. The top row looked like it was just my style and the bottom row looked like something I didn’t have at all. That seems to be a great palette combination to me – colors I know I’ll love mixed with something new to try!

It arrived on Saturday morning, and I quickly took pictures so that I could get swatching right away.

Sleek MakeUP i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Garden of Eden
Sleek MakeUP i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Garden of Eden

I will have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the top row at first. The first two shades, Gates of Eden and Eve’s Kiss took a bit of effort to swatch, and I wasn’t quite getting the pigmentation I had hoped for.

The bottom row was quite a bit better. The three shimmery shades, Fig, Evergreen, and Fauna, looked absolutely gorgeous. I need to figure out a good way to do a super green looks without it looking costume-y.

Sleek MakeUP i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Garden of Eden Swatches
Sleek MakeUP i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Garden of Eden Swatches

I will say that with a base, the top row colors applied a lot better and showed up much stronger. I usually use the NYX Jumbo Pencil in Milk as a base, so this is not any extra work for me, but if you want something that applies strongly straight from the pan, some of these shades won’t work too well for you.

I appreciated the mix of textures in this palette. My husband was trying to disuade me from the palette because he thought it had ‘too much glitter’ (There is no such thing as ‘too much glitter!), but the shimmery shades come off more metallic than glittery. A difference I don’t believe Mr. Faultier fully appreciates.

There are three fully matte shadows in the palette – a warm brown, Flora, a lime green, Adam’s Apple, and a forest green, Tree of Life. Flora looks like it could be lovely for daily looks, and I want to try out Tree of Life as a liner shade. I still have no idea what I would do with Adam’s Apple. There are two other shades that appear mostly matte with some smaller glitter, Forbidden and Entwined, but the glitter doesn’t seem to transfer much to the eyes. I have been using Forbidden as a crease shade and I think it has been working quite well.

I wore some of these shadows to Thanksgiving dinner as well as to work, and the wear time seems pretty good with a primer and NYX Jumbo pencil, which is how I normally wear my eyeshadow. I can see myself working this palette into my daily routine, though it will require some effort to get myself to stray from that purple-taupe top row.

*Disclaimer: None of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Getting Deliveries

Getting Deliveries

Source: Taken
Source: Taken

Yesterday I got to run around to two different places to pick up packages. It’s that busy time of the year where we are ordering presents for other people and receiving gifts from our family in America. If I were still living in the US, this would mean that I would come home to a stack of boxes on my front porch. Because I live in Germany, this means that I come home to four pieces of paper in my mailbox – one saying to go to one post office to pick up a package, one saying to go to another, one saying that my neighbor has a box for me, and the last saying that they will come back tomorrow. What a headache.

Here it seems that requiring a signature for a package is a default instead of an added security measure. I’m used to delivery people squeezing in boxes behind my screen door, or just leaving things out for the neighbors to walk off with. Mr. Faultier was quite nervous abouut this when he ordered something expensive to be sent to me in the US. I left a note for the UPS person, asking them to kindly leave the box in my shed and lock the padlock, which they thankfully did. Asking for a signature in some areas can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Depending on who is doing the delivery, they may not hold it for you and just insist on coming back day after day when you are not home. Or their location is quite far away.

Most of our packages here get left with neighbors, which I find a bit odd. I feel like I’m imposing on them, and because our apartment building is locked, I don’t see why the box has to be left with a person and can’t just wait in front of the door. But the almighty signature is needed!

We’ve been feeling bad lately because our neighbors have had to take so many packages for us. We’ve bought chocolate for them, but I don’t know if that makes up for the annoyance. We aren’t able to return the favor of holding their boxes for them, because we seem to always be gone at delivery time.

It has just begun...
It has just begun…

When the package is left at the post office, it’s not that convenient for us, but I at least don’t feel like I’m inconveniencing others. I am worried now, because you need to show your ID to pick up your package, but I’m in the middle of the process of switching names. I get packages sent to both names, and I worry that I’ll have to go pick up one that I don’t have an ID for. You can fill out a form on the paper they leave you allowing someone else to pick up the package for you, would I have to do this for myself? It hasn’t happened yet, but delivery season is still young. Family who may be reading this – if you send me something, either send it to Mr. Faultier or put my maiden name on it, please!

And we do have the equivalent of a PO box, but I keep forgetting to use it. It would be more useful, I suppose if we did.

November Favorites

November Favorites

Most mornings, I start getting ready before my husband wakes up. He can get out the door ten minutes after his alarm rings, and I cannot. I try to do my makeup in the bathroom, but there isn’t room to keep all of my makeup in there, and it probably isn’t the best place for long-term storage with all of the bacteria and moisture. What I try to plan out my makeup and move what I need into the bathroom the night before, but I usually end up forgetting. I’ve landed on a few eyeshadow staples that I’ve been keeping in there most of the time because they’re neutral and go with everything, but they still look quite pretty. And I’ve got a few non-eyeshadow favorites as well.

1. essence mono eyeshadow in 18 all i need

essence mono eyeshadow in 18 all i need
essence mono eyeshadow in 18 all i need

I like the light bronze of this eyeshadow, I think it has a depth that looks good for fall and winter, but doesn’t come of dark or overpowering. I feel like it has replaced creme brulee for the colder months. I usually apply it with the next shadow on the list, but if I’m in a pinch, I’ll just put it on over a base (NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk) and call it a day. It even applies well with fingers if I forgot to grab a brush.

2. Kiko Eyeshadow 124 Pearly Dark Dove Gray

Kiko Eyeshadow 124 Pearly Dark Dove Gray
Kiko Eyeshadow 124 Pearly Dark Dove Gray

Many years ago, I had an e.l.f. Eyeshadow palette that contained the most magical brown I had every seen. It was a cool brown with a silver shine that I felt suited my skin perfectly. I used it all up and then embarked on a search for its equal that did not end until I found this shadow. I was doubtful at first – which I mentioned when I bought it. I had thought I had found dupes before, but after a few wears I realized they weren’t quite right, but now I’m convinced that this is the perfect match.

It’s a wonderful, easy-to-blend crease shade that goes with pretty much anything. And I have a lot more product than I got in that e.l.f. palette forever ago.

3. Bamboo Powder Brush from Icing

Icing Bamboo Powder Brush
Icing Bamboo Powder Brush – from a discontinued set. Other Icing Bamboo Brushes here.

I’m still using the same blush from July and October, so I wanted to talk about something different this time. I picked up a brush set when I was in the US in August. I remembered Zabrena from Macshadowcombos/MyEyeshadowConsultant raving several times over the makeup brushes from Icing, and an Icing I had popped into was having a sale. While I like the other brushes, this brush has stood out as the rock star of this set. It’s absurdly soft and blends out product so easily. It make blush application super quick and keeps everything soft and well blended. I’m not sure you could get harsh lines even if you tried – though I have not.

4. Manhattan 2in1 Pefect Teint Powder in 17 Rose

Manhattan 2in1 Pefect Teint Powder in 17 Rose
Manhattan 2in1 Pefect Teint Powder in 17 Rose

 

Manhattan 2in1 Pefect Teint Powder in 17 Rose
Manhattan 2in1 Pefect Teint Powder in 17 Rose – I think it’s time for a new one!

My skin behaves a bit better in the dry weather, so it’s easier for me to reach for lighter coverage. I like this powder makeup because it mattifies and adds a little coverage, but it doesn’t suck all the moisture out of my skin. The label claims that you can use it wet for extra coverage. Do not do this. You will end up with cake face. I would instead suggest layering it over a liquid product like a BB cream or moisturizer if you want heavier coverage – the added moisture helps more product to stick, but it doesn’t change the texture the same way using it wet will. It also comes with a sponge that can be found in a tray on the right side of the compact – this does work for small touch up or if you want product concentrated in a particular area, but I prefer using a large, flat-top powder brush to apply.

5. Bath and Body Works Tokyo Lotus & Apple Blossom Fine Fragrance Mist

Bath and Body Works Tokyo Lotus & Apple Blossom Fine Fragrance Mist
Bath and Body Works Tokyo Lotus & Apple Blossom Fine Fragrance Mist – no longer available at Bath and Body Works, but there is always Amazon

I’ve got a small Bath and Body Works stockpile. One time I was there when there was a sale (which is actually always) and I bought several full-sized bottles of the body mists. I’m not completely sure why I did this, as it will take me years to get through them, but I thought it was a good deal at the time – I saved so much money, right? Most of the scents are light and fruity, which is not what I like to wear this time of year, but the Lotus & Apple Blossom Mist has a warm note hiding somewhere in there which is lovely when it’s frigid out. I also have a never-ending full-sized bottle of it, so I can spray it with zero guilt, unlike my fancy perfumes.

According to Amazon, the notes include “Blue Iris, Boysenberry, White Peach, Cherry Red Lotus, Mandarin Zest” as Top Notes,  “White Magnolia, Peony Petals, Japanese Apple Blossom” as Mid Notes, and “Sandalwood, Teakwood” as Dry Notes. I’m assuming it’s the Sandalwood and Teakwood which give it its warmth and make it a bit different from a lot of the other Bath and Body Works fragrances. It’s a shame that the good ones always get discontinued (Rest in Peace, Velvet Tuberose).

*Disclaimer: None of the links in this post are affiliate links..

 

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