How to make coffee when you’ve lost power in the kitchen and are too lazy to haul the coffee maker over to the one outlet that works, on the far side of the bedroom
-Put a small, heavy saucepan full of water on the stove. It goes without saying that your stove should be gas and not electric, because the power is out in the kitchen.
-Add two spoonfuls of Bustelo to the saucepan. Don’t worry about precision. The kitchen is dark and it’s hard to see.
-Turn on the flame and stir the Bustelo into the water with the tip of a steak knife, because every other utensil is dirty and there is no hot water, did I mention that part?
-Don’t let it boil. This is crucial. Just sort of heat and stir, heat and stir, for a couple of minutes.
-Put the mesh coffee filter from the coffeemaker in a glass measuring cup and pour the contents of the saucepan through it. Does it look like coffee? If so, you’re on the right track.
-Pour the contents of the glass measuring cup into the mug you used yesterday (see above re: dirty dishes, yes, I know, I was planning on doing all the dishes today but there is no hot water). The trick here is stopping the pour before the sludgy stuff in the bottom of the glass measuring cup gets into the mug.
-Drink while sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket with the cat, whose nose is chilly. Did I mention that the heat is not working either?
1. Born to Run
2. Tunnel of Love
3. Born in the USA
4. Darkness on the Edge of Town
5. The River
6. Wrecking Ball
9. The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
10. The Rising
11. Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ
12. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
13. Working on a Dream
14. The Ghost of Tom Joad
15. High Hopes
16. Devils and Dust
17. Lucky Town
18. Human Touch
Don’t get carried away with impractical shoes: ask yourself, what would Olivia Pope do? She’d buy these nude Louboutin pumps, that’s what she’d do. Only, you are doing this better, because you are getting other people to buy them for you.
I wrote this piece about non-baby showers a couple months ago, but it just went live on The Hairpin today, two hours after an old friend announced her pregnancy on Facebook. I want to go on record as saying that this was not the internet publishing equivalent of subtweeting, and I look forward to buying my friend a giraffe-shaped diaper pail or a stars-and-moons mobile or whatever else her heart/registry desires.
Every winter I confront anew my #1 “beauty” problem, aside from having no idea how to apply eye makeup: dry skin. I mean, my skin is dry year-round, but when New York becomes a 95-degree sweatbox, the problem takes care of itself. By December I need help, and products that work for the average non-dry-skinned person do not always work for me. Furthermore, I am not keen on petroleum and parabens, and I refuse to spend $90 on a one-ounce jar of face cream. If I have $90 to blow, I am going to blow it on books and cat toys.
If you can relate to any of this, here are some solutions I have discovered.
Aucocisco Naturals Apricot + Black Seed Serum: I have praised this serum on Twitter, at work, at social gatherings, basically anywhere and anytime people will listen. You only need a few drops to cover your entire face and neck, and it goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly. I use a little extra for overnight and when I wake up, the flaky patches around my nose are gone. Gone! As if they were never there! It smells good, too, a gentle earthy scent that fades as your skin absorbs the product. Full disclosure, my friend Alyce is the genius behind Aucocisco Naturals, but I would be in love with this stuff even if it were made by a total stranger. The fact that it is hand-made by an awesome person just makes it better.
Home Health Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream: So utilitarian, so down to earth. You know those skin product ads that have words like PAMPERING and LUXURIOUS in large type? This is the opposite of that. But it works, it’s cheap and unlike many hyaluronic acid creams, it contains no petroleum ingredients or parabens. The (boring, white, plastic) tub says ‘fragrance free,’ which it pretty much is, although I just did a sniff test and concluded that it smells (ever so faintly) like an open box of pasta.
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion: You name a drugstore lotion, I’ve rubbed it on my largest organ. I don’t like the way Aveeno smells, St. Ives did not combat scaliness, and the Cetaphil stuff that comes in a jar and has the texture of cold cream manages to leave me both itchy and greasy. This lotion is perfect alone in warmer weather, and the way I make it work in the winter is by mixing a dollop with a few drops of oil from the health food store. I’ve been using apricot oil lately, but you could use jojoba, almond, whatever’s on sale.
Alaffia African Black Soap: This was a health food store impulse buy, and it turned out to be my new favorite body wash/liquid soap. Even when I lather it up for shaving, it doesn’t leave me looking like a crocodile that was abandoned in the Sahara Desert. This company also makes an African black soap shampoo that’s pretty great, and according to the website, they are “advancing gender equality and alleviating poverty through the fair trade of handcrafted shea butter.” The smell will remind you of incense, meditation class, good vibes.
L.L.Bean/Mad Gab’s Moisturizing Balm, unscented: Attentive readers will notice that I’m picky about scent — too much of it can confuse my nose, irritate my (already suffering) skin and interfere with the schmancy French perfume I wear. Mad Gab’s is a Maine-based company that makes natural lip balms and butters; the products work, but are scented with food flavors, my least-favorite product scents. Why must I choose between chapped lips and smelling like chocolate or spearmint or vanilla? Anyway, last fall I spotted this unscented shea butter-olive oil balm at the L.L.Bean outlet in Freeport, and according to the back label it was “Made by Mad Gab’s for L.L.Bean.” It is a generous 1.5 ounce tin, and besides being a fantastic lip balm, it works on dry elbows and cuticles. My only concern is that I may never be able to replace it when this one runs out, since I can’t find it on Mad Gab’s website or on L.L.Bean’s. If you happen to be in Freeport, though, keep an eye out.
Fish oil and evening primrose oil capsules: Check with your doctor/naturopath/shaman before taking any supplements, obviously, but in the past year I’ve been diligent about fish oil and EPO, and I’ve noticed that my crusade against dry skin has gotten a bit easier.
Less coffee: Ahhhhhhh I know. I know. This is the tough one. Look, I used to drink four (!) cups of coffee a day, and now I’m down to one, and it really does make a difference. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of caffeine or the fact that I am drinking extra water/herbal tea in the afternoon, maybe both? Like the fatty acid capsules, this doesn’t solve the problem entirely, just makes it a little more manageable. The headaches go away after a couple of weeks, and while YMMV, I can report that I feel clearer/less anxious in general, which is not specifically related to my skin’s condition, although maybe it is. Everything is connected, right? Namaste.