Monday, November 16, 2015

the editorial | an open letter to governor beshear

Dear Gov. Beshear,

As far as I am aware, you have currently held your tongue on the issue of accepting or refusing Syrian refugees in light of this past Friday's attack on Paris.

Gov. Beshear, from the bottom of my heart, I implore you to continue to accept these refugees.

Giving into fear, prejudice, and hatred is exactly what those who commit these senseless acts of violence want us to do. Fear is a natural response, but only by responding with courage and kindness can we overcome those who would terrorize us.

The senseless acts of violence that we've seen in Paris are just like what these refugees are fleeing to begin with. Are we comfortable condemning an entire population of mostly innocent people—many of whom have lost loved ones and simply want to live their lives in peace—for the actions of a radicalized few? Isn't it more courageous—more, dare I say, American—to choose instead the path of courage and kindness?

I, for one, am not comfortable refusing aid to those who sorely need it. I cannot let fear overshadow hope; I cannot let cowardice triumph over courage.

You have the opportunity now to stand up and let the world know what Kentuckians are made of. I pray that you use it wisely.


Ellen Findley

Edit: I have included here an article from BBC News that includes a video about a refugee family in our state. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

the update | the odyssey

Hello, all!

Another school year is well underway, and I haven't updated here in a while. Part of the reason for that is school itself, but another reason is—drumroll, please—I've been writing for the Odyssey!

New articles are published every Monday. I even have a fall beauty article coming out tomorrow!

See you there!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

the playlist | dog days

Hello, everyone! As the summer begins to wind down in the Northern Hemisphere, allow me to offer you a collection of songs for jamming or chilling in the heat. We kick things off with Arcade Fire's opener to their Reflektor tour back in 2014 before moving onward to a new discovery of mine: Kindness's cover of "Swingin' Party." I've heard Lorde's version before, of course, but there's something about this version that I like.

The next two tracks are collabs between some of my favorite artists. In the case of "When You Were Mine," everyone's favorite Canadian twins Tegan and Sara join forces with a group that's relatively new to me, Night Terrors of 1927 (how's that for a band name?). "Meltdown" is Stromae's "Merci" with lyrics from Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip, and HAIM. I first heard Stromae this past April, and I'm obsessed with Racine Carrée. The video for "Papaoutai" will break your heart.

Spotify's new Discover Weekly feature is responsible for the next two tracks. I'd heard of the Apache Relay before, but I hadn't listened to them until a couple of weeks ago. Boy, have I been missing out. "Katie Queen of Tennessee" should play in Nashville every summer. "Celeste" from Ezra Vine is a delight.

George Ezra—that's right, two Ezras on one playlist—transitions the playlist into mellower territory. His voice is deep and soft, a true gem. "Coffee" from Sylvan Esso has been in two out of my last three playlists, thanks to my dear friend (and barista) Hannah: it's one of the loveliest songs I know. "Black Water" is (thus far) a deep cut from Of Monsters and Men's newest release, Beneath the Skin, which I already know will make it into my 2015 playlist. "Shake" is one of my favorite tracks from the Head and the Heart's sophomore album. Finally, the incomparable Marina and the Diamonds closes with "Can't Pin Me Down." (Fair warning: this song does contain strong language. I can't find an edited version, and I do apologize for that. I hope that doesn't impact your enjoyment of the song.) There are few voices in pop as clear and strong as Marina's, and FROOT is no exception. While The Family Jewels introduced Marina and Electra Heart her alter ego, Marina's latest album bares all—her needs, her struggles, and her desire to rise above it all. Definitely give it a listen.

What's on your playlist this summer?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

the forum | overhyped products

I'm sure that most of you have tried a product before that you found fell short of the buzz surrounding it. No matter how much research you may put into a purchase, sometimes products just don't work for you.

As nice as it is to discuss favorites, it's equally important to talk about products that just don't work for whatever reason, especially when those products get a lot of attention. Products usually get hyped because they work for people, but clever marketing plays an important role here, too.

So, today, we're discussing overhyped products—those lipsticks that everyone loves but that make your lips peel, or that cult-favorite highlighter that's actually just a chunky, glittery mess. I'll go ahead a leave a few of my greatest disappointments in the hype train below:

  1. Chanel Vitalumière Aqua. Several beauty bloggers I adore absolutely love this foundation. Lisa Eldridge recommends it for dry skin that wants a good glow. However, the third inactive ingredient is alcohol, which is awful for dehydrated skin. The first full day that I sampled this foundation, my face felt like it was being shrink-wrapped. It had a lovely, light texture, but at what cost?
  2. Laura Mercier Oil-Free tinted moisturizer. I used to adore this tinted moisturizer. My current Facebook profile features me in this very base. I really can't describe it, but it suddenly didn't work for me anymore after just a few months. Fortunately, this spurred me to try the NARS tinted moisturizer again, and, well, considering its many appearances in this space, I think you can guess how I feel about it.
  3. Benefit Posietint. This just didn't do much for me. Posietint was probably my first stain product, and it turns out that I'm not a fan of traditional stains. I prefer balm or cream stains. Everyone has to start somewhere, though.
  4. Benefit They're Real! mascara. I have a few close friends who adore this mascara, and I like how it looks on my lashes, but the brush is too painful for me to find it worth applying. It's like a tiny medieval torture device for your eyelashes. I typically use Maybelline mascaras nowadays anyway.
  5. Shiro Cosmetics eyeshadows. Despite my love for Mother of Dragons, I must admit that Shiro's pigmentation and longevity leave something to be desired. Mother of Dragons, for example, looks lovely, but it requires both primer and glitter glue for the pressed version—which I purchased in hopes that these issues were confined to the loose formulation—to stay put. For an indie brand with such a loyal following, especially when pitted against brands like Hello Waffle, there really is no excuse for such poor quality.
What are some hyped products that have let you down?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the favorites | february + march 2015

What an interesting couple of months! There was so much snow and ice that I thought I'd somehow wound up in Arendelle, and now today is as sunny as Corona.

On to the good stuff!


These past two months haven't seen that much change in my makeup routine. Having a lot of snow days makes me less desirous of doing a lot of makeup, but game days require at least a little bit of concealer along my jaw, or people will figure out that I'm a spy during the Resistance! For a lighter base, I've been enjoying blending out concealer like the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles—someone needs to talk with the branding team—with either fingers, my Real Techniques Expert face brush or the Beauty Blender I received in my February Birchbox. Oftentimes, I will also use the Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer in conjunction with the Maybelline. Together, they work quite well.

For color, I have become quite interested in warmer pinks. As a neutral-cool–undertoned woman with a hefty dose of pink in her skin, I've always gone for brighter, lighter pinks with blue undertones, but I thought I'd branch out since spring is now upon us. To that end, I've broken out my NARS One Night Stand palette, which I purchased back in November 2013, for the shade Deep Throat. I used to own a single of this blush, but I've since cleared out my stash, so my palette form is all that remains. It's quite sheer, but that keeps me from applying too much at a time. I also very much appreciate that the shimmer that runs through the blush is so subtle. No glitter-bombs for me, thank you very much!

For lips, I've been enjoying my Mom's Christmas present to me: the NARS Audacious lipstick in Dominique. It's such a unique shade, a medium-toned lavender with almost gray undertones. Its formula is lovely—very pigmented and not too slippy whilst not being drying. And while packaging is not the be-all end-all of good lipstick, sleek magnetic packaging never hurts. I've particularly enjoyed wearing this with the shades Cream, Light Bronze (look at that pan!), Pewter, and Mauve from my beloved LORAC Pro palette. I try not to feature the same products in my favorites posts because these would quickly become repetitive, but this color combination suits my gray eyes and fair, neutral-cool coloring. As you can see from the state of my palette, the shades can kick up quite a bit of dust, but for a relatively comprehensive palette, I don't think you can go wrong with this little guy.


I haven't yet featured video games on my blog because I don't play them all that often, but I've recently rediscovered some old favorites and one new one. Let me know if you'd like a more in-depth review of these at some future point.

First, a night of Battlefront II reminded me that Knights of the Old Republic is available for Mac. Naturally, I immediately went to the App Store and purchased it. I'm currently stuck defending the Ebon Hawk because I don't have a mouse, but I still love it. I've loved this game for going on seven years, but I've never finished it. Here's to hoping that I'll break that streak!

Second, I finished Professor Layton and the Curious Village over the course of three days. As you can tell from the above, I don't typically finish video games, but I was utterly drawn in with all the puzzles of St. Mystere. Fortunately, I've just found that there are five more games in the series, so I'll be purchasing the next one probably relatively soon if my birthday doesn't come up before then.

I hope that you all have had a lovely winter and early spring! Please feel free to let me know what other sorts of comments you'd like to see here.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

the favorites | january 2015

Seeing as we've just gotten into February, it only seems appropriate for me to inform you lovely folks about my favorites throughout the month of January.

I am still planning to make a massive 2014 favorites post, but it'll take a bit more time due to my own busyness. Hooray for getting back into a university schedule!

Anyway, on to the good stuff.


My poor beloved NARS eye primer is nearing its end, so I picked up the Wet n Wild Fergie Take on the Day primer to replace it. Oddly enough, since it's a bit tackier than my beloved NARS, it works better with my LORAC Pro palette. Also on the eyelid front, I received my order from Hello Waffle Cosmetics upon my return to school, which included Catticus Finch from the cult classic Catssic Literature collection. Catticus Finch is a light pink-toned lavender with subtle copper shimmer that translates to a soft, romantic lilac on the eye. I will continue playing around with this for lovely months to come!

January's rediscovery was the now-infamous MAC 217 brush. This brush isn't the softest tool in the shed, but it's one of the most versatile. I can use it for a sheer wash over the lid, for a softly defined crease, or for a top-notch blending job. I recommend that anyone with a love for eyeshadow at least try a brush with a similar shape to the 217.

Not too many of the bloggers I follow loved Maybelline's Lash Sensational mascara, but I was in the market for a new mascara in January and wanted to check it out anyway. So far, I'm very impressed. It's the perfect cross between the Rocket and the Falsies Black Drama: it's lengthening and volumizing, but it offers quite a bit of definition, too. I can get dramatic lashes in just a couple of coats—or three, if I'm really feeling it. Plus, the packaging is a definite upgrade for Maybelline. Obviously, sleek packaging isn't everything, but it never hurts.

Last fall, I resisted the hype surrounding Colour Pop because I was a bit wary of their sudden success and because part of me finds the name "Lippie Stix" a bit much. Anyway, for $5, I figured I couldn't go wrong, and I'm so glad that I decided to buy it. Lumière [not pictured] is just about the most spot-on "my lips but better" shade, and its matte finish isn't drying. You don't get a ton of product for $5—I'm about halfway through it after a month and a half—but it's a very flattering shade with a decent formula.

Finally, this past month marked my first foray into the world of tinted brow gels. I used to use a clear brow gel last year, but I just sort of stopped when I ran out of my second tube. After hearing rave review after rave review of the Benefit Gimme Brow, I decided to give it a whirl. The Light/Medium shade matches my ash-blond brows just about perfectly, and it doesn't make my brows feel stiff or crunchy. I will often wear this alone or with my Anastasia Brow Wiz if I want a really strong brow.


/r/Indiemakeupandmore has been in love with Haus of Gloi for as long as I can remember, and now I understand why. Their pumpkin butter in Madcap Garden [not pictured] is a godsend for my dry winter skin. It has such a rich, emollient formula, and the slightly sweet minty scent isn't too powerful. I'll definitely have to try some more scents. I also have a sample in the earthier Insalata Nocturna, which I very much like but tend to reserve for days when I'm wearing Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin since the two scents complement each other.


Speaking of things that smell nice, I purchased a travel spray of Stella by Stella McCartney [not pictured] and am already a third of the way through it. This is rose without any sort of powdery, saccharine, or patchouli-laden trappings. Whenever I smell it, I think, "This is what good perfume smells like." It doesn't last very long on me, unfortunately, but I love it all the same.

Have an excellent February!

What have your favorites been thus far this year?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the favorites | late autumn + early winter 2014

Hello, everyone!

It's been a while since I've updated. I've mostly gotten over my bronchitis now—thank God—and am home for Christmas. Finals are over and done with, so now it's time for fairy lights and chocolate. I hope that your holidays have been lovely; mine have been so far.

Who's ready for some autumn and winter favorites?


Like I mentioned in my autumn edit, I've rediscovered my first MAC purchase, the Satin lipstick in Rebel. It doesn't have the most lip-friendly formula, but the color is absolutely lovely, a pink-based plum. In order to save my lips from its drying effects, though, I've relied upon the Bite Beauty Line & Define lip primer. This prolongs the wear time of Rebel and other matte and satin lipsticks—although, curiously, not my NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil—by moisturizing and smoothing the surface of my lips. This option from Bite is pricey, but I recommend the brand heartily.

Thanks to my lovely exchange partner, I've been able to play around with Femme Fatale Cosmetics, an Australian indie company with breathtaking duochromes. My particular favorites thus far have been The Masquerade and Umberhowl. With a bit of primer and some Darling Girl Glitter Glue, the shadows pop and stick around all day.


I purchased the Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil just a little over a year ago, and it's still going strong. I use about four or five drops all over my face and neck at night. This oil blend moisturizes my face without making it overly greasy, and it hasn't caused me any clogged pores. It's a relatively pricey option, but it's a good one. I have read, though, that Camellia japonica seed oil, for which the Boscia blend is named, is available for roughly two-thirds of the price per ounce on Garden of Wisdom, a site that I have not tried myself but have heard of other skincare enthusiasts' enjoying.


I am extremely picky when it comes to fragrance, but I love my exchange partner's pick from Firebird Apothecary. Pomegranate Basil is fresh but intoxicating. The pomegranate and currant offer a richness that the greenness of the basil complements brilliantly. If you like green, fruity scents that aren't too sweet, definitely check this one out.


As I noted in my autumn edit, my two current favorite polishes represent opposite ends of the color spectrum: the first, Nails Inc. NailKale polish in Westbourne Park Road, is a pinky lavender-gray; the second, Clinique A Different Nail Enamel in Black Honey, is a deep burgundy red. Both polishes have very smooth formulas and reach opacity in two or three coats, respectively. In fact, these are the only two polishes I brought home for Christmas break.


Finally, throughout my bout of bronchitis, I consumed a lot of tea. Upon my return home, I was practically guzzling mugs of Lipton Pure green tea with three spoonfuls each of lemon juice and honey. I like to call this "Ellen's Magical Elixir." The Lipton option is a decent bog-standard green tea, but you can use just about any tea you like for the elixir. I find that it helps soothe my throat, and I just love the feeling that I get while drinking tea.

What have your favorites been this season?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

the editorial | giving thanks

Today marks the first Thanksgiving I have been confined to my bed since I was very little. I'm surrounded by pillows and cough drop wrappers and can hear the comforting buzz of football from the den. While I lie here in fleece pajamas in between puffs of albuterol and throat lozenges, I can only think how very fortunate I am to be where I am today.

You see, if I weren't ill, I'd be helping Mom in the kitchen with the turkey and sides or watching football with my grandpa or playing video games with my little sister. Later today, I'd be setting up the Christmas tree.

I have a good life, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful for my sweet dad who brought me a plate of food and for my dogs that know when I need some puppy love. I'm thankful for my university. I'm thankful for my experiences, even within the last year. I'm thankful for Nashville, my home away from home. I'm thankful for those committed to justice and peace, even in the face of oppression. I'm thankful to live in a society that can change for the better. I'm thankful for a God who hears the cries of the downtrodden and who cares for us.

And you who read this—I am thankful for you, too. Let's spread some beauty throughout the world today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

the edit | autumn 2014

The transitional months between winter and summer and summer and winter have always been my favorites. I love watching the earth burst forth with new life in the spring, and I adore the blazing leaves of autumn. Hence, you'll find me much more interested in beauty, fashion—in short, everything—to do with autumn and spring than in that of summer and winter. That's not to say that I despise any season: I simply like my crisp mornings and bundled-up evenings. This is, as Keats puts it, the "[s]eason of mists and mellow fruitfulness," of comfortingly itchy sweaters and burrow-worthy blankets.

In the beauty world, this typically means trading summery sheer reds and pastel polishes for berries and smoke. If the trees change colors, why wouldn't we? Now is the autumn of our richer shades, our plums and russets. I, for one, thoroughly enjoy the shifting of shades, although there are some areas of my routine that remain the same.


Not much of my eye makeup changes from season to season. My favorite look to this day is a cat eye, which I wear year-round. I do like a bit more smoke during colder months, though, so I break out the cotton buds and smudger brushes, like the one I got in a set from Tarte about two years ago. Tarte doesn't make any more of this particular model, but just about any pencil or smudging brush will suffice. I simply line my lashes somewhat messily with a pencil and go to town with the brush, sometimes adding a bit of eyeshadow to alter the shade of the liner.

I typically keep at least two lip colors with me in my little makeup bag—one "my lips but better" shade, one bold. My most conventionally autumnal colors for either option are Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte lipstick in Touch of Spice, that ubiquitous drugstore nude-plum, and MAC Satin lipstick in Rebel, a famously lovely hue with an unfortunately less-than-amazing formula. I normally shy away from shades with any hint of brown, but Touch of Spice has enough pink and plum to balance everything on me. Its scent isn't exactly pleasant—think very artificial fruit—but it fades quickly, and the comfortable matte formula more than makes up for it. Rebel, however, does not have a particularly lovely formula. It's very waxy and tends to cling to dry patches. With a lip primer and some patience, though, it's a beautiful pink-based plum. I probably will not repurchase it, but I will certainly finish it.


My skincare routine is constantly changing. I know what works for me in general, but I like to play around a bit. A good moisturizer, though, is key to any decent routine, and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra fits the bill. It's an inoffensive, emollient last step in my routine that keeps my skin happily soft. If you have dry, sensitive skin, this is worth a test.


I'm not one to switch fragrances with the seasons. I love trying new things, but I'm prone to scent-related headaches, so I'm quite particular. I tend to favor citrusy green scents with jasmine and/or rose—no patchouli. I recently received Firebird perfume oil in Pomegranate Basil in a reddit exchange and have been thoroughly enjoying it! It features notes of tart pomegranates, juicy red currants, and heady basil, all of which I love. Its deeper fruity tones make it an excellent twist on autumnal perfume.


As you can see, I'm quite a fan of nail polish. It takes a bit of time each week, but I love the results. My favorite shades include pastels, reds, nudes, and berries, but the latter two categories feature prominently in the autumn. Granted, I wear nude or neutral polish at all times of the year, but it seems especially appropriate with the grayer weather. I recently purchased the Nails Inc. NailKale polish in Westbourne Park Road, a gorgeous lavender-gray with hints of pink. I could not care less for the supposed benefits of kale extract in nail polish, but I can confirm that the formula and brush of this polish are among the best I have ever tried. On the other end of the spectrum is the Clinique A Different Nail Enamel in Black Honey, a deep, blackened red that goes on nearly opaque in two coats. It's unlike any other color I own, and I'm glad to have it in my collection.

What are you adding to your routine this autumn?