Lesley's List: 7 PRETTY PRETTY THINGS For Your PRETTY PRETTY SELF (Really You Are So Pretty)
It's Friday! Who wants to look at pretty shit? YOU DO, OBVIOUSLY.
So “My Mad Fat Diary” is the greatest series you cannot currently legally watch in the US. There, I said it. It SHOULD be a crime that this show is not available to an American audience, but things rarely work out that way.
Sharon Rooney stars as Rae Earl, a teenager recently released from a psychiatric hospital, which she continues to visit for therapy. Rae has battled some problems with binge-eating and self-harm, and has a bunch of anxiety issues besides, oh and she's also dealing with her totally raging interest in sex. She is, easily, one of the most likeable characters ever. In my opinion.
A lot of this is due to Sharon Rooney, who is just marvelous. (And who will apparently be turning up in the third series of “Sherlock”? I just discovered this while Googling for her. Is that a spoiler? Sorry if that’s a spoiler.) Also, it's set during the mid-90s, which means I know every lyric to every song that is played, ever.
ANYWAY. As Rae struggles to find her place amongst her new friends after six months in a psych hospital (a fact she keeps from them), “My Mad Fat Diary” perfectly captures the unique teenage horrors that so many of us remember as hallmarks of those hilarious years -- as well as the heart-pounding triumphs. And Rae is magnificently complex, her unapologetic take-me-as-I-am style an inspiration to her friends even as she herself fights for the confidence that looks so effortless from the outside.
HI, I RELATE.
I had the opportunity to watch it because I have the good fortune to know someone who can work UK DVD magic, but that’s not feasible for everyone. So please, rulers of TV: Please put this on American television. PBS? BBC America? Somebody start a petition. Or something.
To make up for raving about a show you probably can’t watch, I’m now going to recommend a show you can: “Call The Midwife.” This series has been out for awhile but I feel like it’s been tragically overshadowed by the compellingly neurotic “Downton Abbey.” Because I guess most Americans have room in their hearts for only one British series at a time?
There are many reasons why “Call The Midwife” is better than “Downton Abbey.” For one, the what-the-fuckery in it is pretty legitimately historical and not contrived soap operatic melodrama. Midwife is based on the real memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who went to London’s East End in the 1950s to work in the titular role.
For another: VAGINAS. “Call The Midwife” is freaking chockablock with them. Wall-to-wall vaginas. I mean, it IS a show about midwives delivering babies, usually at home, usually out of poor women, and it doesn’t shrink from showing all the sweaty mattress-staining reality. It’s also kind of neat to see a show that is basically ABOUT VAGINAS but the vaginas are almost never a factor in a reductively sexy way, like we’re used to seeing -- they are functional! It’s important that they have unique individuals with other stuff going on in their lives attached to them!
It’s sad that I find this so refreshing and novel, but that’s the truth of it.
For a third: IT’S FULL OF ANGLICAN NUNS. This is as much a shock to Jenny, our narrator, as it is to anyone else. She thought she was coming to work at a hospital, SURPRISE. It’s a convent! With midwife-nuns! The nuns are frankly the best part of the show, as they are by turns wacky and short-tempered and brilliantly capable and confident like so many awesome real nuns are. (Note: I think nuns in general are AWESOME, as they are often the religious folks who dedicate their whole lives to working most closely with the poor and other folks who need help, and they are often surprisingly radical folks as a result. Big ups to nuns.)
No wait though, I’m wrong. The BEST part is Chummy, the massively awkward daughter of wealth and privilege who finds herself confronting her many insecurities before an audience of salty East End women who couldn’t be more different than she is. She’s played by Miranda Hart, obviously Miranda Hart is wonderful and likeable and funny in everything, but Chummy has become a TV character I particularly adore.
Stila Countless Color Pigment
Stila Countless Color Pigments are a new thing I discovered and bought on a whim at Ulta one day. I mean, I assume they’re new, since I’m at Ulta on pretty much a weekly basis and hadn’t seen them before.
Essentially what you have here is an eyeshadow with three base colors all smooshed and swirled together such that each compact is unique. Yes, this isn’t a brand new idea, but the colors on these are stunningly beautiful.
I bought the “Finale” color combination, which is made up of peach, tangerine, and a bright vivid pink, because it looks like a crazy nuclear sunset. It’s entirely possible that the last thing I need in the world is more eyeshadow, but I was seduced by the fact that IT IS SO PRETTY. And I’m really glad I was, because the color is phenomenal, with really excellent coverage, and the mottled surface is great for lazy eye-color-appliers like me, as I can just swoosh the brush around and then slap it on my face and POW instant art on my eyelids.
I’m probably going to buy another one this weekend, because they’re limited and I have a tendency to hoard limited things. I’m kind of obsessed.
Subscriptions to Graze and Julep
SPEAKING OF OBSESSED, I’ve finally gotten on board the subscription-box train like three years after everyone else. I’m currently super-enamored with two of them: Graze and Julep.
Graze is great because it’s food! They send delicious natural snacks on a weekly (or every two weeks -- you can decide) basis, based on your input to what you like. Each box contains four single-serving snacks and while I’ve loved some more than others (oh god the black pepper pistachios and the orange ginger flapjacks and the jaffa cakes) I haven’t had anything I actually disliked. Which is pretty impressive for me, as most of this stuff is nuts and dried fruit and I would have thought it would have gotten really old, really fast.
Each box costs only $5, and in my opinion it is totally worth it. Now the bad news: Graze is still in beta mode so you need an invitation code to get in. No, I don’t have any to give you. I’M SORRY! You can still sign up to be notified when they officially launch. Until then I am sorry for tormenting you with my delicious mail-snacks.
Julep Maven you CAN sign up for, at least. Julep is mostly a nailcolor jam, although they do occasionally branch out into other beauty products as well -- mostly skincare, but there’s also a bit of makeup, and the mini lipstick set I got with my Jazz Collection box is actually outstanding.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Julep Maven subscription is a monthly one, where you fill out a style quiz and they offer you a box o’ goodies based on your fit into one of their style profiles. You can always decline the box they offer, or choose another box. So that’s nice, because while for $5 snacks I am cool with surprises, I am less OK with dropping $20 on a bunch of nail polish I know I’ll never wear.
Maven membership also gets you some other perks, like an automatic 20% discount on all site products and free shipping on everything. What most members seem to really dig are the regularly-offerred “mystery boxes,” which cost $20 but contain products worth way more, sometimes four times more if you’re way lucky.
The subscription novelty aside, Julep’s nailcolor formula is really great, with solid coverage and pretty long wear. If the polish sucked, I never would have stuck with it.
Vintage Wax Seal Jewelry
Once upon a time, letters weren’t sealed with poisonous adhesive and human saliva, but with warmed wax, poured or smeared across the envelope flap to seal it. The still-soft wax was then often stamped before it dried and hardened, which enabled the letter’s recipient to know that their missive had not been tampered with in transit.
This practice actually goes as far back as antiquity in the West, with most stamps featuring a family’s coat of arms or an individual’s signet ring. By the 1800s, wax stamps were mass-produced and often carried some message of their own, such as to reassure the recipient that the letter contained no bad news, or to appeal to the feelings of a romantic interest.
Little wonder that some enterprising Etsy metalworkers would come to use them to create gorgeous and unique pendants, in miniature. (Really, they’re TINY. Like 12-13mm tiny.)
Do you love? Away from Etsy, Pyrrha also creates unique “talisman” necklaces from an impressive variety of wax seals. I particularly love their “Never Look Back” pendant, and accordingly to their site, apparently I share that interest with Jennifer Lawrence.
I'm going to leave you with this gorgeous video of the northern lights, which just proves our planet is completely magical. And pretty.