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Review Revue: Cheap Old School Granny Panties (you know you love them)

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love granny panties.

Love ’em.

Not only do I love them, I love them unapologetically. I am thirty-three damn years old, I pay my taxes, I vote in elections (local and federal), and I deserve to be free of the underpinnings of the patriarchy, both literally and figuratively.

Give me a full cotton brief in solid neutrals and I’m a happy woman. Nearly everything else is, at least in some fashion, objectionable. My life is exciting enough, I don’t need wacky underpants.

Hipsters/Boy Shorts: Seriously, who is the plus size woman for whom these are constructed? Because they’re certainly not for me. They insinuate themselves into places where no insinuation is required, while the parts you’d prefer to have hitched up make wind sprints for your ankles.

G-Strings and Thongs: I appreciate the lack of panty lines with g-strings and thongs, but aside from the unpleasant appearance that you’re slicing a ham with an eye patch, when your trunkular junk is of the quality and quantity mine is, walking around with it unfettered is ill-advised bordering on reckless. It’s all fun and games until someone walks into traffic.

Bikinis are fine, but they’re TVW* for VPL and again, the insinuation problem rears (see what I did there?)  its ugly head.

Another bonus: Granny panties don’t have writing on them.

I’m as big a fan of Marcel Duchamp as the next gal, but MY Mona Lisa doesn’t need a mustache, especially not one that implies I’m an easily-distracted raccoon, a prostitute, or an easily-distracted raccoon prostitute:

klassy.

Plus ever since I moved to Mexico, I seem to lose underwear like hockey players lose teeth.

Back in my pre-emmigration days, it was like the Marines. No one gets left behind (that’s how I know someone stole a pair of size 9 Delta Burke light control briefs my last night in Ireland) but now…I just don’t know where they go.

Does the washer eat them? Do the dolphins steal them to sell on the internet? Is some enterprising laundress creating makeshift windsurfing sails out of them? I couldn’t begin to tell you.

This has created a significant bloomer gap in my wardrobe.

Knowing I’m going to be traveling from October ’til December and traveling increases both my need for comfortable underthings and the likelihood I’ll lose them, I decided to get back to the most basic of basics, so I popped online to the Fruit of the Loom store on Amazon.

I was interested in their new Fit For Me plus-size line, so I decided to do my own little comparison test and bought two packs of what are essentially the same underwear.

I actually found the normal FotL briefs to be more comfortable than the Fit for Me specifically plus-size underwear.

The Fit for Me briefs have a thicker elastic waistband, about 1″ compared to the 3/4″ on the regular briefs, which is nice. However, the leg placement of the Fit for Me was considerably lower than the straight-sized ones, which meant they felt a little more binding than the regular pair, where the difference between the leg opening and the waist band allowed them to sit comfortably without hugging so far down on my thigh.

My review?

Well, neither of them are uncomfortable and even with the Fat Girl Tax on the Fit for Me pairs, you’re still paying less than $2.50 per piece.

I guess I’d say if you’re over a size 26 or an apple who carries most of her weight in her stomach, you might find the Fit for Me more comfortable, but if you’re a pear, stick with regular briefs. The size 10 easily fits a hippy size 24/26, and you’ll skip the Fat Girl Tax.

*The Very Worst

Fun with Coffee

Let me tell you about my great grandmother’s hair.

Wait, no, first let me tell you about my great grandmother.

  • She was Scottish. I mean really Scottish. Descended from the historical Lady Macbeth, her two children were Andrew, after Scotland’s patron saint and Bruce, as in Robert The.
  • In the middle of the Great Depression in New York City, she demanded and summarily received a large baby grand piano, which she moved around by getting on her hands and knees under it and crawling it to her desired location.
  • She was a devout Scottish Presbyterian until one fateful day when the choirmaster took away her solo. She flounced off to the Anglican Church across the street and that, friends and lovers, is How The Plumcakes Became Episcopalians.
  • Her hair, the same shade as mine, kept its natural espresso hue well into her seventies, though a colorist’s brush never touched her precious mamie bangs.

***record scratching to a stop***

…back the truck up.

Lady Macbeth Thing: Fine. I’ve met the women in my family and I assure you, all the perfumes of Arabia would not sweeten our collective hands.

The Piano Thing: again, fine. Not everyone suffered in the Depression, and it would go a long way towards explaining my atavistic urge to buy a baby grand piano in the middle of the last recession.

Flouncing off to the Episcopalians: Anyone who doubts the veracity of this has clearly never been in or near a church choir.

Deep brown tresses into her seventies: ay, there’s the rub.

It seem great grandmother Plumcake had a teensy trick. Instead of setting her hair in curlers, she’d set them around damp black teabags. Tinting her hair ever-so-slightly with each wash and set.

Her caffeinated little secret sprung to mind the other day.

Harsh water and daily dips in the Pacific have not been kind to my hair. While I understand natural summer highlights and beach textured hair are both sought after (for the latter, skip the spendy products and use what the runway hairstylists use: non-iodized salt dissolved in warm water. Apply with a spray bottle) my dark brown Eton crop does not benefit from either.

I’m not especially interested in coloring my hair, but I don’t want to lose its natural hue either, so, like my great-grandmother before me, I went to the kitchen to improvise.

Coffee Hair Tint

3 tablespoons instant coffee
2+/- tablespoons sour cream/plain yogurt
2 teaspoons hot water

Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and add enough sour cream to make a thick paste. Apply to towel-dried hair. Wrap hair in a shower cap, let sit at least an hour and wash out with a gentle shampoo in the coolest water you can stand.

Okay, those are the basic directions. Here’s what I did:
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Five Great: (Very) Personal Care Products Under $12

Aside from Catherine Zit-a Jones, my monthly pimple pal, I’ve had relatively unearned luck when it comes to the body’s largest organ.

It seems along with her pointy chin and penchant for morning martinis, my grandmother –who subscribes to the Keith Richards school of nicotine and alcohol consumption and looks a full twenty years younger than she is (which is forty years younger than she has the right to)– bestowed upon me her preternaturally good skin.

Unfortunately, stress and a complete environmental change have let slip the dogs of clogged pores and your previously porcelain pal Plummy has found herself in need of some serious skin care.

So too has Hot Latin Boy, whose flawless smoldering face has gone all Vesuvius.

He insists he never had so much as a blemish before he met me.

I assured him it was probably a result of his hormones going into hyperdrive from all the sweet, sweet lovin’ he’s been getting and the best course of action would be to cut way back on the international relations. He backpaddled so hard he nearly tripped over my dog.

Despite evidence to the contrary –last night I plucked an unusual yellow fruit the size of a jumbo olive from a neighbor’s tree and blithely popped it in my mouth before realizing I had no idea what that particular morsel was or whether in fact it was edible– I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to my health so I opted to order from drugstore.com where I knew my potions would be approved under the boring-but-important FD&C and FPLA (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, respectively).

For all I know, Mexico could be just as strict as the US when it comes to their equivalent of the FDA, but I don’t especially want to take that risk quite yet.


Nivea Creme Travel Tin

I think I’ve mentioned these pocket-sized wonders before, but they deserve all the praise my freshly moisturized hands can throw at them.

I buy them by the dozen and stash them everywhere.

There’s at least one in every handbag, in all of my coats, a few in the car and one by my bed. What makes them so brilliant is their portability. They’re slim enough to keep in your pocket or bag without taking up much room, and since it’s a tin and not a tube, it’s virtually leak proof.

Recently I’ve been using it when I go to the beach to protect my face against chapping in the wind and to replenish the moisture lost in my hands from all the salt air. They’re also dead handy to have around when I want to partake in street food and either have to use my own disinfectant wipes (harsh) or the combination powdered hand and dish soap (harsher) provided by the taco joint in question.

That way I can have clean hands and still enjoy my taco without my cuticles painfully turning into papyrus. Plus they’re dead cheap and seemingly last forever. What’s not to love?


Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads

I’m a little sensitive to both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, two of the most common active ingredients in OTC acne treatments. Nothing especially terrible happens, I don’t develop leprosy or break out in hives, just a little peeling, but I still try to avoid them when possible.

Tea tree oil has always been good to me as has witch hazel; these little astringent pads contain both.

They are outstanding.

What they’re not, however, are cleansing pads. I always think of cleansing pads as something to replace your face wash. These are more like Oxy pads for grown ups, and I’d use them in place of a toner or astringent.

I really like the pads themselves, which are just scratchy enough to feel like you’re getting a good rigorous bit of exfoliation, and although the witch hazel/denatured alcohol/tea tree oil does tingle, it feels reassuringly strident without making my skin peel or go red, even if I forget to moisturize after.

It’s pretty good bang for your buck too, 50 pads will set you back just over five smackeroos and they can be used as middle-of-the-day skin refreshers too.

Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Anti-Wrinkle Creme

Man this is great stuff.

I remember back in the day you could go to Walgreen’s for your middle-of-the-night PMS run (spice drops, Coca Cola and beef jerky) and get a nice-sized vat of Alpha Hydrox creme for like six bucks on sale.

I would slather it all over my body and then do a dry brush/salt scrub whenever I was feeling particularly crusty and gross.

It worked like gangbusters and I’d emerge from my bath looking just as fresh and pink as a pig in buttermilk.

They’ve either discontinued or reformulated that particular product, but this moisturizer with 10% pure Glycolic Acid –an alpha hydroxy acid naturally found in sugar cane– holds its own when it comes to gently reducing fine lines, spots and improving the tone and texture of your skin, even on delicate petals like me.

HLB has been using this in combination with the tea tree wipes for two weeks and his complexion has almost completely cleared, plus the dark spots blemishes leave behind for a month after a breakout have faded considerably.

I’ve mostly noticed an improvement of tone in my skin and the few fine lines that appear in my forehead whenever I’m particularly stressed or dehydrated have vanished.

I’ve put these last two products behind the jump because they’re a bit intimate in nature, but I get a surprising number of emails about products like these, so here we go.

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What Miss Plumcake Is…

Hey gang, in a continuing theme of bringing back favorite features, it’s time to find out What Miss Plumcake is:

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Five Great: Products for a Party Polished Neutral Lip Under $10

Fashion, like every curse, is cyclical, and makeup is no exception. We’ve been having a serious smudgy-eyes, slap of lipgloss moment for a little long while now. That’s great, but as the winter party season is getting into full swing, I’ve noticed the fine art of the polished neutral lip has eluded many, many women who really ought to know better and it’s leaving otherwise perfect party looks a bit haphazard and undone. Have we forgotten how to do an evening neutral?

A nude or neutral lip takes just as much effort as a bright. It’s the colors, not the technique, that changes. Here are the five products I use for my evening-appropriate neutral lip.


N.Y.C. Automatic Lip Pencil in Naughty Nude

I think I’ve already sung the praises of N.Y.C.’s Big Apple cream blush stick as a total game changer and the only blush I’ll ever love, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised when this historically inexpensive drugstore brand produced what is essentially a duplicate of Chanel’s “Roux” lipliner with all the payoff at one-tenth of the price.

Naughty Nude is a warm toasted brown, a little darker than you might think you’d want for a neutral lip, but it translates to depth and richness, not darkness once you put it on.

I know it’s been the fashion to line your lips and then fill in with a pencil, but for this application I truly just line the outside and then fill in only the corners of my lips, smudging inward to create a more three-dimensional pout. This is especially handy if you’ve got flat or large lips like your pal Plummy. A bit of depth helps them from visually taking over your (my) face.


Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Rosy Nude

Is it just me, or has Revlon really been bringing their A game to the lip color scene recently?

I honestly can’t tell you the last time I’ve worn straight outta-the-tube lipstick on a regular basis. Probably not since Chanel reformulated my beloved “Energy” but Revlon might just change that.

Rosy Nude reminds me of nothing so much as the sort of lipstick models wear in commercials where they’re not supposed to be wearing any makeup and of course they just happen to look fresh and dewy and flawless because when you’re a model, you just roll out of bed looking camera ready (I, on the other hand, look like a tearful rhinoceros doing her best Winston Churchill impersonation…in a fright wig).

I also appreciate it’s fragrance-free.

It’s not that I really ever minded a little scent in my lipstick, and I know folks of a certain generation love the smell of old school lipstick, explaining the success of the pretty but surprisingly proletarian “Lipstick Rose” scent for Frederic Malle, but it’s nice to be able to pick a lipcolor without worrying whether it’s going to affect your sense of smell, taste or bother anyone you might be smooching.

Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Soft Nude

Don’t trust the Amazon image, which is much more lavender than the actual product. I’ve posted the image with the closest color reproduction I could find.

Muchas gracias to the original photographer.

On me, Soft Nude is considerably paler than my natural lip color, so it’s not a shade I’d wear all over unless I was going for a very nude lip, like this Edie Sedgwick look from the always brilliant Samantha Chapman (tutorial here). Actually, I don’t think Sam is even using a lipcolor at all here. If I remember correctly I think she used concealer on her lips. You could do that, of course, but a pale nude is much more wearable.

What I use it for is as a lip highlighter.

For my evening look, I line my lips with Naughty Nude, filling in the outer corners a bit as I’d mentioned, then I apply Rosy Nude all over the lip.

The Soft Nude goes on the middle of the upper and bottom lips in the center half to bring the center of my lips visually forward, a trick Brigitte Bardot used to great effect, enhancing her already perfect pout.

If you’re a perfectionist you could blend it with a lip brush, but I’m not so I either buff it with my ring finger or make a few gentle kissyfaces.

Next comes the lipgloss.

Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Perfect Peony

Again, the Amazon image on my screen is too blue like it seems to be with all the Revlon images, but it really is a perfect neutral peony.

I apply this in a thin layer all over the lip when I know I’m going to be eating or drinking, or if touch-ups won’t be practical, it’s sheer enough to let the other colors play through but adds longevity to the look.

Admittedly it dries a little sticky, so I wouldn’t wear it without a slicker, more moisturizing gloss on top.

The color is amazing, doesn’t peel or kiss off, but for me this is not a standalone product. It’s great as part of this look an I’d wear it for a regular day look topped with (lots) of hydrating lip gloss, but if you’re looking for one lippie to toss in your bag and be done with it, you’ve got better bets elsewhere.

Revlon Colorburst Lipgloss in Rosegold

Now THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!

I swear this is a spot-on dupe of MAC’s Lychee Luxe Lipglass and just about the prettiest gloss I’ve come across in a month of ice cream sundaes. It’s shimmery without being glittery, shiny without being goopy and incredibly easy to wear.

The shape of the sponge applicator is new and takes some getting used to for those of us used to the traditional doe foot, but I like it and gives excellent one-pass coverage.

For my evening look I just top everything off with a slick of this gloss but if I wanted to do a low-key everyday neutral, I could easily see myself wearing the Rosegold over the Rosy Nude without thinking twice.

Do you have favorite products for a neutral evening lip? Requests for other product recommendations or reviews? Put it in the comments and have a fantastic weekend!

Five Great: Gifts for the Road Travelin’ Gal

I’m not gonna lie, gang. Between my best friend and fam on the Atlantic and my new home on the Pacific, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this year and  frankly know more than I’d like to about this great nation’s truckstops and rest stops (Texas might have dinosaur-denying textbooks and sentence innocent people to death on a regular basis, but by gum we have the finest maintained rest areas in this good and golden land).

Although I don’t always travel IN style I like to think I travel WITH style.

For example, I’m probably the only person at that particular rest area outside of El Paso who cuddled up in the backseat of her trusty automobile using two truck stop horse blankets and a blonde mink for a pillow.

For the majority of my adult life, I harbored some serious anti-suitcase sentiment. I traveled everywhere packing only what I could fit into my great grandmother’s snug 20″ x 16″ x 8″. red crocodile suitcase.  I’d had these newfangled cases with their wheelies and whatnot, and not a single one worked the way it ought. It was like I was trailing a drunken toddler behind me, and I gave up on modern suitcases for good. Sorta.

Unfortunately, when I realized I’d be staying a month or longer away from home and I’d have to cross international borders –who might not necessarily allow exotics like crocodile into, or out of their country– I bit the checked-baggage bullet and invested in the best suitcase I could reasonably afford.

Enter the Antler “Camden” 30″ hardside spinner.

Even if I’d paid the $420 retail for this bag –I didn’t, it’s on sale at Amazon for less than half that in a variety of colors, I got white– it would have been worth every penny.

This thing corners like a Lamborghini, survived particularly brutal treatment at the hands of TSA not to mention the guy who hauled it down the 72 steps to my villa, dropping it no fewer than six times, and the various abuses and humiliations involved in all commercial air travel these days. My white one did get a little scuffed up, but the marks came off with a Lysol cloth –what, you guys don’t disinfect your luggage after God Knows Who has been handling it?– and honestly, it’s a white suitcase. It comes with the territory.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, or at least the really, really bright, I give you theStanley HID0109 HID Spotlight.

I had no idea how badly I needed one of these things until my father gave me his used one last month. I’ve used it half a dozen times since then.

First of all, this thing is as bright as the sun.

Okay, maybe not the sun, but it is as bright as anything you could ever want.

When I was in Mexico, one of the lanterns in the single restaurant in my village caught fire and exploded (whee!) and they had to turn off the breaker. My trusty Stanley saved the day so they could work their electrical-repair magic and because boys will be boys, one of the fellas pointed the lamp across the ocean at one of the Islas Coronados and I swear the light shone onto land…13 km away.

More practically, I used it to help a family whose car had broken down somewhere in…hell I don’t remember. Let’s say Arizona and to “accidentally” shine directly in the face of a creepy trucker who kept circling closer and closer as I was gassing up along I-10 well after midnight.

Incidentally, do you know why the family with the butch guy with the camo truck and the huntin’ dog in the back of the bed needed to be rescued by a Birkin-totin’ babe like myself?

Because he didn’t carry jumper cables.

I swear I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. You buy a pair, you stick ’em in the back of your car and you forget about them until you need ’em, which you –or someone– will, eventually.

I get into more arguments with women about the importance of carrying cables than I care to relate. Yes, I know you have AAA. That’s great. I do too, and I LOVE them, but I also distinctly remember having to come to my grandmother’s rescue because AAA simply did not show up. Not even after I called several times. This wasn’t in the boonies either. They just didn’t come. Ever.

To me there’s no difference in not carrying jumper cables because “That’s what AAA is for” and not learning to drive because you have someone to chauffeur you around. It’s weak-on-purpose and antifeminist and okay, perhaps I’m a little too invested, but you can bet that big butch man will go to his grave with the shame that he had to be rescued by a girl because he failed Boy Scouts 101: He wasn’t prepared.

Granted it might not be the most romantic gift, but it could be a dead useful “gag gift” when paired with some sexy lingerie or a pair of beautiful earrings hidden inside.

HOW TO JUMP START A CAR

1) Clamp the red cable to the positive terminal on the dead battery

2) Clamp the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal on the good battery

3) Clamp the black cable to the negative terminal of the good battery

4) Clamp the other end of the black cable to a piece of solid, unpainted metal under the hood of the dead car (NOT the black terminal unless you want to reproduce the welding scenes from Flashdance)

5) Turn on the good car, let it run for a few minutes, then start the dead car. If it doesn’t work it might need a few minutes more. Once the stalled car is started let it run for at least 30 minutes.

Just remember, start with “Red Cross to Dead Cross” and work in a circle. You should only be turning one direction.

Okay, ready for something a little less butch?

 

There, you don’t get much girlier than Caudelie Beauty Elixir.

I love this stuff. Basically it’s a water-weight mist with extracts of rosemary, and other essential oils, plus benzoin that perks your face right up. I know my skin goes to absolute hell when I travel and I keep a little bottle of this, along with some natural tears, Five Hour Energy and some Yellow Stick in one of the cupholders when I drive. One little spritz makes me feel human again and refreshes my body and as much of my spirit as can be reached by atomized spray.

What, you don’t know what Yellow Stick is?

It’s only about the greatest thing a dollar and four cents can buy!

I first started using Yellow Stick, which is a solid tube of 100% pure cocoa butter, when I was a volunteer at the cold weather shelter and I needed something I could stick in my pocket without worrying about spillage or leakage. I needed to be able to use it on my hands, lips and any place that got dry, without it irritating my skin or smelling too strongly of anything I didn’t want on my face. Plus, it’s easy to disinfect with a Lysol wipe, which is always a plus in my borderline germaphobe book. I use it for everything now, especially my cuticles and lips, and it makes a great stocking stuffer…you know, in case the jumper cables don’t fit.

Fast Fashion and Adhesive Bras

I am not Forever 21’s target demographic, I don’t do cheap and cheerful fast fashion and I didn’t want to be 21 when I WAS 21, so being 21 in eternum is more Kafka than cool for me, but good on them for at least allowing fatties in their store. Yes, they have their plus sizes tucked way in the Corner of Shame next to the maternity gear, but hey, at least we’re encouraged to share the same air as the straight-sizers.

And yet –as perhaps I’ve mentioned for the mazillionth time– I’m about to spend a month on the beaches of Mexico, so I want easy, effortless dressing that won’t break my heart if they get ripped off me in a fit of hot hot Latin passion by some fiery young thing with dark, smoldering eyes, lips like two very naughty pillows and the lightest dusting of freckles across his taut, bronzed* …wait, where am I? Dorothy? Rose? Sophia? Where’s my cheesecake?

Anyway, I picked up this dress:

And yes, it’s styled for hell and the model, while pretty, is not a very good model but the bones of a good dress are there. It’s rayon (I like rayon for summer, not everyone does) and is partially lined. That was a pleasant surprise considering how many designers at higher price points still don’t bother to line their dresses.

It’s also an easy dress to posh up.

I added a nautical-themed Hermes scarf as a belt, another one in a coordinating color as a headband, a pair of handmade Christian Lacroix espadrilles and all of the sudden this $23 dress would be at home anywhere along the French Riviera.

This is why I always bang on about investing in accessories.

Yeah, the shoes and the two scarves clocked in at just about $400 each, but I’ll have them until I die and can wear the scarves in a million ways with a million outfits and one tactfully deployed luxe piece makes an outfit look rich, which an expensive dress with cheap accessories kills a look deader than a Kennedy hooker.

Oh, you’ll notice it’s got an open back.

One could, I suppose, just wear it with a regular bra if you don’t care about your bra straps showing, or toss on a cardi, which you’d want to do if you were going to wear it to work or dinner anyway, but I wanted to be able to wear it backless so I took a risk and picked up Sin Bra.

For the record I teeter between a 38 DD and DDD, depending on the bra. Good genes mean I don’t have any droop, but I’m still not keen on traipsing around unfettered. I love the Sin Bra.

Basically, for $10 you get 6 sets of film-thin surgical adhesive cut outs and “petals” which you use like so:

And they worked. It was light and secure and although it didn’t give me that Foam Cups of Impenetrable Doom look, it definitely gave me the support I needed without feeling weird or uncomfortable like the silicone cutlets do, plus they’re waterproof so you can wear them swimming.

I can’t say they’ll work for everyone, but they worked a mint for me. They get two thumbs (among other things) up from Miss Plumcake. If you have the need, go git you some.

 

 

 

*Nose, they’re on his nose

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