Tag Archive | diy

Happy New Year! A Guide to Making Resolutions and Keeping Them.

Happy New Year Darlings!

DollymarlowediariesNYE1

Happy New Year!

 

If you’ve been following me long enough you’re already aware of my fondness for the new year holiday. If not, let me tell you it is one of my favorites! I love starting fresh, setting new goals, revisiting past ones, and looking forward to the year to come. I know there are a lot of you out there who dread the idea of resolution making. Maybe you’re afraid of failure, perhaps you dislike the idea of ritual goal setting, or maybe the winter blues has got you in a funk? But truly, new year resolutions are a healthy and fun way to set your year up for success and help snap you out of a dreary mindset. I myself suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is maddening for someone of a generally cheerful disposition. One of the things that has shown itself to be most therapeutic for me is resolution making. So, please allow me to share with you my 2018 resolutions along with my tips for making them stick.

#1 Set Actual Goals

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Art by Bill Randall

Goals, I mean real attainable goals, are definable, quantifiable, and timely. Think about the things you want to achieve in the next year, but be specific and realistic. 

Define your goal. If you can’t explain what it is that you want, how in the world do you expect to achieve it?

Is it quantifiable? Can you measure it? “Finding happiness” is not measurable. Abstract goals are not goals at all, they’re moods. Following the abstract is a recipe for failure. Instead, think of things that would make you happy: spending more time with your family, gardening, starting a new hobby, quit smoking, and so on. These are things that can be defined and broken down into achievable steps.

Is it attainable? We are told since childhood to “dream big!”, “shoot for the stars!”, and while there is some merit to that, there is also folly. When I was a wee lass in my first tap (dance) class, I dreamed of being a Radio City Rockette, but that dream would never come to pass no matter how hard I trained because at 5’2″, I am just too short. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. Some goals just can’t be reached, and setting them only to fail time and again is detrimental to the psyche. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t set similar attainable goals. Maybe I can’t be a Rockette, but I can (and did) become a professional dancer. Maybe professional dancer is out of your reach for whatever reason, but taking a dance class is not, or maybe it is too much right now, but buying a dance lesson on DVD or following FREE YouTube tutorials is absolutely doable!

Is it timely: Ugh, I know! Everyone hates a deadline, probably because we approach them all wrong. Deadlines are necessary in actually achieving our goals. If we don’t set timelines, our goals fade away into that abstract abyss, forever out of reach. How depressing is that?! Very. So, learn to love a deadline. We do that by making them realistic. “Loose 20 lbs in a week” isn’t very realistic, in fact it’s downright dangerous! But, “loose 20 lbs in 3 to 6 months” is realistic. *Disclaimer: always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program (wink)* The point is, deadlines only work if they are realistic, and goals are only reached if we implement deadlines.

 

#2 Get Organized

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This is but a small sampling of my journal collection.

Lists! I love lists! I have piles and piles of notebooks, planners, binders, and files for everything. Staples is one of my favorite places on Earth! I just love to sit down with a cup of tea, and write out all my plans for whatever it is I’m doing. Some of my lists are straight forward bullet points, some are artistic collages, some are scattered brainstorming, but they all make it out of my head and onto the page so I can see what needs doing.

Get yourself an notebook or planner or cork board and set out your goals. Remember to define them, write out the necessary steps to achieve said goal, and give yourself a timeline. I like to also leave some space for a bit of journaling. Sometimes a goal becomes unrealistic and I need to try again later. If I write down why, I’m better equipped the next time I try. I also like to give myself praise for steps I’ve made and mini-goals I’ve reached. Positive reinforcement will motivate you unlike anything else will.

#3 Get Going!

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Ann Miller

I’m a firm believer in the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. Little factoid about yours truly, I suffer from a chronic illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There is no treatment, there is no cure, it’s just a thing I must deal with on a day to day basis. I don’t always feel like being productive (or even getting out of bed). I don’t always have the energy to exercise or cook or garden or to do any of the things that I love, and one of the nasty little side effects to that is depression. If I let it, all of those things will snowball into an awful existence. So, I get up and push through. Some days more than others, but every day I make an earnest effort, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when some days I feel like a fraud. Even when I’m too tired. Just making the effort to start, to take those next steps, makes each effort easier and easier. I’m not one for motivational sayings, but it really is true “Procrastination is the thief of time”. (I’ve no idea who said that. I likely saw it on a coffee mug somewhere).

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions!

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Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader and had an impressive library.

Read more – I love to read, but didn’t make much time for it last year (though I did finish one book *pats self on back). This year I’d like to make bedtime reading a nightly ritual, eventually working it in to some daytime indulgences.

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Art by Gil Elvgren

Get in shape! – Ugh! This one. 2017 was not kind to me in terms of physical and mental health. So this coming year, I endeavor to bring my health back to acceptable levels. I’m still working out the details, so I’m short on specifics, but I know the steps I need to take. The end result is up to my body, and I’m willing to let the chips fall where they may. I know I don’t like feeling sluggish and weak, so that’s my goal, not so much the numbers on a scale. Maybe I’ll share this journey… or maybe I won’t. Are there too many health and fitness blogs out there already?

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Art by Pearl Frush

The January Cure – A new year ritual for me, spring cleaning in the winter. Every year I join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. It’s a weekly deep cleaning and home organization challenge for the month of, you guessed it, January! Each task is doable and not too time consuming. Some tasks take the weekend, some take 10 minutes. If you find yourself drowning in clutter, or you just want to spruce up the olde domicile, I HIGHLY recommend joining.

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This lady’s kitchen is everything!

Write more letters – I love snail mail. I love sending hand written letters and receiving them. For some reason, when we moved house, I just dropped off the face of the earth. I never mailed our change of address cards, and as such lost touch with a lot of my friends and family. So, this year, I’m going to make the effort to send at least one note or letter a month (see what I did there? A quantifiable, timely goal!)

And there you have it. Some of my New Year’s resolutions (I do have more. Some are too personal to share, and some are holdovers from last year that need revisiting), and a few tips on making your resolutions successful. I do hope you’ve found this post helpful and at least a little inspirational. Let me know what your resolutions are. I’d love to hear your plans for the new year!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

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Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Hello Darlings!

 

I’ve been asked time and time again to share my skincare ritual, and seeing how I celebrated my 40th birthday last month, I think that’s a splendid idea! But before I get into all that, I thought I’d first share a recipe for my go-to, all natural, organic, apple cider vinegar toner.

Apple cider vinegar has a long list of beneficial uses: from weight loss, to skin care, medicinal purposes, cleaning and disinfecting, teeth whitening, I could go on forever. Thanks to my grandmother’s expert tutelage, I’ve been using ACV for ages. My favorite use, as I’ll share with you today is as a skin toner.

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Rich in alpha hydroxyl acids, ACV does a swell job in reducing the look of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. It’s antiseptic properties help prevent and treat acne (including blackheads). It lightens discoloration caused by acne scars, sunspots, and age spots. But best of all, ACV actually improves skin tone and texture, all for around $5 every few months. Just think of all the money you’ll save ditching the expensive store bought toners! You’ve got better plans for that cash anyway… like shoes!

The Recipe:

1 part Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

2 parts water

a clean glass jar

dollymarloweacv

Simply divide your jar, whatever size, into thirds. Fill 1/3 up with the Braggs ACV (yes, use the Braggs, it’s raw, unfiltered, organic ACV, and only about $5 for a bottle that will last you MONTHS). Then, fill the rest with filtered water. That’s it!

Directions for use:

**If you have sensitive skin, go slow. ACV can be drying at first. Use once to twice a week for a couple of weeks, working your way up to everyday or even twice daily.

  1. Wash your face with a gentle facial cleanser and pat dry with a soft, clean towel.
  2. Shake your jar of ACV toner, then dip a cotton ball or pad in the solution.
  3. Swipe it all over your face, neck, and décolletage. Be sure to swipe under your eyes where we tend to collect wrinkles, but DO NOT GET IT IN YOUR EYES! (It burns, Precious, it burns!)

As the solution evaporates, the fumes tend to irritate the eyes. I like to take this time to close my eyes and relax a bit. Skincare time is me time, so I do like to soak it up.

Fair warning, ACV stinks like, well, vinegar. The odor will go away, usually by the time I’ve finished with my entire skincare ritual (more on that at a later date).

I can honestly say of all the products I’ve tried, nothing comes close to my ACV toner. Try it for a few weeks and tell me what you think!

 

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

Beauty Review: Besame Cosmetics Cashmere Foundation Stick

*This is not a sponsored or paid review

Hello Darlings!

I have, as of late, been on a mission… a mission of glamorous proportions! For over a year I’ve been searching for a foundation to replace my beloved Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation, which is sadly no longer cruelty free. I’ve tried lots of different foundations; high end, drug store, BB creams, powders, you name it. While some were decent, none really hit the mark. That’s why when Besame Cosmetics announced the launch of their new Cashmere Foundation Stick, I was over the moon, if not a bit skeptical. I love Besame, but I’ve not had much luck with stick or pancake foundations in the past. I decided to order one and give it a whirl!

Anytime I do a review, I like to test the product for a few days, sometimes even a few weeks to get a feel of how the product truly performs. Over the last few days, I tested the foundation stick in lots of situations. I tested it at my ballet class, yoga, whitewater rafting, running errands in 114* heat, and under hot photography lights. Let’s see how it did, shall we?

Day 1

On the first trial I did my makeup as usual, moderate coverage with finishing powders and the like. I had an afternoon of running errands in 114* heat (yes, you read that correctly, 114*).

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I’m wearing Besame Cashmere Foundation Stick in Bisque and Besame Brightening Powders in Violet and Vanilla Rose.

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After a very hot afternoon of shopping, the powders wore off, but the foundation stayed put. I did, at one point, touch up with some pressed powder.

Day 2

On day two we went whitewater rafting. Knowing I’d be in the sun and water, I did a light foundation application (with no powder). I really didn’t expect much, especially because I had to wear loads of sunblock.

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My face before our time on the river. The foundation stick is a buildable coverage, so I opted for a lighter application.

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Moi, looking glamorous as ever in my little green helmet, along with my Mr. and man-cub, and four complete strangers. Oh, and Matthew, our competent guide who kept my man-cub from falling out of the raft on more than on occasion.

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After a couple of hours on the river, in the sun, and my foundation stayed better than my so-called “waterproof” eye makeup. Though I didn’t actually go swimming, I did get splashed pretty well a few times… I was soaked!

Day 3

I very much wanted to test the full coverage claim under studio lights. It’s one thing to look nice at the beach or grocery store, but it’s quite another to step in front of a camera under hot lights.

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This is the unedited photo. I applied my makeup as I would any photo shoot. Cashmere Foundation Stick in Bisque built up to full coverage, Brightening powders in violet and rose, e.l.f. High Definition Powder, and Besame Cherry Red lipstick.

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This is the edited version. As you can see, other than some smoothing and light balancing, there really wasn’t a whole lot of editing to be done. 

The Review

Formula: I’ve always been a fan of Besame’s commitment to clean makeup, and while I’m no chemist, the Cashmere Foundation Stick  stays true to that philosophy. Not only is it free of lots of the “junk” found in other foundations, it has some lovely skin calming additions like cucumber, chamomile, and green tea. The ingredient list can be found right on their website, so for those of you with sensitive skin or allergies, there’s no mystery as to what you’re applying to your face. Best of all, Besame is 100% committed to being cruelty free! No animal testing, no animal by-products, and they don’t sell in countries that require animal testing.

Color Match: I have very light skin with pink undertones; the Bisque color was an absolute perfect match! The Cashmere Foundation Stick comes in a wide range of shades that can be blended together if you can’t find your perfect match or if want to contour and highlight.

Coverage: Besame calls the foundation stick full coverage, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. When it comes to full coverage, I always compare foundations to Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation which is truly full coverage (and tested on animals, unfortunately). While the Cashmere Foundation Stick has plenty of coverage for me, if you have serious acne or rosacea, it may not be enough. BUT, the coverage is buildable. It was a cinch just to add a little bit more to get the desired effect. If you’re looking for sheer or light coverage, simply adjust the amount of product you apply. Need a matching concealer? Use a concealer brush and dab away! So, while I wouldn’t exactly call it FULL coverage, I love the fact that I can wear as little or as much as I want with no hassle.

Application: I’ve heard some complaints about the application, but I think there are a few things to remember when using a solid foundation: first, wear moisturizer! Everyone should be wearing moisturizer anyway, but especially when using pancake makeup. You’ll find you have a much smoother application when you prepare your skin properly. Second, after you swipe on the foundation, blend it in with a brush. Besame sells a lovely boudoir brush for such a purpose, but any foundation brush will do. You won’t get that etherial airbrushed look with a sponge blender. And third, if you have large pores, like moi, blend up and away from the pores to keep from pushing the makeup down into them.

Once you have that down, the application is exceedingly easy. Just swipe a bit on your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, then blend away. There is virtually no mess! Another plus is how portable it is. Throw it in your bag for a quick touch up at the beach, gym, or wherever your adventures take you.

Wearability: Besame says their foundation is feather light, and they aren’t wrong! No matter how much I used, my skin felt naked. I have normal to oily skin, and as I mentioned before, I live in an oven. That being said, my skin never felt greasy or caky. It also wasn’t drying in any way. It truly felt as if I was wearing nothing… at least on my face, anyway. And talk about long lasting! During my rafting trip, my foundation stayed better than my “water proof” eye makeup! Ballet class, yoga, summer heat, the Cashmere Foundation Stick stayed put through all of it. Removal is easy as pie. A little cold cream, and it wiped right off with no lasting residue (my white towels stay white!).

Cost: The price for this wonderstick is, in my humble opinion, beyond reasonable. For $25 you get a pretty generous amount of makeup. Now I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look like much, but as with all of Besame’s products, a little goes a long way. Not to mention one typically uses less of a solid foundation than the liquid sort. Plus, no mess means no waste! While it may cost a bit more than a drugstore foundation, it’s half the price of high end department store cosmetics, and it beats both in quality by a mile!

Availability: As of right now the foundation is only available through Besame’s website or their two locations. Hopefully it will be at a Sephora near you soon. I don’t have a Sephora near me, so I buy at besamecosmetics.com. I realize buying a foundation on-line, without being able to test it, can be nerve-wracking, but Besame’s color descriptions and swatches are incredibly accurate. If you just do a search of  #besamecosmetics or #cashmerefoundationstick on Instagram, you’ll find lots of ladies showing off their preferred shade which may help you find yours.

Rating: I give it and overall 9 out of 10. The only issues I see are that it’s not quite full coverage, and for some ladies that may be an issue, and it’s only available on-line or at a Besame store right now. Honestly, I can overlook both of those things because I love this product so much! If it’s ever discontinued, I shall throw myself into the pit of despair!

I do hope you have found this little review helpful. If you try the Cashmere Foundation Stick, please let me know what you think! As always, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a beauty or vintage lifestyle question, feel free to drop me a line via electronic post, dollymarlowe@gmail.com. Until we meet again!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Pinup 101Photo Shoot Checklist

Hello Darlings!

Today I thought I might share with you my checklist for photo shoot preparations, including what to bring. Every model should have a model bag that holds the various odds and ends needed on any given photo shoot or runway show. The contents of your bag may change depending on the job, your experience, and so on. I’ll go over the basics, and you can add on from there. I’ll also share with you how I prepare for photo shoots with my pre-shoot schedule.

First, lets touch on the importance of being prepared. I have heard some pretty interesting stories from photographers about models who have shown up late (really late), with unshaven legs and/or underarms, unkempt finger and toenails, soiled or wrinkled wardrobe, and so on. No matter how much or how little actual experience a model may have, showing up prompt and prepared is the mark of a true professional. The opposite is, well, exactly that. In a sea of beautiful faces, a professional attitude and a winning personality will set you apart and keep the jobs rolling in.

The Model Bag 

The model bag is a model’s personal bag of tricks. It holds everything one could possibly need during a shoot or show. Even if hair, makeup, and wardrobe are being provided, there are things specific to you that you alone are responsible for bringing. Here’s my checklist, and while your bag will be specific to you, this is a good start.

Dolly _Marlowe's_Model Bag

My model bag is a vintage train case that has doubled as a prop.

*Water bottles (Lights get hot, stay hydrated)

*Straws (Stay hydrated AND keep your makeup in place)

*Energy snacks (Bite size things are best to keep from ruining your makeup)

*Safety panties (Thong or g-string panties as close to your skin tone as possible. These are for wearing under a photographer’s or designer’s wardrobe, especially swimwear and lingerie.)

*Full coverage panties in black, white, nude, and a fashion color like pink or red (These are for show, so make sure they are in nice condition)

*Heels in black, white, nude, and any fashionable style or color that suits your wardrobe (Beware of too ostentatious a shoe if you’re working for a designer, their clothes are the focus, not your shoes. Make sure you can walk in the shoes you pack if you’re walking the runway)

*Bras in black and nude, with AND without straps

 

*Stockings: black, nude, fishnets, nude pantyhose (Bring backups in the event of snags)

*Scarf (For wardrobe changes to prevent makeup transfer)

*Makeup, yes, even if its being provided (Foundation, lashes and adhesive, oil blotter, translucent powder with brush, lipstick, liner, chapstick, hair pins, hairspray, comb and brush, tissues, cotton swabs, cotton balls, anything you need for your specific look)

*Body lotion

*Nail polish remover

*Clear nail polish

*Colored nail polish to match your freshly manicured nails

*Nail clippers and file

*Small first-aid kit with clear bandages, NSAIDs, allergy medications, cough drops, feminine hygiene products

*Deodorant

*Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

*Breath mints

*Baby wipes or makeup remover wipes

*Static Guard

*Small sewing kit with safety pins

*Fabric tape

*Portfolio, resume, and comp cards if you have them

*Your handbag with your usual things (Be sure to have cash, cell phone, and your ID)

*Music (I have several playlists depending on the mood of the shoot, and a compact bluetooth speaker)

*Something to do (There can be quite a bit of downtime, so have something to keep busy)

*Wardrobe and accessories (Even if the photographer is providing, it’s always a good idea to have options. The only time it’s not appropriate to bring your own wardrobe is if you’re shooting for a designer, then you’ll obviously be wearing their pieces)

*Travel clothes and robe (Loose fitting clothes that won’t leave impressions or red marks on your skin whilst you travel to your gig or sit for hair and makeup. Don’t wear socks!)

Pre-Shoot (or show) Preparation Schedule

Preparations for a photo shoot or runway show start long before you ever show up to your gig. Everything from eating right and getting a good nights sleep effect your performance in front of a camera. Here is how I prepare for shows and shoots.

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Calendar art by Alberto Vargas for Esquire Magazine

Always (as in, I’m always doing these things because they’re important in the long term):

*Exercise and eat right. This doesn’t mean you have to be a size two, but you should strive to look and feel your healthiest best.

*Practice. I’ve covered this before, but it’s so very important to know how to pose and feel comfortable in those poses. Have a wide variety of poses, facial expressions, and moods to show (at least 10).

*Take a dance class. This may sound silly, but nothing trains your body to move with poise and grace better than dance. It doesn’t matter what style of dance class you choose, just pick something and get moving!

*Don’t pick at your face! If you have a pimple that decides to make an uninvited appearance, use a spot treatment. Picking will only cause irritation and scarring which will take a lot longer than the original blemish to disappear.

One Month Prior (as you book more jobs, this will became a standing thing):

*Gather wardrobe pieces and items for your model bag if you don’t already have them. If you need to order things, give yourself enough time for delivery and exchanges if needed)

*Make any sewing alterations to wardrobe as needed

*If your shoot has a theme, collect some props. This is an especially good idea if you’re doing a package shoot where the photographer has a set theme and is offering it up to multiple models. Bringing a few small props will give your photos something a little different. Though, respect the photographer’s wishes if they’d rather not use them.

*Double check your schedule. Make sure you have time off work, babysitters, transportation, a chaperone, and the correct day and time of the shoot.

Two Weeks Prior:

*Double check measurements and wardrobe fit, especially if you’ve changed your diet or started working out. You’d be surprised how the loss or gain of a couple of inches can drastically change wardrobe fit. Make any alterations (or contact whomever booked you if you’ll be modeling for a designer) as needed

*Double check that schedule!

*Start whitening your teeth if you’ve never done it before.

One week Prior:

*Do any kind of facials or skin treatments now so your skin has time to adjust. I do not recommend trying any kind of new treatments this close to a shoot, should your skin positively freak out on you!

*Start sleeping 6 to 10 hours a night. Sleep experts say it can take a whole week to catch up on one bad night, so be sure you’re getting plenty of beauty rest.

*Drink water. Proper hydration not only keeps you healthy, but it also fills in fine lines, wrinkles, cellulite, and clears the skin. (*pro tip: “water” is in bold because I mean water, not juice, not soda, not energy drinks, but actual WATER).

*Have your hair done. If you color it, get that done. Have a trim done as well. When you book your appointment, ask for a deep conditioning treatment as well to add some luster to your locks. Again, now is not the time for anything new, just maintenance.

*Wax whatever needs waxing, if you are so inclined. Remember, your skin will need some recovery time.

*Whiten your teeth if it’s part of your maintenance beauty routine.

Two or Three Days Prior:

*Groom your eyebrows. It’s best to have this done by a professional if you’re not experienced in this area.

*Exfoliate your face and body.

*Keep drinking water and getting good sleep!

*Cut out high sodium foods and alcohol. Too much salt will make you look bloated, not hydrated. Cut out as much salt as you can. Take it easy on sugary foods too. They can lead to weight gain and skin issues. Alcohol will make you look tired and puffy, so skip the cocktails until your shoot is over

*Steam and press any wardrobe, then hang it in a garment bag being careful it won’t get crushed or creased. DO NOT FLAT FOLD YOUR WARDROBE!

*Contact the photographer. Confirm wardrobe, hair and makeup plans, etc.

*Arrange a safety contact if you don’t have a chaperone.

*Double check that schedule.

The Day Prior:

*Keep drinking water!

 

*Have a manicure and pedicure done. Buy a bottle of matching color nail polish if you don’t have one at home.

*Pack your model bag.

*Wash your hair in the morning or the night before, and don’t use any heavy styling products. Your hairstylist will want “day old hair” to work with. (*Pro Tip: Day old hair, not dirty, nasty, stinky hair).

*Shave your legs, under arms, and bikini line if you don’t wax. Be sure to moisturize after.

*Get good sleep!

*Charge your phone

The Day Of:

*Wake up early enough that you’re not in a mad rush.

*Shower and shave again. Don’t forget to moisturize after.

*Wash and moisturize your face. Don’t put on any cosmetics if you’re working with a makeup artist.

*Throw anything in your model bag you used that morning you may need later. Don’t forget your phone charger.

*Eat a good breakfast. Stay away for greasy heavy foods, and opt for quality proteins and carbohydrates that will give you energy without weighing you down.

*If you’re supposed to arrive photo ready, be photo ready.

*Let your safety contact know when you’ve arrived and where you are. Keep in contact throughout the day during breaks if it’s an all day shoot.

*Show up 15 minutes early. Use the restroom if needed. Put your phone on vibrate.

*Relax and have fun!

After You Shoot:

*Thank the photographer and HMUA (and anyone else who worked on your shoot) for their work.

*Give them copies of your comp cards or business cards and exchange contact and social media information. Never miss an opportunity to network.

*Clean up your mess. Photo shoots are fast and hectic, no doubt your stuff is everywhere. Pack up your things and throw away your trash.

*Go over any details with the photographer regarding publication, photo sharing, etc.

*Call your safety contact when you’re in your car and ready to leave.

*Stop and reward yourself with a greasy, sugary treat. You’ve earned it!

 

Every photo shoot and runway show will be different in some way. As you gain more experience, your bag and routine will change accordingly. What’s important is that you get in the habit of being prepared. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line via electronic post or in the comments section below.

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Every time I pack for a shoot, I have to remind him that he can’t come with me.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

 

Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Hello Darlings!

February is here and love is in the air. Shops are overflowing with flowers and big boxes of chocolates. It seems as if the whole world is swathed in pink and red hues. Don’t you just love l’amour?

One of my favorite things about the Valentine season is baking up something special for my one true love (who, by the way, has one serious sweet tooth). This year I made him the richest, most decadent, ooey-gooey, chocolate ganache cake. I’d love to share it with you for you to share with someone you love…or just eat it all yourself. It’s that good.

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Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes

Start to finish time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

(Cake)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour or 2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

(Ganache)

2/3 cup whipping cream

6 oz semisweet baking chocolate (chopped, chips work as well)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350* F. Grease bottom and sides of two (9″) or 3 (8″) round cake pans; lightly flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients (except for those for the ganache) on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping to bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for an additional 3 minutes. Pour equal portions into pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until each cake passes the toothpick test. Let cool 10 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW TO COOL COMPLETELY IN THE PANS!!! Remove from the pans and allow to cool for 1 hour.
  4. While the cakes are baking, heat the whipping cream in a 1 quart saucepan over low heat util hot, but not boiling.
  5. Add in chocolate and stir obsessively, do not let it burn (chocolate can burn quickly). Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. The ganache will thicken as it cools. It’s ready when it mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.
  6. Spoon cooled ganache between the cake layers. Pour over the top layer and allow it to drip over the sides of the cake. Spoon as much as you like to cover the cake.

**Tip: for an extra gooey cake, pour the ganache between the cake layers whilst it is still relatively thin, allowing the cake layers to absorb the moisture. Top the rest of the cake once the ganache has thickened up a bit.

Serve warm with a scoop of homestyle vanilla ice cream and a glass of cold milk.

Enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

New Year, New You

Hello Darlings!

The new year is almost here and I am giddy with anticipation. Not because I have any exciting plans, mind you (well, other than the Sherlock season 4 premier). My romantic NYE celebration aboard the Queen Mary plans were waylaid by a very costly auto repair (insert sad face here). No, I am giddy because I love the New Year holiday! I love the hope that comes with the turn of the calendar page. I love the promise of a fresh start. I love new year resolutions!

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Jayne Mansfield counting down the New Year

I know some people do get a bit grumpy about such things: “January 1st is just another day”, “You don’t need a holiday to change your life”, “Things won’t magically get better when the clock strikes midnight”, etc. While those are all very true statements, they ignore the thing that makes the new year so special… community. For this one day in the year, it seems the whole world is looking out to the horizon with eagerness and hope. We can do better, be better, we can make small but meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others if only we dare to try.

Silly and cliche as it may be, I make New Year’s resolutions every year, and every year I get better and better at keeping them (making them public also helps keep me accountable).

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Concentrate on my health. Like most people, my past resolutions have been something to the effect of “get in shape”, “lose weight”, etc. Those are great goals, and if they are your goals, I say go for it! For me, however, things aren’t that simple. You see, I live with chronic illness, and as such, my weight can fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year. I can’t always go to the gym. I can’t always get out of bed! BUT I can focus on making healthier choices both mentally and physically by eating better, exercising everyday (even if its only a few minutes of stretching), clearing out negative influences from my life, focus on personal growth.
  2. Be more productive. This one always manages to make it onto my resolutions list. Maybe because I’m a creative and a perfectionist (a dangerous combination, indeed). I’ve made significant progress in the past, but I’ve also seen a steep decline recently. We moved to a tiny town, in the middle of nowhere, where I don’t know a soul. It can be a little depressing (and boring). When the gloom sets in, I stall out. So I resolve to do something productive everyday, something creative, something active, something constructive, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing something.
  3. Explore more. Especially in my new home. Apparently my new little spot on the map is full of rich history: old western mining towns, Nazi spies, classic western filming locations, and even Star Wars was filmed out here. Who knew? Not me, and that’s why I resolve to get out to do some exploring. This will be a tall order for an introvert, but I plan on writing about my adventures, so maybe that will push me over the social hump.
  4. Get organized. This is another one that lands on my list every year, and I have made improvements years past, but again, this move has really thrown a monkey wrench in the works. Nevertheless, I remain undeterred. This will also help me with my other resolutions, so organization will likely forever be on my list.
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The lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds, who we sadly lost this year.

And there you have it. I really do look forward to this coming year, and I hope to share my progress with my readers. What are your resolutions? Any hopes for the new coming year? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Atomic Pasta Salad

Hello Darlings!

Well, summer is finally upon us. It’s time for BBQs, picnics, and all sorts pot-luck of frivolity. Being a vegetarian, the ubiquitous summer gathering always poses a bit of a challenge. I love food, and I do not eat like a bird. There is nothing worse than smelling bbq and watching everyone stuff themselves while I gnaw on carrot sticks and mellon balls. Mama wants to EAT! Well, I’m sure there are some things worse than that (war, cancer, reality TV), but starving at a bbq is up there. I also feel it is bad form to expect the hosts to arrange their party around my dietary needs. Yes, that is part of good party planning, but when I am a guest, I need to be prepared.

So, I came up with this little dish to fill any veggie voids left by my carnivorous hosts… Atomic Pasta Salad. Tasty, filling, and always a welcome addition to any summer soirée. Don’t worry it isn’t spicy. The name “Atomic” doesn’t come from the flavor, but from the atomic age. In the 1950’s convenience foods were all the rage, bottled, canned, frozen… plastic was in! This salad is a reflection of that. It is not organic or “from scratch” by any means, although the recipe can be tweaked to make it so. It’s easy to make last minute with what you’ve got hanging around the kitchen already. I last brought this salad to an Easter bbq and egg hunt, and it was one of the most popular dishes of the party. It’s quite the complement when you go home with an empty dish!

The delish sandwich in the background is a BLT lovingly hand crafted by my Mr. with soy bacon!

Atomic Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total cook/chill time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 – 8

Ingredients:

12oz Rainbow Rotini Pasta

1/2c diced red onion

1/2c chopped red bell pepper

1/2c finely chopped carrots

1/4c green onion

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/4c Olive Oil (light)

2 tbsp Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing

Shredded Parmesan Cheese to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2c Ken’s Steak House Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing

*optional add ins: I like to add sliced grape tomato and black olives. My Mr. hates both of those things, so I put them on the side and add them to my individual plate.

Directions:

1) Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta. Boil pasta for about 9 min. stirring occasionally.

2) Drain pasta and set it aside in a large glass mixing bowl.

3) Mix in olive oil. Be sure to coat all of the pasta to prevent sticking.

4) Add in red onion, green onion, carrots, rosemary, and garlic. Mix well, but be careful not to disturb the shape of the pasta. The spirals will be somewhat fragile until they cool.

5) Fold in the Ken’s Steakhouse Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing. Be sure to coat every last bit of pasta and veg!

6) Add in the Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar and Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing. Again, stir well, but carefully.

7) Add parmesan, slat, and pepper to taste.

8) Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until cold.

Fresh rosemary from my garden. 

I do hope you enjoy!

xoxo

Dolly Marlowe