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Because Even I Get Tired of Talking About Foundation Sometimes

Jun27

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Goddess of Advice, Dearest Amalah,
I have a question regarding etiquette.
I know that you recently left the office world where co-workers were a few feet a way and you are now learning the life of the freelancer, with fellow bloggers an IM away. But I would ask that you return to your office days for some advice on the following:
If co-workers throw you a shower of some sort (baby or wedding) are you still obligated to send individual thank-you notes? Or is a blanket thank-you email to the entire department/ group of co-workers sufficient? I say that the first option is the only way to go. Even if the group got together and gave one big gift, I think a written thank-you note is definitely necessary. However, it seems recently that the email option is being used more and more.
Any opinions? Funny stories?
Always,
Ali

I 100% completely, wholly and totally agree with you: Written notes are necessary, and group emails are incredibly rude. And lazy. And rude!
(The only exception being if a group of coworkers take you out for lunch or happy hour, for your birthday or a farewell or something like that. Then an email is appropriate, unless gifts were involved, and then NO, and then I think it’s time to end this tangent.)
At my office, written notes were always the norm after baby or wedding showers, thank God. But since the showers usually involved a mix of gifts from individuals and a big group gift, I noticed there were two ways of dealing with the group-gift givers.
For my baby shower, I did indeed write a note to every single person who contributed to the group gift — 20-odd notes or so — in addition to the notes for people who bought me individual gifts. It took me about two evenings, and I churned out the short, sweet-yet-fairly-boilerplate notes while watching television. I felt it was the least I could do since my coworkers had been beyond generous.
But then a few weeks later there was a wedding shower, and the bride-to-be wrote one thank-you note addressed to all the group-gift givers and tacked it up on the bulletin board in our lunch room. This was… hmm. I guess this was okay, because she at least put pen to paper, and yeah, how hard is it to hand over $10 and sign a card?
But what if someone didn’t notice the card? Someone for whom $10 is actually a lot of money? And assumed the bride had not bothered to thank people at all?
I don’t own a copy of Miss Manners, so I don’t know if this is an “official” breach of etiquette (I’m pretty sure the mass email thank-you is though), but here’s the golden rule when it comes to thank-you note etiquette: Just like it’s always better to be over-dressed, it’s always better to be over-polite.

I have a question for your Smackdown about eyeliner.
My sister and I have a long standing debate over the stuff. She says I am “black eyeliner happy” and well, she’s dead. I killed her.
Of course I kid but you know, it pissed me off so much that I thought “Amalah will have the answer! Amalah knows all!”
Firstly, I have dark brown eyes. So naturally I’m thinking that black eyeliner is the answer to everything. Colored eyeliner (and in the realm of that I include “brown”) with my complexion equals not good and people stare. So my question is this, who is right here? Me or my sister? She with the green eyes says she can pull it off and me, notsomuch.
In my defense, I’d like to say that I am NOT eyeliner happy. I wear it on the bottom of my eyelids only (does that make sense?) because no matter how hard I try, I simply am incapable of wearing it on my upper lids. Uncoordinated and stuff. I smudge appropriately, or at least I try to. I love my Sephora black eyeliner pencil! It is my link to the rest of the world from isolated Montana for pete’s sake!
I could drag you kicking and screaming down the rabbit hole of this rant but I’ll stop here.
Please. Help.
Best regards,
Joy

Oh dear. Oh dear! You are going to HATE ME.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with black eyeliner. Some people look awesome with black eyeliner. People with, say, dark eyes, black hair and black eyebrows. People with darker or olive complexions. These people look awesome with black eyeliner.

Some pasty folk can get away with it, but only for dramatic, evening-type looks. And a lot of people who wear black eyeliner would probably look better by stepping down a shade to charcoal.
My eyes are dark brown, but my hair, brows and lashes are very light. And I’m ridiculously fair. I used to wear black eyeliner all the time and I thought it looked awesome. It…really didn’t.
As a general rule, I think brown eyes are best complimented with brown eyeliner. (Brown is not a color! Brown is a neutral!)
Eyeliner is one of those things that you wear so you don’t look like you’re wearing it. It’s meant to ENHANCE the natural outline your eyelashes provide, but NOT by creating a hard, highly-visible line. (See also: eyebrow pencils, lipliner.)
Therefore (and oh, here comes some more hate), eyeliner really belongs on your upper eyelid, where it can blend in with your shadow. And not even the entire upper eyelid. Just say, the outer three-quarters. Or just half. (If you are one of those people who line your entire eye, right up to and possibly including the inner corners? STOPIT. NOW.)
Anyway, I’ve tried a zillion different eyeliners and application techniques, and this is the one I’ve found to be the most idiot- and mess-up-proof, along with being versatile enough for everyday and evening.
I use a regular old Sephora pencil. (I am so not coordinated enough for liquid liner, oh heavens no.) I have a soft brown for day and a darker chocolate color for evening. I apply my eyeshadow first, and then I line the middle of my eyelid, moving towards the outer corner. For a more dramatic look, I extend the line past my lashes just a tad. Then I draw the tiniest little smidge of a line along my bottom lashline. This line is maybe about a quarter of the full length of my eye.
P93608_hero.jpgAND THEN, MOST IMPORTANT PART EVER, I take a small makeup brush and blend the top line outwards and up, and then blend the bottom line straight over. Blend, damn you, blend! You want a very soft, subtle line. The final result are eyes that definitely stand out but don’t look overly made up.
For the severely uncoordinated among us, you may want to skip the pencil and use your eyeshadow — just dip the tip of a small, angled brush in some water and then apply a heavier line of shadow along your lashline. Then blend outward and upward with a dry brush. It’s much easier to correct mistakes and you can be free to experiment (like violet shadow for green eyes, plums or greens for brown eyes, greys for blue eyes).
Oh wise Amalah (who had a baby not that long ago and should remember what it felt like to be pregnant),
I feel like I’m going insane. My sweet hubby and I recently found out we are pregnant. Barely pregnant (5 weeks). (We’re SOOO excited!!!) We haven’t told anyone yet as we feel it’s still a bit too early, but without being able to talk to anyone I’m going crazy! I can’t tell if what I’m experiencing is normal or something to run to the doctor about. I’m most concerned about the cramps and mild spotting. I thought the spotting would only last a couple days during implantation? Did you experience any of this when you got preggers with delicious little Noah? How soon did you go for a doctor’s appointment? Also, how did you decide on a doctor?
Not yet nauseous,
M

I called my doctor the day of my positive pregnancy test. (Okay, two days later, because I took the test on a Saturday and had to wait until Monday, and by then I was certifiably insane from waiting.) They told me to come in that Friday for my first prenatal appointment. I was, like you, very very newly pregnant.
(You can read a little about my first doctor’s appointment here, by the way. And also read about how totally flipping insane I was in those early days.)
(*Was!* HA. I am funny.)
Now, some doctors don’t start prenatal exams until a few weeks later, but these days most women see a doctor as soon as possible. Just call your regular old gynecologist for now “you have plenty of time to change doctors” and make an appointment. Especially if (and please don’t freak out please don’t freak out) you are spotting.
Spotting CAN be totally normal. My sister, for example, spotted (like, a lot) the entire first trimester of both of her pregnancies. I spotted once at 11 weeks, with what turned out to be a run-of-the-mill-yet-raging urinary tract infection. I remember cramping A LOT around weeks five and six (uterus expanding and all that), but only a doctor can tell you if what you’re going through really is normal usually by whipping out the cooch cam, so uh, be prepared for that.
But here’s the thing, you are PREGNANT. It’s okay to run to the doctor about every little thing that scares you. Trust me. Your doctor downright expects it. (In fact, if your doctor DOES seem bothered by your fears and phone calls, well, that’s flashing neon sign #1 to GET ANOTHER DOCTOR.) I stuck with the GYN I’d been seeing for years because I loved the nurses at his office and the fact that he downright insisted I call him anytime, day or night, if I was unsure about any of my symptoms made me decide to stay with him for the pregnancy.
If don’t have a regular GYN you’re comfortable with, ask for recommendations from your friends or any mother you know (trust me, we looooove talking about that sort of crap, and also scaring the pants off you). Make sure you’re okay with a doctor’s office policies (everything from emergency numbers to insurance billing practices). Ask about his or her opinions on inducing, episiotomies, ultrasounds. And if you envision anything other than a hospital birth, find out if the practice works with any midwives or other birthing centers.
And then get a pedicure and a facial. Everything is going to be okay.
Dear Smacker Downer Amy,
So, OK. I am *counting* seventeen months postpartum. And it’s looking like the Mid-Atlantic Region is going to get walloped this summer, what with the heat and the hot and the heatedness and whatnot. And I’m putting two and two together and coming up with this: I need to buy a new bathing suit, and somehow it’s got to flatter this post-baby body (or at least not leave me heaving in the dressing room). But here’s the thing: do I really have to wear a two-piece? ‘Cause ah, that’s all I’m finding that doesn’t have a skirt attached. And I don’t think our neighborhood is really, truly, ready for this belly.
Style and fashion advice very, very much appreciated. Am 5’4″. Something like a 2 on top and a 4 on bottom and god help me some days it seems like a 6 in the middle.
Thanks!
MB

Finally! I can address the DOZENS of unanswered questions I’ve gotten about post-baby bathing suits. I’ve kind of ignored them because I kind of didn’t have a clue.
It seems like the tankini is the most popular choice for new moms, but it’s a choice that I (and a few of my question-askers) don’t really get. The tankinis I tried on were too tight in the tank (creating some kind of hideous reverse upside-down muffin-top), or left precisely the band of smooshy flesh that I want to hide exposed. (You know, the flabby baby belly. I call it the blab.)
Plus my husband sort-of hates them. I don’t know. I think they’re what his mom wears. And therefore: NO.
The good news is that there ARE some very cool, non-skirted designer one-pieces out there. And you can find them at Bluefly.com, order a slew, and TRY THEM ON IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME.

“Buying bathing suits ONLINE? Is she MAD?”

Think about it! No fluorescent dressing-room lights! No funky mirrors that make you look dumpy! (I swear, it’s all the mirrors’ fault.) And Bluefly offers free return shipping.
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I ordered this suit and this one from Bluefly. They arrived and I stared at the box for awhile. Possibly a day or two. Then finally, fortified with much wine, I tried them on. And, I liked them! Both of them! I was expecting to return at least one of them, but y’all know that you sure as hell don’t return any bathing suit that you don’t completely hate.
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I find the BCBG one especially intriguing as that front band of material covers up the blab and my sunken-in belly button perfectly, but from the back it totally looks like a regular bikini. If you are more apple than pear, though, the Lisa Curran one is more of a classic one-piece cut. The material and color are just gorgeous. And it slims you through the middle and the top artificially creates some cleavage.
Also, never underestimate the power of a good cover-up. Or perhaps, consider a faux tankini. (Space-agey!)
If you would like to submit a question, email Amalah at amyadvice@gmail.com. By submitting a question, you agree to allow us to post your question here on alphamom.com.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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9 Responses to “Because Even I Get Tired of Talking About Foundation Sometimes”

  1. Z Jun 28 at 9:50 am Reply Reply

    Me? My postpartum body has weird issues. Giant boobs which I love and can’t wait to put in a bathing suit because I’ve never had boobs before. But also? C-section scar flappy skin – WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? As well as still a few more pounds to lose of preg weight. So for me? A halter style tankini? Was the perfect fit. The tank actually overlaps the bottoms though, so it’s a good look. And it’s black. And the halter? SO FLATTERING OF MY AWESOME RACK.
    hehe.

  2. Isabel Jun 28 at 11:47 am Reply Reply

    I came here today to just read up on the mistakes others are making with make up.
    Then I read about eyeliner and realized I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I wear The Black eyeliner. All this time I thought I was doing it right. But alas, I am not.
    (Hangs head in shame)
    Today I will go to Sephora and buy something in a lovely brown. And I will apply it correctly via Amalah’s advice.
    Oh, and I love both of those suits. Very good choices. Yummy…

  3. annc Jun 28 at 12:48 pm Reply Reply

    To add to the eyeliner discussion- I also use shadow instead of pencil, and although every beauty expert in the world recommends an angled brush, I find it impossible to use. Thank lordy for BeneFit!! I use their “get bent brush” http://www.benefitcosmetics.com/benefit/product.asp?pd=10165&ct=accessories&pg=1 “for klutz-proof eye lining”, dip the brush in a little water, then in the shadow, and run it right along the top of my lashes. (The water enhances the look & gives it staying power). Perfect!!! For an even more subtle look, don’t use water, but dust a little extra loose powder under your eyes to catch any flyaway shadow- brush away after you’re done applying. If you can’t get this brush to work, you may need a class. All that said- I do use black eyeliner sometimes- but I am blonde and VERY fair with big blue eyes (my best feature by far) and wear black a lot. It works if you keep it very thin and wear black mascara on BOTH sides of the lashes (not an easy trick…)

  4. Real Girl Jun 28 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I loooove that one piece with the keyhole.
    And your eyeliner advice is (as always) spot on. I’m such a fan of eyeshadow as eyeliner using an angled tip brush. A deep bronze might look lovely with brown eyes. A great tip is to use Benefit’s FY…Eye! first as a primer–really helps it stick.

  5. kentucky_kitty Jun 28 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    Amalah, you are the highlight of my Wednesday! Thanks for the tip about Bluefly and also the word of the day (Space-agey)!

  6. mrs.cpa Jun 28 at 6:09 pm Reply Reply

    I come from the South – we like to think we know some thank you note etiquette. Send a thank you note to everyone. On nice cards. And more than two lines (“Thank you for the diaper genie. We really like it.” – not good). E-mail is never an acceptable venue for thanking someone for a gift. Don’t overuse exclamation points. You do not have a year to send it, maybe a month, unless there is some dire circumstance that everyone knows about. I like to get mine out before I’m going to see that person again, within a week or two.
    This is what my thank you notes normally look like:
    Dear so & so (woman’s name first if a woman and man),
    Thank you so much for the diapers and baby blanket. I have never seen such a cute pattern on a blanket before. I know the baby will love it. As I’m sure you know, we can never have enough diapers! We really appreciate your helping us celebrate this special occasion (new arrival, special time in our lives, etc.)
    Sincerely,
    Mrs. CPA
    I have this obsessive compulsive disorder that pertains to two people who know each other giving me a present. If one of them might happen to go over to the other’s house and see your thank you note on the fridge/desk/counter top/trash; I do not want them to pick it up and look exactly like the one they have at home. I try and change them up. Also, if someone took the time to go out and purchase a gift, I can spend the money on a stamp to mail the note to them. Some people like to hand deliver to the office, but unless it’s on a silver tray from a butler, I vote mail. Let the flames begin…

  7. Gracie'sMama Jun 29 at 11:48 am Reply Reply

    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree on the eyeliner issue. My niece has dark brown hair and eyes and only wears liquid black eyeliner on her top lid (Gasp!). She looks incredible. I have lighter brown hair and brown eyes and only wear brown eyeliner on my whole top lid. And, I think I look OK at least.

  8. TeacherLady Jun 29 at 8:44 pm Reply Reply

    I think the thank you note question is very. VERY. important. Then again, I am insane. We threw my boss a huge baby shower. That evening when I got home I had a “thank you” e-mail waiting for me. It was an animated e-mail so I guess that says something. But here’s the funny part: She wrote, “I’m sure Miss Manners would have something to say about sending a group thank you e-mail, but with the babies (twins) coming so soon, we just have so much to do.” What? Whatever, I guess. I thought it was rude as all get-out.

  9. Dawn Jun 30 at 10:17 am Reply Reply

    I’m guilty of the mass email thank-you note. I got a group baby gift from the people at work. There were over 40 names on it, and some were a little difficult to make out. I was still pregnant and very, very, tired. So I did the rude email thing. I did send a thank-you card to the woman I knew organized it all! And I’ve sent a hand-written thank you card for all the other gifts my baby has received since then.
    My husband’s work also gave us a gift and he told me the rule at the office was to send one card and a picture which they put up on the bulletin board, which is what I did there.
    Am I so evil? Maybe I should write cards (even though my baby is 6 months old now?)?

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