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Because Even I Get Tired of Talking About Foundation Sometimes

By Amalah

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?

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,

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,

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.

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, 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.
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.
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 [email protected]. By submitting a question, you agree to allow us to post your question here on

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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