Book Review: At Home with Madame Chic

Okay, confession time: I am a total Francophile. I admit it. I am the cliche American, obsessed with French culture.

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I think my obsession first began when I visited France the summer before my senior year in college. To be honest, I knew almost nothing about French culture when I visited. (Major faux pas on my part. I didn’t even think much about it until after I came home and found myself once again frustrated with the general calamity of our materialistic, productivity-obsessed consumer culture. I remembered how simple and fresh France was and sought to bring that sophistication in to my own life.

Long story short, I read a lot of books about French culture. At Home with Madame Chic came up in my reading suggestions so I decided to check it out. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t crazy about it.

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Now, don’t get me wrong — it’s a good, general self help book. The author, Jennifer Scott, provides a lot of advice for home keeping and simplifying life at home with kids. I think, however the book is misleading. After reading the description, which cites the author’s time living in France with a French family, I purchased it in hopes of hearing about exactly that. What daily habits did the matriarch Madame Chic have in keeping her home? What kind of food did she cook? How did she approach clutter?

The book very briefly touched upon these topics. While a chapter might start off with an anecdote about Madame Chic wearing an apron while preparing dinner for that night, it would veer off and talk about what kind of music the author liked to listen to in the afternoon or how she wanted to take a nap while her kids were home sick from school. Perhaps they are relatable and delightful for some stay at home parents, but these topics are largely uninteresting to me.

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I bought the book to read about the original Madame Chic, not what kind of junk accumulates on the author’s dining room table throughout the day.Rather than  “At Home with Madame Chic” it would be more aptly titled “How I Incorporated Values I Learned In France Into My Own Home Life”.

As a single woman with no children and a full time job, there was a large portion of it that was boring/inapplicable to me. This isn’t a bad thing per se but I wouldn’t have bought the book if I knew that’s what it was about.

It also addressed the subject of family/womanhood/femininity from the author’s perspective which is  not necessarily negative, but limited if you don’t fall in to the same identity spectrum. I think a recap/interpretation of Scott’s observations in France, as implied in the title and book description,  would welcome a greater audience. If you’re interested in how to approach heteronormative motherhood with a little more grace, this is good book for you. Just don’t go in with the expectation of reading about French culture.

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April Birchbox Review

So I realize this is a bit late, but it seemed beneficial to actually use the products in this month’s Birchbox for a bit and then write my thoughts on them.

April’s box was a fun one. I swear, it’s like sometimes they read my mind. Need a new hair product? Here you go. Want to try a different lip color? We got you.

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Also, I was psyched on the box design this month. It’s so pretty I brought it to work to organize some of my office supplies. I love when they team up with Rifle Paper Co.:)

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The products in April’s box were:

POREfessional Primer by Benefit Cosmetics
Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo by Living Proof
Volumizing Lifting Spray by PARLOR
Matte Velvet Lipstix in Ravishing Ruby by POP Beauty
The Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipes by RMS Beauty

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My favorite product in the box was the Perfect Hair Day dry shampoo. Partly because I use it the most frequently, but also because I’m picky about my dry shampoo. This one blends in super easily and smells pretty good too. I’m definitely a fan.

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Although I was excited to try the POP lipstick–Nothing beats a good red lip–I was disappointed a bit by this product.

The color was nice but it was so dry putting it on that I felt like I needed to use chapstick as a first layer. It also dried out my lips, which is problematic for me because I’m always fighting chapped lips. On the other hand, it does stay on all day, even through a number of meals and beverages.

Overall- not awful, but I wouldn’t purchase it myself.

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I don’t have much to say about the primer and the volumizing hair spray. I love Benefit cosmetics and PARLOR products. I used the primer recently in conjunction with a new concealer and really enjoyed the outcome,though I can’t say it had much of a different effect from my usual NYX primer.

The hair spray smells amazing, as all PARLOR products do. My hair is finally long enough to wear up so recently I’ve been doing that more often but come Summer when I want to play up the beachy look, I know it will come in handy.

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I found the wipes humorous, because they’re basically what I use for to remove my makeup every day – coconut oil and a tissue. Economically speaking, you’d be better off buying a jar of coconut oil and using that instead of buying these packaged wipes.

However, if you swear by make up wipes, these do work well. The packing boasts minimal/natural ingredients and they don’t sting my sensitive eyes the way other scented wipes sometimes do. I suggest wetting them a bit for best results, but other than that, I have to agree with the name – they are the ultimate make up remover wipes. Plus, they’re great for travel or when you’re too tired to get out of bed and wash your face.

I think a pack of 20 wipes goes for $20. If a jar of coconut oil isn’t your thing, these aren’t a bad choice.

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I got the email today that May’s box just shipped! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this month.

chelsea

 

 

February Birchbox

Okay, I know I’ve been complaining all winter that we haven’t had much snow but after those few 60 degree days, this recent storm has me really psyched for Spring.

You can imagine my excitement when I opened this month’s Birchbox to find this adorable pink box and a collection of fresh & floral smelling products.

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  1. Terax Hair Care Original Crema
  2. Liquid Freud Body Wash by Not Soap, Radio
  3. BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm by ARROW – Birchbox Exclusive
  4. Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer
  5. Emelia Eau de Parfum by TOCCA

First impression: Woohoo! Big samples! It may mean I get fewer products but that’s fine by me. I love when I get slightly bigger samples, especially with conditioner because I use them so frequently. I can’t wait to try out this conditioner because it smells amazing and I am always rotating my hair care products.

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I’m also curious to try the body wash because I get super dry skin in the winter and am very particular about my soap. So far I’ve had the best luck with bars but this quirky cute wash claims to tend to your zen & emotional well-being. We shall see!

The Emelia perfume sample was pretty much an all around win because a) I have a pre-existing obsession with the name Emelia, b) the perfume description is adorable and c) the scent is the perfect balance between depth and light. It reminds me of getting dressed up for a garden party. I really love that Birchbox does such a good job of matching my profile preferences.

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I also tried out the Naobay moisturizer. First off- I love that it’s organic and made from natural ingredients. I’m crunchy like that. It has a slightly citrus-y scent and was surprisingly lightweight.

However, I tried it out on my face and I didn’t love it. I’m used to using coconut oil as my sole facial moisturizer so this had a comparatively clay-like feel. That being said, it doesn’t have a greasy finish and the description suggests for it to be used as makeup base, which I think would work well. Bonus points for making my sandpaper hands soft and sweet smelling.

The most intriguing product in my opinion is the Arrow Lip Balm. At first glance I wasn’t super interested in it because I’ve kind of sworn off chap stick in an attempt to remedy my always-chapped lips. However, when I read the description I was instantly anxious to try it out. “This superhydrating formula adjusts to your pH, enhancing each wearer’s natural lip color to create the perfect hue.” I KNOW. Awesome.

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After the wine lip, the natural, looks-like-I-just-finished-a-great-makeout-session lip is my favorite. It added a slightly pinker hue to my lip and now, hours after I put it on, it’s still moist. (Sorry.)

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In addition, you can layer it for more color and it’s vegan/paraben/gluten/cruelty free. As if I didn’t already have reason to love it.

Have you guys tried any of these products before? What do you think of them?

Stay current with me on instagram: theastcoaster!

chelsea