Summer’s End

Lately, I haven’t had much to say.

Not that things weren’t happening; they were. 

We’ve been trying to get settled into our new place, which has been interesting. 

The location is great and being in a rental house means overall less worry about things like home maintenance/improvement. But the small size has been a huge adjustment, and I felt self-conscious introducing myself to our neighbors as the New Family in the Tiny Rental House in the Middle of a Neighborhood with Otherwise Extremely Expensive Tear Downs.

That’s the thing to do here: buy an older house in a prime location, knock it down and start from scratch. The tab for all of this is typically $1.5-2 million, which leaves me scratching my head as to how this is so widespread or possible.

The kids also started their new school yesterday. It’s only a 5 minute walk away, which is terrific, and MGM (10) has finally agreed to hot lunch, so there’s one less task to do each day.

I remain cautiously optimistic.

More to come.

Cold and Colder

If you’ve been keeping up with me, you’ll know that I’m in a career transition that involves relocating to a (bigger, better) new city.

Specifically, that city is Minneapolis, MN.

Even though it’s only 100 miles due north from where I’ve been living, it still manages to routinely be 10-15 degrees colder.

And that’s saying something.

This week the temps dipped into the negative single digits, and that’s not counting the windchill.

After shivering in my light down Patagonia coat and repeatedly asking myself why I live in the Northern Hemisphere for several days, I finally realized I would not survive without a warmer coat, especially when I now have to park my car outside.

Getting into a freezing car and waiting for it to warm up is a particular kind of torture.

After a bit of research I settled on this Fjallraven Nuuk parka:


It’s waterproof, windproof and has synthetic fill and faux fur. I still haven’t even explored all of the pockets and features, but there is a phone pocket with earphone cord cut-out in addition to several interior and exterior pockets. The waist can be cinched and overall, this coat is flattering, as far as winter coats go.

Did I mention it’s incredibly warm?

Before I purchased the coat my friend P. and I were discussing different outerwear brands, specifically Moncler and Canada Goose.

Moncler parkas start at about $1400 and go up to – wait for it! – nearly $6k. 

Those prices make the Canada Goose parkas seem like relative bargains in the $750-1200 range (although most are reliably $900).

My two cents:

  • I need a warm coat.
  • I like stylish things.
  • I still can’t justify buying one of those super pricey parkas.

Here’s why: if you’ve ever lived somewhere brutally cold, you’ll know it’s a common phenomenon to have to either check your coat at restaurant or event (this is the preferred option, especially with a receipt and people to actually guard the coats), hang it yourself in a rack that is usually in an unsupervised location, or throw it randomly on a pile in someone’s bedroom if you are at a house party.

All of these choices leave you, on some level, hoping your coat is still there when you’re ready to leave.

And it would absolutely stink to have someone steal your $1400 coat and then have to freeze your way home.

Moral of the story: Never buy the most expensive coat in the pile.

So I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: the Fjallraven Nuuk is still a really nice coat. If you decide to invest in one, know that they run big.

To top off the coat, I also decided I needed a hat like this:


This Ted Baker beanie is fun to wear, and warm. Perfect combo.





Nearly 20 years ago I visited New York City for the the first time.

While Spouse and I did some cultural and touristy things (Ellis Island, Central Park), I spent an embarrassing amount of time shopping, eating candy from Dylan’s Candy Bar and consuming bagel sandwiches from delis across the city.

And I was able to check off a bucket-list item: getting a treatment at Bliss Spa.

At the time, Bliss was all the rage. Per Wikipedia: Bliss is “often credited for starting the mid-1990s spa boom.” I had to go.

My introduction to Bliss was at Bliss 57 NYC, which confused me by being on the third floor of a relatively non-descript office building. Once inside, I loved the witty decor and the famous brownie bar in the waiting area/lounge. I only had one treatment (a facial), but I could have stayed all day. Or all year.

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Fast forward: Bliss has expanded (and diluted), changed ownership a few times, and my fickle tastes have migrated over the years.

Yet I still have a soft spot for Bliss.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit Bliss’ Chicago outpost, which is one of my favorites in the chain. The perfectly framed views of Lake Michigan are stunning.

I got the Triple Oxygen Facial, one of their signature treatments, and a massage.

Usually before a spa service starts, I remind myself to be quiet, relax and enjoy the treatment. And then I inevitably talk through the whole thing.

I’m really curious about the steps, the products and the smells. Yes, the smells. I’m a sucker for skin care products that smell great, efficacy be damned.

Near the end of the Triple Oxygen Facial there is a part where an “oxygen spray” is blasted through an airbrushing tool. It takes a few minutes to complete, and the mist has a soft, powdery scent that I love. I asked the technician about the fragrance and she mentioned that Bliss 24 Heaven healing balm smelled similar.


Once the treatments were over and I had consumed more than my fair share of brownie squares (they still do this – yay!), I hit the retail area to bring home some of the Triple Oxygen experience for myself.

The tech was right: 24 Heaven balm *does* capture the powdery scent I love. It’s a bit too thick for summer skin but will be perfect for winter. I’ve been slathering it on at night.

For regular skin care, I have been into double cleansing for a while, which is basically washing your face twice – once with an initial pass to get makeup off and then a second time with a treatment cleanser.

Here’s the routine I’ve been using lately. All of these products are from Bliss:

Some specialists that get called in from time to time:

I’ve been more or less doing this for the past few months and have seen great results. Out of all of the steps on the list, I suspect Peeling Groovy is the one that is making the most difference. This is really excellent for brightening dull skin. 

If you watch carefully, they occasionally have discounts or deals. Currently they are running a promotion to get a free gift with a $100 order. There are several travel sized products (including one I want to try, Fabulous Makeup Melt, which is a gel-to-oil face cleanser), and they come in a cute cosmetic bag in signature Bliss blue. Here’s a pic:

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Bliss also has a deal where a set of two Peeling Groovy serums are 20% off ($104 instead of $130), so this would be enough to get the free gift and save a bit on the serum, which I plan to keep using. This is my favorite situation: a deal and a freebie on something I love and would buy anyway. Game on.