Hair-Accessories Caddy Clean-Out; Consolidating Hair Clips (Or: Another Exciting Activity I Won’t Make Paul Listen to Me Talk About, But You Are Fair Game)

As one of my tasks for our academic/creative/organizing time, I have been going through the bathroom closet. One thing I wish I’d taken before/after pictures of is my hair-accessories caddy, which is a six-pocket thing that hangs on the wall of the closet. (It is similar to this, if you want a visual, but it hangs from a nail instead of from a shower curtain rod.) All six pockets were full of stuff, and also there were hair-clips clipped up and down the sides.

I threw out about 90% of what I had. Some of it was “I might need this for a hairstyle someday”—but for hairstyles I haven’t worn in, say, fifteen years; and some of it was “I bought this and it didn’t work out, but I’m hanging on to it because it’s brand-new and it seems dumb to get rid of it.” I did dust off and keep my favorite brown pinwale corduroy scrunchie, in case scrunchies come back into style for real; it is hard to imagine, but on the other hand we have skinny jeans back in our midst, and Ghostbusters. I also kept two headbands, because otherwise I keep buying headbands. And I kept a few pairs of hairsticks (like chopsticks) in case I go back to wearing my hair that way, because it’s still a possibility—but I got rid of a dozen or more other pairs. I got rid of a pearl-bead scrunchie so fancy it would only work for a bride who needed a scrunchie, which is a combination I’ve having trouble imagining, but perhaps something like this; some pairs of small barrettes, and some larger barrettes that hold the wrong amount of hair; some of those things that are a bent piece of material (leather, plastic, etc.) with a hole on each end, and you put it on your hair and then put a stick through the two holes to secure it; a bunch of hair elastics that no longer stretched; and miscellaneous updo supplies that I never figured out how to use.

Now everything I’m keeping is in a Target bag, and the caddy is hanging clean and empty, waiting for me to decide what to do next. There are not enough accessories to fill the caddy, so I have to decide: am I keeping the caddy for hair accessories and also using it to store something else? or am I ditching the caddy and finding a new container for the hair accessories? I need to think.

One thing I found while going through the shelves of the closet was more than a dozen packs of the little hair clips I like, the ones that are sold only in assortment packs, but I only want the tortoiseshell ones. I decrease the waste by waiting until they’re on a buy-two-get-one-free sale, but I kept buying them whenever they were on sale and tossing them onto the shelf, and there was quite a little avalanche of them as I removed other things from the shelf. As I use up the tortoiseshell ones, I gradually combine the other two colors into full packs to donate to Goodwill—but there were a few cards with a stripe of black clips and a stripe of clear clips, just sitting there waiting for me to do that. So today during academic/creative/organizing time I turned that heap into this heap:

I have three full and one partial pack of tortoiseshell clips, and I’ll keep that one partially-filled card of black clips to add others to it later, and I can donate the rest.

Summer Activity with Kids Redux: Academic/Creative/Organizing

We are doing our academic/creative summer activity for the third summer in a row, and we have added two new features.

First new feature: a new activity option to choose from. We still do just two 30-minute segments (or just one, if it’s a busy day, or none if it doesn’t fit at all), but now we can choose academic, creative, or organizing. I added this for a couple of reasons. One: some of us (Rob, Elizabeth, me) want to organize stuff, and feel happy when it’s done, but we have trouble making ourselves do it; this made me think of it as a candidate for our summer project, because the whole thing started on a concept of “these are things we want to do, but we can’t make ourselves do them.” Two: after two summers of this, I am having a hard time finding creative things I want to try, and would REALLY rather spend that time working on the bathroom closet or undoing what Paul did to the pantry.

Second new feature: Life Training. Rob’s upcoming departure is making me panic about all the things I maybe forgot to tell him. Also, this means I get a head start on the other kids. I have been adding almost daily to a list of things I want to cover:


short showers
take hair off the drain after a shower
rinse toothpaste-spit down the sink
check toilet rim/seat after using, and remove anything left behind
boys: periodically use toilet paper to wipe dust/moisture off lidless ring
clothes out of bathroom
hang up towels
put out a new roll of toilet paper when the old one is getting low
use your own towel or the handtowel for hand-drying
if the bathroom smells bad, put on the fan and/or use air freshener
turn off the lights when you leave the bathroom

pick up things that fall on the floor
throw away wrappers
if you miss the trash, try again

if a piece of laundry is wet, hang it on the edge of the laundry basket to dry

hang up coat/backpack

plug phones in after use

check pockets before putting things into laundry
turn clothes rightside-out before putting into laundry
put socks into their natural state before putting into laundry
stain-treat if necessary

clear dishes
remove liquid from cups
remove food from dishes
soak if necessary
follow-up on dishes left soaking
wash outsides/backs of dishes/pans as well as insides/fronts
put dishes into dishwasher
wipe up spills you make

bring things up from the pantry when supply is getting low
put things on the list when pantry is getting low

if you use up something refillable (some hand soaps, for example), refill it
if you use up something non-refillable (other hand soaps, for example), get out a new one
if you don’t know which one something is, ask someone who does know (Mum, for example)
some things can have a little water added to them to stretch them

if you take something away from where it belongs, put it back afterward
if you use something out in the yard, put it away afterward

fold bags multiple times before clipping

chew with your mouth closed
please / thank you
sneeze into elbow
use a handkerchief or tissue / don’t pick your nose publicly
close doors quietly



This is not in any way a COMPLETE list: it’s just the things I want to emphasize this particular summer. And for almost all of this list, this is not the first time we’ve been over it: I have been instructing/nagging about these things for YEARS. But some stuff is new, like refilling hand soaps and adding water to stretch things: I always handle that, and it occurred to me that they might not even know it’s being done, let alone how to do it. And with the stuff I’ve been instructing/nagging about for years, I’m not sure I’ve told EVERY child the why and how of it, or carefully/patiently showed them what I mean, or PUT IT IN WRITING SO THEY CAN’T SAY I DIDN’T TELL THEM. I can feel as if I’ve said something A MILLION TIMES when actually it turns out I explained it to three of the five. Also, some of the items have a new why/how element now that Rob is going to be living with people he isn’t related to.

Some things, like loading the dishwasher, are going to be ongoing throughout the summer: I will keep calling the children in to show them how to do it, and then I will keep having them try it themselves. For the smaller/shorter items on this list, we are adding them to the academic/creative/organizing schedule. Here is how we do it:

30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
one life training lesson

Yesterday, for example, we reviewed handshakes and making eye contact and saying “Hi, I’m _____” and then saying “Nice to meet you!”; we practiced it for when you’re the one starting it and for when someone else starts it.

The whole batch of activities takes approximately an hour and twenty minutes, and I’m finding it very satisfying. We don’t have a very busy summer this year, so this gives me the feeling of Doing Things, and also helps with general summer restlessness: the kids might be bickering and I might be irritable, but then we do this and everyone feels better afterward. And the bathroom closet is looking great.

Teenager Income

I added a new picture of my hair to yesterday’s post. I took out the hair-clip last night and was admiring the streaks, and thought my stylist would not be pleased if she knew the only picture I’d posted of it was the one that made me feel uncertain about them. But I think the new photo is TOO flattering: we have good light in the bathroom. ANYWAY. LIKE THIS MATTERS.

I want to talk about making kids save for college. Rob and William are still working their summer jobs, and it’s going well, and they’ve gotten their first paychecks, and I’m not sure what ruling to hand down from the mountain. We’ve talked with them about college expenses, and what they can expect us to pay and what they can expect to need to cover themselves, and we’ve also talked about other uses for money such as charitable causes, fun stuff, and investments. Right now our kitchen white board is covered with possibilities, and Rob and William are less interested than I am in going over all the not-very-different options again and again.

The system my parents used for me was this: When I was earning small beans (like babysitting irregularly at $2-3/hour), I had to put 10% to charity and 50% to college; 40% was mine to keep. When I was working lots more hours (like a summer job), it was 10% to charity, 70% to college, 20% keep. This sounds a little pitiful, but 20% of a full-time job is a lot of money for a teenager with very few expenses: I remember going up and down store aisles TRYING to find something I wanted to buy. Another detail of this system: I remember asking what would happen to the money if I DIDN’T go to college, and my parents said they would give it back to me for all the new-adult start-up costs such as security deposits and furniture. They would have had me do this system either way; we were just calling it “college savings” because I WAS planning to go to college. I remember that made it feel more like My Money: they were making me save for my own future, they weren’t taking the money away from me.

The system Paul’s parents used for him was this: no system. He kept all the money he earned. And of course he didn’t save any of it for college: I don’t think I would have, either, if I hadn’t been made to. Once he was IN college, he used a lot of his earnings to pay for college, because by then the expenses seemed real to him, but he still ended up with big college loans that were a beast for us to pay off. When we didn’t know how to come up with the money for a new battery for the car, it made me clench my teeth to imagine him as a teenager blowing $200/week.

We are trying to decide what kind of system to use with Rob and William. I’m not doing 10% charity anymore (my parents are Christian, so 10% was a biblical instruction we were following), and it seems like a lot. But we’d like to get them in the habit of giving away some of their money, and I find it fun to talk with kids about what causes they might want to support. So, maybe 5%? If they earn $200/week after taxes, that’s $10/week to charity.

I think 20% is the right amount for them to keep. From a $200/week paycheck, it’s $40/week. It’s kind of high, but on the other hand it’s only for a few months of the year. I remember as a teenager feeling like it was a really nice amount to get to keep, and if it were lower I’m not sure I would have been motivated to work more hours when they were available. Paul suggested letting them keep a flat-rate amount, but I think that would have been the wrong thing for me as a teenager: I liked calculating how much more money I’d get to keep if I worked more hours, and I would have said no to extra shifts if I’d gotten the same amount of money no matter what.

Paul is very keen right now on INVESTING: he recently read a bunch of books that say the best way to retire with millions is to invest even small amounts as early as possible. I’m down with that, but also it seems to me that every dollar the kids invest in their retirement now is a dollar we have to take away from OUR retirement to cover the money they’re not putting toward college, which seems silly; doesn’t it make more sense for us to save for retirement while they save for college? On the other hand, it would be a good habit for them to get into, and by the time they’re out of college we won’t have any say over how they spend their money. If we use our influence while we’ve got it, that might pay off for them in the long run. Let’s say we have them invest 5%: that’s only $100 over the whole summer, but they could see how that amount grows. But it bothers me to see the college percentage going down and down as we keep thinking of more ideas. Paul originally put investment as 15% (the minimum, according to a book he’s reading), and I vetoed that.

Here’s how things are looking on our white board (ignore tacos, meows, songs):

The far left is me showing them how my parents’ system worked out: the percentages, and then how those percentages look when applied to a $200 paycheck. Then we have three more sample possibilities, with the college contribution ranging from 65-75%. I think we’re leaning toward the one on the far right (squeezed in under words that contain “meow”): basically the same system as the one I had to follow, but with the tithe split between charity and investment. But the thought of all the fuss of that makes me lean toward the middle one: 5% charity, 20% keep, 75% college.

If you have kids who are of money-earning age, what are you doing about this? Or what do you have in mind for when they ARE that age? And what was the situation when you were the money-earning teenager?

Hair and Nails

I had my hair highlighted/streaked, and it came out more dramatic than I’d anticipated: my hair is light brown, and I got the bleachy highlights instead of the recommended caramel/honey type; on one hand I knew exactly what I was doing and on the other hand there was some resulting self-consciousness and uncertainty, especially when I pulled it back:

Here’s a more flattering picture of it down:

I thought Paul might tease. We have a long-running difference of opinion on the color of my hair, and this could be seen as a fresh start to that discussion. Long, long ago when we met (I was YOUNGER THAN ROB IS NOW), I called my hair dark blonde, and it WAS IN FACT dark blonde. It has continued to darken over the years, and I have gone through several stages of acceptance to call it light brown. Paul, though, has called it “brown” all along. And it is NOT brown! HIS hair is the kind of dark brown that children use a black crayon to represent, and he calls THAT brown TOO. There is a huge difference between BROWN-brown hair and the used-to-be-blonde shade of light-to-medium brown so many of us ended up with.

THIS is brown:

(image from

THIS is brown:

(image from

THIS is brown:

(image from

And I didn’t even choose the DARK browns for those pictures, I chose the MEDIUM browns! Paul’s hair is MUCH darker than those, and he just calls it “brown”! Mine is lighter than those, and he just calls it “brown”! Brown is a very pretty color, but it is not the color of my hair! I’m not being unreasonable here!

Anyway. When he came home he didn’t say anything about the highlights/streaks. We’d been talking for maybe ten minutes when I said, “It’s a good sign that you didn’t come in and say ‘Yo, stripes!’ about my hair; I was a little worried that…” and he looked at my hair and said “Whoa!” So apparently his eyes had just not yet rested upon it.

In other cosmetic news, Elizabeth did my nails. One hand is assorted daisies; the other is galaxy nails:

Bath & Body Works NEW Lavender Vanilla Scent

Here is another story of something hard to get rid of:

I mentioned recently how much I like the Bath & Body Works lavender-vanilla scent, and that I had placed a largish order. It arrived—and the scent is different. It’s hard to describe a scent to say what’s different/wrong, but it IS different/wrong. The sweet part of the smell is now more like honey than vanilla, and the lavender isn’t as sharp or as noticeable. I tried to talk myself into thinking it WASN’T different, just FRESHER, but no: it’s different. I used it anyway for awhile, thinking it would grow on me, but no: I don’t like it.

Here are the things that make it hard to get rid of:

1. I JUST bought it a few months ago!

2. And I was so happy about it when I ordered it, and happy again when I stashed my treasures away, and happy again every time I saw them waiting there!

3. And I bought so much: four body washes and two lotions, plus two each of travel-size body wash and lotion!

4. And it’s EXPENSIVE. I bought it as a SPECIAL THING to USE SLOWLY.

5. It can’t be all THAT different.

But…I didn’t want it. I am halfway through the first body wash, and each time I use it the smell makes me feel a little sick. This is silly. What, I’m going to use it all, feeling sick the whole time, because it was expensive and I’m sad it didn’t work out? No. And I’m not going to return it, not after several months, and I don’t want to try to sell it on eBay.

The key was finding the right place to donate it. Goodwill didn’t seem right. Freecycle would have been okay, but not quite right. The local food/necessities pantry seemed right: they give out free food and toiletries to families who need them, and my daydream is that some of those families include members who LOVE Bath and Body Works stuff and will like this scent and will get that TREAT feeling out of it. It was hard to bag it up, but there was relief in putting it into the collection bin.


I have fretted here a number of times about having to take Edward into a big city for his various Crohn’s-related medical treatments and tests. I am scared of driving in cities, and I’m not accustomed to dealing with one-way streets or parking garages or people treating two lanes as three lanes, and people honk at me and I can’t tell what the honks mean because they all just sound like honks and I don’t speak honk, and anyway each time I have to drive into the city I make sure ahead of time that my affairs are in order.

Paul discovered there is a comfy bus (the kind with overhead compartments and a bathroom) that leaves from a small, easy little station 20 minutes from our house, and drives to a stop that is only half a mile’s walk from the children’s hospital. Edward and I tried it, and it has CHANGED THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE. I sit there, and someone else drives alllllll the scary parts. Furthermore, there is Wifi on the bus, so I can play on my phone instead of having to concentrate on the road and whatever I can find on the radio. Periodically I look up from my phone and shudder, the way you do when it’s storming outside but you’re safely tucked inside: here’s that difficult exit, here’s that difficult merge, here’s the bridge that means things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. Then, on the half-mile walk from the bus station to the hospital, there were about a dozen Pokéstops.

Our round-trip tickets cost just over $20 total, and parking in the commuter lot was free. When we drive, we pay $7 for the parking garage, plus $11 for the subway, plus of course there’s gas. The total travel time is almost the same; the bus will be a shorter trip on the days when our return trip happens to line up nicely with the next scheduled departure, and a longer trip on the days when it doesn’t.

As you know, I am not fond of Figuring Out New Things, so there was a hurdle to get over: figuring out how to buy the tickets, figuring out which bus we needed, figuring out what time the bus leaves and how much earlier we should get there. But I am much more willing to try something new if there is a possibility of huge future pay-off, as there was here. I am also much more willing to try something new if someone else discovers it (Paul), and tells me about it (Paul), and sends me a link to the website (Paul), and reminds me of it in a gentle, low-pressure, I-mean-just-in-case-you-WANTED-to-try-it kind of way (Paul), and doesn’t argue when I say I am absolutely not going to do it because it is impossible to figure out (Paul), and then praises me afterward and calls me a brave traveling warrior princess (Paul).

Furthermore, I now know how to use this bus to get to the airport, which is on the same route. AND I know how to use it to get to OTHER buses, like the ones that go to other states! It is possible that I will be able to figure out how Rob can take a bus home from college, so that we can pick him up 20 minutes away instead of 7 hours away.

Noritake Arroyo China

I am getting rid of some things that are hard to get rid of, and I think it would help to tell you the stories of those things. Today I am getting rid of a large incomplete set of Noritake Arroyo china. It looks like this:

(image from

What I find charming about it is that from a distance it’s a fairly subdued pattern of light grey and darker grey squares on white, with a silver rim; but as you get closer, you can see there are little pictures in the squares. I saw this at Goodwill about twenty years ago, when Paul and I were living very close to the edge, money-wise.  I immediately had Feelings about the dishes and wanted them badly, but they were $100—absolutely out of the question. For months, MONTHS, every time I went to Goodwill (usually two or three times a week), I looked at them. They went down to $75. Then they went down to $50. And then they were $25 and I had $20 of birthday money to spend, and I bought them, and I was so happy.

And we have moved these dishes three times, and I have gradually added more pieces from eBay and other Goodwills—and we don’t use them. They have a silver rim so they can’t go through the dishwasher. We have my grandmother’s dishes for special occasions. We just don’t use them. It is time to let them go to someone else.

But this is a perfect example of wishing there was a way to find the person who wants them. There is definitely someone out there who collects Noritake Arroyo, which is hard to find, and would TREASURE my hodgepodge set as an addition to their own set. There IS! But where? And how to get these to them? Selling is a great way to unite searchers with treasures, but it’s a huge pain: describing items accurately, taking pictures, posting auctions—UG. And shipping would be a disaster: tremendously expensive, a tremendous hassle, and very likely to end in breakage; I’m not willing to do it. Money from the sale is of near-zero interest to me, but I don’t want a lot of work and hassle and shipping expenses, either. I tried a local antiques consignment shop, figuring that was a nice compromise of low-hassle/low-money, but they were not interested.

So I’ve been holding on to them as if I think I will one day run into someone within 20 miles who loves these same dishes, and that’s just not going to happen, so I’m going to bring the box to Goodwill.


Before getting into the intended topic of this post, I would like to begin with two neutral descriptions of my recent reality:

1. Rob, my firstborn child, who was supposed to work until midnight on his first day of work and be home at about 12:10 a.m., didn’t come home until 1:20 a.m., and did not respond to texts because his phone was dead. He was late because closing took more than an hour longer than anticipated by his experienced adult manager, or because he misunderstood the scheduled shift; I can’t really pick which I’d prefer.

2. Paul, who is rearranging our basement, thought that the reason many of our stored/shelved items were in plastic Target bags was because I never even bothered to take them out of the store bags and just put them directly into storage. The actual, significantly better and less insulting reason: I wrap items deliberately to protect them from damp and dust. He took everything out of the bags and threw all the bags away before telling me his clever theory. When incredulously confronted, he said we could “just” put everything BACK into bags—but that it should be NEW bags, because these ones were dusty.


For the first time since subscribing many years ago, I have given up on a stack of People magazines. I remember when I used to try to wait to read each issue: the best was if I could wait to read it until the NEXT issue had arrived, so I’d be reading one AND still have one. Before a trip, I would save up several so I could have them as a treat on the plane.

This stopped about a month before the election, and didn’t pick up again afterward. Recently, with my magazine rack crammed not only with People but also with Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Teen Vogue, I made a concentrated effort to catch up.

As you might imagine, it was worse than before. There were articles from BEFORE the election—ack. There were articles from AFTER the election—ack. There were lots of reminders of things that I’d mercifully forgotten. And my overall interest in the celebrity stories didn’t revive. Reading them was a chore, even if I skipped the ones about celebrities I hadn’t heard of (a gradually-increasing percentage, with age). One of Paul’s favorite games is Guess Why Swistle Is Cranky, and several nights in a row I gestured wordlessly to the magazine I was reading.

It didn’t take more than a dozen such evenings before I floated the idea to myself that I didn’t have to read the magazines at all. Not even a little! I’d suggested this to myself before, but it’s hard to take something that used to be a costly hoarded treasure and just toss it out without consuming it. Like, if you generally love eating Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars, and the only thing happier than knowing there is one waiting for you is knowing there are TWO waiting for you, it’s going to be a little difficult to throw out a whole case of Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars—even if you’ve since gotten tired of them.

But our library has a subscription to People, and they archive it, so if I ever regretted the decision I could go back and read the ones I’d skipped. And our library also has a well-visited Free Magazine Swap area, where people can leave magazines for other people to take, and I KNOW People magazines get SWAPPED UP: when I drop some off on my way in, they’re often gone by the time I check out. So they would be appreciated and not wasted, and that is typically the hardest aspect of getting rid of something: finding someone who wants it.

No, I couldn’t do it. I needed to read them. My subscription runs out in the fall; I just won’t renew it, and I’ll keep going until then. I will read them all, even if the progress is slow.

Followed by: THAT IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. I spent a little time snipping my name/address off a few dozen magazines (snipping that rectangle is the international symbol for “This magazine is donated and not lost/stolen,” as well as the international symbol for “I don’t want you to know I read People magazine unless I choose to share that extremely intimate information with you”), and I have put them in the library book bag. I left behind the few most recent months’ worth, in case I decide I do want some for a trip or whatever; I can donate them later if I decide no.

Then I turned to the New Yorkers. I recently renewed my subscription, so those are going to keep coming. I would very much like to be someone who reads every well-thought-out article, but instead I am someone who appreciates the cover and then flips through and reads all the cartoons. I will be at peace with that. I went through all the issues I had, and I read all the cartoons, and they were really good and I enjoyed them. And won’t it be nice for a library patron to come upon this pile of barely-flipped-through magazines? Yes. After those challenges, Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair were a piece of cake: address removed, and into the library bag.

Empathetic Stress; Burt’s Bees Lip Oil

Two nights ago I dreamed I was loading the dishwasher. Last night it was stress dreams: we were late to something! I was trying to pack but couldn’t figure out what to include! there was a truck half full of our possessions and half full of stuff for Goodwill, and I needed to separate them before it left for Goodwill!

Add to the list of things I didn’t realize before having children: I didn’t realize I’d be tapping into so much empathetic stress. Edward is a counselor-in-training at a camp this week, and today is his first day, and I was in full fret mode about it even though it is really no big deal: he will basically be assisting high school students as they assist elementary school students. Rob and William both got summer jobs at a fast food place, and I am barely stopping myself from trying to marionette them through it, telling them everything I can think of about what might go wrong and how they should deal with it.

They’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! This is GOOD for them! The worst that can happen is nothing too bad! But I feel as if I’M the one starting a new job, but so much worse: if it were me, I would have control over the situation and know what was happening. It’s much more like the feeling of sending them off to school for the first time and then sitting at home wondering if they’re scared or confused or upset. I’m picturing William in particular, learning to mop up the full soda he just dropped behind the cash register—and I’m picturing him at about age 6, fuzzy headed and trying not to be scared of the school bus, instead of as a perfectly normal 16-year-old with a perfectly normal first job making perfectly normal new-employee mistakes. The manager will be FULLY FAMILIAR with high school kids, and FULLY FAMILIAR with this being their first job. I WANTED THEM TO GET THESE JOBS, AND EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Oh! I have a lip oil report. Remember I found that Burt’s Bees color chart and it created in me the need to find out what lip oil WAS, preferably via acquiring some. And I did acquire some, and I have used it, and I am ready to say: meh, I wouldn’t, if I were you.

(image from

To begin with, it was NINE dollars. NINE. The only reason I spent that much was that I misunderstood and thought it was $4.99 like the lip balm. But no. Nine dollars. I justified it by figuring that that’s part of what the blog ad income is for: trying things and reporting on them.

Then, I got it home and couldn’t figure out how to use it. I took the cap off and there was a little dry white brush at the end of a tube. There was a twisty thing on the bottom of the tube, so I twisted it and nothing happened. I dug the wrapper out of the trash, but there were no instructions on it. I had to search online, where I found instructions that didn’t work: the Burt’s Bees site said to twist the thing on the bottom of the tube 10-15 times, then apply; but I twisted dozens of times and there was still nothing to apply. I began to conclude it was empty or defective.

I searched the review section on Burt’s Bees and on Amazon, and found tons of people saying they couldn’t figure out how to use it and maybe it was empty or defective, and tons of other people saying that the first time you use it you have to hold it upside down and twist it for a LONNNNNNG TIME. So I did that, for longer than even what I would consider a long time, and then suddenly a bright colored drop appeared in the brush. It seemed precarious, like it would fall off.

I painted the drop onto my lips. I could see shine, but very very little color—less than the tinted lip balm. It’s basically lip gloss; some lip glosses feel kind of icky to me, but this feels nice. It feels, as you’d expect, like oil—a nice thin layer of moisturizing oil. But not enough color to be worth it, and way too much fuss. I can use a tinted lip balm anywhere, but I’d feel ridiculous painting on the lip oil in front of anyone else. I’ll use it in the morning when I’m getting ready, and I won’t replace the tube when it runs out.

Tinted Lip Balm: A Surprisingly Long Post for Such a Small Item

I would like to report satisfaction with a retail product:

(image from

ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint, in Merlot.

It was $4.99 at Target, and that’s five times what I pay for ChapStick when I buy them in untinted 3-packs for $2.99. Despite what you have heard from vicious gossips about what I’ll pay for air-conditioning, I hesitated about this purchase, worried that I would hate it and throw it out after one single $5 use. But now I am thinking I will go back and buy half a dozen more in case they stop making them.

It reminds me very much of the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm (don’t pay $10 for one—I think Target has them for about $5). I like both the ChapStick one and the Burt’s Bees one because they have a little color, but not so much color that you have to look in a mirror to put it on: you just put it on like regular lip balm. I keep one in my pocket.

The tinted ChapStick also comes in Rose Petal and Coral Blush, but I have learned that the words I need to look for in lipstick are words such as “wine,” “plum,” and “violet,” and I am still remembering to avoid anything with words indicating light-pinkness or orangeness.

…Oh my gosh, look what I found:

(image from Burt’s Bees)

Yes. YES. Plums/berries is mine, with occasional dips into the darker/purpler reds and pinks—some of which look in fact miscategorized, perhaps because the box for plums/berries was already full. I wear the lip shimmer in plum (plums/berries); I tried the cherry (reds) and it was way too red for me, which should have been obvious but it was on such a good clearance, and one of my best lipsticks ever is one I never would have tried if it hadn’t been on such a good clearance, so that keeps me taking chances. In tinted lip balm, I wear sweet violet (plums/berries) and also red dahlia (reds). I am going to have to try the tinted lip oil in misted plum; I don’t know what lip oil is, but this chart has created a need.

I highly recommend the plum lip shimmer, by the way, if you’re a plums/berries person too. It’s not particularly shimmery in plum. It’s lipsticky enough that I have to look in a mirror to put it on. And I like the peppermint flavor.

(I am imagining Paul reading this post and starting to rub the bridge of his nose.)

[Follow-up: I tried the lip oil.]