Saving Face When You’re Lazy

I really wanted to title this post “It Rubs the Lotion On Its Skin”. Fortunately, my grown-up side prevailed.

This week, we’re working with a beauty book, something I have generally pooh-poohed. I consider myself too smart to get sucked into the vortex created by the yearly avalanche of books that North Americans are subjected to on how to be younger, thinner, more beautiful … and blah, blah, blah.

And Yet …
And yet, Dr. Harold Lancer’s book “Younger” intrigued me enough to make me open it up, and then check it out of my home library. Contrary to my pompous stereotyping, this is a thoughtful, intelligent how-to manual for taking good care of your own skin, written by a man who has spent his entire professional career taking care of other people’s skin. He starts the book by explaining the biology — how skin works and what happens when we start to age. From there, he moves on to a technique he calls the Lancer Method.

Here’s What You Do
The Lancer Method is composed of two simple three-step regimens:

In the morning, you:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Moisturize
  3. Protect

In the evening, you:

  1. Exfoliate
  2. Cleanse
  3. Moisturize

The Method applies to all types and ethnicities of skin, and there are some variants for those with acne, rosacea and sensitive skin. There’s also instructions on technique and product recommendations in three economic categories: luxury, moderate and affordable. In short, the Lancer Method is one of those concepts that is so well-designed and flexible that it makes my geeky little heart sing.

Dashing Off to the Cosmetics Counter
I was excited to start using the Lancer Method, so I went out to buy products before I’d even finished reading the book. Here’s where I ran into my first hitch. Beauty products change and evolve rapidly, and even though “Younger” was published in 2014, I couldn’t find the L’Oreal exfoliator and cleanser that Dr. Lancer recommended. I made some educated guesses and got to work.

As I read further, I came to the section on sensitive skin. In the lists of recommendations, I discovered some Aveeno products that were much easier to find and relatively inexpensive. Here’s what I’m currently using:

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening
Daily Scrub
$8.89 inc tax
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser $8.89 inc tax
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer
Broad Spectrum SPF 15
$20.97 inc tax
TOTAL $38.75

It takes about 10 minutes at night, and less in the morning. I should also mention that the Lancer Method subscribes to the European definition of “face”, which means that your face extends from your hairline to just above your bra line.

Meet my comrades in the War on Wrinkles

Meet my comrades in the War on Wrinkles


Does it Work?
I’m going to give you a cautious “yes”. To my amazement, I think it does work. It took about three weeks, but I noticed a difference first on my chest.

There’s a triangular patch of skin that extends from the collarbone to just above the cleavage, and since this area gets a ton of sun exposure, it also gets a little leathery when we age. This was just starting to happen on my own chest. But about three weeks in, I took a look in the mirror one morning and thought “Hey! Wait a minute. I’m smooth again!” With the Terrible Triangle taken care of, I’ve now focused my attention on my neck.

I started this experiment with a pretty mixed bag of genetic and lifestyle factors. I’m blessed to come from a family who tend to look younger than the years listed on their passports, and my oily skin takes longer to age. Since I’m of Anglo Saxon descent, however, I’m very fair and have had crows feet under my eyes since my 30’s. And my sloppy approach to skin care eventually tipped the scales in the wrong direction. The Lancer Method seems to have worked well for me so far, and I think it will most likely work for other people.

Two Small Wrinkles
The Aveeno moisturizer is — oddly — pretty heavily scented. It’s really irritating to use anywhere near my eyes. Aveeno also makes an SPF 30 version of this product, which I’ll test-drive when the SPF 15 runs out, and see if it’s any less smelly.

The other concern I have is the environmental impact of the microbeads found in the exfoliating product. Governments in Europe are moving to ban microbeads, and the Canadian government isn’t far behind. If you’re willing to spend some time creating your own exfoliating products, there’s a natural alternative available, which is made from 100% biodegradable jojoba oil.

Resources
Here’s the skinny on Dr. Lancer’s book:

Younger 
Written by Harold Lancer, MD
Published by Grand Central Life & Style
Released Feb 4 2014
ISBN 1455548901

Show Me the Money
My total investment in Aveeno products came to $38.75, and my best estimate is they will last an average of three months. That works out to $12.92 per month, which I see as a very reasonable price to pay for skin care that appears to be effective.

The book “Younger” works out to an average of $22.49, which is money I saved by taking it out of the library. (Almost enough for two months of Aveeno products!)

That’s a Wrap
Tune in next time, when we investigate “One Drawing A Day”, a six-week course in creativity, all contained within 128 pages of a book. Until then, thank you — as always — for reading this post and happy exfoliating!
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Mrs. Potato Head

Hello!

After a lengthy series of random essays, I’m heading into the blog’s roots and bringing back the life hacking posts. And on the topic of roots, we’re headed into gardening territory this week!

Where Are My Overalls?
I have long fantasized about being an urban farmer. (I blame this on genetics. I’m descended from grandparents who farmed.) Last spring, I stumbled onto a gardening book called “Grow Great Grub” by a Canadian author named Gayla Trail. I loved this book. It combined nifty urban gardening experiments with straightforward, easy-to-read instructions. When spring 2015 rolled around, I borrowed the book again and got all excited, thinking about what kind of crops I might grow.

Enter a little dose of reality. I’m currently living in a 111-yr-old heritage house, perched at the top of Edmonton’s river valley. We have a beautiful back yard, which is also very large. What that means is that the upkeep of said back yard consumes a fair amount of time in the summer. My roommates warned me not to get carried away with my crops, as there would be plenty o’ chores available.

When planting time came, I decided I wanted to undertake two experiments:

  1. Growing potatoes in a trash can, with Gayla Trail’s instructions
  2. Growing Early Girl tomatoes, so that I could try out Karen Solomon’s recipe for oven-dried tomatoes

I also planned to grow some herbs that I actually use: basil, rosemary, and garlic chives.

I think that this is the real trick with gardening — to grow stuff that you like and will actually use. And to do it in small quantities.

Trash Into Treasure
Growing potatoes in a trash can is pretty straightforward. First, buy a trash can, dirt and seed potatoes. Next, drill holes in the trash can for drainage, add some dirt, and plant your seed potatoes. Ta dah! You need to be a little bit patient for the next part. I hovered around the trash can every day, looking for sprouts, but it took a good two weeks before those lazy little suckers poked their heads out of the soil. (I even went in and uncovered one to see if it was actually sprouting.) But once they’d come up, my little potato plants grew like crazy.

Skip the Supermarket
Seed potatoes cost $4.99 at Canadian Tire and I only ended up using two of the twenty-odd that were in the bag. This seemed wasteful to me, and I wondered if I could simply have bought some organic Yukon Golds at a supermarket, chopped them up and planted them.

As it turns out, this is not a good idea. In her book, “The Resilient Gardener”, Carol Deppe says not to plant supermarket potatoes. They’re treated with sprout inhibitors and often won’t grow at all. She recommends that you buy certified seed potatoes from a reputable seed supplier.

So, how do you get around the wastage? Well, you could get together with a group of fellow potato farmers and share a bag. You could also give your extra seed potatoes away. Or … if all else fails, they do make an excellent addition to a compost pile. And once you’ve harvested a first crop, you can keep seed potatoes for next year — Carol Deppe will tell you how to do it in Chapter 8 of “The Resilient Gardener”.

Time Marches On
It’s now September 1 and the potatoes are doing great. The tomatoes, however, had a rough start. We have ant hills in our yard and thought that we might do away with the hills by plunking containers of plants on top of them.

Pretty, pretty. My trash can potato plants.

Pretty, pretty.
My trash can potato plants.

Wrong. The ants crawled up the drainage holes and very nearly did away with my fledgling crops. I ended up pulling the tomatoes out of their containers and re-planting them in fresh pots with fresh soil. It was touch-and-go for a few weeks, but the tomatoes survived and are now thriving. The ants DID manage to kill my basil and rosemary but steered clear of the garlic chives (garden folklore says that ants hate garlic).

I expect to be able to harvest in a few weeks, and we’ll do a check-back on the final poundage of potatoes my trash can yields. We’ll also talk about how those oven-dried tomatoes turned out.

Great Grub Indeed
Did I mention that I love “Grow Great Grub”? It’s well-written and beautifully illustrated. It’s smart and funny. And it’s creative. This book gives you basic instructions on how to grow a given vegetable, fruit or flower, but then adds some suggestions about unusual variants on traditional crops. Thanks to Gayla’s inspiration, we’re growing wildly cool chioggia (striped) beets in the communal garden at my house.

Dollars and Cents
When we check back later this fall, I’ll talk about what my crops cost me. But in the meantime, I’ll tell you that you can save yourself an average of $19.23 by taking “Grow Great Grub” out of the library. Here are the details on this wonderful book:

Grow Great Grub:
Organic Food from Small Spaces
Written by Gayla Trail
Published by Clarkson Potter
Released Feb 2 2010
ISBN 0307452018

And… We’re Done
That’s it for this week. Tune in next time, when we look at DIY expert skin care with the help of Dr. Harold Lancer, Dermatologist-to-the-Stars. Until then, have a great week, and feel free to share your garden hacking stories!
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