Dear Wendy readers are some of the most intelligent, stylish, super cool people around (it’s a proven fact), so when a commenter suggested I create a regular feature for them to recommend some of their favorite products, it was a no-brainer, and Reader Recs was born. Today’s recommendations come from ktfran who is a single gal living in what she thinks is the best city in the world, Chicago. A beer enthusiast, or beer snob as most of her friends would say, she spends her free time checking out the local food and drink scene. When she’s not imbibing or feasting, Katie is running and, more recently, taking yoga classes, reading or curling up on the couch and watching “Justified,” “Parks and Rec” and silly teen movies. Check out some of her faves below.
1. Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Stockpot with Cover
I finally got this for Christmas and have been making soup nearly every Sunday since.
2. Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
I started reading Louise Penny over the summer, and I fell in love with Chief Inspector Gamache and the village of Three Pines. I’m currently up-to-date on the series and haven’t been disappointed yet.
3. Madewell’s the transport tote
I’m a huge fan of this bag. Everything fits inside. And it looks good.
These jeans will change your life, I kid you not. They last forever and don’t lose shape or fade. [These are the same jeans LBH raved about in our first Reader Recs.]
5. BB Cream – Actively Correcting and Beautifying with SPF 50
Best face product ever. I love anything from Kiehl’s, but this especially. The cream lasts me around 10 months and I don’t need to use foundation or powder over it. Seriously, try it.
6. The Original Home State Personalized Return Address Stamp
I want this, but I rent. I think it’s adorable. And how great is it not to write your return address when mailing Christmas cards and thank yous?
Addie Pray March 20, 2014, 2:07 pm
Damn you, ktfran, I just bought that Maxwell tote and I *really* do not need more bags. I know, I just packed and moved and I have an entire storage bin devoted to bags. But gosh that’s cute. And I decided to revamp my closet. I’m tossing all the old stuff out and I’m going to start wearing nice shit. So, this tote is apart of the new moi, I guess.
Banana March 20, 2014, 2:17 pm
I’m doing that too, Addie! I realized a little while ago that if I have nice clothes, I might as well wear and enjoy them — and get rid of some of the ratty, stained, ripped, or otherwise damaged stuff I wore as my around-the-house clothes. For around the house and cleaning, I have plenty of workout tee shirts. So for even very casual hanging out with friends, I started putting real thought into my outfits and wearing nice things, and I’m trying to resist the feeling I’ve had for a lot of my life that some things are “too nice to wear.” Then why do I have them?
Copa March 20, 2014, 2:35 pm
Oh gosh. This reminded me of how, growing up, when my mom would buy new clothes for me and my sister, she’d tell us not to wear them right away because they were new — which meant they were still nice. So eventually these new things would get shoved to the back of the closet or bottom of the drawer, only to be discovered again and cause “issues” when we’d want new clothes and my mom would point to these items with the tags still on them and tell us we never wore them.
So basically that’s my roundabout way of saying that I also sometimes feel like my clothes are “too nice to wear” or “too new to wear” or whatever, and have to fight the logic that they were purchased to be used. It’s weird.
Banana March 20, 2014, 3:44 pm
I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. In my case it wasn’t that my mom went to such extremes, but we just didn’t have as much money for tons and tons of new clothes all the time. So I got used to wearing the old stuff, and keeping the new stuff away for a nice occasion — I was also a big tomboy so I didn’t like wearing the stuffy nice clothes anyway. Then I grew up, started making enough to buy nice clothes, and realized it’s fun to dress up a little (even if it’s just dressy casual) and enjoy the nice clothes I have!
Kate March 20, 2014, 2:12 pm
My parents got a set of that exact Cuisinart cookware, including that stockpot, sometime in the 80s when I was a kid, and they are still using it all the time and it’s amazing. Still LOOKS great too. Well, actually, their set is shiny and yours looks matte? But still.
othy March 20, 2014, 3:32 pm
My parents got me a big set of that cookware for Christmas a couple of years back. I swear it turned me into an actual cook. The difference between that and the cheap stuff I had been cooking on since colleges was amazing.
Oh, and if you buy the set, it’s about the price of buying two pieces on their own:
Lyra March 20, 2014, 5:42 pm
Yeah my parents have it too. My mom uses it all the time when she’s canning her home grown fruits and veggies.
Kate March 20, 2014, 5:47 pm
Yeah, and to build on that, my mom is ALL ABOUT replacing things like towels and linens and whatever else as soon as she thinks they’re no longer looking her best. And she’s real picky about her kitchen things. So the fact that she’s still using pots and pans from the 80s really speaks to their quality and how well they hold up over time.
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 2:16 pm
I love that address stamp! Sadly, I am a renter too but as soon as I have a permanent address I definitely want one!
theattack March 20, 2014, 2:20 pm
Hey, I know what BB cream is now!! The kind I bought was only $8 though. The tote is fabulous! I really want it!
Banana March 20, 2014, 2:22 pm
What is it?
theattack March 20, 2014, 2:25 pm
This foundation-like stuff that has eight different functions instead of just one. It’s supposed to help cover up imperfections more,many moisturizer, and protect from the sun, and I think it has anti-aging stuff in it too. I thought it was supposed to be a foundation substitute, but I guess I was wrong about that. So excited to know something about makeup!
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 2:30 pm
I think a lot of the “extra” stuff bb cream is supposed to do is sort of made up. They originated in Asia, where they had more of the skin care-kind of stuff, plus chemicals to actually lighten the skin. In North America, it seems like a lot of cosmetics companies repackaged tinted moisturizers as bb creams, but all the ones I’ve tried seem basically like a tinted moisturizer (as in, a cross between moisturizer and foundation). I really like bb creams for everyday instead of wearing foundation!
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 2:37 pm
I completely agree with this. They seem like a marketing ploy. Call them what they are, tinted moisturizer. BB cream and primer are kind of a joke to me. I use BB cream/tinted moisturizer when I run on sunny days because of the spf, but I don’t delude myself into thinking they are magic creams.
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 2:41 pm
Now there’s even stuff marketed as bb cream for your body and hair??? Um, just call it body lotion and leave-in conditioner.
theattack March 20, 2014, 2:43 pm
Damn, and I thought I learned something!
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 2:44 pm
Haha no you did learn something! It is definitely being sold as a light foundation/moisturizer, but then what the hell is tinted moisturizer? I guess I just hate that all this shit is being sold like it’s a new product when really it’s a new package on an old product, except more expensive.
theattack March 20, 2014, 2:47 pm
Haha that makes sense. I bought tinted moisturizer and BB cream over the weekend, and I will say that the BB cream I got is a lot thicker than the tinted moisturizer. I can’t really notice a difference otherwise though because I don’t know any better.
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 2:45 pm
Well it is more like what bb cream maybe started as, but as long as you like the one you have, that’s all that matters!
muchachaenlaventana March 20, 2014, 2:44 pm
yeah I bought in to the hype and bought CC cream-I used some of my roommate’s nice clinique CC cream which covered like a foundation but was light like a moisturizer…yeah the drug store brand I got is a goopy mess of over-perfumed nothing.
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 2:44 pm
Yeah, I’ve tried bb creams & they never seemed that great—also, I don’t really like my tinted moisturizer to have sunscreen in it? I wear sunscreen separately. I do really like lighter foundations though. I tend to mix these two in with some of my regular moisturizer:
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 2:44 pm
Although okay, I will stop recommending shit in the comments because I do plan to make my own list one of these days to send to Wendy!! haha
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 2:51 pm
Okay, I’ll add one more thing— my personal guide for what’s good to spend $$ on makeup-wise, & what doesn’t matter if you buy it cheap:
Spend $$: eyeshadows, primers, foundation/tinted moisturizers/bb creams, concealers
don’t spend $$: mascara (I do like the more expensive versions, but the cheap ones work fine), eyeliner, lip shit, eyebrow shit
muchachaenlaventana March 20, 2014, 2:54 pm
did you read my mind! I was just going to ask what you would buy expensive. I always buy the cheapest makeup and am wondering which are the most important or more important things to splurge on.
theattack March 20, 2014, 2:57 pm
Agreed, that was a super useful comment, fabelle. For now all of my make up is cheap, because I just bought it all at once five days ago. Haha but I’m going to write that down and stick it in my makeup bag for future reference.
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 3:02 pm
haha muchacha, that’s funny! hmm I’m trying to think of anything else I can add to each list, but I got nothing else right now (also, sidenote: my guide goes right the fuck out the window whenever I walk into Sephora, & start thinking I need shit like inner eyelid rim brightener & mattifying powder haha)
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 2:55 pm
I totally agree about not spending money on expensive mascara although I am sure what I save on that, I make up for buying other stuff! For some reason, blush is the one category that I definitely splurge on.
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 3:03 pm
ahh I was just thinking this morning that I haven’t bought blush in literal years (yeah, yeah I know you’re supposed to throw out your makeup…) because my Tarte one has lasted so long, it’s insane.
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 3:12 pm
I love the Tarte blushes! I have three that I LOVE. Plus I got the Nars blush palette from the holiday stuff which I am also obsessed with.
muchachaenlaventana March 20, 2014, 3:17 pm
I have *never* used blush… does it make a big difference?
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 3:23 pm
I think so! It can really warm your face up and give you some color. I am super excited for spring so I can start wearing my coral blush!
Fabelle March 20, 2014, 3:42 pm
I think it does, yeah—it enhances your bone structure, brightens up your face, & sort of balances if you have redness in other areas? Do you have a more olive-y skin tone, though (I might remember you saying you did once, sorry if that’s creepy haha)? because if so, I think a rose-y tan/brown, or bronzer could work as blush too, to do all of the above mentioned things?
bethany March 20, 2014, 3:34 pm
I use the Tarte stain, too. They last me at least 3 years.
muchachaenlaventana March 20, 2014, 3:53 pm
yeah I have an olive skin tone which is why I haven’t really ever tried blush. The pinker tones always seem to look kind of awkward on me, but I probably am applying them totally wrong ha, I have borrowed friends’ in the past but taken it off immediately. Same with bronzer. Idk I think I just have to get used to the way I look with actual make up so I don’t think it is weird.
Banana March 20, 2014, 3:59 pm
For an olive skin tone, would something more in the plum range look better? Slightly deeper red, with a touch of blue?
I don’t know, I don’t know makeup.
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 2:58 pm
Weird I agree with pretty much everything except the eyeshadow, I get that stuff cheap too. But my foundation which is very matte like is $20 for a tube that lasts me like a month. :/
theattack March 20, 2014, 3:00 pm
Is that expensive?
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 3:11 pm
Haha I don’t know I think it is. I get the mary kay (I know, I’m like a 100 years old but I have really weird skin, like my skin can be both oily and dried out at the same time and it is the only foundation I’ve found that makes my skin smoother and not oily and covers up the different tints of my skin) matte foundation and I use it all the time.
I guess to me it just seems like a lot because even cheap eyeshadow and mascara and eyeliner and blush and lip gloss all cost say an average of $8 and I go through those every other month, so with foundation I probably spend $40 a month on make-up.
And then my hair only likes the pink paul mitchell products, and that shit is like $25 a bottle too. And it’s just all so exhausting.
theattack March 20, 2014, 3:15 pm
Oh wow, that is a lot of expensive products. And yeah, it would be crazy expensive to me too. I’m just trying to hi jack this conversation and gauge what’s normal. Haha
bethany March 20, 2014, 3:19 pm
How do you go through eye shadow every other month?! Even when I wore it regularly, they would last me at least a year! How much are you using?!
katie March 20, 2014, 3:20 pm
here is my normal: eyeshadow, $20 each, 2 colors. one thing of them lasts me a loooong time though, easily 6 months. primer, $30. i buy that maybe once a quarter or so? powder, cheap, buy that maybe once every 2 months, and then mascara, cheap, i always get that on sale and buy in bulk though, but i think they last me like 2 or 3 months too. and i also cut my mascara with saline now and it makes them last forever and i love doing it. and no, im not afraid of eye infections.
GatorGirl March 20, 2014, 3:33 pm
I might spend $50 on beauty products a year. Including make up, lotions, hair styling stuff (not shampoo), nail polish…etc. I use Bare Minerals foundation and used to use their lotion but just switched to some loreal thing, and Urban Decay eye shadow, Maybaline mascara, and tresame hair spray etc. I don’t have the brain power or wallet to fork over tons of money for beauty products. I probably wear makeup…3 days a week? maybe…
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 3:43 pm
Bethany: That’s probably an over-estimation. I use a neutral like tan color? Pretty much it’s barely darker than my face color but I like that it makes those weird lines in my eyes go away. I’m just taking an average of all the products. I’m not mentioning some products that I use so I figured I’d round up on the averages. But I still bet it’s at least $40 a month on make up alone.
bethany March 20, 2014, 4:07 pm
If I average out all my make-up purchases for a year, it probably comes out to less than $10/month! BUT– I spend a ton on anti-wrinkle cream 🙂
bethany March 20, 2014, 3:06 pm
I buy cheap eyeshadow, too. I hardly ever wear it, so I don’t see the point in spending a lot on it. I also use cheap mascara. I really only spend $$ on foundation and blush. Oh, and highlighter, too.
muchachaenlaventana March 20, 2014, 3:18 pm
I always bought cheap eyeshadow (and still do) but my roommate has one of the Naked palettes and I use it all the time because it really does make a huge difference. While I can’t justify spending so much on it, it is great she has one!
Morgan March 20, 2014, 3:03 pm
Agree with this list entirely. I will add that I spend money on blush because I was given a Nars blush as a gift once and now I can never use anything else. I recently bought an expensive mascara others had raved about, hated it, and went out and bought my drugstore brand immediately.
theattack March 20, 2014, 3:09 pm
Okay question about blush: when I put on blush, I feel like a clown a lot of times. It seems like the right shade, but it’s like it goes on pretty thick or something, so then I have to try to wipe some of it off my face, which sometimes just smears it. Am I just buying a shade too dark, or is that the nature of cheap blush?
iwannatalktosampson March 20, 2014, 3:13 pm
Hmm probably a shade too dark and you might be putting too much on. Also another thing is if you wear powder you can always sort of fade out the blush with powder on top so it’s not like a specific streak of color and it blends in more. I honestly don’t wear blush very often because I figure you can either have heavy eyes or heavy accents (think like lipstick or blush) and I always choose heavy eyes and sort of neutral everything else.
theattack March 20, 2014, 3:42 pm
You’re teaching me so much. Can you come hang out in my bathroom for awhile and teach me your ways?
Ella_ March 20, 2014, 3:14 pm
Maybe try to use a lighter hand at first so it doesn’t seem too intense? You can use any kind of shade you want, but just put on a little bit at a time so you build it up gradually.
bethany March 20, 2014, 3:17 pm
You might just have too much on your brush, or your brush is too small. When I use a powder blush, I use a larger brush, and I usually dab it onto my hand to get rid of some of the excess before i put it on my face.
theattack March 20, 2014, 3:45 pm
Ahh, that’s a good tip! That will fix a lot of problems I’m having.
Banana March 20, 2014, 4:00 pm
Please come to DC and give me a makeover.
Lyra March 20, 2014, 5:47 pm
I’m cheap and I don’t spend money on ANY makeup stuff really. I buy the $1, $2, and $3 elf stuff from Target…
I do spend money on my moisturizer because I lurve Aveeno products and it lasts like a year, so it’s worth the money for me.
Related, I wore blush for the first time (like, ever) today. I didn’t really notice a difference? I mean, it looked nice and I didn’t look washed out, but my skin is naturally pink-ish so I don’t know if I need the extra color. I don’t slop on too much foundation.
CatsMeow March 21, 2014, 6:25 am
I can recommend cheap stuff since I’m a starving student!
primer – NYX studio HD
foundation – Almay clear complexion with “blemish heal technology” (ha) – this might be too heavy for some people, and I’m sure I’d be better off buying something of higher quality, but I’ve been using this one for a while and I like it for me (Also, I tried a BB cream and hated it)
concealer – Maybelline Age Rewind dark circle eraser / concealer
blush – Maybelline dream bouncy blush ORRR I have some benefit rosie tint
bronzer – Neutrogena healthy skin blends – I’ve used this stuff for years, pretty much every day for contouring. I’m really fair and it’s not too dark if I use it right.
eyeliner – Elf has a good gel liner in a pot for SUPER CHEAP and you can apply it with their teeny tiny eyeliner brush which is also super cheap – and it’s easier to apply than I imagined it would be
eyeshadow – yeahh, I go Urban Decay for this, definitely not cheap, but I’ll get palettes when they go on super sale, and I got the Naked 2 for Christmas. I also use the eyeshadow primer I got with one of the palettes. These eyeshadows last me foreverrr so I think they are worth the price!
mascara – Cover Girl Clump Crusher – I swear this mascara is the best!
powder – Urban Decay Naked Skin pressed finishing powder (also not cheap but it’s awesome and i got it for Christmas)
Elf setting spray if i need my makeup to last, or I can spray it on my eyeshadow brush if I want to do a wet application and it makes it last longer
brows – elf eyebrow kit – good stuff considering how cheap it is
lips – Maybelline color sensational lipsticks are my fav cheap ones, or the Revlon colorburst matte balm or lacquer balms
Addie Pray March 20, 2014, 2:24 pm
My old gym had Khiel’s products in the locker room! Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, hair spray, and gel. It was AWESOME! That’s all. I don’t go to that gym anymore because I switched jobs and now that gym is like 4 blocks away – I can’t be bothered to work out if I have to walk 4 blocks. Oy vey.
Portia March 20, 2014, 2:27 pm
I love the stamp and tote! But I think a bag like that will have to wait until I have an income…
Kaluu March 20, 2014, 2:42 pm
Ooohh high spf and lasts you 10 months? I want to try that Bb cream. Got to get rid of old clothes and stop buying cheap clothes that don’t last. I heard that much old donated stuff is not even useful for the very poor anywhere, there’s not a clothing shortage anywhere anymore I guess ? I like the idea of wearing gym clothes around the house- maybe I will feel more energetic while I clean!
Ktfran March 20, 2014, 2:44 pm
Yay! It’s my turn. Too bad I’m traveling today. The good news is I’m wearing my AG Stevie’s. My tote is filled with snacks and reading material and electronics. And my moisturizer is stowed away.
AP did you really get that tote? You’re awesome!
Addie Pray March 20, 2014, 2:45 pm
I sure did!
Addie Pray March 20, 2014, 2:46 pm
I am also going to get that state return address stamp thing but I’m going to wait until I *actually* get my new home…
Ktfran March 20, 2014, 2:50 pm
Ooh, also I know it’s my cream is really just a tinted moisturizer, but it’s the best one I’ve tried this far and I don’t need any other products along with it. Well, a little under eye cream, blush and mascara, but that’s it.
GatorGirl March 20, 2014, 2:50 pm
Ooooo I love that stamp!! There are others similar on Etsy for lower price points which I’ve considered getting.
bethany March 20, 2014, 3:37 pm
I love those cute return address things. I will get one if we actually get around to sending holiday cards next year. We have been big slackers the past 2 years.
Morgan March 20, 2014, 3:05 pm
I’d looked at that bag recently! The first thing I’m going to buy when I’m making money again (I mean, I make money now. But when I make enough money to spend it on things other than rent and groceries and loans) is going to be a nice leather tote. I think I’ve settled on a fossil one I like, but that Madewell one was a contender.
mylaray March 20, 2014, 5:47 pm
I want that home state stamp a lot! But I would totally get the shape of NY, my home state with an address from Georgia, just to mess with people. Okay not really. Fine I’ll get Georgia.
And I want that Madewell tote a lot. Hmmm maybe I can buy it for “work.” I have too many bags.