Poetry: Ashtray Heart

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I took a shortcut through blood to get back to you.

I knew that your gaping wounds were still fairly new

For you to be able to finally let it all go.

You need this injection to get through this night.

I really hope now that you adore me as much as your dragon

Because after three years of battling against it

I have nothing to show but pure frigid waters that hang like

Lonely icicles from my eyes.

But when you’ve been smoking for too long

And Memnoch is walking in your shoes,

The only thing that surrounds you is a musky-drugged fog.

While the stage that we’re on becomes a broken ashtray

And, I the protagonist, a butted Marlboro.

It’s only a matter of trust,” you say.

But when your favorite lover is White Eve instead of me

I do not have much trust left in me.

You carve my name into your arm

Thinking that I should be impressed.

But your gesture does not scream your love,

It merely whispers your derangement.

I wish I could drag you across filed nails,

So you would become pristine.

But I can only kiss you with these bruised lips,

Hoping that you will come around (for more).

Although you don’t seem to care

As you take another line from my breasts.

Your ocean eyes wander over space and time

Snatching the stoned affection you can find.

Please don’t die,” I beg you.

I know of your secret lovers

That you keep hidden beneath black satin covers.

They’re going to blow your mind one of these days

Just as they did with all the others.

If only I could bring it all back to you

But there’s nothing I can do

Because you’re Poe without a muse,

Who merely craves for silver rockets

And playing Russian roulette with five bullets.

The smoke rises up and around your solar plexus

All I am for you is a Plastic Venus,

Ideal for viewing but not for loving.

You bestow your worship to the Green Goddess instead

Because she can let you see Heaven and Hell in your bed.

But remember that I now hold the power

Because I’ve raped all your lovers.

You’ll need to beg me before I’ll shoot you up.

I know how to fight back with an empty gun loaded with placebos.

By: Azzurra Nox

Review: Lancôme DRAMA LIQUI-PENCIL Longwear Eyeliner

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If there’s one makeup product that’s a staple in my makeup bag, it’s eyeliner. I’m always changing it up between pencil and liquid, and this new one from Lancome promises to combine the intensity and precision of a liquid eyeliner, but with the fool-proofness of a pencil liner (which is more forgiving especially if you’re in a hurry or putting on makeup early in the morning whilst being in a hurry as I do when getting ready for work).

What It Is: A long-wear highly pigmented liquid pencil eyeliner.

What It Does: 24-hour wear, blendable formula, no smudging!

Verdict: This liqui-pencil is absolutely phenomenal! I LOVE how pigmented the eyeliner is, and the fact that it’s very forgiving and fool-proof to apply when you’re strapped for time. It is precise and doesn’t budge all day. Even when I swatched it, it was difficult to remove (I had to use both makeup remover AND cleanser to get it off). So you’re assured that this eyeliner will stay on your lid and not migrate half way down your eyes by the end of the day. It’s also sweat-proof (no running eyeliner when you’re hitting the dance floor or gym!), and even if you forget about wearing liner and rub your eye, this liner isn’t going anywhere! This liner comes in various vibrant colours ranging from blue, black, brown, and purple, but I got the blue and find it such a fun way to have a pop of colour on your lids whilst wearing nude eyeshadow.

Price: $23

Where To Buy It: Sephora

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By: Azzurra Nox

The Best Books & Films to Support Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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In light of the #metoo movement, April has been declared as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to help celebrate and bring awareness to Sexual Assault, I wish to share some films and books that depict sexual assault in a realistic manner instead of glorifying rape culture. The books and films selected below focus on the psychological, emotional, and physical scars that one carries when they’re a victim of sexual assault. These books and films don’t solely focus on women getting revenge (ala I Spit On Your Grave) or being too crippled to rise up, but rather they explore the complexities of the aftermath of a sexual assault and the road to healing.

Books:

undone

She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb

Dolores Price’s life is never the same after her rape. She begins to use food as a way to comfort her pain, and so she spends her days in front of the TV devouring Mallomars and other junk food till she reaches the hefty weight of 257 pounds. But Dolores wishes to live life, despite the fact that her actions would indicate otherwise. Dolores’ journey is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

speak

Speak – Laurie Halse Andersen

There’s a reason why this YA was a National Book Award Finalist, Melinda’s frightening assault at a party where she ends up calling the police (and thus making her the school pariah for being considered a snitch) is utterly relatable to any teenager who has ever had to look out for themselves at a party. Melinda’s assault causes her to lose her will to speak. She’s friendless and lonely, but slowly she begins to heal and with healing, she finds her voice and the courage to name her assaulter.

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The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith

What happens when the older boy you have a crush on rapes you? Eden’s journey of how assault affects her future relationships, her friendships, and her relationship with her family is heartbreaking and poignant. This novel shows how the effects of trauma can last a lifetime, and only when she has the courage to confront her rapist does she finally get the inner peace she’s been lacking since that fateful night.

Films:

Precious

Hard Candy

Boys Don’t Cry

What books or films have you seen on sexual assault that you think was done right? Do you agree with this list? Comment below!

If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault please refer to the following hotlines for help:

Safe Horizon – 212-227-300

https://hotline.rainn.org – To call or chat with a professional

DoD Safe Helpline (for military members and spouses) – https://www.safehelpline.org/

By: Azzurra Nox

Beauty In Breakfast: Tomato Omelette Recipe

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, so why not make it the perfect opportunity to eat foods that will give you beauty benefits?

“You can put on all the makeup and concealer in the world, but unless you’re eating a diet of beauty foods, your skin will not look its best,” says Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, the author of The Beauty Diet.

In this mini-series I will provide you with some easy and healthy-skin breakfast options!

In order to have a healthy-glowing skin you need to not only use the right products for your skin type, but you need to be eating foods that boost your skin’s health.

“Sugar may contribute to wrinkles, and there’s research that shows that following a diet lower in refined carbs improves adult acne,” says Drayer.

Throw out your Pop Tarts and Toaster Strudels and give your skin a break.

“Tomatoes are the number one skin-friendly vegetable,” says Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. Eating bright red vegetables may help fight sunburn, boost collagen, and reduce skin roughness.

Not to mention that eggs are loaded with Vitamin A (your number one skin-friendly vitamin!).

So put down the doughnut and read below for an amazing Tomato Frittata Recipe!

Ingredients:

2 Eggs

1 Medium Size Tomato Finely Chopped

½ Onion Finely Chopped

¼ Finely Chopped Cilantro or Parsley

A pinch of pepper

A pinch of salt

A pinch of Chipotle Pepper

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Add one teaspoon of olive oil to a pan and heat up.
  2. Beat two eggs in a bowl.
  3. Add the finely chopped onion, tomato, cilantro or parsley, salt, pepper, salt, and pepper to the bowl and mix the ingredients.
  4. Then place all the ingredients in the pan and fry until golden.
  5. Enjoy!

    By: Azzurra Nox tomato-omelet-2Photo courtesy of http://fae-magazine.com

Review: Wet N Wild Photofocus Concealer Correcteur

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Dark undereye circles have been the bane of my beauty regimen since I was twelve years old. I have hereditary dark undereyes (being half Italian and being said that anyone from the Mediterranean is predisposed to them there’s not much I can do about them), so in other words, I’ve come across numerous concealers. Some work okay, some work very well, and some don’t work at all. What makes a concealer perfect for me is blendability, the ability to disguise the actual darkness, and no creasing factor. Throughout the years I’ve used sticks, creams, and even powders. I’ve tested high end to drugstore, and I’ve recently discovered a concealer that not only does it conceal and not crease, but it’s also very economical.

What It Is: Concealer for any light condition

What It Does: Tested Under 7 Light Conditions: 1. Clear Blue Sunlit Sky, 2. Outdoors PM, 3. Indoors PM, 4. Electronic Flash, 5. Fluorescent, 6. Bathroom Light, and 7. Nightclub Light.

Verdict: This concealer instantly brightens the skin, making it appear more awake and rejuvenated. It’s also excellent at concealing any imperfections without looking cakey or creasing. What I love the most about this concealer is that it blends like a dream. It also lasts over ten hours without creasing! It works wonders not just for dark undereye circles, but even for any acne, acne scars, or any discoloration you may have. It comes in six shades in full coverage. You can say goodbye to photo flashback and let your inner beauty shine on the outside!

Perks: Cruelty-free (always a plus when a cosmetic brand doesn’t test on animals!)

Price: $3.99

Where To Buy It: https://www.wetnwildbeauty.com

By: Azzurra Nox

Book Review: Dakota – A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris

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Synopsis:

In 2001 Kathleen Norris published a memoir titled Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. This rousing story illuminates what life is like in a rural town––but more than that, it begs the question of what it means to live life as fully and intimately as possible.

About the Author:

Norris is a well-known poet and essayist who lives deep in the rural Dakotas, in the little town of Lemmon. She moved here after spending much of her life in New York City, but also spends some of her time in Hawaii.

Other publications of hers include Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, The Virgin of Bennington, and The Cloister Walk.

Themes––Land, Humanity, Love, Prosperity:

The themes in Dakota are simple, yet profound. In this review I strive to provide an overview, and break down the whole of the book into four clear themes; however, the reader should note that each theme is like a lake––placid on the surface, but immeasurably deep. This review is meant to be just an introduction, not a full in-depth analysis, that will hopefully entice the reader to enjoy the book.

Our odd, tortured landscape terrifies many people. Some think it’s as barren as the moon, but others are possessed by it.
(p. 36)

Dakotans know why they like living here, where life is still lived on a human scale.
(p. 35)

Watching a storm pass from horizon to horizon fills your soul with reverence. It makes your soul expand to fill the sky.
(p. 9)

Norris muses about the wide, open plains and the lack of trees and large cities. To Norris, especially as a poet, the solitude of the land inspires her to a deeper connection with God, to the grittiness of real life, and to her creative pursuits.

Even urban monasteries run on a rural rhythm, taking notice of sunrise and sunset with morning prayer and evensong.
(p. 184)

Together, the monks and coyotes will sing the world to sleep.
(p. 217)

Norris writes that the 21st century has stripped us of all realness. She asks: What if we rose and set with the sun, just as God made us to do? She argues that humans have created their own sense of time, one that runs on hours and minutes and seconds, where we focus too much on the numbers of a clock and less on how our bodies are meant to flow with the days.

At first glance, these notions may sound strangely new-age––rhythms? Follow the sun? But Norris is not advocating for the worship of nature by any means; rather, she spends much time with the Benedictines who teach her spiritual disciplines and ground her in the teachings of Christ.

True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.
(p. 197)

Norris often mentions the extreme love monks have for their fellow humans. She is inspired by age-old proverbs of desert monks who gain knowledge by solitude––and who find that this intense solitude, such as experienced on the Dakotas, provides immense joy when social interaction is received.

In short, Norris writes that she is becoming like a monk: She sees a trip to someplace bigger than Lemmon as a great joy, a feast.

Both monks and country people take for granted that prayer works, and that it’s worth doing. Why not relax and enjoy it? Why not make it beautiful?
(p. 211)

Why not become all flame?
(p. 123)

Norris writes of the hard times in the poor, rural Dakotas. She recognizes the blessings this area has to offer but does not sugarcoat the struggles these people have endured throughout history.

Last Statements:

She leaves the readers with a sense of aloneness––but not loneliness. This idea, to be “all flame,” to transform into one whose religion is not a rigid set of rules, but a faith that at its root seeks truth in Christ, provides hope to the poor Dakota soul. In turn, the reader can also find hope.

Maybe the desert wisdom of the Dakotas can teach us to love anyway, to love what is dying, in the face of death, and not pretend that things are other than they are.
(p. 121)

Guest Post by: Amy

About Amy:  Amy is a lover of lilacs, old books, and authentic community. Her work has appeared in the Southwest Metro and Plymouth magazines, and the Crow River Ink literary magazine. She runs a blog called The Writer’s Refuge.

Review: Too Cool For School All-In-One Egg Mellow Cream

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If you follow my blog, then you’ll know that I swear by Vitamin A for having good skin. Having said that, one of the key ingredients in this moisturizer is egg yolk (which is rich in Vitamin A and proteins that nourish the skin). The nutrients found in eggs not only help nourish dull skin but it also brightens it. It also gets rid of acne (again, because of the Vitamin A) and because it also contains a natural antibacterial that fights acne. Since egg yolk is mostly made up of water and fats, it actually helps lock moisture into your skin cells, leaving skin feeling incredibly soft and supple. What more could you ask from a single ingredient?

What It Is: Firming Moisturizer

What It Does: This moisturizer is supposed to work as a serum, priming moisturizer, eye cream, neck cream, and sleep mask. It also targets dryness, dullness and uneven texture, and firmness.

Active Ingredients: Egg yolk, Collagen (great for anti-aging), albumen (egg white), Niacinamide, and omega oil for proper hydration that visibly plumps the skin.

Verdict: As you can tell, I have quite an obsession for overnight masks (you can check out more here), mostly because I suck at waiting out the 15-20 minutes required for face masks and who doesn’t want to wake up to amazing skin? This moisturizer (that also acts as an overnight mask) has fives uses and is packed with multiple benefits in one convenient package. I mostly use this on my face and neck, but it could also be used for the eyes. This cream has a pleasant scent (anyone who has ever used egg on their face knows how sticky and smelly it can be!). What can I say? The moment you apply this cream, your skin will look visibly plumper and will be insanely soft. But don’t worry, the effects last until the following morning. I woke up to softer skin and with no sign of redness or inflammation whatsoever (which can sometimes be the case for us acne-prone skin types). This moisturizer is a godsend to those of you that have dry or flaky skin, but it’s light enough that even those of us with extremely oily skin (as myself) can reap the benefits and won’t clog your pores!

Price: $36

Where To Buy It: Sephora.com

By: Azzurra Nox

Is Blood the new anti-aging secret?

streaming blood cells

Elizabeth Báthory wasn’t too far off when she used to bathe in virgin blood to maintain her youthful beauty. New studies have shown that teenage blood, when injected in older subjects, reverses the aging process with significant changes. The founder of Ambrosia, Jesse Karmazin, MD, tells New Science that it’s the healthier proteins present in younger plasma that is the key. Patients who were treated with the plasma treatment also presented lower levels of carcinoembryonic antigens (these antigents can signal cancer), and also displayed lower blood cholesterol and decrease in levels of amyloids (which could help prevent Alsheimer’s disease). The downside to this anti-aging procedure is the staggering cost: $8,000 a session and it’s recommended to do it twice a year.

 

Another blood treatment has been Blood-Infused skincare creams, which pretty much incoporates your own blood into moisturizers (supermodel Hailey Baldwin is said to use this skincare routine from Dr. Sturm). Again, the costs of such a skincare routine are elevated as a moisturizer could cost you around $1,400.

 

A few years ago the web went wild when Kim Kardashian showed off a cosmetic procedure on Instagram dubbed the vampire facial. What this procedure consists of is a doctor takes a few vials of blood from your arm, centrifuges the blood so that it separates out the plasma and platelets from the red blood cells, and then adds the platelet plasma back into your face using small needles.

 

If all of this makes you feel woozy, don’t worry, as Marilyn Manson said years ago, the media sells fear so that you’re made to spend thousands as a way to prevent from losing your youth. Truth is, it’s probably about time that people began to accept the cycle of life, and embrace the aging process gracefully such as badass icons like Helen Mirren.

 

Would you try any of these anti-aging techniques? What do you think about them? Are they too extreme?

By: Azzurra Nox

Skincare: Is Foundation Ruining Your Skin?

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When asked what foundation I use, many people are surprised when I admit that I don’t use any and haven’t really worn much of it (save for the few times I’ve had to for photoshoots) in years. I attribute my good skin days to various things, but NOT wearing foundation is at the very top of the list. If the thought of leaving the house without makeup is enough to make you cringe, then you may be damaging your skin. This is the age of Instagram, Beat Face, and Full-coverage foundation. But what damage are all of these cosmetics, namely foundation, really doing to your skin day after day? The terrible truth is that if you have problematic skin (dryness, oiliness, or acne-prone) then you aren’t doing your skin any favors by adding layers and layers of products on top of it.

Oily Skin

If you have oily skin you’ll soon found out the hard way, that foundation and oily skin DO NOT mingle. Using liquid foundation may actually create a thicker coat of oil on your skin, meaning your skin will look slick with oils, rather than dewy. If the thought of going foundation-less is unfathomable, then opt for mineral foundation or lightweight pressed powder.

Dryness

Although liquid foundation may increase the oil in oily skin, it does NOT act as a moisturizer for dry skin. It actually creates more flakes and dryness! So you’re better off using a tinted moisturizer, or adding a smidgen of foundation or concealer to your favorite moisturizer and using that instead.

Acne

Though makeup hasn’t been proven to cause acne per se in people who aren’t acne-prone, it does, however cause acne to flare up in people who have acne-prone skin. And I know that many people who have acne, turn to foundation as a way to create the appearance of flawless skin, but it’s a Catch 22, where the more foundation they use the more new blemishes it creates, in turn, making someone continue to use foundation. If you suffer from acne, try to discover the root of your problem (meaning is it due to diet, hormones, or stress?) with the help of a dermatologist. Don’t just try to conceal the problem with foundation, it’ll only wreak havoc on your skin.

Unrealistic Expectations

Learn to love your natural skin! Wearing foundation every day not only does it damage it, but it will give you unrealistic expectations of how your skin should look at all times. You can have amazing skin without it having to look airbrushed or Instagram worthy. Instead, try to take care of your skin by keeping hydrated, sleeping at least 6-8 hours a night, turn to a more plant-based diet, and keep up with a skincare routine that best suits your skin type.

Amazing skin isn’t easy to have, but with some work and dedication (and less makeup!) it’s easier to achieve than thought possible.
So give your skin a break and go foundation-free, and keep foundation ready for those moments when you really need it (school photos, weddings, etc.).

By: Azzurra Nox

Want to kiss your acne goodbye forever, then READ HOW VITAMIN A CAN CURE YOUR ACNE!

Review: Medusa’s Makeup Black Hawaiian Sea Salt Facial Scrub

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Facial scrubs are perfect for getting rid of dead skin and promote cell turnover. Exfoliation is key for healthy skin. I was recently sent this sea salt facial scrub from Medusa’s Makeup from one of their monthly beauty boxes that I’m subscribed to. I’m usually kinda lazy when it comes to using facial scrubs, but I know how important it is to do them cause it rids your skin of dead skin cells, and this helps with keeping acne away.

I’m particularly keen on Medusa’s Makeup products because being vegan, usually means that the products are made using natural ingredients and are free of harmful chemicals. An absolute win/win for your skin!

What It Is: Sea salt facial scrub

What It Does: Rids of dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover, leaving skin feeling soft.

Active Ingredients: Black Hawaiian sea salt and almond oil

Bonus: Vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free

Verdict: I usually only do facial scrubs about once a week because more than that and my skin feels raw. This scrub smells heavenly and leaves your skin feels so clean and soft! The only downside is that it can be somewhat messy, as is the case with any scrubs (more so I suppose when the salt is black) so I suggest making sure that you’ve rinsed off all of the scrub before patting your skin dry with a towel. The almond oil found in this scrub also doubles as a moisturizer as your skin won’t be left feeling stripped of its essential oils. Follow up this treatment using your favourite moisturizer and you’re set to go!

Price: $10

Where To Buy It: https://medusasmakeup.com/collections/new-and-limited-edition/products/black-hawaiian-sea-salt-facial-scrub

By: Azzurra Nox

For more skincare tips check out My Skincare Routine & Five Fruits for Amazing Skin!