Category Archives: Face

My Genealogy Project: I’m a collage of features and qualities.


“When you look in the mirror you see not just your face but a museum.  Although your face, in one sense, is your own, it is composed of a collage of features you have inherited from your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on.  The lips and eyes that either bother or please you are not yours alone but are also features of your ancestor, long dead perhaps as individuals but still very much alive as fragments in you.  Even complex qualities such as your sense of balance, musical abilities, shyness in crowds, or susceptibility to sickness have been lived before.  We carry the past around with us all the time, and not just in our bodies.  It also lives in our customs, including the way we speak.  The past is a set of invisible lenses we were constantly, and through these we perceive the world and the world perceives us.  We stand always on the shoulders of our ancestors, whether or not we look down to acknowledge them.”  – The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by David w. Anthony

I’ve graduated law school, found a job I love, met a wonderful man, fell in love, planned a wedding, got married, settled into our temporary home, adopted a furry baby, learned about cruelty free cosmetics and made the switch, researched food labeling and conscious producers and made that switch, educated myself on improving my financial management and opened a retirement account, and then ran out of projects.   And politics?  Well, let’s just not talk about that.  What could I possible put all of my extra mental energy into?  Genealogy.


On and off I’ve delved into family history throughout the years.  I collected lots of information last time my paternal grandmother visited the U.S. over a decade ago and since then I have added bits here and there, but never really took the time to take it any further.  I am not sure when the world became so fascinated with genealogy and websites like Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage, and Geni started popping up, but by the time I joined the trend there was a wealth of information out there.  I was able to fill in a lot of blanks, find reference documents and connect to unknown family members with ease.


Then, genetic genealogy caught my attention.  Sending off a sample of my DNA to Family Tree DNA, Ancestry or 23 and Me could not only genetically match me to remote family, but could also provide some insight into where I am from, geographically.  I was hooked.  Now, I know, it’s scary to send off your DNA and have it stored forever by some company.  The term and conditions you must consent to are complicated and all vary – some won’t sell, some will sell, some will release your genetic information without your personal information for medical research, some will provide some of your personal information.  Add to that the lack of certainty in the geographic results, although the continent matches are probably pretty solid anything more specific is a little iffy, and the fact that these results are constantly being updated as the companies get new data and make internal changes.  You may reasonably ask, what’s the point?  Personally, I found it simply fascinating, innovative, and valuable and I did not care about any of the other stuff.  My parents, grandfather and I were all tested with Family Tree DNA.  I chose Family Tree because they had great reviews as to the certainty of their geographic estimates, good terms and conditions and were having a holiday sale.


We received our initial results before the 2017 update and were all generally surprised, especially my mother (who happened to have traces of British Islander and Native American DNA).  After that, I threw all caution to the wind.  I ordered the Ancestry DNA tests for my mother and I (results still pending ) and uploaded our raw DNA information to Gedmatch, DNA Land and My Heritage (I can say their Terms and Conditions are fair and you do not have to agree to the Consent Agreement, I also like that they changed their Terms and Conditions after their users complained about certain terms).  With the DNA results I have also been able to connect to people, although our actual relationships are still a mystery.  I am somehow related to a doctor who lives in California, a programmer/analyst at UCLA, and a perhaps distant cousin who lives in Virginia.

Before taking the DNA test I had also made some great connections through Ancestry.  Using their “hints” I met a cousin from a side of the family that had lost contact a couple of generations ago and we have become very close primas.   I highly recommend Ancestry if you want a place to start.  It’s not cheap, but they do offer a free trial and their website is the best; it’s got the most resources and it is the most user friendly.  Less user friendly, but with vast resources and free is Family Search, it’s actually the site where I began my research more than a year ago.

The highlight of this process was probably hiring a genealogist in Cuba who amazes me every day.  With limited resources (and unbeatable prices) she’s truly helped me expand and deepen my knowledge of my family’s history.  In this process I have learned that my maternal second great grandmother attended Harvard for a summer in 1900 as part of a special session hosted for about 1,500 Cuban schoolteachers to train in American style education after the Spanish-American war.  On my paternal side I have learned that my great grandfather was born in Key West while his father was working for Jose Marti and the freedom of Cuba.  His family eventually returned to the Island and one of my great uncles went on to be a writer.


If you choose to begin your own genealogy journey, be prepared for anything; be prepared to be disappointed, frustrated, and confused.  Be open-minded about what you may find.  A lot of what you may have been told or believe about your family history may be wrong.  Be open to the possibilities and the history, try not to impose your modern views and believes into the lives of your ancestors.  So far I have more questions than answers.  I have hit countless walls and made many mistakes.  Every time I learn something new it creates a myriad of questions in mind. I still struggle with the idea that I won’t ever know everything about everyone and that some ancestors will always remain a mystery and their stories, sadly, died with them.  But I have learned so much about myself in the process and I have fallen in love with each story, with each person.  Every minute devoted to this task has been worthwhile and it feels quite exceptional to find human stories lost to time and bring them back for posterity.  I think my personal project can turn out to be a lot more than that in the future.

Shabbat Shalom


The Great Cosmetic Swap & Some New Finds from a Willing Test Subject


It has been almost a year since I began my cosmetic overhaul.  I can happily report several changes:

  1. My skin has never felt or looked better.  I mean, probably as a baby, but I am not counting that time.
  2. I’ve never felt better or more well-informed about what I put on my skin.
  3. My bank account is also looking better (not after the holidays, but generally speaking)!  Who knew the good stuff was affordable?!

So in furtherance of my previous post, I decided to share my better-than-the-original swaps, my misses, my I-still-haven’t-found-what-I’m-looking-for and the best items I have discovered thus far.



The NYX concealer is miraculous. I don’t miss the ever- popular Maybelline stick or any other pricey concealer.  If you’re looking for a liquid concealer their HD is pretty good too, but the coverage is much lighter.  As for skincare, anything Mario Badescu.  However, this pink drying lotion will take care of any breakout in 24-48 hours.



It turns out despite their representations, Almay is not cruelty free (much like Estee Lauder, if they sell in China they have to comply with the testing laws there, but all of these companies misrepresent this information and it is important to do independent research), and so I had to say goodbye to the most amazing eyebrow pencil I have used.  I tried the Milani eyebrow pencil, but I didn’t love it.  I then tried the ELF eyebrow pencil and I like it a lot better, but I may splurge next time and try the Anastasia eyebrow pencil.


Mascara is the current bane of my existence.  I love mascara, I always have.  When I started using Benefit I thought that was it, the holy grail of mascaras, and it absolutely is perfection.  However, they are not a cruelty-free company.  So that’s out.  So far I have tried Milani, Wet n’ Wild,  NYX, Pacifica, BareMinerals, Too Faced, ELF and nada.  If I layer them sometimes it works, but it’s still not right.  I would say Too Faced is probably the closest, Milani is also a top contender, the best look is layering the ELF, Milane and NYX. Really, the search continues!



If you decide to try anything from this list, this is it.  Seriously, I would strongly encourage that you start here.  This tangerine lip balm is under $2, smells amazing and moisturizes like nothing else I have ever tried.  FYI, I also tried the honey version, but did not like the scent as much.


As for hair care, I am still a HUGE fan of WEN.  I prefer the original almond mint scent.  It’s refreshing and leaves my scalp feeling clean and my hair feels very moisturized, but light.  However, a more affordable cleansing conditioner is Nubian Heritage.  The scent is nice, but without the mint it lacks WEN’s refreshing feeling.  However, it is very moisturizing.  If you’re a traditionalist and want a shampoo/conditioner option I love Giovanni’s avocado and olive oil line and Desert Essence’s coconut option.  Both smell great and leave your hair feeling soft and bouncy.


So what’s thee ultimate it product? Well, anything by Mineral Fusion.  I especially can’t live without the Perfecting BB (the other option has a weird shimmer) and the SPF eye cream.


A year of ch-ch-ch-changes: I have to live with a boy!


So I am getting older.  I know, everyone is getting older, but there is a point in everyone’s life (presumably) when it becomes unsettling and obvious.  I think for me it started a few years ago when I spotted a few gray hairs, soon after I noticed deep lines along my eyes, then my under eye circles got deeper and darker, my skin got weird and my body started to change.  It all felt premature, I am not even thirty!  It made me uneasy for a lot of reasons.


Of course I hated the idea that shimmery eye makeup now settled in my laugh lines, but I think the real problem is that it also made feel like I was at a point in my life when I expected to be more accomplished.   By thirty I figured I’d have a comfortable career, my own place, kids, a partner, a structured life.  Right it now it looks like by thirty I will probably have one, maybe two, of those;  I have a pretty amazing partner and a job I enjoy.  Still my career has just begun,  I live with my parents, I have a seemingly insurmountable amount of debt.  I can see a lot of possibilities, but it is impossible to concretely see where my life is going.   It is unnerving that at this point in my life, as my hair grows gray and my face wrinkles, everything feels up in the air, there is just no real structure to speak of.

But this has been a year of major changes in my life.  Professionally I have accomplished a lot: I took the Florida Bar, I passed the Florida Bar, I became an attorney, I started to work with one, then two, then three attorneys, I got to stand before judges, negotiate with assistant state attorneys, attend Naturalization interviews, and wing it (not really, but sometimes it feels like regardless of prep I have no idea what I am doing) before hearing officers.  Personally it has been just as fulfilling: I finally get to say I am Jewish, I once again get to spend time with my friends again, my sister and I are working on not being quite as sporadic with our communication, I got the best birthday gift ever (a slow cooker), I started a blog, I attended the wedding of one of my oldest (in time) friends and it sparked my own wedding desires, my relationship with my boyfriend grew, our commitment to one another deepened, we talked wedding and went ring shopping, and now I have to live with a boy (cue Monica’s whiny voice from episode 606).

It didn’t happen the way I imagined.  It was a complex time, it was partly out of necessity and we moved in with my mom (I am apparently reliving my mother’s life).  My parents were amazing about it, and I can add it to the exceedingly long list of things that make my parents amazing.   I honestly expected the worst after watching countless sitcoms and reading a lot of Jezebel posts about the horrifying experience that is living with a boy.  However, looking back on it really wasn’t that bad.   There were issues, but we had already spent a couple of years of being practically inseparable and generally very honest about who we were.  Still, there were adjustments.  I don’t live in a home with much closet space, so bringing in more stuff meant getting rid of stuff.  For as long as I can remember I have been a hoarder, but when I met my boyfriend I was cured (he is also kind of a hoarder).  I happily donated countless outfits and accessories to my young cousins and aunt and thrown out an overwhelming collection of old magazines and useless paperwork.  My boyfriend also got rid of as much as possible, including furniture.  Most of his things found a place in our home, but there are a couple of things still packed in boxes in both of our vehicles (oy).

The only real issues we had were organizational, but we get along really well and he’s an incredible listener so we have slowly been working on it (especially after that time I threw a sock at him because he left it on the floor).  I guess this move takes the romance and mystery out of our relationship to some people, but I am glad our relationship has progressed in the way it has.  I think our choices come with a lot of openness and communication and I love that about us, it feels very adult, very conscious, very together that way.  None of it is just magically easy, it takes work to make our relationship work, our love feels effortless because we take the time to nourish it.  When we wake up smiling on Sunday morning and spend the day happily just being together, even after almost three years, it is because we are living and growing together, not merely cohabiting.  I honestly never expected to be this happy with someone, I didn’t think it was possible, but our relationship has changed that.  Something about us as a couple emanates warmth and love, everywhere we go people comment on how palpable our affection and respect for one another is, and I adore that our partnership can make others feel that way.  Even my mom commented last week that he and I really get along well.  It made me chuckle because we have spent so much of our three years together around my mom.  She has clearly felt that way before, but it still surprises her that it hasn’t changed; after three years together we haven’t run out of things to talk about, to laugh about, to learn.

HappyNow, after a year of changes in both of our lives we are about to embark on another year that will inevitably bring just a few more and I have to learn to make peace with the gray hair and the laugh lines, I will throw my plans and my hangups out, and just be deliriously happy to move forward in the life I have been blessed to have.

(And for the physical concerns, I will take vitamins, eat well, exercise, and continue to use Estee Lauder’s Idealist Illuminator and Advanced Night Repair, because yes, now I buy face creams and yes these are awesome)