3 Random Things I Like This Week

I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of days working on a scarf tying video, my first in many years. I hope to have it done and posted in the next day or two. I’m teaching myself (again) how to edit videos 🎥 and the learning curve is a steep one. 😆 In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve been meaning to share.

1- Warm

J.Crew everyday cashmere crewneck sweater charcoal heather and leopard print skirt. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve been really impressed with the Everyday Cashmere sweaters from J.Crew. I’ve been wearing one of these crewnecks almost daily for the last couple of weeks. They’re lightweight but warm, and I’ve noticed almost NO pilling! I like the fit; they’re not too long but not cropped either, and the neckline isn’t too high. This style (or the v-neck) would be a slam dunk for inclusion in a cool weather travel wardrobe.

There are a bazillion colors to choose from (I’m up to four: navy, camel, turquoise, and spearmint. I’m kicking myself for not picking up the Natural/ivory before it sold out in my size.) Unfortunately these sweaters aren’t often included in promotions, and when they are they go fast.

2 – Polished

Susan B wears Essie Gel Couture polish "Rock The Runway" and gold French Kande ring. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This is a recommendation with a caveat. I don’t often wear a lot of color on my nails as I’m really hard on polish, and it usually starts to chip after a few days. (I can’t stand chipped polish, and don’t want to have to touch up, so end up removing it.) A few days before Thanksgiving I decided to get a manicure, and the manicurist recommended the Essie Gel Couture polish for long wear. The nail salon I frequent only carries non-toxic products, so I felt comfortable giving it a try. (Color is, “Rock the Runway,” I think.)

This isn’t an actual gel manicure (which I’ve avoided as I don’t want to damage my nails) but a polish with a long-wear formula. I was so impressed! The photo above was taken on Day 9. There’s a little bit of wear at the nail tips, but no chips, scratches, or dulling. And it comes off with regular polish remover.

Here’s the caveat though….it did stain my nails a bit. If you wear polish all the time, this may not be a problem for you. Here’s how I removed the stains (this works for stains from regular polish as well):

  • Dissolve 3 denture cleanser tablets in 1 cup of warm water.
  • Soak nails for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat if necessary
  • Let dry for a few minutes, then buff gently

3 – Natural

Woolzies wool dryer balls, natural fabric softener. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve never bothered with fabric softeners, and stopped using dryer sheets years ago. I’ve tried a few different types of dryer balls, but these are the ones I stick with. They help minimize wrinkling and static, and last a long time. I use two per dryer load for average loads, three for large.

And…we have a winner!!

Congratulations to Barb W, whose entry was drawn at random to win the $300 French Kande gift card! Thanks to everyone who participated.

Style inspiration bookshelf at the French Kande studio. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you’ll be in the West Los Angeles area this Saturday, do check out the annual French Kande Holiday Sample Sale at the studio. This is an in-house event only, from 10am to 5pm, address is 312 E. Imperial Avenue, El Segundo, CA 90245. Hope to see you there!

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. Maria
    December 5, 2019 / 3:04 am

    The Essie Gel Setter product is a game changer. I wear a bright red and if my manicure isn’t perfect it comes off. I easily get a week using this, it comes off with regular remover. I find a couple of times during the week I give a touch up with the topcoat. Dries instantly and keeps the manicure looking like it was just done. One other tip, try putting 3 coats of colour on after the basecoat and before the get setter.

  2. Another Susan B
    December 5, 2019 / 4:12 am

    I get manis with regular polish and then coats with Essie Gel topcoat at home. I can get up to two weeks of wear! I top my pedis too, and it is incredible!

  3. Katrinka
    December 5, 2019 / 4:17 am

    I have avoided putting color on my nails because the polish never lasts and I won’t go out of the house with a chipped nail. I looked up the Essie Gel products and there is a base coat as well as the setter/top coat. That’s a great tip, Maria, to refresh the manicure with the top coat I will buy these and bring them in for my manicurist to use on my next visit. I love the color you’re wearing, Susan.

  4. Karen
    December 5, 2019 / 4:53 am

    Well, Susan, you have finally done it. A perfect trifecta. I research and order a few of the things you recommend from time to time but this morning I just ordered all three of the things you recommend in this post. I look forward to your post every morning and today’s was a game changer for me. Keep up the excellent work.

  5. Candace
    December 5, 2019 / 5:05 am

    Good Morning Susan. Thanks for the tip on the Essie gel polish and the stain removal. I have also had wonderful luck with the OPI with the silver tops. After having artificial nails for years I gave them up two years ago and started doing them my self. Another learning curve that I’m very happy I mastered. I also ordered the dryer balls and would love to try the cashmere but I’m allergic to it. 🙁

  6. Candace Olander
    December 5, 2019 / 5:06 am

    Good Morning Susan. Thanks for the tip on the Essie gel polish and the stain removal. I have also had wonderful luck with the OPI with the silver tops. After having artificial nails for years I gave them up two years ago and started doing them my self. Another learning curve that I’m very happy I mastered. I also ordered the dryer balls and would love to try the cashmere but I’m allergic to it. 🙁

  7. Ainsivalavie
    December 5, 2019 / 5:12 am

    A base coat is always comme il faut for any manicure but especially when using dark/bright color. I have noticed certain shops are quite ‘stingy’ with base coats I suppose in the interest of time and speedy drying. I frequent two manicurists, one falls under the ‘speedy get er done and out’ category. The other is all about the experience, telling clients to allow at least an hour or more for a manicure. Both use the same products, OPI. Interestingly the manicurist who takes her time has the longest wearing result. I notice that she is more generous with her base coat application and drying time. I have a horror of yellow nails from darker polish but have never had an issue with this shop. I do like your idea using the denture cleaner and will pass that along to friends.

  8. Renee
    December 5, 2019 / 5:47 am

    The Essie Gel stained my nails too! The Chanel Gel topcoat works almost as well and does not stain my nails if I also use the Chanel base coat and polish. It’s the first polish I’ve tried that doesn’t stain and lasts longer than 48 hours on my nails. Like you, I’ve always avoided gel manicures.

    This is the first time I’ve commented, but I love your blog and have picked up so many fabulous tips from you!

  9. Victoria D.
    December 5, 2019 / 6:32 am

    I have been getting regular gel manicures for many years from a highly skilled manicurist. My nails are naturally weak and brittle and this strengthens them (I know some have the opposite experience). I get a new application every two weeks even though the surface usually still looks flawless, as there can be grow out from the base if you wait too long. On the sweater note, I also love a lightweight cashmere crewneck, so versatile since it can be worn over a shirt or not and accessorized multiple ways. I really like the Halogen brand from Nordstrom, which is also available in many colors, soft and not too thick (but a little heavier than the J.Crew). It seems to run just a tad large: the medium works for me if I want to be able to wear it over a blouse, otherwise I prefer the small for a sleeker fit.

    • December 7, 2019 / 11:50 am

      I feel the same about gel manicures – I go to a highly trained nail tech and it costs more than a lot of people are able or willing to spend. But it’s worth it! In speaking with several of my favorite nail techs I’ve learned why so many salons end up damaging nails with gel – complete lack of training, poor use of good formulations, or using cheap and bad formulations. I’ve found that the best bet is looking for a nail tech that works with Biosculpture or Kokoist. My manicures cost $45+ and last for over 3 weeks. My nails are super strong underneath and I don’t have to fuss with them.
      I didn’t have good luck with the Halogen cashmere from past years, maybe they changed it? Mine pilled a lot.

  10. Anon
    December 5, 2019 / 8:45 am

    I like OPI Infinite Shine 1 as a base coat. No color staining from polish. I also like Morgan Taylor nail polish. Not a fan of gel polishes and home gel polishes, as they seem impossible to remove without heavy duty polish removers.

  11. Ann Yates
    December 6, 2019 / 5:16 am

    Not sure if this happened to anyone else, but I got a warning about clicking on your link. Great tips. Thanks!

    • Susan Blakey
      December 6, 2019 / 5:23 am

      Thanks for letting me know. We’ve been working on a solution to the erroneous error message from gmail, but please be assured my links are safe. 🙂

  12. December 7, 2019 / 4:31 am

    Hi Susan, this isn’t a comment on this post (although it’s a good one!). I was just wondering if you’d ever sent out the wine country travel guide you talked about a while ago. I’m an email subscriber and I’ve been looking forward to receiving it, so just checking. Thank you!!

    • Jacqueline
      December 7, 2019 / 6:47 am

      I’ve been wondering about the Wine Country guide too. I live close to Napa and tend to go there most frequently but not to Sonoma (logistics) and would like to explore there a bit more. Don’t know how the recent fires have affected Sonoma wineries but I would like to support them if possible.
      One last thing, the Anderson Valley in Mendocino county is also a lovely area with many truly great wineries. A longer car trip for you, Susan, but worth the drive!

    • Susan Blakey
      December 7, 2019 / 7:12 am

      Hi Cate, yes it was sent out early in November. If you were subscribed at that point, you should have received it. Some people found it went to their spam folder, so if you haven’t already, you might want to check there.

  13. December 7, 2019 / 11:57 am

    A note about the gel polish, all information from my friend who is trains nail techs in the use of gel and gel polishes for Shellac/CND. These gel polishes (the Essie one mentioned by Susan, CND Vinylux, and others) are formulated to work without a base coat – the color coats are designed to stick to the nail and to itself. If you want a buffer/primer, a good way to go is to first apply a light color of the same formulation. I usually have a light peachy-pink anyway, so I use that.
    Most salons, even high-end ones do not have good training in the application of gel products. I commented above in response to Victoria D. about how I found my favorite nail techs for gel – which products to look for and what a good price point is. A $20 gel manicure is going to mess up your nails because the nail tech likely does not know how to the product works. I routinely get gel on my nails and my natural nails are still going strong underneath. It isn’t for everyone, though!

  14. Coach Laura
    December 9, 2019 / 12:27 pm

    I love Essie Gel and I use a very pale pink as my first coat, which usually keeps the darker color from staining. Although I usually just use medium pinks, because my nails are never long enough or uniform enough to focus on with bright or dark colors. I have Fairy Tailor as my pale pink and Inside Scoop as a medium pink.

  15. Sue Holland
    December 14, 2019 / 1:52 pm

    Hi Susan,

    I very much look forward to reading your blog. You alway have recommendations for cute mules, booties or sandals for around however, i really need help finding something comfortable to wear around the house or for dashing out that isn’t a pair of tennis shoes with my orthotics.I’m beginning to feel like an old lady!

    Thank you and Happy Holidays.


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