Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Oh, Hair.

Cheri from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar is celebrating beauty this week.  Yesterday she shared some great styling tips and video tutorials.  Today is updo day.  Welcome, and thanks for checking out my (amateurish and poorly photographed) tutorials!

Once upon a time, a shy seventeen-year-old girl was cast in a play--playing the part of a gangster's flirtatious girlfriend.  That girl needed to figure out something to do with her short way-too-cute hair style to make her appear grown-up and worldly, rather than young and homeschooled.  These two hair styles have evolved from those first attempts.

The key to styling your own hair is to KNOW your own hair.  Play with it.  Try something.  If it doesn't work, tweak it or try something else.  I've been doing variations of these styles for a good 10 years now, and while it doesn't look perfect every time, I usually know what went wrong and how to fix it.

These styles will work for straight hair or curly, thick hair or not-so-thick, long hair or short-ish.  So give one a try, and have fun!

Both of these styles can be done with plain old bobby pins.  That's what I started with, and what I used for about 5 years.  Then I discovered these wonderful things:

These tiny little mini-clips make these styles so much easier, and look much nicer than having 20 bobby pins sticking out of my head looking like a porcupine (on days when I didn't secure them well enough).  I bought mine at Safeway (Goody brand).

 (Thank you, lovely assistant)


Relaxed Pincurls
The I-don't-have-time-to-shower Updo

This style is a little more structured than the next one.  I started with dry hair that was washed the day before.  It can be done with wet hair too.  I know from experience that this can be done with short hair too.  I first started doing this when my hair was just a little past chin-length and layered. 

First do your bangs or front hair.  You can do this any way you want.  Since Sunday was really humid, I wanted all my hair off my face, so I just clipped it back (in what Tyra Banks derisively called a "horn".  I don't care, it's easy, and looks fine).

Take a little section of hair from the crown of your head.

And twist it into a coil.  You can use as much or as little hair as you like. 

Fasten the coil securely with clips or bobby pins.  If you're using bobby pins, make sure they cross so they don't slip out.

Take a section of hair on from the side of your head, coil it, and clip or pin in place next to the first one. Repeat on the other side.

Proceed with coiling and pinning the rest of your hair.  Give your head a little shake.  If anything feels loose, or if anything is sticking out where you don't want it, add another clip or pin.

Here is the result!  A fancy-looking updo that takes 10 minutes or less.  I've also done this low on the side and it turned out nicely


Unstructured Updo
The I-have-to-be-out-the-door-in-5-minutes-but-my-hair-is-still-wet style

For this one, I started with wet hair.  Not soaking wet, but definitely more than damp.  Dry hair works well too, and gives a looser, spikier look that I quite like. 

First, do your front hair.  I went with a side-part this time.

Next, grab a chunk of hair at the crown of your head, and crumple it into a ball/twist/birdsnest.

And clip it down securely, using clips or bobby pins.  Repeat with the hair from each side of your head.  Make sure you like how it looks from the front before proceeding further.

Then divide the remaining section in thirds, and crumple and clip each side into place.  If you have thick hair, you'll need to do more sections than I did.  Just aim for approximate symmetry and you'll be fine.

 Twist and clip the last section into place in the centre.  Shake your head a little to check for any looseness.  Add more clips as needed to secure or fix any strays.

Tada!  This one takes me 5 minutes.


 Thanks for visiting!  I'd love to hear how your updo turns out.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Mashup

Mmm, chocolate chip cookies!  I make a lot of them, because if I make any other kind Kevin doesn't really eat them.  I wanted to try tweaking the whole wheat cookies I made, because there was too much oil flavour for my taste.  So I combined that recipe with the one I've been using for years and threw in some almonds, just for fun.  Here is the resulting recipe:

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies
  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 or 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or more, if you like, with less white flour)
  • 1-1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips.
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  1. Mix butter, oil, and sugars.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add flours.  I usually mix it half a cup at a time.
  4. Mix in chocolate chips and almonds.
  5. Drop onto cookie sheet in whatever size cookie you like.  I usually try to make smallish ones.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes until just golden brown.  Don't over bake if you want chewy cookies.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Self-Discipline: Explained

A friend from my church moms' group called me after she read the last post.  In the group we have a rule that if we say anything negative about our husbands, we have to say two nice things about him.  My friend said that rule should apply to the times we say bad things about ourselves too.

She's right.  I shouldn't be so hard on myself.  But I do want to clarify my last post.  It is perfectly clear to me, but I realise that those who do not live inside my head or inside my house may not think I lack discipline.  Here's the background.

When I was growing up, my dad had a brain injury and was unable to be the head of the household, either spiritually or materially.  My mom took over.  She had to raise and homeschool four rowdy kids, care for a tempermental husband, care for the house (including renovations and landscaping), and somehow contrive to make enough money to feed and clothe us, without working outside the home.

I'm sure some people thought mom should just suck it up and get a job, but she strongly believed that the place of a mother (at least for herself) is in the home.  Besides, it would have been tough to get affordable childcare for all of us.  As good as Mom's intentions were, keeping the house clean was way down on the priority list.  So our house was usually a mess.  In need of tidying, vacuuming, scrubbing, sweeping, etc.

So that's how I grew up.  We would have massive cleaning days which we all hated (I'm sure mom hated them too), besides our chores that we did half-heartedly somewhat regularly.  I never learned the discipline of putting stuff away.  I never learned how to organise.  I never learned the value and rewards of making myself do something that I didn't want to do.  I don't blame my mom.  I do not know how she held everything together for so long.  She's my hero, and my example of perseverance, determination, and strength.

When I got married, I was rather terrified that my home would be in the same state of constant chaos that I grew up with.  I scrubbed our little one-bedroom apartment every Saturday morning.  After a while, Kevin objected to my using up a quarter of our weekend that way.  I heard about the idea of doing a little bit of the weekly cleaning every weeknight evening so it didn't have to be done on the weekend.  So I thought I would give that I try.

I really don't remember why that didn't work.  I couldn't stick to the schedule.  My cleaning degenerated to just the essentials unless we had someone coming over, then I would scrub the house madly (we lived in a 3-bedroom townhouse by then).  It was stressful.  It was hard work.

Eventually, I relaxed and gave myself permission to stop trying to be Martha Stewart.  I figured no one would see the upstairs, so I concentrated on the main areas when we had company.  The upstairs and the basement were cleaned occasionally.  I didn't vacuum often enough, of course.

That's how things progressed for a while.  Then we decided to sell our townhouse.  It had to be spotless for the entire two months that it was listed, in case we got a showing booked on short notice.  It was lovely to have a spotless house, but it was truly exhausting.  When we finally sold the house, I breathed a sigh of relief and quit cleaning.  I packed.  I got pregnant.  I had morning sickness.

We moved.  I unpacked.  I still had morning sickness.  Ever since then (a year and a half ago), I just can't get my head around the cleaning in this house.  It's awful.

Besides cleaning, I also can't discipline myself to get writing.  I have a half-completed column proposal that I've stopped working on.  I just can't make myself do it.  I'm not interested in my novel or story writing either.  Right now, I'd rather read or sew or decorate in my free time.

Then there's exercise.  Oh, I hate it.  I love being fit and active, but I hate exercising.  It sounds like a contradiction.  It probably is.  I have great intentions, and I know I'll feel much better if I try to get fit, but I just don't do it.  We have a treadmill, a Wii Fit, and a lovely neighbourhood in which to walk or run, but I stay home and read or sew or decorate.  Or bake cookies.

Lastly, there's my sugar addiction.  I'm certain I'm addicted.  It started when I was pregnant with Juliana.  I've always had a sweet tooth, but now it's out of control.

So.  That's my lack-of self-discipline.  Now I have to think of two nice things to say about myself (though from this post, I probably now owe more).  Hmm...  When I was talking to my friend, I could barely think of any.
  1. I customised my blog template all by myself.  I figured out enough html to get done what I needed.  I only had to use a tutorial to figure out the 3-column layout.  I tried for a week to figure that out on my own until I discovered that I could use a tutorial.
  2. I make good cookies.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Baby Overalls

I had a little bit of the tan seersucker fabric left after making Juli's outfit, and I thought it was time that I made Nico something.  I envisioned making the overalls entirely out of the seersucker, but I didn't quite have enough fabric, so I used a stretch canvas that I bought to make myself a skirt, and used the seersucker for the pockets and facing.

I did all the stitching in blue, just because it's fun.  I flat-felled all the seams.  I think I love finishing seams.  It's quite satisfying to make a garment with no raw edges inside.  It's just as nice inside as it is outside.  Except for where one of the snaps somehow got squished crookedly when I put it on.

The overalls (which are supposed to be shorts!) are rather big on Nico, and will probably fit him next summer too.  But they're not so big that he can't wear them now.

He looks so adorable, especially when he doesn't have a shirt underneath.  I used Simplicity 5316 for the pattern, and took off 4 inches from the legs for shorts.  This is the first time I've ever used a snap strip (or whatever it's called, I can't remember).  It was difficult!  But maybe that was just because it was slippery satin and I didn't pin it.  But now that it's sewn on, it's secure and makes diaper changes easy!  But I think next time I just might install each snap individually.  It was actually providential that I even had the snap strip.  It was inherited from my mother when she was clearing out her apartment.  I also inherited her Gingher scissors, which I love.

And of course his big sister wanted to wear overalls too!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Plans for my thrift store fabric

Last week I discovered a treasure-trove.  Value Village, as ridiculously overpriced as they usually are for everything else, has a great and cheap fabric selection!  I came home with six pieces.  Now, what shall I do with them?

Fabric A:  This muted paisly is a really soft cotton-ish blend fabric.  I want to make a fairly structured dress, maybe with short sleeves that will work for summer and fall.

Fabric B: I love the colours of this fabric.  It's also some kind of cotton-blend, I think.  I'd like to do a skirt, or a simple sundress.  And maybe a little dress for Juli too, depending on how much fabric is left.  (of course we wouldn't wear matching dresses at the same time.)

Fabric C: This one, that you can barely see, is close to 100% wool as far as I can tell. It will probably end up as a skirt for fall and winter. One more reason to wear my tall black boots!
Fabric D: This is a thin cotton.  It will be used as lining for for fabric A, B, or E.

Fabric E: This is a silky-soft paisley.  I don't know what I want to do with this one yet.  Skirt?  Top?  I'm not sure if there is enough for a dress.

Fabric F: This one is navy suiting. It will be a basic skirt.

Does anyone have other ideas for what I could do with the fabric?  Or pattern suggestions?  I'd love to have your input.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Market Skirt and Warhol Top

This skirt is my most favourite thing I've ever made.  Ever.  Move over Kevin, I'm in love with a skirt.  I used the market skirt tutorial from Made.  In the tutorial, Dana recommends doubling up the white fabric if it isn't heavy enough.  When I first read that, I automatically envisioned a double ruffle like this.  Then I read on and realised that is not what she meant!  But I decided to do it anyway. 

I used a tan seer-sucker fabric that I've had for a while (yes Ash, it matches your ribbon board!).  And an unbleached muslin for the white part.  Both are bolt-ends, of course.  The muslin had a really loose weave until I washed it in hot water like I do with all my new fabric.  Then it shrunk to half its original size and got this really neat crinkled texture.  It was wonderful to work with.  I wish I had lots more!  The buttons on the pockets are not functional.  But they're so pretty.

Since I love the skirt so much, I decided that Juliana needed a matching top.  I've been intending to make the Warhol Dress for her (also from Made), and I thought it would make a cute top for the skirt.  I didn't really use the pattern for this.  I used my measurements from Juli's embroidered top to cut the front and back, then followed Dana's directions for the yoke and tie.

Juliana is getting really good at modeling my sewing projects.  She turned around before I asked her to.

See how wonderful that muslin fabric is?

I needed some way to tell at a glance which was the front and which was the back, because the neckline is cut a little deeper in the front and I didn't want to have to line it up or guess each time I go to put it on her.  Not to mention that Kevin wouldn't be able to tell at all.  So I machine-embroidered some leaves, made a yo-yo flower and stitched it on the front corner.


Friday, 16 July 2010

Meaningful Baby Gifts

I finally got to meet the son of my dearest childhood friend. He was in and out of the hospital for a little bit, and then I was sick, so I didn't get to meet him until he was 3 weeks old! Here is what I made for him:

I bought a 3-pack of sleepers from Walmart, and used freezer paper to make stencils.  I printed the words from the computer, and used Nick's foot print to make that stencil.  It is from when he was 3 months old.

I love how the "Laughter" turned out.  I used a sponge brush and painted turquoise over the letters until they were completely covered, then I lightly brushed navy sorta-mixed with the turquoise over top.

On the blue sleeper, I also added some orange-ish cross-stitching in random places.  "Laughter", and "this is joy" are the meanings of the tiny little guy's first and middle names.  I knew the meanings were important to the parents, so I wanted to use them.

I also made him a rag quilt.  I did it a little differently from the one with skulls, so it turned out a lot closer to the one I saw in my doctor's office.  This time instead of 1/2 inch seam allowances, I used 3/4 inch.  And when clipping, I cut every 1/4 inch or so, instead of every 1/2 inch.  I also clipped each row before sewing it to the next, which made it a lot less tedius.  I'm still pleased with the other one, but I love this one too.  I embroidered the baby's name and birth date in one corner.