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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Infinite Loop

Unless you have been living under a rock of remarkable size and heaviness you have seen an infinity scarf in the last 5 years. The infinity scarf is distinct from it's non-infinite brethren by having it's two ends sewn together to make a loop or circle of fabric or fibers. Its proponents claim that by being a loop the infinity scarf is a more versatile garment, it's detractors probably say something like, why can't I just tie the ends of my regular scarf together and have the best of both worlds? Then the infinity scarf people probably strangled them with their infinity scarf and screamed, "Laugh it up now, laughing boy! LAUGH. IT. UP."

These infinity scarf people are intense is what I'm telling you guys. Really.

So with some trepidation I too embarked on the treacherous waters of infinity scarf wearing.


Even the 7 year old had her doubts.

But I decided to give it at least a try because infinity scarves look so cute on most people! Plus I live in Florida where I don't get to participate in many cold weather fashion trends. Y'all with your tall boots and cute coats and WINTER HATS! And here I am stuck in flip flops and summer dresses most of the year, in the heat and the sun and the...

Where are you guys going? Come back here! Minnesota, I see you! TURN AROUND RIGHT NOW AND COME BACK!

So, these infinity scarves, as I was saying, are apparently a seasonless trend. I see them paired with heavy jackets and spaghetti strap tank tops, so I know IN THEORY this is one I could do.

And at the beginning of the day I felt like yeah, this is totally me.

But by the end of the day I started to feel like I was being very slowly and softly strangled to death. Pinterest to the rescue, surely someone has come up with a way to wear these things that isn't going to give me knitted asphyxia.

I dutifully searched to see the most common ways to wear the scarf. Lord a mighty, I think some people are clearly frustrated Eagle Scouts looking to belatedly score a knot tying badge.

"14 Ways to Wear an Infinity Scarf" they proclaim with illustrated guides. So last night at a friend's house I tried them all. Plus a few more we made up just for kicks and because I'd had a glass of wine or two.

A simple double twist double loop. Looks great from the front, gives me shelf boob from the side. I turned around and I was like, "HOLY CRAP there's been a scarf-tastrophe on Tits Mountain."

I tried the scarf and hood combo. I call this one Christiane Amanpour reporting live from Tehran.

I tried the simple wrap skirt. I was not impressed.
Nothing like wearing something that is both unflattering AND potentially going to disgrace you by coming off.

Then there was the tube top idea. I'm calling it Spring Break in Daytona Beach.

My friend's child was embarrassed for both of us.

Please keep in mind these are legitimate suggestions for how to wear these scarves! I decided to take matters into my own pinot fueled hands.

I present, "Miss Pinterest 2015: I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Cry"

TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL (with Mason jars)

The Fashion Forward Baby Sling

Never Work with Dogs or Children Dolman Sleeves

But no matter how I twisted and turned it I realized, you can't really rock this thing if you're a girl with a nice pair of melons.

Happy 2015 y'all!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hipsters Man.

So the humble mason jar has become ubiquitous of late and as usual I blame the hipsters. I once saw some hipsters in their native environment (Brooklyn) and they put on their ragged flannel shirts and top hats, rode their fixie bike (shaped like a handlebar mustache) to a pop-up organic brewery where they serve everything in you guessed it, a mason jar.

BUT do not let its hipster hype dissuade you from using a cool and multipurpose item like a mason jar. My mother variously deployed them for use as vases, drinking vessels, desktop organization, to hold pantry staples, as a salad dressing cruet and for actual, you know CANNING long before Pinterest existed to document our lives in dreamy, pastel soft-focus. We always had them around in various sizes for various things as long as I can remember but I don't remember ever using them for salads. If certain corners of the internet are to be believed a mason jar's (or Ball jar, or canning jar or whatever you call them) highest purpose is to provide a sog-free salad for your afternoon repast.

There are literally dozens and dozens of salad jar recipes out there and as in everything else that exists in the wilds of cyberspace there there are passionate devotees and just as passionate detractors.

A Random Dude:
what is gained from putting salad into a mason jar instead of tupperware. hipsters...

Other Lady:
I'm far from a hipster. They are so much easier to layer - the ingredients are protected and the dressing doesn't get all over the lettuce (which is what makes the lettuce soggy). Most tupperware type containers are wide - no way to keep a salad for a week, which is what these jars do. No lie, I made a week's worth of salads and the last one is just as good as the first.

There's One on Every Article:
Mason jars used to be for canning moonshine when I was kid, now its some sort of healthy eating communist-pinko socialist agenduh, tjanks OBAMA!!11!!

My own feeling on mason jars is this, only use one when it is the right tool for the job. Don't buy a double walled insulted plastic "mason jar" with a handle on it. They make stuff like that already, it's called a travel mug. There's no reason to cutesy it up. I feel the same way about hipsters, actually. When I was broke kid wearing clothes with holes in them, it was because I was legitimately too poor to buy new pants. I wasn't being fashionable. Commodifying and making a consumerist fashion statement out of the trappings of poverty and frugality kinda righteously pisses me off. My Mom used to pick prickly cactus pads out of the woods behind our house and pickle and can them, not because it was some sort of fun hobby, (though I think she DID enjoy it) but because we were pretty poor. The time she made us pine needle baskets for Easter was because we were broke and she used what she had on hand to make us something special. So use your mason jars, but remember that they are a tool used world-wide by people who are frugally preserving their food to last for leaner times ahead. Their value lies in their utility and function and of course like most functional items they are truly beautiful.

/End Rant

So how did my consumerist trendy salad come out? Pretty typically for me, I was unable to find the component parts to my Mason jar. I found the jar and the ring okay, but I hunted high and low for the lid and it was nowhere to be found. So what's a blogger who promised a mason jar salad to do? I used my Ball Brand freezer "canning" jar instead. This is not the layered glass masterpieces of Pinterest, but it has the same functionality of a standard canning jar in it's shape. It is easily portable and because it is a nearly uniform tube from top to bottom it keeps the ingredients well separated for maximum salad crispiness. In fact the slight bell at the top gave me more room for greens while it helped keep my dressing on the bottom. I need to work on the proportions though, I used too many baby carrots and it didn't leave enough room for greens.

My salad, decanted onto a plastic plate from the upstairs kitchen, would never win a beauty pageant, but the greens were crunchy, the mixture of candied walnuts (recipe below), shredded cheddar and raisins gave sweetness, creaminess, crunch and protein to my meal and the ginger dressing from Makotos (if you are from Melbourne there can be only one) gave a tangy snap to the whole thing.

Decision? Mason jar salads are a keeper!

Tomorrow's Pinteresting life challenge, to (wear) an infinity scarf! AND BEYOND!

Candied Walnuts on the Stove Top

Pour some (1/4 cup?) sugar into a saute pan, heat over medium heat, when sugar starts to caramelize remove from heat and throw in a handful of walnut halves or pieces, stirring quickly to coat. If sugar hardens too much, put back on the stove to soften briefly. You can also add a pinch (a literal pinch!) of cayenne pepper to get some hot/sweet walnuts. You could also use pecans in this recipe.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hair Raising Adventures

So perhaps real live grown ups don't watch re-runs of Cutthroat Kitchen until 1 a.m. on nights when they have to be both up for work and documenting their coiffure the next day. I did one grown up thing and set my alarm before I went to sleep. I did a really not grown up thing by hitting snooze a few times before turning it off entirely and making bargains with myself to get more sleep.

I will ONLY wash and condition my hair in the shower, no leg shaving or anything else. I can sleep for 10 more minutes.

I will skip breakfast and only drink coffee as I drive to work, I can sleep 10 more minutes.

I know basically where all of my clothes are I don't have to hunt them down, I can sleep 10 more... and then I was like, "NO BITCH! Get your LAZY ASS up and GO DO YOUR DAMN HAIR!"

I can be really mean to myself! I would never talk that way to someone else... unless they crossed me.

Anyhow I scurried into the bathroom and did the usual curly haired girl shower. If you are not a curly haired girl or a curly haired person with LONG curly hair, then you probably do not know about our strange shower rituals.

I will probably be cashiered from the Curly Crew for revealing any of this, but here it goes.

Step 1. Turn on shower and then go ahead and get in. Why wait for it to get warm? You're gonna be in there for 45 minutes so you might as well start how you will inevitably end. Freezing.

Step 2. Get hair very, very wet. (Oh, you think that's obvious huh? Everybody does that? Have you ever stood under a full force shower head for 5 minutes and then realize parts of your hair and/or scalp are STILL not wet? No? I didn't think so.) So move that hair around, get it all sopping wet, pay special attention to your scalp.

Step 3. Hunt frantically for some conditioner. Oh no! You're not out of conditioner are you? You may as well call out sick to work now because conditioner is basically all that stands between you and the whirling edge of madness.

Step 4. Fill the 7 or 8 mostly empty conditioner bottles with water, swirling their contents around and dumping them on your waiting, matted hair and thank Providence that you never EVER throw those things out.

Step 5. Find a 3/4 empty tube of Intensely Wet Slick 'Em Slide "Em Hydrating Hair Goo ™ behind your 12 completely full bottles of shampoo. Cry a little in relief.

Step 6. Empty the entire tube into your hand and then use your hands like rakes to comb through the dense underbrush of your scalp sweater.

Step 7. Pull wads of hair out by its very roots. Feel nothing.

Step 8. When your hands are so full of hair that it looks like you have become Bigfoot's personal masseuse scrape the hair off and try and fling the resulting hairball/small cat onto a shower shelf.

Step 9. Repeat.

When do you shampoo your hair? Honestly, never. Or maybe once in awhile if something truly bad has happened, like "had 6 rum and cokes at the office party and accidentally vomited into it" bad. Shampoo is just there to make other people who use your shower feel welcome. "Hello straight haired person, please use some of the complimentary scalp sudser. (DO NOT touch my nearly empty bottles of conditioner)" This practice known as "co-washing" or conditioner washing is a secret of curly haired women world wide.

When I had sufficiently de-matted myself I jumped out of the shower and began the next phase of any hairstyle for a curly haired woman; the ritual application of product.

First we begin by wringing the wet hair out in a towel. After going once over your hair the towel has become completely sodden and will not dry for two days. Hang it up and thank it for its service. Then you mix two to three different products into your hand. Today I used a discontinued hair cream from Garnier Fructis that I bought in bulk 6 years ago when it was being discontinued. I hoard this stuff like precious gold because there will be no more once it is gone. To it I added a shine serum Biosilk Silk Therapy Oil, no really, that's what it's called. I rubbed them between my palms to mix them and then pulled it through my hair using the rake and shake method, whereby one takes sections of hair, rakes your fingers through and then grabs hold at the bottom of the hair and "shakes" it into place. A Ouidad certified hair dresser taught me this. At the top of a mountain in Nepal. Surrounded by beautiful curly haired sheep. But I digress. Here I'd already been working on my hair for 15 minutes and I was still stark naked, much less ready to spin and pin my hair.

This is why I am maybe not a grown up yet. By this point in my real life a child would have kicked the door in commando style and demanded my attention, but THIS week my kids are visiting my Mom, so what better time to try a hair care routine?

Once my hair was well covered in product I wrapped it up in a fresh dry towel and got some damn clothes on. I was pretty cold at this point.

Once dressed I commandeered a couple of dozen bobby pins from my kids' hair accessories stash and began twirling my hair around and pinning it as best I could to the back of my head. Here's the thing though, I can't really see the back of my head, so try as I might, twisting and turning to catch a glimpse of my work in my mirrored closet door I could not both PIN and see, so I decided to just wing it.

How did it turn out. Well, we all remember my Pinspiration from yesterday, right? Sort of a lady-like, soft coiled romantic low chignon. Mine was more... um...

Less curly romantic and more Star Trek Special Guest Star

See what I mean? Instead of spiral curls looping back on themselves in springy ecstasy I had bulbous hair snakes curled up and hissing at each other. Or I was like a rejected hair test for Majel Barret.

Some more charitable people at work said it looked like rosebuds on the back of my head, but I think they were worried about angering my scalp snakes.

Oh well. Tomorrow is another Pinteresting day. My challenge for Tuesday? Mason Jar Salads, man!

Photo courtesy of ProduceWithAmy!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Better Living Through Pinterest

So, as many of you know, I am a complete mess. My areas of competence are staggeringly limited to baking, improvising costumes, and writing on a deadline. Most days I struggle with simple things that most people would consider pretty average and every day, like keeping my bedroom clean, remembering to return library books, and doing my own hair.

I have decided that perhaps I should attack my issues using the same methods I have used for all my previous challenges, step 1. Tell myself with confidence, "Way stupider people than you have figured this out!" and step 2. Research.

Which brings me to Pinterest. Pinterest is my happy place right now. A place that promises better hair and bright and shiny laundry rooms, a place for extra cheesey lasagna and a flatter stomach in 15 minutes.

So play along at home, do you hate Pinterest? Love it? Love to hate it? Use it for research? As an aspirational guide? A place to pin some of your favorite people?

Tomorrow's Project Pin: An Easy Curly Hair Undo

Because here is how my hair looks on a normal day, a bun with some fuzzy frizzy hairs around my face. I look like I am always coming from the gym, when in reality, I haven't been to the gym since 1998.

So tomorrow, I wake up and I coif the hair, like a grown up. I'm going to use products and pins and see what happens.