29 October, 2010

The Itch...

About once a year, i get "the itch".

My hair grows to the point where i need to either cut it or stick it in a ponytail for 6 more months until it's longer. The thing is - i've always wanted long hair. By long, i mean, waist-length. Just to see what it's like.
Alas.

Every time i get to approximately mid-back length, i cave, and i cut it. Another thing i've been dealing with lately is dye. I was reading about the possible health risks involved with the chemicals in hair dyes and came across one paragraph in particular that literally made me have a gag reflex - not with disgust but in sorrow:

"... new studies have linked hair dye use to development of a specific type of cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (Zhang et al, 2008). This study looked at groups of women suffering from this disease, and a control group. It was found that women who started using hair dye, particularly darker colors, before 1980 had an increased risk of developing the disease."  source.

My (non-biological) mom dyed her hair dark shades of brown and auburn in the 1970's and '80's, then switched to a lighter red in the late nineties. She discovered her lump which turned out to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000.

It breaks my heart to think that my mother unknowingly poisoned herself and that i've been doing the same thing for many, many years. It's made me seriously reconsider using permanent colors - even though i hate my natural hair color. It's just not worth it for the sake of vanity.

The problem with growing my hair out now, is the line of demarcation that will naturally appear as my hair grows out (the line between the natural color and the dyed color) and i believe it would be far less noticeable on a shorter haircut. Not to mention, i'd be rid of my colored ends quicker. That being said, i've been researching short haircuts that are fairly low-maintenance but can still be dressed up and "styled" for just a normal day. Here are some of the ideas i've found in my research.




source



This (above) would be an example of "dressed up" as opposed to regular wear

and this, of course would be a "wilder" day...
 
(the above photo is from here, and the singer is from BYU's Noteworthy - although i couldn't find the singer's name)

I'm not sure if i'm brave enough to go through with it just yet, as i sort of like the wind being blocked access to my neck by my hair - but i would love a funky short 'do before i decide to try and let it grow long again with my natural color. I would like to have some sort of cute, chopped hairdo at least once in my life :)

but... is now the time?


27 October, 2010

Musings after a long day...

As i've recently been struck with an alarming bout of what i like to call "babyitis", i often find myself thinking about my (our) future children and what i might/might not like to do regarding their lives. One such pondering was my child's internet presence. 

The internet, especially facebook, is becoming more accessible by more devices - meaning that people stay connected no matter where they are. I've seen updates from cars, churches, bathrooms, nightclubs, dinner parties, movie theaters, bedrooms, schools, grandparents' homes, workplaces, parks, beaches, vacations... and hospitals. The list can go on and on of course but i'd like to focus for a moment on just one. Hospitals.

Over the last year or so, it seems that friends are having babies (which is awesome) but what i particularly mean is the internet presence of a child before they're even born. I see more and more photos of children put on the internet at a seemingly hourly rate! More often than not, Jr's photos are up before they're even home from the hospital, or in one case, before they were even held by their mother for the first time. I'm not sure how i feel about that.

In this, the digital era, where people are storing their photos on their computers and never printing them (even worse are the dummies who store all their photos on their camera and never format it or back it up) i imagine people losing years of their life in a freak power surge. I imagine my generation having little to no photographic history, while my future childrens' generation being able to trace photos of themselves online from conception... and if they can trace photos of themselves that far, who else can too? It may sound cool from a genealogical standpoint (thanks, mom) but it's concerning for someone who grows up and is required not to have an internet presence by their job.

Speaking of jobs... as i type this, hundreds of employers all over the world are probably typing a potential employee's name into a search engine digging to find out what type of person he/she is. I try to be pretty careful of what i put out there because what i do now may or may not be what i'm doing in 20 years and i don't want to have to be ashamed of something i put online when i was younger and dumber. I also don't want my children to be able to Google for mommy and find some random photo of me.
Imagine a future youth fresh out of an internship, applying for a high-paying professional career. Now imagine his/her employer searching for them and being able to re-live their entire life through someone's random, unprotected gallery - or maybe it's protected but it's the type of job that can bypass things like passwords?

Call me paranoid, but i think that it creeps me out to imagine my child growing up in a world where he or she could be so easily researchable. It makes it easy for not only future employers but also for pedophiles, stalkers, and creeps of any sort. I wouldn't like my children not to be able to choose what goes online just like i have the opportunity to. 
Through the blogs i follow, i know childrens' names, their birthdays, the activities they frequent and their mother's hobbies. And these are some people that i have never met! I just found their blog one day and decided i liked it enough to read along every day. Just search the word "Sonogram" and you'll meet hundreds of future leaders of the world... or not.

It really opened my eyes. I believe that i will try to be careful with what photos i share on the internet of my children both for their sake and for my sanity.


19 October, 2010

Scat!!!

When i hear the word "scat", two horrible things come to mind.

A.) Free-style singing and Jazz riffs
B.) Poop

Neither are pleasant for me and really - there's a reason they share a name. My head literally feels like something pooped in it if i have to listen to jazz music for more than 30 seconds!!

Today was a version of my personal Hell as i sat on the phone (via the Internet) with the Ohio BMV. As i waited for a solid EIGHT MINUTES - they only played Jazz through their Muzak player. Finally, as eight minutes, twenty-four seconds ticked by, someone finally answered. At this point, i was so frazzled that i didn't ask the right questions and had to call back... ohhhhhh noooooo...
Fortunately, i was only waiting for 4 minutes this time, but still. I actually had to take a moment and write down my questions so i wouldn't forget them after the unpleasantness of the "hold" music.

Am i the only one who can't seem to listen to this type of music without getting anxiety, clouded thought, and a little sick to my stomach? I'm not even kidding!

16 October, 2010

Wear Sunscreen

in 1998, when this song came out - i was about 14. I loved this song! I had almost all the lyrics memorized until somehow, i stopped hearing/listening to this song a couple years later. I think it had something to do with the fact that i recorded it over and over on a cassette and during one of my moves, i lost my cassette player... maybe not. I remember having a walkman that could tune into TV stations (and i used to listen to Rocky and Bullwinkle in my first class of the day, Senior year... but i digress) ANYHOW - i used to LOVE the advice in this song!

I remember thinking that when i got older, i would remember all the advice in this song and hold onto my youth. Here i am, 12 years later, and listening to this song again!

The lyrics are as follows (my comments are in this color):

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…. (Absolutely! I look back at photos even a couple years ago and feel annoyed that i didn't appreciate myself for who i was or how i looked at the time! I went around mostly sulking about how self conscious i was because i thought i was fat.)
You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. (I do try to follow this... i try to stay laid back, and try not to sweat the small stuff.) The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. 

Do one thing everyday that scares you. 

Sing. (Even though i can't sing my way out of a paper bag, i do it anyway. Loudly, and often!)

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. (i somehow remain "friends" with a handful of people who continually let me down or disappoint me. I have learned that nothing i do will change the way they treat me. It won't change their "busy" schedule or make them be more considerate of my feelings... so i just let them exist near me, and don't provoke much conversation with them - if any - anymore.)

Floss. (i have learned that this is actually an important step in hygiene, if you are not a fan of dentists offices, but i've only learned this in the recent years)

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. (this one is hard for me. i find myself having trouble being jealous of other people's nice homes or the fact that they're out of debt while i feel like i'm scraping by but it's comforting to be reminded that there's always light at the end of the tunnel.)

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. (and me!)

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. (i used to, but i found that whomever i was with after i received the love letters would be jealous... and ended up having to throw away quite a few - even the innocent ones.)

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t. (this is actually very comforting to me at 26 without a college degree of any sort)

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. (ohh yes. As I grow older, not that i'm very old, i notice things hurt more than they used to when getting up or after a long period of sitting on the floor)

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. (i really wish i could!)

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. (This is excellent advice!)

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. 

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. (i actually stopped reading them because of this exact reason!)

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. (i hate how true this is. there are still things i wish i could ask my mother.)

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few that stay, you should hold on. (this is something i've also learned painfully)

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. 

Travel. (i'm so glad that i follow this advice. I would hate to be someone who lives in one state - one CITY for most of their lives just to be close to family that i never visit anyway.)

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. (i already fantasize about these things!)

Respect your elders. 

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out. (this was also a painful lesson for me, but one i learned whole-heartedly)

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. 

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. (i didn't understand this in 1998, but i love it now! and it's SO TRUE!)

But trust me on the sunscreen…

10 October, 2010

Calling in Fat...


In one of my favourite movies "Keeping the Faith", Rabbi Jake Schram's mother was lovingly and jokingly reminiscing about how he woke up one day and just didn't fit into any of his clothes for school. She laughed uproariously as she proclaimed, "He had to call in fat!"
I sort of laughed at this particular line because really... how could anyone not know they're too fat for their clothes until the day it happens? 

For the past year, i've been in a constant battle with my weight. Technically, for the past 10 years i could say i've been in somewhat of a battle with it - but particularly for the last year i've gained much more weight than usual and have been particularly sedentary. The problem for me has been that the weight gain has made me lethargic and un-motivated (i'm HEAVY! i feel like i'm walking around with the weight of an entire outfit made of soggy-wet denim) not to mention a little depressed. A further problem is that i'm an emotional eater!

Basically, last night we were invited to a little get-together at a friend's house and i cheerfully went upstairs to find something to wear. 20 minutes later, and a little less cheerful, i rummaged through my suitcase (which remains packed from trying to get out of Ireland and into the USA) to find something. Armed with a few shirts, some trousers, and a sweater, i head back upstairs to try it all on. 15 minutes and a mini-meltdown later, i ruefully tell my husband to go to the get-together without me. Why? Because i can't find a single thing to wear that i feel modest and comfortable in. Something i wouldn't be tugging at and adjusting all night... Bleh. What a terrible feeling. I mean, man...
And the worst part? All i could think about after V left, was to grab a handful of chocolate chips or bake some cookies to soothe my wounded pride.

Instead, i grabbed a rice cake and drizzled some honey over it (50 Calories), and vowed to re-start my dieting and exercise plans ASAP. 

Maybe with a little prayer, i can stay motivated this time and really see some results. It's times like this, that a friend who'd be going through it with me would be nice. I imagine it would be easier to have someone there to be held accountable to and to hold them accountable too.
At any rate - i'm going at it again! Wish me luck, and say a little (or big) prayer for me! I really need to do this.

03 October, 2010

How to alter a wool coat...



... at least, this is how I did it.

*ETA- i get a lot of hits on this post for people looking for how to take-in/alter a wool coat. Welcome! I would love to know if this post was useful to you, so please let me know in a comment if it was!
Any tips or suggestions are also welcome :)



I follow several blogs in my Google Reader, and one day i happened upon a blog that inspires me almost on a daily basis, called Grosgrain. Like the ribbon. On Thursday, i saw this post there, and before i had even read the blog, i saw the photos of the coat she had and decided I MUST HAVE IT!
The blogger went on to say that she had found that coat at a second hand shop and had altered it herself. Well... I can do that too! She hadn't posted a tutorial or said how she did it, but according to her comments on it, she had done it "quick and dirty". Well... if that's the result of "quick and dirty", i'm super impressed! Someone once told me that anything worth doing, is worth doing well, though (not meaning to imply that she didn't do hers well, because she totally did!) - and i decided to take my time. This project took me about 4.5 hours from start to finish.

I decided to go down to the local second hand store in Fermoy to have a look at their coats on Friday. I didn't actually expect to find anything, but oh! the find i DID make...
A beautiful woolen coat. Bright red. Mid-calf length. Too big, but not TOO too big, if you  know what i mean.
Slightly puffed sleeves... amazing. I bought it for €5.






I almost forgot to take a "before" photo. This was taken after i had already pinned it where it needed to be taken in. Unfortunately, i don't have a dummy to try clothes on and see how they fit, so i measured myself and  stuffed my husband's clothes to match my dimensions! I just had to add a little somethin' up top, and mentally remember i'm about 1" wider than he is around the waist. I should mention that he was still wearing his clothes at the time...
Hahaha sorry though, no photos were taken of this process! I felt bad enough that i couldn't stop laughing at the situation while i was pinning. He's such a good sport.
Here, you can see the pins in the sides and a pin toward the bottom of the coat. The pin there told me how much would be "too short" for when i hemmed it. I decided to take 8" off the length. I measured 8" up from the bottom all the way around the coat, pinned as a guide, and cut.


After i cut the outer layer of the wool, i went back and cut the lining a little shorter.


Next, I measured from the edge of the coat to the inside of the pins (on the sides where i intended to take in the coat). Then i turned the self-made seam to the inside.


BUT before i could do that, i had to detach the lining.




Here, the coat is open and the lining is thrown up over the shoulder of the coat. This is when i found the center of the side seam below the sleeves, and re-pinned the part that i wanted to take in, a little more precisely. I hadn't gotten the original seams (on the outside) quite in the center, which i worried would have made the pockets end up asymmetrical. 




Above, you can see where i sewed the seam. I sewed a slight curve to make it more fitted and sewed from the arm-pit to the edge of the hem at the bottom. I did the same on the other side. Once the wool was tailored, i tried it on to make sure it was a good fit. 
Next, i wanted to tailor the lining to make sure it fit the coat.



Above, you can see the panel (in the middle) that i wanted to alter. The arm of the coat is above and just outside of the photo is the bottom of the coat. This, i did a little quick and dirty, because i'm not too concerned with how pretty the lining is, but at the same time, i don't want it to be horribly ugly, either. I turned the lining inside out and put folded it in half:


... then pinned it near the original seams (on either side of the panel) so that the lining wouldn't creep as i sewed. Then...

... i just sewed, freehand. I knew about how deep i had sewn my seam on the wool, so i just estimated. I sewed a similar line as i had done for the shell. I did this for the other side as well.
I turned the lining back to face the correct way, and re-attached it where it was originally sewn. I figured this was pretty straightforward, so i didn't include a photo.

After i finished re-attaching the lining, i started to hem the wool outerlayer. I folded it up about an inch and a half all the way around (i just eyeballed it), and ironed it on the wool setting of my iron:

You can kinda see that the lining is the same length as the coat at this point in the photo (after the hemming). I went ahead and cut off about half an inch of the lining, folded it up, then sewed it on the machine.
Next, i hand-tacked the wool seam up to be an "invisible" seam.

When that was finished, the tailoring of my coat was nearly complete! All that remains is adding the ruffle.
I cut out a 5" wide strip from the leftover wool from shortening it. I cut a curve at the top of the ruffle to match the curve of the top collar of the coat. I free-sewed a half-inch seam down one side of the ruffle and around the curve, bottom to top.


Then i sewed some basting stitches all the way along the ruffle. I sewed a thicker stitch and a thinner stitch as an experiment to see if it would change the effect of the ruffle. I think it did, in the end.

Then i pulled the threads to create the "ruffle" effect:

I pinned the top of the ruffle to the coat, then adjusted the ruffle's... erm... ruffles to be even along the length of the coat, top to bottom, and pinned the ruffle on. 


When it was all pinned and the ruffles were even, i sewed along the original sewing line on the front of the coat, attaching the ruffle to the side of the coat that the button holes are. 

That's it! Finished!


 




01 October, 2010

If you want something done, you've got to do it yourself.

That is one of my all time favorite lines... because it's true. I think the first time i encountered this infamous saying was in the movie The Little Mermaid by the lovable crab, Sebastian as a kid.
Ever since then, i've found this saying rings more and more true... people inevitably fail you. I've been burned so many times on things that i had begun to wonder if it was my fault. Am i a doormat? Sometimes. All in all, i think it's because i want to see the good in people. I want to trust someone when they say they'll do something.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. I've learned that people inevitably look out for #1, and that means that their needs come first. In the end, i have also learned that it really is me. It's my fault for trusting someone else to "share the load" as Samwise would say. For some reason - when someone lets me down, i feel not only hurt, but that somehow it was my fault. That i didn't facilitate (or make it easy enough) for that person to come through on their word. This almost always makes me feel worse instead of better... and i find myself becoming less and less trusting of anyone other than myself to get something i need done.

Some would argue that this is the way it always should be, and maybe so. Maybe people should always look out for themselves, but i don't want to hear that you called anyone on moving day, buddy. Don't ask anyone to house-sit for you either.

Guh. I'm just ranting because i can. If you made it this far, i commend you!

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