Friday, May 28, 2010

How to annoy me

Think for even one second that you can sell me $175 jeans while you are popping your gum just inches from my face.

No 'poo - weeks 3 and 4

One month down and I'm really happy with how my shampoo boycott is progressing. Last week I tried washing my hair with just conditioner a couple of ties, but, since I don't particularly fancy the wet look I cut that out pdq.
As of last Friday, things were more or less how they had been:
I have since cut out conditioner completely.  My current routine includes massaging  a teaspoon on baking soda mixed with a little water into my scalp, concentrating on my hairline.  Once I rinse that out I spritz apple cider vinegar onto my hair from about the area I would normally wear a pony tail all the way to the ends.  That sits for a minute and then gets rinsed out as well. And here I am a week later (meaning, today):
The dryness at the ends has definitely been remedied. I haven't been on the receiving end of any incredulous compliments yet, but, hey, I'm sure they'll start rolling in soon.  What the pictures don't capture is how incredibly soft my hair is these days.  I literally cannot keep my fingers out of it. I also think my tresses are starting to gain in the shine department.

Tomorrow night I get to get all dolled up for a wedding which means fancy hair. My locks are coaxed into a style much more easily so I'm hoping to use that to my advantage - maybe try something new.  I'll let ya know!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Are there bears in these woods?

Last weekend we tried our hand at the great tradition of family camping - something Emily has wanted to do for awhile. She and Ben spent a week taking inventory of our (Ben's) camping supplies, buying a tent and sleeping bag and planning the menu. Emily was practically bursting by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around and we were finally packed, loaded and ready to go.
We only had to drive about 30 minutes to get to a pretty nice campground at Fort Story right here in Virginia Beach. But as we drove, Em's excitement started to turn into anxiety.  She was pretty concerned about the campground's bear population despite several assurances that no, there were no animals that would "get her" in the middle of the night and yes, she would be sleeping in a tent with a door, with both of us to protect her. Ben informed her once more that Fort Story was surrounded by water on two sides and a large amount of city on the other two sides and, as bears can neither swim for long distances nor drive, none would be able to bother us at our campsite.  Well, this raised a whole new concern.  If there are no bears at this camp, then how were we, a whole family of Bears, supposed to get in!?

But we did get in.

Em and Ben made camp, I built the fire and The Commodore supervised.

Tasty, tasty camp food was enjoyed and then a story by lantern light.

Sleep was non too forthcoming, but we all made it through the night just fine. When  I finally crawled out of the tent in the morning, Ben greeted me with a plastic mug of french press coffee.

Afterward I made pancakes and sausage so we'd have enough energy to get packed up and home again.

We all had a good time and are looking forward to doing it again.  Especially Emily, who was relieved to find that the only critter to bother disrupting our camp was this guy:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stop and smell the...anything

Lately, Emily has taken an interest in the idea of walking to and from school.  I'm not really sure why.  We live a few miles from either her school or her daycare and a majority of our route is lacking sidewalks so we never see other people walking during our daily commutes. But hey, there's an obesity issue in America and my kid wants to try to walk two miles every day, I'll take it!  We agreed I'd park a block further from her day care every afternoon so she could become accustomed to walking the required distance.

Amongst my friends and family it is a well-known and undisputed fact that I walk fast. Really fast. All the time. Emily, however, did not inherit my sense of urgency and generally takes her sweet time getting from Point A to Point B. What she did inherit is a sharp eye for anything shiny, green, containing moving parts or otherwise able to completely distract from the task at hand. This means my poor kid hears the phrase "hurry up" pronounced through gritted teeth any time we have to move more than five feet. It seems a little unfair to expect a five-and-a-half year old to  "hurry up" for half a mile (the distance we've worked up to). So I'm breathing through the pain of taking life at Em's pace because look at all I've been missing!

Besides enjoying the beautiful spring weather, there are several varieties of ivy to examine.

Four leaf clovers to hunt.

Weathered picket fences.

Cloud-filled depths to ponder.

Fine, world. You win. I'll try to walk at a human pace every once in a while.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Always put your toys away when you are done

See Honey?

Doesn't she look so innocent?

It is because she knows the primary rule in our household: Put your toys away when you are done with them.  So when she was finished shredding the toilet paper, she very kindly rolled it back up.

Thank, Honey.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

From Top to Bottom - more on the pixie dress

When I finally finished the pixie dress revealed a few days ago I had scads of fabric leftover from Em's up-cycled dresses. Luckily, I had a few ideas for using that fabric up. I say I had a few ideas, but we all pretty much know inspiration strikes hottest when I'm reading Make It and Love It.

This works out pretty well for Em. I'm a little too old to actually get to wear whimsical hair doodads:
And I'm almost positive flip-flops would not be acceptable at work:
And when you put it all together:


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Something Old for Something New

I adore gifting. There is nothing like hunting down the perfect gift and being rewarded with an enthusiastic or emotional reaction from the giftee.  Unless it is stumbling across something so perfectly suited for a loved one you must give it to them long before a suitable gifting occasion arrives. I especially love giving original wedding gifts.  Thanks to the wedding registry, people often get duplicates of the towels, sheets, flatware, etc. for which they registered. And then they have to return some of those duplicates. Blegh. Nobody's returning my gift.  If I get you towels, they WILL be monogrammed.  If I get you a silver toothpick dispenser it WILL be inscribed. Maybe its the southern belle in me. Okay, it is a little bit the southern belle, but more than that, I'm pretty sure gifting is a competition and I fully intend to win. Always.

For brides I especially adore, my favorite gift is a one-of-a-kind, handmade garter. Store-bought garters are No thanks.  I remember making one with a pocket for my cousin. My grandmother had given her the sixpence she'd worn in her shoe for good luck when she (very romantically) secretly eloped with my grandfather some 60 years ago.  My cousin was distraught because there's no way her strappy sandals would allow her to walk down the aisle with that sixpence. So, I made her something that would be new, blue, and could hold something small, old and precious. I remember also making crystal studded number for my friend Katie Forest. I love doing it. So when I got the invitation to Cat Walton's wedding, I immediately offered to set her up.

I needed the perfect focal point. Cat, is understated, but stunning. She appreciates pretty things and fashion, but hesitates to sport "girly" clothes, herself.  She's also very kind and funny. And there is her AMAZING hair.  I digress.  My point is, I wanted to make something that captured her quirks and her beauty. Peacock feathers. And sparkles. And purple.
The white one is for the garter toss, while the purple one is meant to be a keepsake.  Despite her ties to the military, Cat is a townie with an incredible system of friends and family right here. Still, I included the broken clasp from my Grandmother Dee's pearls to give the garter that something extra.

I'm thrilled to finally put that clasp to use and I think Cat was appreciative of all I was trying to tell her about what she means to me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No poo, week 2

Well, kids, week two has come and gone and we are actually into week three so I thought I should offer an update.  I always have good intentions when it comes to posting, but...

Week two actually went very well. Although, I suppose calling it "week two" is something of a misnomer.  I got a haircut last Saturday and they shampooed my hair then, but it is more convenient to ignore that little fact. As I mentioned in my last 'poo post, I reduced the amount of baking soda to 1.5 teaspoons per wash. I still had some crispiness at my ends, but I was able to reduce my washes and subsequent blow-dries to only once every two days yea!

Check it out:
 This week, I'm willing to call this whole experiment a success!  I even took a photo of me out living life with my no 'poo do:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Taking back my closet - The Pixie Dress Edition

I told you guys I had been busy. Boy have I ever. I decided earlier this year that I could not stand to continue having piles of materials from projects I'd get to some day. I did pretty well until that cute boy showed up at home and took all my attention. Husbands are tricky like that. Slow and steady wins the race, though, and I've stolen time from here or there to knock out a few things.

See, Emily is what we call a glamazon. She's quite tall for a five-year-old. She's also active enough to maintain some great muscle tone. This means that many of her outfits from last summer and this past fall fit but are too short.  Or maybe they don't fit but she loves them all the same.  Something had to be done!

Once again inspired by Ashley, I started with a couple of Em's dresses and an oversized tank top I picked up at Target for $1.00. The tank top I actually used is pink, and you'll notice I said a couple of dresses, but these photos ought to give you an idea of what I started with:

Then, taking a cue from this project, I used one of Emily's newer tanks to get the sizing right:

After that, I changed my plan about a thousand times and started working in tiny increments of time so I "forgot" to take photos. In then end, I used instructions from Ashley's tutorials, info from a book I picked up long ago, and I made a bunch of stuff up to get:
It photographs a little flat, but is super cute in person.  Em is happy with it, for sure - see the smile. Of course, I can make all the dresses she wants, but its Ben that gives her wings:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grilled Mahimahi with Grapefruit, Avocado and Watercress salad

Welcome to another installment of adventures in cooking. I've actually been cooking this whole time so don't worry, I haven't resorted to night after night of take-out. This was a recipe I'd actually been wanting to try for awhile (read: Janice loves avocado), but the fam was less than amenable.  Well, that and I have yet to successfully use the grill so I had to wait for Ben to get home. Finally, a time came when no one could agree on what five meals needed to be put on the calendar for the upcoming week and I was told "to just pick something." Well, you asked for it.

I'm not really to a point where I can make recipes up as I go along so I'm still skanking them from Real Simple and various other places. You can find the recipe and nutritional info here if you are so inclined.  For the sake of easy reference I have included (most of) it below.


  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless mahimahi, cut into 8 pieces (yeah, about that: fish is kind of pricey and that is a lot of poundage. Plus, eating leftover fish is just a little risky in my world. I just picked up two thick fillets for a total of 10 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches watercress, thick stems removed (about 6 cups)
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 baguette, sliced (optional)


  1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Rub the mahimahi with 1 teaspoon of the oil and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Grill until cooked opaque throughout, 5 to 6 minutes per side. (This was the husband's job. Good work husband!)
  2. Meanwhile, with a knife, cut away the peel and white pith of the grapefruit. Cut the fruit into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, honey, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.(I totally forgot to include the oil and I totally tossed the chunks of grapefruit in at this point because I evidently don't know how to read directions -oops.)
  4. Divide the mahimahi, watercress, avocado, and grapefruit among bowls and drizzle with the dressing. Serve with the bread, if using.
 Well, it ended up looking oh so pretty:

But, alas, the family was not won over.  Despite a general aversion to grapefruit on all our parts, the dinner was tried by all as evidenced in part here:

See the little bit of watercress hanging out on his slightly bewildered face? Two thirds of us made it through the meal just fine deeming it "okay." The other third? Complete fail.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Inexplicable yet endearing

My husband tells me he's going to start a blog entitled: Why the Hell Does She Do That? Being the only male in our household the poor guy is often in a state of confusion. He loves us though. Really.

Friday, May 7, 2010

One week down

I survived my first shampoo-free week! See here, where I told you all about my hair issues and plans.

This week was only the beginning of what looks like it may be a long learning process. I started Thursday night by washing my hair with a solution of 2 tbsp baking soda dissolved in about 12 oz. of warm water. I applied, massaged, rinsed and then conditioned the ends with Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner. From what I read I expected my hair to feel greasy or dirty afterward, but no.  It felt fabulously clean and I just knew the no 'poo experiment was going to be a success.

Saturday was my day at the beach so I didn't wash my hair until right before a Stage Mom meeting at Emily's dance  school so I just threw the washed, wet mess into a french braid and didn't deal with it again until Sunday night.  It was a very oily Sunday. And Monday. And Tuesday... I found I had to wash my hair every night and heat-style it every morning to avoid going to work with my tresses shellacked to my head.

Okay, don't panic, Janice.  My hair had been so oily lately I was washing and styling it daily anyway so this was not actually a change.  The difference was that my hair now constantly felt as though it had been recently dragged through ocean water and my roots more or less stayed greasy while my ends were crispy. Eeeeeew.

Well, this morning I may have discovered the secret.  Instead of a watery solution I mixed a tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. This was infinitely easier to apply and work into the roots and my hair is much less oily today.

Sadly, the ends are still very dry  so more tweaking is in order.  And don't bother adjusting your screen.  Last week my hair photographed strawberry but today it looks more golden.  While I have been led to understand going no 'poo may deepen one's hair color, this is just a trick of the lights (florescent vs. bulb).

Tomorrow I have an appointment for a haircut  so we'll see what happens when I get washed and styled by a pro. *cue cliffhanger music.

Just Beachy

Yes its Friday. And yes, I am just now posting about my weekend. It happens.

Saturday was one of the warmest days we've had so far this year and just could not be wasted. To the beach we went!  We were initially worried that the shore front would be packed but we were pleasantly surprised. Excepting these guys, which were present in the hundreds:
we only had to contend with a handful of other beach-goers. Em was so ready to greet her long lost friend, "The Atlantic," but a little shy after their long separation. She put on her very best new suit:

and waited not-quite-patiently for Ben to take her into the water.
Ahem. The very very cold water:
 "Bracing, even," Ben said. Em was only slightly fazed and we spent the next hour or so running toward the receding waves and then turning tail when they came back at us. There was no way I was getting in that water on purpose.
Emily got so into the sport she started trash talking the ocean:

But it showed her who was boss.

 I promise, I was there too. I got to help build the token sand castle. 


And then I got to work on it alone.


And then the dunking began.  For whatever reason Ben and Em decided they needed to be in the water. All the way in. The frigid water. Because of the fun.

I'll pass on the cold water, but the smiles...

Yeah, pretty perfect.