Sunday, May 29, 2011

Counting Cranes

So it's been a while since I've updated you all on my 1000 paper crane making progress.  While relaxing in the late afternoon air I decided to string up  another round of cranes that had been collecting in a bag in the corner.  I was able to thread 4 strings of 40 cranes with 28 left over until next time I get around to stringing.  So adding today's total of 188 cranes to my previous 440 strung cranes my official count is 628!

Today's 188!

It's also been a while since I've updated on Crane Rule #1 - the "I can't date until I'm done" rule.  So last time I mentioned Rule #1 here, I said that it "may or may not have been stretched".  Well, it has been stretched.  I've done everything in my power to throw Rule #1 out the window and yet I still have only had mild success obliterating my self imposed dating rule.  I have dated since beginning this project, quickly and more long term, unrealistically and more seriously.  But somehow, the universe is keeping my from my usual "we have gone on a few dates and now you are my boyfriend" ways.  Or at least I like to think it is the mysterious and unusual ways of the universe trying to keep me to Rule #1 and not the fact that I am terrible at dating and have unrealistic expectations that can never be met and am therefore often crabby.


NOTE:  Love my little friend in the pic?  He was created by Lori Brown!  I love my little guy and want more!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Experiment in Homemaking #3 - Deodorant

Now that you know I’ve gone No’poo, I’ll tell you about how I’ve gone No’dorant. Anti-antiperspirant maybe?  Either way, it’s not pro-B.O.
           A few months after I made the No’poo switch, I started looking into other ways to remove chemicals from my personal care products.  So I started with the one that I liked the least, my deodorant.  I just really hated it.  Why?  1. It didn’t work. At all. I tried many kinds - none worked.  2. It just seemed creepy to cover my skin in chemicals to trap in the toxins my body was trying to release.  So I turned to the internet and found that many people were using concoctions made up of things like baking soda, cornstarch, coconut oil and essential oils. 
            I’ve tried a couple of different methods.  Some folks just “splash” on some regular old baking soda after a shower, I found my skin way too sensitive for this method (believe it or not, straight baking soda on the skin can cause a rash).  I kept the baking soda in a fancy salt shaker and would just shake a bit into my hands and rub it in. However, there was often a lot of “over-splash” and I wound up with a layer of baking soda dust on my bathroom sink.  I researched more and found that the best way to fix the “my-skin-is-too-sensitive” problem is to cut the baking soda with cornstarch.  I tried that mixture, but I would still occasionally itch and of course, still had the over-splash problem.  So I moved to the next and still current solution.  BUT, before we move on from these dry mixtures – don’t discount them because they have a purpose!  Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s not but no one will admit it anyway but I have some clothes that even when I wash them the armpits still smell.  Like the deodorant residue (from traditional yucky-type deodorants), from the old days when I wore it, has trapped a layer of b.o. with in a gross film.   Or sometimes you just need to wear something again before you have a chance to wash it.  Well let me tell you, sprinkle a little baking soda (the cornstarch mixture will work too) on the inside armpit fabric and the problem will vanish.  And yes, I have done this with black sweaters and have had no negative outcomes.

Now on to the good stuff…

My final recipe consists of:
Baking Soda
Lavender Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
     (NOTE:  I opted not to use any essential oil in this batch -   
         so it just has a light coconut scent)

Simple.  I bought a decorative glass jar at IKEA (where else?) and basically just added the first three ingredients until I got the consistency I was looking for.  I had seen recipes where people have added very little coconut oil and shaped the mixture into a bar and some even went as far as to shove it into an old empty deodorant container for easy application; I was not at all successful with this method AT ALL.  I really just ended up with a bunch of messy crumbs.  I opted to go for a “lotion-like” texture.

I used a two tablespoon cornstarch/one tablespoon baking soda powder mixture and then added two-and-a-smidge tablespoons coconut oil and stirred.  Ready! This is also where you would add your few drops of essential oil if you so chose.  They add a nice scent and lavender and tea tree both have antiseptic properties – bacteria fighting BONUS!. My mixture is fairly soupy (think more like thick cream soup, or better yet thick chili, as opposed to broth) as I think it makes it easier to apply.  I just dip my fingers in and rub on.  Just be careful not to rub too hard because the mixture is kind of gritty and can abrade your skin if you rub too much.

I do only make a small amount at a time.  This will last a long time but not too long - this contains no preservatives so you don't want to keep it around forever.  Sticking your fingers in the jar everyday can introduce bacteria into the mixture - so making a fresh batch every so often is nice.

CHALLENGE: Coconut oil changes from a solid to a liquid somewhere around room temperature.  So in the winter the mixture can become too solid.  My solution – I keep the jar on the warm spot over the pilot light on my stove.  You’ll have to find a solution that works for you.

NOTE: Did you read that?  I do keep my deodorant in the kitchen and on the stove.

NOTE 2 (The real note):  IF YOU KNOW ME AND WANT TO MAKE THIS – you will need to buy your own baking soda and coconut oil – however, I have extra cornstarch and a large amount of Lavender Essential Oil and a fair amount of Tea Tree Oil so feel free to get a few drops from me.  Wait, does this count as a blog give-away?!

GIVEAWAY: Tablespoons of Cornstarch and drops of Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils!!!!  (Contest Rules:  The award can only be given out at a time when we are already hanging out, unless you want to make a special trip to me to get your oil and cornstarch.  So really, if you don’t know me or we don’t hang out – sorry, but you can’t win.  Also, offer only applies while supplies last.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Will Bunting

Whether you call it a bunting, a garland or even a banner or string-of-things – they are awesome.  These days buntings are at the height of fashion, but they have always been at the height of absolute celebratory festiveness.   How can you not be high on excitement when there are strings colorful banners waving in the air?

I joined the bunting craze about 3 months ago when I first saw the individual letter printables at Ruffled.  I made sure to print at least one and sometimes two of each letter – I mean, you never know what you might need to spell. I currently have all of the printed letters in a nice manila folder just waiting to be cut and grommet-ed. The grommets allow me to string them up without the permanence that say, sewing them together, would create.  
 I upped my commitment to bunting when I started my “gallery wall” which included this perfectly snarky bunting all framed up.

I used the same letters that were available on Ruffled I just shrunk them down (I set the printer to print two pages on one sheet and that size seemed to work for me - definitely not an exact science) so that I could fit them in the frame.  Why did I choose such a message?  I just enjoyed the play between what the bunting actually says and the general expectations of things you might see spelled out and displayed in bunting form for others to see.

And then after weeks of simmering in the depths of the craft crypt in my mind, Bunting-madness exploded.

I guess it wasn't so much an explosion as a "boiling over".  On a whim while at the store, I picked up some pretty pastel-ish colors with the idea of making an Easter egg garland similar to the one I saw here but originally came from here.  I just cut a rough egg shape from my paint chips and they sewed right through them and also sewed a little ribbon on each end to allow for tying.


The egg garland turned up the heat, but what caused my pot to boil?  This. Yes, a Jolly Good Will and Kate Royal Wedding Bunting. 

I first saw it on How About Orange and quickly scrolled past it thinking “cute, but I don’t really give a hooey about the Royal Wedding.”   The days passed and brought us closer and closer to the magical day of April 29, a day made in fairy tale history, and the blogosphere exploded.  Everywhere I clicked I saw more posts about Royal Wedding watch parties, decorations and general chatter.  I couldn’t escape it.  I thought it would be silly if I, someone who didn’t “give a hooey” about the wedding, made a Royal Wedding bunting.  And so I did.  My plan was almost derailed at the last moment by a severe case of over-working.  It was around 11p.m. on April 28 and my bunting was still not made.  I had to be up super early the next morning but I knew I was at the point of no return – if I didn’t make the bunting now, the wedding will already be over by the next time I get a chance to make it.  So I deftly cut the little pennants and trimmed the beverage markers to a similar length to the pennants and voila, I had the pieces laid out.  I didn’t have the time for glue and my sewing machine was across town so I did what any desperate crafter would do. I turned to staples.  Yes, I grabbed my ribbon and stapled it to each little piece. I immediately strung the banner above my computer monitor (where I planned to view the whole she-bang) and went to bed.  When I woke at 5 a.m. the next morning to finish a work project for that mornings conference I flipped on YouTube and was really able to experience the joy of the celebration in my own personal space miles away from the actual event.  (Was anyone else's favorite part when the ring got stuck on her knuckle?  It was just so normal!)

EDIT: So really I think that I was more ahead of this than I thought. Forget 3 months ago -   Jamie was nice enough to remind me that my craze really started back in early December and that I needed to include my Annual Friendly Holiday Christmas Dinner and Pants Party bunting that I made for her.  So rather than re-write the whole post you get to hear about it down here.  Basically I wanted to celebrate pants because it is the name of the party and  it was suggested in the invite that it was time to "don our gay apparel"( This cover is way better but they skip over the all important line that I referenced!)

And of course when thinking about the edit for the forgotten bunting above, I realized that I had also forgotten my Valentine garland that I got from How About Orange.  I gifted mine to my landlady -  but during a night of babysitting I got my then 3 year old niece to make a bunting for my sisters house!

And through the course of creating this post I have many more bunting, garland and string-of-things ideas!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Experiment in Homemaking #2 - Shampoo

Happy half anniversary to me!

I felt compelled to write this post after using shampoo and conditioner in the shower this morning.  You might think that this is something a person should do every morning, but no.  For the last year and a half – almost to the day I've been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash my hair.  In the beginning, I feared that my hair would be dry and rough but alas, it seems just as soft as ever!  I also thought I would miss having all of the suds and scents, but now I'm actually grossed out by those things when I use conventional shampoo and conditioner (like I did this morning because I didn't go to the grocery store last weekend).  I first learned about the poorly monikered “No ‘poo” movement from Melinda at One Green Generation.  If anyone is inclined to try, it is a very simple process!  

Step 1: Gather baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and a cup. Much like chalk, I generally dislike plastic cups; but I recommend one here since you will be using it in the shower, possibly with your eyes closed. Nakedness+Water+Glass=Disaster Waiting to Happen

Step 2: Pour a couple spoonfuls of baking soda into the cup. I don’t measure; I just use “what feels right” which is usually about ¼ in or so in the bottom of the cup. Fill the cup with water and mix. ( I recommend adding a small amount of water first and swirling vigorously to get the baking soda mixed in and then filling the cup.  I generally fill the cup about ¾ of the way full. 

Step 3:  Pour mixture on head and massage scalp and hair just as if you were using regular shampoo.  Then rinse!

Step 4: Rinse out cup to remove any remaining baking soda.  We don’t need any science experiments going on here!  Add about ¾ to 1 inch of vinegar to the cup and fill with water.  Pour on head and rub in then rinse!

How clean do you feel?!

Why did I decide to do this?  Really I just started thinking about all the fish and plants and such at the other end of our sewer system and decided they needed a break from all of the chemicals.  Later, after exploring the EnvironmentalWorking Group website, reading Not Just a Pretty Face, reading research articles related to cosmetic chemicals and joining the Campaign for SafeCosmetics I felt even better about my decision to leave shampoo and conditioner behind.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Confession and the Penance

Confession:  I'm dirty.

Well, to most of you, that's not really a confession. You already knew that. ;)  What I'm really trying to say is...

Confession:  I'm messy.

That's right, I have so much clutter it could choke a cow.  See below.

Penance: Clean it up.

That's right, it is time to cleanse my home, work, car and self.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Love Muscles

Especially the Love Muscle.  But there was a severe lack of love muscles when Jamie and I completed our first ever exercise marathon.  You can see pictures of Jamie and I at the start of the marathon and then after each class over on Jamie's ReallyReally Blog.  I know that once you see the pictures you will say to yourself "Wow, I wish they could have taped the workout so I could see what the experience was like." Well, you are in luck, while Jamie and I were unable to tape the classes, it appears that someone has previously recorded the workouts.

Here is the video of the Muscle Mix class:

This video is of the Latin Fusion Dance class : 


Have any of you ever participated in an exercise marathon?  A real marathon even?