Give and then give some more

I have this nasty habit of making piles.  If you couldn’t tell by my post on unfinished projects, things get piled up and forgotten.  Most notably, there is a large pile at the top of the stairs.  It consists of a large box (i don’t know, maybe 3.5 feet by 2 feet by 2.5 feet?) filled with another box, topped with a box filled with several (a few dozen) folded boxes.  It’s a mountain of cardboard.  Adjacent to this, there is a broken suitcase, broken drying rack, a couple boxes of and a laundry hamper full of outgrown clothes, and bags of unwanted toys, etc.  You get the point, lots of things for discard and donation.

I’ve been meaning to sort it all.  Take things to the dump (along with the huge screen tv that broke and now we’re without one in the living room — which hasn’t been too terrible), organize things for donation, and generally clear up the space to declutter our house.  Like all things in life, it’s so easy to put it off than to get the motivation to start.

I got an email reminder the other day, “Big Brothers Big Sisters will be in your area!”  Honestly, there is always someone picking up donations in the area.  Between them, UCP, Kidney people, random strangers, I’m pretty sure if I just leave something outside, it’ll get picked up (We’ve had people wander into our garage and steal shoes. TWICE. We even caught them on camera once.  Weirdos, it was a group of 4? boys stealing womens footwear.).  So after seeing the email, I went ahead and scheduled a pickup for Wednesday morning.

I was hoping this would be the fire under my seat that would motivate me into cleaning that area up — or at least sort between what needs to be donated and what needs to be dumped.  I printed up a list of acceptable donations to get me started.

That’s about as much progress as I had done for the first 2 days.  Finally, after realizing I probably wouldn’t have the time to focus, I pushed myself to just do it.  I cleaned the toys out of the middle of the living room (I think this is why I have no motivation, there are so many steps to do before actually doing anything, I’m tired before I even start), then spread out the piles.  I went through all the clothes, sorting it by size and type, emptying pockets and neatly packing them away.

Ella was amazed at how big daddy’s clothes was.  I was amazed too, not by the size, but by the quantity!  In the end, he had 2 boxes of pants and 1 box of shirts.  I would say maybe over 20 pairs of jeans and khakis, and the same or more of button down shirts and dri-fit polo shirts.  These were all clothes that we pulled out of his closet from when he went down from a size 38 to a 34 and from XL to L.  Just the one size was very significant.  We’re very proud of him.

I went through my clothes, packed up all the maternity clothes, pulled out old handbags that I don’t plan on using ever again, organized the girl clothes, and all the toys that we planned to give away.  In the end, there were 6 boxes and 3 bags.  I’m sure if I make a pass through all the rooms, I can round up some more, but after telling my in-laws about the donation pick-up, they too wanted to give.  I only requested a medium pickup, so I have to limit myself to what I accomplished in one day.

I’m sure as the kids get bigger, they’ll outgrow a lot more toys and clothes.  I would appreciate any ideas on how to set these items aside for donation without having “piles” accumulate in the house!


Hair update: 10-14 days

At the time this picture was taken, it was 10 days since I shampoo’d.
At this point, my itching is gone, my scalp doesn’t feel oily, and my hair is naturally straighter and I don’t have to spend 15 minutes with a flat iron getting all the weird flips and kinks out!

Also, at this time, Ryan said my hair doesn’t smell clean.  I mean really, just because it doesn’t smell like soap doesn’t mean it’s not clean.  Alternatively, just because it smells “clean”, doesn’t mean that it is (clean).  So I cave, we go to Whole Paycheck and I pick up a bottle of Aubrey’s natural shampoo.

Ugh!  After one wash, my hair felt dry and stripped.  By the next morning, my scalp was itchy and flakey again.  Needless to say, my hair was unmanageable and that day was a pony tail day.  I decided maybe I should go back to water rinsing, but we ended up going to a party the next day where there was a pig cooking on an open fire.  My hair, clothes, and everything I had with me is saturated with an ash-scent.  So another round of shampoo.  Again, my hair felt dry (almost crunchy!) and I could not stop itching.

Don’t mind the photo, I’m very unhappy with the current state of my hair.

I’m so bummed.  My hair looked and felt great, and with just a couple of shampoo washes it has gone monster freak show.  Hopefully, in the next few days of non-poo I can get back to pretty hair.

This is how you Spanish roll

To the left, to the left. To the front, to the front. Now sprinkle, baby, sprinkle. Sprinkle, baby, sprinkle.
 The latest dance moves? Nah! It’s just my technique for making Spanish rolls!
 These contain milk, eggs, and butter, so definitely not survivalist bread. But let me tell you, I could survive off this bread! I think I’ve expressed how much I love bread, but now it’s baked with butter and sugar rolled up in it and sprinkled all over? Yum. I ate two. I had to make sure it tasted good, then I had to taste if it still tasted good when it was cold. (It did!)
 I have to disclose, however, I didn’t exactly follow the instructions. I was supposed to turn the dough out onto the countertop and knead it. I did that for all of, maybe ten minutes. I was putting all my weight into it, perspiring from the higher humidity, and I just didn’t feel like doing it. My stand mixer came in and saved the day. In the same amount of time it took me to decide to use it, it got the job done.
 Also, after the bread hook did it’s magic, rather than letting it rise for 3 hours (who has the time?!), I covered the bowl with plastic wrap, placed it in middle rack of the oven. Boiled a quart of water and poured it in a pan that I then placed on the bottom rack, then shut the door. In about an hour, the dough was pretty much doubled in size.
 So really, my deviations were only time-saving tricks. I’ll probably make these again, but with more butter and sugar, and maybe a brush of butter over the top, too. My favorite bakery Spanish roll is saturated in butter and gritty with excess sugar. Of course you’re willing to eat it, but making it that way is met with so much hesitation. Oh well, here are some shots from tonight’s adventure!;
 Before baking:

 After baking:

 Eh! No make fun of how it looks. I have a hard time securing the flap, so when it bakes it puffs out and rises more. It makes it look less roll-like and probably contributes to its drier consistency, but they are still very delicious and addicting.

Bread and butter

I love me some fresh bread!
 I may be a terrible asian and resident of Hawaii for saying that. Most people leave the ‘aina (land) and come home craving rice. Don’t get me wrong, rice is yummy when it’s sticky and paired with something salty like spam, crispy bacon, chicken long rice, or chili. But when I spend any amount of time a away from Hawaii, when I come home, I don’t care.
 What I do like is BREAD! And pasta, too. But I could easily walk into an Italian restaurant, eat all the bread, and have no room for the main course. I also prefer little sauce on my pizzas, pan crust being my ultimate fave!
 Ryan was saying bread is a good starch option if we ever need to survive without electricity. We’ve been doing practice runs to find a recipe we like, because you wouldn’t want to wait until a hurricane to make rocks!
 Ryan’s first attempt was in a Dutch oven. It smelled great and was really …rustic. It was really dense and the crust was tough to bite and chew.
 Next, I tried making a loaf of French bread. It looked sort of like it was supposed to, but again, it was more dense than I expected and the crust still on the thicker side. Flavor-wise, I also think it should be a little sweeter and less yeasty. Although, you will hardly notice if you spread on a large pat of softened butter!

 I guess we need to keep doing these test runs! Good thing I love bread!

Oh shirr…..

Did you know, my living room is a great location for spotting UFOs? I would post a picture to prove it, but I may get in trouble and risk having my blog shut down.

Of course, UFOs being Un-Finished Objects and the mess that is the living room is quite embarrassing, and doesn’t need to be forever emblazoned on the Internet. Ryan gets on my case about having so much craft stuff all over the place, and I agree. But if I clean, then the UFOs will forever hover. My goal over the next month (coinciding with not washing my hair-HAHA) is to finish projects and put away my crafting supplies.

First up? That damn dress! A year ago (7/13/2013), I got caught up in the April Rhodes’ The Date Night dress hype. I thought it was fab and all the bloggers that had an opportunity to make it swooned over the fit and ease of assembly. It got me excited. Like leave work, go shopping for fabric, and start sewing excited (I didn’t).

Tangent: One time, I made a navy blue knit dress. It was from a tutorial, so I was drafting my own pattern. The knit was transparent, so I figured why not just double it up? It added so much bulk, I wore it once. Another time, I made matching tops for myself and Ella. The arm cuffs were too tight, so we only got one use out of those as well. It seems I can sew better for kids, as I’ve made many dresses, pants, and costumes, but when it came to sewing for adults, I’m only successful at hospital gowns. Eek! That’s depressing.

Back to my story, I’m excited about making this dress. One problem: I live in Hawaii. The only places to buy fabric are over-priced, touristy, or do not carry the right type. Oh, and good luck finding any new collections that you see pop up in mainland fabric shops. For instance, there is a store on Oahu that happens to sell voile, for nearly twice the price as the mainland, but had only two “new” prints. Even then, they were from a collection a year before that was no longer in print. Frustrating! Ordering online is the way to go, except it takes a few days, shipping to Hawaii is costly, and you don’t get to see/feel the product until it gets here. Needless to say, I was less excited at this point.

Before I realize, it was November. I was periodically checking fabric sites for something that caught my eye, slowly losing hope that I’d ever make the dress. Then…SALE! I love that word. It’s a curse word, I’m sure. Husbands universally cringe when it’s used in conjunction with craft supplies. Three yards of a pretty voile on its way!

Slowly, it started looking like a dress. For a long time it didn’t have sleeves, then it was even longer before there was a finished neckline. It wasn’t until maybe April(?), when I finally finished the hem on the sleeves and bottom, after finding a hem template. It worked great for the most part, but the laser toner didn’t like the heat from my iron and rubbed off from the paper onto the fabric. Ugh!! Luckily, my mother-in-law had a metal one I could borrow.

At last! I was done! But there was yet another problem. It looked like a hospital gown — face palm. The print that I chose, though pretty, and worked well in other dress designs, in this arrangement was just unflattering hospital garb.

I tried to dress it up with different belts, but nothing would remedy. My dress form wore it for months with a wide belt that was so two years ago. Then it struck me, if nothing quite matched it, why not shirr it?

I was nervous. I had never shirred before and my sewing machine can be wonky. The last thing I needed was to have my $30 + labor gobbled up in the feed dogs. I wound the elastic thread on a bobbin, practiced on a scrap, then just went for it.

It’s still quite sterile in appearance, but paired with a neutral cardigan, it works for me. Ryan says it must be the sleeves.

I even wore it to work …gasp! Funny that I was worried about busting a seam or any other wardrobe malfunction, when in reality, it is probably better constructed than most of the store-bought stuff in my closet. It has French seams, a reinforced pleat, and properly tied off threads!

Well, that’s one UFO crossed off the list. (Hands on hips, head turn) “I got this!”

*Have you seen ABC Family’s Young and Hungry? It annoys Ryan; totally my kind of show.

No poo

No sham-poo, that is. I may get a little TMI here, you’ve been warned. Don’t judge (or do, I don’t really care).

When I was pregnant with my first, I had beautiful, shiny hair. It was awesome.

A few months postpartum, when the hair loss started, my scalp turned itchy, dry, and flaky. I figured it was hormonal, and I just needed time to adjust. It never quite returned to “normal”, but it was manageable (and I tried not to wear dark tops). At my second pregnancy, I was excited for the return of gorgeous hair. I waited and waited, my scalp got more and more itchy.
There were days I would tug on my hair just to feel the relief of the constant crawling-feeling. Some days, I even worried that I had head lice! Following the birth of my second, my scalp just got redonk. Large patches of my scalp would flake off. AND, because the patches were so large they had holes where my hair grew, and would get stuck on the roots. Even the skin around my ears and the nape of my neck were peeling off. I basically looked like I was molting. GROSS.

I tried to do deep massaging washes every few days and between washes flip my dry head upside-down to shake out all the flakes. I’m already sensitive about my ears, but they were tingling like crazy and I was going insane from the itches you can’t reach. I know you’re not supposed to put anything in your ears, but in my sleep, I’d subconsciously claw at them. This would make my ears oily and waxy, and when they would dry out, it’d flake as much as the dandruff and the vicious itchy-cycle would start again.

Late last night, I was up itching, and wondered if there was a correlation between the dry scalp and itchy ears. I’ve read that excessive dandruff and itching could be fungi or bacteria, or maybe psoriasis/eczema, but they all required help from a dermatologist. But when there were results linking both scalp and ears AND showed home remedy, why not give it a try before finding a pro, expensive co-pays, and harsh Rx chemicals?

The results were overwhelming. I stumbled upon a whole “No ‘poo Movement”. There was even a subReddit for it. Many websites suggested washing with a baking soda paste and apple cider vinegar rinse. Hells no. Having a second floor shower, I am hesitant to put anything down the drain. So that wasn’t an option. The result that resonated with me most suggested to not use anything but water. The comments were encouraging and so, I decided I’m going to try a month of no shampoo. All the websites say most people give up within a week, but you will really need to give your hair time to adjust to see results. Hopefully, this will not only address my dry, itchy scalp, but my ear issue as well.

Here’s my picture today (2 days no shampoo):

To help track progress, I just added a reminder for August 14th. Mainly because I may go through this whole experience and never remember to post an update. We’ll see if I still have a smile on my face or if I’m dying to soap up my hair (or caved by then).

I made this: Monkey Bar Skirt

I enjoy sewing. I love that it has an instant reward for my efforts. I admire how some people are able to make a living out of blogging and crafting and sewing and cooking and being super mom. Obviously implying, that’s not me.

I like simple projects like kids clothes, maternity and baby accessories, pouches, and random things by request. This summer, I’ve made a Snow White inspired dress, Elsa costume, and a stroller strap.

When I saw the Monkey Bar Skirt from CrafterHours, it looked like a quick fun project.

It took me about half an hour (over the span of 3 days), and Ella wanted to wear it the day she saw it completed!

Now, that’s an instant reward!