Friday, 27 July 2012

Phone Smart

Got a new phone so I just had to try this. Probably gunna be the shortest post I ever write as I'm still not used to the touchscreen keyboard thinger. It's a Galaxy if you were wondering. Of course the very first thing I did was download Instagram.  See?
Anyway, I think it might be about time to upload some tunes on to this thing. Gotta say, I now totally get why people can get so attatched and addicted to their smart phones. Weeee! Also, if you have a smart phone, get Draw Something so we can play. It's free and super fun. Now I go. Peace all!

Saturday, 23 June 2012


So I dyed my hair today. Well, first I bleached it. I was reading a lot about bleaching your own hair online, and a lot of people say to never ever do it because it will destroy your hair. Now, I've never gone platinum but I have gone strawberry all over before, and I can't say my hair is completely destroyed. I've had some problems with bleaching myself before - mostly over bleaching causing it to get really tangled and knotty, but nothing as dramatic as my only experience having it professionally bleached. That was a nightmare. My hair clumped together, and broke off. Nothing helped, it was damaged beyond repair. Luckily, I had a short style and it was only streaks so the uneven length from it snapping off like dry twigs wasn't too terribly noticeable, but I think it was the only time I've ever cried over a bad hair situation. It didn't help that it wasn't the cut, colour or style I wanted.

Anyway, I think that any professional is just a person, and can make mistakes. I feel better knowing the mistakes made were my own, rather than that of someone who claims to be a professional. I guess this is why I'm so into DIY with almost everything. If something sucks and I did it myself, well I can't be as upset about it because I'm not claiming to be pro at it.

And when it comes to DIY hair dye, hair grows back. It's not terrible when mistakes are made - and they have been made. The colour is wrong, too dark, too light, splotchy, uneven, etc. But with practice comes experience, and now I'm pretty comfortable colouring and bleaching hair, as well as how to care for it afterwards.

When I bleach my hair - which is naturally a very deep chestnut - I always always go slowly and work in sections. Usually I do this pretty simply by separating my hair with elastic bands and working in layers from the bottom up for the dip-dye technique, or foiling for streaks. I've used caps for subtler streaks too. When I bleached all over I did the elastics technique - basically creating pigtails and working in layers. I always start at the bottom and work my way up, letting down another layer of hair from the pigtails as I go - undoing the pigtails and pulling some of the underside out, then tying the upper layers back into the elastic and clipping it to the top of my head out of the way. I do the roots last for all-over bleaching, because they go lighter faster than the rest of my colour treated hair.

I let the bleach stay in for about 25 minutes after covering all parts - which can take anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes depending on if I'm doing a small amount of bleaching like streaks with a cap or all over. I have a lot of hair, and it's long so even doing the dip dye technique takes about 45 minutes. 25 minutes is approximate wait time - if it seems like it's not lightening fast enough I'll sometimes tie a plastic bag around my head (not my face, der!) which seems to make it work faster. But this almost always makes it come out splotchy if it's all over/dip dyed, so I only ever do it if I'm cap streaking. Foiling seems to make it go whiter faster, but it's so time consuming with my long hair I haven't done it in ages. I never leave the bleach in my hair longer than 30 minutes after finishing bleaching it all now - I've realised any longer than an hour and a half with bleach in my hair including the time it takes to work the bleach through can cause unexpected damage to the hair, and a lot of breaking, frying, knotting and trouble.

After the bleach is set and the hair is as light as it's going to go, I rinse the bleach out thoroughly and then wash it with shampoo in cool water. I can't stand cold showers, I like my showers hot - hotter than my hot water tank would let me have it, to be honest. But when I bleach or dye my hair I try to do minimal damage by rinsing in cooler water. The colder you can stand, the better. It closes the hair follicles and does less all-over all damage to your hair. After I wash my hair, I condition with a repairing serum. Lately I've been using Bed Head - Dumb Blonde. I leave it on for about as long it takes for my hot water tank to start running cold (15-ish minutes) and then rinse it out in cold water. Then I do it again but don't wait as long, and comb it through carefully before rinsing. And I don't rinse it out completely, I leave a bit in because it makes it easier to detangle and blow dry.

The next step is to blow dry my hair. I always put a serum in my hair to protect it from heat when I blow dry.  Something like Got2Be Crazy Sleek - which protects from the heat and is a straightener. I have naturally straight hair, and  it only gets frizzy because of the damage it's sustained, so I'm sure any serum would do but I like the smell of Got2Be products. They smell like candy. I could probably defuse it but I never do that, because I like my hair straight and shiny.

Once my hair is completely dry, I look at the colour. If it's bleached to a coppery tone, I sometimes colour it with pinks and red temporary dyes. Over the coppery colour they come out quite firey, which is nice enough for awhile. But I often have to bleach again to bring it to a lighter tone to effectively get the bright colours I desire. So sometimes I do the temporary pinks or reds with Punky Colours by Jerome Russell or Manic Panic - the colours are only temporary but they last a while in my treated hair, and are conditioning so they don't do further damage. After those fade up, after about two to six weeks washing it every other day, I repeat the bleaching process and see how it looks.

This time, it only took two rounds of bleaching in about four weeks to get the tips light enough for the colours I wanted. So directly after bleaching I decided to dye it rainbow colours, a bit of green, blue, pink, purple and turquoise. I do this process on the tips the same  way I bleach the tips. Separate the hair into pigtails, and work up layer by layer. Only this time, I work in random streaks of colour. I used all Punky Colours this time, which are great because they dry up as you work so the colours don't transfer between the layers and streaks. Basically, I pick a colour to start with, take a chunk of hair and using a designated paint brush or bristle brush I paint it on the small section of hair. I work it through with my fingers, and let it drop. I wash my gloved hands in warm water, dry them, and then pick the next colour. I work through with random colours fairly evenly all the way up for layers of different colours all throughout the tips. I love the effect, it's probably my favourite way to colour my hair right now, with a very rewarding and colourful result. 

Once I've worked my way through my whole head of hair - it takes about an hour - I wait another hour or two before rinsing. I like to wait because it seems like the colour comes out more vibrant the longer I wait with Punky Colours or Manic Panic. The best part about Punky is that it gets dry to the touch and doesn't transfer easily. Manic Panic doesn't dry the same way, Punky Colours are almost crispy as they dry. Although Amped Manic Panic is a far more vibrant colour, I seem to stick to Punky most of the time.

Then I rinse my hair - in cool water until the water runs pretty much clear - and condition a final time again using a repairing serum like Dumb Blonde. I comb it through, and leave a bit in to protect it from yet another round with the blow dryer. I use the heat protector (CrazySleek) again with it. 

Then, for the next several hours I admire my hair and look at myself in every reflection that I pass, because my hair is amazing. It's bright, colourful, sleek and soft to the touch. It doesn't tangle, and it's as healthy as it can be after going through a rigorous colouring process which can easily take up a whole day, or more if I've decided to bleach more than once. 

Yeah, it's time consuming, and yeah, I could get someone else to do it. But I guess I have trust issues when it comes to my vain beauty techniques. And really, my hair never seems to be as shiny, soft and pert as when I colour it myself without anyone else's help. Others want to rush through it, but I'm willing to wait and take the time and care it needs.

As for after care - I only wash my hair every five-ish days. It doesn't get all gross because of my care routine. Day 1 is wash with a shampoo formulated for coloured hair to prevent breakage. I condition with a handful of conditioner, and rinse it out with cold water and comb it in the shower. Then I put in a little leave-in conditioner/detangler then I blow dry it. Sometimes I straighten it too. Day 2 I don't wash it at all. I don't even get it wet in the shower. That day I brush it, dry and often braid it or style it in a fun way. My hair is most responsive to styling on day 2. Day 3 I don't get it wet in the shower either, but I do wash it with a dry shampoo like Got2Be Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo. I almost always wear my hair up on day 3, but sometimes it's nice enough to wear down or with a hat. Sometimes I blow it with cold air from my blow dryer to freshen it up, and give it some body. I've also curled it on day 3 with my InStyler with great success. Day 4 I rinse my head with warm water, and scrub my scalp to avoid flakiness and dandruff and product building up. I condition on day 4, working carefully with only about a dollar size amount from the tips up and I avoid getting it on my roots so they don't look greasy. Then I comb it through as I rinse it fully. I don't usually put a detangler or leave in on day 4, because it makes it look oily. Sometimes, if my hair seems extra product filled or greasy I wash on day 4 just like day 1 and start over.

People often compliment my hair, or tell me they are jealous of it. I used to hate my hair - it was thick, brown straight and boring. But I've learned to love my hair, and I take a lot of effort in caring for it and making it look the way I want. Sometimes I think colouring hair like mine does it a service - it thins it out, for one thing, and the breakage that sometimes happens after bleaching it makes it seem less heavy. Wearing my hair up gives me headaches some days, wearing it down makes me sweat. On rainy days it goes limp, on sunny days it looks dull. Or at least, it used to until I started taking the time to treat it properly. Once I learned to respect my hair and treat it right, I began to love it. Especially when I can make it go double rainbow all the way!

Monday, 2 April 2012

It's Springtime! For Hitler! In Germany!

I'm totally stoked for gardening this summer. Maybe that's partially because I got a job at a garden centre for the spring, or maybe it's because I've been wanting to have a proper above ground garden ever since I moved out of my parents house. Either way, I'm stoked and just started some seeds downstairs and I'm entirely pleased with myself about it.

I've always wanted to make an awesome patio style garden, in raised planters and various pots. I love the idea of potting instead of planting directly in the ground for a whole variety of reasons. I will list them!

1. If I pot, I can move the pots. Silly, I know, but I'm never entirely sure where is the best place to plant certain vegetables. Do they need more sun, or less? And exposure to wind is a huge factor where I live, with the winds usually reaching up to 25k on an average day by late afternoon. Being able to mobilize my plants will help me to control their exposure.

2. I hate pesticides, and using raised planters can help control bug problems. I like my veges to be pickable and eatable on the spot. When I was a kid I'd sit in the garden and just om-nom the peas and carrots without rinsing them at all. My mom doesn't use pesticides either. Her biggest pest control option is always marigolds surrounding her garden to keep pests out, and I plan to do the same. In pots.

3.  I find it much easier to control my soil quality in pots. Sure, drainage can be an issue with potted plants, but if you are smart about it you can control that fairly easily as well. I can pick out a decent soil, and add my own sands and ash etc. to make it perfect for whatever plant I'm putting in the pot.

4. It just looks damn pretty. Vegetables can be gorgeous plants, and as much as I love the look of an overgrown crazy vege patch, I love the look of a controlled vege patch even more. I've always enjoyed the look of square foot gardening - my grandmother has done it forever with a lot of success and style. But the look of raised planters gives you depth and height - I can raise up the shorter plants to reach the sunlight easier so they don't grow leggy, and I can keep the taller plants lower. Something about planter gardening just looks so neat!

5. Ease of harvest! I have bad knees, and sometimes if I bend over for long periods of time or kneel down I get really sore. I'm not an old lady, but some days I sure feel like one - especially when I've worked all day on my feet, or if the weather gets weird I get all sensitive. It's just easier to look after raised planters.

I've seen so many awesome examples of beautiful raised vegetable gardens and planter box gardens that I'm super excited to try it on my own! I've done a few things in pots before - like herbs, of course, and tomatoes. This year I've decided to try unique vegetables, and by unique I mean ones that I think are interesting and tasty or that I've never tried.

I've started today, I just finished planting my seeds in some seed trays and cells and if they all grow I could wind up with 48 Sweetie Cherry Tomato plants and I still have a ton of left over seeds, 48 Giant Jalapeños and 20 of each of the rosemary, oregano and basil plants. I've never ever done jalapeños before, but I know a lot of people in my area have grown them with much success. Seeing as my back yard has northern exposure, they will probably live inside or even in the front garden with the flowers I intend to put out there in May.

I also purchased some Royal Burgundy bush beans, which I honestly only decided on for the colour. I hope they can grow well in the shadier back yard, because I don't want too much in the front. I also got Purple Haze Carrots - which I have never ever tried growing, let alone in a planter. But the internet tells me that carrots can be done in planters so we will see what happens! The other seeds I've purchased so far are Red Leaf Lettuce, Bunching Spinach, Dill and Chives. I'm seriously considering getting some Russian Blue seed potatoes and trying them out in one of those above ground spud planters again because their colour is wonderful.

I want to do more plants, but I'm worried about space. And I think I'm going to have a lot of plants with no space to put them in my yard. Unless I turn it into a vegetable jungle out there, and perhaps even in here. Which honestly, might just look amazing if I can afford all the pots I'm going to need. I've seen some pretty good ideas for recycling used containers as pots, as well as using old egg cartons for seeding, and those lettuce tetra packs as lettuce/spinach planters that I really like. Something about recycling the old junk just seems so much more urban, so much more my style.

I have this awesome idea for some hanging planters I'm going to make and put in my kitchen window, and I could easily put some in the north facing window in the living room as well if it works out. I might be able to grow some veges all year 'round if I do - like lettuce and spinach and herbs for sure. They are basically old planks with holes drilled in them, rope tied through the holes to hold the planks level and then some more rope tied to create a basket to hold up individual pots of herbs and veges. The plan is to put the herbs in the kitchen for ease of access while cooking on one or two of these hanging shelves directly in front of the window which also happens to be right over the sink.

Can you tell I'm super jazzed about all this gardening? I really am.

I'll keep you updated on the status of my seedlings, and if I wind up with a ton of extra plants I will probably be donating/selling them to friends and family who garden. Let me know if you want one of the plants or if you can think of other plants that I should try seeding this year, because this is too much fun and the more variety the better!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

My Dirty Little Secret...

When I was a kid, I was a total tom-boy. Before I was in about grade 9, that is. Then something in me did a bit of a flip and I started actually caring about girly stuff, like boys and how I dressed and make-up and those sort of things. But before that it was all catching frogs in swamps, hiking up the hills, making bows and poisoned tipped arrows (yes, I mashed up berries I knew were poisonous and smeared it all over the arrows I made. I never actually hit anything with them though). It was all about the game - sure, some of the games were Sailor Moon or Witches or whatever, which might be construed as girly, but most of the games were Vampires and Snow Dragons and fighting the forces of evil in the name of good. Because that was more fun.

I would have in those days rather played football and tackled the boys then try to make them date me.

Then, I grew up and it became uncool to be a tom boy. And I started to care what people thought of me, which for someone who always felt on the outside was an entirely new concept. Most people thought I was weird and different, and I revelled in that when I was a kid. I wanted to be like the Great Gonzo - the unique, quirky, individual. I didn't want to be a Miss Piggy, that's for sure.

And even when I started to care about those kinds of things, when I started to care about my appearance and all that, I still did it in my own unique way. I preferred Hot Topic to Abercrombie,  and I wouldn't be caught dead in Tommy Hilfiger or Adidas. I was more interested in goth style, corsets and jeans, black make-up and blue hair. My fashion icons were more Agyness Deyn, Betsey Johnson and Vivienne Westwood rather than Cindy Crawford, Carolina Herrera or Ralph Lauren. I just couldn't fall into the full on girly girl mold.

It was kind of funny, when I began to develop an interest in fashion, runway and couture, I felt like I had to hide it. I had a lot of male friends, more so than female, and even my female friends were kind of the Daria-esque women's lib kind of girls who I thought wouldn't understand or appreciate my interest in fashion. The fashion industry in itself was a no-no, a whole cultural phenomenon that was there to oppress women and cause horrible body image and would lead to bulimia, anorexia or worse. The fashion industry was a girl killer.

So for years I felt like I had to keep my love of clothing and design a secret. Shh! Don't TELL!

And then I grew up, and it was okay to like fashion, to admit I have a subscription to Elle and Marie Claire. It was okay to tell people that I wanted to be fashion designer, that I aspired to be like my idols, Betsey and Vivienne.

But there was always one secret I kept from everyone. A dirty little secret that even in my days of not wanting people to know I was girly I kept from them. Because this wasn't something that anyone thought was cool, and I would have been mocked mercilessly.

I was addicted to sport fishing TV shows.

I realised it when having a conversation about how some kids would rush home so they wouldn't miss their shows - when I was in school it was mostly kids rushing home to catch the programming on YTV: The Zone with Phil and Snit. Everyone watched Digimon, or whatever. I didn't rush home to watch those shows, I rushed home to catch the British Columbia sport fishing show on OLN. And when my parents got home, I quickly switched the channel to more appropriate programming, like anything on Teletoon. Sport fishing was as taboo as porno.

I didn't want anyone to know I was watching fishing shows, and how much I loved the idea of sport fishing.

Recently I've been watching River Monsters on Netflix - because I can, dammit. And because I enjoy it. Okay, he sensationalises a lot and the host comes off as a bit of a d-bag. But I kind of feel anyone who calls what they do an extreme sport (he calls himself an extreme fisherman on the show) is going to be kind of a d-bag. It's not the most scientific of Discovery Channel shows, he has a bit of a tendency to over dramatize, and kind of wash over facts, but I still love watching him. Why? Because probably 80% of the show is actually watching him fish, hearing him talk about different fishing techniques, showing you how to tie on live bait and talking about rigging, tackle, and lures.

And damn do I love fishing.

I've never caught anything larger than probably approximately 3 lbs, and I mostly like to catch and release because I'm not the biggest fan of the flavour of the fish you can catch in BC (trout and carp are mostly what I've caught around here). But what a rush even that is! Fishing is the most relaxing thing, sitting in a boat drinking a beer and gnawing on some pepperoni or jerky while you sing fishing songs...

Fishing songs. This is a family tradition now, where we sit in the boat and rewrite existing songs to be about fishing. Like filking or spoofing, we take the lyrics and change them out to be about fishing.

Like a sturgeon! Ooh, caught for the very first time! Like a stur-ur-urgeon, fighting on my line!

I know, that's probably why I don't catch a lot of fish being as they are sensitive to sounds and vibrations, but it does make it a lot more fun.

Anyway, that's my secret. I love to fish, and I love watching fishing shows. I have no problems catching, gutting and scaling the things, frying them up and eating them. There's something to be said of the kind of hobbies that can also provide for you on a basic level. I could never hunt, I have too much of a soft heart for mammals. But I can fish, because fish are probably the most violent creatures on this planet, if you really think about it. They are simplified killing machines, evolving in an arms race to be the better eaters. That's all they do, swim to eat to live and breed so more fish can swim and eat. So why not thin the crowd, cull the heard, catch the fish and join in?

I think I'm going to watch some fishing shows while I sew some stuff up this afternoon. And I cannot wait to get my line in the water this year, I did way too little fishing last summer and I really want to make up for it this year.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


So I had an interview yesterday to work at a local garden centre - starting part time, leading to full time during spring and the busy season. Today they called me back, my first shift is on Sunday! The only downside is it's likely I'll be laid off again in the fall. But I'm okay with that, I might be able to work some plans around that and besides, if they like me enough maybe they'll hire me back in the spring again or something. And I'll still have time to work on Loveless Arachne!

I'm still happy I found a job! And doing something I'm really interested in!

Speaking of gardening, I have been thinking ever since we moved into the new place last summer about gardening here this spring. I don't have a lot of space for a garden - there's a tiny little plot in the back that has a few flowers in it and the plot in the front that also has flowers. So I thought maybe I would make some raised planters and do some veggie gardening there and fill the other two plots with edible flowers!

My goal is to have an herb garden on the patio, and perhaps some snow peas up there too. And in the back yard I want a few, maybe three, planters with some veggies in them. But seeing as my back yard is north facing and doesn't get much direct sunlight AND there's a large tree in the back as well as shade from buildings I may have to rethink some of my gardening plans. There's a lot of dappled light, so I know the peas will be fine on the patio and so will the herbs. And besides, if I have to move the herbs to the front for a few hours a day I think I'm okay with that. I also want to try doing a hanging grape tomato plant that I can keep in the front where it gets a lot of sun all day long (south facing and all). I also want a strawberry plant this year, I love fresh strawberries.

So right now I'm thinking I will do spinach or chard  and probably lettuce for sure because I know they grow all right in shady areas around here. Because where I live is semi-arid desert, I know some plants that normally would like full sun might get a bit of a respite with some shade. They tell me (and by they I mean the online sources I've found through Google) that carrots and root veggies grow okay in some shade, but I've never grown carrots or beets in a planter before. I might give it a shot this year, and see how they turn out. I also want to try shallots or scallions. I was also considering trying a potato bucket and seeing how well they can grow around here, but I think potatoes need more sun that my back yard gets to grow to a decent size unless I want baby taters - which I do prefer but Mr. C doesn't. Mr. C wants me to plant spicey peppers or jalapeños but they definitely need more sun than my back yard can provide.

When I was a kid growing up my mom kept a really plentiful veggie garden, and I would love to just sit outside in the rain and eat snow peas and baby carrots straight from the garden. In the rain was best, because I'd just let the sky wash the dirt off for me. She grows zucchini and tomatoes every year with great success, but she has much less shade than I do and her garden is south facing. Still, her zucchini's are huge, sometimes they come out the length of my arm and I can only just get my hands around them.

There are a lot of things I love about vegetable gardening, I've always been way better at it than flower gardens but I do love keeping flowers as well. This year I really want edible flowers though, like violets and hollyhocks. I don't know if I will actually play with cooking with them or not, but making it an option means I'll probably pay more attention to the plants.

The best part about this plan? How much money a person can save by growing their own vegetables and food. Not only are you getting quality produce, but you also know exactly what measures of pest control and fertilizers were used. In my case I like to use the discarded water from my fish tanks to fertilize my veggies - it works great and there's little to no need for any chemical fertilizers with that amount of fish fertilizer being added.

There is so much pride I take in gardening and being able to provide for myself. I'm so looking forward to planting season this year!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Longwindedness ...

Okay, I'm about to get long winded here...  so bear with me.

I didn't think myself for or against this teachers going on strike bill 22 business because I don't have kids in school. I'm not going to school, and rarely do I think about it at all. But right now, I am thinking about it. I'm thinking about how hard it was when I was in highschool for me to give a shit. Why? Well, I was always a pretty decent student when I was younger, but for some reason, I felt ignored. I thought that there was something wrong with me, that I was invisible unless I was acting completely crazy like how I saw most everyone else who was getting the attention. I'd refuse to talk in class, make up BS to get noticed, you know  - the usual stuff. It wasn't until I started doing poorly in class that I felt noticed. So I stopped trying to keep an A average - because what did it matter anyway? One month in grade 11 I think I skipped every second day. Not every second class, every second day. I still managed to keep my grades at about B (or perhaps more accurately a high C) average, but I didn't stay on honour roll, that's for sure. By the time I was in grade 12, I'd had enough and looked for every option to get myself out of the school environment. I did not feel I was receiving any sort of education there. I'd go in and barely listen to the teachers while other students acted, as I saw it, insane because they hated being there so much. I'd read the textbooks but never do my homework unless the assignment seemed like I could make it fun. But because I did want to learn I always tested well. There were a lot of students that I saw being disrespectful and rude. One of my favourite teachers had a speech about our highschools mentality that I fully agreed with. So I opted for taking Open Learning (online) courses as a means to get the hell out of there, as fast as possible.

I was an idealist, the kind of kid who earnestly wanted to learn. Learning is to me, and probably always has been, a large portion of my personal meaning of life. I saw the classroom as a place to be respected and enjoyed, but so many of my peers didn't. Maybe they were just all acting out for attention, the way I occasionally did. Even so, it didn't matter to me then. All that mattered, in my childish perspective, was that I get through it - like a trial or an ordeal I was forced to suffer through.

Like so many other people, it was only my social network in school that kept me going after a while. As much as people pissed me off, I had a lot of friends who shared my perspective of others, who shared my interests and hobbies. A lot of friends who felt the same way I did about school and would ditch with me.

Now, looking back with the eyes of an adult, I can see what happened. Why my experience in school was what it was - not awful, but not at all what I had expected it would be. Because although the pretence was that it was about formal education of the kind that teaches us mathematics and sciences, it became the kind of education that teaches a person how to deal with other people, how to be liked and get noticed when you wanted to be and ignored when you needed to be. A social education.

It's no wonder that Social Media is so fucking important in our modern society... I digress.

And my school wasn't as overcrowded as they are now, but they were crowded. Most of my classes had over 30 students - too many for one teacher to properly handle.

Do I believe my education suffered for teachers going on strike while I was in school? No, not really. I was still able to attend classes when they were on strike, if I chose to go and for some reason I liked it better. I got one on one attention because 60% of the students didn't bother to show up. It was refreshing, it was like a whole new way to learn.

Do I believe my education suffered from crowded classrooms and administrative apathy?

Students are failing not because of lazy teachers, or lack of report cards. Good students aren't suffering because their teachers go on strike, they are suffering because they feel like no one cares, that it doesn't matter if they do well. It seems to only matter if they do poorly - because then teachers of overcrowded classrooms have no choice but to make time for them. Really, its because they just can't make time for everyone in a day when the class sizes are so big.

Do I think that, if my school experience had felt more inclusive, less over crowded, that my life would be different today? Yes, I really do.

Or maybe I'd be right where I am now, who's to say?

All I can say is, the teachers right to take action and to stand up for student's rights and their own rights, should not be revoked. I honestly believe that education is the absolute most important thing in every single persons life - how else would we know anything? How would we make informed decisions? We wouldn't, we'd be lost.

--- What inspired me to write this

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Busy Busy!

That's me, all right.

I've made a space just for all my sewing, DIY and design related posts. It's called Loveless Arachne - which also happens to be the name of the shop on Etsy I'll be opening in a few weeks, depending on how everything comes together in the next little while.

So I've been pushing myself and working out some new designs, while steadily and gradually building up stock to put in the shop. I don't intend to list a lot of things right away, but a few items at a time and we'll see how it goes. The first few things I intend to post are all things I worked out over last summer -- the Jellyfish will definitely be a part of this (not so much the Alot of Cake!)

I'm hoping that once I get a few items made up, I can perhaps get a few friends to help me model/take pictures of all my stuff. I really really want to try and keep them classy and more to the editorial and artistic side of things. I love editorial photography, and really want to use live models whenever I can - I think it just adds something. If I can't coerce my friends to do it with my charming zealotry for this project, perhaps I can bribe them (free swag, anyone?) Don't worry, friends who read my blog, I will of course ask/beg you in person when I'm prepared for this step, I'm just honestly really excited for it.

There are a lot of other things to do, of course. But for now the blog is up, and that's a start! ;)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Prophecy in Retrospect

Recently, I was watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother, and once again it occurred to me just how similar the character Marshal and I are. Save gender, there's a lot of things about the character I personally identify with. The fact that he was raised in a smaller town in Minnesota gives him similar attributes that I acquired growing up in small town BC - love of outdoors, a large family, and a certain set of values I associate with living in a smaller community. I also identify with Marshal's tendency to sing what he is doing. This is a trait I've been known for, and just the other day Mr. C caught me singing a ditty about the load screen for Dr. Who: Worlds In Time. But, this episode put some light on Marshal's beliefs in the occult, and where it comes from. I, like him, read those stories as a child and saw them as almost a form of religion. It wasn't fake, it was all real, all of it. The possibilities were endless, and all things plausible. I mean, come on, it's a big huge amazing world, and if a book told me that it was possible for certain paranormal phenomena to exist it must exist.

I know a lot of kids who have big wide open imaginations, but I don't think I knew anyone who took it as seriously as I did. I was kind of the Luna Lovegood of my elementary school, as I see it. I was weird, I believed in everything, and kind of encouraged other people to open their minds too. I did projects about aliens, could of gone to a public speaking event for elementary students in grade four or five for a paranormal research speech I gave, if I had said yes but I didn't because I was kind of embarrassed by it. Because even though I believed it, with all my heart, I knew that the other kids thought I was kind of weird for believing it the way I did.

Eventually I learned my lessons in believing in everything you read or hear, and trusting sources and all that sort of stuff. It took awhile, but eventually I learned that sometimes a ghost story is just a story, not a fact.

But you know what? A part of me still does believe in all that paranormal stuff. I just can't close out that part of my mind, no matter what.

So when I randomly found a mysterious book in my house called "Mysteries of the Unexplained" a book published by readers digest in 1982, I was thrown back into my childhood. It wasn't the same book series my Mom has on her shelf that I read to death as a kid, but the stories were similar enough and some of them were even the same that I found my mind being taken to insane realms of possibilities once again. This is the stuff science fiction fantasy is made of, the stuff of my youth. It's a nice way to reminisce while at the same time explore the realm of what could be rather than what is. As a person who dabbles in writing sci-fi fantasy, it's the perfect way to relax and take your mind to new places. At least for me.

So far my favourite section has been about prophecies, and here's why.

The first thing that caught my eye when I opened the book was this image. Which made me think, respectively, of the TARDIS and Balloon Boy. Which made me laugh to imagine someone predicting balloon boy. Then I read the blurb (the book is written all in short blurbs laid out in a seemingly random pattern) which states that these are images from Cyrano de Bergerac's early science fiction works Voyage to the Moon and Sun published first in 1656. First off, I was happy to learn that Cyrano was a real person, it just made me love the play a little more. Second, I was shocked to learn that he was considered a prophet, and that he made references in his works of fiction to rocket propulsion. But there it was. He was the first to write of electricity, light bulbs, tape recorders, hot air balloons, berm houses and mobile homes. Oh, and he also wrote a short story about a Doctor from the sun who travelled through space and time in a box.

The book was published in 1982, so some of the prophecies printed hadn't hit their time yet. By that I mean, there are a few of them talking about the future, and one in particular caught my eye because of current events. It's about the papacy. I thought I'd share.

Basically, the blurb-article talks about the historical popes, and how this Saint Malachy of Ireland predicted what the popes would be known for in only a few words written in Latin. He said there would be 112 popes, and he wrote about each in order. Some of the predictions were really vague, but many of them were considered quite accurate given the facts we know about each popes reign (is reign accurate?). Of course, I looked into it more out of curiosity (here's the wiki on it!), but it seems to me that this St. Malachy was kind of a legit prophet to some extent. The prophecies were short, but they were also kind of eerily accurate. And, if it is to be believed , after this pope comes the end of the papacy as we know it.

So I looked at the state of the church, the papacy, and religion in our modern world. I could easily believe that there's going to be a big change in the church soon, I mean look at the way society is starting to view religion in general. Things are changing, a lot.

That being said, I'm kind of curious to see what happens here. I'm not routing for the end of the papacy, not exactly. I'm routing for the prophecy to wind up being accurate. So that I can confirm or deny it. And this looks to me like a prophecy that may actually be likely to happen in my lifetime. I mean, anyone can try and tell me Nostradamus acurately made prophecies, but his works were published in no specific order with no time frame references. They were kind of a mess, and are rather hard to translate, so you can sort of just slap a "Nostradamus predicted that!" on any global event and it can sorta kinda seem accurate.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Or: A List of Things Hollywood Doesn't Tell You About Being Unemployed

Number one, first and foremost over all other things: You can't afford shit all when you are unemployed. Hollywood always portrays unemployed people as running around in designer clothing, using the fanciest new cell phones, having cool cars and awesome haircuts. (I'm talking about you, Jeff Winger/Carrie Bradshaw). They go into incredibly expensive stores and, while loudly complaining about being broke, purchase half the store. Sure, sometimes TV and movies like to make a big deal about money issues, but they usually gloss it over in the shiny way that Hollywood does, and make a sort of joke about it. All while ensuring that the notably broke and unemployed character looks better than everyone else the majority of the time, and you rarely if ever see them wearing the same thing twice. In reality - it's the small things. When you find that once-loved designer item with only the slight stain on it that you're sure no one will notice at the thrift store you are thinking "score".

Number two: Mad-cap adventures don't randomly start happening just because you are unemployed, and your friends are busy with work and school and stuff.  When you are unemployed, your social network does not all of a sudden become unemployed along with you. (And if by chance some of them do, you're all too busy looking for more work to spend much time together at all). On shows people seem to do more when they are unemployed. They make road trips to Detroit and get lost! They meet new people at the coffee shop who turn out to be mass murderers! They buy a cab! They go on some wacky zany get rich quick scheme that somehow winds up with the male characters being sold into a harem! And most of the time they manage to convince an employed friend to ditch work and go along with them. In this competitive market everyone knows they can be replaced, no one you know is going to ditch work for a road trip. And besides, as point number one addresses: You are broke, you don't have the money for this crap. Anyway everyone you know is probably too responsible for that kind of thing now; they have to look after themselves, they aren't teenagers and thus can't act like them. TV likes to make adults act like stupid kids a lot.

Number three: You're really not going to have a lot to talk about, anyway. Interesting things, although they will intermittently happen, wont happen constantly as they seem to on TV. In shows, interesting things must happen, dialogue must occur, because who would watch a show where nothing ever ever happens? So when you tell people something that happened, you might find you've already told them that a few days/weeks ago. And being unemployed kind of means that you are looking for a new job so most conversations probably are going to start with that awkward "Soooooo... uh, know anywhere that's hiring?" Because that is ALL you can feasibly think about after being unemployed for an extended period of time. Sure, you might do stuff. Like watch daytime TV and spend way too much time on I Can Has Cheez Burger. But really, you've posted all that crap to Facebook already, and we all know you've been tweeting about the episodes of  Buffy you've been re-watching again on Netflix, and there are only so many conversations about your cats that people can take. And eventually, if you're me, you will start talking to your cat (because remember, all your friends are busy at work) about the other cat. Because you've even run out of things to talk about with them.

Number four: People don't often take whatever completely random job comes their way, they hand out resumes and go through interviews first. In a lot of TV shows you will see the job search, by way of the character being on the job site "trying the job out" because they are now going to have a series of hilarious mishaps and firings because they are doing things they've never ever done before. Like the person has never worked in retail/customer service and gets a job in retail and flips out at a customer. Or construction, another thing they've never ever done, and they cause a hilarious series of debilitating groin injuries. Maybe they were a teacher forever, and decide to cook meth even though they never have broken the law once. Or, as it is often portrayed as the most degrading of jobs, slinging burgers for a fast food joint perhaps hilariously thinking the meat is people. Occasionally this part of the story is a montage if it's in a movie. Sadly, I don't think montages actually happen in real life, at least I've never experienced one. And in my experience, jobs don't often let you try it out for a day, and most often you have to interview well before getting thrown on the job site.

There's a lot of uncertainty looking for work. It sort of drives you crazy, and it can kind of feel like you suck personally because of it after a while. And even though Hollywood doesn't always show that part without a bit of a joke or a sappy moment, they still do show it most of the time. In reality, unemployment isn't that bad, there are some bad points to it, sure. But it can be kind of cool, too. It gives you a chance to take some "you time" which every one needs, and it can shift your focus and help you out a lot more than you know. It can be a really cool positive time, and that's the part of it that Hollywood tends to focus on because hey, shows are meant to be entertainment and a distraction from reality. Just don't expect life to be exactly like the movies all the time, and you'll be okay.

(still hoping for a montage)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Crooked Crochet

Yesterday it was so freakishly nice and warm and sunny out, I wanted to wear shorts. My cream soda shorts. With thigh high leg warmers. I didn't, because I don't have thigh high leg warmers. YET. (also Mr. C might have made that face he makes when I'm dressing too runway. I love having a man who's so honest when I ask his opinion about clothes. Honestly, if it wasn't for him some days I'd probably be a ridiculous explosion of colour and self expression and accessories.)

I recently have been experimenting with crocheting to look like knit ribbing, and I've created a knee high spats style leg warmer in khaki green. I just need some awesome buttons, and then the one will be done. I've started the second one, although I kind of wish I had written down what I had done exactly as I went along because right now they don't look exactly the same... Oh well, next time I decide to whip up something in crochet off the top of my head I will remember to write down the pattern so I can recreate it exactly.

I'll definitely post a picture of me wearing them in the near future... camera needs batteries. And to have the zoom function fixed.

I got a Pintrest account set up today. Decided that it's going to be used (primarily) as an inspiration board for my design. I've slapped some pictures of designs I love and some inspirational photos so far. I like the idea of Pintrest, but I think I have to play around with it more to really know whether I'll use it or not.

I got a scanner for my birthday! So I wanted to show you some of my sketches. I'm gunna go through and pic out the ones I like best, and will make another post of just them. I've made a couple of them already, like the cream soda shorts. I have all the fabric I need to make the long coat, but I haven't started it yet. I've also started the super wide-legged pants. They are so '70's retro inspired that I want to vomit up rainbows, I love the fabric I chose for them so much! And now that I also own my own serger (thanks Mommy! Best Christmas gift <3 <3) whom I have named Sergei, I can get a lot more finished sewing wise.

Although it's difficult to temper mass design/sewing urges with the desperate need for a 'real job'. So I have all these awesome sewing project ideas, but I probably wont have time to get to any of them super soon. I have to finish other projects first. Thus the crochet - it's far more portable, and I can work on it most anywhere. Except this last time I bought yarn I bought a ridiculously huge ball, because I wasn't sure how much I was going to need (I knew I was using it to make leg warmers, but I had no pattern and didn't even know if I was making thigh highs or knee highs).

Also - my crochet always seems to want to lean. Like the leaning crochet of Pisa or something, my rectangles always turn into trapezoids. Even if I'm following a pre-designed pattern. Maybe I'll make that my crochet signature.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Movin' and Groovin', Shakin' and ... Bacon?

I really have to buckle down, I say as I type on my blog as a means to procrastinate. Well, that's not entirely true - I did just put a load of laundry in the wash. And the printer is printing resumes.

I need to crack down on the resume thing, because this is getting a little stressfully ridiculous. EI is up at the end of March, still haven't found a job. It's frightening, is what it is, and has been a factor in my horrible moodiness lately. I got my printer set up today, started printing off resumes with the intention of going out on the prowl today, only to discover I have no shirts clean that aren't logo T's, and not even ones I designed. I know, I know, it sounds like yet another excuse, but I really can't hand out resumes in khaki green cargo pants, a M*A*S*H t-shirt (that's almost the same colour as the pants, so really I'd never leave the house in this outfit) and red canvas sneakers. I mean, I could, but I wouldn't call me in for an interview dressed like that. I have standards, and expect other people to share those standards or at the very least have a set of their own. 

So the laundry is laundering, the printer is noisily printing away (complete with curious cat investigating) and I'm preparing myself for my plans for next week: The resume week from hell. I've sectioned off my entire city via bus routes and primary hiring locations, I've prospected out the most likely hiring locations, and I've devised the most efficient way to hand out resumes at every corner of this city. If you're local, expect to see me at your place of employment with a resume in hand, a smile on my face, and a pair of killer heels. Because everyone respects a chick who'll hand out resumes in 3" tall heeled army-inspired boots when they are walking and busing it,  right?

Anyway! Other than that -- I've been feeling a little bit better lately. Still not really 100% myself, but I think getting back on track and employed will help that. 

I was going to blog about my opinions today, I had this whole thing planned to go off about bill C-11... and then I decided not to. Why? Well, mostly because I'm going to research my opinion a little bit more, learn a bit more about C-11 and current copyright law in this country. I want to get my facts straight, and then I'll blog about it. But! I will say this: I am firmly opposed to C-11. After the Prez' of the USA vetoed SOPA, I had hoped that politicians in Canada would see the devastating effects of such ridiculous laws. But I'm not going to rely on that hope - our current administration here in my beautiful country has already put into place some policies I'm dead against, and made some real jacked up decisions lately.

What it all boils down to: I just have a huge issue with copyright infringement sentencing being harsher than sentencing for rape, murder, child abuse, molestation -- well, pretty much the only thing I've seen lately that they will serve harsher sentences for is marijuana and other drug related charges. (Which is also really f@%^# up, in my humble opinion). Why do we need reform when these laws are already in place which are effective, and serve up sentences which seem ridiculous and cruel? I mean, come on! Kim Dotcom from Megaupload was denied bail, even though he is not a violent offender. Even though his only crime was to create a website, where other people uploaded the content, people from around the world he didn't even know. The US wants to extradite him and his colleagues (Thank you Gov't of Canada for opening that window of extradition on ridiculous charges. See: Mark Emery) and the case against him is claiming he owes over $620 million in lost revenue due to pirated content of the website, and is allegedly being charged a minimum of 50 years to life in prison. (Okay, I know he hasn't been sentenced yet, and he was a hacker and was charged for some insider trading and fraud in the past. But these previous cases against him aren't being included in this new copyright based one)

How about we shift focus for a moment, and start punishing REAL criminals? You know, the murderers, the rapists, the gangs and the child abusers? How about we focus our criminal justice system on the people who are actually killing other people, and stop putting so much focus and attention on what should be considered petty crime? This year in Peru an American was in the court system for mass murder. He was sentenced but will serve no jail time due to a misrepresentation of evidence, even though he plead guilty. In 2005 a child rapist in Vermont was sentenced to 6 months in prison for over five years of repeated offence. The judge said long term sentences do nothing for these kinds of offenders, so there was no point sentencing him for a longer prison stay. He had no monetary fines, and was permitted out on bail in less than a month. This year in Vancouver, BC a man who broke into a home and attacked a 12 year old was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with chance of bail. Because of time already served, he was honoured a credit in the system and will be getting out in about 5 years. 

Fuck that noise. I'm sorry, but in my mind all this proves is that the justice system is completely fucked up. That people with money make the laws, that all us regular people have no rights. Unless of course, we're criminals, because then we must be treated fairly while incarcerated. I would never kill or rape or hurt another person on purpose for any reason. But because I download shit, because I use YouTube and occasionally enjoy spoofing something, because I may have once or twice grabbed a few pics off of Google without crediting them, I'm a horrible criminal who must be punished to the harshest sentence possible? GIVE ME A GODDAMN BREAK.

I just made myself very angry

Now that I'm calm - I understand Kim Dotcom is not just a regular person. He's an internet mogul who is in charge of all the "mega" websites. He created a space for people to upload content - similar to youtube, really. But less control over copyrighted content. How can he be blamed for the content users of the website upload? Allegedly the person who uploaded Wolverine: Origins to the website was to be incarcerated for a year. That doesn't seem too extreme. However, where does it stop?

Mash up videos, spoofs, a song playing in the background of the video of baby's first steps - will these be pulled for unauthorised use of copyright content? Will the uploader be fined or incarcerated?

A teenage girl downloads a song from an album her parents wont let her buy because they decided it's too racey. All her friends listen to it, and sing it, she wants a part of that. She's a kid, what does she know of consequences? Too bad the download she picked had a tracer, and now she's being fined for copyright infringement.

That bronie over there, the one making the video of the My Little Ponies using that li'l Wayne song - is he going to be charged twice?

I just can so easily see these control measures turning into something awful. Something akin to censorship, a control measure to stop people from freely accessing information. I remember how the internet used to be, a few hackers here a few there, chat rooms and terribly designed web pages with inaccurate information floating around all over the place. Then the flood gates burst, and it was like the world shifted focus. We don't look out our windows any more, we look at our Windows. Or whatever OS you're using. 

How about lets make it easier for websites to obtain licensing to show television programs online, without restrictions like "you're from Canada, and even though you GET THIS CHANNEL you can't watch any of our shows online because you're from Canada!" Nothing drives me towards downloading more than that one little thing. Even though I have cable with 2 different channels that show South Park, I never seem to catch the new episodes. And I can't watch the damn show online anywhere because I'm not allowed. Even though I would be considered part of the shows audience. Even though I would be willing to put up with shitty ads if I could just watch the damn show when I want, not when it's scheduled to be on TV. So yeah, I will download it. Because you've given me only one (2) other option(s), that never seem to pan out. Every time I tune in, it's an old episode I've already seen.

Maybe Netflix spoiled me. Maybe Megaupload and other free streaming sites have corrupted me. Or maybe, I just see the innovation of it, the potential. Maybe if television could give me a better, more affordable option to watch the shows I want to watch when I want them without having to pay out the ass I would be able to. But as it stands I can barely afford the basic cable I have now. I can't afford to add 28 more channels just to get HBO, because to get it I'd have to upgrade twice because you can't have tier 5 without tier 3 and 4. Cable television is a money grubbing horrible HORRIBLE corporation, that feeds on societies addiction to entertainment. And they are threatened by the fact that internet gives us even more than what they are providing. 

Anyway, now that I'm seriously riled up again, I think I'm gunna go watch some episodes of Buffy. On Netflix. Because like there's anything I actually want to watch on TV right now. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

They Used to Say "Big Boned" to be Polite. That Sounds Like A Euphemism

There's been a lot of talk and controversy that I'm noticing on my social network feeds. About how skinny is not beauty, about the fashion industry and it's portrayal of size 0-4 women as being "average" sized.

First and foremost, before I go any further I'm going to stop you all right there. In no way did the whole super skinny super model come about to portray a society standard in women's clothing sizes. Any woman who looks at fashion and thinks a designer dresses only size 2 girls on his runway because of more than industry standards and expense is silly. Sure, on some level their may be aesthetics involved. On some level, designers might want a particular model for her name. But the smaller the girl, the smaller the sample being made for the runway needs to be. And the smaller the sample, the less of the expensive chiffon and Swarovski crystals are needed. Which cuts down a designers cost. If every designer were dressing "real" size women for their runway samples, they would be spending double and triple their budget for the same sample run. I'm not being callous, it's the truth. It costs way more to produce a dress for a size 20 than it does for a size 2, you need more edging to go around a size 20 hem, you need more fabric. You need to cut the dress completely differently, you need to know your models proportions and bust size far more intimately. With a size 2 girl you can count on her having little curves and a smaller bust, leave some extra seam allowance for letting out and taking in where you need to, and with that you can architecturally build the shape and curves you want with fabrics, interfacing and a little boning. On a size 20 girl you need that interfacing and boning just to ensure her décolletage is under control and she isn't going to have a nip slip on the runway. And you may not have enough fabric to let out the seams if you need too. I'm not trying to be callous, I'll make dresses for real plus sizes, and petites and whoever. And I have, so I know the difference.

Some designers will pack their runways full of only one type of girl, with one body shape. This is totally because of comfort and ease, and the speed of which someone can produce when they know they are only picking models size 2 with relatively the same dimensions. Sometimes you will hear of designers only picking Scandanavian women, or women of African descent. And this happens because fashion is art. Designers, artists. And all artists have a vision. When a designer draws up a concept, sketches out a model, and starts mocking up a new gown, he already has a type of girl in mind. She might be willowy and hippy like, with long tawny hair. She might be fierce, a warrior woman, a business woman, a girl on a night out, the girl next door -- trust me, this is all part of the process of design, whether you've been through school for it or not. Even us self taught pattern makers and sewers and designers have a person in mind when we make a beautiful garment. It's not that designers are trying to push their own ideals into society, they are just trying to show society their artistic vision.

That being said, do I agree with only using super tiny super tall girls in a runway show?

Well, if I were running the show, not at all. I would want to be able to show my diversity as a designer, which means displaying diversity on my runway.

And a lot of designers do just that! Betsey Johnson used plus size girls in the live runway she broadcast via Youtube for fashion week in NYC. Her daughter was one of the models too. It's part of her ascetic as a designer to design for women of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds. This is why she's one of my favourite designers. Here's a picture Google tagged as a Betsey Runway model from her 2011 show. This girl is rocking it, and is considered plus size for the industry.
I know, I know, a lot of people look at this girl and say "She is NOT plus sized!"

Well, lets agree to disagree for a minute. I always kind of considered the fashion word "plus sized" to mean "plus ten" so in my head I like to call this girl a "size zero plus". Think of it. If you're a size 12, you could tell everyone you are a size 2 plus. Does it make you feel smaller or bigger to say it that way? Okay, I'm being kind of sarcastic. But, it's true. Any girl size ten or larger in the fashion industry is considered plus, whether we think that's fair or not. It's not about our own size, and a lot of girls take it personally like that. I fit clothing anywhere from a size 10 to 14, depending on cut and fit and style. Do I like hearing a size 10 girl is "plus sized"? No, not really. But I look at myself in the mirror, and I know I'm not fat or ugly, just because an industry labelled me plus. I'm not a model, I'm just a girl on the streets. People double take me, I have gorgeous brown eyes and love my curves. Am I plus? Well, if I were walking a runway, yes. In real life, not really.

Now, here's another fun thing. Sizes are not the same everywhere. Every designer has their own conventions for measurement, some only do custom work, some mass produce using a standardized chart. A European size 12 and a US size 12 are going to be different, guaranteed. Just like a department store size 10 vs a designer boutique size 10. No two sizes are going to be the same. Heck, who hasn't been shopping for jeans and put on two styles and found they needed a larger size in one pair, but in the other style needed a smaller size? It's all about standards, and their are no international standards, nor standards that run between companies. I swim in a large from Old Navy, but have to buy some things in a large from Le Château. So, to some people that girl in that picture is a plus size, to others she's not. It's all just opinion. (And really, who cares! She was in a BJ fashion show I'm really super jealous of her even if she's plus!)

This model is plus sized, probably to anyone no matter how they look at the label plus. And gorgeous, although I wish more designers encouraged their models to look happy and smile when they walk. And, the bust on this dress doesn't fit her properly. This is what I mean, this would be a reason a designer might not want a plus sized model, because you cannot guarantee that she isn't going to have completely different dimensions than the dress you designed at her size. She might have told the designer she was a D cup in bra, where to me she plainly looks larger than a D. But, not all designers are even aware of cup size, especially if they are male designers and have only ever dressed smaller women with smaller breasts.

The most important thing in design, is fit. And many designers (obviously not this one) don't know how to dress and fit a plus sized woman.

But bad fit can happen on even the smallest of models. This is a picture of some terrifying clothing that came from Project Runway. This is a standard sized model, but she doesn't look right in this outfit, because it just doesn't fit. So, before you say I'm prejudiced, I just want to let you know that bad fit can happen on any sized girl. When a bad outfit doesn't fit, it's tragic. When a good outfit doesn't fit, it destroys what's good about it.

Okay, now I'm done over explaining about the fashion industry, I do have another point to make.

All of these women, be them the "plus" sizes or "standard" sizes, are fucking beautiful. Just because they are labeled as one thing or another does not change the fact that they are unique and stunning ladies. Is curvy more pretty than skinny? The answer is NO. Is skinny more beautiful than fat? NO.

On my Facebook wall I posted this picture a while ago that some people may have taken offence too. Especially my friends who are thin, or those who would ideally be thin. My personal tastes tell me that Marilyn Monroe is the hottest woman in that image, but that's because I identify with her curvaceousness. I'm a curvy girl, I have heavy bones and thick hips, I will never look like Keira Knightly, never ever no matter how much I work out or diet. I don't think Keira isn't beautiful, that's not what I was trying to say by posting this image, although I know some people took it that way. What I am saying is my body shape could look like Marilyn, I could get rid of the jiggle and maybe have a body like Betty Paige. Without plastic surgery, I could never look like Heidi Montag, and I don't want too.

I've come to accept that I am a curvaceous girl, that I have booty, I have breasts. And I'm beautiful.

I just wonder what it is, how it is, that society seems to think woman have to conform to some kind of standard of size and shape. In my opinion, beauty isn't being thin, or being fat. It's not having pale skin or tanned skin. It's not dying your hair to be brunette or blond or blue. It's something inside, and when I say when did thin become hotter than curvy, I mean, when did anything become hotter than anything else? Beauty is beauty, and all eight of those women are beautiful to someone. Beauty is subjective, and that's the truth.

And hey, just so you know, if Marilyn was a model today, walking runway or doing stills, she'd be considered plus size too.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Another Year

It's 2012!  Yes, that's right. It's the year the 'world ends' according to a bunch of people who have opinions about these sort of things. I'm not one of them, or so I would like to think. However, the permeating message that the end of times is nigh does subconsciously give me the heebie-jeebies, and I can't deny that a portion of my internal self is thinking "oh fuck" at the prospect of this potentially being my last year in this life as I know it.

Sounds like the apocalypse might be a lot of fun, actually.

Or then again, maybe that's just my stupid brain being stupid and I shouldn't listen to the doom sayers and just keep on truckin' through the futility of all things like every other person on the planet.

Man, I'm really depressed lately.

I'm done talking about that before I even start. It's dark and dank in that cavernous region of my mind and I'm tired of being there, and even that little paragraph is too much of a reminder of not good feelings for me right now. I'm starting this post over, and I'm not talking about things that you don't need to know.

I love coffee, but a fancy ass Starbucks latte is way too expensive, especially when you want such a lovely sugary coffee substance daily or even more than one a day. I'm not going to deny it, I love me my fancy ass Starbucks, it takes the coffee to a level of euphoric yumminess beyond it's natural state of yumminess. Not only do I get the invigorating effects of caffeine coursing through my veins, but the added sugary goodness gives a person that instant zip zap zoom that makes me want to actually accomplish things.

Sugar makes me manic.

Last January Mr. C bought for me an espresso maker. We searched all over town until I found one I liked. The steamer doesn't get to a high enough temperature to make perfect lattes, but I found if you microwave your milk first for about 30seconds it heats it enough to get a good healthy foam on top.  Then I began searching for the best espresso beans. I had already graduated to grinding my own coffee before owning the espresso maker, so continuing on with this trend I searched high and low for the perfect bean. At first I thought Starbucks would be the obvious choice, but I learned that wasn't so. The Starbucks blends they sell just seem to come out different when made at home. After much searching I finally found Kicking Horse's Grizzly Claw dark roast whole beans. I can find it in any of the local grocery stores as its a semi-local company here in BC, and it's a really good dark roast, and makes excellent espresso albeit it's not a traditional espresso bean. So, after some trials and errors leading to less errors, I figured out how to get my espresso maker to work in top form and make coffee I love.

I also began purchasing different flavours of syrups (toffee and vanilla mostly) and experimenting with different flavours of latte. I found it strange how difficult it was to find syrups in town here, coming to the conclusion that only 2 places in town sell it, outside of Starbucks where occasionally I could purchase the caramel drizzle there as well if I was willing to spend more money on it than I wanted to. Because of the lack of supply, sometimes I wouldn't be able to find the flavours I wanted, and would wind up buying something different because I really prefer my lattes to have a sugary sweetness to them. This, I realised, was kind of a problem. The lack of flavours I wanted, combined with the seasonal deliciousness known as the pumpkin spice latte, I found myself back at Starbucks at least once a week.

Then I came to the realisation that I wasn't really saving as much money as I wanted to be saving by having my own means of making lattes. And I was still frequenting Starbucks to get the gourmet flavours I wanted, probably at least once a week. So not only was I still purchasing coffee at coffee shops, I was also buying syrups at approximately $15-$25 a bottle (depending on volume of bottle, of course) and honestly, the beans I buy are not on the cheap side, because I don't like cheap tasting coffee.

It hit me like something that hits really hard and makes you see things a little skewed for a few minutes, and I remembered: I have made simple syrups before. Syrups are fucking easy! Like STUPID easy to make! AND CHEAP.

Okay, so to make a simple syrup all you need is sugar and water in equal parts. Dump it into a pan. Bring the water to a boil while whisking. Wait for it to go clear, reduce the heat and simmer stirring occasionally until half of the liquid evaporates. It takes less than 5 minutes to accomplish all of this. There, sugar syrup, good for so many different things that need added liquid sweetness. So if a 4kg bag of sugar costs me approximately $5, I only spend about $0.10 on the sugar used in each 250mL bottle of syrup if I am using 1 cup of sugar per bottle of home made syrup, which I am.

Then flavouring? The first attempt was good ol' trusty vanilla. Because who doesn't have vanilla extract kicking around somewhere? And if you don't have vanilla, don't fret. It's still ridiculously inexpensive if you shop around for the best prices on baking extracts and spices. Spices are inexpensive these days, if you know where to look. I spent just under $9 at my local Bulk Barn on 5 whole nutmegs, a bunch of whole cloves, a honey bear squeezy bottle (for the dulce de leche I intend to make soon) and two 100mL bottles of baking extracts: Pure Almond, and Pure Anise @2.99 each.

I did the maths. I like doing maths for no reason sometimes. If I am only paying ten cents in sugar per 250mL bottle of syrup, and I'm only paying approximately 15 cents in spicing per bottle of syrup (depending on how fancy I feel like being), then each bottle of syrup costs me only ... twenty five cents. Seriously? That means I'm only paying three cents for each sugary shot added to my latte!

If I break it down even further, cost of milk and coffee beans, I pay roughly $1.50 for each fancy gourmet latte I make at home, as opposed to the $6 per grande size coffee at Starbucks I will spend. Totally worth it.

LATTE SYRUP RECIPES (ones I've tried so far)

Vanilla Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(I used artificial vanilla for this one, and it was fine. I'm kind of sensitive to flavours, so I noticed the artificial vanilla seemed to bring out a metallic kind of after taste to the syrup. Probably a result of the propylene glycol in the extract, or perhaps using a little too much vanilla. I would suggest using real vanilla extract and only 2tsp at most, but if you don't have it and aren't as picky as me use artificial it's cheaper and almost as good)

Cinnamon Vanilla
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
2 sticks of cinnamon (2" long)
1 tsp vanilla extract (the vanilla extract I use is not the clear kind, it's the amber kind. I really like the amber colour it makes the syrups)

Anise Spice
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
5 whole cloves
1 tsp anise extract
1 pinch of ginger OR coarsely grate some ginger root into it if you don't want "floaties" in your syrup, but use a scant amount
1 cinnamon stick 2" long
1/4 of a very small nutmeg, crushed. Would have been equal to about 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg if you aren't worried about "floaties" in the syrup.
I strained out the cloves and stuff before bottling it.

Almond Rocha
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp butter -- this was a mistake. I should have purchased some butter flavour to use (found in most grocery stores baking section for flavouring icing), as the real butter made the syrup go kind of milky instead of clear and ambery pretty. Now it's separating the fat from the added butter and it's floating on top of the syrup, all yellow and butter fat looking. It tastes great, but looks weird.

All the recipes methods were the same.
1) Dump sugar and water unceremoniously into a pan. I used my 1 quart pot.
2) Add whatever spice and flavours you want. And, if you want, food colouring. I totally would.
3) Turn heat to MAX and bring it up to a boil while whisking occasionally and inconsiderately. A whisk is not necessary, but I just like them they are more fun than spoons.
3) When it starts to boil (in about 2-3 minutes) reduce the heat down to like 7, or somewhere between middle and high heat so it simmers.
4) Walk the fuck away and go on twitter and forget you are making stuff. But don't forget for longer than a couple of minutes, or you might evaporate it all the way down into a thick goo or burn it.
5) In about 2 minutes, when you remember you are cooking something, go stir it really well with your whisk. If it's reduced to half it's original volume it's done. You should have about 1 cup or so of liquid, a little more or a little less is fine.
6) Let it cool and for gods sake, don't try any right away! You WILL burn your mouth. And hot sugar burns are the worst. Especially in your mouth. Trust me.
7) Strain out any floaties from your spices with a mesh wire strainer or, if you want to make sure even the finest of particles don't make it into the final bottle, use cheesecloth.
8) Let it sit for awhile. I know, you want to try it NOW but seriously, this stuff is up tight and hot and needs a few minutes left alone to chill out and cool down.
9) Then pour it into a bottle. I went to a dollar store and bought some cute vinegar bottles, the kind with the rubbery corks with the pour spouty things, not the kinds with the little triangle tops that are for shaking on your fries. I guess they are called cruets. They all say "vinegar" in very fancy script on them. I like it, it's deceptive.
10) Label it, and store it. It doesn't need to be refrigerated, as it's syrup and it'll keep for awhile on the counter. You can refrigerate it if you are worried about it I guess. The worst that's going to happen is the water content will evaporate out and you'll be left with super concentrated syrup, or if it's left open for a really long time like a few weeks, you'll have lovely flavoured sugar crystals inside a glass bottle.