29 June 2010

Summer time...

                                           Photo via craigieonmain.com
And the livin' (as a grad student) ain't easy.  Is anything easy when you're in graduate school?  Anything other than self effacement and practice of anti-social behavior?  Well, let's not dwell on that.  In keeping with speaking and manifesting, I have a summer spinoff of my Life List.  The Summer Livin' List.  This will motivate me to do more than drink on my back porch.

Summer Livin' List 

  • visit the Berkshires
  • Eat at Jack's 
  • Do the Cocktail Whim at Craigie on Main 
  • Do the Chef's Whim at Craigie on Main 
  • Do Martha's Vineyard
  • Go Camping 
  • One more sewing project
  • Make headway on the 52 Cheeses
  • Roaring 20's Birthday Party
  • Make ice cream
  • Brunch on summer weekends
  • cocktails around (and maybe swimming in) a roof pool
  • After dinner walks through my neighborhood
  • French cooking class
    •     chocolate mousse
    •     fruit tart
  • Watch a sunset from the beach
  • Watch a sunrise from the beach
  • BONFIRE!!!
  • Spend a weekend in Provincetown
  • Clam Bake/Crab Boil/Lobster Boil

Of course I'm free to add other fun things.  Don't ya just love the summer?

Loving: Kind Mango Macadamia

I have been loving KIND's Mango Macadamia Bar.  No this is not a paid endorsement unless pay= deliciousness in my tumbly.  Yes.  Tumbly.  Settle your teeth into this one friends.  You'll be glad you did.

28 June 2010

Nu Shooz

Oh.  yes.  My bike commute in 85 degree temperatures and 70% humidity was terrible, but I wore super shoes and super shoes make all the difference. Right?
Photo courtesy of the fabulous Neighbor Sister

Yes y'all.  Determined not to look like an obvious graduate student*,  I've put a touch of effort into my bike gear and it's paid off in these sweet sweet mama's.  They are just the beginning of my rubber bottomed bike shoe arsenal.  Those wedges?  They're rubber foam, perfectly 'foot braking' safe.  There's a  bit of a jute on the sole but most of it is rubber and I had great traction on the pedal.  What's the verdict?  VELOve these shoes?

*FAIL...yesterday (Sunday) i found my way into lab in a holey t-shirt with bike grease on my bosom.  Every day a new start right?

25 June 2010

Pink a Boo

OPI Axxium in Pink Flamenco.

15 June 2010

Who can? Toocan!

That's right folks.  Panniers!   And nice ones!  I love the Detours Toocans and special bonus?  I found a sweet deal on Craigslist.  I got these babies for $70 altogether.  The one drawback in my opinion is that the bags are kind of heavy on their own which becomes a problem when you're unloading them for toting about.  As long as they're on the bike they're fine.  Pros?  They're attractive!  I've gotten more than one compliment on these lovelies, they're sturdy (the counter to the drawback), so.many.pockets!  great for keeping things separate.  If I hadn't gotten such a great deal that I had to eschew the idea of retail altogether, I would have opted for a flashier color, still,  I love them.  Anyhow, if I had the motivation, I could adorn them as I saw fit.  With these and my bungee net, I'm a cargo pulling fool!

14 June 2010

Loving: More cyclists forgo special garb, commute in heels and suits

On such muggy mornings, embrace prints, writes Velouria. “Patterns disguise sweat stains. Wear small stripes, flowers or polka dots, slap some deodorant on when you get to work, and you’re dry and fine in five minutes.’’ 
For the most part, I bike in spandex bottoms.  My commute is near ten miles, twenty round trip and unexpected chafe can become a real problem by the end of the day.  Spandex curbs that.  While I'm not so sure about the prints, or whether you should even be sharing that you're sweating like a pig, I like that people are biking!  Caveat:  As much as I hate the aesthetic of helmets and love cycling in style...really Bostonians?  You have to be nuts not to wear a helmet.  This place is not terribly bike friendly and the potholes can send you careening toward TBI.  *dismount soapbox*

Check out these bike fashion blogs:
Copenhagen Cycle Chic
Chic Cyclists
Velo Vogue

A Handy Solution

I'm a picker, I'm finicky, I'm a sometimes perfectionist and I'm prone to fixation.  Basically, I can be an anxiety monster and my outlet is often my manicure.  Catch me in a nervous fit and you're likely to find me picking a cuticle, hangnail or scratching off nail polish.  Why?  Punishment, of course, for not being perfect.  I never said I wasn't crazy.  Anyhow, my fixations lead to a mixed bag of manicure results.  As long as I have time to get to a salon once every nine days or so for a manicure, my nails and hands look good, happy, healthy.  Let the manicure lapse, however, and we have problems.  Picking, biting, obsessively filing, first because 'my nails are ugly' (never mind that my fussing with them made them that way) then because I need to fix the damage I've inflicted.  All this AND I'm hard on my hands.  Being in lab means I'm washing them often.  Harsh.  Dry nails.  Dry hands.  NO MORE!   I've found an awesome solution.  OPI Axxium Gel Manicures!

Alright, I know, I sound like a shill, but here's the deal:  I'm not.  This product is just so awesome.  The Axxium gel system is a special gel formula that's painted over your natural nails and light cured.  Voila, great glossy long lasting manicure that lasts for up to three weeks.   Gel lacquer is so much more gentle and flexible than acrylic overlays or even traditional gel overlays.  I'm quite pleased.  Once my nails grow out I'll use more fun colors, for now, I'm sporting the Passion.  A neutral, so that if there are any glitches I can weather them until my next manicure.  

Pretty. Basic. Manicure.

13 June 2010

About Life List No. 40

I've completed my first project...and it's NOT a lunch bag.  Here's a teaser:

For now, I'm going to ask you to wait patiently and forgive me for the teaser...it's a gift!  I can't wait to give it in two weeks.  Once I do, I'll post the pics.  

11 June 2010

'Fro sure

For the most part, I try to avoid talking to other people about my hair.   People who know, know.  We acknowledge each other with secret wink-nod combinations or by asking what kinds of hippie products the other uses.  It's a friendly game of natural hair besting.  People who don't know, though, are in the majority.   Chances are that if a grown person asks me  'How did you get your hair so curly,' they're a bit behind the eight ball where ethnic diversity and cultural sensitivity are concerned.  Recently, as gauged from the questions I get on the bus and requests to 'touch it,'  Cantabrigians have taken an interest in Black hair.  I blame this uptick in interest on Michelle Obama's dynamic swinging non-Condie (nee helmet) hair and Malia Obama's New York Times mentioned twists.  People are curious about the versatility of Black hair, but the curiosity manifests itself in strange (and sometimes discomfiting) ways. 

My decision to go natural was...well natural.  As a scientist in training, I became increasingly aware of the nasty chemicals in relaxers and hair products and I moved toward a minimalist approach (by African American Standards) to hair care.  This resulted in some good hair situations and many bad...but hey, I have hair.  I know my hair.  I wear it as it grows out of my head just as much of the population does and, save  the occasional urge to dye it purple, I love my hair.  And so does Ashkenaz Spice, which was luck entirely.  Any time I return from the salon with a blowout he snits and remarks that he can't wait for my hair to go back to 'normal.'  I credit early exposure to Jewfro's.   

In my journey to the minimalist approach, I've found a few standby's.  3 are homemade, a few are store bought products I use in a pinch or in a lazy stretch.  For me, these things have proven worth the trouble to make, purchase...and use.  The flax gel is the BEST I've EVER used.  Better than Ampro, Dep, Isoplus, with no synthetic chemicals and downright cheap to boot.   The Quench works wonders.  The creme is a multipurpose hair and body moisturizer and the spritz is easy peasy.  Enjoy.

The Essentials I make:

Styling Spritz

I use this to refresh old styles, moisturize twists and to dampen my dry 'fro.  

Put into an empty 9 oz. spray bottle
1 Part leave in conditioner (I use Nexxus Humectress, or Hair Rules Nourishment Leave in Conditioner )
2T oil (I use sunflower oil or olive oil)
fill the remainder with water
Add essential oils for fragrance

Flax seed gel
Aveda will sell it to you for about 5 times what it costs to make at home
2 cups water
1/4 cup whole flax seed (ground will make a mess)
1T aloe vera juice (I use this kind) (emollient)
Essential Oils/ 1.5 t. olive oil (for vitamin E) (optional)
Mesh strainer

Boil water and flax seed in a pot.  Stir until flax seeds foam.  Turn heat off.  Strain gel into a clean bowl. Resulting gel should be golden/red brown in tint depending on the seeds you used and the consistency of egg whites. Add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance and to preserve gel.  Add aloe vera juice.  You can transfer your gel into a squirt (not spray) bottle if you like.  Stores in the refrigerator for between two weeks and a month.  Doesn't store well at all outside the fridge.

Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Honey and Cocoa Butter Whipped Hair Creme
It seems expensive and it does require quality ingredients but it's multipurpose.  You can use it as a body butter in a pinch...everything is edible and sweet like honey.  
~5 oz. shea butter, melted (moisturizer)
2T. coconut oil (moisturizer)
~ 1 oz. cocoa butter, melted (moisturizer)
1T. Honey, melted (humectant, emollient)
1T aloe vera juice (emollient)
tea tree oil to preserve creme
Essential oils for frangrance

Pour all the melted ingredients into a bowl (I use my stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whip until they're they consistency of creamed butter, add the aloe vera juice and a couple drops tea tree oil and essential oils for fragrance needed.  This recipe makes about 2.5x the starting volume because of the air whipped into the mixture.  I leave the portion I'm using out and store the rest in the fridge or freezer until I need them.  

The Essentials I buy :
Hair Rules Quench Conditioner now available at ULTA

The Extra's I buy:
Hair Rules Hydrating Finishing Cream--I use it as I would the Creme but not on my dry elbows.

Michael Stone's Natural Island Hair Scalp and Skin Nutrient--I use this as I would the cream but it's not as emollient.

07 June 2010

Loving: Bees for Beauty

These busy buzzing Turkish cuties plaster flower petals together to make their homes. 

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History