A Sunday in December

Merona top – Target
Coldwater Creek skirt – thrifted
Belt – Walmart
Boots – JCP
Earrings – hmmm…
There was just something about this outfit that I didn’t like. Can’t put my finger on it, but it simply had something wrong with it. Maybe it’s the top…it seems too matte against the velvet skirt. The neckline helps, and adding the belt did make a big difference, but it still seems to be lacking something. Ah well – it was comfortable and warm!
This skirt used to be quite a bit longer; I whacked off a good six inches. It was nice and warm, like wearing a blanket, when it was ankle-length, but long skirts tend to make me look even stumpier than I am. Here’s how I wore it long last winter:
It’s really not that bad long, I guess, but I do like it better knee-length. Now if I can just figure out the right top to wear with it…any suggestions?

Christmas Party Attire

Last weekend, Some Postman and I went to a Christmas party. Usually, I dress up a lot and he just wears jeans (either is fine for this particular party), but this year I decided to keep it simpler so we would look like we belonged together.

 Decree Sweater – JCP
George Black Ponte Pants – Walmart
Metallic Bag – NY Fashion Exchange
Earth Spirit Clogs – Walmart
The back of the sweater is sheer, so I wore a black tank underneath.

Umm…well…I guess I’ll live with it….

Sometimes free isn’t better.

I’d gotten a coupon in the mail recently for a free box of John Frieda Precision Foam Colour, along with a $5 off coupon for the same. I used both and got two boxes labeled “Medium Golden Brown”. Usually I buy L’Oreal Paris or Garnier hair color in that same color, so my hair should have turned out the way it usually does, right?

It didn’t.

Pros:  I did like the black vinyl gloves that came in the box; nice and heavy, and almost fit my short, stumpy fingers. The tube of conditioner included is large enough that it will last several weeks. The foam colorant didn’t have a super-strong scent.

Cons:  The foam may have been easy to apply to my head, but it was also very easy to get it all over my ears, neck and face. Not very precise, if you ask me. Maybe I’m not a pro at this, but I never have that problem with the liquid colorant. The foam doesn’t drip off your head like a liquid can, but since you have to squeeze the bottle to get the foam out, it gets all over the outside of the bottle when you switch hands. You set the bottle on the sink top, and then you’ve got colorant all over the place. I covered my hair with the foam really well, but still had some gray showing at my part. The biggest con:

This is NOT medium golden brown, folks!!! It’s MAHOGANY!!! I am startled every time I look in the mirror. Which I am doing as little as possible, trust me. I asked Some Postman if I should go to the salon and have it covered up, but he said it’s not that bad. So I guess I’ll live with it for a few weeks. And then I’m going to buy a box of L’Oreal and get my real hair color back!

Sorry, John Frieda Precision Foam Hair Colour. This turned out to be a not-so-good review of your product.

Anyone want that second box in my bathroom cabinet??? It’s free!

Gray and White, Like a Winter’s Day

When we left for church Sunday morning, it was in the mid-40s. By the time we walked out of the church, the north wind had picked up considerably and brought with it frigid temps. Brr! Even with heavy tights, layers and a wool coat, I was still cold! That will teach me to wear a summer dress in December!

Mossimo jacket – Target
Mossimo kimono dress – Target
Simply Vera tights – Kohl’s
Gray flats – eBay
My Little Old Lady Dog wanted to pose with me…
I spent a good hour the night before getting this outfit together. The high contrast between the white dress and gray tights took a while to appeal to me, but it was not an option to go bare-legged. And the flats don’t thrill me, but they are OK. I have a pair of gray booties that I liked better for making my legs look longer, but they were just a shade off from the tights, which didn’t look good. This final result pleased me for the most part.
Necklace – made by my sister B
(worn with the pendant to the back)

All Natural Homemade Laundry Soap

All natural, homemade products of all kinds are quite popular these days, and for good reason. We’re finally figuring out that all those chemicals aren’t good for us. I’ve seen lots of blogs and posts and  pins touting the easy, frugal and natural way to make laundry soap. Since my laundry water drains out into the yard, and the ducks like to splash in it, keeping my laundry water safe is very important to me. I’ve always made sure to buy liquid laundry soap without sulfates, and I quit using softener when I learned that it messes up the duck reproductive system (who knew?!). And of course, keeping costs low is always appealing. So I decided to give it a try once my last bottle of Purex was used up.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • 2 cups shredded Fels Naptha bar soap (about one bar)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup washing soda

All of these items can be purchased in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket. I didn’t buy washing soda, however, since I have bags and bags of baking soda stashed all over the house. (Why? Because it’s only available in the summer, with the swimming pool supplies, and I add it to my laundry to soften our rock-hard water and whiten whites without using bleach, to scrub pots & pans & the stovetop, to remove odor from Little Old Lady Dog’s accidents on the carpet, etc, etc. So I stock up. And with my laundry room in its current de-constructed state, stuff like that gets stored wherever it fits.)

Anyway…baking soda can be converted to washing soda by heating it. High heat causes baking soda to lose water and carbon dioxide and become washing soda. I googled the method and found two options:  bake it in the oven or cook & stir on the stovetop. I went with the oven method, but next time I think I’ll use the stovetop, as it is more accurate. Since I wanted to double the above recipe, I spread out two cups of baking soda on a baking sheet, then baked it in a 375°F oven for 1 hour 45 minutes. It was hard for me to tell if it was done, but guessed that this was about right. The stovetop method is to put the baking soda in a pot on high heat, checking the temperature frequently. At about 212°F, it will begin to steam. Continue cooking until steam no longer appears and the baking soda has reached about 370°F. Whichever method you use, allow the washing soda to cool completely before using it.

I shredded the Fels Naptha using the fine grating side of my grater, because I wanted it to be fine enough to dissolve easier in the water. This took FOREVER and yes, I grated my knuckles a few times! Wearing gloves may have protected my knuckles, but all gloves are too long for my short stumpy fingers, and I always end up grating the fingertips of the gloves, so it’s better for me to go bare-handed. OK, sort of better.

Measure out all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir with a slotted spoon. I would highly recommend that you wear protective gear when mixing your laundry soap. The fine dust cloud that arose from the bowl made me sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. Next time, I’m snagging one of my hubby’s face masks. Or at least tying a hanky over my face. Transfer to an air-tight container.

To use, let the water run a bit into the washer tub (about an inch worth), then sprinkle 2.5 tablespoons into the water. (This scoop I found in my kitchen drawer holds exactly that amount! I have no idea where it came from originally, however.) More sneezing ensued when I sprinkled the powder in the water this morning. Perhaps I will need to wear a mask every time I do laundry…hmmm…that’s gonna be a pain. However, my towels came out smelling extra fresh and clean, and felt super clean as well. As long as I can get used to holding my breath while adding the soap, I think I’m really going to like my all-natural laundry soap!

Christmas Coffee

Earlier this week, I had the chance to spend a couple of days with my little sister B. Her church has an annual Christmas Coffee for the ladies, and my visit coincided with the event. B and her friend C co-hosted a table; there were about 35 tables altogether. Each one was beautifully decorated in the theme of the evening, “Celebrating Hope”. Our guest speaker was passionate about the International Princess Project and treated us to her soulful music as well. Of course, we sipped on coffee and enjoyed tasty treats of cheesecake, ginger cookies and pretzel bark.

Although I didn’t get a photo of it, there was a large display of the Punjammies made by the women of the International Princess Project. Punjammies are super-comfy, colorful drawstring pants in three lengths:  shorts, capri and full-length. Sizes range from XS to XL. I did not purchase any myself that evening, as I had not brought along my wallet, but they can be purchased on IPP’s website as well. The International Princess Project is a wonderful ministry that rescues women and girls from slavery and offers them a chance to heal and learn a trade that will support them.

B and C’s table

A Pretty Centerpiece
The designer of this table used simple elements to create dramatic pieces.

One of my favorite centerpieces!

Many of the tables had lighted centerpieces as well as candles.

B and me, all dressed up!

We coordinated with her table’s color scheme.