Friday, August 31, 2012

A Hairy Follow-Up

Just fine with a little brow powder

As I have mentioned before, I decided to thicken my eyebrows using Rogaine. They weren't bare per se, but I often had little sparse patches that I had to compensate for with brow powder. Like many, I went through an over-plucking phase in my teens and now lust for thick brows that speak for themselves.

In all honesty, there wasn't anything terribly wrong with them. A lot of women have it worse. But Sephora couldn't stop talking about the fuller brow trend and I started to feel unworthy. I'm being dramatic and unfair. I actually blame Sephora and Lily Collins.

I came across a video about thickening/regrowing hair from Good Morning America. The dermatologist suggested using men's Rogaine to beef them up. I bought a one month supply of the Target brand minoxidil and went to work, applying before bed with a Q-tip. The box suggests using it twice a day, but I am not. It also says it is not for use in women and it's supposed to go on your head. The instructions went out the door a looong time ago.

The good doc warned about unwanted hair growth either from the product getting redistributed on your pillow if you go to sleep before it dries, or the from the product being absorbed through the skin. I am happy to report that I have not grown a beard. Yet. Just a 'stache.

New growth + no bald spots = Eye five!
I am two months in and happy to report that . . .drum roll . . . it works!  Do I have caterpillars above my eyes? Hardly. But the bald patches are completely gone and I definitely have more brow to show for it.  Though I have been plucking the outlying new growth, you can see the little hairs growing close to my normal brow line.

I'm not sure it's a magic bullet, as it requires continued use, but it takes little effort and gives me a little more hair up there. If I forget a day or two (or even a week over vacation), my eyebrows don't fall out. I simply resume. My eyebrows look nearly as full as they did with the powder. I still use it, but I am less of a faker.

In fact, it worked so well that I decided to use it on my head as well. Because I'm nuts. Since I am pushing my luck, I will grow a mustache. For. Sure. The hair gods don't like it when you taunt them with your ungratefulness. I want a little more thickness around my crown, so I apply it along my part once a day. I have to remember to apply it at least two hours before bed so it has a chance to dry. The TV doctor said that if the women's formula isn't working after a three months to switch to the men's strength. Three guesses as to which one this impatient dame started with? It has only been three weeks, so I have nothing to report.

I'm not even sure if it will work. I am a little weary about the commitment if it does. Do I really want to do this forever? If the results are amazing, probably. I guess I will just have to wait and see. And report back. You bet your sweet Bippy I'll be updating you on this. Even if the only hair I grow is on my chin.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Up and at 'Em

I'm exhausted. After a summer of late nights, differing time zones and sleeping in, I am having to adjust to being up early again. Earlier, actually. My son begins his 7:55a middle school start time in a week and I have an 8a class, so I now have to get up at 6a to get myself together . . . a whole hour earlier than in previous years. Kuddos to those warriors out there who have always worked this early (or earlier). You have my respect.

His elementary school started at 8:45a, so we've been spoiled over the last 4 1/2 years. My classes started at 10a (because I couldn't take the earlier ones), so I had a nice buffer for a Starbucks run. Those days are over. And I am feeling it.

A whole lot of this lately!  (Photo: slashfood.com)
The problem is, I'm not a morning person. It is hard for me to go to sleep at 9p in preparation for a 6a wake up time. I like to be up, and tend to be most productive around ten or eleven at night. Like a lot of people, I often find myself working against my natural rhythm.



It's not all bad, though. Sure, the adjustment period is rough, but it also feels really good to be up and at 'em this early in the morning. The day is my oyster. I have never really understood what that means. In the spirit of becoming a morning person, I'm looking at the bright side. In the form of my favorite back-to-school things.

A New 'Do:

Conair Infiniti Prodryer

I've never been a big blow dryer. My hair is fine, curly/wavy, and frizzy, and I've never quite mastered a technique to tame it. And with 10a classes, I always had plenty time to let it air dry. Not anymore. I have finally discovered a great system that gives my hair oomph for two days:  root lifting foam, blow dry with a round brush, run my flatiron over it to smooth . . . voilá! Manageable hair! The next day my hair slides right in to a chic, voluminous ponytail; cutting down on the lengthy primping time.

When my old blow dryer from high school blew its last breath a few months ago, I replaced it with a $10 Target find. Now that I'm actually using it regularly, I am realizing just how inadequate it is. And that I might be deaf by winter if I keep using it. Blow drying my hair took fifteen minutes yesterday. And it was frizzy. I am a mom and a student. I barely have fifteen minutes to bathe, let alone dry my hair!

I had a couple hours between classes and used part of it to research blow dryers. Studious, I know. This one came up a lot. I'm willing to pay for a really good flatiron (I have a Sedu), but firmly believe that there are reasonably priced blow dryers that can do the job just as well as the expensive ones. Cue the Conair Infinit Prodryer.

If I had been wearing socks, it would have knocked them off. It is powerful! My hair was completely dry in five minutes. If that. This beauty has shaved ten minutes off my prep time. Brushing my teeth in the shower while my conditioner works has saved me a couple more. This is hand down the best purchase I have made in a while.

 A Touch of Style:

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a scarf addict. I could write a whole post about them. Maybe I will. I wear them year-round and could probably circle the globe if I put my collection end to end. I am pretty picky these days, though. Too gauzy and you get two wearings out of them. Too thick and they don't lay right. And I have learned to be selective with prints. I used to buy a scarf simply because I loved it, but now I stop to consider if it actually goes with anything I own. A scarf that you can only wear with that one particular blue shirt is a waste of money and valuable closet real estate . . . no matter how cute it is. I have too many that just sit around waiting for something to match.

I'd seen this scarf at the Gap a few times and loved it, but never bought it (did I really need another scarf?). While in St. Louis we were invited out to a wine restaurant with some friends. We hadn't packed anything even remotely dressy, so I decided on a black tee, dark jeans and this scarf. The 30% off Friends and Family discount helped seal the deal. I love it. It's funky, yet neutral, and totally unique. It is out of stock on their website (some stores probably have it), but there are a couple others I really like here and here.


A Foot in the Door:

Women's Chelsea Flat by Lower East Side
I had written off Payless a long time ago. In the past, I couldn't find many things I liked, or they hurt my feet, or my son wore them out before he outgrew them. There is one in my town, but I often forget about it because it's hidden in the corner of a complex I rarely visit. While at a mall in St. Louis, I passed by one and saw these shoes in the window. They had to be mine. I was bummed to find that they were out of them in my usual size 9, but decided to check out the 9 1/2 section on a whim. There was one pair left! And because they apparently run a little small, the bigger size fit perfectly! They are delicate, sweet and appeal to my Shabby Chic-loving side.

What's more? They are sooo comfortable . . . and less than twenty bucks a pair. This lone pair of shoes has me rethinking Payless. They have really stepped up their game!

Although I aspire to be a high heel wearing professional in a smart pencil skirt, I'm really more of a flats girl. I have to lug textbooks around campus, take care of a kiddo, and live in a wooded area, so heels don't fit into my life right now. Maybe someday. More than anything, I like to be comfortable. And cute. Plus, at this price my feelings won't be hurt if they only last a couple of seasons. I will be sad, however, if I can't find an equally chic replacement.

Back to my homework. College professors like to buck the no-homework-on-the-first-day nicety. I'm hoping my blah state of mind lifts as the week progresses. I didn't have that little quickening of excitement in my belly on Monday like I have in past semesters. I think I am just growing weary. Still, it's good to be back and working toward the end . . . especially now that it is in sight.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Me Party, Meatballs and My Space (Not to be Confused With the Now Defunct Social Networking Sight)

Which came first, the stress or the mess?
As of today, school is back in session. For me, anyway. Little Man has another week. In (last minute) preparation for this semester, I decided to redo my workspace. The way it is set up, my desk is in a corner of our living room. This allows me to interact with the kiddo, but also makes it distraction-filled; and a dumping ground for school papers, bills, junk mail and catalogs. To make matters worse, it is a cool but impractical antique with little storage space . . . a terrible fit for a student.

That's not technically a shelf underneath . . . more like a stability slat.
On Saturday morning I decided to do something about it. After three and a half years of struggling to to do my homework on it. Or instead using our sticky, hardened-cereal-coated kitchen table. Sorry about the jam and grease stains, Professor.


I had an idea of what I wanted. "Couldn't we just lay a board across two file cabinets?" I asked my husband. He gave me that reeeally? look that only a husband can give.

Lo and behold, Ikea and I had the same idea. You can mix and match your side pieces, then lay one of their table tops over it. Genius!

The lovely lingonberry. Juiced.
Struck by inspiration, I decided to make the two hour pilgrimage to the nearest Ikea. By. My. Self. In the words of the great Muppets, it was a Me Party. As a mom, there is no more precious nor wondrous time than a solo outing. I just wish I had decided to leave before four in the afternoon. Then it could have been a Trader Joe's-Costco-Ikea Me Party. But hey, you can't time a stroke of genius.

Can I just take a second to talk about how great the drive was? It was two whole hours of alone time. Each way. I listened to my entire iPhone playlist. I didn't have to skip over the Eminem song because I accidentally downloaded the uncensored version. Em has missed me, and the feeling is mutual.

It just looks like dog food. Deeelish!
I got to Ikea around 6p and decide that I mustn't shop on an empty stomach. Cue meatballs. And lingonberry juice. I have nary an idea what a lingonberry is, but I'm guessing it is the Swedish version of a cranberry.

Full belly? Check. Shopping list in hand? Check. Off I went. Into an arena full of screaming children and annoyed men. Only they weren't mine. Not one. I could tune out the chorus of "Mom! Mom! MomMomMom! Mooooom!" After twelve years, I possess that super power. What a luxury! At one point, surrounded by a thousand pregnant women, I did have a mini panic attack at the thought of our overpopulation problem and the fact that we may run out of clean drinking water. I'm okay now.

I found what I needed. I was the picture of efficiency. Admittedly, with some perusing mixed in. Until I started looking for the power cord organizer my husband had been lusting after online. It was nowhere to be found and not one "coworker" could seem to help me. Then a young man directed me back upstairs to the showroom. I tucked my cart in a corner and retraced my steps. No cord organizer. I gave up. Then I returned to my cart only to find that it was no more. Gone. The cute little plant that I just had to have? Gone. All my wares? Gone. So I had to go back and reshop. Then go pick up my furniture from the warehouse section. Where the power cord organizer was housed the entire time, by the way. Then get in the insanely long checkout line. Then go load my car. In the process, my cute little plant fell off and lost its dirt and half its leaves. I also dropped and scratched my new lidded garbage can. Which I had to buy because my dog loves the crunch of a used Kleenex.

The cart boy waited patiently for me to organize myself and call my husband to ask how to fold down the backseat of my new car. He waited and waited. But the second he saw me struggling to pick up those funky, backbreaking Ikea boxes, he bailed. No "I will help you!"  He simply walked away, resigned to the fact that I was hopeless. And that my lone cart would be the one left out all night. The word 'douche' came to mind. At this point the lingonberry juice had run its course and I had to use the ladies' room, but they had locked me out. I steeled myself for a looong ride home. Two hours with a sloshing bladder is rough.  Even with uncensored Eminem.

After my Me Party turned into a let's-test-Sarah's-patience-party, I sucked it up and decided this girl deserved a Blizzard. Another thing we don't have locally. I set the GPS and hurrah! there was one less than 3 miles away. As I pulled in and saw that it was one of those old A-frame walk up window Dairy Queens, I came to a scary realization: They don't take cards. And you're out of cash. I rummaged through my car for change and came up with four dollars. I ordered and paid in quarters. She must have taken pity on the frazzled woman paying for her frozen treat with pocket change, because she turned my small into a medium. To show my gratitude, I gave her a fat tip. In dimes.

In the end, I made it home. Then I spent my Sunday assembling furniture while my husband micromanaged.  Realizing that I had mere hours before the homework would come flooding in, I busted my rump to get everything put back together.

I also spent a great deal of time contemplating my procrastinating ways: Really? Reeaally? The weekend before what will arguably be your most difficult semester, you decide to redo your office space? After three years? Are you always going to be like this? You're tired. Is this really how you want things to go? When are you going to learn? Hmmm?  My inner monologue was clearly annoyed.

But in the end I have bigger, more beautiful desk with tons of storage space. And it is lovely.

A pristine work area! So that's what one looks like!
Storage!
View from the driver's seat.

P.S. The prognosis is good for Cute Plant. My husband drilled holes in the bottom of the decorative pot I purchased and made it into a functional one. I planted her in organic potting soil, sang to her, and apologized profusely for my negligence. Only time will tell, but I think she has forgiven me.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Still Laughing . . .

My nugget starts middle school in just over a week, so I'm feeling VERY sentimental right now. I can't believe how quickly time has slipped by. He is lovely and frustrating and inspiring. He's my little soul mate. Going through all these old pics of him had me yearning for the days when he fit in my lap, the crook of my arm, and that little hollow under my chin. In that same spirit, here is another post about Little Man.
He thinks BIG:
 
Jared: I'm really good at opening doors for people. I think I could make a career out of it.
Sarah: There are a lot of doormen in New York.
Jared: I think I'll move there and make something of myself.
Sarah: It seems like you might waste that amazing brain of yours holding doors all day.
Jared: No way. I'll just tell witty puns while I do it.

He has SUPER powers:
"Nothing has matched my superior cerebral powers."
(when asked by his 5th grade teacher what subject they have covered has been the most challenging)
He gives the most amazing Compliments
 
On the drive to school one morning:
"You have such a big heart, Mom!"
and after a pensive moment,
"But surprisingly small arms."
 
 
He is ALWAYS thinking ahead:
Wearing his "Chuck Norris Makes the Honey Badger Care" shirt
 
Me: Jared, you need to put on a pajama shirt.
Jared: Okay, but if I ever need to go all "Chuck Norris" on someone, the shirt's coming off. It will only get in the way.

He gives great advice:

Jared: What are you doing?
Mario: Getting ready for my first big presentation.
J: Is Molly going to be there to help you?
M: No.
J: Your first real solo mission?
M: Yep.
J: Nice! Just remember, try not to get booed.

Still more to come . . .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Staying Off the Ledge...

I have managed to maintain my sanity! Hurrah! Well, I'm not sure how much I had to begin with. Despite the fact that I want desperately to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl, I'm not. I need a schedule. A long-term goal. A plan.  Sitting around simply doesn't suit me. So although spending two hours perusing Etsy in my pj's is fun, it isn't good for my mental health. Afterward, I have a Crap! I didn't do any of the things I wanted to do! hangover. I have to stop resisting and face the truth. Deep down, I'm a schedule-loving, goal-making square.  Don't tell. I'm trying to maintain my rock star persona.

In celebration of my preserved psychological well-being, here are some more lovely diversions I'm enjoying during my last week of freedom. Next week I'll be wishing for more time and less distractions.
 
During our recent trip to St. Louis, we spent an evening at our old neighbor's house. We love them and want them to follow us around the country buying the homes next to ours.

Upon sneaking a peek in her fridge, I saw these cute little lidded bowls. They were filled with perfectly sized servings of pasta, fruit, etc. for her kids. Did I mention she's supermom?

4-Piece Round Storage Bowl Set ($20)

Later, I asked my husband "Did you see those bowls in the fridge?!"  His reply? "Yeah, the second I saw them, I thought 'Those are going to be in our house, too.'"  He knows me so well.  The day before we left, I ran down to Crate and Barrel to buy my own set.  At $2 each or 12 for $20, they are a steal.

With school starting, evenings get more hectic around here, and I love the idea of having dinners portioned off ahead of time for Little Man.  It will be so much less stressful, and my new resolution is to prep a couple meals on Sunday for those inevitable days when I don't have time to make something. A goal! While I was there, I couldn't resist this set of four lidded bowls as well.  They all nestle inside of each other! Stackable, lidded bowls are officially my newest obsession.



Although we own it, I tend to forget about this 2003 Tim Burton film. But the second it comes on, my love for it is renewed.  It is wondrous, creative, and touching all at once. I'll never tire of watching it.  It was Little Man's turn to pick out a movie tonight, and this was his choice.  At one point he said, "I forgot how touching this movie is!"  He really cried at the ending (even though he's seen it before), so we snuggled on the couch and talked about what a life well lived looks like.  It was a sweet moment for us.

This is a movie that affects you differently at different times.  It can be bittersweet or uplifting depending on where you are and what you are feeling at that particular point in your life. I do not tend to enjoy sad, despair-filled movies . . . and this definitely isn't one of them. Big Fish is joyous and thought-provoking and quite possibly Tim Burton's magnum opus.


  Mama's got a brand new bag! I found this little beauty during our trip to St. Louis. My son actually spotted it in the window of a Francesca's. I think my owl radar is broken, because this bag is owlicious.

The length of the strap can be adjusted simply by moving the knot up or down on the ring.  It's big and slouchy and I love it. Is it too teeny-bopper for a 32 year old to be wearing? That's crazy talk! And I'm not sure I would care, because we have a real thing going, this bag and me.

I feel the need to say this again: I'm not just jumping on the owl bandwagon. I have had a thing for quirky owl prints since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It's great that they are trendy right now because I can easily find things I love. I'm kind of particular, as just any owl simply will not do. On the other hand, it has become a bit watered down as a style. Everyone and their mother has owl stuff. Every nursery is owl-themed. There is nothing wrong with that! But I will be scooping up zany owl goods like this long after everyone else has forgotten them. They will just be harder to find. I'm sooo neurotic, and I'm pretty sure this rant proves it.

Speaking of prints, there is another brand that I totally love. Upon seeing this bag, my husband thought it was from Bungalow 360. The canvas material and cute pattern really resembles their style of product. And they are super eco which I love. I carried around a laptop-type messenger bag made by them for my first year of college. Then my books got heavier with my course load, so I had to upgrade to a heavy duty Patagonia one. Still, I have their penguin wallet (which evokes a "I love your wallet!" exclamation almost every time I pull it out to pay), and my birdie messenger bag is still up in the closet waiting to be used again.

Before I forget, has anyone been to a Francesca's? I've noticed them popping up everywhere over the last several years. They sell accessories and cool chachkies and some clothing, and their prices are super affordable. They have jewelry for every occasion and style, and I can't get enough.


photo courtesy of USGS

I am in full-on nesting mode.  There is not a cabinet or closet that is safe from my urge to purge. Or organize. And no, there isn't a bun in my oven. In hindsight, I probably should not have used a nest with eggs in it. Let's just assume they aren't fertilized, okay? I'm not sure if it is because my free time is going to become a lot less free come Monday, or it is simply nervous energy being put to good use. It might also be the fact that I'm back on crack. By crack, I mean coffee. Either way, I like how productive I have been.

Entryway closet
I finally assembled my night stand (we bought our new bedroom furniture in, um, March? February?). My unfinished nightstand was standing between bedroom perfection and utter chaos. I am so dramatic.

I deep cleaned and reorganized our entryway closet using an old hanging shoe organizer and some bins. I starting sorting through my out-of-control shoe collection (how many pairs of flip flops does one girl need?) and reorganizing my closet. I'm not sure I have EVER vacuumed the inside of my closet. Don't judge.




More photographic proof:

[The hideous pile from my closet floor]
 I'm turning this . . .
 . . .  and this . . .

[The overflowing basket on the bottom of my shelf]


Into this:  


While it's still a work in progress (this is less than 1/2 the closet), I should have it wrapped up by tonight. The lack of clutter is SO freeing! My new, white bedroom furniture makes the whole room light and airy, and I was doing it a disservice by being disorganized. 

Not only am I glad to have a diversion, but I'll be going into a tough semester feeling more in control of my surroundings. 










Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gorilla Poops

Last night Little Man and I had grilled chicken and a veg for dinner.  Good, quick and simple.  Afterward, we were both jonesing for something sweet and I came up with the idea to make No-Bake cookies.  They are satisfying and I always have the ingredients on hand.  Who doesn't have oats and peanut butter?

Is there anyone that hasn't had these before?  My mom made them every once in a while when I was a kid.  When perusing various recipes a few years ago, I came across one that called them "Gorilla Poops." Now, I have a twelve year old.  If you have had any interaction with a boy that age, you know they find anything inappropriate to be absolutely hilarious.  So from that day forth, they have been known by him as "Gorilla Poops." Never mind that they have been "No-Bake Cookies" since the cavemen started making them. And who gets a hankering to eat something whose name conjures up an image of, well, poo? From a primate no less?

The "No-Bake" name gives the impression that these are super easy.  And they can be. One pan, a handful of common ingredients, and no oven? Oh yeah!  But I have had dud batches before. Over the years, I have figured out that the secret to a great No-Bake cookie is in the timing. When the ingredients are brought to a boil for 90 seconds, you don't start timing until the whole thing is at a rapid boil.  As a novice, I started counting when just the edges were simmering and the cookies never set.  Boil too long and they are too crumbly.  Timing, as they say, is everything.

My kitchen buddy
Another note: We make a vegan version of these because of J's dairy allergy.  Instead of butter we use Earth Balance sticks, and in place of milk we use So Delicious Original coconut milk.  I've also used soy and almond milks in the past and they turn out just fine.  I always use an unflavored/unsweetened milk because these are sweet enough as is.

Sarah's Favorite No-Bake Poops Cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (we have also used creamy in a pinch)
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 Directions:
  • In a medium-large saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa.  
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 90 seconds (see above), stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in peanut butter and vanilla, then add the oats.
  • Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool until they harden (if you can wait that long)

Easy, right?  And if you have any delicious variations to these, don't keep them to yourself.  Share! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If I Wasn't Laughing, I'd Be Crying


My kiddo is pretty amazing. He's smart, funny, interesting, and infuriating. Sometimes I want nothing more than a break from his zaniness, but the second he's gone I miss him. I don't think I'd know who I am or what I'm capable of without him. I know, every mom says that about her child(ren). But ask anyone that has ever met him . . . this particular kid is something else.

For years people have been telling me to write a book. Perhaps one day. I have always said the title would be: If I Wasn't Laughing, I'd Be Crying. In the meantime, I can blog about the things he says and does. Then I'll compile it into a book! Stroke of genius! So here is the first of what I'm sure will be many blogs about my crazy kid.

He is artistic and thoughtful:


He has been on a mission all morning: To perfect his origami Yoda technique. There is James Bond Yoda, Ninja Yoda, and Avatar Yoda to name a few. He is even learning origami Chewbacca and origami Darth. When the kid puts his mind to something, he is all in. If only he would apply that conviction to his chores once in a while.


Knowing my love of Yoda and owls, he made me this cute little creature. "His name is Yowl." A Yowl must be very wise, indeed. I will cherish it forever.

He is one STYLISH dude:

5th Grade

He doesn't cut his hair between September and June, so it gets quite shaggy as the school year progresses. This picture was definitely taken in May when his hair is at it's longest. Having it hang in his eyes makes me nuts. "It's nature's wool hat, Mooom."  For the record, the penguin shirt was a gift. I didn't buy it.

4th Grade

Work it! Work it! That is a seersucker blazer over his polo.

5 years old


That is an old school Christopher Reeves Superman muscle shirt we found at the farmer's market for a buck. He wore it until poor Chris's face peeled off. And it became a belly-baring muscle shirt.


6 years old


He is a very serious pirate. Who wears a cowboy belt. With scuba respirators in it. And a man's parka. Watch your back.




He is an entrepreneur:

Me: How was school today?
Jared: Good. I started a mustache design business.
Me: Interesting. So you'll design mustaches and sell them to people?
Jared: You're partially correct. There's no charge.
Me: How will your business make a profit?
Jared: Mom, that's not the point. I'm doing it for the greater good.






He is an optimist:

"Of course I can eat the full order of peanut butter chocolate chip french toast, Mooom . . . I'm starving!"
















More to come!