Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spin It to Win It

New discoveries. Always a fun thing. Sometimes it's a place. Sometimes a food (I learned to steam artichokes last night - didn't snap pics, but I might soon!). A song, a style, or a thing. Today I want to share a bit about a thing - a product, actually. I'd seen these "Spin Pins" from Goody advertised. And the ads made them seem like they were some magical updo contraptions. Being a bit of a sceptic (as I have long long hair that's rather thick), I thought I'd at least give them a try. Because anyone who knows me is aware that when the weather gets hot, my hair gets swooped up off my neck ASAP.

Usually I use 2 or 3 elastic hairbands to try to keep a little bun in check. Back in my dancer days, it was a few bands and whole handful of bobby pins to keep things sleek and secure. These days, I embrace the style of a messy bun. Because it's easier. And it looks a bit more relaxed.

So. About those pins.

They're a weird little pair. Spiral, firm, sturdy pins. It's like the big, foreign cousin of the bobby pin and the hair pin. Used together, however, they are simply magic!

Here's how I roll with them (I've been living with these lovely little buns for 3 days now - I see many summer days bonding with my spin pins).

1 - pop it up into a ponytail. NO HAIRBANDS NEEDED! I start to twist straight away.

2 - twist it into a bun shape. My hair is looong. And I don't worry about it being particularly tight. I just make sure the ends are tucked under and aim my first pin at those ends to keep them in check.

3 - spin those pins! I like going front and back, but I suppose you could go side and side if you liked. Spin them in clockwise and try to not lock the ends of the spirals together. It's amazing how secure the bun feels as you put the first pin in. Why didn't someone invent this years ago??

4 - that's it. Really. It's finished. You can spritz a little hairspray to tame the flyaways if you like. But it stays so beautifully as it is.

Normally, with a messy bun put up using a few hairbands, I fix it every couple hours and re-make it. Yesterday I wore a bun made with the spin pins for about 16 hours. 16 HOURS. For a long-haired girl like me, it's a summertime hairstyle miracle.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Be Beside the Seaside

Today marks the official start of summer on the calendar. Sadly, it's another 4 1/2 weeks til I'm out of work mode (silly English schools going til late July!). The boy has gone off to enjoy a week of music, mud, and fun at Glastonbury and I'm sitting here thinking how I'd love to hear some water, smell the salty air, and enjoy a bit of time by the sea. Or, at the very least, a nice pool.

One of my favorite summertime photos ever is this one of Clem in Florida 2 years ago.

on the shores of the gulf

So I thought I'd let some dollies help share the feeling. (Click through to the sources).

162/365: double take

Doing laps

barefoot on the beach ~ waw


A Blythe a Day takes Boredom away #87/365


Hello Summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For my Dad

Friday was my dad's last day working. In fact, he did retire once before. But it didn't stick. 2 years later and the call of the principal's office was too strong. He was back (for 3 more years). My mom too. They've retired together after spending the last 3 years working in the same school. She teaching 1st grade and he principalling (I'm sure that's not really a word, but I'm making it work) the kids from pre-K up through high school. It's a little school abroad. I got to teach with them both for the 1st year there. It was pretty great. They're both pretty great.

But today is about dads. Fathers. Papas. And I go on and on about my mother a lot. She's one of my best friends. But Dad doesn't get to have a fanfare that often. So here's to my dad: a marvelous principal (I should know - he was in charge of my MS/HS years), a great teacher, a pretty decent racecar driver (back in the day), a farmer (now more of a gardener, but he had champion livestock in his time), a voracious reader, a general fix-it man, and - best of all - a supportive father. This day is for you.


Happy Father's Day! I hope his retirement is as great as his career has been. He deserves it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To my fine, Freckled friends

Due to the fab generosity of Leigh-Ann over at Freckled Nest I've got a little promo button there this month. This means {she's crafty} is being seen by lots of new faces for the next couple weeks. (Hello!). So, I thought I'd toss a summertime Etsy promo out there.

During June, visit my Etsy shop and receive free shipping! Just use the code.

Do please add me on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' if you like reading {she's crafty}

And you can become a fan on Facebook as well!

Thanks for being lovely readers, both new followers and old! Are you a new reader via Freckled Nest? Say hi! I always read every comment and try to reply to them all. :)

Taking Cues from Bob?

It's past 6pm and I've just put a bra on. True fact. Overshare? Hopefully not. It's just been one of those days. Those days where I don't have a class to teach or even a classroom to be in. Which, generally, would be a rather large downer. But in the past week or so I've really been trying to look on the positive side of things. So today, I hope you don't find it too trite that I'll share some Thoughts in text form in the vein of positive thinking.

I'd like to point out that I hate motivational posters and such. HATE. I used to have a co-worker who had plastered his classroom (which I had to use for one class period per day) in framed posters from Successories. While I, on the other hand, had some small framed "demotivators" on the shelf above my desk (such as this one). Said co-worker thought it wrong that I have things in a place where kids often came (the piano for voice lessons and such was in the office room). My general thought was that if they didn't understand sarcasm by the time they were 13, there was little hope for them in the real world.

Anyhow. Back to today. Not working. And yet, not sad. I slept in a bit after realizing I was not getting a call to go anywhere to work and then decided to tackle a few things for BlytheCon UK. (Evidence by a sneaky peek here). It's been a pretty productive day. I got done some things I wanted to do.

A while back I saw a scan of a page from Self magazine (not one in my reading list) that I really liked. So I snagged it and I cropped it and I saved it.

And here I am. Trying to keep moving forward regardless of the pitfalls. Because I know it's quite worth it in the end. Here are some thoughts in text form that I either fully agree with or am just trying to fully embrace.

So. True. (Plus now you've got the song in your head, don't you?).

Make beautiful things. Help create beautiful minds. All that.

Ah, Conan. He's probably quite right. My expectation of "amazing" may not be what I encounter, but that won't make it any less true.

Back to the title of this post. "What about Bob?" you may ask. And it is this: last Friday I spent the day back with the class I taught during the 2nd term (here in England they have 3 terms). It was pretty blissful. I love those kids. One of the highlights was listening to them sing, as a group, along to "3 Little Birds." 4 Year Olds singing = pretty awesome in and of itself. 4 Year Olds singing Bob Marley = fabulous. It was in my head all weekend. Then I found this lovely lovely animated version. And I knew it was what I needed to hear of late.

And, in the end:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet Strawberry Shortcakes

To me, nothing says SUMMER! quite as much as strawberry shortcakes. Fresh strawberries (preferably from a roadside stand) and yummy sweet whipped cream. Mmmmm.

While picking up a few odds and ends for dinner the other day, I saw the grocery store had seasonal strawberries on half price. So I grabbed a couple boxes and knew exactly what would be for dessert (and 2 days of breakfasts, as it turned out!).

Such a simple thing to make. I always sweeten the berries a little to bring out the juice. I suppose you don't *have* to, but I've never known anyone who didn't add a little. And then comes my secret weapon. (Well, perhaps not so secret). I'm normally a die-hard advocate of from-scratch baking. But there are a small handful of things for which I'm a-ok with helpers. Shortcake is one of them. Because Bisquick really makes the best little shortcakes. It's not always easy to find in the UK. And here it comes in tiny, tiny boxes (as opposed to the 40+oz boxes in the US!). But it's worth the little extra price for the ease and the tastiness in shortcake form.

(my secret shortcake weapon)

I made 9. Because I wanted extras. But the classic recipe (usually on the US boxes, but the UK boxes have silly things like crepe-y pancakes and scones instead of buttermilk biscuits and such) really indicates 6.

Whipping cream was, as a little girl, my favorite kitchen thing to do "all by myself." I still think it's quite fun. As a fan of sweet things, a little sugar gets tossed in and sometimes (and on this occasion) a touch of vanilla too.

Mmmm...Summer has definitely arrived.

strawberry shortcake

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Adventures: Zoo Fun!

It's summertime. Yay! In celebration of this, I thought I'd have a little mini-series of fun summer-type-things. Adventures, experiences, fun and the like. And here's the first - an evening at the London Zoo.

The Scot and I went to Zoo Lates last week. We were pretty excited as an adults-only evening at the zoo featuring lots of tasty food stands and no screaming kids sounded ace (and we got the tickets for a song). Sadly, it didn't really live up to expectations as they closed off access to all the animals an hour before the event was to finish (the literature said only the animals in houses/buildings would be closed at 9pm) and then there wasn't much to do. So instead of a whole evening full of animal-tastic fun, we left a bit disappointed. BUT, during the earlier bit of the evening we had a good bit of fun.

In the butterfly house, The Scot made a new friend. This rather worn and worn-out little flutterby wanted to hang on for a ride. Eventually we coaxed him off.

Penguins! Meercats! Dollies! (Ok, Maia wasn't on display with the animals, but she did think the teepee they have for daytime kids' presentations was pretty cool).


We had Pimm's. I had an awesome roast pork sandwich. It was a nice night, even if we ended up a bit underwhelmed. I want to go back to the zoo on a sunny afternoon and have a proper wander and see all the animals. Such a summertime classic.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let's Have an Adventure!

By now, I think most of my blog readers are aware that I'm coordinating BlytheCon UK 2011. Pre-registration (aka: fundraising for venue rental) was back in February and, shockingly, we sold out! Today the emails went out to all those who pre-registered to complete their final registrations. For months now I've had people emailing week after week for spare tickets which, sadly, don't exist. Some people will probably not complete their final registration, though. So we'll see.

In the meantime, I created a little flickr tag thing for those coming. A first (I hope) of a handful of BlytheCon UK "merit badges" to go along with our theme: Let's Have An Adventure! (which, you may have noticed is a bit Scout-y).

I'm attending (official)

So much inspiration out there for Scout/Guide/adventure/campfire-type stuff. Here are some that I've found (and I started an inspiration board on Pinterest):

girl guide
Girl scout patches

Girl Guide illustration.
Betsy McCall, Girl Scout

Debbie Reynolds!!

As the event gets closer (it's on 1 October), I'll probably be posting more about it. I have lots of ideas for fun in-theme activities and such for the day and can't wait til the list of workshops/presentations is complete and can be shared. I think it's gonna be a great day! And all for charity, too!

Friday, June 3, 2011

A bit of a Lush life

Being an underemployed teacher is not always the best thing. It does, however, give one time to enjoy a good soak in the bathtub without worry of whether or not it's time to start dinner or whether I should be enjoying the non-working hours I get to spend with the man I love. This week, school's out no matter, but I still enjoyed a nice late afternoon soak in the tub on Wednesday. And I decided to share a little bit about my favorite bathtime (and general toilette) indulgences: products from Lush.

I was first introduced to Lush goodies back in 2002. My friend Erin had spent her summer studying Shakespeare at Cambridge and her souvenirs for us all as we returned to campus that August were not trinkets or postcards, but bath ballistics. I remember the first one I tried (she got us each a 3-pack): Sex Bomb. I thought it was brilliant! I had to wait until the Fall Break when I had access to a tub (no such luxuries living in the Stephens College dorms), but it was worth it. The fun! The smell! The sheer delight!

I raved about this awesome brand. But, alas, Lush didn't exist in the US at that point. A while later, in Spring of 2004, a friend travelled to Ireland and, recalling my love of nice smelling things, brought me back a massage bar (Absolution - now discontinued, sadly) from this neat little place he found in Dublin (LUSH!). When I made my short-lived move to Switzerland that summer, I was sure to seek out the Zurich Lush while I was in the city (and made the mistake of trying to bring home the frozen shower gel in my luggage...this resulted in being met at the airport by my then-boyfriend with comments on the nice, but odd, smell of my suitcase. Oops.

Over the years, I've become a die-hard fan. They're in the US now (though the prices there are quite a lot higher than on this side of the pond and the selection is usually less). But I'm glad to be living in London where I have visited 9 of the 11 locations in the greater metro area!

Anyhow. About that bath. It started with a ballistic: Keep It Fluffy (the orange version). Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, and the like. I love watching them bob in the water. This one was a bit less-than-fresh (I tend to overbuy and then not buy any for ages). They fizz better (and smell better) when they're newer rather than older. Has to do with the baking soda, I think. But, oh well. It wasn't the fizziest of bath bombs, but it was nice. I like Keep it Fluffy as a bath bomb. I had a couple things in that scent from Lush's now-defunct sister store B Never Too Busy 2 B Beautiful and never really took to it. But I thought I'd give it a go in bath ballistic form. And I like it! It's a bit mellow and just sweet (and comes in orange or purple - but the only difference is color, not scent).

Moving on. This wasn't just a little soak in the tub with nothing else special. I pulled out all the stops on indulgence and pampering for myself. Skin, hair, face - everything! My face got the ever-special treatment of a mask. Lush's mask's are all fresh. In that they need to be refrigerated and have a proper use-by date (though I've used them a bit past and they just aren't quite as moist/colorful). Although sometimes when my skin goes summer crazy, I use the stinky-but-amazing Cosmetic Warrior, my go-to face mask these days (which The Scot even uses too sometimes!) is the blueberrylicious
Catastrophe Cosmetic. Sometimes I slather it all over, but on this occasion I concentrated on my t-zone which, lately, has been all annoyed with the world. It was lovely in the end. My face is happy again! Tra la!

I don't want to drone on. But I did employ a handful of other products on this occasion (and regularly do). Other faves: American Cream conditioner (pictured way up top) - for swooshy, delicious-smelling hair; Buffy(formerly "Buffy the Backside Slayer") - an amazingly moisturizing exfoliate-y bar of goodness; the *sniff* just discontinued Ultralight moisturizer (with natural SPF12); Tea Tree Water toner; H'Suan Wen Hua hair treatment (a super duper intense conditioner). And, of course, when in season the candy pink and sweet and sparkly Snow Fairy (slightly hiding up in that top photo - my stash to last til November!).

So there you have it: a little report from the beauty front. My favorite, favorite, favorite store for bathtime goodies. I could blab on about it for days. But I'll stop here. Happy bathtimes!