Tuesday, March 30, 2010

non-petite jeans

Good as Gold were having a sale on their designer casual gear, so in my lunch break I went in to check it out. There were Cheap Monday jeans for $40, which sounds really cheap to me because it's a brand I've heard of and the denim is both dark and stiff. I dunno why, but dark, stiff denim always looks and feels more expensive than lighter or softer denim.

I selected two pairs in two different sizes, one was the size I hoped I'd fit into and the other was the size I was likely to fit into. They both had 34 inch inseams, which meant that I could probably make a nice shopping tote out of the bits I chopped off after shortening the legs. They were both of that expensive-looking super-dark, super-stiff denim.

The fit was rubbish.
While I did want a higher rise (just up to the belly button), the waistband on these jeans went right up to my natural waist. They would have gone further, but there wasn't enough width to allow it - therefore, the result was this crazy spilled-over camel-toe effect at the crotch. Also, the thighs of the jeans went all the way down to my knees.

I had truly forgotten how terrible designer jeans can look on a shortie like me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

From Chanel-esque jacket to Quasimodo jacket

Having lost my enthusiasm for sewing lately - what with TLM staying up later and leaving me with less me-time, and my current obsession with finding an affordable substitute for my Shiseido Benefience moisturiser.

But I did get as far as constructing a muslin i.e. test garment (hurrah, I finally thought of something useful to do with that ugly grey polyester taking up space in the cupboard!) for my Chanel-style jacket.

I had an awful lot of trouble with putting together the princess seams. I double-checked to make I hadn't inadvertantly switched the side front for the side back or something stupid like that, but the back piece look it was designed for a hunchback. The front pieces, on the other hand, were worryingly trouble-free and possibly designed for a woman without boobies.

The other problem was that the shoulder seam was about 2 centimetres too long. Postings on PatternReview said that they'd had to insert shoulder pads to fill in the extra, but if I did that I'd look like I'd forgotten to take out the coat hanger.

So instead, I increased the princess seams front and back, reshaping the back princess seams so they were straighter. Everything seems to fit okay now.

But I still don't get to cut out my nice fashion fabric yet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bodyshop Aloe Vera day cream and day lotion with SPF

The plus-side of shopping in the higher price ranges is that you're more likely to be given a free sample to take home. And thank gawd for that, because the Bodyshop Aloe Vera moisturisers did not really work out for me.

I had a quick squizz at the ingredients list and didn't see anything on my no-no list, but really - who's got time to go through about 20 funny-looking names?

The day cream was okay in that it didn't sting on my face, but then it didn't quite moisturise it well enough to satisfy me. If I apply it and have to apply a second layer half an hour later, then in my opinion it's not moisturising enough. Maybe, just maybe, it would do okay if my skin's having a good months. But not this month.  And anyway it cost $35 for a small pot that probably would have only last a couple of weeks.

I tried the day lotion with SPF too, from the same product range, but this really did sting my skin. No no no.

A bit of a shame really, because when I get free samples (or just good service) then I really want to like the product.

Cetaphil - The score so far

Remember the product I bought a week ago, full of hope and anticipation? No? Well it was Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion. Cetaphil is supposed an ab fab moisturizer for sensitive skin, and this one was a new product which promised to be good to my very sensitive, very dry skin.

To be fair, my skin has been under a bit of strain lately - actually, perhaps nervous breakdown would be more accurate. While it is always a bit sensitive, it is currently very touchy indeed, and my oily T-zone shrank right down to an oily O-zone (my nose, to be exact).

Anyway, I wasn't utterly surprised that this one lost the test. I tried it maybe 4 times over the last week and each time the result was an increasingly uncomfortable burning sensation. Maybe it was my own fault for choosing the un-reported-on Cetaphil product rather than one of the older, more established ones.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monsieur Batignole - the reluctant hero

I think it's highly peculiar that the best selection of movies on New Zealand television - i.e. most intelligent, least likely to be aimed at the lowest IQs - are screened by Maori Television. Maybe because it's a television channel aimed at an ethnic minority, the programmers in charge want to catch some other minorities too (e.g. people who prefer movies that don't over-ly rely on car chases, frat parties and Jennifer Anniston).

Monsieur Batignole was quite an eye opener. Aside from being an engrossing wartime story of a French butcher who just wants to go with the flow, but ends up being a champion of Jews and the saviour of three young Jewish children - it was a history lesson for me.

Because it used to be that the words "World War II", "France" and "Nazis" used to conjour up just two images 1) the French resistance, and 2) a British sitcom called 'Allo 'Allo. I wouldn't have occurred to me that a vast proportion of the French population was more than happy to turn in their Jewish neighbours, especially if it meant they could raid those families' belongings. Monsieur Batignole's wife, daughter and son-in-law in waiting were all such opportunists, and M. Batignole was the odd one out only because he didn't want to get involved.

But he does, and he ends up risking his life to save three children from whatever hideous fate their parents faced.

Even the boy liked it, and he's not known as a watcher of sub-titles.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Skin care trials - Cetaphil

Today I bought a tube of Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion. It was about $17, approximately 2 thirds what I paid for the Simple moisturiser. I can't be bothered to go and check the size of the tube, but it's probably about 60ml. This is, apparently, a brand new product aimed at very sensitive, very dry skin - which is exactly what mine is at the moment. (Although to be honest my skin is going through an eczema-ry stage, so keeping my complexion well moisturised at the moment is probably too much to expect of any product.)

The ingredients list is (my notations are informed by the ingredient dictionary at the back of Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me): 
  • water - top marks for not going for the more pretentious word "aqua"
  • Glycerin - an known emollient (yay)
  • Hydrogenated Polyisobutene
  • Cetearyl Alcohol - an emollient and thickening agent (yay...I think)
  • Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil (Macadamia Nut Oil) - a known emollient (yay)
  • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) - another known emollient (yay)
  • Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl acrylate Crosspolymer - forms a film over the skin to make it feel nice and smooth, but apparently also a weak skin sensitizer
  • Sodium Polyacrylate - as above
  • Phenoxyethanol - one of the less irritating cosmetic preservatives
  • Tocopheryl Acetate - an anti-oxidant (yay)
  • Ceteareth-20 - a fatty alcohol used to thicken the lotion
  • Stearoxytrimethylsilane, 
  • Stearyl Alcohol - a fatty alcohol used as an emollient (yay)
  • Benzyl Alcohol - an alcohol known to have a potentially drying and irritation effect on skin (boo!) but at least it's near the bottom of the list so there's not so much of it.
  • Farnesol - plant extract used for fragrance (boo!)
  • Sodium PCA - water binding agent (yay)
  • Panthenol - alcohol form of vitamin B (yay...I think)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane - makes the skin feel smooth and slippery (sure, why not!)
  • Dimethiconol - as above
  • Citric Acid - prevents the formulation from being too alkaline (yay)
  • Sodium Hydroxide - prevents the formulation from being too acidic (wtf?) and extremely irritating in large doses.
So, by the above list, should be okay to use. It's got heaps of emollients and slip-making agents and not too much in the way of potential irritants. 
When I got home with it this afternoon I cleansed, toned and then smeared a big gob of the stuff all over my face. It was already a bit irritated from this change-of-season irritatedness so I didn't expect the new moisturiser to make it all better. 

The good thing is that my skin didn't feel like parchment an hour later, and didn't make my skin feel any worse. 
I shall keep an eye out for how this product feels on my face for the next month (or until the tube runs out) and keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Girl with the dragon tattoo

We only watched this DVD because a friend of mine put it in our mail box and emailed me to say how much he enjoyed the movie. I don't normally bother with thrillers, and if I'd known there would be a violent rape scene and images of brutalized female murder victims,  I probably wouldn't have put it on the other night.

Having said that (and having got the boy to fast-forward past the anal rape), it was otherwise a good movie. It was not your standard cookie-cutter Hollywood thriller in which lots of women get to be murder victims - maybe because it's a Swedish film based on a Swedish novel.

What saved it for me was a) that there were plot twists that the boy didn't spot within the first five minutes, and b) the person who is instrumental in finding the evil murdering bastard and in making sure he gets his justice is a woman (that's the tattooed girl I'm talking about). 

The "girl" is undoubtedly troubled, with a history of mental illness and violence - but when you find out what her childhood was like, it's really not surprising. She's a professional hacker. Your eyes are probably rolling at yet another computer hacker youngster in a movie - but the boy (who is, as you know, a computer whisperer) declared her geekisms completely authentic.

Oh yeah, and there's a non-evil man in the movie too. But in this universe they are a rare species.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quest for perfect skin care

It must be my advancing years or something, but lately my skin has been much drier and more sensitive than usual. This means that the cheap skincare alternative I had been surviving on (Simple) is not doing a good enough job for me.

But I can't go back to the superior stuff I was using before (Shiseido Benefience) because that stuff is definitely in the pre-redundancy price range. A single bottle of moisturer in that range could buy me cafe lunches for a whole week (which would be a nice luxury - I tend to have cheese sammies or dinner leftovers for lunch).

And the stuff I have used in the past (Innoxa) must have changed formula or something, because the last lot irritated my face like undissolved lemon juice on a paper cut.

So, for now, my sewing obsession has faded and in its place is my quest for better skincare. What I want is something that moisturises well - preferably all day, doesn't irritate my skin and doesn't cost more than about $30 per bottle (which should a couple of months).

I got this book out of the library called Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me (or something like that). It's quite bible-like in size and even in the texture of its pages. It's organised alphabetically by brand name and the author rates each brand's cleansers, toners, moisturises and cosmetics according to things like - value for money, presence of sunblock, presence of various high-tech ingredients which have been proven to have some benefit, lack of irritants, etc. There's even a short section at the back which lists which brands are known to be tested on animals, which are known not to be, and which brands are still keeping their animal-testing status secret.

I was interested that the Shiseido Beneficience products I'd like so much were given the thumbs down, because the author thought they were pretty basic for the amount of money they cost. And some of the lower-end brands had products which she rated really well. It's too bad that one of the Ponds products, which rated well and is cheap, is an animal-tested product. It's also a pity that, being an American book, it doesn't include any of the NZ brands, because some of them sound pretty good but are not cheap enough to experiment on.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hugged by music

I went to a great new exhibition today in my lunch break.  There was a room full of Milan Mrkosich,
some of whose works remind me a little of Kandinsky (just a little - it's those little geometric shapes that somehow look miles deep ). There were several rooms full of Seraphine Pick, who does those scratchy paintings as well as spooky Hieronymous Bosch-inspired pictures like this one:
But the highlight was set within a sound-proofed room containing nothing but two benches in the middle of a circle of fortyy speakers on stands. Minutes after I walked in, a recording started playing; it was Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui, a Renaissance piece I'd never heard of, sung by a choir. You're supposed to walk around the speakers and hear the differences in the sounds that emanate from each one, but I didn't bother. I just leaned against a column and let the wonderful singing embrace me. It was eleven minutes of loveliness.

I think I might go back tomorrow.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fair fare

I took TLM down to the community fair this morning. It was still manageably quiet at around 9.30, but an hour later we had experienced a veritable tsunami of humanity in the streets.

And there's this thing - first thing in the morning we walked past several food stalls just setting up with promisingly good food. But by 11.30 when my tummy's rumbling and TLM's stumbling, all I can find are hot dog stands and chips that've been sitting in the warmer for too long.

Fairs aren't half as fun you don't spend any money at all, so I tried to set a limit of $10. We scraped by on $13, which we spent on:
1 windmill
1 lucky dip (a crappy Barbie phone that makes godawful noise when you push the buttons)
1 balloon animal
1 raffle ticket
1 pot of chips and a fishball kebab.

TLM looked longingly at the bouncy castle, but they are never good value because they cost three bucks and she tends to want to leave after about 30 seconds. Fortunately, the zoo was having a Children's Day celebration and she got free bounces there when the boy took her in the afternoon.

A good day - I even got a couple of hours free to do some sewing. I made a mock wrap top in a slinky knit which fits great but is marred by an unflattering print.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My shrinking window, my growing daughter

After I get home from work I have a half-hour window of time in which I can do whatever I want (in theory). It's that time after TLM has gone to bed  and while the boy is whipping up something delicious for dinner.

That is, until the beginning of this week, when we decided it was probably time to let TLM stay up until 7.15 instead of packing her off to bed at 6.30. It wasn't that she was making a fuss about going to bed; more that she had started building increasingly elaborate towers of toys on her bed whilst waiting to get sleepy enough. The other night, she had piled a huge mound of dress-up clothes and fairy wands, the wintry fleeces that she got last Christmas and maybe 200 of her favourite soft toys on her bed. And a couple of library books and a few posters that she'd ripped off the walls.

I suppose we could have kept her bedtime early and just got her up earlier instead. But neither the boy nor I are early birds.

Ah well, I guess it just means that our little girl is growing up. And that it's time to let her in on my off-duty activities.