Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in a pagan/agnostic/Santa-ist household

I hope you've all had an enjoyable Christmas (or other appropriate holiday).

It was never a big-deal time of the year for me, growing up. Maybe it's because our mum didn't bother with presents or Christmas decorations, and I always had to spend hours writing polite cards to rellies in Hong Kong (or anyone else who sent us one - once we got a card from a 'relative' up the coast and to this day none of us know who on earth this person is).

'It's probably because your family isn't Christian', you might say. Well, that argument does have weight. Except my mum was reborn about ten years ago and the only thing that changed was that she started saying grace before meals.

Also, the boy is very big on Christmas and he's a pagan. Although, as a pagan he is at least highly aware of the various ancient religions whose festivals were usurped by the Christian one.

So ever since the boy has been in my life, Christmas has been a big deal. And ever since TLM was born Christmas has been a very big deal. In fact, TLM began searching for signs of Christmas months ago, and was the first to spot any pine tree, shiny bauble or red/green colour combo in any shop we visited.

TLM spent all Christmas morning unwrapping presents and trying them out. So far (partly due to crappy weather curtailing scooter practice) the one with the most play-time is the Harumika fashion design set. She got the starter set consisting of a mannequin, 3 pieces of punk-esque fabric, and a range of tiny accessories. I added a bunch of offcuts from my past dressmaking efforts.
Actually, I think I have probably played with it as much as she has...

...though the photos are of TLM's designs.
I just went to their website and there's a version with legs. I'll ask the boy to get me that one for my birthday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breaking a lifetime habit

For years now, I have been intrigued by the possibility of going shampoo-free. At first, I couldn't believe you could simply stop washing your hair, and it would eventually become self-cleaning. And then I thought, what a big con those drug and cosmetic companies have on us all, producing unnecessary smellies that we supposedly need. (Of course, if you use a lot of styling products, maybe you do need to shampoo often - but then it's still a big con and a massive money-maker for those companies!)

Finally, after a lifetime of daily shampooing, and just as my holidays have started, I just stopped.
Well, in actual fact I went three days without a hair wash, and the next time around I am going to wait 4 days (that brings me up to Christmas Day - I should probably try to be fresh for Christmas Day). And after that I am going to try going a whole week without a shampoo.

After that I'm back at work, so it'll be interesting whether I can keep it up under the pressure to still look presentable.

The weird thing is, I was expecting to get the major greasies - but I haven't at all. I reckon my scalp has probably gotten increasingly drier as I've gotten older (thereby producing less sebum) and I just haven't noticed!
It's so cool that I can now save money on shampoo, and not have to worry about adding hair products to my skincare quest.

Monday, December 20, 2010

You know your kid has been watching too much Ben 10...

...when the plumber arrives to fix a leaky pipe under the house, and you have to explain, "No, TLM, not that kind of plumber"*.

*For those without young kids, in Ben 10 plumbers are people with special powers whose responsibilities including protecting the Earth from hostile aliens

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keeping it Simple for now (Actually a review of REN sensitive skin products)

I trialled two products from the REN skincare range - the Ultra Calm Global Protection Day Cream and Ultra Calm Cleansing Milk.
REN is from the UK - I was attracted to them because they don't test on animals, and avoid using all those bad-rep chemicals that makers of organic cosmetics love to hate - parabens, petrochemicals etc - for the sake of  skin-friendliness. They might be organic too, but that wasn't my focus.

I was quite astonished when, after emailing them to ask whether REN is available in New Zealand, the customer services person offered to ship me some samples - all the way to the other end of the Earth. When they arrived I was astounded that such small containers existed. But I can't complain.

Both products came in tiny plasticky tubes. They shared a herby smell that made me suspicious, but it wasn't a perfume-y smell so I'll forgive them.

Now, if I'd gotten larger amounts, I would have been able to test them on my face properly. As it was, there was enough to either patch test, or to smear sparingly. So sparing smearing was what I opted for.

The cleanser was lovely to use. It left my skin feeling completely un-assaulted.
The moisturiser was just as gentle, but unfortunately was not emollient enough. I could have gone through a couple of those tubelets just in one application, and would have needed a top-up soon after.

So I will stick with my Simple Regeneration Age-resisting day cream with spf, which is similar in gentleness and emollience, but costs $27.50 for 50ml. The REN moisturiser, on the other hand, costs a whopping $111 for a bottle of indeterminate size which couldn't possibly be 200ml. Actually, the REN website displays a 50ml bottle, so if we assume that it only comes in one size, it's, like, 4 times the cost of the Simple product.

Maybe one day, when I am a millionaire, I will shell out for the REN bottle to try over several days, and maybe I will realise that the stuff is actually better than I thought. Until then, I will stick with the thing that is affordable and is good-enough-for-now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Man's shirt, feminised. Somewhat.

After the fiasco of the last time I tried to refashion a men's dress shirt, it was a very long time before I set to on the other shirt that the boy gave me. This time around, I used a tunic sewing pattern (New Look 6808) to feminise this shirt. I sewed the front down so that it's now a pullover rather than a button-down, omitted the back and front darts (but left in the bust darts) for a loose fit, and used a contrast fabric for the sleeve and neck facings. The  contrast fabric was cut from a piece of skirt material that used to belong to the boy's lovely mum, which I never used because the print is too big for my body size. From the front, I'd say it was a success.

From the side, it's okay - not fab, not hideous.

But from the back I look like man...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Child development by DVD

The Little Madam has thankfully gotten over her obsession with Barbie DVDs - at least for the time being.

The boy has been diverting her with Dungeons and Dragons - the animated series from the 80's(?) - and Star Wars - Clone Wars (ew yuck!).

Then he got her into the first Harry Potter movie, which she loved. She likes the second one too, but gets freaked out at the scene when Harry and Ron drink polyjuice potion and morph into Goyle and Crabb (Draco Malfoy's brain-shy sidekicks).

For a coupla days, all she wanted to watch was my recording of the televised World of Wearable Arts show. It shouldn't be surprising, because it's full of fantastic, whimsical costumes.

And now she's a fan of The Princess Bride. My only criticism of this movie is that there's only one main female character, and she's utterly passive. But it's witty and got scary bits as well as the occasional kissing, so I'll let it go - as long as TLM also watches something with strong female characters in it.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Unaccustomed social activity

It's been quite a busy weekend.
Friday, my workplace had an all-day Christmas do, which entailed a train ride up north to a lovely hotel/park complex where we frolicked in the sun and then had an amazing lunch before napping on the ride home. We had terrific weather, and I only slightly regretted not bringing my togs with me (I still got wet - the naughty swimmers made sure of that).

Saturday morning TLM and I went shopping for a birthday present, to take to a party that afternoon. While there I managed to sneakily also buy a cute tooth-box for TLM's Christmas present for Sunday's party (see below). We also spent a good hour painting a large sheet of paper to wrap our friend's present it. I had at least as much fun as she did. By the time we got home we had just enough time to vacuum the house before my niece showed up for a sleepover. (But it turned out that this was her first sleepover away from her mum, and she ended up going home at about ten. Which meant that TLM was 3 hours late to bed...)

Sunday, TLM and I attended a Christmas party for her Chinese language school. And then I was ready for another nap.

Uh huh honey honey

And tonight I resumed my Googling for skincare and eczema remedies.It's funny that, although I've always been regarded as a somewhat analytical person, I've never tried very hard to research more about my condition. Perhaps I should blame it on my authority-fearing nice-Cantonese-girl upbringing, but I pretty much have always just relied on whatever my doctor suggested. I suppose it's never too late to search and explore the variety of snake oils out there, looking for something that will work until it stops working.

Tonight, I tried smearing some honey on an irritated area of my hand. Right away, it started stinging. But then it stopped stinging, and stopped itching too. And this wasn't even the famous Manuka honey.

I can't exactly smear this stuff on like moisturizer - I'd be covered in insects and stuff as soon as I stepped out the door. But it does give me a new avenue of active skincare ingredients to try out.