Friday, September 28, 2012

Straight Locks and Fave Makeup

I had my hair cut two weeks ago (by yet another new hairdresser - sigh. Why can't I find a good one that doesn't cost the earth?) and today was the first chance I had to try my straightener out on the new 'do. It's a Remington Hot Pink and I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to shell out for a GHD. Seriously girls, I have better things to spend my money on.

I've even managed to wave and curl my hair with my Remington, and it has a variable heat setting. I just spray on Schwarzkopf Heidi Klum heat protectant and set it to 200. My hair is medium length and medium thickness, and it doesn't take long at all.

Since my hair was all done up with no place to go on a Thursday night, I figured I'd put on some makeup and take some photos for a blog entry.

My makeup favourites:

Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipstick (G80 - Sweet Ginger, discontinued)
Australis Fresh & Flawless Pressed Powder (Deep Natural)
CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara (Very Black)
Clinique Kohl Shaper for Eyes (04 - Black Coffee)
Rimmel Stay Matte foundation (103 - True Ivory)
Rimmel Powder Blush (101 - Pink Sugar)
Kleancolor Eyeshadow (Rainbow Palette)

I love that lipstick so much - it's a perfect shade of pink for me, it has a faint glimmer, it's moisturising, has SPF 15, and it isn't sticky. I tracked down two more sticks on ebay, so I won't run out for a little while, at least. Darn companies discontinuing my favourite.

Kleancolor is really cheap. Really. So I don't use it every day, and it won't last unless I use a primer. Still, there are so many colours in the palette, and they're shimmery! Lash Blast has been my favourite mascara for awhile now. I don't even bother with double coats or curling; it's perfect for daytime. Add a little black-brown liner, and my eyes are set to glam.

If I want extra drama, I use Maybelline EyeStudio black gel liner (not pictured) and a small, angled brush by EcoTools to apply. EcoTools is also my go-to for a foundation brush, which is how I apply my foundation. In the summer, I switch to Maybelline SuperStay liquid foundation (in Sand Beige), which holds up better in the humidity. The Australis powder keeps it all in place, and is a great price.

What beauty products are your favourites? Do you stick to air-dry, blow-dry, or use a styler?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins

These muffins graced my table on Monday morning, and they were just the thing to start the week. Joy the Baker has an excellent food blog, so if you haven't already checked it out, I suggest you bookmark it for later :)

I knew I wanted blueberry muffins, and wondered if there were any online recipes that incorporated poppyseeds, since I had some in the cupboard. Joy's Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins to the rescue! I even had a lemon sitting in my fruit bowl, but it was a bit sad, and didn't give me a great deal of zest, so I upped the lemon flavour in the recipe by adding a squeeze of the juice.

The only persnickity bit was browning the butter. I don't know if it's because I used frozen blueberries, but my batter was very heavy - it clumped into my muffin cups, rather than poured. If this happens to you, do not overmix the batter. Do not. These muffins came out with a lovely crispy crust, even though I skipped the crumble topping.

I shared two with the owners of our local cafe, who are practically friends after two years of seeing Mr J and I. They asked if I could make more to sell them for the cafe, and declared them to be among the best muffins they'd ever eaten! Since my kitchen will never be commercially certified, though, I just pointed them to the recipe.

Happy baking!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Regency Poke Bonnet, Step by Step

Mr J and I attended a Regency-themed event at the Abbey Museum this past weekend, the Picnic at Pemberley. For the uninitiated, Pemberley is the impressive home of Mr Darcy in the novel Pride & Prejudice. Author Jane Austen lived in the Georgian era (1740-1830), which included the short but influential Regency period (1812-1820).

Depending on who you ask, the Regency period may have lasted longer. Essentially, though, imagine English lords and ladies, tea, balls, rides in Hyde Park, tea, shiny Hessian boots and tight pants for the gentlemen, gambling, military men, duels, untitled ladies trying to land a Duke, tea, hand-delivered correspondence, chaperones, empire waisted gowns, gloves and hats for every occasion, and more tea.

To look the part of a genteel young lady (though at my age, were I not married, I would be considered a spinster!) I knew I would need gloves, a hat, and a simple gown. It's been years since I've sewn anything, so I ordered a handmade dress from Etsy. A vintage shop around the corner had a lovely selection of gloves that fit, and I chose a bone-coloured pair with a little embroidery and a scalloped edge.

The hat was a good deal more trouble. I couldn't find anything that was the shape I wanted, and there wasn't time to ship another international order. I found some tutorials online but they weren't quite what I wanted. And so, dear Reader, I shopped for a straw hat I could alter into a poke bonnet. Here is the $15 sun hat I purchased from Big W (similar to Kmart or Target) - it's a braided straw number, with a lot of material to work with, and quite flexible.

The crown was the right size to sit far back on my head, touching the nape of my neck comfortably, so I just had to alter the brim. At first, I thought about cutting the back out and sewing the braided straw, but I was afraid it would unravel. I unpicked the raffia-like straw "thread" until I had a long rope, which took about an hour in total.

I had planned to use the straw to put the hat back together, but I didn't have a suitable needle, so I went with a pale yellow thread I'd purchased to do some mending. I began to put the brim back together, but in a different shape. The back of the hat, between my ears, had just one row of braid. This would exaggerate the wide, high front brim.

I sewed. I shaped. I stitched. I followed the angle of the braid where possible, and tried not to break the straw by shoving my needle through. There was a lot of eyeballing and checking how it looked on my head as I figured out how to shape the brim.

I ducked the braid over or under the original back brim, stacking it on top of itself, with a gradual curve towards and away from the back.  Sometimes the braids were half on top of each other, and sometimes they were side by side.

The shape was starting to come together, and I had four lines of braid in the front of the bonnet. I added  trim for effect. But... it wasn't quite big enough. I went around one more time.

I had about two feet of braid left over when I was done, so I bravely snipped the rope on an angle, and sewed the braid against the inside of the hat. Then it was time for the fun part - ribbon and flowers!

To save myself worrying that a breeze or a dance would knock the ribbon askew, I made a few running stitches in matching thread to hold it down. The flowers are just fabric ones on green wire, which I poked through holes in the straw, being lazy and folding the ends under the hatband. And it was complete!

Mr J and I had been watching the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, and he was helpfully hemming my dress. Judging by the running time of the movie, plus time spent earlier in the week, my hat took about eight hours to make. Trim cost $4 for ribbon and another $4 for flowers, so it was a lot cheaper than purchasing a ready-made one, and I am very happy with the end result.

Here I am, enjoying my bonnet at the picnic! It was fabulous. Regency-attired folk everywhere, tea, lawn games, country dancing, a five-gun salute, a duel, music, a Language of the Fan class, Maypole dancing, and mingling with our hosts, Mr Darcy and Mr Bennet.