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screw natural

I must be the only person on the planet that doesn't like Bare Minerals!  (It's that swirl, tap, buff, all mineral looks like bare skin makeup so pure you can sleep in it stuff, for those of you who don't know.)  I've been using it about a month because I wanted to try it out (and sometimes your skin needs a while to settle into a new product) but I'm Just. Not. Happy. 

First, I break out.  I am cursed with cyclical zits.  And Mother Nature in her great vindictiveness has decided that I, in peri-menopausal glory, will not only break out right before my period but I will also break out right after I ovulate.  It's her little way of saying, "Hi, how ya doing? By the way, your eggs are getting old and if you don't get knocked up soon I WILL PUNISH YOU!"  So I need a makeup that covers.  Bare Minerals is not covering anything.  

So I go back to the makeup counter and explain the issue and after they've stopped giving me the unbelieving googly eyes they give me another powder that should cover up the "problem areas".  BTW, some of the women using this stuff at the counter looked great, and some of the other ladies, who had obvious acne or other skin issues, looked like they were wearing heavy makeup.  I guess you CAN get it to cover... if you put enough on that it totally shows.  And you're willing to buy it every month.

Then I go home with this other concealing powder and put it on and end up with my zits sort of covered... by blotches of makeup that are a different color from the rest of my face.

But wait, there's more!  It flies everywhere, really messy, and every time a puff of powder migrates away I think "Fly free, money! Fly free!"  It also, as part of the migration, gets in my hair and makes it feel funny.  (My hair has sensitive feelings, you know.  It doesn't like being in uncomfortable social situations.)  But my favorite thing, besides the not covering, is the fact that if I do manage to cover up, say, a healing blemish this powder turns it into a dry, flaky sahara-like blemish that looks as if it might start spontaneously dandruffing on the spot.

I feel SO pretty! 

On top of that, the whole marketing campaign has always kind of worked my nerves.  It being SOOOOO natural and the other makeups as a bunch of chemicals is total spin.  Not that Bare Minerals isn't minerals.  It is.  But most other makeups are also full of the same minerals.  Chemicals in general are made from nature.  Because we can't make up shit out of nothing, you know.  When they say something is "natural", they really mean it's "not processed".  Sometimes.  Sometimes it's still totally processed but they call it natural anyway.   And yes, chemicals are processed but that doesn't necessarily make them bad.  Just like all natural products aren't always good for us.  Give me some of that 100% natural arsenic!  Yeah!

Interestingly, when I asked the ladies at the counter what the ingredients were they had no idea.  Except for titanium.  They knew it had titanium.  (Yeah, you and every other makeup out there.)  They also could not find the marketing materials that listed the ingredients.  When I asked "Isn't it legally required that the ingredients be listed on the bottle?" again I got the unbelieving googly eyes. 

I wonder what they're going to do when I return it?

OK, I'm done bitching.  I'll go buy my old powder now. 

           - the weird needed to rant girl

The Joy of No Holidays

I am being luxuriously lazy this week.  I know there are people who get depressed after everything is over, but not me.  I love it.  I love the holiday letdown!  Makes me imagine what a full life of leisure might be like.  And just like I predicted, I am in my jammies, eating chocolate-based goodies (with only a smidge of guilt).

I figure I got this whole week before life gets busy again.  I think the next thing on my list is to research/tour/apply to elementary schools for next year.  Blech.

I wanted to show you one of my reduce/reuse/recycle/wg-is-a-cheapskate projects.  I made this wreath...


... of which I am inordinately proud (because I'm not very good with anything vaguely in the "sewing" genre).  It's not a terribly innovative design idea, pieces of cloth strung on a wire, but guess what it's made out of? T-shirts! 

I always seem to have a pile of tees that have stretched/shrunk/gotten bleach on/developed a hole/stain/ etc.  This particular wreath includes tees that were pre-pregnancy (of the era of "belly baring", need I say more), tees that were an incredible $3 a pop from Coldwater Creek so how could I pass that up and bought, like, six which all turned out to be the wrong fit, and even one that I received at BlogHer 07 (represent FLAVORx!). 

I cut up eight different t-shirts and the wreath came out between 13 -14" wide. I wanted more volume so I puckered the squares a bit with a stitch in the middle, instead of layering them on flat. The thing I liked was that since it's jersey the colors are still vibrant and it's really cushy and soft.  Plus, this was a project that cost nothing but time.  A zone-out-in-front-of-the-TV project.



I also liked being able to mix the colors up with something a little funkier than traditional red and green.  I'm really pleased with how it came out.  The only glitch is I need to re-string it on stiffer wire.  If I hold it up as it is that sucker sags like a grannies knockers out of their bra.  Whoops!

Hope you all are having a relaxing week!             - wg

Tempering the holidays

I've been pushing myself to get everything done THIS WEEK.  You know, so I can relax and "enjoy the holidays" next week.  But, big surprise, I've also been driving myself a bit crazy.  (Type A, you're not so good to me.)  I already know... I'm not going to get everything done this week.  So chill the hell out, bitch.

But still, that golden moment of having everything done by Sunday tops was beckoning and I just couldn't shake it.  The wrapping/crafting/card mailing/baking lot of it.  (I always save baking for last.  It's fresher and I like the sugar.)  I've been making way too many lists and envisioning... I don't know what... caroling or some Christmasy crap next week?  Hurling flaming yule logs at snowmen while the family laughs in glee?  I don't know!

So yeah, tizzies.  Then it occurred to me that the entire week after Christmas would be completely open with nothing to do.  I could read while noshing on fudge.  I could sit around in jammies all day and watch movies.  I could get the whole family to sit around in jammies.  Trust me, with this family that's not hard to do.   

So first, breathe.  Second, it's OK if I get one thing done on my list a day.  I mean, sure I'd like two or three things, but one is good.  That would leave me with X amount of days to complete X amount of items and that seems perfectly reasonable.  Of course, I'm avoiding counting my list in case I don't have enough days but whatever.

Third, and this is an important one, that fudge?  Any chocolate that comes through the doorway?  You TOTALLY deserve!

What's keeping you sane during the holidays?

                     - wg

Santa schmantza

I'm a bit stumped this year.  It's time for me to make up a wallop of a holiday newsletter and it's just not flowing out of me like it has in the past. And you know how much I enjoy lying!  It's fun, it's healthy, it's good for a girl or a boy.  There are also more family members requesting this letter (ironic, no?).  I used to just send it out to the friends I thought would "get it".  I've got some ideas but....

Well, while I'm working through it, here's last year's letter.   (P.S. Suggestions welcome.)      - wg

Christmas 2008

Dear Friends & Loved Ones,

We hope this letter finds you well and that you have had a year filled with joy and grace!  Our year was much changed from previous years.   Most of it was spent transitioning to a school routine for young master Chance – (sniff! they grow up so fast!) – but once we acclimated to the new schedule we prepared ourselves to settle into the blessed quiet of suburban domesticity.

Fate, however, had other plans for the wg/Keen household.  As many families do, we spend much of our time at Chance’s preschool.   It was on one of these fateful visits that our year took a dramatic turn!  It had been raining heavily for several days, and the little tykes at school were fair chomping at the bit to get outside.   The day we dropped in happened to be the first day of sun and Keen and I stayed to watch the children rush with wild abandon onto the playground.

Only to watch horrified as a huge sinkhole opened up, swallowing a portion of the field and many of the children!  Of course, Keen, I, and the school teachers all rushed to the scene.  The children seemed to be fine but when we jumped down we discovered a network of underground tunnels!  That’s when we were confronted by the strangest sight the wg/Keen household has ever seen… an ancient man in a tattered 70s era three-piece suit stood in the tunnel with mouth agape, accompanied by assorted Mole Men; that legendary race of mutant half men, half mole (who are, surprisingly, quite a bit shorter than fictional media has depicted them).   The old man was obviously their leader and the Mole Men, perceiving a threat, immediately went on the attack; waddling towards us with razor-sharp claws extended.  However, as any parent knows, there is no beating the viciousness of riled up toddlers.  I yelled, “They took your snack!” and the preschoolers (Chance at the forefront) swarmed the Mole Men.  Keen, thinking quickly as usual, swiped a play parachute from one of the teacher’s hands to further subdue the little buggers (children and moles).  It was all over in minutes.

That’s when their leader approached us, finally overcoming his shock.  It was none other than the long-missing, teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa!  It turns out Jimmy really was buried in a field… but, not quite dead, he was rescued by the Mole Men.   With so many people gunning for him at the time, (and finding his rescuers in a sadly unorganized state,) he decided to stay amongst the Mole Men, ruling their underground domain.  (Mining for gold and jewels didn’t hurt, either.)

We were all incredibly moved by Jimmy Hoffa’s story.  He was still questionably mob-like, still living in fear, but he had also dramatically improved conditions for the working Mole Man (and who can frown at that?).  That’s when Keen and I persuaded the teachers to launch a school-wide, albeit secret, project to help repair the Mole Men’s tunnel (it’s amazing what a federal arts grant will cover these days).  It took several months, but we helped the underground society and continued to protect Jimmy’s whereabouts, while the children learned about community service, structural engineering, and the science of moles.  Win-win!

Now reflecting on our heart-warming year and this, the season of giving, we sincerely wish that you and your family enjoy your very own Mole Men moment.  Again, we hope you are well and our best to you all!

Love always,

The wg/Keen Family

Another overdue post (review time)

It seems like every time I check on the blog it turns out that I HAVEN'T posted anything!  Amazing.  Especially considering that I have a backlog of half-written posts.  This time of year the days just seem to fly by.  And I think the early dark turns my brain off. 

Note to self: Must start utilizing night-time. Do NOT play any more Bejeweled 2.

So I don't do reviews around here often but I was offered a chance to check out the Playmobil: The Secret of Pirate Island DVD.  What intrigued me was that it was marketed as an interactive DVD; you could make choices at points in the movie to direct what the characters would do and which way the story should go.  Like those choose your own adventure books.  Chance has been all about the bonus features of any DVDs. If there are games, bonus clips, deleted scenes, even previews he's wrestling the remote out of our hands to get to them.  On the one hand that's kind of annoying (the male proprietary dominance of the remote, I mean) but on the other, Chance's fine motor skills are rapidly improving (which he needs, thanks dyspraxia) so when I heard about this Playmobil DVD I wanted to give it a try.

Unfortunately, Chance was completely ill when we first got the DVD, so he liked it but he didn't want to operate the remote himself.  (Which should give you an idea of how crappy he was feeling.)  However, the second time he watched it, about a week later, he was feeling better and then he got into all the alternate choices.  He actually, started the movie over a couple of times to re-choose options at certain places and watch what happened.

From my perspective, the CGI was really well done.  I thought that the movie was pretty cute and I especially liked the music.  I'm picky about music, I don't like stuff that's too cutesy or dumbed down and the tunes of this DVD were catchy - something an adult could enjoy.  Ditto on the story line.  I was genuinely amused at quite a few of the lines.  I also thought they did a good job with the choices given to viewers, but it was obvious there was still a main story line that it would return to.  Chance is four, almost five, so it worked for him.  But if you have older children they might desire more control over the larger path of the story.

Overall, I would say that Chance enjoyed it but it didn't completely grab him.  He likes it when it's on, but he also doesn't ask for it.  However, I think that's simply a matter of the movie genre.  If they had a similar Playmobil DVD with dinosaurs I suspect it would be another story. 

Since we got the DVD I've been seeing Playmobil everywhere. I always knew about their toys (I really want one of their castles but I can't sucker Chance into them) but they seem to be expanding in interesting directions.  And while the Pirate theme may not have been Chance's cup of tea I'm keeping my eye out for what other movies they produce.  

(No action figures were harmed in the making of this review.)

           - the weirdgirl

the stuff we build

I've been on a whole reduce, reuse, recycle kick.  Actually, I've always been a bit like that but it's been intensifying over the last year.  Some of it stems from the economy; it's hard for me to look around and see people struggling and not feel like I should save more, do more, and waste less.  Some of it is environmental, which is, again, seeing waste - the amount of packaging we throw away, the plethora of plastic toys that pile up.  And some of it is, well, I really like working with my hands.

Don't get me wrong, I am the first to admit that I am also a consumer.  I love to shop, even if it's just window shopping.  I like to see what's new and creative.  I like to peruse catalogs.

But, again, I like building things.  I have a hard time seeing something in a catalog that I know I could make myself and giving someone else money for it. 

I also hesitate at spending extra money just because it's made from recycled materials. Or just because it has the word "green" on the label.  Those items are very popular in catalogs this year.  And while I applaud those beautiful fake flowers hand-crafted by villagers in a depressed nation from elephant poop, both for being sustainable, compostable, and economically stimulating... do I really think that the $50 American bucks (not including shipping) for 6 turd blooms is going to those poor, resourceful villagers?  No, I don't.  I'm also not swimming in so much extra cash that I'm willing to buy a $600 end table made from salvaged rulers. Or, for that matter, shop all green items every day at Whole Foods. 

Because you can certainly waste money as much as you can waste resources.  (This is a weird era - between the economy, going green, and being, as a society, consumers we are caught in conflicting forces. I hope the marketers are ready.) 

Plus, I kind of feel like if I really want old rulers or elephant poop I can cozy up to some teachers or zookeepers respectively, or even chaperone a school field trip TO the zoo, with the cozying, and collect all those reusable items at once.  Thus, further reducing my carbon footprint by making the one mass transit trip.

Anyway Because of all of the above, I've been doing a lot of handmade items and crafty kind of stuff, trying to go a little green for the holidays, and trying to bend my mind to how I can reuse/recycle all the crap we might throw away. (Plus, you know, no job... I got time!)  I totally want to show you some of the projects, but I've got to wait because I may or may not be giving some of them away as Christmas gifts.  You know, depending on how they turn out.  And whether the recipient would be open to receiving something that may have had its humble beginnings at a thrift store or in my closet.  (That does sound weird, doesn't it?)  Since, like, everyone from old bosses to family members seems to be aware that I write online now I don't want to spoil any surprises. (I should have never given up anonyminity.)  Except for the jam!  I made a TON of jam this summer and everyone who might read me already basically knows they're getting some jam for Christmas.

If you didn't know that, you, yes you, are getting jam.

Which brings me to the other tree-hugging project I was working on.  When we moved into this house I decided to try to create an edible garden.  I.e. I wanted to put in as many herbs, and edible flowers as possible, as well as veggies.  If it wasn't edible I wanted it to be a pollinator (brings bees) and/or drought resistant, and/or native.  I had such lofty goals. I envisioned eating really fresh and unusual produce, putting food by, and being able to donate extra vegetables to Second Harvest.  In my last house I had an English garden, almost all flowers, with veggies mainly in pots, and everything grew like fricking gangbusters.  That house was a mile away from our current house. 

In this house, the soil is shit. 

The backyard has been landscaped so many times that the soil is completely depleted.  (The ground might even be a little poisoned.)  I'm still putting in edible plants.  Whether they survive, or produce much, is another matter.  So in an effort to put some nutrients back in the soil, I've just started composting.

I am amazed at how much waste you reduce when you compost!  Our garbage load has gone way down.  I'm using all sorts of crap I didn't know you could use.  Did you know that you can compost paper?  Because I didn't know that!  Thanksgiving around here was a fucking miracle of gluttony and thriftiness.  Keen is as converted as I am.  When you can see yourself filling the kitchen bin and dumping it out into the composter almost every day it's hard not to feel like, by Jove, I'm doing something!  For Thanksgiving day alone I think we filled and dumped that bin seven times. 

I should have started ages ago.  I've also discovered I enjoy rooting around in muck!

Must be that hands thing again.  And now you know where mine have been.

(Merry Christmas.)              - the wg