The Joy of the New

Aha! So that's where they have hidden the food...

Aha! So that’s where they have hidden the cat food…

So long January (almost) – glad to see the back of you.

Actually, scratch that. I’ve rather been enjoying 2013 so far (not least because I have my May wedding to look forward to) and there have been plenty of new and interesting experiences…

Many a Friday night has been spent sans wine, as have many other evenings. And you know what? Sobriety is OK. I won’t, however, be turning into an evangelical teetotaller as I’ve yet to find a soft drink that goes as well with cheese.

I wrote a piece of flash fiction. It is as it sounds, a very, very short story. The definition of short varies, but my story was 100 words and I wrote it for a competition to win a residential writing course. If anyone else is interested, I’m not afraid of competition (!) so here’s the link.

I had a Brazilian blow-dry. I now possess wavy, rather than curly hair. I’m pleased with the results but would caution any prospective customers to try the treatment out via a deals website. I don’t think the treatment is worth full price at all.

I took to using electrical appliance on my face to tighten it up. Ooh it hurts so is therefore good for me? One week in and I think I see a difference on the nose to mouth lines and my complexion looks brighter. However, it’s not particularly a scientific, controlled experiment. Maybe the better skin is down to all the fruit and veg I’ve been eating?

The cat was forced onto a diet. Unlike we humans, it’s much easier for a cat to diet, seeing as he gets no say in the matter. We weighed him and its turns out he has two pounds too heavy – pretty significant when you’re a wee beastie.*

As cakes have been absent of late, I made soda bread. Healthy baking hmm?
250g plain flour
250g wholemeal flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp salt
400ml buttermilk, or use 200g plain live yoghurt made up to 400ml with water

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Sift the flours and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Add in the salt and make a well in the centre. Add in the buttermilk or yoghurt and bring together quickly. It will be pretty sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute.

Place in a 20cm round non-stick, loose-bottomed cake tin and mark the top with a cross. Cook for 40-45 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. (You’ll know it’s cooked as it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Serve warm with butter and raspberry jam.

My final new experience of January takes place on Monday. I’m going to an NLP session to cure (hopefully) my addiction to blasted diet coke (ahem – two litres a day…)


*We’re a day past Burns Night; I had to throw in a Rabbie reference somewhere.

Mama Nature 3: Straight Hair Mission 1

hair 09_01_2013So, one Brazilian BLOW-DRY treatment later [I feel I must keep emphasising the second word of this treatment or readers may fear I’m about to share a little too much information about my grooming habits] and am I frizz-free, swishing glossy locks over my shoulder a la haircare ads?

Ah, the things we curly girls have done to fight what Mama Nature bestowed on us! First there was chemical straightening, then came serums closely followed by ceramic straighteners (leaving burn marks on carpets up and down the country). I always viewed the after pictures in the serum & straightener ads with suspicion. Those girls really didn’t look as if they’d ever been curly tops in the first place.

Anyway, post-Brazilian I washed my hair, I let it dry naturally, I peered at it every five minutes or so. Was it springing up, were curls coming back? Was that a touch of frizz on top? Well, yes and no… If you aren’t prepared to spend 40 minutes drying your hair, if it gets wet in between washes and if you go to the gym or walk in fresh air/wind frequently – welcome back frizz, your holiday from my hair hasn’t been a long one…

To be fair, I’m a little less curly.  My hair does feel as if it’s in good condition. I’m taking a little more time over hair care. But I’m also very glad that I didn’t spend the full whack on a Brazilian blow-dry (upwards of £150) and I probably won’t do it again.

It's just pics of wine and cake for me this month... January; a fun-free zone

It’s just pics of wine and cake for me this month… January; a fun-free zone

Quick skincare news flash – anyone else on the frankly dull January detox? Are you wine free but willpower wobbling? A good friend pointed me in the direction of a website where you can download an app called Drink Mirror (android phone app only at the moment, but they are promising an iPhone one soon) which shows you what your skin might look look like after a glass or two or three.

Needless to say, it ain’t pretty… Willpower back on track.

Curly Girls: Their Grannies Loved ‘Em

Brazilian blow dry – sounds too close to a procedure also involving hair, but which seems incredibly painful and humiliating..?

The blow dry, thankfully, does not involve the removal of one’s clothes and is a soothing way to spend an afternoon. In my quest for neat wedding hair, I thought I’d investigate this fairly new phenomenon.

As a late teen, my grandmother used to tell me that people would pay for my hairstyle. She was the perm generation. My 20s coincided with the rise of the straightening iron. And thus  nobody wanted curly hair.

This is the before pic...

This is the before pic…

Thanks to my increasing age and years of home colouring, my naturally curly hair is now very frizzy. Morning gym visits have exposed to me to the routines many women go through – dexterous juggling of hairbrushes, clips and hair-dryers, finished off with the trusty GHDs. It appears to be very time-consuming and I already devote far more time than is necessary to skincare and make-up.

So, the 20-minute (plus, if you are very diligent) daily haircare routine does not appeal… Time that could be devoted to my family & friends! Time that could be spent reading! Time that could be spent baking cakes! [Er, if haircare is your thang, I promise I don’t condemn you; please do see my previous post on skincare as evidence of absolute pointless time-wasting on my part.]

My local salon was doing a Brazilian blow-dry deal. I thought, ‘ooh bridal hair-do practice run’, and succumbed. Various promises were made online – easy blow dry, straighter hair, less frizz. No wonder I crumpled so easily.

See, the sheer novelty of running a comb through hair? Can't be under-estimated...

See, the sheer novelty of running a comb through hair? Can’t be under-estimated…

Here are the results… Impressive hmm? Now, the real deal is in a few days’ time when I wash my hair and then dry it. Rather, let Mama Nature dry it, or I blast it with a hair dryer for five minutes or so and then get deeply bored (so definitely not a 40-mins proper blow-dry and straightener job).

Then, hopefully, the legendary status that it is the Brazilian blow dry will really make its status known and I will emerge with straight-ish, frizz-free-ish locks…