Archive for July, 2010

Carrot Cake de Culinary…Luck

Another day, another urge to bake.

Erm, that’s how the saying goes, right? If it isn’t, it should be. Nothing soothes the savage in me like baking up a good dinner dessert that I almost destroy with my inattention to detail!!! My dear Lola wanted carrot cake, and carrot cake she did have! Well. Okay. She almost didn’t have it, but I pulled through with a little extra sweat.

What the hell am I talking about? My new thing this week: making carrot cake from scratch. Not my grandmother’s carrot cake, no, not quite…but delicious and savory nonetheless.

It all started while walking through a local grocery store whose Club Cards shall not be named; dear Lola and I pondered the age old question of how to best stuff our faces full of sugar. We just couldn’t decide. And when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘me’. She pointed to the cheese cake, and I shook my head. She wanted the chocolate cake, and I said that I wasn’t in the mood. She asked about the cookies, and I made an excuse about their quality in this particular store. Suggesting cake after cake and pastry after pastry that I simply shot down, Lola finally settled on a rather large and overly-decorated piece of carrot cake with some exasperation. Only, I mentioned then that I didn’t eat carrot cake that wasn’t homemade– insert roll of the eyes here. In that frustrated and ever-sarcastic way of hers Lola snapped that I should “make the damned cake myself, then!” It was SO on like Donkey Kong.

I texted my boyfriend, asking him to check out a carrot cake recipe on All Recipes since my network was acting all wonky. I looked over the ingredient list, and soon I was throwing ingredients into our cart mostly pellmell. With the eggs in the basket everything was set…or so we thought. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized I hadn’t purchased any carrots. For our carrot cake. Thankfully, Lola had gotten a bad of pre-mixed salad with plenty of carrots inside to go with dinner. I was sure that all was not lost!  Unfortunately, as per my luck, the bag only contained about half of the carrots we needed.

So improvise I did! I was sure that this carrot cake would be iffy at best, but when friends call for carrot cake, it must be done! I got to work, and eventually popped that bad boy in the pre-heated oven. I was unsure about how everything would turn out. In the end, I had accidentally added pepper before the cinnamon, had too few carrots (and too much pineapple) and over oiled/floured the glass pan that was supposed to be metal. But for all this? My cake was effing delectable. I must admit to you now that I used a store bought cream cheese  frosting, as I didn’t have much experience with confectioner’s sugar. So I’m not necessarily Susie Homemaker, but I’m still terribly proud of my culinary fortune skillz. I’ll just be Susie’s sometimes-too-impatient cousin, Terry Try-Her-Hand. As in I try my hand at things I’ve never done without direction? Ha? Ha…ha?
Okay, Okay, that joke was lame even for me. But nonetheless!

Here is to amazingly (and surprisingly!) moist delights…and Lady Luck!

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All-new Apts. and New Neighborhoods (The Countdown Starts)

Santa Monica, California: the “greenest” major metropolitan area in California; the city of beaches; chock-full of chic boutiques and upscale gastropubs; my new home.

This morning I woke up to a text from my boyfriend. I read it, and “we got the apartment” was all it said. Jumping out of bed, I screamed the news to my mother in the other room. I couldn’t contain myself! I still can’t contain myself!

Can you believe it?! In three short weeks, I’m trying the newest thing I can think of and I’m moving away from my hometown for the first time! Shane and I are moving together, far away from the safety and comforts of our safety nets back home. I, for one, couldn’t be more terrified or excited. It’s a new thing I’m not apprehensive about trying. It’s a new life I’m not apprehensive of living. What can be better than that?

Not a damn thing. I’m forging the way to the Epitome of Experience, the Be-all and End-all of Newness: a 9 hour trip from home to…Home.

Here, my dear readers, is to being happy.

The End of Enduring, and Lack of Loyalty (Day 0)

Yesterday, dear friends, I lost my cool. Oh, here we go, you’re thinking, another confessional, another reset. Well, yes….and, no. I am giving up again. However, this time I’m going to be honest with you and just flat out say it: I can’t do this. The hair thing, I mean. For the past few months, my skin has really been clearing up. Due to the ultra-greasiness of my head the last week and a half, I’m back to square one. I’m one of those city girl types I warned in the first post. I’m not strong enough to handle the ten-fold increase in oil production.

So we’ll start the search for something New. I think I’ve realized that while aiming high is important, being realistic about my abilities and tolerance levels is also extremely important. I want to push myself, but maybe baby steps would be better? So I will call this a reset, but I will also chalk it up to a learning experience, and leave it at that. Maybe if there’s a political revolution someday (there will be, I assure you!) I’ll have the balls to bear that oily, horrifically greasy mess. Maybe it will be great and work out just fine, just maybe not right now. SO, dear readers, I’m looking for other new things to try.

Any suggestions?

Let me know, and I’ll keep Stumbling in the mean time. I only hope Simple Mom can forgive my lack of commitment to this one. (I’d say I hope that I can forgive myself…but there’s nothing quite like a good hair day.)

Here is to….trying new things.

Weakened willpower and a hairy mess (Days 2, 3, 4 & now 1)

There has been a serious lack of posts here, as my readers might have noticed. Nonetheless! Here I am, up and back in action, bowl of Special K in hand. Days 2 and 3 of the No Shampoo Revolution went over without TOO much excitement in terms strand status, but we did have ourselves quite a setback.

My best friend Lola came back to town, so I crashed at her place for a couple days to get away. Day 2 passed without much to speak of, though I found myself missing shampoo and leave-in conditioner (as my hair wasn’t up to its usual standard of loveliness.) You see I’m a complete nut about cleanliness and haircare, so this No Shampoo Revolution is a huge test of willpower for me. Unfortunately it’s also a test of my patience, as well. Never was this more evident than yesterday, Day 3.

My day started like any other. I woke up, stretched, drank some water, put on Food Network and kicked back for half an hour before deciding to rise and shine. As soon as I folded back the blankets, a headband was holding back my bangs, and bobby pins were tucking my errant ends away for safe keeping. With the amount of oils protruding from my head, however, I realized that even with the appropriate hair accessories, I was doomed to cringe until nightfall. I gave it until about noon and pinched myself. I had to do something. My search for baking soda would soon be on. Now it must be said that on Day 2 I woke up with the driest follicles I’ve ever had, paired with the greasiest roots anyone has ever seen, so I had decided that a switch from honey to vinegar was necessary. Forgive me for not sticking to my guns on this one, but it’s only going to get worse as you read on, so I’m going to call the switch “small potatoes”.

There I am, looking for any trace of baking soda and vinegar in Lola’s kitchen, frantically wiping my forehead on my sleeve. I searched for a good ten minutes, but to no avail. Suddenly, I remembered reading somewhere that a little soap plied at the roots coupled with a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil were viable as fair substitutes in lieu of one’s regular No ‘Poo products. So, heading to the upstairs bathroom, I combed the knots out of my hair with a small brush. The water running a little hot as I knelt over the tub, I lathered up my bangs and roots, and rinsed. After this first step, I should have known something wasn’t working. Between the alkaline water and its alkaline partner, soap, my hair was already screaming in protest. Nevertheless, I haphazardly pressed on. Eying the olive oil bottle and anticipating the feel of it sliding over my scalp, I shuddered as I spooned the stuff onto my roots. Let me emphasize: shuddered, positively recoiled in disgust. Under no circumstances do I suggest a natural haircare n00b using this solution. My lord, what a godawful gooey, tangled mess my hair had turned into!!!! I couldn’t run a brush or comb through it, I couldn’t stop nearly vomiting at the consistency of it, and I couldn’t take the regret as a result thereof!!! So I caved. Yes, I reluctantly admit it. I caved like an abandoned coal mine under the weight of the mountain during an earthquake: my hair was shampooed and conditioned, and by Nioxin Fine Hair products no less. Instead of depriving my sweet strands of those nasty chemicals, I pumped in additional ones not usually found in your everyday shampoos. I was supposed to heal my head, and to this end I had failed. I wallowed in my shame as I blow-dried and styled my hair to perfection. I shied away from potential peeks at myself in mirrors, knowing I was having a particularly good hair day.

I’m sorry to say that I must concede to my lack of posts being tied to this. I was feeling sorry for myself and couldn’t bear to air my dirty laundry for all to see in these pages. But here I am, right? There’s no moping in a life of newness. Back on our feet we go, dear blog and dear reader! Today I will use my aforementioned baking soda and vinegar mixture to cleanse my mop, and we will begin anew. The countdown is resetting, and this will be, again, Day 1. I wonder if I’ll experience any Deja Vu? I guess we’ll have to see, and in the interim we’ll cross our fingers that the second time around will be a charm. Here is to a new ‘new beginning’, and a brand new determination.

Don’t Do Your ‘Do’ So Dirty (Day 1)

It’s the dawning of a new era…on my scalp! That’s right, I’m goin’ for the glory! Our first New Thing here at Try A New Thing (or TANT, for all you acronym fiends) is: replacing my shampoo and conditioner with non-detergent products.

As I briefly went over in the “About” page, there are two contenders in my fight for awesome locks. I’ll get into the specifics shortly, but no victory can be had until the announcer’s voice booms over the loudspeaker , “LET THE GAMES BEGIN!” , or for all you futból fans, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!”

In the left corner, weighing in at 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of warm water, our best baking buddy….drumroll, please….BAAAAKKKIIIINNNNINGGG SODA!

In our right corner, also weighing in at 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of warm water, that delectable delight in all its sweet, sticky splendor….badabadabadadada……CLOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEER HONEY! That’s right, ladies and gentleman, we begin this possibly frustrating battle with two usually unremarkable cooking ingredients; both ready to duke it out with high-end salon shampoos and conditioners around the world! Let’s go to the game plan, folks!

Alright!  Today is Day Number 1 of my version of the No Shampoo Revolution! Some of you may be wondering why I chose to start cleansing my hair with such normally inane products. There are a few reasons in fact, which I’ll be happy to go over in a few lines, but first I’d like to say that not everyone has it in them to handle what other bloggers are referring to as “the transition period”. So before you jump on board, and before I get into my reasoning, I’d like to warn all the ladies and gents out there that your hair WILL get exceedingly greasy, and it DOES take extraordinary willpower to stay away from a good Bumble & Bumble wash and shine. I’m just saying it now to avoid confrontation later. With that out of the way, let’s get into why someone might choose to quit using conventional haircare products, as well as alternative cleansers one can use to make the switch.

First, as my favorite conscious caregiver, Simple Mom, went over in the post that inspired me to consider a change, there are these things dermatologists and doctors like to refer to as caustic chemicals. Simple Mom talks about these toxic chemicals that are in your shampoos, soaps, and conditioners and explains about the alkaline content of modern city water. Briefly, there are all these chemicals in your home water that cities use to “clean” and “purify” their main reserviors of H2O. Chlorine and floride are the most prominent of these in metropolitan water supplies. When it comes to determining which shampoos to buy, I tend to watch out for four specific chemicals to show up in the ingredient list. The first two of the offenders are sodium laureth (and lauryl) sulfate, which acts a detergent and a foaming/wetting agent, are used in most soapy bath products as well as cement cleaners and car washes. My chief concerns, however, are the addition of propylene and butylene glycol to ANY of my beauty products. Both are petroleum-based plastics that soak easily into the skin. What does that mean to us? Whatever is on our skin, and consequently soaking into our pores, is going straight to our bloodstream. In laymen’s terms: it proves healthier to avoid all the beauty products that we’re terribly addicted to! I scream out loud, “Aaaahhhh!!!!Nooooo!!! It’s tear-a-bowl!!!!” Nevertheless, I managed to swallow my pride, push my semi-obscure Judd Apatow reference to the back of my mind, and take in the facts as they were put to me.

After learning all I could cram into my head about the chemicals I was essentially poisoning myself with, the No ‘Poo phenomenon seemed like a No-Brainer to me. So I took a page out of Simple Mom’s book (or blog, as it were) and began the prep: begrudgingly not washing my hair for three days. I got my hair cut the first day, and just pinned it up the remaining two, to combat grease accumulation on my face. Blech.

DAY ONE, FIRST WASH

  1. 1 tblspn baking soda to 1 cup warm water for washing. A regular 8 oz. cup to hold the mixture. (Trust me on the temperature, here, by the way.)
  2. 1 tblspon clover honey to 1 cup warm water for conditioning. Similar regular 8 oz. cup to hold the dissolved  mixture. (I do plan on using a sports bottle in the future,which I recommend to make the application of these cleansers a lot faster. I was just too anxious to wait until I could get to the store for one!)

Okay! Let’s get into it!I started my bath (the shower in the apartment I rent is broken for the time being) as per usual. I soaped and lathered, and generally relaxed as I prepared myself for the sensation I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for. I grabbed my cup and took the plunge, pouring half the cup and massaging its contents into my scalp. I dumped the remainder over my head, spitting out the saltiness of the baking soda as fast as I could, and continued my scalp rub. I rinsed after about two minutes, because my phone rang. (My best friend had something she deemed life-altering to tell me.) Initially, I wasn’t sure how my hair was going to react because of the tingling that was happening on my big ol’ dome; but I rinsed and began to massage in the honey solution. Waited three minutes, and rinsed again.

It wasn’t until I had toweled off and blow-dried my hair that I could clearly see the first results. My hair? Definitely shinier, instantly more pliable.

It’s nearing the end of the day, and I have to say that my hair is no greasier than if I had been outside on a particularly warm afternoon. However, I’ve been advised to expect an exponential increase in the oil output over the next 2-8 weeks, until my body gets used to being chemical-free up there. All in all, having learned NOT to use cold water in your mixtures, I consider the first steps a success! Now I have to say that even though my roots are oily, my hair itself is pretty dry, so I did choose to use honey as my conditioner for that specific symptom. For normal hair, it is suggested that you use apple cider vinegar, in the same measurements as listed above; or, for more oily hair, you can try lemon juice. Most sources say to only use your “anti-shampoos” once a week, but I’m not ready to give up for surfactants and daily hair washing simultaneously, cold turkey. I’m starting with a mixture rinse every 4 days for the first 3 or 4 weeks. I intend to wean myself in this manner, and switch to the vinegar solution after 6-8 weeks, depending on the length and carnage of my “transition period”. Here’s hoping that my hair doesn’t get so greasy that I cease wanting to leave the house. Oy vey.

In all seriousness, I’m really excited for our first New Thing. If any of you find yourselves not so sure about it, or are scared off by the idea of not “washing” your hair, there are a lot of good articles you can find via a ‘No Shampoo Movement’ Google search to glean information from. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but for those of you who are frugal, looking for something different, or even just into that naturalist lifestyle, this is a pretty awesome concept. My ‘thanks’ go out to the Simple Mom, and my promise goes out to the readers that the rest of these daily chronicles won’t always be so damned long-winded. I supposed I just like to be thorough, and as they say, “Better safe than sorry.”

Here is to putting your best coiffure forward! 😉

Trying New Things (and ensuing insanity!)

To The WordPress Gods, and Men (and Women!) More Mortal:

A blog, you say? A dime a dozen, you say!

Well be that as it may, onward and upward!! I decided, after much self-debate, to start actively working to change my own health; a reliance on harmful chemical foods/products; a lack of energy and excitement for life. I want to start finding better ways to have awesome hair, skin, food, fun, and days, without being afraid!

So! Around December, I stopped using my depression medications, with a cessation of taking anxiety medications six months following. I then chose to fight for sobriety (having abused various substances for the last six years) and rebuild myself and my humanity all over again. My mom and boyfriend Shane, whom I imagine I’ll mention a lot in these pages, has been a huge help and support in these regards; but help from others can only get me so far.

I’m starting a blog because, well, why not? I’ve never done it. It’s a new way to exercise my grammatical skills (or lack thereof) and a new way to chronicle my new experiences. It will be rough, initially: there will be a serious lack of pictures until I can get my hands on a working digital camera that’s NOT attached to my Samsung Moment. And they say, “All that glitters is not gold.” While I couldn’t tell you who “they” is,  “they” do seem to know a lot more than me. So in the spirit of also trying new things for yourselves, ignore the lack of glitter and try to bear with me while I bust out the gold! 🙂

Here is to new friends, (hopefully) new readers, and a new way of being Me.

MY last word on the subject is this: “Welcome!”

Loverlies,

K-A