“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
January 18, 2012 by admin
March 20, 2011 by admin
Since I have moved to Orange County, my bike has become my favorite means of transportation. Except for one thing, my bike has no sense of style. For me, this is a sin.
After investigating the idea of putting an electric motor on my current bike, I realized that my problem with my bike is that it is overly sporty (mountain bike) for what I do and I don’t have the freedom to wear what I want when riding it (I get dirty). American attitudes toward bike riding are very different than in Europe. In America, cyclists tend to be very athletic and wear skin-tight neon lycra outfits topped with ridiculous aerodynamic helmets, presumably with a shower waiting for them at their destination. Then there’s super elitist hipster biking, where people tend to be just as stereotyped in their own class as a bunch of hipster kitties. In America, we’re cliquey, trendy, and snobbish about a sport that should be for everyone. I only noticed this huge difference in attitudes when I learned that everything I was looking for in a bike was standard issue in European bikes and their bike culture. A catchy phrase I saw in an ad for ‘antbikemike‘ was “Not sport… Transport!” and his shop features some jaw-droppingly gorgeous bikes.
I needed something with some style. I decided to buy a new bike, one that fits my riding lifestyle and sense of aesthetic. I considered vintage Schwinn’s with 3 speed hubs that I could use with an electric bike. Just like with my vintage dresses, I don’t have it in my heart to modify a vintage piece in any way. I decided to go with something modern that I could swap out parts to my heart’s content without feeling like I was dismantling a piece of history, or wear out it’s parts in the many commuting miles I would put on it. (Though if my finances would allow I would love a vintage bike for casual riding).
I went with the Diamondback Della Cruz 2, the 7-speed version.
It has that cute beach cruiser style but is more medium weight, like a vintage bicycle. Plus, I think I’ll need all 7 speeds until I make it electric, and the extra gears will be nice to have even when it is electric too, because I can do more peddling myself and save battery. Since it’s a Diamondback it’s of good quality considering I only spent $330 on it. Another reason I opted for this model is because it has front and back brakes, unlike most vintage-looking bikes which have a coaster brake. I’ll need these brakes when I make it electric, and I might even upgrade one to disc brakes.
I still have yet to receive my new toy in the mail and assemble it though, so I’ll post again on how it feels to actually ride the thing. I’m mostly looking forward to having a bike with an upright-sitting position so I can ride long distances comfortably, with a lady-like posture, and a nice ensemble of a skirt and dress shoe flats.
I started looking for some luggage racks and baskets because that will also be one of the advantages of this bike, I can use it for going to grab groceries, instead of taking the bus. And I can throw my purse, coffee cup, etc. in the front basket and not be bothered by annoying backpacks or messenger bags.
I stumbled across various bike blogs and saw one post about a “skirt guard” or “coat guard” that goes over the back wheel to protect the rider’s clothing from getting caught in the wheel. It’s such a practical and useful accessory, I decided to hunt it down as my first accessory for my bike. This blog has a few great posts on the practical use of skirt guards, in fact it’s a really great blog about biking in a commuter sense without letting your fashion go.
Electra makes really amazing bikes, and the skirt guard that comes on the bikes in their “Amsterdam” collection are exactly the style I had in mind. (They sell the guards separately but only in black, and claim they don’t work with any other kind of bike.) So I kept looking for skirt guards to see what other kinds I could find. Also note, after looking at many varieties of skirt guards, I noticed the Electra one doesn’t seem to cover as much of the wheel as others.
I found this lovely crocheted bicycle skirt guard:
You can see the skirt guard pattern is in Dutch but I imagine someone skilled enough with crochet could figure it out with google translate (my glance at the translated version told me I didn’t know enough about crochet to get past the translation barrier).
I was so enamored with the idea of this crocheted bike dress guard that I looked all over the internet to find something similar. It has that great ‘vintage’ style that I always crave, and is practical too. There are commercial versions, but I just didn’t think they were quite my style.
An Etsy shop, JustDo, has these pre-made crocheted skirt guards and this pattern if you have the skills to make it yourself. There are also a lot of very unattractive skirt guard solutions that I have seen (wire or mesh), but since they’re not pretty there’s no sense in detailing them here.
In any event, all this was pretty difficult to find, and I didn’t feel like shelling out $65 for pre-made one, or attempting to do it myself anytime soon. (I have a bad habit of over estimating my skills as a do-it-yourselfer and I don’t want to take on some extra random talent for a one-time need). I started googling ‘beginner’ crochet patterns that were round, like baby afghans, to see if I could get away with an easier pattern and a similar effect. Then I had a ‘eureka’ moment and remembered the fabulous material: oil cloth!
I happened to be on fashionfabricsclub.com to look up crocheted patterns and I am always trying to think of a good excuse to use oilcloth, so I browsed through their large selection and found some cute ‘Dutch’ looking floral prints that I think will match my bike perfectly.
Now all I have to do is measure and make a pattern for this and I’ll have a waterproof, and stylish skirt guard for about $6 worth of materials and maybe an hour of work. I’ll also make a liner for my basket, either in the same oilcloth as the skirt guards or I got some cherry-print oil cloth as well that I might use for that (but I bought it for a re-usable lunch bag that won’t leak, and I will definitely be making that!)
In a few days I’ll have my bike and my oilcloth skirt guards, so I’ll take some photos to post soon! I’m so excited to see it put together!! I gathered a lot of information on the subject (at least what’s relevant to America and the difficulties of finding such a useful item!) so I hope this was useful to someone out there!
Category Fashion & Fashion Business, My Life | Tags: 7 speed commuter bike,aesthetic biking,bike fashion,bike style,coat guard,commuter bike,oilcloth bike wheel cover,oilcloth skirt guard,skirt guard,stylish commuter bike,vintage style biking | 6 Comments
May 26, 2010 by admin
Some unbelievably cute photos of my precious little Artie after discovering his first acorn in my window sill!
May 19, 2010 by admin
What do you mean I’m no natural redhead? This color *is* all natural, it’s henna!
After being a platinum blond for many years and loving it, my hair was not. And being fickle like I am, after being one hair color for a while I get bored no matter how much I like it.
The boyfriend voted for red hair. My facebook friends voted for pink. Guess who won.
Going from blond to red isn’t easy, since you have to build up the color, and what worked before might not work again, since it had been a year or so since I attempted red. (I was stuck with Ronald McDonald orange for about a month before I bleached it again, damaging it so bad I had to cut my hair to a bob!)
I’ve been pretty tired of using all these chemicals all the time, and after researching different ways to go from blond to henna red, I was pretty sure I could pull it off alright.
Actually, America’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball was once a blond who used henna for her vibrant red. This, of course, appealed to my 1950′s preoccupation. Let alone rumors of other notorious historical women like Cleopatra.
My first batch of henna was with “Light Mountain” brand in the shade “auburn” since I knew I had to build up the brown tones in my hair before using the red. I didn’t anticipate how much my hair was actually going to soak up the color, and my hair was almost exactly my natural brown after one color set (overnight).
The pics in this post are from my third coloring. My last one was with pure red henna and this current color treatment was as well. Pure henna is *much* more fun. It’s very easy to work with, compared to any other “plant” hair dye that contains other plants to make the henna darker. (If you haven’t heard before, NEVER use henna that isn’t 100% plants, in the US it’s not very common to find for hair dye but always read the label that you’re only getting pure plant powders).
Steps I like to use for good henna application:
1. Boil water and mix in the henna slowly (just get out all the lumps!) Once it’s the consistency of toothpaste I add in an essential oil like Tea Tree Oil (my favorite) or Eucalyptus. Those oils are supposed to help enhance the color and they make it smell really good too.
2. Let the mix sit for 1 or 2 hours (this helps “activate” the henna so it’ll dye better).
3. Brush out your hair and part into sections. Apply Vaseline to your ears to keep them from getting dyed. Use an applicator bottle to apply the henna. Part your hair, apply to roots, and part again with the nozzle until you’ve done your whole head.
4. Pull the color through, cover every bit of your hair until it’s soaked, trying to keep it neat and not tangling it (you’ll see why when you rinse).
5. Put on the plastic cap and use a blow dryer on low or even wrapping a towel over the plastic will heat your henna enough to help bring out the color. (I think this helps more than any other tips I’ve read online).
6. Leave in for at least 4 hours. I leave mine on 8 hours (overnight).
7. Rinse in warm water and be patient. I don’t shampoo until next wash (so wash your hair before you apply!) I usually have to run conditioner through my hair 3 or 4 times to get all the little henna particles out. (If you get most of it, when you blow dry your hair, the rest should brush out ok, it will just leave your hair a little heavy until next washing.)
8. Voila! A redhead.. naturally!
And if you’ve tried to keep your hair red with usual dyes, you’ll probably be really pleased with the results. You’ll see it does leave your hair much more “natural” looking and healthy looking than any dyes I’ve bought at beauty supply stores, or had applied professionally.
So I’ve read that by the third or fourth coloring, the henna will be completely saturated as far as color. I’ll have to see how this fades, but my red is much more brilliant after this last coloring.
So henna is much easier to use than chemicals, since if you leave it on too long, all it does is enhance the color. (My last one I did more watery and it dripped everywhere and didn’t color as well). The henna is really gritty if you’re used to dying your hair, it feels strange like you’re putting a mud mask in your hair.
Henna is so much fun that after I was all finished putting it in my hair, I got a little plastic back and poked a hole in it to apply some henna body art. It was a less than ideal tool, and I think I’m going to pick up a proper squeeze bottle with a fine tip to do much more intricate work. After the color “matured” over a day, the body art was very beautiful. I think I’m going to use it as an indicator of when I need to recolor my hair. It should last about 6 weeks.
I tried to get a pretty accurate photo for the color result. This is the color over several previous henna applications, and bleached blond hair underneath. The great thing is, though, this is the *exact* same color as my roots! It blends in beautifully.
I’m not the sort of girl that usually goes all “herbal” and “natural” whenever the opportunity arises. But I’m glad I gave henna another chance.
There are just a few things that make henna difficult to find, or use in America. Unless you live in a big city, or have a large health food store nearby it might be hard to find henna. I’ve looked at buying bulk henna from several places but I’m always weary when I can’t see it or feel it in person. Because henna is a plant, the quality can vary widely.
If you buy online, you can get Light Mountain brand, which I’ve been using for all my recent applications but I have tried other henna brands (once with GREEN results!!) so you have to be careful. It’s the only brand I recommend unless you know a friend or a source for mehindi quality henna.
One thing I’m pretty certain of is that henna treatments will also make my hair accept pin-curling and other wet-set styling better. It seems to have a side effect of making my hair feel thick and full. With pin-curling or wet set styles you will sometimes lose a little body depending on the style and that’s always bothered me. After letting my hair curl naturally, I noticed that it almost looked *too* big! So I’m sure those evasive Andrew’s Sisters and Peggy Lee styles that are just sky high won’t be out of my grasp now.
My hair has never been healthier since I’ve been using henna. It also seems to have an astringent quality that keeps my hair from looking greasy by the end of the day like my natural hair can do. Also the texture is a little “straw” like, which I’m sure some girls don’t like, but that was my favorite thing about bleached blond hair, because it’s actually easier to control when it has a little bit of texture to it.
Henna is my hair’s new best friend! I am really surprised at how underrated henna is…
That’s my two cents on the subject, I’ve had a lot of girls asking about how I get my hair red the way it is. If you have questions, feel free to comment!
March 29, 2010 by admin
Artie has a reputation around here of being the boss. If he doesn’t want you to catch him, you will not be able to catch him. If he wants you away from his hazelnut, trust me, you keep away from his hazelnut. For all his fiercesome ways, he has another reputation, and it’s of being very smart and sneaky.
He already figured out that he can sneak under our bedroom door if we don’t watch him closely enough. The good thing though is he is endlessly and tirelessly greedy. So bribes are alright by him.
Chris started training him with almond slivers to come to your hand when you stand up and put your arm straight out. He understands this signal in different contexts, with different hands or signals. So my next goal is to train him to come when I call him. I think it’s completely possible. I haven’t seen video of a chipmunk that comes when you call it, so I’m hoping it’s at least rare enough to be noteworthy.
Here’s some video of his sweetness. I’ll continue training him and post my progress.
This is Chris playing with him:
You can see he puts my finger in his mouth to play bite me, but then he does surprise me with a bit more of a bite toward the end. He’s still pretty gentle, but this is why these special little animals are a little too wild for small kids to play with. I even still think that people who are unfamiliar with the way chipmunks behave would have a hard time playing with him. He also gets spooked a little easy if there are new people around.
That’s all for now!
January 28, 2010 by admin
I love salads. I could eat them for every meal, every day. I guess that’s the kind of thing you crave when you grow up vegetarian. Nonetheless, I like variety, and I love to make my salads “fancy.”
I came up with the dressing kind of on accident. I made a creamy mayonnaise dip for some roasted garlic potato wedges and didn’t care for it much on the potatoes, so I altered it for salad use! Use vegan mayonnaise for this, it tastes just as good!
1/3 cup vegannaise (vegan mayonnaise)
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic (you might want to start out with 1 if you’re not a garlic person)
Pinch of Rosemary
Pepper to taste
Mince garlic as small as you can and mix in with the other ingredients until well blended. :)
Serve over spicy green spring mix salad.
One thing I missed being vegan was creamy flavors especially on a salad, so this is a good way to have an easy vegan alternative.
Happy animal-friendly eating :)
January 18, 2010 by admin
I decided to make something a little more fancy since Chris is trying to be vegetarian and could use some unusual delicious food.
There are probably a bunch of ways you can make this, since it’s basically one of those meals you throw together “to taste.”
Breaded “Portobello Parmesean”
2 Portobello Caps
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons oil
Cut Portobello caps into strips, and cut off as much of the stem as possible because it is tough. Beat the eggs in a bowl (you could add cream or milk to the egg to make it thinner, or to make it vegan you could use oil and soymilk). Dip the mushroom strips in the egg then coat in bread crumbs. Do all the strips at once and heat up the oil on medium. 2 mushroom caps will be enough to fill an entire skillet, so you can do them all at once. Preheat oven to 300.
Cook until browned and turn over. The nice thing about mushrooms is you don’t have to worry about an internal cooking temperature, like you would have to with meat, so you’re more likely to overcook than undercook, so keep an eye on them.
Because I was cooking the brusselsprouts afterward the Portobellos, I put them in a casserole dish with a lid, and put some small balls of fresh mozzarella on top so when they were sitting in the oven keeping warm the mozzarella melted on top of the mushrooms!
While the mushrooms are keeping warm and getting melty, you can cook the brusselsprouts.
Rosemary Garlic Brusselsprouts
1 pound (or approximately a skilletful) of brusselsprouts
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
Wash and cut the stems off the brusselsprouts and quarter them. Some leaves will come loose from the rest of it, but they sear nicely in the pan, so don’t throw them out. Mix olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper together in a bowl until brusselsprouts are coated in oil (may need more oil). Toss everything in your frying pan and cover, stirring frequently. Keep on medium/low heat until you see the loose leaves starting to darken. You can test if they’re done by poking a larger one with a fork. I liked mine a little on the firm side, so anywhere from 12-20 minutes depending on how high the heat, the size of the sprouts, etc. When the brusselsprouts are finished cooking, sprinkle in the parmesean cheese and let the heat of the pan cook the cheese a little as you stir it.
When the brusselsprouts are done, you can take the Portobello’s out of the oven and serve with side of tomato sauce for the mushrooms. This made a lot of food, probably serves at least 4.
This would be good with garlic bread too. I didn’t do it this time, but I think the brusselsprouts would have benefited from a splash of good balsamic vinegar. Since that’s an easy thing to do wrong, I think you should test it on a per-serving basis. Also, a balsamic glaze would have been decadent and delicious on the brusselsprouts as well.
It’s one of those dishes you can try many different ways. Even just switching the seasonings from garlic & rosemary to, say mint and lemon would turn it into a greek dish!
Let me know if you try this out! I thought it was a nice meal.
Here’s what it looks like all done! Yummy!
I think the main thing to be careful about with this dish is the seasoning and cooking the brusselsprouts enough without overcooking. The Portobello’s would be great topped with some homemade marinara (I felt like the jarred sauce was too behind on “fresh” flavor).
Also, I used “portobello” in this post, even though I think colloquially I call them “portobella.” It seems like it’s more popular as “portobello” though I don’t think it really matters. Just in case anyone was wondering.
November 19, 2009 by admin
I started making vegan cookies years ago since my brother was vegan, we started cooking vegan so we all could eat the same goodies. We used to tease Thomas saying that “vegan deserts are just sad.” But these vegan cookies (and others I’ll post as I make them, like my famous Snickerdoodles) are so good you can “omit” the fact that they’re Vegan to your friends and family who would otherwise not want them, and no one will be the wiser!
Many recipes can be adapted to be vegan without losing out on flavor, and this is definitely one of them! I adapted the classic “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” recipe from the Quaker Oats box as follows. The water mixed with baking powder was my egg replacement, and Earth Balance my butter replacement, it’s the best butter substitute: EVER. I like it better than real butter.
Vegan Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies:1/2 lb. (2 sticks) Earth Balance (softened, about half a tub.)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water mixed with 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (old-fashioned, quick oats are no good.)
1 cup raisins (next time I’m doing half dried cranberries!)
Heat oven to 350°F.
Beat together Earth Balance and sugars until creamy. Add water & baking powder mix and vanilla; beat well.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir together until no streaks remain.
Stir this into the butter mixture. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
Makes about 4 dozen (makes a LOT of cookies).
Best when served right out of the oven :) You might want to make these with some company! Also, I got to use some of my favorite old-timey pieces to show off the cookies: my favorite cake tin in Kromex!
I have almost the entire Kromex set, one of my 50′s housewife weaknesses.
I’ve been trying to collect the entire set for years and I think I’m only missing a couple pieces like a bread box and rice canister :)
Hope these cookies turn out good for you! Do let me know! Especially if you trick non-vegan sympathizers with this one!
Syndicated from www.LOLKITTY.info
November 6, 2009 by admin
I frequently mull over the internet taking in new information. With Chris being a Wikipedia junkie, it’s needless to say, we have a lot to talk about. The other day I was hit hard by the concept of “vestigial.” Organs, genes, or whatever, I think understanding the concept of vestigial parts of our bodies is in some ways consoling and in other ways infuriating. It sunk in the other day when I heard it referring to some odd genes and to our appendix. Since I was in maybe first grade, I remember hearing that “the appendix is just a useless organ, it’s just there, sometimes it ruptures and kills people and that’s just the way it is.” I was always bothered by the idea of an appendix, sort of like how we just accept that the way cats pur is just a mystery. Then when I suppose the idea of vestigial organs and the appendix mixed, I thought, “why didn’t they just tell us school kids that it was a vestigial organ and that’s why it’s so useless.”
But as I said, it’s only half consoling. I have to think that if that’s the way it is, it’s easy to accept, since that’s how most things are. That’s why we have such terrible genetic diseases and why we are susceptible in ways that are unfortunate.
Nature is like that, it’s a beautiful disaster.
We have a hoard of moths around our house that are crowding the town right now. They do that every few years, making clouds in front of your headlights at night, and for a very brief season before going the way of the may flies.
These moths are really charming little things that look just like butterflies but without the colourful patterns. Their wings stand straight up like little sails, just like a monarch would, pointing their foreboding mock-eyes to the world. When I see them, I say to myself, “oh, another moth-er-fly.” After hearing Richard Dawkins once talk about “sloths” pronouncing it with a long “o” sound, I make myself laugh by calling them “moth-er-flies” with a long “o” like some sarcastic biologist. They are the sort of things that make me think Nature is lovely, even dull grey moth-er-flies.
But then I still have nagging frustrations with genetic disorders. Even just one or two genes that do the wrong thing, and you can suffer all your life. Even with mild genetic problems, there is nothing we can do but treat the symptoms. Why is there childhood cancer? Why is birth so traumatic? Why do so many things have to die, just for there to be life? Unfortunately for the natural world, survival is really the framework of the old joke: You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friends. And it’s true.
This video is a good example of how clunky life is. Select for one specific task and give the critter some basic building blocks for it’s body and look how absurd these virtual critters can be, but still be technically successful.
Unfortunately for humans, we can sit there and think about how crazy this is. Being self-aware is also a mixed blessing. Just looking at those little creatures, they look like they’re suffering. Look at how much they struggle to be best at the one assigned task. This makes me want to rant and rave about how cool I think it would be for humans to be cyberized. I’ll probably never see the day. Though there are some cool things happening in science right now, I would still reserve this for another post.
My main reason for focusing on this is the burden just women have with respect to bad design from evolution. I’m the kind of person who’s a bit like a hot house flower when it comes to being fragile and temperamental. I always seem to be getting sick with something, and it can all be chalked up to bad engineering.
But Nature doesn’t have it all wrong, I think it went right making a cute peanut powered companion of mine, Artie. But I do think that the philosophies we have, the way we live life, and our outlook on everything is based on our understanding that we have to struggle to find success. There is no other way to be successful on this planet, because it’s the foundations of our reality.
Nobody can win without making others fail, and it’s all we can do to make it so that we aren’t the ones doing the failing.
November 4, 2009 by admin
I had one of those days where my desire to be creative was overwhelming.
Chris bought me this darling piece of Bakelite that is a simple but charming tiki head purse clasp. I really loved it, and when I look at all the great bakelite pieces out there, I think it’s a shame that they are so expensive and hard to find.
So I did what I always do when authentic vintage pieces aren’t as accessible as I’d like: I made vintage.
I took some polymer clay that I’ve had some fun with recently making cute old-fashioned kind of treat charms, and tried my hand at making these little guys.
I couldn’t get close enough to the face with my own hands, working with this new medium was a little cumbersome. I do think it has a great deal of flexibility and I would like to do many, many more pieces like this. I made a mold from the clay itself and baked it. I made two faces and spent about an hour on them each getting the details just right.
After putting on the glaze I was very satisfied with these pieces. I think there’s a lot of potential for these to be a star piece in vintage inspired wardrobes where real bakelite is just not practical. For one thing, when you wear real Bakelite, it makes you smell like formaldehyde, and the bangles can stain your skin! Yuck! I’m not sure if polymer clay is sturdy enough to be a bangle, but this is definitely my next project, among a couple other Bakelite pieces I have saved photos of in the hopes of being able to recreate them one day.