Fabrics and Food Shopping: A Lesson In Obsession

Quick note-slash-big announcement:  I’m on Hollaback Health today in the first of a series of regular posts on how to improve your writing!  Head on over and find out why writing matters so much–and why I just NEED to get up on a soapbox and make us all better bloggers.

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This weekend, I confirmed a fact that I already knew beyond a reasonable doubt:  I am a Class A hoarder.

I don’t hoard junk that would land me on those ridiculous TLC shows.  I just hoard non-perishable food items and fabrics.  You know, the usual stuff.

The worst part is that I know that I do it.  In fact, I recognize the process:

  • A fancy can of something interesting or an insanely bright piece of fabric (usually cotton–let’s keep it real) catches my eye.  I get so excited I have to buy it (usually because it’s both special AND cheap) and I yammer to the salesperson about it as I purchase it.  I can tell they all roll their eyes when I walk out of the store.
  • The purchase turns out to be SO special that I just can’t bring myself to open it or cut into it.  I set it aside for the right dinner/occasion.
  • The right dinner/occasion never comes.
  • Fast forward a few months/years and I’m unearthing eight cans of chickpeas and a jar of sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly/ X cuts of fabric from the depths of my kitchen/sewing mess.
  • Cue shame–but cue indifference, too, because by the time I dig it out I’ve moved on to other, more exciting finds.

And so it goes.

I usually don’t feel guilty for it, except for when I do, and today is one of those days, sadly.  So, in the interest of not humoring my compulsions, I hereby announce that I will refrain from multiple-can purchases of beans until I’m down to just two cans of chickpeas (two being the amount of cans that I end up using any time I use beans–helps me make leftovers).  I will also refrain from buying any more fabric until I’ve dealt with at least three of the cuts of fabric I’ve squirrelled away.

Honestly, inspiration has struck in a million different ways for each of these beauties.  I just have to simmer down and make a decision and get on with my bad sewing self:

Purple was purchased in April, yellow in February, red in May
Uh-oh: the blue on the right was purchased in March 2009, the green in September 2007 (!), and the one on the left in May

Clearly, I have a problem–and some sewing to do.

And yet…

This De-Hoarding Measure does not mean that I can’t evade my own rules by making bean-free dishes and chopping up my curtains to make my own Hostess With the Mostest/Trophy Wife version of this Anthropologie dress:

Convincing reasoning, no?

Are you a ruthless de-cluttering machine, or do you hoard things like the world is ending tomorrow?  What is your hoarding poison?

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Welcome to the Sweatshop

Mamalicious, if you happen to be reading, stop right now and look away–this one’s about you (mostly)!

It has been a literal fashion sweatshop at my house for the last week, with the weekend hitting fever pitch of sewing mania. Did I seem distracted?  Blame it on the sewing.  Did I write lots of typos?  Blame it on the sewing.   Did I eat the most boring food alive?  Blame. It. On. The. Sewing.

There is a reason for this all, though.  As a condition of my six-week sojourn at Chez Mamalicious (the longest since I left home nine years ago–eek!), a list of Laura Must-Do’s has been issued to me.  These conditions include:

  • The almost-daily making of delicious lunches to the satisfaction of Mamalicious’s taste buds and dietary requirements (we’re talking lots of salad here, people)
  • The clearing out and cleaning up of basement and attic (hi, like I didn’t hate cleaning the basement when it flooded with yuckwaters last Christmas!  However, the attic is fair game, since that’s where the material evidence of my pre-Britain and pre-Trinidad life is boxed up–did you know I actually have “good cutlery” up in thurr?  Yeah, I forgot about it too…)
  • The making of a wardrobe for Mamalicious to teach in and leave her students agog at her fashionable adorableness

The first has been tackled appropriately, with a list of good eats for Mamalicious now living in my wallet, ready to be whipped out each time I think of something nice to add to it.  I hope she has a discount with a local funky-lettuce grower because, like I said, Mama and I are eating more (well-embellished) grass than the cows out in the fields this summer.

The second?  Ach.  I’m bringing a bottle of duty-free rum and a bottle of duty-free tequila into Chez Mamalicious to deal with clearing out the basement and attic.  I’m much better (read: reckless) at tossing old junk when I’m intoxicated–in fact, that’s the only way to do this, as far as I’m concerned.

The third?  Well, Mamalicious is getting the wardrobe I would have made myself this summer, had I not been slaving over making it for her.

I’m hooking her up with this skirt:

In these patterns:

She’s also getting a gorgeous shift dress similar to this one (the sleeveless belted one, possibly made A-line in the skirt):

In this beauty of a floral explosion:

And a shirt-dress like my very own beloved Frankensteined dress:

In this enviable navy-and-white abstract floral/blobby print:

With such cute, painstakingly-selected buttons that I almost regret making this for her instead of for me:

She’s also netting a few A-line shift dresses like this one:

In some gorgeous saturated solids–I’m thinking orange, a magenta of some kind, and a green, with fabrics to be procured over the next couple of days.  It’ll be easy sewing to keep busy with while I’m visiting–and she has about a week’s worth of summery work clothes that I’ll have made to tide her over while I work on those for about a week.

She’s got me so busy that I’ve had to forgo reading my guilty-pleasure George Pelecanos crime drama in the interest of getting these  selfish sewing endeavors finished:

Dress turned into skirt, with the help of some nice orange from my curtains (literally snipped off before sewing)

A yet-to-be-finished dress that needs a zipper and a hem

In other words, I’m giving up Dexter and DC crime for my Mama’s dresses.  If that doesn’t earn me free passes to her Zumba class and unlimited use of her bike (to train for my Ride For Roswell), I don’t know what does.  There’d better b a grand reception at the airport, complete with tulips and champagne, for her seamstress.  That’s all I’m saying.

Do you get sucked into any particular tasks when you go home?  Are there things you volunteer to do for the family when you go home to visit?

One thing I will happily and easily provide is a tuna lunch like today’s:

Tuna mixed with spicy mustard, mayo, lime zest, tomatoes, pepper, and black pepper, served on crunchy whole-wheat pita.  We’ll be seeing a lot of this, modeled on her pretty plates!  I can’t wait to use her lovely collection of plates and I’m sure that you can’t wait to see different plates either, so watch this space…

But before that, stay posted for my Core Fusion Sport review tomorrow. If I can move in the morning, that is.

Working From Home: In Which Your Girl Is Grateful For Her Good Fortune

Day one of freedom!  I can’t believe I’m on the other side now.  I spent the whole weekend reveling  (and being ridiculous in forgetting to take my camera to a fancy Italian dinner which, funnily enough, was memorably awful so no pics are needed) thusly:

Out for Saturday night movie and drinks: T-shirt handed down from Baby Bel, jeans from Marks and Spencer, shoes from Target, bag from Zara, magenta cardigan from New Look

Sunday morning plain scrambled eggs, toast with honey, turkey sausage, pomegranate-lime juice, coffee--all made without running water!

I admit, I was pretty shocked that the whole office thing was over–and spent way too much time hoping I wouldn’t turn into a queen procrastinator of the first degree once I started working from home on Monday.  I mean, I used to wake up at 1 pm–right in time for Law and Order SVU–during grad school, and spent the first two (jobless) weeks in Trinidad last year doing… well, not much more than that.

Then again, back then I didn’t have a blog, or freelance work, or some sewing shenanigans in the planning, or a running habit that necessitates 6 am wake-up calls back then.  But that didn’t mean I wasn’t slightly nervous that I’d go back to Lazy Laura ways.

In the end, however, I’m happy to report that today has gone swimmingly well despite a rough start.  Here’s what actually transpired:

5:30 am–wake up with a start.  Realize I don’t have to go to the office anymore.  Pinch myself hard, considering I’m still half asleep.  Go back to sleep.

6:00 am–alarm goes off for my morning run.  Hit snooze.  Sit up, snarffle, blow nose for three minutes.  Is it a cold, a rain-induced return of the allergies, or the sort of sick you get when you finally relax/go on  holiday/end the term/quit your job?  Decide to decide when the alarm goes off again.

6:09 am–alarm goes off again.  Still snarffly.  Sit up and debate whether breathing through nostrils is strictly necessary while running.   Imagine how kickass I’d feel starting off Freelance Laura Life with a kickass four-mile run.  Put on my workout pants, blow nose twice.  Hope gravity will kick in and I can breathe again.

6:18 am–gravity doesn’t kick in.  Sneeze ten times, blow nose, sneeze six times more.  Decide the run is just not happening.  Worry about setting a bad precedent for myself.  Sneeze three more times.  Try to sleep.

6:20 am–too awake from my deliberations to sleep.  Realize being sick lets me off precedent setting.  Read in bed for an hour and copiously wipe nose.  Fall asleep.

9:20 am–wake up.  Nose is much better–I can make do with one working nostril.  Smile at Husband being up, breakfasted and caffeinated, before me for once.  Shower, eat breakfast:

There are two French toast buried under that pile of mango, plus OJ and coffee

Throw coconut for dog:

Coconuts make great free dog toys--as long as the dog doesn't eat them

Spot an iguana fight and a bird fight.  Realize that I’ve put on actual clothes, very light makeup, and contacts.  Pat myself in the back for not spending day in pajamas and promise myself a small bit of fabric for being so sartorially conscious.

11:15 am–Freelance Laura Time!  Need to hustle before the computer goes for a ride  to gets Microsoft Office installed. Realize that I can paint nails and let them dry while I type.  Cackle at how the people in my (old) office do not have this luxury.

1:15 pm–finish Freelance Laura Time.  Pack up computer, see it (and Husband)  off.  Channel my inner Nigella Lawson and go on a cooking frenzy:

Do grown-up classy ladies use frying pans as lids? (Don't answer that question.)

2:00 pm–eat lunch leftovers from Sunday night’s Pollo Tropical (purchased because there was no running water on Sunday.)   Wonder why daytime TV is so crappy on a Monday.  Wish I’d chosen Tuesday as my first day at home so I could celebrate with a Law and Order SVU binge.  Decide I deserve a nip of whiskey later for not wanting to eat bonbons all day.

2:30 pm–websurf.  Wonder whether it’s still the term all the cool folks use.  Feel sorry for Husband when I end up using his computer–it’s way slower than mine.  Wonder whether I pity him enough to make him cookies. Nah.

2:47 pm–sewing time!  Cut strips of fabric for dress neck and sleeve edges.  Think about how I’m going to post about it on the blog as a sewing lesson.  Realize I can’t blog about it because the dress is a surprise for someone else.  Wonder why I ever promise surprise sewings to family members.  Realize I wasn’t so virtuous after all because I bought matching fabric for me.  Hope I haven’t said too much.

5:52 pm–planned walk gets trumped by much-needed rain.  Think how weird it is not to have left my house today.  Wonder if I’d make a good hermit.  Sew some more, get dinner going.

7:30 pm–dinner is served, with much less hustle and sweatiness than usual because I didn’t rush around like a chicken with its head cut off.   Hold off on blogging my dinner so I can write down the recipe and put it on the blog.  Decide readers deserve a snap of it.  Put snap up anyway:

8:00 pm–watch documentary on bullfighters.  Wonder if I could wear garish-colored sequined satin capris (and how the bullfighters manage to look manly while wearing them.)  Have a teeny siplet of whiskey.  Realize I’m definitely cut out for this life–as long as I make it out of the house at least every other day.

9:30 pm–blog-reading, blog-writing, tea-sipping.  Contemplate buying an ottoman.  Realize I never thought of these things while I was working.  Vow not to go furniture-crazy. Go back to chillin’.

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Sum total: no bonbons were eaten!  No running or exercising happened, but that’s because I had the snarffle situation going on.  I was highly productive, didn’t lose my mind,  and still managed to have too much to say at dinner (another irrational fear about working from home).

I think I’m going to be just fine.  And very busy, too–watch out for some big announcements this week!

Hello, New Blouse! Nice to Finally Meet You

I finally wore it! What “it,” I hear you ask?

Why, the Alexander Blouse!

Let’s go back in time, shall we, to get a full sense of how shamefully I should wear the Procrastinating Queen Crown?

I started the Alexander blouse back on, oh, March 19!  See? Here it is, with the pattern laid out for cutting:

That same day, I work on it for long enough to find out that I’d cut the top in four pieces rather than two (what’s with the putting both together at the shoulder to cut business?  Sheesh. Thank goodness for seam allowances.  And seam rippers, of course.

Then I put in the darts, take them out and redo them to make them line up better with my, um, anatomical proportions.  As in, I close the darts higher lest it look like my boobs start at my waist.

Then I put the peplum ruffle on, pin the back shut (why oh why must you have buttons on the back, Alexander Blouse?  Don’t you know how impossible that makes you to fit properly?), try it on, screw up courage, and look in the mirror.

I look in the mirror.  I make horrified face.  I rip it off and cry a bit.  Because ladies who wear the Alexander Blouse style do not go  around showing off their stomachs in their lady blouses.  I made the whole shebang too short.  Cue expletives.  I dry my eyes and pretend like nothing happened when Husband asks what all the door-slamming two minutes ago was all about.

One day week later, I pick it up again, remove the ruffle, and draft an extension/midriff piece thingie (see?  I told you I’m totally self-trained, hence I have no idea what that part is called in sewingspeak.  And, being bilingual, I already never know what anything technical is called in eitther English or Spanish). I attach it.  I try the blasted thing on again.  I have my doubts, but it’s workable and I don’t need to slam any doors (I do a long-suffering sigh instead.)

A few days later, I pick up the blouse to add the buttons.  I realize, as anyone with no sense would, that I’d rather start a new dress–fresh project, no problems to fix, better procrastinating strategy.  I toss Alexander Blouse into the To-Finish pile  in the Room Whose Door I Shut And Pretend It’s Not Where Half-Finished Sewing Goes To Die , where it languishes for I’m-not-saying-how-long.

About a week later,  I dig out said Hellblouse and hem the bottom and the sleeves and put in the buttons.  I ask myself where the buttonloops should be attached.  I realize I should have put them in with the interfacing.  I swear some more, but less hair-raisingly than before.  I have a cup of tea and go at it gently with the seamripper, put in the loops, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

I put on the buttons–all minus three at the bottom, because I’m lazy and worry that the buttons won’t line up (never mind that there’s a button guide piece to tell me where loops and buttons go.  Do I trust it?  Yeah, right. Plus, I’m half-assed and forget such a thing exists.)  I put the Alexander Blouse on the third dining room chair, to guilt myself into attaching the last few buttons during a Law and Order binge, a Dexter binge, or any other crap TV binge.

More days go by.  Yes, I know.  I’m more into doing my nails and Core Fusion during TV time–no buttons get attached.

Last weekend, I catch a marathon of The Hills.  It coincides with preparing outfits for my last week of work.  I realize that I am not about to start wearing pencil skirts and heels when I start working from home from next week, that the Alexander Blouse DESERVES a proper 40’s-inspired outing–lipstick, hair waved, and all.  I also feel the need to counter the trash I plan on watching all day long with the modesty and ladylike accoutrements of times past.  I finish the damn thing before Heidi Montag gets her supaboob job.

I wear it today.  I accessorize with blue granny and mommy bling, red lips and nails, and plenty of insouciance.  I deduce that Burdastyle made the Alexander Blouse solely for ME.

In other words, I rocked the shiznit out of that blouse:

Now I can wear it with shorts.  And not slam any more doors over it.  What a relief!

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Not going to bore you with any more than the basics of the day–I had an awesome breakfast:

The weekend's vegan muffins with coconut, banana, kiwi, and pineapple, plus pineapple and papaya on the side

And a fierce dinner–a quick and easy Indian Sweet Potato Hash (the recipe now posted at the Chomping Shop):

And 32 laps were put down at the pool.  I swear the last two extra laps made extra goggle indentations that lasted for a couple of hours after the swim, but I don’t care!  I like having battle blemishes, anyway.  Even ladies like to feel hardcore sometimes…

(Not) Having an Easter Food Baby Part III: Easter Feasting and The Aftermath

On Sunday, I decided that our Easter dinner was going to contain 75% of the vegetables in our fridge, after the last few days of starchy and fried goodness. I mean, I can eat as much as the next girl for a day or two, but no way can I eat like I used to for three days straight.  I’m relieved that I can’t (though you know I took great pride in being a human vacuum cleaner and eating as much as the boys, back in my day)–and so glad I still have the receipt from when I housed 33 pieces of sushi in Vancouver in 2004, as a trophy of my near-competitive-eating glory days.

I chopped and sauteed and stirred and baked, and was 100% thrilled with the result of my vegetarian pastitsio (Greek or Middle Eastern baked dish with pasta and a bechamel sauce):

Out of the oven....

And onto my plate

I defied the evil heat (95 F at 10:30 am!) to cook for Easter Bunny Day (which I hope the rabbit appreciates).  I put together the sauce with lentils, eggplant, sweet peppers, onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce and plenty of garlic and topped it with a soymilk-based bechamel (with feta mixed in on the gentleman’s portion).  I have to give love once again to the Moosewood restaurant cookbooks–this Greek delight came from their Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates book, in a menu for Greek Easter, how fitting–for their spot-on and creative recipes.

After dinner and a suitable amount of wine time (read:  enough time to almost finish the bottle) I brought out the surprise dessert–mocha spice chocolate pudding:

Styled with Peeps

Note to self:  do not indiscriminately dump Mokatika liqueur into pudding lest you end up with flambe-able dessert (and self).   It was still delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I definitely could not have eaten it and then driven a car.  Next time I’ll be erring with caution–after all, wine and chocolate can already make me a bit giddy:

Dress by me, sandals from Britain, headband scarf from 1996 (yes, really!)

Bad Easter bunny impersonation--no wonder he wouldn't come near me

Of course, it should come as no surprise that after such a lovely meal and evening of wine plus alcoholic chocolate, I slept like a baby–a baby happy to have avoided all kinds of heavy fried food for the first time in days.

Easter Monday:  In Which We Thank The British For Yet Another Day Off (Trini) Work

For those of you dwelling State- or Canada-side, please don’t hate me.  Today was all about more sleep!  More relaxation! But with it comes less running and less swimming.

I was dying to move when I woke up this morning, but the pool was closed and I would have needed to get up much earlier to run.  I’m not sure if the morning regulars exercise on holidays, or if they go later in the morning, but I erred on the side of caution and decided I’d rather do a double-workout day or two and a couple of back -to back runs rather than risk being the only one out and about this morning.

I may love wearing fancy office clothes, but it’s beyond nice to be able to wear casual wear all day long on a Monday:

Straining to water plants in 100% Old Navy (shorts, T-shirt, flip flops)

And once thusly attired and fed, I redirected my energies of the day onto my sewing instead, and continued in my quest to turn this:

Into this:

Anthropologie dress

I worked the patience tip like it was my job today.  I hand-basted and machine basted most seams to check for fit, made adjustments, ripped seams apart with care and minimum swearing, and I’m finally at the finish-line for the top part, which is based on a shirt pattern.  On the weekend, I’ll be Frankensteining the skirt, based on another dress pattern I have, onto the top part/shirt.   I have a good feeling it’ll work out–and I have 100% certainty that my foul swearing will be heard from here to Antarctica if it doesn’t.

Excuse me while I go obsess over Season 3 of Dexter.  I’ll try to detach myself from the TV for long enough to sleep and blog (oh, and work) for the next few days, but if not, expect me to resurface once it’s all over.

Good night!

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Note:  this is last night’s post.  It seems WordPress had a hissy fit and did not publish it, after all….

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Today I feel like a rock that had been placed over my head.  I hate the Migraine Family Curse, and I especially despise it in hot weather when the bedroom is too bright and the living room AC is too loud.

But enough of that.

Apart from the general lying around yesterday, I did manage to sit up for two hours and finish the adjustments on my two linen skirts (tip:  if clothing is so loose on you that you can get in and out of it without unzipping, it’s probably not cute on you anymore–time to get thee to a tailor or deal with it yourself.  Safety pins do not count as “dealing with it yourself.”)  Why undertake such tedious hated tasks while ill?  Because resistance is low–and it’s not like it can make you feel any worse, right?

Hence voila, today’s wearings:

I have seriously missed this skirt in the past two months of suit-like black skirt boredom.  Welcome back!  The top is H and M standard, the necklace a present from the Most Fabulous S, and the shoes from Target.  Aviators courtesy of a cheap store next to the supermarket and my desire to have people confuse me with Little A–we’re always told we look alike and we could probably fool people if we wore the same sunglasses.

In other sewing news (and, if you are either averse to sewing, male, or both, you may wish to look away right about now), I had a fabric store frenzy this weekend!  It was a planned visit, but it turned into a proper frenzy when I saw the always-appreciated “storewide sale” sign up.  25-35% or more off everything?  I’ll take ten, please.

I actually brought home four cuts of gorgeousness with very specific ideas of what I wanted to make with them.  If I buy fabric without an idea in mind for it, I’ll never decide what I want to make, let it sit for a year, and then lose all interest in it.  Charming, I know.

So how do we feel about this beautiful, breezy, purple-checked cotton:

For a dress like this one, from Anthropologie?

And this monstrously huge flower print in a satiny cotton:

Possibly for something like the Anthropologie Rainforest Morning Dress:

Or their Serengeti Sundress?

I also picked up this violet and peach madness, which was a total steal at 10 TT (about US $1.75) a yard.  I think the fact that it borders on tacky makes it VERY cool indeed:

So I can totally see it doing something like this Anthropologie Cooling Magma Dress–a plus being that I have a pattern with a similar bodice and I’d only have to draft something up for the skirt:

Final purchase was a blue flower-patterned and metallic-striped turquoise chiffon:

Which I’m imagining for a floaty blouse like the Anthropologie Tiny Tucks blouse:

Or possibly even something like this (Parachuting Petals by Anthropologie, great name!):

Please note that I don’t have shares in Anthropologie, nor do I actually own anything from said store (and, with the cost of most items, I wouldn’t want to, even if I had the money–I’d be terrified of spilling coffee or ketchup on it).  But I love their designs and I love that they let you download their images, which works well for demonstration purposes for y’all.

Given that I’ve only just started to draft my own stuff and Frankenstein things together (i.e. use two different patterns to make something new), I think I have my work cut out for me.  But once work slows down, I’m up for the challenge.  I  just need to buy a lot more pins–and a good supply of patience.

As for shakings du jour, a gentle swim was had, which did wonders for my tight shoulders and sense of normalcy after yesterday, when the only time my heart beat faster was when watching Dexter.

And food…. I must issue a general apology for general food boringness these days.  Trust me, the food sure doesn’t taste boring, but I’m relying on a lot of standby dishes, leftovers, and make-ahead meals and not pushing the envelope here.  I’ve been a busy girl lately.  Same as with the sewing, though:  you can expect ramped-up production of kitchen concotions of a new and interesting nature in a few weeks, once the commitment schedule calms down a bit.

Lengthy preamble over, the only blog-worthy meal was this–pasta with white beans and tomato sauce:

It’s a real old-time recipe for me–it’s actually the first recipe I ever made when I moved out on my own!  Nine years later, it still tastes great and reminds me of good times in Montreal.  I love it so much that, if you come back tomorrow, you may find it posted in the Chomping Shop (hint hint).

Why is this the only blog-worthy meal, you ask?

  1. Breakfast was banana oatmeal again. Again. Because bananas are faster to cut than apples (and cheaper).
  2. Lunch was a sardine sandwich with a green salad.  If it looks like catfood and tastes like catfood, it’s best left alone (or to the cats).  I love sardines.  I love mustard.  I don’t like it when they morph into catfood.  Bitter catfood.  Never again.

That’s it for today.  No Dexter, no migraine–bedtime.

My Weekend and The Matter of Good Hair

I have two whole rest days scheduled back to back this weekend, no beach trips.  So, because I had a bit of time this morning (and the humidity has been tolerably low), I decided to do something I haven’t done since around Christmas:

I blow-dried my hair straight.

It’s not just that I’m lazy, or that my exercise schedule makes copious hair-drying time impractical, or even that I am committed to shiny un-fried hair.  Those are some of the reasons why I don’t blow-dry daily.

It’s also that I feel awkward and strange and quite freaky with straight hair.  It takes me back to middle school battles and high-school memories that, frankly, I’d rather not remember.  And, despite the fact that no one really cares anymore, it’s an assertion of being myself and of not complying with certain Puerto Rican expectations about beauty and appearance–expectations that call for all girls to have straight, smooth, preferably very long, hair.

Want to see for yourselves?  This is what baby Laura had on her head:

And this is what three-year-old Laura had on her head:

Smooth much?  Of course–not just because my curls released a bit, but because they were meticulously dried straight by my mom.  And so it went for all of my childhood.  Now, I don’t accuse my Mamalicious of trying to hide my hair’s texture or any such thing–she was just making me prettier, as far as little girl hair went.  Pretty little Puerto Rican girls did not leave the house with frizz and flyaways, and in those days every little girl whose mama (and aunts and grandmas) loved her knew what it was like to sit still for the thrice-weekly attack with the hairdryer and brushes.

Frankly, I had NO idea that my hair was anything but what you see above until I got a short bob in seventh grade, at which point my mom told me I was old enough to dry my own.  One girl inexperienced with the fine arts of hair drying + one short blunt bob = frizzy, tear-inducing disaster.  I couldn’t understand why my hair was so freaky, and I was resentful (in a sullen twelve-year-old way) at my mom for not warning me before I chopped off the necessary length to keep the newly-discovered rat’s nest under control.

Eventually, I learned to dry it tolerably straight, and I was even recruited to dry the hair of subsequent sisters with the same “problem.”  Little A had smooth hair in the back and a kinky mess in the front (which was affectionately called “pasas,” or raisins, probably because it was crinkly like said food?), Minxy had hit the genetic jackpot with pin-straight black hair…. and Baby Bel had a mass of ultra-thick, tightly-curled  hair.  The mere suggestion of having to sit the child down for half an hour to de-kink her head was enough to induce tears on a bad day–for me if I was dragged into doing it, and for her if someone DIDN’T.

University days were straight hair times.  Grad school was a half-and-half proposition, as I was pressed for time and patience and some nice wavy hairstyles came into fashion (or whatever).  Slowly, I stopped drying my hair straight and felt incredibly liberated by not doing it.  It was ok to admit to frizz, and I didn’t want to be complicit in the kind of ideals for Puerto Rican girls that demanded hair halfway down the back, gently highlighted, and smooth.  I felt a frisson of naughtiness when I left the house with wet hair–and gained a half hour in the morning!

After that, I never looked back.  The misty English weather during my four years in Coventry kept me curly, and the heat and humidity of Trinidad have conspired to ensure that I’ve dried my hair straight exactly five times in the year and a half  that I’ve lived here–and that’s counting the time I dressed up as Sarah Palin for Halloween.

So that is why I keep myself curly/wavy/messy.  I like my hair to look as loopy as I feel.  And, once in a while, I’m pleasantly surprised at still being able to smooth things out:

Just not too often.

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When a girl has blow-dried hair in Trinidad, she avoids doing things that make her sweaty and bothered.  I mean, this hair is newsworthy.  So I kept all cooking low-key.  On Saturday, that meant potato, mushrooms, and egg scramble with toast:

Apple and peanut butter sandwich for lunch:

And taco salad (taco-seasoned lentils, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, tortilla chips) for dinner:

With such straight hair, you are also more prone to wardrobe changes, going from Old Navy shorts and sister hand-me-up T-shirt on Saturday:

To a Sunday combo of Little A hand-me-up blouse (I think it’s from Charlotte Russe, but I took the label out because it scratched so I can’t be sure) and Old Navy denim shorts:

Orange juggling in action

On a Sunday of good hair, especially when said hair is attached to a head that aches from two measly pints of beer the night before, things are kept low-key in the kitchen with apple and dried cranberry oatmeal, plus strong black coffee to power me through a trip to the farmer’s market and supermarket:

And, for lunch, easy scrambled egg and salsa wraps–because stirring requires little energy expenditure and minimal risk of frizz:

And, since we’re talking about minimal expenditure of effort, I made an easy provisions soup with cassava, taro root, and carrots in an herby onion, garlic and celery broth, plus cornbread (which I’ve made so many times I could do it with my eyes closed) and a red pepper that looked pretty scrumptious:

As for the activities of the weekend…  Sewing mania, folks, sewing mania:  much buying of fabric, mad bookmarking of styles to make, putting together of patterns, cutting of test items and general mess-making.  Had I not fallen victim to my ridiculously low drink tolerance, there would have been actual sewing results, or at the very least pictures of the fabric, mais non–all I can offer up for now is this, the mess and process of Saturday’s pattern-cutting:

After which came Sunday, spent on the couch with a book, some zzz’s, and Michael C. Hall/Dexter.

But I’ll come back soon with some fabric evidence for you to savor, tomorrow, when my head stops hurting and my hair returns to its natural wavy texture.