Monday, January 31, 2011

Yikes! More Snow!


It's been snowing off and on in my neck of the woods ever since last month, and it doesn't seem like it'll be slowing down anytime soon! I was just telling someone not too long ago that we haven't really gotten as much snow as we usually do. Well, I should've kept my big mouth shut because now there is a blizzard warning in effect. I can't remember the last time we had a blizzard. It must have been forever ago!


In addition to the blizzard warning, we also have a flood watch and winter storm advisory in effect. It is also reported that there will be crippling ice.


The snow started early this morning and is suppose to continue all the way until Wednesday evening. I went outside today and all I could say was "Yikes!"

If we have this much snow already (which we got just in a few hours) I dread to think what it will be like by the end of Wednesday.

It's no wonder there's been many years where we got so much snow toward the end of the winter, that snow was still on the ground slowly melting in the spring. I'm sure you can imagine how odd it was seeing snow outside while it was 60 degrees.

But I guess nothing surprises me anymore since I know mother nature will do what she pleases. I remember my father telling me about a blizzard we had in the middle of April one year! I'm glad to say that hasn't happened since. (I hope I didn't just jinks us!)

Well, in any event, hopefully the weather man was wrong and the blizzard will pass right by us. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemade Whipped Shea Butter Cream



These cold winter days in Wisconsin has reeked havoc on my skin! As a result I experimented by making my own whipped Shea butter. There are only 2 ingredients that are needed to make this. They are Shea butter and Castor oil. Castor oil is one of my favorite products. I have been using it on my skin and hair over the last few months and I love it!

I have also used Shea butter many times to combat dry skin, therefore, I started thinking one day "I wonder what would happen if I mix the two?". Well, what happened was pure fabulousness! It moisturized my skin (and hair) very well and went on smoothly.



To Make:

Take equal amounts of pure, unrefined Shea butter and Castor oil then place in a bowl. (I used approximately 1/2 cup of each.)




Next, mix the Shea butter and Castor oil together mashing it with a fork.

Once You have mashed it together, mix it with an electric mixer.


Mix it until it becomes fully mixed. You will know when it's done because it will become very fluffy and creamy.




Once it was finished, I removed the left over Shea butter from the original container it came in, then filled it up with the new mixture.








I also put a little of this in a smaller container to use just for my hands.


The inside of the container is porcelain, therefore, I could have just put the cream in there as is. However, I decided to line it with waxed paper first in hopes of somewhat preserving it.


First, I cut a small piece of waxed paper.


Then I placed it in the container and trimmed the excess paper.



Once I lined it, I just filled it by scooping up some of the cream with a spoon.








Clean up was fairly easy. I washed the dishes I used by hand. I just let the dishes soak in hot, soapy water (not too hot to touch), then I placed another drop of dish washing liquid on each dish before cleaning with a sponge.


All of the dishes ended up completely spotless and no grease or residue was left behind at all.



Please keep in mind that the shea butter cream works best when applied to damp or wet skin. Therefore, you may want to apply it directly after getting out of the shower or tub.


Also, If you are experiencing very dry or chapped skin, you may want to apply aloe vera gel to your skin, then immediately follow up with this whipped Shea butter cream. It will give your skin extra hydration by locking in the moisture from the aloe vera gel. I tried this and my skin felt twice as good as when I used either of them alone. (Although they feel great by themselves).


This also makes a very good hair pomade. Please be aware that a LITTLE goes a very long way. If you have naturally straight and/or fine hair, you will want to use a very small amount. You may even want to melt it first and apply it as a liquid. Using too much will weigh down your hair.



I hope you enjoy!


Learning to Knit


Well, today I started working on my list of things I wanted to learn this year (Things I want to learn before I have children). The first thing I started on was knitting.

Yesterday my mother and I went to purchase my very own knitting needles and some yarn, and today she gave me my first lesson (well, my first lesson in over a decade!).

Today she showed me the basics on how to make the slip knot and some basic stitching. I was able to stitch a few rows (see the photo above). She even showed me how to make pearls which she uses when she makes baby booties. I didn't quite get the pearls though...I think I was having coordination issues! LOL Hopefully I will be able to do those next week when she gives me my next lesson.

Overall, I am very pleased by how quickly I caught on to the basics. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be...I don't know why I was so intimidated before. I am very excited about my next lesson and I can't wait to start making things. I'll be sharing knitting projects with you all in no time! (Hopefully! LOL)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Things I Want To Learn Before I Become a Mommy


I have thought a lot over the years and have realized a few years ago that there are things I want to learn how to do before I have children. So I've decided this year would be the perfect year for me to learn these things. It's not a very long list and these skills should be fairly easy to learn when using discipline.


The first thing I want to learn is how to knit and/or crochet. I would love to be able to knit little baby booties for my newborns and infants just like my mommy did for my sisters and I. It gives me inspiration every time I look at one of my old baby pictures where I'm wearing the booties my mother made me.

I somewhat started crocheting about 15 years ago but never became that good at it. I never learned how to start off a project, my mother would always have to start it off for me then I would finish it. I never learned how to knit at all because crocheting just seemed easier to me. But now I want to actually learn how... and I want to learn how to do it well. Whichever one I become the best at first (knitting or crocheting) will be the one I continue with, I guess.

The next thing I want to learn is how to swim. I can't believe I've never learned how to swim after all this time. I took swimming in high school but only learned how to float, which I can still do. I've been going all of this time just floating or swimming with a life jacket but it really is time for me to learn how to swim like a pro. I actually love the water but don't do as much as I would like because of my inability to swim.

I've already decided that all of my children will learn how to swim at the earliest age possible (between 3-5 years old), therefore, I obviously have to be able to swim in order to protect them while in the water if needed.

The next two things I want to learn I feel are the most important. Those are CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. I'm sure I don't have to tell you why it's important to know these two things.

I more than likely will take the classes over and over again so that it becomes second nature to me. When scary situations occur it's natural to get a little flustered and kind of draw a blank. Therefore, I want to make sure that I know it well enough to where I don't have to think about it too much but rather have an automatic response. Hopefully I will never need to perform one of these things but they are definitely skills I must have.

Well, those are the only things on my list for now. It's not a very long list as I mentioned earlier. But I know that there will probably be a very long list of things for me to learn once I actually have children. Being a parent is a life long job that requires constant on the job training!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Using Scraps of Fabric as Hair Rollers


Rolling hair with rags started centuries ago. Before rollers and curling irons, women would use scraps of fabric/material to curl their hair.

I first found out about rag rolling when I was about 12 years old. I needed to curl my bangs but couldn't find my sponge rollers which I usually used. My dad saw how frantic I was then told me about how my grandmother and great grandmother used pieces of paper to curl their hair "back in the day". I had no clue what he was talking about. I could not possibly wrap my mind around how that could even be possible. But sure enough it worked. My dad (of all people) cut up a few pieces of paper and showed me how it worked the same as a regular roller. I was shocked and amazed, I had never seen anything like that before! I was even more shocked when I woke up the next morning and had better curls than I did with the sponge rollers.

A few months later I spent the night at that same grandmother's house and was once again without my rollers. We were going to church that next morning so my bangs had to be curled (Yes, I was a drama queen even back then!). She told me she didn't have any rollers so I asked her if she had any scrap paper. I told her how my dad showed me the way she and her mother would roll their hair that way. She told me how my dad was a little boy the last time she did that and she couldn't believe he actually remembered watching her do it (keep in mind my dad was in his 40's by then)! So she gave me some paper and once again, crisis averted!

Well, years went by without me ever using rags (or paper) again for my hair and I had forgotten all about it. I wasn't reminded until I was watching a movie set in the 1800's and saw the scraps of fabric in the character's hair. That's when I had an ah ha moment. I realized how when I used the paper as rollers, I could only use them once so I had to end up throwing them away the next morning after I took them out of my hair. However, by using fabric, I could use the scraps over and over just like regular rollers (just like the women did centuries ago)! You have no idea how excited I was.

So since then, I've used rag rollers off and on over the years and have been using them regularly starting pretty recently. They give tight, secure curls that last for a long time. They are much more comfortable to sleep in than hard rollers, and are a lot easier on my hair than sponge rollers. With sponge rollers my hair would always get stuck between the sponge and the plastic because my hair is so long. Rag rolling works perfectly!

This is what I did:

I took an old satin head scarf and cut it into strips about 1 inch in width. All of the strips don't have to be exactly the same size. They will work just fine even if they're a little off (or a little crooked!)



Next, I took each strip, folded it in half, then cut it again to make it into two shorter strips.



I cut out 12 strips and still ended up with quite a bit of fabric left over.


You can use any type of fabric you like, but I've noticed that using a type of satin or silk fabric works best. It doesn't have to be real satin or silk (wink wink). When I used cotton or similar types of fabric, there was a lot of unraveling (which left pieces of strings in my hair) and it also made my hair a lot frizzier. Cotton sucks all of the natural oils out of hair. Using end papers on the end of each section will keep the ends of the curls a lot neater and will also help with frizz.
You may want to lightly spray each section of hair with water or hairspray before rolling. However, if you have naturally curly hair that frizzes up while wet like I do, you will want to avoid any water or sprays. You can use castor oil (which is what I use) or shea butter to help smooth out each section before rolling. Rag rolling will work on straight hair or naturally curly hair.

Also, remember that the smaller the section of hair, the tighter the curl and the bigger the section of hair, the looser the curl. Below is a video where I show you how I use the rag rollers. I am only curling 5 sections of hair because my hair was previously curled. However, use smaller sections and more rollers if you are starting with straight hair.


Being a Proper Lady in Social Settings



There are so many different rules and protocols when it comes to different social settings, which can become confusing at times. No one wants to be the one to feel out of place, or even worse...actually do something that is considered unacceptable!


I have put together a list of the common "rules" for social etiquette. I have learned these things over many years and would like to share them with you.


Being a proper guest when invited to someone's home or business: (Includes personal meetings and interviews)

Only shake hands if offered. Don't be the first to offer your hand.

Never sit down until the host has sat down. If the host doesn't sit, then wait until you're offered a seat before sitting down. In the case where you are not offered a seat and the host doesn't sit, politely ask if you may have a seat.

If you are greeting the host and there are many people around him or her, be sure to greet the host before greeting the others. Give the others friendly smiles then verbally greet the host first. Verbally greet the others immediately after the host.

When speaking to someone, make eye contact while conversing.

Do not fold your arms or put hands on your hips.

While sitting, do not cross your legs. Sit with your legs together and cross your ankles at the bottom.


When you are the host:

Offer your guest a seat before you sit down.

Offer guest a glass of water or other beverage. (Bring it to them)

Be sure to greet the person as soon as you see him or her.

If there are many people in a large setting, be sure to personally greet each guest that has made eye contact with you in the crowd.

Always walk your guest to the door when leaving.


While Dining:

Place a napkin on your lap before eating.

Do not spit food out into a napkin if it is unappetizing. Remove the food from your mouth the same way you put it in (with a fork, spoon, your fingers, etc.).

Don't talk with your mouth full (I think we all know this one!).

Never put elbows on the table (I think we all know this one too!).

Never slurp (or smack) while eating.

Avoid eating with your fingers and only use utensils when possible. (Even with "finger food")

Never stand and eat if possible.


Other things to remember:

If you are being applauded for any reason, never clap for yourself. If you are in a setting where many people are being honored, clap for the others but stop clapping once your name is called.

Only speak loudly enough for the person next to you to hear. There is no reason to speak very loudly.

Always say thank you when someone opens the door for you or holds the door for you on their way out.

Never curse or use obscenities

If a gentleman offers you his arm to escort you, graciously oblige him.

These are just common rules and are usually valid at all times. However, like everything in life, they may need to be adjusted from time to time due to the situation. If in doubt just do what you feel to be correct. Listen to your intuition which will let you know when something is uncomfortable or isn't right.

Please feel free to share any other rules that you have!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All Time Favorite Movies


There are many movies that I have fallen in love with over the years. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some made me do both! In this post I will share with you the very long list of movies that have left a lasting impression on me in one way or another. This is not so much a review, but just a list. Feel free to ask me questions, however, if you like!


Tied at number 1

Gone With the Wind - Based in the Civil War era and has the best ballgowns I have ever seen in my life! A movie the whole family can watch.
Harlem Nights- Based in the 1930's era and has some of the best fashion I've ever seen for men! This is not a kid friendly movie because of cursing and some violence.

The rest of these movies are in no particular order:

Forest Gump - I cried like a baby when I watched this!
Titanic - Another one that made me cry like a baby!
The Ruby Ring - Made for TV movie, based in the UK. Somewhat of a fairytale.
Courage to Love - Made for TV movie about the Louisiana Creoles in the 1800's
Haunted Mansion - Very cute Halloween movie. It's a kid's movie but I love it!
Crowned and Dangerous - Made for TV movie about a crazy beauty queeen! LOL
Little Women - This is a classic and so is the book...need I say more?
The Man in the Iron Mask - They made the set look just like Chateau de Versailles. I love it!
Hoodlum - 1930's Gangster movie. What is it about me and the 1930's?
An American Scandal - Made for TV Movie about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson
The Haunting - I really liked that haunted house. Does that make me weird? Oh well! LOL
Pride & Predjudice - Need I say more?
Beauty - A modern day Beauty and the Beast
The Hog Father - A British movie about a make believe holiday similar to Christmas
Hocus Pocus - Yep, another kid movie. Maybe I'll grow up one day!
Preacher's Wife - Yes, I cried when I watched this one too. Geez, I'm such a cry baby!
Jane Eyre- The Masterpiece Theatre version is the best one, in my opinion.
Harry Potter- ALL OF THEM!
The Wedding - Made for TV movie based in the 1950's in Martha's Vineyard.
Eve's Bayou - Ohhhhhhh my goodness, I loved this movie... very deep. That's all I can say!
Henry VIII -I have an obsession with Medieval times! What can I say...
Robin Hood - The 1970's cartoon version. Yes, I said cartoon! LOL

Well here's my list of movies I have truly enjoyed and still enjoy from time to time. As I mentioned earlier, please feel free to ask me more about any of the ones you may not have seen.

Proper Dress Code Attire

Have you ever received an invitation to an event with a specific dress code requirement and wondered what to wear? Well wonder no more! Below is a great guide for what to wear for proper dress code etiquette.

After 5


Women's attire should be dressy, but not formal. You should wear something similar to what you would wear to a party.

After 5 attire can include cocktail dresses, dressy shorts, skirts and dress pants for women. Dress shoes should be worn.

Men's attire would include dress shirts with or with out a tie, dress pants, and suits with or with out a tie.

Cocktail

Women's attire should be a cocktail dress or a long dress. Cocktail dresses are knee or tea length, but it is also acceptable to wear an ankle length gown. Floor length ball gowns should not be worn. Depending on the event, it may also be acceptable to wear dress pants with a dress shirt.

Men's attire includes a suit with or without a tie, or dress pants with a dress shirt. If only a dress shirt is worn, a tie should be worn with it. A tuxedo should not be worn.

Black tie

Women's attire should be formal. Either an ankle length dress, or floor length gown should be worn. Short/Cocktail dresses should not be worn.




Men's attire should be either a suit with a tie, or a tuxedo. The tux should not have tails. A bow tie or neck tie is acceptable.

Formal
Women's attire is the same as black tie. Men should wear a tuxedo with or without tails, with a bow tie. Depending on the event, a neck tie may also be acceptable. A suit should not be worn.

Semi- Formal



Women's attire is the same as Cocktail. Men's attire should be a suit with or without a tie, or dress pants and a dress shirt with a tie. A tuxedo should not be worn.

White Tie
White tie is the most formal of all attire. Women should wear only floor length evening gowns or ball gowns.

White tie attire for men includes a tuxedo with tails and a bow tie only. A white bow tie is usually worn.










Informal

Attire for both men and women should be more dressy than casual, but less formal than semi-formal. Can include business casual or after 5, depending on the event.

Business Casual

Women's attire can include casual dresses, skirts and pants. Casual shoes may be worn, but sneakers should not be worn.

Men's attire includes pants, casual shirts and casual shoes. Also, no sneakers.

Blue jeans should not be worn for either men or women, nor should either wear shorts. There also should not be any large logos or letters/words on shirts.

Casual

Basically anything goes for casual. Blue jeans, shorts, sneakers, etc. You may however, want to contact the person in charge of the event to get a feel for what to wear. My motto is, "It's always better to be over dressed than under dressed!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cornmeal Mush & Fried Polenta Recipe


Cornmeal mush (also called polenta) has been around for centuries. It was often eaten by the American pioneers. It is even said to have been introduced to them by the Native Americans.

Cornmeal mush is a type of porridge. Porridge was made quite often in colonial times but actually originated in Europe. Porridge was commonly made with oatmeal, but with cornmeal being easily accessible in North America, it was used in its place.

I love doing historical research. I often find myself researching the ancient, medieval, renaissance and colonial eras. It is always so much fun for me to see how they used to live; their clothing, way of life and of course...the food! When I see recipes that look interesting, I can't help but to try them. I made this cornmeal mush recipe about 3 years ago and have continued to make it off and on ever since then. I love it! It is similar to cream of wheat.

Ingredients:
1 cup of white or yellow cornmeal
4 cups of water
1/4 cup of milk (optional)
a pinch of salt

Directions:

Add the cornmeal and water to a large pan and turn the stove on medium heat. Do not turn on the stove before adding the water and cornmeal to the pan. You will not want the pan to be hot when you first get started.



Allow it to simmer and stir regularly. Please be sure not to turn the heat up too high. You want this to simmer...not to boil. If it starts boiling, it will easily get lumpy! Also, This is not something that you will be able to put on the stove and walk away from for awhile. You will have to stir this consistently (and watch like a hawk!) in order to prevent lumps.

Once it thickens up a bit, and becomes solid, add in the salt. Continue to stir as it continues to thicken.




Stir in the milk once it has fully thickened. (This step is optional)



Continue to stir until the milk is fully mixed in and the mixture becomes creamy.


Once it's done, turn off the stove, remove from heat then serve.










I serve this by putting some in a bowl then adding in butter and syrup. The syrup makes it just sweet enough without being too sweet.

Some good substitutions are sugar, jam, jelly or honey. Those all taste great as well.

Another thing you can do with this is fry it. I've tried that as well and it tastes great!






To fry, just place it in a pan, smooth it out evenly then place in the refrigerator overnight or until it becomes completely solid. Cover it before placing in the refrigerator.

Once it's solid, cut it into half inch slices then fry each slice in hot oil on the stove.




I usually sprinkle each slice with sugar before frying but this is completely optional. I apply butter and syrup to this when it's fried as well, and it kind of tastes similar to french toast sticks!



I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is rich in tradition and oddly enough...it is rich in flavor too!

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