Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pink hair. Don't care.

In college, I studied for a semester in London. I ran around and acted like a fool because I was 20 years old and had no real responsibilities beyond showing up a few times a week to a class (our abroad program brought its own professors along - the grades directly flowed right into my transcript without a problem) and going to theater two or three times a week (part of the program). I got in trouble, I caused drama, I went to museums, and I learned a lot about who I was/who I would be.

One thing that I did was to purchase a container of pink dye - it wasn't Manic Panic, I don't think, but it could've been (I actually had a container of pink Manic Panic back at home in the U.S. that I'd never done anything with beyond staring at it longingly) - and dump it on my head. I didn't bleach my hair (which is on the darker side of blonde when left to its own devices) so the color was subtle and shimmery in the light but not very noticeable otherwise. A classmate called me an Easter Egg, lovingly yet harshly, and she was right. So? It was awesome. I loved it. It washed out quickly and was gone.

Then I never had the guts to do it again.

So we're clear, my hair was many colors before and after that. It was auburn, it was dark red, it was light blonde, it was even a purple of sorts, but it was always within the general family of....natural, dare I say? My colors came from boxes bought properly at the drugstore, not from one of them there "beauty supply stores." (Scary!) I had it professionally dyed a few times but mostly I relied on good old $6 boxes of goo in whatever color seemed most appealing. There was also the year of the dollar store colorful mousse - a stripe of turquoise or fire engine red that would make my hair stiff and would wash out rapidly in a single shower - that was about as adventurous as I got in that direction.

Then I stopped dyeing it completely and left it alone for a few years. I grew it out, I cut it back, I fell in love with a hair stylist in that way one does, and she moved away just as we were getting settled together. I had a terrible, awful, no good haircut that left me nearly in tears - though at that point I'd learned that everything grows back and that tears are pointless - and I let it grow to the middle of my back.

Then I met Misti. *cue the dramatic music* Misti had posted in a Facebook group that she was looking for someone who would let her do pretty much anything to her hair in trade for exposure and a spreading of the word of Misti's all around fabulousness. I raised my hand, meekly. My hair is untouched! I said. And long! And I don't care what you do! Go forth and do whatever to my hair! And I can't afford you otherwise so please pick me! And also, we both know the hairdresser who moved away she was so fabulous wasn't she are you as fabulous as she is huh? And Misti reached out and chose me and all was fantastic and I have had the best haircuts of ever and ever for about a year now.

Early on, Misti hooked me up with beautiful highlights of blonde in my hair. Natural looking yet, you know, just a bit of extra extraness. Subtle but dramatic. Perfect. Because of our arrangement, I didn't dare ask for more hair color though - it takes hours and energy and I saw that time as a super deluxe favor, never to be repeated (it grew out perfectly because she knows what she's doing).

But then this summer she mentioned she'd be open to another round of color. And I said, "Misti. It's time. It's time for bright, dramatic color. I want pink. Can we do pink?"

You see, I really really really needed a change. Something to shake up my life. I'm in a rut with my writing (that's why I'm writing this, by the way - it may be imperfect, but I'm hoping to unlock something by blogging again as I work on my Other Writing Things). Having a child with a disability is a daily energy drain (and I love my daughter beyond any love I have ever felt before forever and ever - that doesn't mean she's not difficult or problematic). Money is always a worry in the life of two freelancers, and despite my best efforts - two to three resumes a week out there for 18 months - I just wasn't getting hired by anyone. So I said fuuuuuuck this. And Misti said yes.

I sent her a bunch of picture of what I might want. You may not be surprised to hear that it's hard to find pictures of real people with real brightly colored hair. Lots and lots of Photoshop going on out there. Also, I am over 40. Many of the pictures are of children who are 12. Or perhaps young women in their 20s - I like to imagine I am in my 20s as well, but I'm not, and I don't want to look like I'm trying to be that age. I want to look like me - fabulous, 40+, but...bright.

Misti is magic. She took my pictures and she looked at me and chose the bright colors that still would work with my actual face and she made my hair into the most amazing thing I have ever seen. She literally PAINTED ME with five different colors. She made my hair do that ombre thing that I wouldn't have dreamed of asking. I actually thought I'd probably wind up with a few streaks of pink - or maybe pink tips. No, I got a full head of pink purple red peach. And I cannot stop staring at myself in the mirror. It has brought me self confidence I'm not sure I ever had* and it has made me feel special and beautiful and cool and ALLOWED. I am ALLOWED. I have rarely felt that - I've felt (and I know this is ridiculous) like everyone is staring at me and judging me when I go into certain spaces, deeming me unworthy of being in said space. I know that it is not about the pink hair, but it has given me that boost to FEEL ALLOWED and that is what I needed.

You didn't think I'd write all this and not show you, right?

Outift notes: This is the amazing green coat I thrifted for $2.50. Plain black top, skinny jeans both from the favorite thrift store, boots from ModCloth. PINK HAIR.
*Of course, I will also give you the truth: I finally washed it after a week - yes, I showered with a shower cap until then, shut up! - and it's not as straight and shiny as it was when Misti styled it. But I'll figure it out. And it is still BRIGHT PINK.

More soon...

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Thrifting More Thrifting Always More Thrifting - October 9, 2015

Yesterday was full of those little things that make it feel like the universe is messing with you.

My trip to see Amy was complicated by a "major" MARTA delay. I nearly turned back and went home but I decided to brave the drama and in the end it only delayed me by about 15-20 minutes, though that included the train stopping up on a trestle in the trees for about 10 minutes and my ensuing panic that we'd be stuck there FOREVER. Also, I was overcharged by one thing at the thrift store (I'm chalking it up to "awesome deals are still awesome.") and I broke my favorite sunglasses (I ducked into a store and bought a pair for $2 on BOGO clearance - Amy got a headband).

Anyway, I did go to my favorite thrift store despite protesting that I shouldn't, I didn't need anything, I really shouldn't go. And I spent too much - but I love everything I got, so it's OK, right?

I only know the prices of a few things and like I said, I was definitely charged for one phantom item but I can't figure out WHICH item (the receipt is confusing).



Thrashers! (RIP)
I needed to represent nearly all the sports of Atlanta, apparently. The Thrashers sweatshirt is REALLY squishy and comfy.


Tommy Hilfiger

The Hilfiger dress is adorable and way better than it looks on the hanger - plus it has pockets! And the Tahari dress made me feel fabulous.

So hoodie - very very soft

I don't feel like retaking this picture but it's an amazing tan corduroy Bass skirt.

All shorts were 50 cents so I got these. Amy hated them, I liked how they fit and I'd gotten in a rut of either denim capris or skirts so...something different.

One "specially priced" shirt for the kid - $2.50 because it's Gymboree. It's very cute.

Favorite purchase I think, though I waffled. It's a BRAND NEW Lily Bloom crossbody purse. I had been searching for a new fall purse and this fit the bill. It's adorable and was $10.

And finally...


Two SUPER SUPER cute Boden pieces. I'm trying to sell the sweater immediately because it's the wrong color for me but is perfect otherwise. The skirt is a maybe - I love it but I'm not positive I'll wear it, so I might sell that too. I'm hoping to make back what I spent total (about $38) but even half that would be nice.

Yay thrifting!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let Me Tell You About My Crafty Business: The Button Babe Makes Pocket Mirrors, Bottle Openers, Pinback Buttons, Jewelry, and More

Did you know that I have a crafty biz on the side?

While my main freelance work is writing, copy editing, and proofreading (and I'm currently seeking a full-time job in Atlanta doing all of this), I also make and sell the following as The Button Babe:

I'd been a collector of cute 1 inch pins since my days as a 90s hipster/zinegirl, and when I won a little bit of money from a now-defunct search-and-win site, I invested in a professional grade one inch button press and had a great time making not only buttons but also magnets and jewelry. A few years later I invested in a second press that makes 2.25 inch buttons, mirrors (which I occasionally turn into hanging ornaments), bottle openers, and more.

I have an Etsy store at tiarabuttons.etsy.com and my own independent online shop at thebuttonbabe.com. I also sell my wares in Decatur, GA, at HomeGrown, and I hope to find some new brick and mortar venues in the near future.

I'm trying to expand my social media reach as well so if you are so inclined please follow me at:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Late August Thrifting Haul - August 22, 2015

What a weird month this has been. What a weird summer.

Yesterday I did a quick thrifting trip with Amy and only hit one store - my favorite store. Over time, I've started to develop a gut feeling about how that store will work out, and yesterday I was feeling that there wasn't going to be much I would buy. And I was right. I mean, my closet is now bursting and I'm working on paring down, donating, selling, etc. so that's totally fine, but I do need more fall clothing. I'm also (still) on the job hunt, so any "nicer" clothing is always a great addition to my closet just in case, as I live in jeans 99% of the time.

I tried on pretty much every pair of pants in the store in my size (or what I thought was my size - it's always fascinating to see the wide range of what a certain number means depending on the fabric and style and, most importantly, the brand) because there were a lot. Often the pants section is full of very outdated, very unfortunate specimens with crazy high waists (I do believe that's coming back in style though) or lots and lots of polyester. This time there were great brands and styles. And....not much fit in the way I wanted it to. But I did find some gems.

And I also walked away with one of my favorite finds in a while. I'll save that for last.

Pants are hard to take nice pictures of....

These are squishy loungey Aeropostale shorts. $1.50

Levi's! In the style number that I wore pre-weight-loss but my current size. I still love them. $2.50
Bonus: They have pretty funky back pockets.

Really nice and a little bit shiny-silvery Express pants. They need to be hemmed because they're too long. I'm thinking of using duct tape. Why not? OK OK OK I mean....using that stuff you iron. #nosew $1.50

These are identical pairs of cargo pants with just a slight color variation - one more brown, one more camel. They're Sonoma, they fit nicely, and hey, they're not jeans! $1.50/each.

FAAAAAAVORITE. These are nearly mint condition vintage-style Kangaroos in my size! For $2.50! AND THEY FIT! (I didn't try them on in the store - I figured it was worth it to take a chance.) They have the cute little zipper pocket and everything. And really, I tend to avoid shoes unless they're perfect - these are perfect. I can tell they were worn once or twice, but everything about them is clean and crisp and fantastic. I cannot wait for the weather to cool off a bit so I can wear them!

And that's it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

End of June Thrifting! - July 1, 2015

The fact is, I've been pretty down lately. A job hunt, behavioral issues popping up in the kid, worries about all aspects of my life. I asked Amy if she wanted to go to the movies, hooray! (spoiler alert: we saw Inside Out and it was awesome.) But when we met up, she first slipped me a $20 in an adorable card and told me to have fun at the thrift store. I cried, I won't lie.

So off we went to my favorite store. I didn't buy a lot (I didn't even spend the whole $20) but I'm pretty happy with what I did buy. (Not shown, a basic pair of shorts for the kid.) I think everything was $2 each - the jeans might've been $2.50 each.

Apparently this is a brand sold in Anthropologie. It's "Tulle." I liked the vintagey look to this top and the way it fit. It's a bit low cut but...
Amy said "Hey, I found this tank top with a built-in bra - get this and it will go with the shirt." So voila, I bought both. I actually haven't tried this on yet but I loved it - and it's Express and looks brand new!
I have several Old Navy shirts in this style, with the buttons going up and around the neckline. Cute cute. UPDATE: When I wore it out and about, I discovered that it has A HOLE. A teeny hole that probably nobody will notice, so I'll continue to wear it in certain instances but ARGH A HOLE COME ON.

Nice basic Gap T-shirt with some funky shoulder/back detailing.
This is Faded Glory. That's K-mart, right? That amuses me greatly because I grew up in the era of K-mart being so terrible and now here I am going "Oooo this is so cute."
And finally, two pairs of skinny jeans - Aeropostale and Gap. Both are short which means they won't bunch up when I tuck them into boots this fall.

See, not much, but enough to give me a little boost. And the movie was great - and the matinee price was only $5.25 and they actually had popcorn and candy for $2/each (but I snuck in candy from Dollar Tree and an iced tea (spearmint and honey!) that I'd bought using Ibotta (referral link!) to get it for way cheap). I'd absolutely go see another movie in a theater for those prices!

My kid is around the corner from turning EIGHT. EIGHT. So I'm sure I'll have a post about all those feelings coming up soon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Recipe Post: How I Personally Make My Very Awesome Iced Coffee

I overthink things. This is fact.

And when it comes to writing in my blog, I absolutely overthink every word. I'm a copy editor, so I go back and catch errors and fix them. I reread. I write posts that I don't actually publish all.the.time. And I get upset when I realize I made a typo or a misspelling or I left an awkward sentence alone (and I go back and fix these things days later*).

I'm doing it totally wrong.

I have seen multiple bloggers lately - recipe bloggers and not - post about how they make their super special iced coffee. Well, look, I thought that was simple enough to not need a recipe but apparently it needs one. I'm jumping on the train and I'm following the crowd and I'm leaping off the cliff and I'm mixing up all the metaphors into one messy sentance with a typo in it that I am going to leave there and not fix. For now. Probably. (SENTENCE)

Here is how I make the iced coffee that I drink almost daily in the summer:


Yes, yes, I can absolutely use leftover coffee from the morning, if there is any, and just pour that over ice and call it a day. I can also freeze that leftover coffee if I'm feeling extra fancy and use that frozen coffee in with hot-brewed-cooled-down coffee. But I prefer to start with a cold brew - and that takes a bit of pre-planning. (When I forget, I do the leftover coffee/hot over ice blahblah. It doesn't taste as good to me, but some people think ristretto tastes better. This is my blog, this is what I like.)

I take one cup of ground coffee to start. The grind? I tend to go with a coarser grind, as that seems to work better. Lately I've just been grinding it in my grind-your-coffee-maker - I don't add water to the machine, I run the beans through the grinder bit until they fall into the basket, and then I turn it off and voila. I have to do this in two batches of a half cup of beans at a time, but it works. The roast/type of coffee? Eh. I have used cheap crap from the grocery store and it's just fine for this purpose.

Trader Joe's Half Caff
I recently discovered, though, that Trader Joe's half caff is actually amazing for cold brew - it just has the right blend of flavor and roast and bitterness (or lack thereof) and smoothness...everything. Plus, I often have my iced coffee in the afternoon when I'm not looking for quite the same kick as I get from my preferred hot coffee, which is organic Colombian from the farmers market (the indoor store, not the outdoor market). That also works for this "recipe" by the way. But just...use whatever.

Reason #12908 why I'm not a food blogger: My camera. No fancy DSLR for this lady! This is a good old cellphone pic. Anyway, this is what a cup of coffee grinds in an Ikea container looks like, if you were curious.
So I take this cup of grinds and I dump it in a container. Usually one of the cheap plastic containers I got from Ikea. Sometimes an old container I used to use with my vacuum sealer. Doesn't matter. Maybe someday I'll go for a Toddy - I've heard those are great. This works for now.

With 4 cups of water....
Then I dump four cups of water on top and I put a lid on the thing and I sometimes swirl it or stir it if I think of it, and I shove it in my fridge.

I wait...well, usually I wait about 12 hours. Sometimes a bit more, usually not much less.

Next I take the mesh strainer I bought one time because I wanted to make giant pots of sweet tea or something (spoiler alert: I did that maybe once) and I pour the coffee through it and let that sit as long as I have patience for it. Sometimes I press on the grounds in the mesh a bit with a spoon.

On the left, the empty container. On the right, the grounds being strained into a second Ikea container. I used a silicone spatula-thing to squeeze as much coffee out of those grounds as I could.
Then I dump the grinds in the trash (I don't compost but of course you totally could) and I rinse the strainer and I put a filter in it (the cone-shaped ones) and I pour the coffee through that one more time. This takes a bit of time so I pour, walk away, come back in about 15 minutes and check. Sometimes I swap out the filter if it looks a bit thick in there, but in the end what's important is just straining it all through the paper filter.

Paper filter, metal strainer, plastic container.
And then I pour it into the glass carafe that I bought at the Container Store (because how can you not buy things at the Container Store?) and decorated with my Silhouette, etching vinyl, and etching cream in a fit of craftiness.

It says "Ice Cold Coffee" in a font that looks icy. Get it? GET IT? HAR HAR.

Lately I just do this in the microwave. Equal parts water and sugar in a glass measuring cup (1/2 cup of each is pretty good and it doesn't matter what sugar you use - I've used brown, white, and cane sugar, and I've mixed the types when I'm running short on the one I really wanted), heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes, and stir WITHOUT BURNING YOURSELF OMG THIS IS HOT. If the sugar's not totally dissolved, microwave it again for 30 seconds or so, then stir again. Or do it on the stove top. It's not a huge deal.

When it's done, it will be hot so store it however you want. I let it cool in the measuring cup before pouring it into a little glass bottle I bought once at the Container Store because of course I bought more than one thing at the Container Store. And also I don't want to crack that cute little glass bottle, do I? I do not. Sometimes I throw vanilla in there - some of a bean or some extract - but mostly I just leave it plain.

Isn't it cute? I used Zulka cane sugar in this go 'round.


This is the big fancy recipe you have been WAITING FOR. (For which you have been waiting...? No, I said I wasn't going to do that!)

1. Take some ice cubes and put them in a glass - water ice cubes, plastic ice cubes, coffee ice cubes, whatever. Cold brew is super strong so coffee ice cubes aren't a big deal either way. I have a few glasses I use for my iced coffee, but in the end I usually go back to a mason jar topped with a Cuppow. And for me, iced coffee always needs a straw.

CUPPOW! BAM! BOOM! I wish you could see that this Mason jar has an etched image of Massachusetts on it (not made by me) but I simply could not get it to show up on camera. Imagine it.
2. Pour some of the cold brew coffee on the ice cubes.  I don't measure, I just pour. You can't mess this up.

3. Pour some milk on there. Lately I have been using cashew milk because I won a bunch of coupons to get it for free but whatever. Cow. Cashew. Almond. Soy. Hemp. Coconut. I don't care, it's all good.

4. Then add in a slog of simple syrup. I don't measure this either, but I guess 1-2 tablespoons in a glass? Nah, just taste it. You'll figure out what you like. I like mine sweet like a dessert.

Oh and if you want a mocha, well, that's all EXTRA FANCY RECIPE TIME. Pour some CHOCOLATE SYRUP* in it and stir. Then it's a mocha. Tadaaaaaaaaaaaa.

*I'm partial to Trader Joe's Midnight Moo.

Then drink it.

So let us break down this recipe: Coffee, ice cubes, milk, something sweet, perhaps something chocolate.

I have, in the past, also thrown in some xanthan gum - a tiny pinch - and then poured the whole shebang into my Vitamix and made a frappe of sorts (the xanthan gum keeps it thick and stops it from separating - it's not necessary but nice), but that is just too much work lately.

There. Go drink your iced coffee.

Have I gone viral yet?

PS If you find a typo in this post, don't tell me. Famous bloggers make typos and grammatical errors all the time - I'm just following along. This time. This once. JUST THIS ONCE.

This post contains some referral links. If you click through and make a purchase, I get a few cents that I use to buy things like more coffee.

*I have already updated this post to fix two typos since I first published it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Newly Found Love of Podcasts - June 11, 2015

I brushed off the idea of listening to podcasts over and over and over. People would suggest them to me - usually specific episodes - and I'd come across interesting-sounding concepts here and there. I'd download one...two...and I'd put them on and realize, 15 minutes later, that I hadn't heard a single word. I have the same problem with audiobooks - my short attention span and insistence on multitasking, even when it's not the best choice for the situation, just made listening to long-form stories impossible for me.

But then, along came Fitbit, of all things. When I first got my Fitbit - on super sale on Black Friday, bought by combining Ebates [referral link!] and Kohls cash and sales and rebates and on and on - I lamented that it was OMG SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to ever get 10,000 steps a day. And by "anyone," I meant me. I'd hit a wall with my Weight Watchers Activelink - I no longer cared if it lit up all the way around, I'd just laugh at it. It would nag me and I'd roll my eyes. So I wanted the Fitbit to get me active again - and at first it didn't work that way. I'd get to about 4,000 steps and sit back down. I needed a bit more motivation.

Enter Serial.

"You HAVE to listen to it!" every single person I knew (or, well, at least five) chanted. "No, really. It's amazing!"

"I don't do podcasts," I insisted. And again, I put one episode on my computer, put on headphones, and listened-not-listening and rewound, relistened, and gave up. And yet - I caught just enough to be intrigued and then the obvious solution hit. I loaded Serial onto my phone, stuck my headphones into my ears, and went for a walk. And walked and walked and and walked and listened - intently, catching every detail. As you probably know, Serial was pretty amazing. It kept me walking - I paced the halls during my daughter's physical therapy appointment. I walked around my little city. I walked and I listened. I hit my goal of 10,000 steps. One day. Two days in a row. Every day.

And after that, there was no stopping me. I finally gave in to Welcome to Night Vale, which started out slowly but picked up for me at about episode 8 and from there....I was hooked. I pulled Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and This American Life because those were easy, but I wanted MORE. I started asking around and paying more attention to mentions of podcasts. My subscription list grew. My playlist grew. And I'm still walking and listening and looking for excuses to walk and listen a little more. (Podcasts are also great for long, boring periodontist appointments, by the way.)

I've learned that what I like is long-form, engaging storytelling (fiction or not). I don't usually like random roundtables of people yelling at one another or discussing a single topic. I like in-depth interviews. I like advice shows, even if - this surprised me - I cannot identify with the question at all. And I like a peek into celebrity lives.

Podcasts. The new blog. The new zine. The new it thing. And finally I'm into them too, perhaps a bit late but here at the party.

Because I have an Android phone and can't use OMGITUNES, I settled on managing my podcasts with Podcast Republic.

Here's what's currently on my subscription list - the serious, the silly, the frivolous:
  • AJC Breakdown - the AJC's answer to Serial. It's a little clunky but the story itself is engaging and there is all sorts of tangential information about how Georgia runs its legal system that I've found even more fascinating than the core story itself. (You have to subscribe to the AJC to get the extras though, which is both a smart business strategy and annoying as hell.)
  • Dear Sugar Radio - Cheryl Strayed, what can I say? Love her. Love her. Love her. Perhaps not as enamored when Steve starts talking (though I loved Candyfreak!) but overall, a good listen.
  • Invisibilia - I tore through season 1 and am anxiously awaiting the start of season 2.
  • Let's Talk TJs! - I'm a fan of the blog "What's Good at Trader Joe's" so I figured I'd check out this brand new podcast from those folks. I was worried it would be more random roundtable and less discussion but the first episode was fun and friendly. I'm giving it a go.
  • Love + Radio - Inconsistent but when it hits the mark, it's just so good. 
  • Radiolab - My current favorite. When my playlist is empty I go download back episodes (there are many - I'll never catch up). While I walk and listen, I find myself laughing, crying, gasping, and perhaps muttering (hey, it keeps people from bugging me!). This podcast is everything I want.
  • RuPaul What's the Tee with Michelle Visage - Light and fun. These two are a hoot and I feel like a fly on the wall listening to two pals chat. 
  • Savage Lovecast - It amuses me greatly to listen to this one on my walks. I'm very tempted to spend the money for the magnum episodes.
  • The Sporkful - Another new one for me, found due to a mention in Death, Sex and Money (which is not on my subscription list, I just realized, but probably should be - UPDATE: It is! And it's rapidly becoming a favorite. But I digress.). Food talk - dovetails with my love of food writing. I skipped the one about sausage (hi, vegetarian here) but devoured (ha) the one about marijuana edibles. I probably will be delving into the back episodes deeply in the coming weeks.
  • This American Life - You know what it is.
  • Welcome to Night Vale - My other favorite. I binge-listened to every single episode of this one over the course of several weeks and felt a pang when I finally caught up and now have to wait two whole weeks between every episode. I haven't yet bought the bonus live shows (nor could I afford to go to the recent tour, boo hiss) but I probably will. 
Other podcasts in my playlist that I haven't yet hit subscribe on (I found several of these from a Facebook thread and haven't listened to all of them yet) include Freakonomics, Call Your Girlfriend, How Did This Get Made?, KLAM Radio, Mystery Show (A new favorite!!!! And through this I now am also a big fan of Reply All), Black Girls Talking, Longform, 99% Invisible, and Gravy. And with all of that said, I think it's time for another walk...