Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hair Did Done! (How I do my sets!)

In the four years I have been setting my hair (before it was air-dry or blow dry then flat-ironed), I have tried several methods i.e. foam rollers, ceramic curling iron, pin curls (disaster), flocked velvet steam rollers (eugh), hot sticks, and hot rollers.  After much experimenting, I have come to discover that hot rollers are the best way for me to set my hair and have it last for three days.  My  hair is naturally very fine and my scalp is very oily so despite my best efforts, I simply cannot make my set last longer.  Things just get limp and icky.

Nevertheless, this is how I set my hair:

I wash with Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and condition with Pureology Hydrate Conditioner.

After towel-drying, I use a blend of Surface Bassu Oil Gold and Surface Trinity Protein Cream on my ends and my blond highlight section. Then I apply a quarter-size dollop of Ouidad Moisturizing Curl Gel to my hair. I comb through, section my bangs, apply my Rogaine, and then let things air-dry while I do my makeup.

After the face is done, I roll my bang section in grippy rollers, spray them with Layrite Grooming Spray, and then I finish drying overall with my hair dryer. I concentrate my dryer on my bang section to set the curl. The Layrite Grooming Spray is activated with heat. 

While I am blow-drying my hair to ensure it is totally dry before setting*, I plug in my Remington Tight Curls hot rollers. There are 21 in a set but I wish there were 24. Anyway, once I have achieved completely dry hair, I roll my hair in sections with the hot rollers. I spray a tiny spritz of Layrite on the very ends of my hair and roll up. Finally, I secure the curl with a clip (from a 12 pack from Sally. I bought two). The U clips that came with the rollers were crap. My fine hair would just unroll and the roller itself would fall out onto the floor.

Here I am with my natural hair texture. Can we say 'fuzz ball?!' My bangs are set with the grippy rollers and I am about to set the rest of my hair:


I leave my rollers in for about 30 minutes. While my hair is cooling, I make the bed, do laundry, feed the cat, read CNN online, make lunch for work, and then get dressed.

Then, I unroll my curls, remove the grippy rollers, and I finger style my hair with a touch of Layrite Original Pomade. On my bang section, I use the husband's heavier type of Layrite Pomade (the darker colored jar). I shape my bangs, roll, and pin.  Then I spray curls into their final shape with Aussie Instant Freeze Hairspray.

When I go to bed at night, I simply wrap a chiffon scarf around my set. The next day, I apply a light amount of TiGi Catwalk Dry Session Series Dry Shampoo to fluff curl and give it a refreshed look and feel. I re-pin my front roll and I may use hair combs. On the last day of my set, I will re-apply the dry shampoo spray and put my hair into a ponytail.

I like to set my hair because not only does it give me the vintage style I want, I look like I have more hair! Let me tell you, my hair is so thin and fine. I have had stylists in the past give me a blow-out and then flat-iron (standard for modern salons), and I hate it!!!! Sure, my hair looks silky but it also showcases how little hair I have. I feel so bald! Oh what I would do for more hair.

Anyway, all pouting aside, I love to set my hair because I can make my style last longer, I wash my delicate hair less, my hair is vintage-looking, and I look like I actually have a good head of hair! Curl = volume!

So, what is your "tried and true" hair routine?

*Please, take it from me, never EVER use any type of direct heat from rollers, curling irons, flat irons, etc on damp hair! Even slightly damp hair will be damaged. Doing so causes your hair to be boiled and your cuticle destroyed.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Dreaded "F" Word - Fakelite!

In the last 4 years I have been collecting Bakelite, I been duped a couple of times with "fakelite" posing as Bakelite. One of those purchases took place in an antique mall in South Florida.  I bought a heavy, smooth rootbeer bangle that was listed and priced as Bakelite but it was in fact, fake. I was just starting to collect and still unaware of how to properly tell if a piece was real or not.

What is Fakelite? Fakelite is imitation Bakelite that can have the same look, weight, feel, detailing, colors, marbling, and carving style as real, authentic Bakelite pieces. I have heard from others that a few fakelite pieces can even smell like Bakelite!

I wanted to add pictures showing examples of fakelite but I do not want to get in trouble. Most of the Fakelite I encounter has been found on Etsy and eBay and if I post someone's listing pictures, I may find myself in hot water.

So here are some pictures of REAL Bakelite from my collection to familiarize yourself:

Notice the carvings are basic, not super crazy detailed? See the marbling on the end-of-day pieces? See the colors?

Sadly, I have been finding A LOT of fakelite on Etsy recently.  The fakelite typically in question is usually a bangle with overly ornate carvings and the colors are too marbled.  The bangles are too thick, way too heavy, and the colors are odd. A while back, I saw a bangle that went from red, yellow to green! So fake! What really tips me off when a bangle is fake is the type of carving. I have seen carved dolphins with big bubbles and sea life!

Real Bakelite usually has more simple carvings. You may find real pieces with cut-outs, rhinestones, round grooves that encircle an entire bangle (like a record), leaves, rose petals, etc. But dolphins? FAKE!!!

What burns my biscuits about fakelite is that some sellers will claim a piece passed all the tests (friction, 409, hot water, simichrome, etc) and they will charge Bakelite prices. However, if a piece is listed as 'fakelite' and the price reflects that, then great! I may even buy it if it's cute! But when fakelite is passed off as actual Bakelite, that is wrong!

I recently found a few links for helping distinguish fakelite from Bakelite:

And here is a fabulous post from 2012 by amazing vintage blogger, Brittany, of Va-Voom Vintage:

I wrote this post in the hopes of helping others who may be in the infant stages of starting their own Bakelite collections.  If I can give just one bit of advice, I would suggest looking for Bakelite in person especially before venturing online to buy. Many antique malls, antique stores, car boot sales, charity shops, and swap meets will have a few bits of authentic Bakelite for sale. Familiarize yourself with the colors, the smell (do a friction test with your fingers and then smell your fingers), the weight, the sound (Bakelite should have a heavy clunk not a light "tink tink"), marbling, and the carvings. Also, the inside of a real bangle or the back of earrings, brooches, etc will be seamless. There will be no pour marks or branding.  The surface may have a patina or age spots. Learn the proper characteristics so when you shop online or visit the antique mall, you will have a better determination of what to buy and what to avoid.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shaheen Dreams

What is about Shaheen dresses that make my heart sing? It is the lush fabric, the figure-flattering designs, or the vast variety of brightly colored, mid-century, tropical prints? It is all of those things and more! I recently purchased my first two Whirling Turban dresses and I simply adore them! They are worth every pretty penny! I know I will enjoy them for many years. The quality and attention to detail are bar none.

Even though one of my 'vintage must haves' on my list has been fulfilled, I am still lusting for my very own Alfred Shaheen creation. Every time I see one in person at Viva or online on Esty or eBay, I heavily sigh with unrequited want and desire. Whenever I spot a girl Viva in her Shaheen and part of me wants to run over to her and ask, "where did you get your dress?! How much?!"  But, I would feel weird about doing so. I mean, how rude would that be!

First and foremost, Shaheen's designs are expensive.  I often see prices on Etsy range from $190 to $500. I have also seen items listed for $900 or more.  I have been fortunate to find dresses in my size (36-27-38) but not in my price range or not in good condition. I sometimes stumble upon a great deal in lovely condition but it is usually too small. Either I need to lose weight or keep looking! Since I refuse to give up my addictions to Starbucks latte and dark chocolate infused with sea salt caramel, I need to keep looking.

I think the phrase, "all good things come to those who wait" is going to be my mantra in my search.  I just need to be patient.

In the mean time, I have this gorgeous website to inspire me and whet my appetite:

So, do you have any Shaheens? How many? What era is your favorite? 50s? 60s? 70s? Where is a good place to buy/search?

The Latest Round of Body Art

Back in late October, I visited my tattoo artist, Liaa Walter of Cirque Du Rouge, for new tattoos and touch-ups.  As soon as I completed payment at the end of our session, I made an appointment for early January for more-touch ups and additions to current pieces.  (Liaa currently has a 3 month wait).

In October, Liaa was going to add snowflakes to the cherry tree on my back but she wanted to plan them out as stencils instead of drawing them directly on my skin.

My January 10th appointment involved a lot of additions, touch-ups, and of course the snowflakes. Normally, I just have one area done at a time. However, this visit we did multiple sections.  Let me tell you, sleeping for the first few days afterwards was very difficult!

Nevertheless, at the end of our session (2.5 hours), everything was done and looked amazing!

Here are the photos!

Liaa touched up the yellow in the center of my Colorado Columbine and intensified the lavender tones in the white section.

Here are the new snowflakes. Liaa also added the small, pale blue dots throughout.

On my left arm, a cherry blossom was added on the end (closer to where my arm bends).  More small blue dots were placed and some of the blooms were intensified with color.

This blue purple lotus was added to my lower right arm. It is just stunning! The colors are incredible!

Of all the work I had done that day, the red-pink cherry blossom touch-ups on my upper back hurt the most.  I thought my lower right arm (near my elbow) would be more painful but alas, it was my upper back.  I asked Liaa why the same areas she tattooed in October seemed easier to tolerate the first time around and she said, "I think the body remembers. And we just did those areas recently."

Further, during my aftercare, I noticed the lower areas on my arms seemed to heal slower.  I asked a good friend of mine (who happens to have an impressive body of work) and she said those spots were slower to heal on her as well. Maybe the closer to the elbow is more sensitive?

When it comes to getting new pieces, I think I am done for a while. However, I do want the rosy paintbrush flower on my lower left leg/ankle touched up. The colors are light pink and I would like them to be more of a vivid magenta, like the real flowers.

In the end, I am loving my body art more and more!

Friday, January 31, 2014

How Skiing and Colorado Changed My Life

In December 1996, I went to Breckenridge, Colorado for my first ski vacation.  I was still in college, 21 years old, and a new bride (married in May of that year).  After retrieving our luggage from the airport, the in-laws, husband, and I made our way west toward the mountains.  I was surprised at how flat Aurora and the greater Denver area was!   Instead of a cozy alpine landscape ripe with majestic, snow-covered peaks; the terrain was a smooth prairie that was drab and brown due to winter's steely grip. However, as we drove further into the foothills past Denver, I caught my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains through the 'Picture Frame Bridge' that straddled Interstate 70.  In this very moment, I knew instantly Colorado was a place of magic and wonder.

There is something about mountains, snow, and skiing that just stir my soul.  I feel alive, like I am capable of anything.  I think I can attribute these sentiments to my heritage.  My father was born and raised in northern Norway (Lofoten) where skiing and snow are part of daily life.  It snows in Lofoten for a majority of the year and for almost as long as there has been snow and people, skiing has played a huge role in Norwegian culture and history.

The above photo is my father, age 5 or 6 (circa 1945/46)

As my father used to say, "In Norway, if you can walk, you can ski."  Most children learn to ski at a very early age.  I, however, learned to ski at 13 in Norway.  I was there with my parents, visiting my father's side of the family for the the first time.  It was an amazing experience.  I loved meeting family members I had never met, learning to ski with my dad, eating my aunt's delicious food, and seeing the Northern Lights.  The entire trip brought out something in me that has stayed with me to this day.  This especially applies to my love of skiing.

During the first days I was learning to ski, kids my age and younger were flying down the mountain like Lindsay Vonn and Stein Eriksen.  Me?  Well, not only was I embarrassed by my lack of skills,  I looked like a cross between a newborn baby deer and the "agony of defeat guy" from the 80s ABC TV Show "Wide World of Sports."  I tried my best to master my skis and even though it took me a few weeks, I finally got the hang of it.  By the end of the visit, I was begging my dad to take me out to the mountains. I was hooked.

By the time I went to Breckenridge in '96, seven years had gone by since I strapped on a pair of skis.  The first day on the slopes, I was nervous.  Nervous? No, that is not the right word.  I was terrified.  That is it, "terrified."  Due to my shattered confidence, my husband suggested I take a ski lesson.  I begrudgingly agreed and the next day, I made my way to meet my instructor and fellow ski students. 

My instructor was a South American with a tall, lithe build.  His melodic accent was charming.  His tan face, weathered from sun, wind, and cold painted a stark contrast against the shock-white snow.  My heart was pounding and I felt like a teenager who just transferred to a new school and it was the first day of class. "But, I am not gonna know anybody!" 

The students were all adults, mostly couples.  None of them had skied before.  This made me feel better.  Not that I wanted to compete with anyone but the ski lessons with my dad were sure to come in handy.  As the day unfolded, I noticed the other students were falling down, skiing in a wedge (skis in a triangle pattern), their poles going in all directions, or going really slow.  One woman from Mexico City was saying in Spanish, "Make it stop! No! No! NO! I do not want to do thiiissssss!" 

The woman slid down the mountain, picking up speed, and like an out of control 18-wheeler with a blow-out going down a steep decline, she fell fast and hard.  YARD SALE! (This is what skiers say when we see ski equipment (skis/poles) scattered all over the hill).  I quickly skied down to her and then out of nowhere, I hockey-stopped (a quick parallel turn where your skis swoop together and you stop suddenly). I bent down to see if she was ok and she said she was fine but embarrassed and wanted to quit.  I felt bad for her.

As I was about to ski down to the rest of the group, I saw my instructor looking at me with a sly grin.  As I approached, he asked loudly, "Where did THAT come from?!"  I realized, "Oh wow! He's right. My dad taught me that. I have not done in years!"  I looked the instructor and said, "I have skied before but it has been seven years since my last time. Things are starting to come back to me now. Weird, huh?" He smiled and laughed, his white teeth sparkling with delight, "No! That is a gooooood thing! Awesome, duude! Awesome! Now, let's see what you can really do!"  

By the end of the day, I am telling you, I felt like I had skied every day since that first day in Norway.  Something unlocked in my body and mind.  My legs, my arms, and whole body found their rhythm.  I felt like I was born to  ski. 

After 1996, I did not ski again until 2005.  Unlike the first Colorado trip, I found myself with 25 extra pounds on my body.  My cardiovascular capacity was non-existent.  I was 29 years old, about to be 30 in a couple of months but I felt like I was 99.  Unlike the success of my '96 visit, this time around was awful, especially in the first days.  Every time I fell, my ski pants would pop open and I had to struggled to fasten them.  My heart thumped like it was pumping mud.  I was sweaty, tired, frustrated, and I felt fat.  Despite being able to "get my ski legs back" eventually, the '05 Breckenridge trip was an epic fail.  As I was packing my skis up the day before flying back to DC, I said "Forget it.  I am not doing this anymore."

When I turned 30, I experienced something I can only describe as life-changing.  I was 155 pounds, wore a size 12/14, my blood pressure was 150/90.  My doctor advised me to lose "at least 15 pounds" on at least two occasions.  For a while, I ignored her advice.  I avoided mirrors and every huff and puff I exerted walking up and down stairs was conveniently forgotten.  I ate McDonald's, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Ben and Jerry's every day.

But a month after 30, I woke up in my mother's house in tears.  It was Mother's Day and I knew, I was NOT fine.  I was sad.  I was unhealthy.  And dammit, I wanted to ski again!  I needed to ski again.  In that moment, in my pjs, I said, "This ends now."

The next day, Monday the 9th of May, 2005, I called my doctor and made an appointment.  My visit was in mid-June. I weighed in at 154.6.  I wanted to cry.  I thought, "How could I let things get like this and stay like this for so long?"  The nurse staff took two vials of blood and my doctor gave me a physical.  A week later, I received a call that my blood pressure was a bit high and my cholesterol was 198.  I was told to make another appointment for a follow up and to create a "game plan"  for my health.  In July, my doctor gave me a diet and exercise plan.  I was also instructed to keep a daily journal to keep track of my food, workouts, and progress.  It was hard at first and I felt like screaming many times. I  wanted to eat pizza and New York Super Fudge Chunk! Forget this hummus and celery junk!"

In December of 2005, I had my final weigh-in.  I was 122 pounds!  I wanted to pass out!  I did it!!!  I felt incredible.  I knew that when February of 2006 came (time for the annual ski trip), I would be so ready!

A few days before my ski venture, I tried on my previous year's ski clothes.  I was practically drowning in them.  They were huge!  I went to the local ski shop, Ski Chalet, to buy new gear but all I could find in my size (size 4/6 in ski wear, not street wear), were ski pants.  I had to borrow a ski jacket from my sister.  It fit beautifully.  Within days, I was back in Colorado and I was so happy.  My spirit felt lifted.  My heart fluttered with joy as my strong lungs breathed in the crisp, clean, cold mountain air.  This was pure bliss.  I was where I wanted to be and where I NEEDED to be.

I made my way over to the Beaverun Quicksilver chair lift and got on.  My new body felt light, yet powerful.  The lift gently glided me over the pearly slopes, glistening with fresh hope and promise.  The moment my ski tips touched the snow-covered ground as I pushed away from the chair, I let out a loud "Whooooo!" A few people looked over at me.  Oh well, they can stare, I didn't care. I felt good!

I skied down ski runs with ease.  I felt like I was flying.  Runs and turns that were difficult to navigate the previous year were now a cake walk.  As I returned to the lift at the base of Peak 9, I hockey-stopped my skis and the lift attendant scanned my lift ticket.  I could not stop smiling.  The attendant asked, "Having a good day?" I replied, "You know it, dude!" I got back on the lift and thought, "I am home."

It is my father's love of skiing that introduced me to the sport and thus, Colorado.  Further, it was my love of skiing and Colorado that made me the healthier and stronger woman I am today.  So, with that said, I say "I am thankful, I am grateful. Daddy, Colorado, I love you. You are both my most precious treasures."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sparkle, Tara, Sparkle!! My First Whirling Turban!

(Image courtesy of Whirling

For the longest time, I have pined for my very own Whirling Turban dress.  After spending several months browsing the website and then seeing a few of the dresses in person at this year's Viva, my obsession was firmly cemented.  I HAD to have one. A few weeks ago, I decided to 'take the plunge' and finally buy my first dress.  Yes, I said "first."  Anyone who has the honor and privilege of owning a Whirling Turban usually gets another.  Like Lays' brand potato chips, "you just can't have one."

The dress I purchased is a two-piece sarong dress with a detachable strap.  The fabric is a gorgeous blue silver metallic lurex type material that just sparkles and shines.  I have NEVER seen anything like it.  Moreover, the fabric has a lovely weight to it.  It is not too heavy or too thin.  The details are stunning and the measurements are perfect for my body shape.

As soon as the dress arrived, I immediately tried it on.  The fit was incredible.  Even though the dress was expensive, let me tell you, it is SO SO SO worth it!  Talk about an investment!  I can see myself wearing this dress for years and years to come!

I bought the dress for my company's annual holiday party.  The party took place on Saturday, the 7th of December at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia.  Big Daddy, aka el hub, wore a vintage-style black tuxedo.  I, of course, wore my Whirling Turban dress!  I paired it with vintage rhinestone jewelry, my silver Pollys, and one of my lucite bags.

Here is Big Daddy (isn't he just dreamy?!):

And here is my look:

I had a great time at the party (even though my entree, grilled salmon, was not good)!  I had a couple of vodka tonics and a glass of wine. (Party time!)  Everyone was complimenting my dress!  I felt so amazing!  When the night was over, I was sad to take the dress off and change into my pjs.  Nevertheless, we have a 10-day family cruise coming up over Christmas and I am going to wear my dress again for sure!!

So, for anyone contemplating whether or not to buy a Whirling Turban, all I can say is, do it!!  You will not regret it!  Now, if you decide to buy a dress of your own, please take some advice from me: when selecting your dress, please go on your measurements!  Do not guess!  These dresses are made to fit your body and hug your curves!  If you have any questions regarding fit, please ask!  The people at Whirling Turban are very helpful when it comes to answering questions!  They are quick to answer e-mail and very friendly to do business with.  My overall Whirling Turban experience was above and beyond any expectations! 

I am so happy with my dress, I went ahead and ordered another last night!

Now, I will have two Whirling Turban dresses for my cruise!  Because this cruise is 10 days long, there are four formal nights and you know a girl has to look her best! ;)

Again, if you are considering buying a Whirling Turban,  you must!   The quality, the detailing, the materials, and the customer service are simply wonderful!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tales from a Lazy Saturday (Veteran's Day weekend)

This past weekend was truly a lazy one!  As a government contractor, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a "three day weekend" due to the fact Monday, November the 11th, was Veteran's Day.  Most local, state, and federal government employees and contractors have federal holidays off.  These days include, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veteran's Day.  Banks and the postal service are closed as well.

Nevertheless, thanks to a longer weekend, the husband (aka Big Daddy) and I decided to stay home, relax, do laundry, make dinner, and enjoy a cocktail (or two!).

Just for fun, here are the highlights from our lazy Saturday!
I woke up early.  Even though I wanted to sleep in, my body was up thanks to my daily schedule.  Instead of falling back into my cozy bed, I got up, made coffee, had a lovely breakfast with Big Daddy, and hung out with 'le cat.'

After breakfast, I watched "Stalag 17" as I worked on my vintage clothing "fix/repair" pile.  Once in a while, you gotta fix those popped seams, falling hems, and loose buttons!

By the time it was lunch (well, 2 pm), I finally spruced myself up and did my hair!

Now that it is fall and going into winter, it is time to pair bobby socks with my beloved Re-Mix wedges!

I intended to make dinner at home but Big Daddy's mother (aka Mammaleh), invited us over.  We had cocktails, steak on the grill (shrimp for me), and a salad.

To end the night, we came home and Big Daddy retreated to the deck and enjoyed his beloved, vintage pipe and had a scotch.

Since it was Veteran's Day weekend and Big Daddy is a veteran (almost 10 years US Army Infantry), I wanted him to have a few super-chill, relaxed days off!  I am proud of him and his service to this great nation!

And for all of you who have served, I want to say "thank you" for your esteemed service and dedication.