What a lovely day

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful Christmas.

At 6:01am (after being told they couldn’t get us up til 6am) I was woken by 4 girls peering over me and yelling “It’s Christmas!!!!”. Once we got my brother & his girlfriend up and our ex room mate the girls ripped open their santa stockings. Normally the way they tear through presents it is all over in 20 minutes…but if you saw how many there were presents under our tree you would understand how it took more than an hour! (which if you are interested is twice as long as it took for pancakes to be made and eaten for 9 people).

One of my favourite thing about Christmas is seeing how genuinely happy someone is with their present. When they know you paid attention to who they are and what they say and give them a present reflecting that. Our ex room mate loves hats and has been looking for a fez everywhere. When he opened his present (wrapped up in the original packaging with the stamps) he couldn’t believe that not only did we get him the Fez…but it was an authentic Turkish hat all the way from Turkey! Our middle daughters face when she opened up her tools and proceeded to wear her safety goggles for an hour. Our eldest daughter hugging her ipod touch and almost crying (she knows how expensive they are and how much we had to save to get it for her and I know she appreciates it). Our twins faces when they opened their doll house and squealed with delight. Even their father was blown away by the geeky stuff I got him, that he never imagined he would actually get to own. Even though my brother and his girlfriend mainly got house items (they are moving into their own place soon) were happy with a weird PC game I never hear of (him) and a cupcake maker (her).

What about me? As I do 99% of the Christmas shopping and planning my presents always end up being bought at the last minute when it is realised by those around me that I didn’t buy myself anything. This year was totally different! I cleaned up.

I got a pair of Wittner Jayden Heels (tiny chunky heel that I can manage occasionally), Wittner Rum flats in Pink, a set of muppet mini OPI nail polishes, a little OPI mini manuicure set, a tea/cup tea for 1 set, 4 womans weekly cookbooks, Donna Hay Simple Dinners Cookbook, Martha Stewarts Encyclopedia of Crafts (so awesome!) and not 1 but 3 tins of tea (A large French Earl Grey, Large Girlie Grey and a small raspberry rush). I also was given a beautiful selection of handmade presents from the girls that I will treasure even more than shoes. I couldn’t believe how spoiled I was.

Unfortunately (for me) the day took a turn for the worse from there. I started getting a really bad headache so went back to sleep til 11am when I had more food prep to do. I was cranky and tired and more headachey, then I stubbed my toe, then the second I ate anything (no matter what it was) I became so ill I had to go lie down again. But apart from that the day was lovely. The girls were all blissfully happy with their many presents and there was lots of eating, drinking and being merry going on. Now all the girls are tucked up in bed (and probably passing out from exhaustion/sugar coma as it’s the one day a year we let them eat whatever they want) and I think I am going to do the same.

Night to all and I hope you all had a beautiful, wonderful Christmas.

project:girl

Merry Christmas

Is anyone else in disbelief that it is Christmas Eve? This year has just flown by and in just a few more days the year will be over.

This year we just feel more organised than ever. Thanks to my ebay sell off I was able to get so many presents out of the way earlier than usual. We had most of the presents and most of our Christmas meat done 2-3 weeks ago. Yesterday we went out first thing in the morning and grabbed the rest of the groceries, stuff for santa stockings and the last few gifts.

The girls have also officially been spoilt….and they haven’t even opened anything under the tree. For the first time in 19 years my mum is working and sent us 5 giant tough bags filled with presents for the girls. My nana got her inhertiance and sent the girls a book each (the usual present) as well as a small gift, a $20 collins book voucher each, a Museums Victoria Membership and the best present so far – a Year pass to Melbourne Zoos!!!! Even my mother in law (who has bought the girls hooded towels 3 years running) did well with lego for the 3 younger girls and sewing stuff for my eldest. Her mum (who is on a pension and puts most of her money in the pokies) got them some amazing stuff too. My brother (when he was visiting) got them the “Horrible Science” 20 book pack and a subscription to CSIRO’s kids magazines. Knowing what our ex-room mate is getting them as well as the presents currently under the tree and it makes my smile. While our girls are incredibly gracious and are grateful for anything they get, it’s nice to spoil them a little.

Then there is the food. In an attempt to not have to cook for a week we may have gone a touch overboard. We have 6kgs of rolled turkey breast which I stuffed with cranberry & macadamia stuffing, 5kgs of Ham, 4kgs of Pork, 4kgs of roast beef and 3 BBQ chickens. Then we have my updated version of my mums famous potato salad (this year I made my own fresh mayo out of egg yolks left over from the pav’s), my favourite Donna Hay smoked salmon & potato salad with homemade pesto, caprese salad, green salad, cesar salad and as the kids asked I grabbed a coles pasta salad and coleslaw. We will also have a massive fruit & cheese platter, too many dips to list, a traditional pav, a chocolate pav (which is for the boys who don’t like fruit…and has chocolate cream and caramel sauce on top), an apple & blueberry pie, my nans trifle, red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and as requested by my brother a sera lee chocolate pudding & sticky date pudding.To make it the most awesome Christmas ever (and as I no longer drink alcohol) I am making virgin margaritas and pina coladas.

I don’t expect to get much for Xmas for myself but I want to say a big thank you to the lovely Alyson who totally made my day last week when I opened “Dreaming of Chanel” in the mail. I love it so much and I never get mail that isn’t bills or stuff for the kids. My other awesome Xmas present is my little brother & his girlfriend have found a place and will be moving in a few weeks….FINALLY!!!! YAY!!!!

I am currently running on empty and am completely exhausted and still have more cooking to do before I can (hopefully) have an early night.

I hope each and every one of you have an amazing Christmas/Holiday Season.

project:girl

Accepting that I Can’t Do Everything

In the last two years my life has changed so dramatically. From a business owner and president of a charity (work-a-holic) to being unemployed. From the girls father being a stay at home dad, to me being a stay at home parent. From having kids that went to school to being a homeschool family. From being classed as “normal” to having a mental illness. From being married to being single.

I have had to accept that with homeschooling and my bipolar that my life will never again resembled the one I used to have.

One of the problems I always have (and it is a common theme with many people with bipolar) is grandiose ideas and plans. For the most part these rarely work out….well for me anyway.

And so with that in mind I decided awhile ago that I would let me 30 by 30 plan to fall by the wayside. The first issue I had is so much of what was on there required me to spend money. It’s Christmas and I am on a disability pension…so money to spend on myself is seriously lacking. The second issue is that most of it required me to leave the house. While I am leaving the house more and more since lowering my medication prior to that I had only left the house around 20-30 times in a year. It is going to take a lot of effort before I can socialise and get out the way I used to. The third issue is I put way too much pressure on myself. Causing stress, anxiety and even embarrassment when I realised I wasn’t even going to come close to doing everything on the list.

Rather than throw out the list I have decided its going to be a 30 during 30 list. A list of things I am going to attempt for myself during the whole of next year. But I am also going to take the pressure off myself for once and remind myself that it is up to me if I want to do something on it or not. The world isn’t going to cave in, no one will be disappointed in me and I will be ok if I do none of it.

The only thing I am really disappointed in – that I didn’t make as many new friends as I would like….which means having a birthday party would be kind of silly. I don’t know anyone really well enough to say come celebrate with me.

project:girl

Scones & Lemon Butter

One of the things that has come naturally to me is baking. It is one of the few girly things I can do well. When I was little I was allowed to bake and cook (as young as 5) without any assistance. I used to whip up things with no recipes and they were edible….not just edible…they were tasty.

Tomorrow I have to deal with the mother in law visiting. Urg. She hates me and after 12 years of effort I have officially given up trying to convince her I am not a horrible person. One thing I do like to do is serve freshly baked goods when she visits. Tomorrow will be my world famous (in my house anyway) scones and home made lemon butter. Neither of the recipes are originally mine – but using them repeatedly I no longer can remember where I found them. If you want to show off to your mother in law/a co worker you hate/someone who thinks they are better than you (or you know someone you love) these two recipes will have you looking like a domestic goddess in just 25 minutes

Lemon Butter

  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • Finely Grated Rind & Juice of 3 Lemons
  • 125g Butter (half a stick)
  1. In a microwave bowl whisk together eggs and sugar til smooth. Add in lemon juice, rind and butter.
  2. Put in the mircrowave for one minute at a time. Stirring each time. When the mixture coats the back of the spoon its ready. (It usually takes me 5 – 6 minutes)
  3. Store in the fridge in a tupperware container for up to two weeks. (Or pour into a sterilised jar). Serve cold (it will take a couple of hours to cool and it thickens when it gets cold)

Lemonade Scones

  • 3 cups Self Raising Flour
  • 1 cup of Thickened Cream
  • 1 cup of Lemonade (sprite for those who may be used to “traditional lemonade”)
  1. Put flour into a bowl and make a well. Pour in the lemonade and cream.
  2. Mix gently with a knife until it starts to come together.
  3. Turn onto a lightly floured bench and knead gently until it forms a ball.
  4. Roll it out and cut with a scone cutter or be like me and break off bits and roll into balls.
  5. Place each scone/ball on a tray (with baking paper) with each touching the other. I don’t know why but cooking them touching is the only way to make them rise/cook properly (for me anyway).
  6. Brush a little milk over the top and put into an oven which has been preheated to 220 degrees celcius for 10-12 minutes or until very lightly golden.
  7. Serve with jam, cream and lemon butter – best while hot.

And thats how you show off to your mother in law…or you know provide your children with yummy baked goods.

project:girl

 

Book Review: The Handbook of Beauty

I have a few books on vintage hair & make up…but until recently I had no actual vintage beauty/fashion books.

After finding an excerpt of “The Handbook of Beauty” (By Constance Hart) on “Miss Abagail’s Time warp Blog” I knew I had to have it. Not only was it a handbook to being a girl (something I so desperately needed) but it was published in 1955 – and I love all things 50’s. So I jumped on Amazon and found a copy fairly cheap.

This is an except from the book on a one night a week beauty routine…

Set aside one evening a week ~ whichever is most convenient, but try to make it the same night every week to fix the habit firmly ~ to do the following beauty chores that don’t have to be done more often. Start after dinner. Give yourself plenty of time (at least two hours). Try to avoid interruptions by your family or by friends on the phone.

I’m going to suggest the order in which you can do all these beauty chores. But if you prefer, rearrange the order to suit your own particular tastes. Just make sure you do all the steps listed for a complete feeling of achievement on the road to beauty.

 

1. Get into the most comfortable old robe you have.

2. IF you have make-up on, remove all traces.

3. Thoroughly cleanse your face (see chapter on skin).

4. Give yourself the tired-eye treatment (see chapter on eyes).

5. Sit in front of a mirror and, for about 15 minutes, experiment with new make-up purchases and new ways of applying your old make-up (see chapter on make-up).

6. Remove all traces of this make-up but keep on the final application of cream you’ve used to remove it.

7. Do five minutes of facial massage (see chapter on skin).

8. Apply facial mask.

9. While mask is still on, remove old nail polish.

10. Do all steps of your manicure up to but not including the new polish application (see chapter on hands).

11. Remove facial mask.

12. Give yourself the tired-foot treatment (see chapter on feet).

13. Start your pedicure. Do all the steps up to but not including the new polish application, if any (see chapter on feet).

14. Exercise for 15 minutes (see chapter on exercises).

15. Brush hair at least 100 strokes.

16. Shampoo hair (see chapter on hair).

17. Set hair (see chapter on hair).

18. Take a warm “luxury” bath (see chapter on baths).

19. Apply anti-perspirant to underarms (if you use it).

20. Apply toilet water, cologne, or body lotion all over yourself.

21. Finish off with talcum or dusting powder (not, however, if you’ve used body lotion).

22. Apply polish to toenails.

23. While they’re drying, apply polish to fingernails.

24. When fingernails are dry, weigh and measure yourself. Record results on Pages 315 and 316 of this book.

25. Apply emollient cream to area around eyes.

26. IF skin is dry, leave a thin film of the cream all over your face for overnight. If skin is half-and-half, leave a thin film of the cream on dry patches for overnight.

27. Wash and thoroughly dry hands; push back cuticles.

28. Apply hand lotion or cream.

29. Get into bed and lights out.

 

In addition to the above routine, set aside a shorter time on an evening about three nights later to do the following:

 

1. Repair manicure.

2. Give your hair a between-shampoo cleansing (see chapter on hair).

3. IF you’re over thirty, give yourself a 5-minute facial (see chapter on skin).

4. Check up on your make-up equipment. Wash sponges, puffs, and brushes in soapy warm water.

5. Apply anti-perspirant to your underarms if you perspire profusely as a rule.

 

I love this book for a few reasons. Mainly that it is filled with sensible advice (I have found very little of the whacky or scary old home “remidies”) on make up, hair, skin care and diet. Even the diet advice is sensible caloric based – if you need to loose weight eat less and gain weight eat more. As someone who loves lists I absolutely love that this book is filled with them. Routines for morning and night, how to have a cleansing bath (or a relaxing one), how to stand correctly and even 4 pages on how to apply lipstick.

Highly recommended for all vintage lovers and anyone who, like me, needs help on being a girl.

project:girl

project:girl

Enough with the whining, school talk and bipolar crap. Lets get onto what this “username” was originally created for.

Just over a two years ago a really girly girl friend came to visit. I whined about how I wish I could look as lovely as she did everyday. Perfect hair, perfect make up and such a stylish dresser. A natural born girl. She looked straight at me and put me totally in my place. I could be a “girl” if I wanted and she would help me.

The first excuse I used was that I was too “fat” to wear pretty things. I was only a size 14 at the time. She smacked me down there (again) when she sent me to the “Frocks & Frou Frou” Blog. She was bigger than me and so pretty! She was beautifully dressed – cute, fun and lots of frou frou. I was inspired.

The second excuse was that I was a busy working mum with 4 kids – jeans were practical. Again the smack down – she managed to do my job in dresses. Granted she didn’t have kids, but dresses and kids work fine for me. Throw on some stockings or 3/4 tights and you are safe from flashing.

The third excuse was that people looked down on me when I shopped. So she dragged me into stores I avoided and most shop assistants were lovely. I even purchased a pencil skirt from ojay and a cardigan from Veronika Maine. No one battered an eye lid.

So there I was out of excuses and very, very interested in finding out how to be a girl. She then recommended the vogue forums. So I found myself in the same conundrum everyone finds themselves in….what user name to use. And project:girl was born.

So it all started with a kick up the bum and a pencil skirt. Fast forward two years and here I am….still struggling. I own a lot of dresses. I attended a vintage hair & make up workshop. I even own a girdle. (Oh and I love it by the way….vintage undergarments ROCK).

But there is still lots I struggle with. First up: my hair.

My hair has always been frizzy and borderline unmanageable. It was always quite long as cutting it short just makes it poufier (not sure that’s a word). So for the past 20 years I have almost exclusively worn a ponytail or bun. I can’t stand to have hair in my face (why I got a blunt fringe not once, but twice is beyond me). I have tried dressing it up with various headbands and I love hats. But still I struggle. For years I attempted to straighten it – but my hair is so freakin thick it takes forever and dries out the ends.

I am finally trying to embrace my hair – in all its frizzy glory. I have found that sunsilks anti frizz shampoo & conditioner do help so MUCH. I then use a small amount of Mop C-System straightening cream rubbed through towel dried hair. I also do a hair mask once a week – virgin organic coconut oil rubbed into dry hair and left overnight. It doesn’t make my hair miraculously not frizzy….but it has made it so much better.

As I am getting my energy back I am able to attempt new things. it was 7 months ago that I attended the “Lindy Charm School for Girls” workshop and learnt how to pin curl my hair, wear red lipstick and do a few other bits and pieces and I have only just now had the energy to attempt to pin curl my entire hair. I sit here looking ravishing in a head scarf and head of pincurls. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out tomorrow.

Second issue I have is make up.

My mum never wore makeup…ever. She lived in jeans and oversized t-shirts and kept her hair in a pony tail. So I had to learn make up from my grandma….a stage actress. She gave me my first foundation….orange pancake. As someone who is ridiculously pale – I looked ridiculous. I gave up on foundations years ago as I could never find one pale enough. Then I had large pores and I couldn’t find one that didn’t pool in them. I also had super oily skin, acne and no way of knowing how to fix it. Remember I grew up without the internet. Dolly magazines and friends (and my stage actress grandma) was all I had.

After a recommendation from the Lindy Charm School girls – I grabbed a max factor pancake….this time in a shade appropriate for my skin. BINGO! Finally mat skin, decent coverage and no pooling. But I still longed to learn how to use a liquid foundation. After much reading I decided to try Laura Mercier. I went in to the counter and everything – but the chick was HOPELESS! She applied the “Oil Free Foundation” in Blush Ivory and sent me on my way. She gave me a pot  It looked ok but within 45 minutes it was sliding everywhere. It pooled badly in my pores and was so shiny. I walked around all day like that. Cursing the foundation I let my little pot sit there for around 8 weeks til tonight I decided to get it out and try it again. SUCCESS!!!! The trick seemed to be using a primer (I used Benefits “porefessional” as it seems to work wonders on my large pores), then putting on the foundation with a brush and setting it with powder. I left it on for around 3 hours – no shine, no pooling and no slipping. It does however make me so incredibly pale (think Angel in the first season of Buffy) that I looked dead. I am going to try it again tomorrow in the daylight. Maybe I put it on too thickly or it just looks weird in the light. But the finish….it looked so pretty. I got out my magnifying mirror to really investigate the pore situation and SO. MUCH.BETTER!!!

I am also going to book myself in to my optometrist for just after xmas to get contacts. Not that I am giving up glasses…I just can’t put eye make up on without my glasses….or with my glasses – so I don’t tend to wear any eye make up.

With contacts and less medication (which seems to be reducing my hand tremors) and maybe this make up course for my birthday – maybe I will be able to finally work out this make up thing and get closer to being a girl.

project:girl

Two Weeks On

Two weeks ago I walked out of my Doctors office with a script to lower my last remaining medication. A medication that leaves me zoned/spaced most of the time, that destroys my memory and has left me pretty much bedridden since starting. Not to mention going from a size 14 to a 22. When I started the lower dose I had reached 102 kilos.

So how am I doing? WONDERFUL! I am still not sleeping the best, but am sleeping better. I am out and about more. I shower and get dressed. I have been able to play with my girls and my memory is slowly returning and the fog is lifting. I have been able to read and plan. Not only that – I am eating the same way and I have lost 3kgs. I am back in the double digits – WOOT!

I was told I could have a psycotic break and end up back in hospital – that didn’t even remotely happen (apart from one minor panic attack in Target while xmas shopping….but let’s face it, who wouldn’t 14 days before xmas). I was told I could get sick, headachey or even have a fever. So far absolutely zero withdrawal symptoms.

So in January I will be revisiting my GP and if everything is still going well we will step down again.

project:girl