Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What does John think?


I get asked this question a lot every time I change my look. I understand why people are curious, because I recognize that we live in a culture where it is often seen as a woman’s responsibility to be attractive either to obtain or keep a man. And I could spend countless hours talking about the Pat Robertson’s of the world who actually blame women “letting themselves go” for the failure of a marriage and how that bullshit makes me stabby. But I’m getting off subject a little bit.

What does John think? Well, John is a feminist. He doesn’t like to use that word because of the negative connotation that people have attached to it, but he believes a woman’s body is her own to do with as she pleases. This includes what she wears or how she cuts her hair. I would not have married a man who tried to tell me how to dress or told me not to get more tattoos because he didn’t like them. John respects me as a person first and not a collection of aesthetics.

When I met John, I dressed horribly and hid any semblance of a figure I may have had. I didn’t know how to apply makeup at all and looked like a ghost. I was still clinging to an extra 15 pounds that made me insecure, so I never felt pretty. The dude still thought I was pretty, but above all, it was the person behind all that he was attracted to. I was smart and funny and sarcastic, and at the end of the day, I believe that’s what makes a person attractive to their partner.

Thing is, there have been many things I have done that he didn’t like. He has walked in to find me nearly bald twice because of botched bleaching attempts and has shared with me his desire that I not do that again. He hates very heavy bangs, and since they’re pretty damn high maintenance anyway, this is a request I can honor. Aside from those two things, it’s always open season on my head.  After 13 years of not knowing what he’s going to walk in on, he has come to accept that there’s always a chance I could flip a switch and decide that I suddenly need to look like the band members of KISS. And he will smile, tell me he loves me, and I will know that he hates it. He is not a fan of my new glasses, but they make me giddy, so he is cool with it. That’s just the way it is. If he decided he needed a mohawk or a god-awful tribal armband tattoo, I would deal with it if it made him feel like a sexy beast. I would LOVE if John wore glasses or had oodles of tattoos, but he doesn’t do it because that’s not his style, and I respect that. Mutual respect, folks. That’s how this works.

Truth is, I’m not entirely sure what John would prefer I look like. There are outfits that receive his compliments, and I try to wear those more often when I’m in need of a little attention. I think he prefers my hair red and longer, but what he loves most of all is having a wife who feels confident and beautiful in her own skin. He knows that if I dressed in a manner that would be pleasing to everyone else but me, I would be incredibly uncomfortable and insecure.  And as we all know, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Bottom line is that John loves me and accepts me for the crazy, unpredictable person that I am and not for how pleasing I am to look at.  I think he would get just as bored as I would be if I looked the same every day for years. Because he’s the bee’s knees, and this is why I keep him. Now, if we could only get a few more tattoos on that boy. Hubba Hubba.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tattoos Part 2

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This is probably my favorite tattoo and the one I get complimented on the most often. It is a Buddhist dharma wheel and was done in two sittings, mostly because I was being wishy washy about it. I had the wheel itself done a few years before the petals and coloring were added on. I got tired of people asking me if I was into either pirates or sailors, so it needed prettying up.

When I got out of the Army in 1997, I was an overemotional mess and questioning so many things about the world and my place in it. So, I was a  typical 19 year old girl. I had also come to the realization that I no longer felt secure in the faith that I had chosen in high school when that faith no longer brought me comfort during the most painful and trying times of the previous year in the military.

I moved from Texas to Wisconsin on a whim and took a sabbatical of sorts to clear the muddles and choose a new path. I lived in a farmhouse in the middle of a cornfield and began reading about Buddhism. For the first time in my life, the universe made sense. I had been ready to let go of a deity but not yet at a place in my journey to let go of a belief system, so Buddhism fit in the space where I still needed faith and ritual.

The dharma wheel is a beautiful symbol of Buddha’s teachings and it has been a daily reminder of how following the Eightfold Path guided me to sanity and peace in a way that nothing else did.


After I had Perrin, I wanted a way to commemorate how parenthood gave me this wonderful new label to add to all my other kooky labels. And it was oh so fashionable at the time to get Kanji symbols, so of course, I HAD to have one too. So I got the Kanji symbol for “Mom” tattooed on the back of my neck. I researched this one quite a bit and even asked a friend of Jennifer’s, who is Chinese, and he verified that it is, indeed, the symbol for “Mom.” However, just this  past summer a random old Chinese dude came up to me and told me it means “lady horse,” so I may very well be sporting a crazy, stupid American tattoo, which is extremely hilarious. I have had this tattoo for 8 years, and he’s the only person who told me it didn’t mean “Mom,” so I’m going to assume he was just trying to freak me out.



Underneath my possible “lady horse” tattoo I have “This too shall pass” in my  mother’s handwriting. It’s one of my most meaningful tattoos, and I regret getting it put on the back of my neck because this means I never get to see it. It was a surprise tribute to my mom, who helped me through a lot with these words. I have the best mom in the world and feel honored to carry her wisdom with me for the rest of my life.

Well, that’s all for today. There are frivolous, cutesy tattoos coming up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tattoos–Part 1

I am addicted to tattoos. I have been tattooed 14 times but only have 12 visible tattoos, as two of them are coverups.

I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. I had wanted one since I was in middle school, and I promised myself I’d get one as soon as I was legally able to. A few of my good friends and I drove to Abilene and stopped at a kind of shady shop where the dude who tattooed me looked like Biker Santa. I told him what I wanted, and he drew it up in five seconds, slapped it on, and away we went.  It cost me $30, and it faded in just a few weeks because I didn’t take proper care of it. I did all of the things the dude told me not to, including taking a damn bath and picking at it when it started to peel. It actually had color at one time.  The funny thing is, I wasn’t exactly “allowed” to get tattooed while still living with my parents. Mom didn’t care at all, but my dad was very against them, and told me frequently that women with tattoos were seen as trashy. So I hid this with tall socks for about a month before they saw it. Mom thought it was adorable, and Dad just sort of shrugged since it was a little late to do anything about it.   Here’s what it looked like this summer before I got it covered. I kept this damn thing for 16 years, and I’m happy it’s gone.

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This summer, my good friend Jane and I went together to get tattoos. She got her kiddo’s names, and I got this covered up with a gorgeous traditional style peony.

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I much prefer this. I am wildly in love with floral tattoos, and all of my favorite tattoos are floral themed.

When I was 21, I fell madly in love with this boy and moved to San Marcos in an impulsive expression of romance to be with him.  When we were dating, we would hang out at Sewell Park, and the river was swarmed by dragonflies the entire summer. Every time I saw one, I thought of this boy, so I got a tattoo on my back to remind me of him and how crazy I was about him.  To this day, John says this is his favorite of my tattoos.

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I married that boy, and on our 10th wedding anniversary, we got matching tattoos of a cute little symbol I used to draw with finger paints with our son when he was a toddler. It’s a representation of our quirky little family, and it’s the first (and likely only) tattoo I’ve been able to talk John into getting.  John, Perrin, and I have been through more than a lot of families have gone through in our lives together, and I am quite confident this is the forever kind of bond, so I don’t worry about any kind of curse of the couple’s tattoos. John is the only one for me, and I am the only one for him. And Perrin is that piece of the puzzle that completes our picture.

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And the last one I’ll write about today are my “bro tats” or more appropriately, “ho tats.” My sisters and I are ridiculously close, so while I was still living in Austin, Jen and I got these cute matching Celtic hearts. Stephanie is 11 years younger than me, so she had to wait a couple of years before she could get hers. Jen and I both had a weird reaction to the green ink, so ours were faded a little by the time Steph got hers, which is why hers is so much brighter. We took this pic right after Steph’s was completed. It was also done by a different artist who didn’t feel comfortable copying someone else’s work, so hers has different (and better) shading than ours.

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Much more to come!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hair Adventures or How I Spent My Summer


Going from black to blonde – all the trauma I put my hair through this summer.

I have a long history of risk-taking when it comes to my hair style and color. It has been hot pink, purple, black, and orange. I have bleached it 3 times and shaved it off twice – both following disastrous bleaching experiments. Then I discovered the beauty of the internet and realized that if I was going to try a drastic change, I was going to do my research. I also didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars at a salon that may or may not have wrecked my hair any worse than I could do myself.

My natural hair color is very close to my husband’s dark brown. The picture below is with fairly recently dyed blue/black hair I acquired with a box dye – it was most likely Garnier because it’s my favorite. I dig having black hair because I have wicked blue eyes, and they really pop the darker my hair is. However, I also get bored rather quickly and needed a change. So why the hell not go from black to blonde? I’m not overly attached to my hair, and I keep it pixie short, so if I mess it up, it’s no huge loss. However, I also have a wedding to go to in 2 months, so I figured it might be quite a catastrofuck if I shaved it off beforehand. To the internet!!


I did some quick searches on how to safely and cheaply strip hair dye, and then spent a couple of weeks washing with Head and Shoulders followed by a few treatments of baking soda mixed with shampoo to lighten up the black. Ended up being a reddish toned very dark brown. A bit dry, but conditioned the hell out of it for weeks. Then it was time for the hard core stuff.

Step one: August 28 - I used Color Oops and followed every step to the letter, including rinsing under warm water for the full 25 minutes and washing after every 5. Be sure if you do this not to let your kiddo in the shower before you, lest you run the risk of running out of hot water, which is what happened to my ass. The outcome was a medium, caramel color. A little brassy, but absolutely free of black dye. Used John Frieda’s shampoo and deep conditioner for blonde hair daily. Conditioned a couple of times for up to 15 minutes. Hair was soft, shiny, and healthy. Waited a week before bleaching. Cost $9


Step two – Sept 4. Used L’oreal’s Super Blonde kit to get to yellow roots and orange-yellow, brassy tone to the rest of hair. A little dry at the ends, but not damaged. Followed up with 20 minutes of conditioning with John Frieda’s blonde. As you can see, this is less than the ideal outcome, which I found out is exactly what is supposed to happen.  One does not simply bleach hair into a blonde. One has to tone the hell out of that noggin. Went to Sally Beauty Supply and stocked up on supplies to fix this mess. Cost $10


Step three Рsame day Рmixed whole bottle of Wella color charm T18 Lightest Ash Blonde with 2 parts Salon Care Volume Cr̬me Volume 20. Combed evenly through damp hair and left on for 30 minutes . After rinsing it out, put on a protein conditioner Ion Repair Solutions, put on shower cap, and conditioned for 20 minutes. Blow-dried using cold setting. Not much improvement after first application. Put more toner blend on the more orangey parts for 30 more minutes. Then another 20 minutes with the protein conditioner. Still kinda orangey, so I tossed on some Quick Blue bleach mixed with the Vol 20 developer. Let sit for about 45 minutes. Total cost of all supplies at Sally - $26.


Still a bit more orange than I would like. Read dozens of tutorials on getting platinum hair, and I found this fabulous one here.

She has the exact white shade I’ve been dying to have, so I ordered some Manic Panic Virgin Snow toner (Amazon $12). While waiting for it to arrive, I washed with John Frieda’s tone correcting purple shampoo ($6) and continued to use the Ion Repair conditioner daily.

September 17, 2012 – Got the manic panic and per loads of tutorials put it on freshly washed hair, put on a shower cap, and hung out for about an hour and a half. It left my hair remarkably soft and shiny, but it did not remove enough yellow for my liking. It looks like another trip to Sally for a 3rd freaking bleaching. The sales lady at Sally is becoming my guru. Should probably put her on speed dial.

September 18, 2012 – Covered entire head with Quick Blue packet and 2.5 oz of Vol 20 developer. Did the roots too, since they are starting to peek through a bit. Covered with shower cap and left on for 50 minutes. Rinsed and shampooed. Applied Manic Panic again, covered with shower cap and put under blow dryer for about 5 minutes, then taught a few reading lessons to the boy child, and rinsed in cold water per the tub’s instructions. Total time was probably an hour. STILL YELLOW!!!! Plus, I had missed a patch of roots behind my right ear, so I spot bleached the top portion in front and the root patch and left on for another 35 minutes. Put on more Manic Panic (this stuff is so gentle and conditioning!) and left on for about 25 more minutes. Rinsed out in cold water again and put on my Ion Repair conditioner.

At last, I have achieved a pale blonde that is sort of lemon yellow. I can live with it. I’ve bleached it 4 times overall in the last 3 weeks, conditioned the hell out of it, and there’s been no damage. I got a trim after the 2nd bleaching, and the stylist said it was still in great condition. I may purchase the Roux toner or a stronger toning shampoo designed for peeps with gray hair.


I kept it this shade for about 3 weeks before realizing I am NOT a blonde. It seriously washed me out, and made my skin look really weird. So, after several hours of walking around with some kind of product on my head, probably eating away at my brain in the process, I just hopped back on the Garnier wagon and covered that whole mess up with my usual shade of bright ass red.

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However, now that I have stripped my hair so ridiculously, the red bleeds during every wash, and I look like Janet Leigh every time I take a shower. I have been dyeing my hair every 4 weeks now and using a protein filler I got at Sally for 20 minutes beforehand, which is only now, 4 months later, keeping the color in longer. I am now using Manic Panic Pillarbox Red ever 3 weeks to maintain the bright, crazy girl tone.  I am also growing it out so I can do true rockabilly victory rolls, so it’s a shaggy mess at the moment.

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So, the moral of my hair experience is that you should never be afraid to try something dramatically different. It is entirely possible to go from black to blonde to red with very little damage to your hair if you do it slowly and gently. Will I ever do it again? Very likely not. Blonde may look great on my little sister, but it does not suit everyone. And I never did get that ice blonde, Gwen Stefani shade, but that’s okay. This girl is a redhead. Pure and simple.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crafting for couples

John and I shared the same New Year’s resolution to work harder on making our house feel more like our home. To this point, we haven’t done a lot of renovations besides painting to give it that feeling. It still feels like someone else’s house sometimes, especially with the rather grotesque yellow walls in the family room.

In the spring we are repainting that room a light gray, painting all the dark brown doors black, and installing skylights to give it more natural light. In the meantime, we have been doing smaller things to make our furniture flow with our style and color schemes.

We inherited this green dresser from John’s family that we used as Perrin’s changing station when he was a baby. Since then it’s been in my office as a storage unit for knitting supplies.

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I decided to move it to our bedroom and realized that it didn’t really match our plum colored walls and dark gray comforter, so John and I in our ongoing obsession with pinterest, found a great picture of a shiny black dresser with decoupaged book pages on it. We were sold!

Step One: We scrubbed the hell out it, of course, and then primed it like a good boy and girl should.

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Step Two: Broke off into two teams to console the boy child who had become bored and emotional waiting to play a video game with us.

Step Three: Using a foam roller, slapped on the first coat of this.Photo Jan 12, 3 26 45 PM

We wanted it to be smooth and shiny; however, for some reason the foam roller created a quadrillion tiny bubbles all over the surface of the dresser. I googled that mess and discovered that you really need to use a brush to get a smooth surface, leading us to step four.

Step Four: Argue a little bit about whether to proceed with the roller or send one of us in the freezing cold to Home Depot to get a brush.

Step Five: Proceed with roller primarily due to tiredness and frustration. Not too shabby. It ended up being really pretty even though it doesn’t have that slick Pottery Barn feel to it.

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Step Six: THE FUN PART!! I have had this old book since childhood that had half Grimm’s Fairy Tales and half Anderson’s. It’s crazy old and kind of falling apart, and both John and I went bananas over the illustrations and slightly discolored pages which would give the drawers an antiquey feel to them. So I ripped out all the illustrations and my favorite lines from various stories. I’m a Grimm girl myself, so I made sure to grab all the Red Riding Hood and Snow White delights to be the forefront of the pieces.

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I am a book lover, so I know that this might seem like a massacre, but I believe that if a books its on a shelf for 20 years and will fall apart if you try to read it, transforming it into art is  a beautiful  resurrection for it.

Step Seven: Once I had all the pieces I wanted to be front and center, I went around the edges with the straight edged pages and, using Mod Podge and a foam brush, started gluing and tucking. This was the most challenging part of the process and took quite awhile to get it lined up perfectly on all the corners. My OCD loved it! This part took about 40 minutes per drawer.

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Once the corners were all slapped on and tightened up to perfection, I slathered on another thin layer of Mod Podge to the corners and the areas where the pages overlapped.

Step Eight: I took all those fabulous illustrations and quotes and tore around the ages and played with their placement until I was happy. I wanted each drawer to have at least three pictures along with a section of the story it belonged with. Using a thick sponge, I smoothed another layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of the dresser and proceeded to the next one. Once they were all dry, I rubbed another layer over the top to give it added strength and prevent the torn edges from rolling up at all.

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Step Nine: We let it all dry overnight, put the knobs back on and HUZZAH! A dresser is reborn!

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It is now beside my bed and is the new home of my cherished hand knit sweaters. Every day I will get to read about what big eyes the wolf has, how Snow White is the fairest of them all, and Hansel and Gretel tricked the witch. A little bit of me, a little bit of John, and a whole lot of character. We love it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A phoenix rises

This blog has been dead for two years. The two years where I let life pull me in primarily one direction and one direction only. Parenting. I haven't really been knitting, but that's mostly because I grew slightly weary of dropping $50 on beautiful yarn, following a pattern, and then not getting the size adjustments right so that the damn thing looked wretched on my awkwardly shaped body. So I took a break and just haven't really picked it back up. That's okay. I have other things.

One year ago, I pulled my son out of school to homeschool him. So that's pretty much been my entire life for the last year. I kept my own self on a backburner to focus on him, and while that filled me with purpose, it has diminished my creative, artistic side to the point where I started ignoring the screaming for creation simply because there was no energy to be spent on it. I will not talk about any of that here. There's another place for all of that. This space is mine. Where I will let that other side of me shine a little brighter. Where I can play.

One huge thing that I have done for myself for the last couple of months is return to writing. I am about halfway through with a rough first draft of a memoir of my year in the Army. I'm using actual diary entries and letters that I had written to my mom, and it's been quite a journey going back there. It was a very difficult time for me, both physically and emotionally, and dredging it up has been painful at times, but I have wanted to put this out there into the world for 15 years, and now I'm finally doing it. I have no idea if anything will ever come of it, if it will get published or sit on my shelf and collect dust, but getting it all down has been incredibly rewarding. If nothing else, I will have something I can read when I'm 80 and have begun forgetting what my youth was like.

I set one primary New Year's resolution for myself, and so far, I am doing quite well. I love dressing up and going out, but I haven't done much of that for a really long time. I let being tired and overwhelmed keep my ass on a couch. I may be 35, but I still have many years left to enjoy myself. Until I actually hear the words, "This music is too loud," come out of my mouth, I will still drag my old ass to rock concerts and dance like a jackass. And until my flesh is tissue paper, I will still get tattooed.

Now, on to fashion. I have always loved clothes. My style has evolved a lot over the years, and I never fully immerse myself into one particular style because my face and body aren't exactly suited to the trends. I tried the emo/goth look in my twenties, and when we moved to the suburbs I think I was shocked into a more mainstream/homemaker look which I didn't dig. It made me feel dowdy and invisible. The fun thing about that was that people seemed a bit surprised when I pushed up a sleeve and showed off my tattoos. My latest obsession is with the rockabilly style. I've always been a little bit rockabilly, and I grew up on the music of Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. I have always rocked red lipstick when I felt like it, and I live in cardigans. I bought this adorable polka dot dress for my brother in law's wedding, and it finally dawned on me that I was, indeed, a rockabilly gal.

So, in combining my two new resolutions to be leave my house more and look fabulous doing it, I present to you a shiny new ensemble.

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This is what I wore to this rad bar called Cigars and Stripes with two of my best gallie pallies, Kate and Jane. We plopped our beautiful selves down at the bar and rocked out to two local bands, The Bomb Sawyers and The Demerits. Jane and I realized we needed to start our own band, so just as soon as she learns to play the drums, we’re in business.

Look at these badass chicks being badass

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I’ve been experimenting more with makeup as well and am psychotically in love with the flicked cat-eye eyeliner. I love that I look like a rocker housewife in this and totally comfortable. Who says you gotta wear sweatpants to be comfy? On a side note, a bandana totally hides a shitty hair day.

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There will be more fun and fashion and artsy fartsy posts to come. Stay tuned!