the year in review

It’s Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Eve with lots of yummy food and shiny presents. The end of the year is just right around the corner – time to do my annual wrap-up then.

It was a very good year. I got a promotion at work, our big symposium was a thorough success, and the man and I went on our first real holiday together. Without killing each other, I must add. It was also the year in which I revived two long neglected hobbies of mine, writing and photography. I got myself a shiny new camera for my birthday, which I already love to bits. Gadget love is the best. ;-) I also managed to ditch my hermit mode and get out more, doing stuff with friends. The flesh and blood sort of friends, not the online version.

Getting back into writing was a very very exciting journey, and I met some interesting people on the way. I hope those brand new, ocean-spanning friendships last. Writers are a delightful bunch and I kick myself for not seeking out writer friends earlier. Having people to bounce off ideas, brainstorm with and get opinions from is awesome.

Not so awesome was the toll that this writing endeavour took on my household… it pretty much imploded. The most important lesson I learned about myself this year is, that I have an obsessive brain. I can’t do anything in moderation, it seems. The plan for 2014 is in consequence, to get the derailed household train back on the tracks and find a way to do everything I like doing without letting anything else going downhill. Like, seeing friends, spending time with the man, writing, running around taking pictures and not turning this house of mine into a hellhole. Let’s see how this goes.

shopping experiment

The thing that stands between me and an oversized closet is the fact that shopping for clothes entails that you have to visit stores. And I don’t know why, but clothes shops are stuffy, narrow contraptions in which you can barely move. Then there are the changing rooms, gruesomely lit with unforgiving mirrors and nasty floors. So, my desire to venture into town, when it’s already hot to only get more hot and disheveled in the pursuit of finding fabric shells to wrap my body in, is more or less zero. No, it’s below zero, somewhere in the arctic regions of “No Way. Never. Not gonna happen.”

I actually love that big bad online retailer with an A for the fact that they spare me the hassle of having to run around town to find… basement shelving… spare parts for my toilet… bike parts… oh, and books on every matter I can think of. Right now I try to venture out a bit more to find other online shops, and I am very happy with design3000.

Being a skinny minny with an hourglass figure, I always thought that there’s no way to shop for clothes other than going into stores and try them on. But in my predicament I remembered that there’s one brand which always fits me like a glove. And I thought: What the heck, why don’t you try their online shop, for a change? Sending stuff back is less hassle than having to wrangle clothes in a changing room. Said and done, and I can declare this experiment a success. It is really nice to have all options, all colours and all sizes at your fingertips. You can sip tea while browsing the collection, getting inspired and finally making your choice. Then you have to wait a few days until your carefully selected parcel arrives, with your clothes still wrapped in sealed plastic bags. Nobody already had their grubby fingers on them, nobody had tried them on yet, they are all new and pristine. And they did fit like a glove. Consider me a convert.

that food thing

“You are soooo skinny!” I don’t know how often I hear that. Yes, I am. Always have been. And if you want to know the secret behind it: Don’t eat much. Especially not cake.

Truth to be told, I really do not eat much. My eating habits are sometimes frightfully bad. I won’t say I have a disorder, but I certainly could do better. Some weeks ago I read an article about an anorexic top manager. They included pictures of his weightloss process, and I had some sort of epiphany. The proverbial light bulb made “pling” and I finally understood my mom and what she means when she says: “You are too thin!!” His hollowed out cheeks made me realise that I’m not far away from this look AT ALL.

I did some research and figured out how much I would have to gain to get into the “healthy” range of the BMI: 4kg. Doesn’t sound too hard. Won’t hurt either. I know, people who struggle with their weight on the other side of the spectrum might find that enviable, but for people like me with no drive to eat much and a fast metabolism it’s not exactly easy to gain weight. I can’t look at a piece of chocolate and magically gain a pound. I could eat the whole bar and won’t see an effect.
Fun fact: If I would get out of the skinny range at all, I might have to gain 20kg. I can’t imagine how I would look like then.

I evaluated my eating habits, and found that I’m more likely to eat when it’s easily available. If I have to go shopping first, there’s a high possibility that my lazy self wins until I’m not hungry anymore. Yes, I know that is a hell of a lot scary. I also could eat more while at the office, although my eating habits are generally better and more regular on work days. So, planning might be a key.

Then I found that I naturally gravitate more towards food that’s not rich in calories. I LOVE vegetables. I rarely eat sweet stuff at all, except an occasional piece of cake at the office.

Conclusion: If I really want to gain these 4kg, I should plan, shop and prepare in advance, eat more regularly and more calory rich food. Ugh. But, being a responsible grown-up woman I might as well take good care of myself, and excuses are boring.

I recently got in that Bento trend for real, as the boyfriend didn’t object to get lunch packs from me. It’s easier to prepare stuff for two persons, so I simply have to add on to my lunch pack to turn it from one lunch into one lunch and two snacks. Preferably of the calory dense variety. Now I just have to find a solution for the dinner problem. Cooking when all I want to do is passing out on the sofa is haaaaard.

embracing your inner weirdo – or, i dyed my hair pink

I’ve always been a rather “unstyled” person, and until I discovered the unbeaten practicalness (Is that a word?) of dresses, I was very much a jeans and t-shirt girl. Still am, actually. But I always envied those refined girls with impeccable style who pulled off very unnatural hair colours. Say, a bright electric blue, a deep purple or a vibrant pink. But I never was a member of scenes where this is common, be it Punk, Rockabilly or New Wave/Goth/whatever the name of these dark cladded chaps nowadays is.

I’m known for my colourful way to dress. So much that it became some sort of trademark? Some people have a signature colour, and mine happens to be “rainbow”. A few months ago, an idea locgged itself into my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it… what if I would dye my hair pink? I googled it, I put some research in it, and I decided to let it rest. Hair colour is nothing that should be decided hurriedly, you might be stuck with it for a while. And as I’m not 15 anymore, where sporting drastic styles is way easier, I also had to consider the fact: I’m working in an office. A veeeery liberal/casual place, but still.

The problem with those dyes is – they require you to bleach your hair, if you want the really really vibrant results. A procedure I rather not do to my hair, because of length and unavoidable damage. After my afore mentioned boredom with my hair increased, I decided: What the heck, I try it anyway. The worst thing that could happen was that the dye is invisible. First tiny step was to just dip-dye my ends from my collarbones downwards, starting with a light colour and getting darker towards the tips. I ordered three different colours, from the brand La Riche Directions: Cerise, Flamingo Pink and on a whim Rose Red. Rose Red and Cerise look pretty much the same on my hair, with the Rose Red being a tick darker. Both produce a very dark, rich and almost purply Magenta, which I love. Flamingo Pink might turn into a classic Barbie kind of Pink, if you put it into bleached hair, I guess. With my healthy, dark blonde hair, it pulled off a totally different sort of trick: it turned into a soft, blondish sort of pink. And I liked that very much. It’s not Screaming in your face Pink, but still pink.

As I liked the results, the urge to dye my whole head grew. Maybe it’s the beginning of a midlife crisis, that middle class paradise with well-behaved kids I’m living in, or just me deciding that I finally don’t give a flying f*ck in tin can (I love that expression…) what other people might say/think about what sort of hair colour is age appropriate. And this afternoon, I gave in the urge and went ahead – with the Flamingo Pink. Unobtrusive, I don’t want to shock the bejesus out of my coworkers next week. But I might very well get darker soon. Oh yes.

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After the first round, with just the tips dyed.

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The results from this afternoon. As always, my hair refuses to be photographed and the pictures don’t do the real colour any justice. Especially not because I can’t be bothered to whip out a real camera and took the pics with the iPad.

The facts:
- Directions are only semi-permanent and don’t damage your hair. But that also means they wash out after a while.
- I ordered them online at a hair stuff website, but you might find them also in brick and mortar scene stores.
- Another brand with an equally wide range of colours is Manic Panic, if you can’t find Directions anywhere.
- Don’t wear your favourite clothes while dying your hair, and cover anything that isn’t easy to clean. That stuff stains like hell, and fast. I mean it!!! Seriously.
- I used white towels after washing it out, and with some of that oxigen bleach stuff the colour came out entirely, but I don’t know what would happen if you try it on coloured clothes.
- Some people also said that they had stained bedsheets, but that hasn’t happened to me yet.
- If you have very dark hair, you will have to bleach it first. It’s possible to use some of the darker colours in untreated blonde to light brown hair, but dark brown and darker won’t have any luck with those either.

how to get a new look without sacrificing hair length

I’m the walking, talking nightmare of any hairstylist. Because people with long hair are somehow fashion trend resistant. We don’t show up every other week to get a different cut or a new colour, we don’t need expensive extensions and we have something in abundance that most (women) don’t have when it comes to hair: patience.

But even long haired people can grow tired of their hair (or tired of mothers nagging at the hair…). Overwhelmed. Annoyed. Circling the scissors because of “Omfg why can’t you stay tanglefree for a goddamn 3 minutes!!!” tantrums when your hair feels like a haystack. There are moments of weakness when you don’t want to look like a milkmaid, but edgy, funky and modern instead.

Of course, cutting off all those years of waiting is not an option. But, yeah, I felt tired of those locks of mine, tickling my tailbone and looking… boring? After some research, I cut off… maybe like 5 cm but that didn’t really help. I fired up the intertubes and did some research, only to have one of those light bulb moments. My hair had the same length all around. I simply had to put in some layers to make it more interesting again! D’uh!

In the end I did cut off quite a lot in tiny steps, like 15cm overall because hiplength hair drives me mad. It’s still unbelievably long, if I trust my co-workers who always go bananas when I have it open (yay, my hair has a fanclub!) but not so heavy anymore. I also added some layers with the marvellously simple ponytail method demonstrated here and here. I also watched closely what these three ladies did and refined my front parts accordingly. Klick here, here and here.

To be honest, I had a lot of fun in scaring tweeps on Twitter with cryptic tweets about cutting off my hair… muhaha, naughty me, I know.

I’m extremly pleased with the results. It’s always a bit like open heart surgery to cut your hair yourself, but being able to go in teensy tiny steps until you reached the desired length is absolutely worth it. And I don’t have to trust a hairstylist, which is also a big plus for me. I even like to wear it open now, instead of always confine it into braids and buns and what not.

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It’s impossible to get a shot of your own hair from the back with those newfangled mobile devices, but this is how it looks from the front. Still all long and fluffy.

Now I’m ready to embark on another adventure: Adding colour! Stay tuned, as I have quite the mad plan…

PS: Another possibility in saving length but still cut off quite a bit is an extreme V-cut. I thought about it first, but as I still wanted to be able to braid it without having hair sticking out everywhere, this was not an option. Or you might go all Eighties and get it really short and spikey at the top and long in the back. Might look a bit like as if you have extensions though.