The Liebster Award

Hi Everybody!
The lovely Phantom Cat gave me the "Liebster Award", which, in addition to being incredibly sweet, also gave me something convenient to blog about.

The Rules.

  • Each person must post 11 things about themselves
  • Answer the questions the tagger has set for you
  • Create 11 questions for the people you have tagged to answer
  • Choose 11 people and link them in your post
  • Go to their page and tell them
  • No tag backs
As per usual I am going to be a rebel, sort of.  I am so late in posting this and have seen this award going around and have not kept tabs on who has gotten it, so, if you are reading this consider yourself tagged! (that is, um, if you don't mind)

11 Things about Me!
  1. I technically own and regularly use three different e-readers
  2. Despite this I usually buy physical copies of all the books I really like (generally used though), because I worry about the longevity of e-books, the fact that I own a license to the content when I own an e-book, not the content itself, and whether or not I will be able to read them during the zombie apocalypse or wevs
  3. Yes, I think that during the zombie apocalypse my primary concern will be whether or not I have something to read, thankyouverymuch.
  4. I have black nail polish in every conceivable format (crackle, glitter, magnetic, nail art pen, transparent glaze), but regular nail polish.
  5. I am nearly 27, but did not realize until a few weeks ago when I started working on some videos that I have a slight lisp.  I do not know what this particular lack of self-awareness says about me.
  6. I'm going to go ahead and answer one of my questions (see below) and say I like the internet, and given a choice between having a jet-pack vs the internet I want the internet.
  7. Actually given the choice between most things in golden age sci-fi and the internet I want the internet.  I mean, who wants sentient robots (I'm having a hard enough time getting a job as it is without having to compete with someone who can be programmed to do my job perfectly and 24/7) or to go to Mars (it's super-cold there), and I don't know anyone I would trust with a time machine.
  8. I may not be the target demographic for golden age scifi.
  9. To shift directions radically, my current life goals legitimately involve living in a yurt.
  10. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main thing that I keep coming back to is that, with some curved shelving, I could have 360 degrees of books! (well, like 352, minus the section needed for the door).
  11. I am currently working on a novel that is a re-telling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" where instead of sneaking out every night to go to dance parties they are plotting a rebellion, and I am finding the hardest part is coming up with a decent title so the working title is just Dance, Dance, Revolution.  I am kind of sad there is no chance of keeping that
Answers to Phantom Cat's Questions

  1. Your first goth band? I actually started to listen to a bunch of goth music all at the same time, but the first band I got really into was probably Dead Can Dance
  2.  New or early batman movies? I love the new ones.  I am a little trepidatious about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, but I am going to hold off judgement until I actually see it.  I am really excited about seeing The Dark Knight Rises since I saw bits and pieces of the filming last summer (several scenes were filmed in and around my office building). Pittsburgh is Gotham now!
  3. The longest you have ever gone without sleep? There were a few times in college when I stayed up all night (never for a good reason either), but I think probably no more than 24 hours.  I have never been super into not sleeping, and actually sleep a good eight hours through most of college and all of grad school.
  4.  What are your phobias? I am very afraid of heights and somewhat of dogs.  I used to be very afraid of dogs because when I was very young a nasty neighbor dog just bit me when I was in the middle of petting it, but now am really only afraid when they are barking at me.
  5. Tea or coffee? Tea, I have a whole cupboard of different kinds.
  6. The one country in the world you would love to visit?  currently I think Iceland tops the list but I kind of want to go to ALL THE PLACES!
  7. Is you hair natural or dyed? Dyed, naturally *wink*
  8.  Any body modifications you would never consider getting done? Loads, scarification freaks me way out as does tongue splitting.  I think I am to lazy to commit to the process of ear-stretching.
  9.  Your most hated tv show. I don't know.  Since I don't have a TV I don't randomly come across shows, so I only watch things I like.  My most hated TV plot-line is the now standard detective drama thing where the main male character and female character start out hating each other then fall in love then spend like five seasons not dealing with it.  It worked (up to a point) for Mulder and Scully because their characters and plots were reasonably well constructed to explain why they didn't just kiss already, but it is officially played out.
  10. What book are you reading at the moment? The Books of Lost Things by John Connolly 
  11. What do you do to chill out after a long day? Mostly I dick around on the internet...
11 Questions for y'all (I am mostly re-using questions from a similar meme on tumblr) sure to peer into your very soul!:

  1. You can only choose one book to take with you to go live on a deserted island, what is that book? (It can be an anthology, and it can also be a book on how to survive on a desert island but I am going to suspect that no one will pick that because then you’d be bored — with ceviche) 
  2. While I am at it, what is the best kind of nail polish and why?
  3. Since I already went there, which MLP are you?
  4.  Would you rather be respected or generally enjoyed? 
  5. Which is the most useless Pokemon?
  6.  Cake or Death?
  7.  Golden age science fiction predicted that by now we would have jet-packs, but not the internet, is this a good trade or do you want jet-packs? 
  8. Speaking of, pretend you are James Tiberius Kirk, which alien species or hybrid is the most fun in bed (feel free to use species from TNT, DS9, or Voyager as well)?
  9.  What is the proper way to brew/serve tea? 
  10. The “Nevermind” baby is old enough to buy booze legally in the US, does this make you think: a)shit I’m old, or b) what is a nevermind baby?
  11.  Best Disney heroine (including but not exclusively princesses)?
PS: I am working on my video shooting and editing skills for a project, so I made a thing! It is a hair tutorial for side braids and a fancy bun, so check it out if you want:
It has some annotations that don't seem to survive the embedding process so you may wish to watch it on youtube.

Category: 3 comments

Clikcy-Links on Styles for Long Hair

Currently I am in a phase where I am bored with all my normal hairstyles and want to learn more new ones.  It happens periodically, but I thought I should turn this impulse into something useful and share some of my favorite resources with all of you.

I am a very visual learner, especially for things I need to do, like hairstyles or crafts, so I have been spending a lot of time on youtube.  Here are some of my favorite channels, in order, from shortest to longest, of how long your hair has to be to do the average style on the channel.  For me a good channel for hair videos is one with clear instructions, decent image quality, interesting an varied styles, with styles that can be done on yourself and don't require a lot of product or heat styling, and that shows what the finished style looks at the beginning so you don't have to watch a nine-minute video and then discover you don't actually like how it looks.

Dolly-Tube: She creates beautiful unique styles, often incorporating interesting braids, and gives clear easy to follow instructions. I also find it charming how she calls her styles "hair ideas" which I think sort of demystifies the whole process of inventing your own hair styles "oh, this was just idea I had and so I messed around with it". I am actually currently wearing this style:
Loepsie: this channel features a good mix of contemporary/currently popular styles with historical or film-inspired looks.  She has also recently started a series of historical makeup tutorials.  The first one is about Ancient Egypt and if you can get over the lols of her describing what I would call weekday eyeliner "extreme" it's interesting and informative:
Arrow Oden is my favorite for styles that are more suited for everyday wear that are attractive but easy to learn and do.  I also find her speaking manner charming (although how much of that is my typically american tendency to think most non-chavvy English accents make a person seem more pleasant I don't know).
Finaly 4ypn0tica, has much, much longer hair than mine so I can't make a few of the styles she does (or they just look completely different), but when I can these are really my favorites.  They are clear and easy to follow, and generally have great music.  So mostly it is my more "aspirational" pick.

As far as non-Youtube resources
Rapunzel's Resource has lots of good, relatively easy styles and good instructions.
Ups and Downs is another favorite hair blog, focusing on historical styles.  She doesn't seem to be updating any more, but there is a pretty good sized archive to browse.
When you have a lot of time for browsing you can go through this ridiculously long list of hairstyle links.

I hope that is useful for some of y'all.  This is kind of a drive-by post, but I will be posting more soon.  I have been working on a major project that hopefully some of you will enjoy, but it will be under wraps until August, probably.

Category: 3 comments

Black with Red Accents

I bought this dress in a recent raid of the Target online clearance section. I wasn't necessarily expecting much from a 7$ dress, except being comfy and work-appropriate, but this turns out to be one of the most flatteringly-cut dress I own.  The kimono sleeve is surprisingly flattering and the waist actually hits at just the right place for an empire-style.  That's not something that happens very often when you are tall and somewhat busty.  Also, just FYI, a huge amount of Target's plus-sized women's clothes are sold online only (which makes so much sense right, I mean, the average women's size in America is 16, so you clearly can't afford to keep them in stock in all your stores when they are a niche market...of  half of all women..shut up, that's why), so if you never find anything interesting in the stores, check online.  I decided to add red accessories and makeup for Red and Black week (and because I like the look of red accents with a black outfit.

You'll have to excuse the somewhat bedraggled expression.  I thought I was running late because I somehow didn't pay attention to the hour on my clock and rushed to get ready only to show up an hour early for work (which is not good if you are an hourly rather than salaried employee).  I'm still not 100% sure what happened there.  Anyway...

My earrings and necklace are both from the Art of Adornment Sanguine collection, a great source for all your red and black needs.  The bead in the earrings looks dark here, but when it catches the light it is a deep, pure red

For my eye makeup I used Geek Chic's Blood Bond, a semi-matte brick red, in the crease and Shiro Cosmetics' Ganondorf, an iridescent, almost black red along the line and under the lid, with my trusty black creme eyeliner from Sephora, of course.

Category: 8 comments

Dyeing your hair with Henna and Indigo: a slightly abstract open to Red and Black week

I recently started dyeing my hair with henna and indigo again after a short absence and had the idea of posting a probably overly detailed tutorial.  I decided to save it for Sophitique Noir's wonderful Red and Black week because you use henna to dye hair red and indigo to dye it black, and I am abstract and a little cheesy like that. I promise there will be outfit posts to follow. I have dyed my hair this way for more than six years, with a short break because I thought I wanted to go back to my natural hair color, and then to make sure I wanted to go back to it (more on that later).

Why or Why not dye with henna and/or indigo:
The benefits are that it is: not just not harmful but actually really good for most hair types, also better for your scalp, less toxic to you and the environment than chemical dyes, and can be fun!  Additionally I have read that these dyes act as mild relaxers on natural African hair (but can't corroborate that from my own experience, obvs.) and are obviously much less damaging than chemical relaxers.
The drawbacks: it really is potentially messy, kind of smelly, way more time consuming, and results are a bit unpredictable (no, you won't turn your hair green unless you have bought something that isn't really henna from an unscrupulous dealer).  Personally, I enjoy the process, it's kind of like turning your hair into an extended science process, and consider it self-care time.  The main thing to consider however, is that neither henna nor indigo can be bleached out and attempting to do so will fundamentally damage the structure of your hair (I had clumps of hair literally melt off in my hands).  They will fade somewhat (indigo more so than henna), and you can always dye over them to get a darker color, but generally the only way to get rid of the color is to cut it out.

I have started dying my hair dark auburn and will explain that process in detail, then will add notes on how to get straight red or pure black hair.

  • Enough henna and indigo (2:1 ratio) to cover hair (100 grams will cover the same amount of hair as a box of chemical dye, so guesstimate from there.  I use 250 grams to cover bra-strap length, medium thick hair)
  • Lemon juice, purchased,  hand-squeezed provides no benefit and must be carefully strained so in generally more trouble than it's worth for this. 
  • A glass or ceramic bowl large enough to hold the mix (preferably glass as ceramic can stain)
  • a wooden or plastic utensil for mixing.  I use wooden chopsticks (never use anything metal)
  • A truly ridiculous amount of plastic wrap
  • Optional add-ins that are worth your time: cocoa butter and/or shea butter, about 1/2 oz per 100 grams of henna to make the mix even more beneficial for your hair (I started using this after trying Lush's henna, which is mostly not worth it but adding cocoa butter was a good idea), and essential oils that blend well with the smell of henna, I like jasmine and ylang-ylang
  •  Add-ins that are NOT worth your time: spices such as cloves and ginger which are supposed to intensify the color but do no such thing and can irritate your scalp, some people use many different liquids such as tea, coffee, or wine, in the belief that this effects the color, but they mostly don't.  Wine gives the color a very temporary nudge in the direction of purple, but meh.  Coffee and tea don't seem to do anything and since I leave my henna on overnight and caffeine can be absorbed through the skin....
Choosing a brand of henna: what makes a henna good or bad is the concentration of pigment (something you can't tell until you have tried it normally) and the fineness or coarseness of the sift.  Most of the major complaints henna n00bs have can be attributed to buying henna that has a really coarse sift, which just makes it harder to get in your hair (especially if it is thick), harder to wash out, and generally give poorer results.  Most of the kinds you can find in places like Whole Foods (Light Mountain, Rainbow, or Avigal brands for instance) are super coarse and terrible.  In fact, if henna comes in colors, miss that brand, that is almost always a sign or crappy quality.  Sometimes the best are the kind you get for a few bucks at an Indian grocery (or Amazon), Jamila is for instance high quality always, just make sure it says "100% henna" or "100% inidgo" and do a test swatch when using a new brand.  Another reliable shop, actually they have the best quality of anything I've used; I am just usually too cheap.

Step 1: Mix henna with just enough lemon juice to moisten
add a wee bit of water and allow to sit for a few hours to allow the dye to release.

Step 2: Add indigo and cocoa butter then stir in enough very hot water (just below boiling) for the mixture to have the approximate consistency of sour cream

Step 3: Let cool for about half an hour, but less than an hour.  Stir in any essential oils at this point.

Step 4: Rub petroleum jelly along your hairline, ears, and probably whole neck

I am a cone head
Step 5: Put mix on your head.  Generally just section out your hair and, starting from the bottom/ at the neck squish mixture into your hair.  Make sure all your hair and the roots are well covered and pile your hair on the top of your head and cover with a crazy amount of plastic wrap.  Mild heat helps the process so, if you can stand it, wrap a towel or something around as well.

Step 6: Leave in for as long as you can stand.  Generally if you can't leave it in for at least an hour don't bother.  Fours hours seems to be the sort of max time for really intense color and longer than that doesn't impact the color that much.  I generally leave it on overnight, because that is the most convenient, and I have enough hair that the weight of it covered in henna paste is hard to deal with for any length of time in any position but lying down.

Step 7: wash out.  I find that after an initial rinse out, adding conditioner to my hair makes the rest rinse out actually very easily.  Dry and style as usual
I am modeling this hair with my Applejack Ketylo hairsticks to add something to the Red and Black theme)
I ultimately want it redder than this but just as dark, so I may dye with just henna next time, but not necessarily.  An important thing to know about henna is that the color builds so that the first time you use it, it may be a pretty mild color change, but do it a few times and it will be more intense.  This is a few years of pure henna dyeing, and it was more atomically red in real life.

To dye hair black: If your hair is light (let's say medium brown or lighter) follow the steps to dye with henna (the lemon juice, wait, add more water, put in hair), only leaving henna in for about an hour, rinse out, dry, then dye with indigo (mix indigo with just water, put in hair without letting sit) and let sit for as long another hour.  The pure color or henna is red-orange, and indigo is green-blue.  If you just use indigo on light hair, it will be green-ish (that's probably what happened to Anne of Green Gables, unless she had adulterated dye), so the henna cancels out that unfortunate tint to give a neutral black.  If your hair is darker you may be able to skip the henna step for a dark, blue-black.  Do a test swatch.

To dye hair red: Leave out the indigo (yeah, pretty obvious) otherwise following the above instructions and note what I said above about how the color builds.  Since henna is good for your hair, if you want intense red ASAP there is no reason you can't dye it ever weekend (or day to be honest) until you get it like you like it.
This is my goal color, FYI

Category: 4 comments

OOTD: Casual Friday

I am still trying to get back into regular blogging after my unintentional hiatus.  I had gotten out of the habit of reading/seeing/buying/wearing something and thinking "my blog will hear about this" and am still trying to get back into that in order to have content and such.  I am also starting to get ready to move and all my normal photographing spots are a mess.  Anyway....

Since my office doesn't have a dress code at all we don't actually have casual Friday, but I've noticed everyone seems to informally observe one anyway.  Also, as today is Geek Pride day* it seemed like a good time for one of my work-appropriate geeky t-shirts.

 The skirt is one of a few pieces I got from the relatively new online plus-sized boutique Domino's Dollhouse.  If you haven't heard of them before I recommend checking them out.  The styles are generally pretty gothabilly and punk and some randoms, kind of reminiscent of early Torrid, however totally unlike torrid the clothes are well-made out of decent quality fabrics (I have seen way to many polyester a-line skirts going for 50$+ at Torrid. There is a lot of discussion about the advisability of wearing dark colors in summer, but synthetic fabrics are the real enemy).  I also recently got these grey and black striped tights (thigh highs, actually) which are really great subtle stripy tights.  I included the weirdly moody photo below just because it was the only one where the tights showed up.

Outfit Details:
Shirt: Think Geek
Skirt: Domino's Dollhouse
Tights: Foot Traffic brand via Sock Dreams

I also wore my new favorite hairstyle: a dutch-braid bun.  It makes it look like I have a huge amount of hair and is classic looking but still interesting.

*the combined holiday commemorating Towel Day, the Glorious 25 May, and the release of Star Wars and celebration of all things geeky.  Towel Day may be my favorite but I have yet to figure out how to visibly incorporate a towel into a work appropriate outfit, so that's strictly after hours.
Category: 3 comments

Dressing for an Interview

Mostly how I am not sure how to do it.  The world of job searching is full of all sorts of random, seemingly magical, and often contradictory advice, leaving a poor random recent graduate like me with no idea what is true.  It is also largely geared towards the business world, which is not really my field.  I've recently been able to cut out a lot of the noise with the site Hiring Librarians, which is fantastic and simply a series of interviewers with the actual people who make hiring decisions at libraries.  I know since I started reading it regularly my cover letters and resume have dramatically improved, but the question of how to dress for an interview hass, if anything, gotten more confusing.  A huge number of the interviewees list dressing "too casually" as a common mistake, but what does that mean? Should I wear a suit?  Crap, I don't actually own a suit.  Then I will read someone saying a common mistake is "dressing too casually, like some people show up in flip-flops".  Right, I wasn't really ever considering showing up to an interview in flip-flops. The most formal library staff I have ever seen still only dress in "business casual" wear, so I figure, slightly nicer/more conservative than that should be fine.  I do however, have a pretty weak grasp on what normal people consider normal clothes.  So, here are the outfits I am most strongly considering, your feedback and general comments are very much appreciated.

This is my personal top pick.  It is dressy, but interesting and not at all revealing.  On the left I wear it with a sweater since I may soon be interviewing in Maine where it is usually in the 50's this time of year. I'm wearing it with some earrings that have a bit of vellum from a medieval copy of the Justitnian Code.  I don't know if the print is a bit too funky or the whole thing is too casual.

This is a generally safe outfit.  I wear it to work pretty regularly, but it is one of the nicer outfits I would ever wear to my job.  I think it might qualify as "too" casual, but the skirt is fancy and I just really don't know.
This one may be a little too odd, as a coat-dress it risks looking like I am just not taking off my coat, but in other respects it's very much the most conservative piece I own (I mean, it's even navy).

And shoes!  I mean, obviously no flip-flops, but as someone who is nearly six feet tall, are high heels off the table?  Here are my options:
I think the heels are the best option, otherwise maybe the boots?  I suspect the glitter flats are not a good idea.  My shoe collection seems to be failing me now.
Category: 10 comments

I do silly things so you don't have to!

Silly thing the First:
For many years I have been studiously hiding the dark secret that I am actually blond.  After layers of dye and integrating root touch-ups as part of my life I can almost forget this shameful fact.....  Except those moments when I don't have any makeup and want to just put on pants and run the store for ice cream at 10 at night and realize that my eyebrows are several shades lighter than my hair and look decidedly weird.  I could either take two minutes to apply brow gel or decide I don't care if the Giant Eagle stock boy knows my terrible secret.  Not anymore!
I spent a few hours like that yesterday to dye my eyebrows with henna.  Normal dye is both more runny and toxic so, you know, you can go blind (even I am not so lazy at 10 at night to think it is worth it).  The chance of going blind doing this seemed pretty low, but I am not a doctor, so you probably shouldn't try this at home.  I ordered samples of Twilight henna and indigo from, mixed them up together into a fairly thick paste and left them sit while I was at work, then applied petroleum jelly around my eyebrows, applies the henna/indigo paste on the brows, and covered with saran wrap for a few hours.  Apparently I killed the indigo by mixing it up to far before applying it, so they came out lighter than they should have.
before on left and after on right

I don't think any objective assessment would allow me to conclude that it was worth the trouble, but I will probably still do it again, because I am stubborn and want to get the indigo thing right

Silly thing the second:
I made a dress with no pattern and a sort of vague notion of how I should go about it.  I think it turned out fine, but I had to remake several parts and keep adjusting the fit.  Honestly, a really simple maxi dress really shouldn't have been this much trouble, and wouldn't have been had I spent ten minutes on google looking up maxi dress tutorials.  Still, Gorey print maxi-dress:

and with a sweater!