The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Waiter, there's a chicken in my yard!
We've had rain here for weeks on end. And where there was a small break, it was during the week when Dan and I were at work. As a result, the grass grew... and grew... and grew. It got to be bad enough that I was reluctant to walk across the lawn for fear of what would be hiding in the grass. Snakes? Rats? Wombats? (Wombats are cute critters but apparently, very ornery and they like to bite.)

Finally, after three washed out weekends, Dan was able to run the lawn mower through the grass (but not without some drama.) He scraped his finger on a tree. He straightened up as he mowed under a tree and konked himself on the head. He got oil on the air filter and the mower died which required a quick trip down to the lawn mower repair shop. Thankfully, they had the part that he needed.

The grass was so high, he had to run the mower over it twice - but the effort was worth it! No more hiding places for scary things! The lawn looks like green velvet. Dan was mighty proud of his work, and he called me over to the kitchen window to survey his lawn mowing prowess.

I was suitably impressed. The lawns did look good!

The native birds love it when Dan mows the lawn as well, as they come down and eat up the now exposed grass seed. Our lawn is often covered with rosellas and galahs after a mow. This time, however, there was one lone bird pecking for seed. It was a bird I hadn't really seen before in the wild. It was mainly white and walked in a strange, familiar way.

I looked at Dan. "I think that's a chicken," I exclaimed.

Dan looked at where I was pointing. "Are you sure," he asked.

"It sure looks like a chicken to me!" And the more we looked, the more we agreed it was a chicken. A feral chicken that had escaped its pen. It was an ugly chicken, too - white, scrawny and mottled. I decided that if it laid any eggs in our lawn, I was going to call dibs on them.

Dan went outside to investigate. The chicken, being a chicken, was startled and flew up into a tree. Not into a tree branch, but into the trunk of a tree, which stunned it and sent it back down to the ground where it fluttered for a bit and then took off again, clumsily returning to a neighbor's coop.

Dan stood there laughing. He and the chicken had something in common. They had both bonked their heads on our trees, and all in one afternoon!

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posted by Melanie O. at 1:14 PM - 1 comments
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Another Valentine's Day
I usually don't look forward to Valentine's Day. It's one of those contrived holidays used to sell cards, flowers and chocolates to mostly men who get guilted into feeling that they haven't shown their love for their partner enough in the past year. I like celebrating Girlfriends' Day instead.

I wasn't expecting anything, except perhaps a rose cut from one of my bushes, presented this morning with a cup of tea.

Now I feel ashamed that I doubted Dan.

This morning, he wished me a Happy Valentine's Day. I kissed him and wished him the same. And then he gave me a card and a gift.

The card was very sweet, and the gift was something that I had mentioned in passing a couple of weeks ago as one of those "Oh, that might be nice to try" off-hand only half-serious comments. He remembered that I had expressed an interest, and got it for me.

Bless him.

I took him to lunch. We went to a Chinese place. Chinese is not my first choice for meals out, but he loves it, so lunch was primarily for him. By coincidence, it's also Chinese New Year.

Happy Chinese Valentine's New Year everyone!

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posted by Melanie O. at 4:35 PM - 1 comments
Monday, February 01, 2010
D. I. Y. haircut - how I cut my own hair

I've been cutting my own hair for years. In the photo of me as a blonde in the right hand column and to the left, I'm sporting that style. I've worn the same style for years and it never seems to go out of fashion.

One day, I thought I'd go to the salon and get it professionally cut and colored. I walked away $200 poorer and not at all impressed. I went back to doing my own hair, and thought I'd share this with you since salon trips can be expensive. If you have a hairdresser you love - by all means, stick with what works, but if your stylist moved away, you're a bit brave and you need to do something in the interim of finding another one, you might want to try this (but don't do this if you don't feel confident. I don't want anyone coming back to yell at me because they stuffed it up.):

Wash your hair. It's so much easier to cut clean hair. Scissors tend to slip if there's oil in your hair. Dry hair until it's about 60% damp - not soaking wet, but not too dry either.

Step 1: to have hair layered around the ends with the hair in front about the same length in back - part your hair where you normally would, and gather your hair into a coated rubber band (do not use uncoated elastic unless you like tearing your hair,) to make a pony tail in the back. Do not put your hair behind your ears for this. Be sure that the elastic is fairly tight.

Step 2: Slide the band out to a little longer than the length you want your hair. Be sure to keep the band evenly down the middle of your back. It's easy, when you're trying to manoeuvre behind your head, to pull it to one side or another. You might want to have someone help you with this. Keep your hair as straight as possible - avoid bunching on one side or another. If you mess up, just re-do it. This is an important step and you need to get it right.

Step 3: Keeping the ponytail taught and using a SHARP pair of scissors, cut straight across your hair, just outside the band, so that the cut ends fall away, but you don't lose the band.

Step 4: Remove the coated band and part your hair down the middle of the back of your head. Comb hair around to your shoulders on either side of your head. Use your scissors to cut straight across to even up any ends. Check both sides to make sure they are the same length. Do not tilt your head to one side or the other while you do this, or your hair will be uneven.

Step 5: To layer hair around your face - Using your coated elastic again, bend over at the waist and pull your hair up into the band to make a pony tail directly on the top of your head. Slide the elastic straight up and out so that it's about one inch from the ends and then cut straight across outside the elastic. Remove the elastic and let your hair fall back around your face.

Step 6: Blow dry and/or straighten your hair if you wish, or scrunch it up to bring out the waves. Done!

If you want to add bangs/fringe, be careful to cut them longer than the final length that you want, as your hair is quite "stretchy" when it's wet and will shorten up as it dries. Most people look better when fringe is lightly layered and the ends are "cut into" versus cutting straight across. To use this technique, you need a small pair of SHARP scissors (nail scissors work great for this) and cut at a 45 degree angle, chopping into the ends of your fringe all the way across so that they look soft, and not blunt.

I use all of these steps and have for years. A woman's magazine (whose name I've long forgotten) published a version of this DIY cut  years ago. This is just a variation that's easy to do and works for many lengths of hair.

Short Variation: If you want to wear a bob, don't slide the elastic out very far for the first pony tail. The closer it is to your scalp, the more tapering you'll get in the back. The same goes for the second pony tail. The closer it is to your scalp, the more exaggerated the tapering you'll have (and the shorter it will be). Don't forget to touch up any strays.

Angled Variation: If you want the front shorter then tapering down to the back (1940's style), bend over and comb all your hair forward and make your first ponytail on your forehead, at the hairline, and then slide the band out to the length you want for the front. Be sure to angle upward and outward as you slide the band out (don't slide it straight downward), so that it's lined up with your ears. Hair should remain straight, with the elastic positioned over the middle of your head with no sections that are slack. Cut outside the band, and then follow steps 4 - 6.

Warning: once you get it right for yourself, you may never let anyone else ever cut your hair again.


posted by Melanie O. at 4:06 PM - 2 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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