Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Obsession of the Day: Charlie Chaplin!

     I know I'm supposed to have the weekly obsession on Fridays, but I can't wait that long! My obsession today is all things Charlie Chaplin. You heard of him?

(all photos from Google :)

     Ever since my brother recommended the 1992 film Chaplin, starring (genius) Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, I've been extremely interested and mystified by one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. Watching silent films may seem like a drag, but the minute watched his movies I was hooked. You can find any of Chaplin's films on YouTube in seconds flat, and trust me, they are true art. He definitely paid great attention to his work; every detail is full of weight, emotion, and humor. My favorites so far are The Kid (1921) and Modern Times (1936). There's something about these films that is just so magical; they engage the mind, imagination, and emotions in ways that modern movies rarely do. Charlie Chaplin's work bursts with comic genius one minute, heartbreaking weight the next. He was truly gifted. 
     The aforementioned biopic Chaplin shows how his life affected his work and vice versa. The movie is a definite favorite of mine, except for a few very not so favorite, sketchy scenes that are easily skipped. Otherwise it's a haunting, touching story of a haunting, touching man. 

     My other related obsession is the song "Smile". Below is a video of Josh Groban singing it (the song + the singer = perfection :o). Charlie Chaplin wrote the melody to "Smile" (it is part of the soundtrack in Modern Times), but the lyrics weren't added until about twenty years later. If you've watched the movie Chaplin or know anything about his life, the song is poignantly perfect. 

     So that's it for my obsession! I hope it becomes yours too, because honestly, who doesn't want to be obsessed with silent films? Crazy people, that's who. :) Have a splendid day! And don't forget to SMILE! :)


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflections of a Stranger in Paradise

     Another short season of my life has begun: the break season. I finished this past semester with a few flying colors and a few not-so-flying colors, but I count survival as the most important thing. :o) And now for six weeks I am class and homework free! Whew!

     I've been thinking a lot about life in general. So if I ramble on, bear with me. :) I hate when life speeds on by. I hate when I go from one day to the next just going through the motions of what I have to do: get up, get dressed, drive, work, eat, drive, sleep, drive, check Facebook. I hate not being able to sit down and just think. I'm the kind of person who has to process what's going on. I can't fly from one thing to the next, day by day by day. When I do, I feel like big chunks of my life are missing. Does anyone else feel that way? So that's why this post is a bit more serious and reflective, if you were wondering. I need a breather :)

     Christmas is nine days away, but it doesn't feel like it at all. There's no snow! Pennsylvania weather is weird :o) I took this photo last week, and believe me, it's an unusual sight for a PA December. There's actually sunshine!

     The coming holiday is another reason for my desire to process my thoughts. I hate how Christmas comes and goes in a cacophony of songs, colors, and lights, but the messages it stands for never stick. It's on to the next thing. Our world is funny that way, always on to the next thing. 

     Did you ever realize how much attention the culture pays to Christmas (the holiday where you get things), while completely blowing over Thanksgiving (the holiday where you're thankful for things)? And Christmas was never supposed to be about getting at all. It represents God giving us a great and precious gift. But instead we turn it into the holiday that celebrates materialism. I think that every holiday is meant to be an opportunity for thanks. Too bad society doesn't see it that way. Too bad I don't always see it that way.

     So I guess that my ultimate wish is that I never lose touch with myself and who I need to be. It's so easy to get caught up in how the world thinks things should be - Christmas is an excellent example. I want to always be refusing the identity that the world may give me. I want to instead have the identity I was meant to have - the identity God planned for me to have. The title of this blog is symbolic, I suppose. I'm just a stranger in a beautiful created paradise, trying to figure life out a day at a time. I don't have all the answers, but I know Someone who does :)

     So sorry if this post was rambly and confusing. It's just what's been on my mind. I've decided to be more transparent, even if no one reads or cares. Frankness never hurt anyone; pretension never helped anyone. 

     So have a splendid day and a blessed week! I pray that Christmas doesn't blow over you in an overwhelming commercialized wave, but that you have a chance to stop, savor, and enjoy every taste of it. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Obsession of the Week: Polyvore!

     Sorry I didn't post this yesterday; my obsession yesterday was the fact that my sweetheart decided to pay me a surprise visit back from school! What a merry early Christmas present! :D

     My obsession of the week, however, has been something quite different: Polyvore! I had heard of it before, here and there, but once I signed up there was no going back! It's so sweet! It makes it so easy and fun to put together inspiration for different outfits or events. Here is a peek at some of my creations:

"Coral and Cream"

"Roaring 20s"

"Tea and Marmalade"

Have you tried Polyvore? What do you think? Let me know! I'd love to follow you and explore all the beautiful prettiness that you've created! Follow me (Han-Hanneli) here.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Obsession of the Week: Stitchery

     Holy Cow, it's Friday already? It was just Friday yesterday!

     So my obsession this week has been knitting and crocheting; some friends helped rekindle my joy in stitchery. I'm making some knitted/crocheted goods as Christmas presents, and despite this being the last week of classes (and the week before finals), I'm making quite a bit of progress!

     For example, I finished this beret in 5 days (probably the shortest amount of time it's ever taken me to finish anything. Ever.)

     I've also recently discovered this new yarn called "Sashay", which is a wide pre-woven yarn that yields sumptuous ruffly scarves. It's a little tricky to knit with at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's so fun!

So that's it for my weekly obsession! What are yours? Have you decided to handcraft anything this Christmas season? Have you tried out the Sashay yarn? Let me know!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Pinterest Christmas Crafties: Episode 1

I am so proud of myself! I actually got around to trying out a Pinterest idea, and it worked! This is joyous news indeed :)

This was the inspiration I've showed you before. And this:

...was my rendition. Read on to see how it's done! (sorry about the iffy pictures; I was using my phone and had bad lighting :o)

Step 1: I clicked on the Pinterest photo, which brought me to this blog. I downloaded the letters and printed them off.

Step 2: I took the old book I showed you earlier:

It was hard to bring myself to rip pages out of this. I love old books. The only thing that let me do it was the fact that this book is so darn boring. I know it's a classic and all, but it's really, really, boring. Otherwise I could've never brought myself to use such a beautiful old book. I (carefully, since the elderly thing is quite frail) ripped out nine pages.

Step 3: Punch two holes in the top. I would suggest using a large hole punch or maybe making several punches to make the holes bigger (as I had to do later), because I eventually threaded ribbon through the holes, and the frail paper ripped in places.

Step 4: Make triangular cuts on the bottom of each page to give it a banner look.

Step 5: Cut out the black letters. It's important to be very careful and cut them out nearly perfectly; this will ensure that the project looks finished and pretty-like :)

Step 6: Paste the letters onto the book pages. Don't they look lovely??

Step 7: I used gold organza ribbon to thread through the letters, but you could use satin ribbon or even fabric! Anything vintage and Christmas-ey :o)

And yer done!

This is a super simple project that yields beautiful results. There's such a satisfaction in something looking decent the first time you make it!! This is a rarity for little old OCD me, so I'm enjoying it!! :o)


Sunday, December 2, 2012


As far as weekends go, this one was pretty productive. And to a procrastinator (such as myself), any unexpected productivity is cause for rejoicing!

I got to wash my car after an embarrassing amount of time since it was last washed, and I got to try out an idea I found on Pinterest. Apparently washing headlights with toothpaste clears hazy lights. Well I tried it, and:
Do you see a difference? Please tell me you do!
The results were a bit disappointing, but the difference was there... just easier to see in person :o) I think if I had left the paste on for an hour or so, the results would have been much more dramatic. Pinterest conveniently left that out :)

I also revived my fervor for crocheting after getting a cute beret pattern from a friend. I think I'll make a couple for Christmas presents; pictures to come :)

And remember this?

Well, I got to recreate it today!!! So exciting! I'll post pictures of the process tomorrow or Tuesday. It was super easy and super fun! I've discovered that I love working with old books... the possibilities are endless!

Hope your weekend was splendid! Have a great week!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Obsession of the Week: Christmas Crafties

I'll start this post out with a disclaimer: I am really tired and not responsible for what comes out of my fingertips. I've had a doozy of a day! :o)

I thought about starting a weekly "series" (I guess you could call it?) called "Obsession of the Week", which is pretty self-explanatory. I often find myself not just liking something, but being (reasonably) obsessed with it, and I thought blogging about it would be a fun way to share ideas (and maybe offer myself a source of therapy :o)

So my weekly obsession for this past week was Christmas crafts. I've been perusing Pinterest, and here's what I've found (click on the pictures to find the links):

Rustic Christmas Candles
Gah!!! My favorite idea ever!!!

So doing this!!

Christmas Printables- Joy to the World Banner- Today's Creative Blog
...and this!!

So what are your obsessions this week? Let me know! :)


Monday, November 19, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: (way past) Day 8

     Don't be angry; I've been busy! life is crazy. School, work, church, homework, and procrastinating all add up to one doozy of a busy life. In the midst of it all, however, you'll be glad to know that I haven't used shampoo at all. I've got a little routine down: Wash with baking soda and vinegar (that sounds very chemistry class-y) on Fridays, and then wash with conditioner on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, taking no-hair-wash showers in between.
     Guess what? My hair has gotten better! It now takes 3-4 days to get as greasy as it used to in only 1 or 2. My hair feels healthier and more manageable. I used to straighten my bangs all the time to keep them from going all 80's on me. Now I've put away my straightener for good! My hair is shinier and softer. I'm due to get a trim pretty soon, which will just add to the wonderfulness. :o)
     My favorite trick now is to braid my hair in two cute l'il French braids on each side, spritzing with spray gel. In the morning I have soft, shiny waves that work their kinks out in no time! I love it! I'm going to start trying to work up to only a week per wash, probably with the soda/vinegar concoction. Strange as it may seem, this really is awesome stuff. The first time I used it (on actual Day 8... ha), my hair felt so soft afterward. It was wonderful. Here's how to recreate the magic:

Step 1: Mix baking soda and water together to make a paste (above). Make enough of this to use on your head :o)

Step 2: Mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar (if you use 100% ACV, you'll smell like a salad ;).

In the shower, scrub your scalp with the baking soda paste. remember that this doesn't lather easily and all pretty-like like shampoo does; it feels chalky and almost dry on your hair when you try to scrub. But it does clean like a dream. Use a wide-toothed comb to get the stuff all through your hair, and then rinse off. It rinses pretty easily. 

Next, pour the vinegar solution over your scalp to rinse the hair. I also rinse with water afterward, since the vinegar smell does hang around. :)

And yer done! Style hair as usual (I use suave smoothing cream or spray gel), and enjoy your naturally clean, soft locks!

Look, I voted!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: Day 7

Tomorrow (day 8) my boyfriend will be coming home from college in New York to spend the weekend. Thankfully it is also the day when I GET TO WASH MY HAIR!!!! I've decided to try the baking soda 'shampoo' and vinegar rinse. We'll see how it goes :o)
Actually, despite my hair being on the greasy side, I can see how shiny and glossy it is, and this is probably because of the oil. I don't think it looks that bad. I definitely think that by next week, the greasiness will taper off and my hair will just be 'oily' enough to be nicely soft :) This is my hope anyway...


The No-Wash Challenge: Day 6

Sorry I keep getting behind on my posts, guys! :}
Yesterday it was all I could do not to pour a bucket of Herbal Essences on my head and scrub away! But I held fast to the challenge and instead used some of the Suave dry shampoo, which I suppose did something. My hair felt on the greasy side all day, despite repeated brushings with the bristle brush. Oddly enough, the moment when it felt the least oily was after a very sweaty Zumba workout (which, by the way, was a blast!) - see photo.
I know this all sounds pretty gross, but rest assured that I am keeping clean. My hair is in the transition stage, and that's never fun. But think about all the people down through the ages who never had access to shampoo or hairdryers. Their hair turned out fine; it was probably better off! I just have to keep reminding myself that this too shall pass... And I hope it hurries up!! :o)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: Day 5

Oh dear, I knew I forgot something! Sorry to post so late! But there's really nothing to say... My hair is yucky :o) I'm just hopefully getting good at hiding it! Picture later... Oh dear ;)


Monday, October 22, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: Day 4

Today I caved and "washed" my hair. Not with shampoo, and not even really with conditioner either. I rinsed my scalp thoroughly with water and then just washed my dry ends with conditioner, leaving some extra on the ends as a leave-in. Although the roots were a little oily, just rinsing made the hair on the scalp pretty soft and shiny. I also used some Suave smoothing cream on the ends and spray gel everywhere else. Unfortunately, my hair feels unruly, but it does make a mean Katniss braid! :D


Sunday, October 21, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: Day 3

Today my roots started greasy, the ends dry. My hair feel limp and blah. I hope this ends soon! I brushed it smooth this morning and then twisted it into a messy bun for church. It hid the ends and looked pretty cute, if I do say so. :)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The No-Wash Challenge: Day 2

Today was the second day after the big brou-ha-ha wash. Usually my roots would be starting to get greasy, but so far they're still pretty soft. I straightened my bangs and pulled up my hair this morning for work at the coffee shop, and when I got home I plaited my hair into a simple braid. In summary, my hair was good today. I used some water, spray gel, and hairspray and so far it's been treating me kindly! Good hair!


The No-Wash Challenge: Day 1

My hair is naturally curly, and for years I've lamented how difficult it is. My hair is moody at best. Some days it's simply awesome, while others leave me screaming in frustration: "Why can't my hair be normal?!!!" One of my friends has the most lovely, fast-growing, thick, glossy, wavy hair. I try not to be too jealous, but it is pretty hard when I'm spending tons of extra time trying to trick, cajole, and pray my hair into a state of anti-frizziness. Last fall I discovered the flatiron, which my hair actually does (with a little help from Suave smoothing creme) respond to well... If I have 30 minutes to straighten it after every wash, which I don't.

So, after a sudden epiphany the other day, I googled "curly hair tips". I was running out of ideas beyond a quick top knot and straightened bangs. I truly do love my curly hair, but I hate feeling like a frizzy ugly duckling. Thankfully I stumbled upon a wealth of information concerning curls and hair in general.

Greasy roots, dry, wispy, afro-ey ends. What is this, 1975?

I mean, I look like Cousin It!

I've done my research, and I've found that one of the best methods for beautiful, soft, natural curly hair is absolutely free. What is it, you ask? 

                                                 ~Not Washing Your Hair~

Immediately all the anti-bacterial loving Americans become nauseous. What? How could you not wash your hair? If you don't wash your hair it gets greasy and smelly and gross! Right?
Wrong. I know it sounds crazy, but I've done my research. And if you think about it, it makes sense.

Bubbly shampoos contain sulfates, which are detergents that can also be found in dish-washing liquid. (Why waste money on Pantene when you could use Palmolive?) These detergents strip the hair of its natural oils and can especially damage fragile, porous curly hair. This causes the scalp to make more oil to compensate, which is why hair gets so greasy after it hasn't been washed. Sure enough, my Aussie "Moist" shampoo that I thought was so good for my parched locks has sulfates:

Aussie you've betrayed me!

Curly-haired people can safely not wash their hair for over a week and it's still fine. In fact, there's a whole movement devoted to people who have sworn off of hair washing. And don't get me wrong; these people aren't a bunch of greasy-headed hippies. Just because you don't wash your hair doesn't mean it isn't clean. Common methods of "No-Poo" (as the movement is interestingly called) are using conditioner only (and that about once a week or so), using baking soda and a vinegar rinse, using dry shampoos, and only rinsing with water. Not washing hair so often allows the hair's natural oils to have their God-given right to condition the hair. Those who've jumped the bandwagon describe softer, more manageable, more natural, beautiful locks, and this seems to be the case especially with the curly heads among us.

So I've decided to try it. I'm going to try a week without a proper wash, and when I do wash it'll be with conditioner, thank you very much. Day 1 of the 7 was Yesterday. I went to Dollar General and invested in these items:
Suave dry shampoo. My biggest problem is greasy roots. Hopefully this'll take care of it.
Aussie Moist Conditioner. The shampoo is a traitor.

Garnier Fructis spray gel. It's pretty nifty stuff. The only downside is that it makes my hair dry. Hopefully once the natural oils get a-workin it won't be so much of an issue.
A reinforced boar-bristle brush. Boar bristles naturally distribute the oils and contribute to the health of the hair.

A wide toothed comb to use in the shower, to detangle as you "wash" (it works really well!)
An old t-shirt to use instead of a towel, which is harder on hair. This shirt was nice but made me look fat, so I demoted it to hair-dryer.

I washed the living daylights out of my hair for a last hurrah and then wrapped it up in the shirt to dry, then spritzed the spray gel over it. The curls that resulted were pretty sweet! Still a little frizzy, but I'll give it some time. :)

And let it be made clear (in case you were worried): No hair washing doesn't mean no shower taking. Trust me, that's a promise! But I will be implementing the "No-Poo" (can they come up with a better name for that??) methods in place of traditional shampoo. I threw away the Aussie stuff. :P 
And while I will, granted, have greasy hair for a few days until the oil-producing glands get back in the rhythm, in the long run this experiment will hopefully be successful! Here's to better hair, and to freedom from the tyranny of buying shampoo!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shoebox Refurbishing

After "investing" in several pairs of shoes, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma: where to put the shoeboxes? I'm the type that doesn't like to throw something away when it could prove to be useful (my closet bears testament), and so I usually use old shoeboxes for stowing books, papers, etc. under my bed. But with the overabundance of boxes, I stumbled upon an epiphany: why not decorate them with scrapbook paper and other fun stuff, making them appropriately attired for use where everyone can see? So here's what I came up with:

First, You start with a shoebox. Mine was the "Shoebox of Champions". (That was a joke, feel free to laugh...)

Next, pick a sheet of scrapbook paper you like. 

Now cover the lid of the box with the paper and glue into place. It'll be almost as if you were wrapping a box for Christmas presents; trim the excess paper and fold to fit the box.

My scrapbook paper was 12" square, but it was still too short to properly cover the length of the lid, so I called in reinforcements in the form of ivory-colored, letter-sized cardstock. I cut the cardstock in half, as shown:

... And wrapped it on the ends,

trimming the edges with brown binding ribbon (you could use any ribbon) to make it more polished.

Now you're on to the actual box! Find another piece of paper (I used a coordinating color/print, but you could use the same style for lid and box if you prefer)...

...and cut pieces to fit to the sides. this is different from "wrapping" it, as we did with the lid. Now you are just cutting out pieces and pasting them to the box (you could certainly wrap if you wanted to, but it takes up more paper and makes it harder to open/close the box).

I used more of the ivory cardstock on the shorter faces of the rectangle. I also put some more ribbon on this surface, much like I did on the lid.

And this is optional, but you can cover the bottom of the box, too. I used more ivory cardstock, cutting and gluing to the bottom of the box.

And yer done!

The really fun part is embellishing the box. You can do so much with different papers, buttons, trimmings, etc. Make it one of a kind! I made a little lace bow and glued it to the top for the finishing touch:

I've also used rickrack...


...and ribbon.

For this one, I stamped the nest image onto the lid and colored it with pencils. Then I stamped the same image on another piece of cardstock, cut it out, and stuck it over the first image with a wad of sticky tack in the middle. This way it stands up from the box, having a 3D effect. (They do make sticky pieces of foam to do this with, but I'm on a budget :o)

So enjoy your works of art! This is such a fun project, and it's pretty easy, I think! :)

Here you can see what I use my boxes for. I keep the far left one on my dresser to hold my make-up, I use the middle one as a memory box, and the last one holds some of my books, helping keep my bookshelf tidy :)

The possibilities are endless to turn an ordinary shoebox into a useful, beautiful item! Have fun with it!!