Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bodies- the Exhibit

We finally took a trip to the science center to see the ongoing Bodies exhibit. I've posted a more detailed entry on this at Accidental Blogger.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Public Service Announcement - How to do Victorian style ringlets

Judging from the number of hits I keep getting on keyword searches for 'ringlets', 'curls' and 'nutcracker', there are several moms(dads?) out there looking for methods to curl their little darlings' hair into the appropriate look for this year's Nutcracker performances. Here's a brief primer of the various methods.

(1) Eco-friendly method : Use an old lint-free rag torn into strips. Condition hair with a teaspoon or two of warm olive oil. Wet hair lightly with water.Twine a bunch of wet hair strands around each strip. Knot the strip ends together in an easily removable bow/ simple knot. Wear a shower cap around all the twined strands and sleep in it. This generates beautiful curls, but takes several hours to set.

(2) Foam rollers method: Similar to above, but uses a foam wrap lotion and foam rollers( again, easily found in most dollar and drugstores). This requires overnight setting and sleeping in rollers. I used a product by (available in most beauty supply shops) called an Extra Firm Hold Foam wrapping lotion to prep the hair by applying it to each lock before rolling it around the rollers.

(3)Quick method : Takes about an hour, uses a hairsetting kit similar to (but more old-fashioned than) the current models. Basically, you apply the wrapping lotion to each set of hair strands and curl it round the individual rollers to get the curls. Wait till the roller has lost the heat before removing, and you will have a reasonable bouncy ringlet. Caveat: The curls may not last for longer than a few hours and you will need to repeat this whenever ringlets are desired.

To read more of my experiences with Nutcracker hair, check out my post from last year on
Nuts about the Nutcracker (Part 2).

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diwali Dilemma

Ah Diwali...the Festival of Lights. The time of the year when we gleefully purchase and wear new finery (or riffle in our closets for new unworn outfits purchased on clearance from Sears or Macy's the month before). When mom scrambles to make a sweet , in between trying to finish preparing dinner early, since S has to go to his swim practice.

Next, the anticipation of going to the temple on the nearest weekend day convenient, kids excited over the round of sparklers handed out for them to hold, to be followed by a mini-fireworks in the sky display, dinner and a good Carnatic music concert by an ex-leading light performer.

Dilemma I:
Current Time : 5:34 pm
Location : Stuck in traffic on the parkway, with two lane closures ahead for the next 3 miles, approximately 1 hour away from getting to the temple. M was growing unhappier by the minute in her car seat, watching the minutes tick away on the clock. "Will we miss the sparklers?"
"Probably, though they might have delayed handing those out if the puja ran late" (The sparkler distribution was set for 5:00 to 5:30 pm.)
10 minutes later, we had moved approximately 200 yards. Still no hope of making it to the temple even in time for the big fireworks display (6:30 - 7:00) at this glacial pace.
"Why don't we just take the next exit and head back home?"
Sighing as my hopes for a festive evening out evaporated, I conceded that it made better sense to get off this highway to hell. The concert wasn't going to cut it as an evening's sole entertainment for anyone in the family but myself.

So it was, that another half an hour later, we all trooped in our Diwali finery (silk skirt and blouse for M, a favorite Kanjeevaram sari for me) into our local Pizza Hut for dinner. M happily divested herself of her jacket, unconscious of any stares, while I kept mine on, not wanting to reveal the bright yellow and green silk underneath. Not that munching on pizza and garlic toast compensated for missing the Diwali dinner at the temple, but at least the kids had a good time despite the outing gone bad.

Dilemma II:

A brief chat with an acquaintance at our local Sunday school, while the kids were busy with their lessons revealed a shocking piece of news. A police officer had stopped by a house in our township and threatened to cite them for arranging some sparkler fun during a Diwali party on their own property.

My first instinct was to question why we hadn't been censured when we did the same around the fourth of July- surely they could tolerate this minor fun, instead of ruining the holiday celebration. "We tried to explain about the festival, but the officer said it was illegal in Pennsylvania", said the lady.

Hmmm... so fireworks are illegal in Pennsylvania NOT !
According to a recent amendment to the Pennsylvania code, small hand-held novelties don't fall under the draconian codes restricting the possession and display of larger fireworks.
The term does not include devices as ground and hand-held sparkling devices, novelties and toy caps in APA Standard 87-1, the sale, possession and use of which shall be permitted at all times throughout this Commonwealth. we now have local police officers who are not very well acquainted with the latest Pennsylvania law.

On the other hand, our township does have restrictive codes that demand 15 days advance application for permit to use even ground and hand-held sparkling devices, novelties and toy caps.

Next year, whether on 4th of July or Diwali, we'll be taking no chances. We'll make sure that we have our piece of paper to wave at any passing police officer, should some neighbor decide to complain.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Basement Refinishing Redux (Part II)

Finally the decision was made : Dri-core base with a hard plastic underlay 1/2 inch off the floor, to be followed by a floating floor of engineered hardwood, suitable for use in mildly moist conditions.
The order was placed and free delivery haggled over, finally arriving a day after the purchase on a long bed truck. We spent a good 45 minutes helping the delivery guy move all the pieces into the basement.

My husband slit open a container of the engineered hardwood planks and marvelled at its construction - a 1/8 inch hardwood veneer bonded with adhesive to plywood layers and then his face broke out in a frown. "This could be a problem. The instructions say that we have to glue these to the underlay. We can't do a floating floor with this type after all."

I had visions of myself being commandeered into carrying all those cases back to the minivan, as a prelude to the 'return and exchange' routine we go through quite frequently with home improvement purchases.

Not so easy, this time. My husband is still back at his laptop tapping away to find other alternatives and this time seems convinced that vinyl may be a better option, even though not quite as realistic in appearance as the purchased planks.

So, off he's gone again to look for more vinyl patterns to choose from. And I can anticipate a trip to Lowes or Home Depot next week for the mandatory second opinion before anything happens in the basement.

Basement Refinishing Redux

My husband had successfully finished the basement with drywall, ceiling tile and painted the concrete floor a pale blue a few years ago. But he still kept scratching his chin and gazing thoughtfully at the arctic acres of painted concrete, every time he went down to use the treadmill or exercycle.

For me, it was enough that the area was brightly lit and welcoming enough for the kids to rough-house when they got too boisterous upstairs. So long as the passage to the washer-dryer closet remained clear, I was a happy camper with the State-of-the-Basement.

Every now and then, he would insist that I accompany him on trips to Home Depot or Lowes to check out better flooring options for the basement. The kids would try miscellaneous antics while I stood in fear of M getting knocked over or some unfortunate customer to be torpedoed by S or M whizzing on the empty shopping cart. My husband would muse over the choices of vinyl tile and grab a sheet of every available brochure, while occasionally barking "We won't go to Subway/Burger King/Dairy Queen for your lunch treat if you continue to play around like this" by way of bringing the kids to heel.

I split my attention between trying to control the kids and composing appropriate responses to queries of "Will this tile look better than the other? " or "Should we go with vinyl or engineered hardwood- they say that either is fine for a basement, even with moisture issues as we have had in the past."

(To be continued...)