Posted in Beauty, hair, how to, tutorial

Hairstyle Tutorial: If I Were Nucky Thompson’s Girlfriend


I have a major crush on the ladies hairstyles of Boardwalk Empire.  Everyone else might be watching for the gangsters and mols, but I’m watching to see how Margaret and Gillian are wearing their hair.  And their shoes.  Those shoes are all kinds of adorable.

Yesterday, I realized that my hair has grown out to the point that I could make a passable attempt at some BE hair, so I scrubbed up, grabbed the rat tail comb and a handful of bobby pins, and went to work.

The first step was to make finger waves with the front sections of my hair.

2012-12-05 20.32.222012-12-05 20.32.40

To make a finger wave (and that one on the left is pretty messy) I hold my index finger down on a section of hair, then use my other hand to draw the lock into a C shape.  I use a bobby pin to secure the rounded part of the C.  Then, I curve the lock again, making a backwards C, this time using the bobby pin to secure the bottom part of the C.  The curved part of the C comes forward against my temple.

When I have two Cs, I take the length of the lock and make a pin curl above my ear.

To make that pin curl, I wrap the lock around my index finger, then slide it off, and secure it with a bobby pin to the side of my head.  If you can twirl your hair, you can make a pin curl!

 

Once the front sections were finished, I went to work making little pin curls all over the rest of my head.  The more curls you make, the more body your hair will have.  I used TIGI’s Catwalk strong mousse for holding power.  My hair is very fine and doesn’t hold curl well, and I was pretty impressed that my finger waves are still holding.  That’s some good mousse.

Blurry AND dark--but I was trying to take a picture of the back of my head with a cell phone.
Blurry AND dark–but I was trying to take a picture of the back of my head with a cell phone.

Pin curls aren’t hard, per se, but they do take a few goes to master.  The technique that works best for me is to use one hand to take a pinch of hair about two inches from the end, then use the other hand to curl the end up into the pinch.  That gives you a circle.  Then, you roll the lock of hair around that pinch, rolling it up to your scalp, keeping the circumference of your original circle as you go.  When you run out of hair, lay that circle down against your scalp and use a bobby pin  (or whatever floats your boat) to secure it to your head.

You’ll want to work with damp hair–that makes things easier.  Too wet and your hair is just floppy and hard to work with.  Too dry and the curls won’t set.  It’s a balance that depends on your particular hair, though.

I wrapped my curled up head in a scarf and went to bed.  When I woke up in the morning and undid the curls, my hair looked like this:

2012-12-06 07.53.43

That’s not a great look, but listen, those waves?  Perfect!  I got started on my Boardwalk Empire hairstyle by separating out the front section of my hair and pinning it out of the way.

2012-12-06 07.55.41I wanted to do a style Gillian wears frequently, which is several pincurls layered across the nape, with a fingerwave ending in a curl on the sides.  My first try was more elaborate mess than Mob Mol, but I will show you the steps I took to get there:

I started making pincurls at the middle back of my head, working my way out.
I started making pincurls at the middle back of my head, working my way out.
I built in more curls, securing them into each other for stability.
I built in more curls, securing them into each other for stability.

 

 

I kept making curls until I had all the back section of my hair in a nice arrangement.
I kept making curls until I had all the back section of my hair in a nice arrangement.
Then, I took down the top section that was pinned up, and separated that into three sections.  I teased the middle back/crown section for some height.
Then, I took down the top section that was pinned up, and separated that into three sections. I teased the middle back/crown section for some height.
This is what it looked like teased.  You can kind of see what would come next naturally.
This is what it looked like teased. You can kind of see what would come next naturally.
I made three more pincurls from that crown section, securing them into the first line of curls from the back section of hair.
I made three more pincurls from that crown section, securing them into the first line of curls from the back section of hair.
Then, I looked like this.  Hot stuff!
Then, I looked like this. Hot stuff!
Careful not to pull so tightly that I pulled out my finger waves, I swept those side sections to the back middle of my head and secured them as pincurls.
Careful not to pull so tightly that I pulled out my finger waves, I swept those side sections to the back middle of my head and secured them as pincurls.
Then, I used my comb to smooth out the rough spots and tuck strays into the curls.  I think I've gotten pretty good at taking pictures of the back of my head!
Then, I used my comb to smooth out the rough spots and tuck strays into the curls. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at taking pictures of the back of my head!
I put on my makeup, paying attention to the eyebrows because 20s eyebrows were darker and rounder than what we're used to wearing today.
I put on my makeup, paying attention to the eyebrows because 20s eyebrows were darker and rounder than what we’re used to wearing today.
And I added some flair.
And I added some flair.
But, I decided that was too many pincurls for the office.  It looked too costume-y.  So I took the back down and modified it into only 5 big curls.
But, I decided that was too many pincurls for the office. It looked too costume-y. So I took the back down and modified it into only 5 big curls.
I took a silver necklace, put bobby pins on either side, and hooked it into my hair like a little headband.  I used two more pins on each side to secure it, hiding the pins under the side waves.
I took a silver necklace, put bobby pins on either side, and hooked it into my hair like a little headband. I used two more pins on each side to secure it, hiding the pins under the side waves.
2012-12-06 09.12.41
The modified style wasn’t as Boardwalk Empire as it had been, but it was a good compromise between an office friendly French twist and my desire for a little hair drama.
It worked out, and got several compliments, including three from men, who don't usually notice my hairstyles.
It worked out, and got several compliments, including three from men, who don’t usually notice my hairstyles.

 

I’m not interested in the Boardwalk Empire life, but I sure wouldn’t mind having someone show me how to do a few more of their hairstyles.  And I want all of Margaret’s clothes from Season 2.  All of them.

Random bit of interest:  It took 17 bobby pins to hold my final style.  I don’t have a lot of hair, so you might want to double up if you’re going to try this at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in A Day in the Life, Family, Good Housekeeping, hair

Apples and Hours


My coworker/friend and I were comiserating over how exhausting it is to be a mom and work full-time outside the home, and how we struggle to find time to cram everything that has to get done into the nooks and crannies of the day.  Like how, this morning, I put my makeup on and fixed my hair during the oven pre-heating process and first 10 minutes of baking of Thor’s lunch (fish sticks…mmm!), then spent the last 10 minutes of baking, cleaning the kitchen and getting breakfast into him.  

A few minutes later, my friend calls out to me, “Hey!  Gwen Stefani has the same problem we do!”

“What’s that?” I asked.  Because I know Gwen Stefani is not struggling with trying find pants that fit nicely, or worrying about having to buy pantyhose for a corporate event.

“She has a hard time fitting in everything she needs to get done in a day–trying to balance work and motherhood.”

I burst out laughing because…nannies, housekeepers, personal assistants, and probably personal chefs.  And a husband who also has personal assistants.  Do you know how much more I could get done with a full-time housekeeper?  Because while my beloved (and oh, they are my Precious) Molly Maids* do a fantastic job of cleaning up what I have missed once a month, do you know how much time it would free up if I didn’t have to think about doing dishes?

But it’s relative.  I’m sure Gwennie (who is one of my favorite celebrities, and who is allowed to call me Laney) really does feel the struggle.  Her struggles are just different from mine.  Whereas my time away from Thor equals three apples per hour, her time away from her kids equals three thousand apples per hour.  But at the end of the day, no matter how many apples we have, we both just have 24 hours, and we’re both just trying to make time for our families, while staying on top of everything else that is expected of us.

Which is why, when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, instead of getting up and getting going, I went and got Thor out of his bed.  I brought him back into mine and gave him snuggles until 6:35.  Yes, my hair isn’t gorgeous today, and he’s had more inspired lunches, but he got a nice chunk of time knowing he was loved, wanted, and thought of.  I’ll take his smile over great hair any day.

 

*Hiring Molly Maids is the best thing I have ever done for myself and my family.  They are reasonably priced and do a great job.  Consider it!

Posted in Beauty, hair

Curling Up and Staying There!


Let’s talk about the superior hair products I’m enjoying these days.

First, shampoo and conditioner. 

My stylist turned me on to Pureology, and gifted me with a free set of the Hydrate system.  I loved it!  Loved the smell, loved the way my hair felt when I used it, loved it all.  Used it all.  But I cannot pay that much for shampoo on a regular basis, so it will be my Christmas treat to myself in December.

Pureology. Love.

Alexandra also gifted me with a set of Redkin All Soft.  This has become my go-to shampoo and conditioner.  It is significantly less expensive than the Pureology, but does just as nice a job (and you can pick it up at CVS. The convenience makes me happy.)

 

All soft and shiny.

But the product I am most excited about is the Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray that Alexandra introduced me to.  I have really noticed a difference in my hair ends since I’ve been using this.  More, this spray has SERIOUS hold.  My hair holds curl for 2 days when I use it.  My hair holds curl for a couple of hours when I don’t.  This is a huge recommend for me.

Makes my hair do things I never thought possible. Like hold a curl.
Posted in Advice, Explaining the Strange Behavior, hair, Howling Sea Lane, Lancient History, Thor

Bad Hair and Carrots of Shame


I do things for this child…

Tonight, I found myself apportioning 10 raisins a piece for 21 children before questioning whether or not that was in fact the instruction given by Thor’s teacher, who had asked for 10 pieces of each of 10 snacks she had listed on a quest to have fun working with the kids on counting to a hundred.  Brain-tired, I shoved a handful of raisins in my mouth and mulled.  Or chewed.  Whichever.

There was a tradition in the Sophomore year of my high school, for upper-classes to take on girls as Little Sisters.  We, the younger ones, were doled out at random to the older girls.  One of the bonding exercises was for the Big Sister to dress the Little Sister up in hideous nerd gear and parade them around all day.  It just so happened that I was growing out what amounted to be Annie Lennox’s haircut as that day rolled around, and I had clipped my shaggy bangs back from my forehead with a baby clip.  This was prior to the 90s, when baby clips became fashionable, lest you think to yourself, “I’ll bet that looked cute.”

I was standing in the school bathroom with my Big Sister, who was so not into me.  She had two Little Sisters, and had known one of them–the cool one, whose mother didn’t make her wear her skirt at LITERAL TEA LENGTH–from birth, and was just not up to having a dorky hanger-on.  Another Big Sister walked into the bathroom, took one look at me–not even having put on a single bit of nerd gear yet, just me and my baby clip, bare face, and tea-length skirt–and cried, “Oomeegeeeesh!  Her hair is so NERDEEEEEEEE!  OMIGOOOOOOOOOOOD!  AWESOME!!  BWAHAHAHAH!!11!!!!1!!!”  Yes, I could hear the 1s within her exclamation points.

There was this moment when my eyes met my Big Sister’s in the reflection of the mirror, and what I saw was her total revulsion, disappointment, and embarrassment at having to deal with me at all.  We both knew I had shown up looking like that.  She already knew I looked like a dork.  I was just finding out.

It was one of those John Hughes moments, and should have been followed up with Jake Ryan calling to take me to the prom–that’s how meaningful it was.  It was also a defining moment for me.  I smiled at my Big Sister, turned to the other girl and grinned as widely as I could and I said, “I know!  Ohmigod!  I look like such a nerd!  Like, I need a pocket protector, or, like some horn-rimmed glasses!  She’s done it perfectly!”

My Big Sister was visibly relieved, and I think that’s what embarrassed me the most.  I ended up with a beat-up cowboy hat made of straw, and a half-hearted makeup job, and I spent the rest of the day trying not to cry.

The next day, I wore my baby clip again as inoculation against the way I had felt.  That was my way back then.  If something I really liked turned out badly, I tried it again a) just to see if maybe I had played it to the wrong audience and a change of “venue” might help the problem, b) to show the people who made me feel bad that I didn’t give a rat’s rump what they thought, c) to pick at the scab because I was a bit of a masochist.

Thanksgiving, this year, was the first time I had been able to attend one of Thor’s class parties.  It was a Thanksgiving Feast buffet.  I volunteered to bring carrots, enough to serve 5 classes of 1st Graders, plus teachers, plus any parents who were attending.  I thought I was the only person bringing carrots.  I had also been advised that serving dishes would be provided.  So, I showed up with 3 large bags of baby carrots, and a large bag of carrot chips–for variety.  Some other mothers had also provided carrots, so by the time I arrived, my offering was overkill.

I got busy with helping and didn’t pay any attention to my carrots, and didn’t even see them again until I was in the teachers’ breakroom washing the dishes we had used for the buffet.  Another mom–this gorgeous, Charlie’s Angels looking mom, who is incredibly nice, and helpful–came in with my carrots and offered them to the teachers since we’d had overflow.  The teachers–y’all–the teachers sneered.  I was shocked.

I stood there washing my dishes, trying not to make eye contact with Gorgeous Mom, who knew the origin of the veggies, and who had extracted herself from the teachers’ conversation immediately.  That conversation among four, elementary school teachers went like this:

“I can’t believe how lazy some people are.  You don’t have time to even put the food on a tray?”

“Right?!  I would never show up with something that was so obviously from the grocery store.  You can’t make something at home?  You’re that busy?  Huh.”

“Homemade is always the best.  You know some people will just take the stuff they buy at the grocery store and put it on a platter?  That’s so rude.  I wouldn’t even take that to a friend’s party.  What do people think of you if you do that?”

“That you’re lazy!  And you don’t care.  And look–she didn’t even take them out of the bags.”

It went on.  And on.  And on.

I stood there, washing and drying, listening to these women talk about how rude, and tacky, and lazy, and disgusting I was for having brought food to the school, which I had purchased at Kroger, and left in bags so that they could be used as needed and otherwise shared if there were leftovers.  I had purposefully bought more than I thought was absolutely necessary, and I had thought people might like some fresh veg.  Uh…rude, tacky, lazy, and disgusting.

I was fifteen again.  Standing in that bathroom, eyes locked on [redacted]’s, knowing I had fallen short.  Only, instead of being hurt, I was pissed the feck off.  Who were these harpies?  Seriously?  Rude, tacky, lazy, and disgusting?  No, honey.  Rude is me saying I’ll bring food and then backing out without telling you.  Tacky is only bringing enoug’h for my child’s class and no one else, knowing it is a feast for all the classes.  Lazy is not bothering at all because some other mother will do it.  Disgusting is me spitting on the carrots before sharing them with you.

I seriously considered telling them they were talking about me, but I chose not to.  I was so taken aback, and disbelieving that by the time I had decided what I wanted to say, Gorgeous Mom had steered their conversation to kinder, gentler topics.  It seemed a moot point.  Besides, I could have outed myself, then the likeliest thing would be that they would tell the rest of the teachers that Thor’s Mom was rude, tacky, lazy, disgusting, and uber-confrontational.  For the child’s reputation, I swallowed my bile.

Tonight, I started working on those raisins and had such performance anxiety, I cannot tell you.  My packets weren’t pretty enough.  The Saran Wrap press-n-seal was too sticky.  There was no uniformity.  No aesthetic.  I started to panic.  Would Thor’s teacher think I was rude, tacky, lazy, or disgusting?  Was I even doing it right in the first place?  I had 10 packs of 10 ready to go.  I needed 11 more.  Or was I just supposed to send in 210 raisins by themselves?  Did there have to be 10 even for each child, or should I send one of those big boxes of raisins and let the teacher distribute at will?  OH MY GOD!  BABY CLIPS AND CARROTS!

So, I ate them.

I’ll work on it again tomorrow, after getting some clarification from Thor’s teacher, and having lived down my goofy hair and party tray shame through exhibitionism.

The moral of the story is: Be careful when you mock.  You may be mocking the person standing to your left.

 

Posted in hair, Style

Days of Christmas: Holiday Have to Have–Easy Holiday Hairstyle


Easy Holiday Hairstyle

Every time I wear this hairstyle, I get positive comments and questions about how it is done.  Without exception, someone has stopped me in public to ask, leading me to believe it’s a good look.  No one believes me when I tell them it is easy, and takes me fewer than five minutes to fix–in fact, this is my running-late-no-time-to-do-my-hair hairstyle.  And, with a little bit of hair jewelry, it is quite becoming for a holiday look.

You will need 2 hair elastics, a handful of bobby pins (depending upon how thick your hair is–I can get away with between 2 and 4), and an optional embellishment.  The embellishment I use in the video below is a little Scuncii comb I got at WalGreens.

What you’re doing is making two French braid pigtails on either side of your head.  But, instead of gathering hair from above and below the braid, you will only gather hair from below.  This way, the top side of the braid is “open”.  You tuck the opposing pigtail into the “open” side of the braid, pinning the braid up over the pigtail.  And that’s it.  You don’t have to worry about parting or anything.  Just grab some hair and get going.

The most difficult part is making the pigtails. If you aren’t used to French braids, that might take a little time, but it is well worth the effort to learn.  When you’ve got your piggies tucked in tight, you can wear the resulting half crown alone, or glam it up with any number of accoutrements.

My hair looks really fuzzy in the video, but that’s because it had been up in piggie braids all day…because I was running late this morning and didn’t have time to fix my hair 😉