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Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Reflections

It's New Years Eve, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this past year as well as share my hopes for the upcoming one.

Like everything else, this year has had its ups and downs. Hubby and I moved up in the world by moving into a newer, clean trailer, I had a baby, my shitty job laid me off so I could spend my time at home being a mommy, and I returned to blogging. On the other hand, some family conflicts still persist, we still live on the razor's edge of destitution, and my husband's haters still pop up from time to time to try and make our lives miserable.

The highlight of my year, and the start of a new life

Becoming a parent has changed me in many ways. I feel a bond with both my husband and my child that I have never previously felt before with any other human being. It's empowering because I now find myself being motivated to do things and to prioritize goals that I would never otherwise have paid much attention towards. Prior to my daughter's birth, I had very little exposure to infants or small children, the idea being that I was to focus on establishing a career with family coming later on. This enforced isolation affected me negatively, as I always had a strong maternal instinct and burying it caused a great deal of distress.

But God is merciful.

When I had my daughter, I had no trouble bonding with her and even now, I don't find it awkward at all to play with her or baby talk to her. My empathy and tolerance of other children has increased exponentially too. My baby was God's way of telling me "don't worry, I got your back". Of course, parenthood has its challenges. Learning to read the baby's signals, running on a few hours of sleep, finding places to feed, dealing with fussiness in public places, and sickness are all part of learning to be a parent. Oh, and the never-ending mountains of laundry or poopy diapers.

Parenthood has also spurned me into playing a bigger role in running the household. When I worked at that horrid call center, I went to work and left my husband at home to take care of things like the dishes and housework. He did his honey-dos, even if the rotten condition of our old trailer didn't exactly reflect on his efforts at cleanliness and order. There was only so much we could do to keep that shitty beer can clean and habitable. With the new trailer, and a new family, I could finally exercise my skills in domesticity. I still hate housework, but I've gotten to the point where I will do it without complaining.

Though it was late in the year, 2015 was the year my husband finally found some means of paid employment after nearly 10 years out of the workforce due to political manipulation and serious health issues. I suppose some of the bastards who blackballed his career are now dead, which is one reason why he is now beginning to find some employment. It's hard to maintain a shit list when the maintainers are dying off. Those many years my husband spent unemployed and was unemployable were years of much suffering. But, as he put it, some of it was necessary in order for him to become the person that he is today. He still suffers from health issues, but he is in a far greater place today than he ever was in his previous life. He always wanted to be a provider and caretaker for his family, a privilege that was long denied to him until we met. Now, he can live out that goal for all of us.

Employment cost him his hair

Looking forward to 2016, Hubby and I will work on trying to expanding our family. We want more children, and happily accept whichever ones God sends our way and when they arrive. This time next year, I may have another baby in my arms or have another one on the way. Maybe I will have multiples, though twins are not common in either of our families.

I also look forward to growing my blog in the coming year. I enjoy writing about my family, and I hope to supplement our household income with it. I'm still figuring out the whole "make money by blogging" thing, and hope to bring in enough at some point to help cover the expenses of raising a family. Bear with me as I revamp and expand my blog to make it both user friendly and profitable. I may even resume sports blogging in the near future too.

Thus I end 2015.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Picture of the Day

Hi everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't written for a few days. My husband, my daughter and I have all come down with colds! At Midnight Mass, we were seated next to a family with several small children, some of whom were coughing. Instinctively, I knew we were gonna catch whatever bug they had and sure enough, my hubby starts feeling funny right about the middle of Mass. Naturally, the cold spread from him to the baby and now me. Fortunately, this is only a mild cold, and we are already beginning to feel better. This is not the first time any of us have gotten sick from somebody at church.

Since we are all on the rebound, I chose to accompany my husband to his job training at the mall today. It was a short training, only about two hours or so. I walked around the mall a bit, hung out at Sephora and sampled various cosmetics. It was from that venture that today's picture is the star of. I'm really starting to expand my makeup field away from just eyeshadows and into other realms like foundation and lip products.

A photo posted by Tamara Tamtam Morris (@tr0u8ad0ur_520) on

Unfortunately, I did not walk around the entire mall. The baby became hungry and I wound up spending time in the woefully inadequate "nursing lounge". Sure it was private and kinda dark with a changing table and a rocking chair, but the room itself was small and cramped. The rocking chair had absolutely no padding whatsoever on it, so it was quite literally a pain in the ass to sit in. Oh well, this is the price us mothers pay for existing in a society that despises children. Perfectly normal behaviors like nursing must be banished elsewhere lest someone get the wrong idea about what a tit is REALLY for.

And that was how I spent my day.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Visit

Happy Sunday, dear readers!

Since it was cold enough for me to have to break out my Lady Guadalupe sweatshirt, I decided that today's look would be inspired by that very garment. Unfortunately, I probably should have pulled the sweatshirt out of the closet before doing my makeup, as there was very little pink and much more blue/green. Oh well, I'll try again next time I wear it.

For some reason, this is the only picture I have of me in my Lady Guadalupe sweatshirt. This was from March for Life, January 2015

I must say, I've come to like the look of darker lipstick on myself. As fair as I am, it actually complements me quite well, and sometimes people mistake me for being either Mexican or Indian when I am wearing it. I was also complemented on my bold, full brows. While I don't mind drawing them on that way from time to time, I still hate them in real life. Chola/flapper brows all the way!

Of note, while I like the look of liquid liner and a filled in waterline, they are SUCH a pain in the ass to clean up! Coconut oil is a great makeup remover in addition to a moisturizer and conditioner, but I'm still washing black guck out of my eyes for days after lining my waterline and removing it! This is one big reason why I usually avoided lining my bottom lid for years and am reluctant to make a habit of it.

After church, we decided to go pay Robert a visit. It's the Christmas season, and as such, it was appropriate to visit a deceased friend's grave. Earlier in the week, we bought him a vigil candle and today we got his Black and Mild cigar in addition to a small shooter of cinnamon whiskey to leave at the grave.

Merry Christmas Robert

It was clear once we arrived that someone had been at Robert's grave recently. A small Christmas floral bouquet and an electronic shining tree were sitting in the small crater where his marker was. It had to have been either his family or our daughter's disgraced godfather who left those decorations there. It was nice to see that we weren't the only ones who came to visit Robert. We said a few prayers and spent a few minutes reminiscing about Robert. My husband vowed to come back on March 4th, Robert's birthday, with a Taddy Porter offering. It was Robert's favorite beer.

Some people may consider it superstitious to leave offerings for the deceased. I don't think that way. While I am suspicious of the nature of supernatural entities that might be found lurking in graveyards, even ones where the ground has been blessed, I do think the deceased souls appreciate it if you bring items they liked. It lets them know you're thinking of them. The only condition I would attach to this would be to faithfully say some prayers for the soul of the deceased during the visit and on a somewhat regular basis afterwards. If the deceased died in a state of Grace and is doing time in Purgatory, or even if they died suddenly without having received the Last Rites, they appreciate prayers and good works on their behalf far more than liquor, cigars, or candles.

Sleep in heavenly peace

And that was how I spent my Sunday.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Kilt Lifter

Greetings, dear readers! I hope you're staying warm on this frigid day in Arizona.

Kilt Lifter beer. Pic found here

It's been a while since I did a beer review, and today's selection is a Scottish-style ale from Four Peaks, a Tempe-based brewery. Appropriately enough, the brew is called Kilt Lifter. I purchased a six pack of Kilt Lifter after trying one in a sampler six-pack, deciding that I liked it. I was lucky to purchase the six pack when I did, as a few weeks ago, I read on the news that Four Peaks was bought out by Anheuser-Busch. We all know what happens when a conglomerate corporation like Anheuser-Busch eats up a craft microbrewery like Four Peaks: the quality of the craft beer goes right down the toilet.

In light of the buyout, I'm enjoying this beer for what may well be the last time it's produced here independently. At first taste, my mouth picked up immediately on the high level of yeast in this beer. It tasted like a loaf of good bread. There are hops and malt to level things out, though. The hops are not great in number, as the beer is not very bitter, but the malt picks up where the hops drop off and ensure a great degree of palatable drink. It's color is a very nice amber brown, and a relatively low alcohol content of 6% makes this a pleasant beer to enjoy.

Four Peaks's website describes Kilt Lifter as having an aroma of "Sweet Malt, Caramel, Toffee" and the flavor as being "Malty Sweet, with Toasted, Smokey Notes". I did not detect any of the notes mentioned in the aroma, most likely because I am still a novice beer drinker and the various subtleties of taste and odors still elude me. But to their credit, I did detect a hint of toasting in the taste of the beer. My palette is learning to discern different tastes.

As for what kinds of foods pair well with Kilt Lifter, the brewery's website recommended BBQ and wild game in addition to strong cheeses like Gruyere and Jarlsberg. I had this beer with a bowl of chili made from tamale meat (beef chuck roast) and while it was not exactly BBQ, it was close enough for me. It was not bad, but I do NOT recommend drinking this beer with tamales (of which my husband and I have been flooded with thanks to our good Mexican neighbors who sell us bags of tamales for $15/dozen). Kilt Lifter will end up distorting the the taste of the corn masa and fillings.

Kilt Lifter is not bad for an Arizona brew. It's one of the few ales I've actually enjoyed drinking!

As it stands right now, I'm pretty pleased with this brew. I will buy another six pack of Kilt Lifter after the buyout is completed and see how much the formula has changed, if at all. As my husband likes to say, "science must be served"

For more information on Four Peaks Brewery, check out their website here.

As always, please drink responsibly.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you, dear readers.

It has been an exhausting 24 hours. Last night, in a change-up from our normal routine, we went to Midnight Mass at our Latin Mass church instead of our other church. I'm not entirely sure what inspired this change, but we first stopped by our family friend's to work on her computer and then we went to church. For the holiday, I went all-out doing full-face makeup and wearing my red and gold sari. My beauty tutorial binge watching paid off big time as my makeup would earn me complements all throughout the evening.

Christmas selfie, in my makeup and attire

Makeup in better detail. Not bad for my first time doing it

After we arrived in the parking lot and were walking towards the elevator, I noticed an uncomfortably familiar looking vehicle in the parking lot. It was a white Honda Accord that looked suspiciously like our daughter's disgraced godfather's "hellride" (after he bought that car, he stopped going to church and started working more to pay for the damn thing. Hence, the "hellride"). I couldn't see all the details because of where it was parked, but even though I hadn't seen the car in over two months, I was sure it was his.

Sure enough, we stepped into church and I saw him in the Confession line. Fortunately, my husband quickly ushered me to a seat in the front pew so as to prevent me from marching right up and putting my fist through his former friend's face. Later on, our daughter's disgraced godfather came up to say that he would not be staying for Midnight Mass. I stiffly wished him a Merry Christmas, even though it took everything I had to keep my hands folded placidly in my lap and not flying for his throat. My husband congratulated me on my show of restraint after his former friend left. I wanted a stiff drink, but would wait after Mass to get it.

Canon Bill placing Baby Jesus in the creche

Fortunately, Mass itself was a beautiful event. The choir was in good form and our daughter's godmother was in attendance, which made the occasion considerably better. Also a boon-the baby slept through the entire Mass, something she hadn't done since she was a newborn making her public debut to the church. We ended the night by watching the full moon and playing a video of "Silent Night" in German.

At our other church, the Christmas Day Mass was at 10AM, so we scrambled to get dressed and get there on time. We were late, unfortunately, but we were able to hear the sermon and see a few friends and favorite priests. I was relieved not to see our daughter's disgraced godfather anywhere near the premises. If he went at all, I assume it was to the Latin Mass church.

Baby's Christmas attire. Her Prebaka got her that outfit

Hubby at the Nativity scene at our other church

When we finally arrived home, it was time to change into more comfortable clothes and open presents. The baby got lots of presents from various friends and family members. Hubby and I got a few goodies too, but most of it was for the baby.

Christmas glamour, day two

Baby opens her first present!

She got a toy kitty! Vtech makes some damn good kids toys

Who needs toys when I can play with the box!

Our daughter's disgraced godfather took a good step towards reconciliation with this present for her. I'd been wanting to get her an Avengers article of clothing for a while. Superheroes aren't just for boys.

I got a selfie stick!

Close-up of the baby with my selfie stick

Someone enjoyed her first Christmas very much

And that was how I spent my Christmas. Good night everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Windfall

A merry Christmas Eve to you all!

The material joy of the season has come a few days early. While I'm not much of a consumer owing to my low income status, I was thrilled to discover some unused gift cards from Target and Walmart that were given to us as Christmas presents last year. When we moved from our old trailer into this new one, I tossed the gift cards in a box along with other odds and ends, put it in the closet, and forgot about it. I only rediscovered the cards recently after I was looking through boxes in the bedroom for some vintage ornaments to put on the tree. A quick check online confirmed that the gift cards not only were still valid, but had some money on them. We could finally get some Christmas presents for ourselves!

Behold, my newly upgraded makeup kit. I can now fulfill my grandmother's request that I put some effort into my appearance on Sundays and special occasions.

We did buy a few needed items with our gift cards, but I used what was left over to finally buy some long overdue cosmetic items and seriously upgrade my makeup game. I now have properly matched foundations (one a tinted moisturizer and the other a full-on liquid foundation for when more heavy-duty coverage is needed), concealer, bronzer, blush, lip products, and even a new set of face brushes! I will be doing reviews of the products in an upcoming post, but for now, I can sit back and enjoy the gifts from my unexpected windfall. With tonight being the Midnight Mass, what better opportunity do I have now to debut my new look.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rice Pudding with Maple Sauce

Greetings, dear readers!

Tonight the cooking bug got me. I normally don't cook, but I felt like making something. I had a hankering for rice pudding, so I decided to cruise around looking for a recipe that didn't seem too complicated or time consuming.

I decided upon this recipe by Ree Drummond of Food Network fame, mostly because the caramel sauce appealed to me. We didn't have all the ingredients like short/medium grain white rice, heavy cream, or corn syrup, but we had enough to make something.

By the time I was done, I was pleased with the result. The pudding was thick, though not quite as smooth and creamy as I would have liked. The highlight, however, was my maple sauce. It was better than the caramel sauce the recipe called for.

Here is my adaptation of Ree Drummond's rice pudding recipe. Give it a try and see how you like it! Feel free to modify as needed.

Rice pudding (left) and maple sauce (right)

Tamtam's Rice Pudding with Maple Sauce

1 cup of white rice (I used long grain)
2 cups of water
2 cups of milk (I used whole milk)
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp of butter
1/2 cup of raisin and date mixture
1/2 cup of rum (I used Captain Morgan 100-proof)
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 12 oz can of condensed milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
*For sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup

To start, take a measuring cup and fill it with a mixture of raisins and chopped dates. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of rum and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Set aside to soak for at least an hour.

Place in a medium saucepan the rice and add the milk, water, butter, and salt. Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Once the mixture is boiling, lower heat to medium-low and cover. Let it sit and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Make the sauce during this time period. Place butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Once mix reaches gentle boil, stir and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Sauce is done when it can thickly coat the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and move off to the side.

Going back to the rice pudding, remove the pot from heat and stir. At this time, add in the can of condensed milk along with the pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon and the vanilla extract. Stir once again to combine all ingredients, place back on low heat for about 5 minutes or so to let the pudding cook some more. Finally, drain the raisin and date mix and add them to the pudding along with the egg. Stir again and let sit for a few minutes for the final cooking.

Remove from heat, let pudding sit for about 10-15 minutes to cool off. To serve, spoon pudding into a bowl and top with the maple sauce. Enjoy!

-ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wash the rice before cooking! Even if the packaging label says not to, wash the rice anyway since doing so removes any dirt that came from the fields it was grown in. Also, washing rice removes excess starch, which results in a better quality rice dish. It takes a few rounds of washing but when the water is clear, you're good to go.
-When boiling the rice, leave the pot cover at an angle for ventilation. The rice won't boil over that way.
-Some of the rum that the raisins were soaking in can be added to the pudding for flavoring. I wouldn't add more than a tablespoon, simply because it can overwhelm the dish.
-The maple sauce can be used on multiple dishes. I would suggest ice cream topping or even a pork marinade as alternative uses.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Peace Offering

Last night, an unexpected visitor stopped by our home.

It was my daughter's disgraced godfather.

After an explosive fallout with him over his prostitute girlfriend stealing cosmetics and brushes from me and his lie to us about where he met this woman, my husband and I cut off all contact with our daughter's godfather and told him to stay away. He did stay away, but my grudge against him has not lifted one bit.

Scene from her baptism. He's the one on the right, standing next to my husband

I did not actually see the disgraced man. I didn't even know he came. This was fortunate since if I had, the scene could have become quite ugly. It was my husband who saw and interacted with him. It was only after he left that my husband came into the bedroom where I was and dumped an armload of Christmas presents on the bed before proceeding with his narrative.

After waking up from his nap, my husband had gone outside with his cup of coffee to round up the cats for their evening feed. While he was out there, he saw our daughter's godfather pull up in his car, bearing presents for us. My husband was surprised to see him, but having known our daughter's godfather for over 20 years, he knew this visit was not one of sinister motives.

Sure enough, the prostitute girlfriend landed my daughter's godfather in a world of shit. She was a perpetual kleptomaniac, stealing not just from me, but his other friends and ultimately from him too. According to what he told my husband, the girlfriend stole some jewelry from his mom, which led to his family kicking him out of their home and coming to within a hair's breadth of disowning him. It didn't help that she smoked heroin, and most likely stole to support her addiction in addition to turning tricks. After they moved into an apartment that he was now calling home, the girlfriend and her stepfather who taught her to steal were arrested for trying to walk out of Walmart with TWO FULL SHOPPING CARTS of stuff! It was a VERY amateur level attempted robbery since the security cameras caught it ALL in full view. While out on bail, she then proceeded to steal our daughter's godfather's car. It was at that point that he called the police and had her arrested again. She is currently sitting in jail, awaiting trial for theft and facing five years in prison for her crimes.

My husband simply stood there at the fence and let his former friend spill his troubles. The presents he brought were his peace offering, a means of atonement for his crimes against us. My husband accepted the gifts, seeing that it was not a bribe as I thought it was, and told his disgraced friend to leave. Our daughter's godfather reported that he had been continuing to go to church, but was going to the early morning Masses at our other church, since we don't get up that early and were unlikely to cross paths at that time. He asked when Confessions were being held, since he wanted to go before Christmas Mass. My husband told him when and where to go, but neither of us have much hope that he'll follow through. With the exception of Easter, he's never followed through on his Confession commitments.

When my husband returned to the bedroom with the presents and the report, my initial confusion over the gifts was replaced with a resounding feeling of victory. I predicted it would come to this, and I was vindicated in the most dramatic way possible. Following the advice of my favorite Carmelite priest, I tried not to engage in schadenfreude. But on the other hand, "I told you so!" has never been a more appropriate phrase to use in this context.

I still haven't forgiven my daughter's godfather for bringing his kleptomaniac girlfriend over and robbing me. I don't know that I ever will. Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing. It's natural to stew in one's own anger and indignation for a while before God's Grace makes forgiveness possible. I suppose this will have to be the route I take.

I will enjoy the presents in the meantime. I accept the peace offering too.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Picture of the Day

Happy Sunday everyone!

I FINALLY settled on my Advent look for this season!

Not bad for pulling something together in a 30-minute crunch before church. My favorite Sephora and Coastal Scents palettes worked their magic for me once more. I knew I wanted purple and black, since those colors are present on the priest's vestments. The gold spot, also a color used on the priest's vestments, was a spur of the moment decision that I thought worked well.

St. Therese of Lisieux conceptualized "the Little Way" as a means of attaining sanctity. Adherents of the Little Way use everyday actions and personal devotions as an offering and prayer to God. It's a very personal sort of spirituality and can be done by anyone of any background from the theologically uneducated like myself to the highest doctors and scholars of the Church. My use of makeup is my contribution to the Little Way. It's not always an easy path to stay on, but every little step helps.

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Slava

Today is a special day for me.

On this day, many generations ago, my Serbian ancestors left their pagan roots behind and embraced Christianity. This conversion date is called "Slava", and this distinctly Serbian tradition is a modified pagan custom which is passed down through the generations, forming an integral part of our culture and identity. The saint on who's feast day fell on the conversion date was venerated the family's guardian and patron saint.

Common Slava spread with Kolač (foreground) and Žito (bowl with candle sticking out). This one is set up to honor St. John the Baptist. Pic found here

This day, December 19, is St. Nicholas' Day in the Serbian Orthodox calendar. He is my family's Slava and one of the most popularly celebrated saints, followed by St. Sava, St. Michael the Archangel, St. George, St. John the Baptist, and Prophet Elijah.

Celebrations of Slava involve starting the day with a special church service, where after the Orthodox Liturgy the priest blesses a specially baked bread loaf (Kolač) and a special boiled wheat and nut dish (Žito). The Kolač is made in honor of the family's living relatives using special recipes passed down to the generations, and the Žito is made in honor of the family's dead relatives. After the service, the celebrants go home and celebrate with food, drink, and music.

This hymn is sung when the Kolač is blessed. It commemorates the martyr's sacrifices and Isaiah's prophecies about the coming of Jesus. Of note, it is also sung at weddings when the couple ritually walks around the altar.

What actually goes on when the Kolač is blessed in church. The raising and rotation of the Kolač is done as a symbolic offering to God

I've educated my husband about Slava, and when my children are old enough, they too will learn what it is. No matter how diluted the Serbian bloodline becomes in my descendants, this is one custom that must be passed on.

I may change my name and religion, but I will never forsake my Serbian heritage.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Christmas Miracle

It's the weekend!

Today we received a special shipment in the mail from my in-laws in Texas. My mother in law spent a few weeks carefully packing her annual Christmas care package to send to us. In addition to some family heirlooms, she got my husband's sisters to pitch in as well with toys and other goodies. After she mailed it off at the post office and sent us the tracking number, the package disappeared from the radar. We were all furious, assuming someone in the post office had either lost or stolen our Christmas presents, and prepared to face the possibility that we would never see these items again. My MIL had thankfully insured the package and was getting ready to file a claim when my husband walked outside this morning to round up the cats for their morning feed, and saw that our mail carrier had dumped the package over the fence earlier in the day. It made its way here safe and sound.

There were two boxes in the large box that came. This one above

And this small box as well

After a delightful call to MIL to let her know of the unexpected boon, we proceeded to open it up and see what was inside. In addition to some family heirlooms, the baby got a few toys, I got some bath goodies, and my husband got some candy, a gift card, and a little money for cat food. The baby was especially delighted with a toy remote control from Fisher-Price that lit up and made noises when she pressed on the buttons. It'll be the only remote control she ever sees in our house, since TV is something we avoid like the plague.

The baby plays with a plushy turtle

Vintage-style Christmas ornaments from my husband's aunt

Me holding a Santa ornament from his grandmother's Christmas Tree

Vintage Christmas ornaments from 1962, my hubby's first Christmas

Vintage Virgin Mary statue that belonged to my MIL

Earlier in the week, we were contacted by our friends in the Latin Mass church's St. Vincent de Paul Society chapter. Our Christmas presents, donated by a wealthier parish in town, were ready and we needed to come pick them up. Since my husband had a paycheck waiting for him at the temporary employment agency that needed to be collected, it would not be out of our way to get our goodies. Those have not been opened, and are sitting underneath the tree like proper presents should.

After nearly a week of missing from all tracking records and presumed stolen, to have my MIL's Christmas package show up intact was downright miraculous. This is shaping up to be a very happy Christmas season.

My Makeover

Hello again, dear readers!

Today, I accompanied my husband to his job training at the mall. I walked around the mall with the baby for a few hours while my husband did his job. It was crowded, and I have no money, which made stopping by Sephora painful because that is my absolute favorite store in the mall.

However, despite the chaos of Christmas shopping, I finally got my long overdue free makeover! I was color matched for foundation at two different places (Sephora and Bare Minerals; I came out as fair in both places), and got some great advice for choosing blush (something in the mauve range), lip colors (same as blush), concealer, and bronzer colors (go for light browns/cinnamon colors). I got some free samples of foundation from Sephora, but it was Bare Minerals that did the actual makeover, as seen in the pictures below.

Nice, even tone with zits and blemishes covered

From the side. Good coverage and some defining blush

Close enough

Since I was mostly interested in foundation, I didn't get the full makeover. However, I'm generally pleased with the result even though the flash from my camera made me look like a cadaver. My skin is pretty clear, thanks to my minimalist regimen of twice-daily washes and nightly coconut oil moisturizing.

We wound up leaving an hour later than planned because the wrong schedule was communicated to the trainees. I didn't mind it since I took my time walking around the mall and seeing the Christmas displays, but my husband was mildly annoyed. Since we were all hungry, we stopped at Safeway on the way home so we could get some snacks. I'm currently in love with their bakery's cinnamon rolls.

And that was how I spent my day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

First Day of Work

Hello again, dear readers!

Today was my husband's first day at work. Technically, it was training for his job, but it still counts as work because he was getting paid for it. They had to meet at a Sears store at the mall close by my former apartment and where the company's office is, and from there, my husband and a few colleagues spent the four hours alotted for their time learning how to use the scanning equipment, filling out some paperwork, and practicing taking inventory for the store. My husband was miffed about using a scanner that ran a Windows program (being a die-hard Linux penguinista, he views anything having to do with Microsoft as being the spawn of Satan), but managed to behave himself. He said it was an overall positive experience.

Before leaving, however, my husband had worked himself up into a fury over his new haircut. Since he basically kept his hat on from the time we left the barber shop, my husband didn't see that the hairdresser butchered his haircut until about an hour before he had to report for work. Instead of doing a Caesar cut like he asked, she gave him an uneven mop crop. This after he described to her exactly what he wanted, even giving her an idea by pointing out a style on one of the other customers there.

Not a Caesar cut. The pomps of Rod Blagojevich and Justin Bieber mated and pooped this monstrosity out on my husband's head

Combed out, it was apparent where she'd messed up. My husband was furious, but refused my offers to trim his bangs and some of the gross unevenness so as to bring about the appearance of balance. He blamed her not knowing how to cut hair on anyone who wasn't Mexican, as there are differences in hair type between the races. He claimed that his cousin thirty years ago did a better job using a bowl and some kitchen shears. Not wanting him to be late or do something stupid, I told him to put his hat on and say he was having a bad hair day until we could find another barber. Fortunately, when he got home, my husband reported that his colleagues and superiors didn't mind his chop-job haircut. So long as it was short, they didn't care.

Having survived the first day, he goes back tomorrow for a few hours to finish up training. Since it'll be for a shorter period of time, I can come with him and hang out in the mall with the baby for a bit. Having frequented this mall in my old bourgeois life, I have nothing to fear about showing up. Consumerama, here I come.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Shearing

Good evening, dear readers.

Today was a big day for my husband. He got sheared like a sheep for his first day of work tomorrow.

After doing some measurements, my husband tied up his hair and I cut the tail off so that the barbers wouldn't throw it away. We plan on selling the hair and if no one buys it, we'll keep it as a trophy. It's too impressive to throw away.

The End

His severed ponytail

Now sporting a Rolling Stones-esque moptop, we did a quick search and found a local Mexican barber shop. We had a few errands to run, so we went there first to get my husband sheared.

The post-tail moptop. Half mullet-half shag, and it still looks good on him

Let the shearing begin

The barber shop was busy and a large TV hanging down from the ceiling had Maury's show on when we walked in. Fortunately, the wait was not long. The lone female barber on duty wound up getting my husband as her  customer. He described to her the Caesar cut he wanted and let her go to work. She did a decent job, even giving his eyebrows a small trim. Needless to say, there was a substantial pile of hair surrounding the chair by the time she was done. I made sure to catch the whole event on video. It was not a continuous video since I wound up running out of space on my memory card and had to switch over to my phone's memory so that I could finish filming. My hubby was surprised that I filmed his haircut, but I did it for posterity. I don't know how long it will be before my husband gets to grow his hair out again. Needless to say, the barber was quite impressed when my hubby showed her one of the recent hair pictures I took of him.

All done. No cameras please

You might think that I'm obsessing over my husband's hair. In a way, I sort of am. His long hair was an integral part of who he was. It belonged on him! It was distinctive, since men with waist-length hair are not a common sight and it was one of the ways people could recognize him. Physical appearance aside, the hair gave him character. It added to his image as an old bohemian, an autistic hippie who did his own thing and gave no fucks about flying in the face of social convention. Now shorn, he must blend in with the rest of the masses and cower before The Man to earn some money.

I don't know how long it will be, if ever, that my husband will be able to get hair as long as it was again. That's why I went all-out, for my child as much as for myself, photographing and videotaping his hair in its final moments. My daughter won't remember how long her daddy's hair was, and how she would pull on it to wake him up. She won't remember grabbing it when he'd give her a bath or chomping on it in play. If we have more children, they may not ever know of long-haired daddy in their lifetimes.

Good bye long hair. It was fun knowing you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Goodbye Long Hair

Greetings and a happy Monday, dear readers!

Thanks be to God and St. Joseph, my husband has finally found a job! The inventory company in the bourgeois ghetto we visited last week hired my husband to work for them and he starts training on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, as a condition of hire, my husband must now cut his famously long hair. His long ponytail was one of the things that stood out about him when I first met him. In 2012, he had his friend, an ancient seminary school dropout, shave it off much to my chagrin. He told me it was because his living situation meant that he couldn't properly care for his hair and his ponytail had become a natty, gnarled, dreadlocked mess. Fortunately, it only took three years for his hair to grow back out and nearly reach his waist. He said when he was younger, it was much more thick, but it's still in remarkably good condition. We will definitely be selling it.

My hubby's ancient passport photo from 1999. This is the only image I have of him wearing a Caesar cut.

I spent much of the previous evening looking up cheap barbers to take him to. He wants a Caesar cut, something he'd last worn about 15 years ago. It's a pretty easy haircut to do, since all the barber needs to do is run a razor over his head until the hair is mostly the same length all around and the top can be combed forward to make short bangs. Just like the kaiser himself!

Tomorrow is the big shear, so tonight, I post the last image of my husband with his long hair.

Goodbye, gorgeous mane. It will make a fantastic wig or hair extensions for someone.

I'm gonna miss his hair. The baby also lost one of her favorite ways to wake up daddy in the morning. Fortunately, my long locks will remain for the forseeable future. It's only right that in a household headed by an old hippie that at least one of us keeps long hair.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Happy Sunday, dear readers. Hope your favorite football teams won their respective games.

It's Gaudete Sunday, which Catholics all around the world celebrate as the halfway point between the start of Advent and Christmas. On this day, priests wear pink (or "rose", as they're officially designated) vestments as a moment of joy in a season of penance. Gaudete actually means "joy", from the Latin word "gaudere"-"joyous", and this is meant to be an inspiration to help us get through to Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

While I'm admittedly not the most fashion-forward or conscious individual, I try and make it a point to coordinate my makeup to match the dominant colors of the religious holidays and observations I celebrate. It's my small way of proclaiming my devotion to the Catholic faith. Some may dress in a particular manner to proclaim their devotion, others may say special prayers, but I like using makeup.

My Gaudete Sunday look for 2015. Pink with some purple and black

Closeup of my blending detail. I really like the way this came out

I used my favorite Sephora palette and my Coastal Scents Go Palette in Cairo to get this look. I can legitimately thank those beauty tutorials I was binge watching a few weeks back since I feel they helped me improve my skills significantly. With practice, maybe I too will be an MUA and be able to do some beauty tutorials one day too.

Here's a bonus picture for your Sunday. Yesterday after Confession, we went to Walmart to go get some needed items. While cruising through the personal care aisle, I spotted this.

It may be a little hard to see, but these razor cartridges have "sold by eaches" printed on the sticker on the security casing

I'm pretty sure they meant to say "sold individually", but the illiterate printer entered that mostrosity instead.

This is why I will be homeschooling my children when they are old enough.

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

La Guadalupana

Happy Saturday! I hope your weekend is going well.

A deep freeze has settled over southern Arizona. The cold front moved in last night with snowy-looking clouds and rain, and today we dealt with temperatures only in the 50s with rain on and off throughout the day. The mountains were covered with clouds and precipitation, giving them a smoky, eerie look and on my Facebook feed, people who live in the mountain communities were posting pictures of the snow.

We had planned on going to the 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair, an annual street fair in downtown Tucson where vendors gather to sell their wares and display handmade crafts. But with the weather being as it was, there was no way in hell we were going to subject our baby or ourselves to the elements. So, we stayed home until it was time to go to Confession.

Since our other church is located in a largely Mexican area, I thought we might be able to catch the Guadalupe celebration since today is Her feast day. Though we arrived long after the procession and festivities had ended, I was still delighted to have gone because I got to see my favorite Carmelite priest. The Benedictine Abbey he was called to teach at was out for the Christmas break, so he came back here to Arizona and attend to his pastoral duties here. In turn, he was happy to see us as well. Of all the priests I've encountered and known here in Diocese Tucson, this Carmelite is one of the few who has a consistently strong, bonafide connection with the Holy Spirit. As we were leaving, we saw the rector of the church and said hello. He'd been working outside, getting the lights strung up around the courtyard and the decorations in place for Christmas.

The decorated courtyard. This will look nice once the sun sets.

In honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I will post a few classic songs in Her honor. Lady Guadalupe is special because Her appearance in Mexico in the 16th Century was the first documented apparition of the Virgin Mary in the New World. When She appeared to Juan Diego to request a church built in her honor, She appeared speaking not Latin or Spanish, but Nahua to him so that he would understand and relate to Her. And when Her roses left their miraculous imprint of Her image on Juan Diego's tilma, Lady Guadalupe appeared in a way that when ordinary Natives saw her, they too could relate to her through her dark features and Aztec-specific symbolic imagery.

Despite many people over the centuries using Lady Guadalupe as a subject of theories and prophecies, the fact is that Her appearance in central Mexico spurred a mass conversion of a scale never before seen or seen since. There is a reason the phrase "non fecit taliter omni nationi" ("God’s done nothing like it for any other nation" (Ps. 147:20)) is often seen specifically on images of Lady Guadalupe. Will there be a repeat of the conversion scale seen in Mexico in other parts of the world or even here in the US? Maybe. It is written that prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors, Mexico was itching for something else, something bigger. The state religion had its human sacrifices and pagan rituals, but the people were searching for something more. When Our Lady appeared, everything fell into place.

Enjoy the music. Viva!

*Note: the title of this post, "La Guadalupana", is a Mexican-Spanish phrase used to describe female devotees of Lady Guadalupe. Male devotees are "el Guadalupano" and plural is "los Guadalupanos".

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Christmas Tree

Happy Friday, dear readers!

Along with the arrival of the weekend was the arrival of our Christmas Tree! This is a huge occasion for my husband and I because in our three years of marriage, this is the first time we've ever gotten a tree. Prior to this auspicious day, a lack of funds and a lack of space made searching for and setting up a Christmas Tree difficult. As a result, my husband and I didn't bother with the whole mess and we were just fine without it. But when the baby came, things changed. My husband and I both have fond memories of setting up a Christmas Tree when we were younger, and we felt that it would be good for the baby if we could continue that tradition as well.

We found a 5'-6' Douglas Fir tree at a nearby Home Depot tree lot. I'd initially planned to get a Noble Fir one in the 3'-5' range as they were the cheapest trees on the lot (they were running like $24 and some change), but when I saw them in the flesh, I changed my mind. The Noble Firs were, quite literally, Charlie Brown trees with their anemic-looking branches and sparse needles. For a few dollars more, the $28 range, we could upgrade to a Douglas Fir that was much fuller and about two feet taller. My husband agreed with my assessment and I picked out the tree. The lot attendant gave us our name ticket with the bar code so we could pay inside, and set about doing a few cuts so that the tree would stay fresh throughout the holiday season.

Bad lighting aside, this was our tree just after it was brought in before any modifications were made

Before we paid for our tree, we needed to get some lights. While my husband did amass a collection of LED light strings that he used to illuminate his tent and our old trailer, the lights only worked about half the time. Suffice to say, an upgrade was needed. We got a few clear LED strings and briefly debated getting colored lights before my husband's utilitarianism won out against acquiring them. The crappy old lights could go on the fence for decoration, but the nice new ones were to make the tree look respectable.

After paying, it was time to collect our tree. My husband went to bring the car while I went to get the tree. Despite its bulky appearance, the tree was not heavy nor were its needles sharp. I felt like an old-school Russian peasant as I hoisted the tree over one shoulder and carried it like a log to the car just a few feet away. We tied it to the roof, just like everyone in every Christmas movie ever, and I added an extra "safety" tie since my husband is a bit of a hot-rodder and I did not want our tree to go flying off somewhere because he decided to gun the car.

Once we were safely home, my husband put the tree in its stand and moved it into its present location near the front door, trimming a few stray branches here and there. Once I tidied the area a bit and vacuumed the needles which had shed, it was time to do some decorating.

Daddy doing the lights

Man at work, still more lights to go on

The lit tree, dark

The lit tree, with flash

To get the Tux penguin lamp on top of the tree, my husband had to take the battery base off and manipulate the light string placement a bit so that the penguin would have a light bulb up its ass and light up when the tree was lit too. Fortunately, I didn't have to wire the penguin to the top of the tree like I first thought, since the tip branch was sturdy enough to act as a pike for mounting. I topped off the penguin with a ghetto-style wreath headband made from the tree trimmings and some twist-ties.

Ta-Da! The *mostly* finished tree

By the time we were done, I was getting hungry and we agreed to hold off on decorating the tree with old computer parts till tomorrow. I needed to find the wire and cutters, and my husband had to look for the parts. I called it a night after my husband made a batch of Miracle-Gro and filled the bowl of the stand with it so that the tree would be hydrated and fed. We'll have *proper* ornaments as well, since family and friends have sent us some, but I'm looking forward to modifying old RAM and memory sticks.

And these, dear readers, are how Christmas memories are made.