Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pot au Feu

I've been on a french food kick lately.  It can be difficult going out with kids and even harder to fancy places like many French Restaurants.  So I decided it was time to try my hand at traditional french cuisine.  After last week's Beef Bourgiognon and Normandy apple cake, I was ready for something a bit lighter.

My recipe of choice today:

Pot au Feu (French Beef Stew) from Traditional French Food

Recipe seemed simple enough - I already had most of the ingredients on hand.  A quick stop at the store for turnips and leeks and we were ready to begin.  I'm only including one photo here as I over cooked it a bit (veggies were falling apart) and it doesn't look as gorgeous as it tastes.



Next on my wish list: Coq au Vin

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Personal Touch Lingerie and What to Expect at Asian Lingerie Stores

For all this talk about Asian bras and where to get them, I thought I should cover one local source for those in the Los Angeles area.  For those whom are not fluent in the language, stepping foot in an ethnic lingerie store can be intimidating.  Hopefully I can provide some insight to better prepare you.

PERSONAL TOUCH STORES
Today, we will specifically talk about the Personal Touch Lingerie stores.  Partially because I have personally purchased Satami bras there but also because they are the ONLY retailer licensed to sell Satami Lingerie in the United States due to an exclusive contract.

I've been to a few of their locations and they all seem to have the same look - characteristic of a chain store.  Well lit, clean with nice displays, the store is welcoming yet cozy like a boutique.  Typical of many lingerie stores, the sales people will offer to help you find what you're looking for - which is often followed by a "can I measure you?".  Those of you who know your ABTF size and tried to shop for that size know that sales people will 1.) try to convince you that you are wrong or 2.) sister size you into a bra size that they actually carry.



MY EXPERIENCE
Today was no exception.  A woman with flawless skin and good English assists me.  She measures me and tells me I'm a 36E.  I practically laughed.  I told her that I already own a 32 and the band still fits - tight but fits.  Still not convinced, she hands me a 34E to start with and will "go from there".  At least the 34E is a sister size to my usual 32F (UK).  I try it on and the band fits but cups were too small.  She then has me try on a 34G.  It fits almost perfectly.

She then brings out a few different styles in the same size.  We go through a few iterations of trying things on, assessing fit and preferred style.  While she always asked to come back in, there were many times were I was expected to change with her still in the room.  More than once, she helped pull the girls forward while trying on a bra.

Typical of my experiences at Personal Touch (and other lingerie stores), she brings bras in my preferred style (underwire) but also other styles (wireless, sports bra).  You are not required to try anything on but it may take SEVERAL polite "no, thank you's" to get the message across.  Repeat for shapewear, underwear, etc.

In short, lingerie shopping at an Asian boutique (or perhaps all boutique lingerie stores for that matter) is not for the faint of heart.  The sales people are very hands on, talk non-stop and do not hold back (such point out that the low rise bikini you're wearing might be better suited for someone younger and might I consider a light shaping brief?).

RECOMMENDATIONS
1.) Know your UK size (Satami is based in Hong Kong, which uses the UK standard)
2.) Be firm and become a broken record (temporarily)
3.) Be thick skinned.  Know there is no ill will - whether implied or stated.  They are there to assist you (and make a sale) by being straight forward.

Optional
4.) Call ahead to find the name of a sales person who speaks fluent English and make an appointment with them.  I cannot tell you the number of times I walked into a Personal Touch store and they only spoke in Mandarin Chinese.  The Arcadia location was the only one I've been to where the sales lady was fluent.

***********************

My experience is in no way representative of ALL Asian run lingerie stores and only serves as a glimpse of what may occur.  If having a bit of insight prevents someone from freaking out at the store because they have an idea of what to expect, then all the better.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Satami Bras - An Introduction!

EDIT 5/30/2017: To include www.satamiusa.com site and review.

In my pursuit to find a bra that fits, I rediscovered an old favorite: bras by Asian Brand, Satami Lingerie.


ABOUT SATAMI
Satami is a Hong Kong based Lingerie Brand that offers bras which have some interesting features.  Many Asian brand bras focus on pushing the girls, up and forward to create the maximum amount of cleavage.  What sets Satami apart is their ultra wide bands and underarm crescents - both designed to smooth out bra induced bulges.  While their range of sizes is not as large as popular European bra companies like Panache or Freya, I have found their bras to be a haven for those with narrow set breasts who usually seek relief with plunge styles or have gone Polish with Comexim or Ewa bras.  Satami bras seem to range from 32A to 44G.  In my limited experience, that 32 band in Satami is closer to a 30 band in UK sizes. More on sizing below.



Their website (https://www.online-satami.com/home) is well designed and has the ability to search by size and style number.  They ship internationally to most of Asia, Europe and North America with the exception of the United States.  Satami has an exclusive distribution agreement with Personal Touch Lingerie in the US so all sales must go through them.  Personal Touch Online Store: www.shopptouch.com.  Please note that the returns/exchanges policy varies between the two sites so please read accordingly.  There is one last option: www.satamiusa.com.  This link seems to be a portal to the Personal Touch site as it states PTL Global at the top of the web page AND the return/exchange policy is the same as Personal Touch.

ONLINE STORES
I found the Personal Touch online store to be utilitarian.  The photos are smaller, fewer and of lower quality.  There is no zoom or the ability to search by bra size.  While there is a drop down menu to filter by size, it didn't pull up the one bra I liked in my size.  I would recommend using the Satami online website to do initial research then jot down the style number.  Use the style number to find the item you want on the the Personal Touch site.  This is also due in part to the fact many of the official bra names are pretty generic. Example Lace Full Cup Bra (2185) is completely different design than Lace Full Cup Bra (2187). Prices seem to be the same as in store.

Satami USA site requires one to create an account before you can view prices AND a passcode (password: shape).  The usability and ease of navigation is almost identical to that of the Satami Online site.  Lots of photos, details, ability to zoom, sort by size, etc.  All styles are available through this site including SALE items! Items on this site seem to be a bit cheaper than the Personal Touch site (between $5 and $11 on the 2 bras I tried on).

The Satami online webstore is pretty great with lots of info, pictures, and the ability to search by size, style and color.  I very much liked their "Personal Shop" - a curated selection of items in your size, style and shape.  To "activate" just click on the "Get Fitted" button at the top right or "Online Bra Fitting" at the very bottom of the Home Page.  They will ask you a series of questions that somewhat mirror our discussions at A Bra That Fits.

Narrow vs Wide Set

Shape. This isn't as extensive as ABTF but is much more detailed than most bra manufacturers!

This was the part I had the most issues with.  

It took some trial and error to get the calculator to "come up" with my correct Satami size.  It took me 4 tries but I got the best results from using my tight underbust measurement with the smallest bust measurement (laying for me) while not on my period/bloated/or nursing.  Measure the upperbust (underarm) according to their instructions.

I am fortunate to live in an area with several Personal Touch Lingerie stores and took a trip especially for you guys!  There have been quite a number of you who are curious about the fit and size conversion from UK sizing.  Officially, Satami uses the UK standard (from their FAQ):

What is your bra sizing standard?
Remember there is no universal standard for bras and bra sizing varies between brands and countries. Whilst we follow UK standard, there may still be little difference
I find using your UK size as a good starting point.  [Don't know your UK bra size? Try this very data oriented bra calculator!]  Due to their extra wide band, Satami bras are ALOT less stretchy than any other brand I've ever tried (US, UK or Polish!).  For example, the 32D bra I bought many moons ago measures 25" in band length but only stretches to 30.5" (full data on Bratabase.com).

BRA SIZE AND FIT
Here's the ultimate testament: I wear 32F/32E in most UK brands (Panache, Freya and Fantasie).  In Satami, I wear 34G.  I attribute sizing up in the cup partially to the lightly lined "padding" in the cups (pocket and side wings, crescents in the cups, etc), the shallow cups due the plunge style and for more coverage.  When I tried on the bra in 34F (up one band, up one cup), the cups were still too small.  Lots of quadding and wrinkles under the cups as it wasn't projected enough at the wire - or at the apex.  For reference, I have wide roots that are narrow set with lots of immediate projection at the wire.  [Need help with the terminology? Try the ABTF Glossary!] So size up in the band for comfort (unless you are accustomed to tightlacing corsets) and increase the cup size by 1 or 2.  This means those of you who wear a 30 band have a fighting chance of fitting the 32 band in Satami!  I should also add that these styles of bras - plunge, low center gore, shallow-ish cups are GREAT for those whose shape are on the shallow side or FoB.



I hope to get my hands on some Satami bras to review (in detail) soon!  In the mean time, check out my experience shopping for Asian bras in store in California at Personal Touch Lingerie!







Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Induction to Bra Making

BIT OF BACKGROUND:
Have you heard that statistic about most women in the US are wearing the wrong sized bra?  I know I have and systematically discarded it.  

"That's them" I thought. 

I had been measured by the ladies at Nordstroms and tiny lingerie boutiques - all the same size 32D.  Well, that was before I had kids.  After wearing comfy nursing bras for 4 years, my body has changed enough to warrant new bras.  So off to Nordstroms I went - they promptly sized me at 32DD.  After the initial sticker shock wore off and brought the one bra home, I went online in search of similar bras in my new size.  Stumbled upon the Reddit thread A Bra That Fits.  

Oh My!

The knowledge from that one site turned my world upside down. For starters they needed 5 measurements to calculate your size. They addressed shape, volume, how the girls point, where the girls point, which bras worked with which shapes and why.  SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. Where has this been all my life?  Curious, I measured and entered my stats into their calculator fully expecting it to confirm my 32DD status.  Surely their calculator will be THE most accurate since it requires more data.  My analytical side was kicking in. OMG. HOW WRONG I WAS.  The ABTF calculator put me at 32F/FF.  Wait, what?  I was confident that the calculator would put in at least in the same realm (maybe 1 cup off) as my old size but this was 4 (FOUR!) sizes bigger.  My mind is racing.  I had gained some weight postpartum but the band size remains the same. Could it be possible I only gained weight around my hips and boobs?  Hilarious.  Then it dawns on me.  The majority of women wear the wrong size bra!  I am one of those women.  I have been wearing the wrong size for over 20 years! WTF?

I dive full force into this brave new world where most major US lingerie manufacturers do NOT make bras in my size nor do they have a standard.  The days of grabbing a clearance bra for ~$25 are long gone.  The single bra I purchased from Nordstrom (and subsequently returned, unused) was $70! 


SHOPPING FOR NEW BRAS
I turn to online retailers to 1.) actually find a selection of bras to try in my size and 2) pray for a bargain.  In the course of a few months, I was able to purchase a few in my new size and was elated at the fit and comfort!  Not that my old size wasn't uncomfortable back then ~ i never had the issues I hear other women complaining about.  No wires poking, no spillage out the top or gapping, the center gore tacked (sat firmly against breastbone).  It wasn't until I tried on a bra in my CORRECT size for a few days then went back to my old INCORRECTLY sized bra that I felt the difference.  The wires were too small - they sat on my breast tissue and caused "tissue migration" under the arms.  

After a few weeks of wearing the new bras, I noticed the wires felt uncomfortable around the gore at the end of the day.  The wires were higher than I was accustomed to and my girls are set fairly close together so the wires were once again, sitting on breast tissue. My search now has the following (seemingly impossible) criteria: my correct size 32F, extra narrow center gore (usually indicated by OVERLAPPING wire channels) and/or low center gore, and lots of immediate projection at the wire.  Oh, and under $40 would be great!  


SEWING BRAS
Once again, I turn to Google for help.  That is when I stumble up this:

Bra pattern Merckwaerdigh BHST2 sewn by Very Purple Person 

Wait, someone sewed - at home - this gorgeous bra - with overlapping underwire channels?  It clicks.  I can sew.  I know how to read and follow patterns.  Why don't I try making my own?  The cost of purchasing the pattern and a bra sewing kit is STILL less than the cost of a retail priced bra.

And so it begins.  After much deliberation and research, I ordered the Merckewaerdigh Mix 30 Bra and Panty pattern.  From the reviews, it seems this company has really good instructions and quality patterns but also offers instructions on converting to a foam cup online.  I also ordered bra making supplies from ArteCraft.  Can't wait for it all to arrive and start my journey!


Cheese and Veggie Mini Muffins

Trying out a a new recipe.  Those who know me know I love me my mini muffin pan.  Bite sized treats that don't require any cutting and eliminates any squabbles over size.  Behold my newest attempt:


Recipe adapted from Learn with Play
I usually make mini muffins for my boys to help with the veggie and fiber intake.  They freeze well and can be reheated in microwave or defrosted in the fridge.  They make breakfast very easy.  My oldest insisted that these were REALLY yummy as opposed to the usual yummy.  Win win!


I made my usual adjustments - replace some of the all purpose with wheat flour and coconut flour to increase the fiber content.  A bit of chia seed and flax seed for the health benefits.  I used a combo of swiss, smoked cheedar and parmesean for the cheese as it was what I had on hand. Frozen veggies work well in this recipe as does bits of frozen ham!


Cheese and Veggie Mini Muffins


Ingredients: 

  • 250 grated cheese (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tsp chia seed
  • 1 tsp flax seed  
  • 4 tsps of baking powder to each cup of plain flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped honey ham
  • 1/2 bundle of spinach
  • Other random veggies finely diced.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients: 

Preheat oven to 180°C (356°F)

Sift flour into a large bowl.

In blender, combine the flax seed, eggs, spinach and milk.

Make a well in the flour, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined.

Spoon into a greased muffin tray and bake for 12-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Add more time if you like the cheese crispy but note that the muffin will be a bit drier.

I omitted the salt and pepper as I find the cheeses (Parmesan specifically) imparts enough salt.

Makes approximately 36 mini muffins.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Shampoo with Soap Nuts with Hard Water.

Welcome to the first post of Musings of a Multifarious Mommy!

Today's topic is how to Shampoo with Soap Nuts with Hard Water (the lazy way).
There are a number of tutorials on how to make soapnut shampoo but a limited number of how to apply the shampoo - and virtually none with Hard Water.  Here's where I come in.

But first, a quick primer on Soap Nuts.  Soap nuts are the outer covering of the seed from the plant Sapindus Mukorossi.  The covering or skin contains sapotin - AKA soap - that can be used in a myriad of household cleaning such as laundry and shampoo.  It is one of the only sources of 100% natural soap in the world as there is virtually no processing (pick soap nuts from tree, remove seed, and dry - its ready for use!).  You can purchase soap nuts online through my favorite retailer NaturOli or any number of site on the internet.

Most people recommend boiling a batch of soap nuts (with or without a muslin bag) and letting it cool completely.  Pour in a bottle and you're good to go!  I ran across someone who just threw a few in a bottle and added hot water, let it sit overnight and its ready the next day.  That sounded more do-able for this mommy of 2 boys.

HOW TO MAKE SOAP NUT SHAMPOO.
Step 1. Find a plastic squeeze-y container.  I used an old dish soap bottle (Mrs Meyers 16 oz works well).


Step 2.  Heat up a cup of water... in the microwave (because i'm lazy efficient).

Step 3.  Throw 3-4 "nuts" in the bottle.  You may need to crush/break them up a bit to fit through the spout.

Step 4.  Pour water in the bottle.  Batch should be ready to use in the morning.

A few notes: This method created enough for a one-time shampoo use for my medium length hair.  I make a new batch every time I want to wash my hair (which is only twice a week) and use the entire bottle.  Please, please, do NOT try to use soapnuts on your hair everyday or even every other day!  The soapnut shampoo will dry out your hair like no other.

HOW TO USE.
Step 1 (Optional).  Next morning.  Heat up another cup of water and pour into bottle.  Should be perfectly warm to use now.

Step 2. The Soapnut "shampoo" will NOT lather up like commercial shampoos due to lack of any form of sulfate.  As such, you need to manually spread the "shampoo".  That means: squeezing a small amount on your head near the roots, "lather" with other hand in that spot, squeeze some more on a different spot and repeat.  Pretend you are at the salon getting your head massaged.  Cover your entire head accordingly taking care NOT to get any into your eyes (it BURNS!).  I suggest to start at the crown of the head near the back, work your way forward, then the sides and lastly the back. Juuust in case you run out.

Step 3. Wash the rest of your body while the shampoo does its job.

Step 4.  Rinse.  You should be able to feel the difference in your hair.  If not, wait a bit longer or you may need a stronger concentration.

Step 5 (optional).  If you have hard water like me, do not skip this step!  Rinse with apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup acv per cup of water).  The ACV "closes" the hair shaft making it feel smoother and creates less tangles.  This is less of an issue with soft water from what I understand but do not even think about running your fingers through your hair while wet unless you did the ACV rinse!  Do NOT rinse out the ACV rinse with water when you are done  (you would be undoing the ACV - ask me how I know!)  No conditioner needed.  I keep a larger squeeze bottle of the ACV and only refill once every few weeks.  There is no "recommended quantity" for this so your milage may vary.


Thats it!

Recipe - Sweet Rye Bread

In all the years I've owned our Vitamix blender, I've had a variety of uses for the multipurpose tool: muffins, pao de queijo,  blen...