Sounds a little unhygienic, right? But let’s start at the beginning. It was just another pandemic weekend, and I was binge watching YouTube videos as one does, when I found this video by Devin Lytle former part of the Buzzfeed Ladylike crew. The video detailed Devin’s recent* decision to stop washing her hair and become part of the No Poo (as in shampoo) moment. The movement asserts that modern washing practices are damaging to our hair and scalp and can lead to dandruff, hair breakage, and hair loss, and that we can have stronger, fuller, healthier hair if we just take it easy and let our hair, for the most part, do its thing.
Now this is not the first time I have heard this idea, but in the past, the women singing the praises of the concept had hair situations that were dramatically different from my own. They had thick un-dyed long hair, and a lot of their “tips and tricks” seemed to hinge on the ability to pull their hair back in a number of styles that could camouflage or utilize the natural oils produced. With short fine color-treated hair, that was a big no go for me. Now back to the day I watched Devin’s video. Devin and I have very similar hair, and I knew from watching her videos in the past that we dealt with many of the same issues when it came to care and maintenance. So when she decided to take washing her hair off of her daily routine, I for the first time thought, “wait, this might be something I can do too!”
I am still telecommuting, and I only leave the house once or twice a week, so I figured there couldn’t be a better time for me to give this a shot. I tried to take a picture every day or so to track my progress:
And I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. Now before you get excited and start throwing away all of your hair products, I do want to say that my new routine isn’t just me and my hair; I had to utilize a couple of things to keep my hair looking the way I wanted. The first, and most important, item was dry shampoo. My scalp produces a fair amount of oil naturally, and my baby fine hair just can’t stand up to it. I used the dry shampoo whenever I felt things were looking a little rough. A couple of sprays and a quick brush, and I was good to go. However, a person can not care for their hair with dry shampoo alone – there have been cases where people use too much, too often; their scalp ends up caked with powder, and their hair starts to fall out. To avoid this, I rinsed my hair with warm water once a week and scrubbed my scalp with my nails. Since my hair is purple, I would apply my purple Overtone to my hair the day of my weekly hair rinse and let it sit for 25 minutes before rinsing it out. I also was able to do my monthly root bleach and dye without an issues (I manage my own color maintenance at home).
All of that to say, this really worked, guys. Like REALLY worked. My hair looks better than it ever has, and with the exception of Andy teasing me that I am now one step closer to being a “dirty hippy” there hasn’t been a downside. I am going to look for a “better” dry shampoo. I’ve been using the Garnier Invisible Dry Sampoo in Mint Mojito, but I am using a lot of it and I’d like to find something that I could use less of for longer. But here I am, more than a month since my last real “hair wash”, and it is still the best choice I have ever made for my hair. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back.
As things swing into the middle of summer, I find myself thinking fondly of simpler times, where quickly melting freezer pops and floating around in the pool were the order of the day. Granted those days are a lot further away than I’d like to admit, but those deep seated memories I don’t think ever really go away. In response, I have been trying to figure out a new summer rhythm: something restful, but productive enough that I can keep myself from feeling too badly about a lazy afternoon or two. Here is what is going on in my life currently:
Listening – to audio-books. I finally jumped on the Audible band wagon, and while we had a bumpy start, I think I’ve finally found my rhythm. I was a little stingy with my monthly credits to begin with and I was listening to a lot of free content that was…maybe not of the highest quality, but I finally did some research and I am pleased to say that the last two books I have listened to have been pretty good. A friend of mine recommended A Court of Thorns & Roses, which I enjoyed, and now I am working my way through Loving Your Lady Landscape. Trying to find a balance between purely for entertainment and for personal growth ;).
Cooking – Summer Veggies. I really want to take advantage of all of the amazing seasonal produce this month. I have been bookmarking recipes, and I am going to try to talk Andy into cleaning off the grill. Worse comes worst, I do have a tiny little indoor grill that should be big enough to cook whatever I come up with for two.
Reading – The Insider, book two in Craig Schaefer’s series about a gritty former explosives expert Charlie McCabe. The first book, The Loot, was an interesting take on how strange it can be for someone fresh out of military service to be a civilian again – even more so when you arrive home to find your family in a situation that leads to good people doing questionable things for what they hope are the right reasons. It can be a slippery slope, and I am very interested in seeing what comes next.
Wearing – Shorts. Or I will be very soon. I have some body image issues, and nothing makes me more self conscious of my extra padding or my extreme paleness quite like summer time. Since I am usually indoors it hasn’t been a huge issue, but since I am spending more time outdoors, I have found myself intensely uncomfortable in my longer layers. A friend of mine finally asked me why I was making myself miserable, I relayed all of my insecurities and she said, “who gives a shit what a bunch of random people think about the way you look.” After a little reflection, I had to admit she had a point so I went home and ordered four pairs of shorts; they should be here by Wednesday.
Finishing – a lot of the projects I’ve started over the last few months. I, like many people, have been trying to make the most of my at my extra at home hours. However, since running out to the store to pick up additional supplies is not advisable, I’ve found myself stopping mid-project to order supplies and then never coming back to it. So this month I am making a concerted effort to wrap up as many of these half-done projects as possible. In preparation, I’ve been pulling out pieces and supplies and grouping them together on my work table so everything is ready once I get started. Here’s to a productive month!
As I am sure you have seen all over the internet, a lot of people are using the pandemic and the need to stay home as an opportunity to tackle all sorts of projects. My big project has been turning my junk room/craft room into a fully realized office/craft room (more on that in a later post) and one of the spaces I want to create in that space is a meditation nook/altar space.
I don’t really like getting into my personal beliefs these days as there are so many people giving religion a bad name, but I grew up in a Pentecostal church. It was loud and demonstrative, and the sense of community was incredible. I loved it, and I was very involved. Then I went to college and realized that I didn’t necessarily agree with all of the things the church taught. Love, forgiveness, generosity? 100%. Homophobia, condemnation, and belief in one “right” way to live? Hard pass. I bounced around to a few different more inclusive churches/denominations over the years, but then 2016 happened, and Andy and I decided that I was done with trying to find a “good” church and I was going to pursue ways to honor my beliefs in a way that felt meaningful to me. I still pray everyday, but I also enjoy my affirmation tarot deck, honoring nature and the elements and meditation to feel more connected to the universe. It’s a little mystical hippy woo woo, but it works for me.
As I was working on ideas for my altar/meditation space, I came across this article on How to Make a Mala Necklace That’ll Supercharge Your Meditation Practice. I have a friend who is a yoga instructor so I’d seen/heard about them before, but I’d never given them much thought. Mala necklaces are made up of 108 beads (like the Catholic rosary), and similar to a Catholic rosary, they are used to pray or recite mantras, one for each bead until a complete circuit has been made and you find yourself back at the beginning or guru bead. Traditionally malas were bestowed by one’s spiritual leader, but today they are widely available and no more than a mouse click and free two day shipping away.
If you want something a little more personal however, you can easily make your own mala necklace. Your mala can be made up of colors or gemstones that are meaningful to you on a spiritual level or even simply something you find visually appealing. I’ve always been interested in the metaphysical properties that have been attributed to different stones over the years so I picked my materials based on that. After a bit of research I landed on Flourite, a translucent purple and green stone that were supposed to promote things that I felt would be beneficial to my mental health and over all spiritual well-being:
Flourite – Enhances mental order and clarity and reduces instability. Helps bring about a wiser, more balanced view of life and improves decision making.
To round things out, I used all natural cotton cord and made a matching tassel and added a few silver touches for a little something extra. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the results.
Since I am not a yogi, I won’t be using my mala necklace for the traditional chants or prayers, but I will be using it for daily meditations, affirmations, or to pull my mind away from the frantic pointless panic that our current situation seems to be fostering in so many of us. I have visions of siting in my quiet space, breathing, re-centering, and calming myself while deepening my awareness of my own body and self and finding a way to move forward with understanding and grace. A tall order to be sure, but a girl can dream right?
I don’t know about you guys, but the last few months have given me quite a bit of time to sit and think, some things more serious than others. One of the many, many things going through my head right now is all of the places that I haven’t been. Places that aren’t all that far away, places I could perhaps drive to for a long weekend. Places like New Orleans, LA.
New Orleans has always been on Andy’s and my list of places we planned on visiting, but the timing never seemed to work out – there was always one reason or another to postpone. I decided that even though it isn’t safe to travel right now, it couldn’t hurt to do a little research, just so I could get an idea of what I’d like to do when all of this insanity is behind us and things find whatever the new balance will be. That little bit of research turned into me planning an imaginary trip, and I decided to share some of my findings with you guys. So let’s jump in.
Beignets – You can’t go to New Orleans and not sample the cities signature pastry. Andy and I had a bit of an argument over which establishment we would visit on our ficticious trip, and ultimately narrowed the list down to three: Cafe Du Monde (Andy’s Top Choice) – Operating since 1862, this is the place to get beignets in New Orleans. Seriously, if you google “beignets” and “New Orleans” this place with be at the top of every single list. Deep fried squares of dough covered in a mountain of powdered sugar; this is where you want to go for a truly authentic treat. Beignets & Coffee, that’s it. Cafe Beignet – This is another establishment (well technically four establishments) that came up under every search for “best beignets.” Cafe Beignet looks like the perfect place to indulge in powdered sugar covered pillows while also grabbing a quick meal. This option was included since it is perfect for people who may not have the time for a beignet only stop but still want to get their fix, and with their four locations, you will likely find one near other things on your vacation itinerary. The Vintage (My Top Choice) – This is where Andy and I disagreed about the way to obtain beignets. I am all for tradition, but as a baker and an artist, I really enjoy seeing recipes modified and twisted to create something fun and new. Along with the tried and true beignet recipe, this cafe offers what they call “fancy beignets” that are filled, dipped and sprinkled with all manner of delightful additions (the selection changes regularly). It’s like it was custom made for me.
Places to See – there are more of these than I can list in a single post, but I did want to highlight a few of the places at the top of my list. Century Girl Vintage – I saw this place featured in a Buzzfeed video and it immediately went onto my bucket list. I couldn’t get over the stunning vintage clothing, the beautifully appointed shop, and the overall glamour of the entire experience! It was everything my giddy sparkle loving heart desired. Even better, they endeavor to be size inclusive and that completely blew my mind. The Pharmacy Museum – Located in the Vieux Carre Historic District, this museum looks like something straight out of Harry Potter. Antique wooden shelves and cases are stocked with all manner of tonics and bottled remedies from the past. The museum provides a wonderful peak into the rich history of pharmacy and healthcare in Louisiana. Royal Street – As I am not much of a drinker, I was interested in touring areas apart from the famous Bourbon Street. One post I found had this piece of advice “While the younger generation converged on Bourbon Street, I found magic on Royal Street – one of New Orleans’ more artsy areas. The street is lined with galleries, antique shops, estate stores and boutiques. For beads and “Who Dat” t-shirts, head one street over; for authentic New Orleans gems, stop into the stores on Royal Street and find what you’re looking for.” While I am no where near the “get off my lawn” age, the rest of the sentiment seemed applicable. I would now also like a “Who Dat” shirt to wear ironically.
The Garden District – Where the Mansions live. While doing research on this stunning neighborhood, I stumbled upon a listing for the Henry Howard Hotel . The house was originally built in 1867 and has been renovated into a stylish boutique hotel that honors the homes original charm while providing modern amenities. I decided that this will be where we stay on our imaginary trip. Bonus, it’s a short walk away from the trolley! Voodoo Cemetery Tour – While this might seem a little cheesy, I’ve always been fascinated by the much misunderstood and maligned history of voodoo in New Orleans. This tour includes a guide to take you through the Historic Voodoo Museum, Congo Square, St. Louis Cemetery, and Marie Laveau’s house. I want to hear ALL of the stories!
Where to Eat – No matter where I looked, food was a huge part of any list of recommendations for New Orleans. And not just the French and Cajun restaurants you’d expect. Creative, modern places that sound like a foodies fantasy. Frankly I could probably have done multiple posts about the places I’d like to try, but for this post I narrowed it down to three. Saffron NOLA – Nominated for James Beard Best New Restaurant in 2018, this family owned business has been kicking ass and creating delicious entrees for two years now. The family has blended New Orleans traditions and ingredients with their heritage to create a menu that has landed this restaurant on my bucket list. Coquette – “Contemporary Southern Cuisine” This eatery located in the Garden district is popular with locals as well as tourists. They focus on locally sourced products and draw global inspiration for their take on southern food. The menu is on the smaller side, but everything sounds incredible. Peche – This seafood restaurant is focuses on working with local fisherman and farmers who harvest sustainably, and they also use “live-fire” cooking techniques. This made this list because I grew up with good seafood, and I am always interested in trying dishes that highlight quality ingredients and creative parings.
It was at this point I looked up and realized I had spent hours pouring through websites and itineraries, I had two screens full of tabs for fun potential hotel, food, and site seeing options. I realized I was getting really jazzed (pun intended) about this trip that I wasn’t actually taking. It felt like it might be time to save my progress and set the planning aside for now. Do I regret falling down the rabbit hole? Not one bit. Things won’t be like this forever, and when they’re not, I’ll be ready.
The first time I made these little biscuit bites, I was just standing in my kitchen on a Saturday morning craving something breakfasty and a little sweet. Something that wouldn’t require a lot of effort and wouldn’t have a long cook time. I really wanted some of those easy bake cinnamon rolls, but we didn’t have any. Finally I just threw together this little recipe and hoped for the best. It turned out better than I had hoped. The cinnamon sugar coating had caramelized the tiniest bit creating just the slightest hint of sweet crunch that gave way to a warm fluffy biscuit interior. Andy was delighted, and I posted a picture of them to my Instagram stories. When I checked my account later that day, I had messages from a couple different people expressing interest in the bites and asking if I could provide a recipe to recreate them. After sending replies, I decided that it might just be easier if I posted the recipe here and then anyone could see it.
Ingredients: * 1 pop tube of biscuits (I used Trader Joes’s Buttermilk Biscuits) * 1/4 cup granulated sugar * 1/4 cup brown sugar * 2 tbsps of ground cinnamon
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to baking temperature indicated on the tube packaging. Line cookies sheet with baking mat. 2. Combine sugars and cinnamon in a large resealable bag. Shake well to combine. 3. Remove biscuits form tube and separate. Cut each biscuit into quarters. 4. 4 or 5 pieces at a time, place the biscuit pieces into the cinnamon sugar mixture and shake to evenly coat. 5. Place the coated pieces on the lined baking sheet leaving space between to allow for the biscuits to expand. 6. Bake the pieces per the directions on the back of the tube. My biscuit pieces took 14-16 (just shy of the 16-18 minute suggested bake time). 7. Remove baked pieces from the cookie sheet and eat while warm.
These bites are fantastic dipped in apple butter 🙂
If you can’t make it to Trader Joe’s, don’t worry; I’ve tried this recipe with Pillsbury Grands, and it works just fine.
I would avoid buying the flaky layers type of canned biscuits, though. You want these little guys to hold together and the layers will puff and pull apart as they bake.