Friday, July 22, 2016

Slowing Down

My summer has been flying at me at NASCAR speeds, when I'm really wanting a geriatric Sunday drive. I'm struggling to believe that July is almost gone. I'm not ready for August. I'm not.

So here's a list of things that I'm behind on:
  • Reading
  • House Projects
  • Soap Porn
  • Daily Audio Bible
  • A Few Bills
On the plus side, I have accomplished the following:
  • Working on the Yoga flow challenge. I don't have it down perfect (Upside down splits? Falling to bridge? Yikes!) but I have figured out a few modifications until I work up the courage/strength/flexibility to follow through.
  • Hired a cleaning lady. She comes every other Wednesday to do my surfaces (counters, tables, floors, dusting) and bathrooms. She is awesome. If I can slow the rest of my life down, I should be able to use my "free" time to de-junk my house, organize my awesome, and maybe get a few of the things on the previous list done.
  • Falling madly, completely, and happily in love. I let my anxiety and depression get to me, and at just about the point where everything was going to fall apart, I woke the frick up, got myself on some meds, and started dealing with stuff. It's been hard to let some of my past go, to accept that a love is no longer returned, and to fully embrace my life for the crazy, beautiful disaster that it is. And I fell in love with me again, and I fell in love with him too.
  • I started a bullet journal. I'm still working out the kinks, figuring out what I need and what I don't, the realities of my time. It's also keeping me focused. Sometimes. I am a work in progress.
It's all left turns here, but I'm not coming last!
(see what I did there? NASCAR reference... it's ok, I'll wait for you to catch up...)

Monday, July 11, 2016

How Full Is Your Bucket

How Full Is Your Bucket?How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A generic read. Less than a month later I barely remember the premise, much less how to change my life.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 3, 2016


Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy reading about WWII - whether it's fiction or biography. This was a no different. A very well done translation, a moving true story.

Summary: Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver.

Monat Update

I'm over due posting this. Surprised anyone? As always a huge problem for me is that I want to write 100 page essays about EVERYTHING, and I get stuck in editing mode. Moving on...

I signed up for VIP, used up all the samples that my "new best friend" gave me. I wound up using my commercial conditioner once, otherwise I have been using only Monat since May 1.
Talk about feeling an instant difference. My hair wasn't shiny at all. It was soft, but in a crunchy way. And my scalp itched again.

So the regime is pretty simple for week one:
Apply Rejuvinique Oil to hair. Wait 20 minutes. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Condition.
Repeat every other day.

And weeks two and three:
Apply Rejuvinique Oil to hair twice per week. Wait 20 minutes. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Condition.
Wash and condition every other day.

And week four:
Apply Rejuvinique Oil to hair once per week. Wait 20 minutes. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Condition.
Wash and condition every other day.

After week four:
Wash and condition as needed. Apply Rejuvinique Oil to hair once per week as needed.

So after using Monat for a month, a few things I've noticed:
  • Hair looks and feels better
  • Scalp is less itchy
  • Hair can be a bit more tangled - seems to be more of an issue as residue buildup (from commercial products) began flaking off
  • Some "frizzy" baby growth is beginning to appear
Mostly good things, or things that are a short term "unpleasantness" of the detox process. Overall, I'm still loving Monat!

Here's a few photos of my hair at week 2 and now after a complete month.

After week 2, before washing. (And no, I don't want to talk about my face.)
After a complete month, after washing, partially dry.

Upclose after week 2
Upclose after a full month, partially wet, but you can see the improved color.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back in the 90's I saw a movie version of the short story, but had never read anything by Steinbeck. (I didn't take the smarty pants English Lit in High School.) I had a rough idea of what happened in the book, so the plot wasn't a surprise to me. What I really enjoyed was the vernacular and jargon used in the dialogue. Characterizations were well written and thoroughly worked out in the story. There was a rough, beautiful poetry in the descriptions. A beautiful short story of the hard choices we make when we love someone.

Summary: Of Mice and Men takes us into the lives of George and Lennie, two farm workers set out to find their way to a new life. In true Steinbeck form, this short novel explores both loyalty and the transient nature of mankind.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the fact that it took me almost 3 months to read this book, I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to expect from the second book in the GoT series. There was some recap, but not enough to be boring. There were some things left unexplained that required reading the first book, and they were really memorable events.

Many familiar characters were main players, as well as some new characters. Some days reading required note taking, just to be able to keep the shifting POV and storyline straight. This is a very intelligent writer, an intelligent story, and not for an idle mind to pick up and be entertained. This book becomes a history of characters that we feel for, we want to weep for, we cheer for, and even when the line between good and evil become blurry, we find ourselves in the story.

The second book becomes more graphic in violence, rape, and battles - I struggled with it a bit, but then realized it was realistic for what is happening in the story. This is a world under duress, where loyalty only lasts until the next "king" is crowned. This is a world torn by violence, confusion, and fear.

Summary: Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Monat - Before

I have written before about my attempts to detox my hair. Kind of. I've tried lots of stuff, but haven't found anything that works. I mean, really works, so I haven't documented my failures either. I have an aunt that swears by baking soda washing and ACV rinsing, but... her hair is dull and frizzy. I also have some concern about using something that I exfoliate my face with on my hair. It makes as much sense as using sand paper as cleaning rag.

I've been slowly detoxing my "beauty" routine over the last five years and hair has been the most challenging. I mean, yeah getting my face to clear up hasn't been a cake walk (and let's not talk about deodorant), but at least there I saw improvement with (almost) everything I tried. [And yes, some day I will get around to documenting my skin care routine. I've tried a few times but, much like my India posts, I felt too much time passed to make it relevant.] My hair though... it's dull. And frizzy. Tangles five seconds after brushing. It doesn't cooperate with any kind of style. It just isn't pretty hair. As I've gotten older I've developed an itchy scalp, which is annoying. My final straw though, was looking at my daughter's beautiful mid-back length hair and seeing the same disaster.
This is the condition of my hair after one washing & conditioning using Monat.
It already looks better, but you can see how dull and damaged it is.

I was hopeful that Pangea Organics would put out a hair care line, but after two years of promising it would be out "next quarter" and not delivering, I've stopped holding my breath.

Which brings me to Monat. I wasn't looking for it, but there it was across the aisle from me at a recent vendor show. I was skeptical, but the rep sent me home with a ton of samples and tons of information. If you know me, you know I love information.
Disclaimer: Not my photo. Credit here.

I spent a few days Googling the company, reviews, and looking through the Skin Deep database (yep, I checked every.single.ingredient) and not finding anything that set off red flags, I decided to use it. Most of the reviews I found were based on the samples - I saw one that continued to use Monat, but in a rotation of other products. The downside of every review came down to price. It's expensive.

With less than optimistic expectations, I tried the shampoo and conditioner. I couldn't stop touching my hair. The very next day I signed up for VIP status (which gives a 15% discount) and decided to try it for 90 days.

The system I bought for a whopping
$88. Also not my photo.
An add on for an additional $88.
Still not my photo.
The full 90 day detox, following their (crazy?? maybe) plan. That night I used it on my daughter too. We both loved the results. I don't know if I can get her to cooperate with the whole detox plan (seriously, washing her hair twice a week is a battle so I can't imagine what would happen if I told her I want to wash it every other day.) so it will be interesting what Monat does with her hair.

I'm going to try to do this in "real time", reporting every week for the next 12 weeks.

Just because selfies are silly and I'm a goofball...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mindful May

It's been a full quarter of a year since I updated. I'd like to say "Not much has changed." but so much has. I can't really process where I am in my own story, quite possibly this is the epiphany that triggers the change and sets the story resolution into place. Possibly, but not bloody likely.

So... books... When I left off in February I was trying to do a book a week. Things were going great until I picked up Book 2 in the Game of Thrones series. This book takes longer than a week to read. It's so good, I HAVE to finish it. I'm currently at 9 weeks of reading time and 50% finished. This may drastically increase in the next week. The Diva starts swim team which is 3 hours of practice each week. I'm going to focus on book time, not screen time, while I'm waiting for her.

Other things that have happened... I broke. I was in way over my head in depression and anxiety, struck by panic attacks when I would simply leave my house. I got to the point where I was shutting everyone out - including one amazing guy - and I knew I had to do something. it took me a full month to figure out how to schedule a doctor appointment with my own doctor without making a phone call. (Yes. I was on THAT side of the darkness.) I got in, got medicated, and goodbye panic attacks. We're still tweaking the meds, but man, heading into month 3 of medication and life is so much better.

I thought I was going to have a quiet summer, but The Diva made the swim team, wants to do t-ball, has swim lessons, camp, and VBS. Add in there that I have craft shows every other weekend, a full-time job, several part-time jobs, and a life... thank goodness The Duder is low key. His only activity is a trip to DC/NY in June. After that, he's a free guy unless he goes to work at the junkyard this summer.

Other stuff on my 2016 list... well, I finished the dining room! Next on the list is getting my gutters fixed and cleaned out. Now that the last snow of the season has come and gone, I feel pretty safe calling the guy. I'll try to get that accomplished this week. Then I'll need to take a look at money and the list and decide what's next.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Aloe Vera White Soap from A Misty Dimness Soap

Well, here it is... I'm finally reviewing one of my own soaps. So I guess it's not really a review so much as advertising...

Aloe Vera White Soap from A Misty Dimness Soap is my first original recipe. It's currently available in the store as a clearance item. I have reformulated the recipe just slightly and when it comes back into stock it will be called White Soap. (It's a slight FDA violation to call it Aloe Vera soap when there are other ingredients, so I'm trying to comply as much as possible.) It will also be in the standard bar form that all of my soaps come in. I've stopped using single cavity molds unless it's a test recipe or a special order.

The bar that I have in my shower looks different from the store because it was made from an over pour (I had more soap batter than mold space) so I grabbed the first single cavity mold I could get my hands on. I had enough to make three bars, so those went into my personal stash. So, now that I feel I have any confusion cleared up... here's what's what...

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Juice, Sodium Hydroxide, Coconut Oil, Lard, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Castor Oil, and skin safe Titanium Dioxide.

First Glance: I still am a little bit in awe when I pull out one of my own soaps. It's like... dude, I made that. This is a nice evenly colored bar, nice size and smooth looking. No fragrances were added, so soap has a natural light scent. Bar is of medium weight.

First Use: Big creamy bubbles. Smooth skin feel. Rinses clean but not squeaky clean. Unscented.

Overall Thoughts: This is one of my favorites, even with the old formula. It's a nice unscented bar. Not one of my longer lasting bars, but it did go further than I expected. This is a great soap for anyone who likes a clean skin feel and clean scent.

The new formula will improve the usage life. I've done a lot of playing around and have finally settled on a standard that uses more lard, less coconut oil, and the addition of soybean oil to balance the other oils and butters. I have added aloe vera gel to the recipe to increase the goodness of the soap, and I have removed the titanium dioxide. The extra boost of white coloring just isn't needed.

If you're curious about my other soaps, head over to my online store!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Italian White Sage, Geranium & Yarrow Soap from Pangea Organics

 I first found Pangea Organics when I was searching for something to add to my oil cleansing method skin care routine. I wanted something that didn't have a lot of unnecessary ingredients and was affordable. Pangea Organics delivers big on the ingredient part, but I struggled with the price tag. I jumped into their multi-level marketing because it helped with my personal costs. Unfortunately the MLM was very badly handled and they have since discontinued this type of sales. Great products, just a poorly managed company. Their soap bars remain one of my favorites.

Ingredients (from package): Palm Oil, Palm kernel oil, sodium hydroxide, water, glycerin, geranium oil & citrus oil, sage oil, sodium chloride, citric acid, rosemary leaf extract, rosemary leaf powder.

First Glance: Packaging is very earth friendly, made from recycled materials. Soap carton contains seeds that can be planted to grow spruce trees. Bar size is a nice fit in the hand. Smooth surface with nicely rounded edges. Very shiny and creamy looking bar. Stamp in the center is a nice touch. Light and pleasing fragrance, not too floral or spicy.

First Use: Because I have been using this soap for four or five years, it's difficult to remember what my first impressions were. I intentionally didn't use the soap for about six months, hoping to refresh the experience. Soap lathers easily with medium sized bubbles. Very smooth lather. Bar is slightly slimy after use. Scent is very light even in water. Pleasant after skin feel with a squeaky clean rinse.

Overall Thoughts: This soap fits somewhere between a commercial soap and a handmade soap. It's a nice transition between the two types. I had three handmade soaps in my shower at the time, and found myself going to them more often. This is a nice soap, and I would buy this before I picked up any other commercial bar, but it can't compare to a nice handmade soap on any day.