Moni 2.0


I have struggled with acne my whole life. I’ve tried a number of things, both weird and rational. A couple of years ago I went to a dermatologist (for the billionth time) to see if they could help. They prescribed Retin-A. It has kind of helped. However, I learned this week that I have been applying it the wrong way these two years. So I started applying it the correct way (wash face, wait 20 minutes, apply Retin-A). Whoa. Now things are different. I’d never experienced peeling and flaking skin before and wondered why I was different. Well, now that I’ve been applying this stuff correctly, I’ve got ALL OF THE PEELING SKIN. It’s not comfortable. I am told that if I can endure this for a couple of months my skin will be, not only be acne free, but also new and fresh and young looking.

This whole process feels very cathartic. Like I’m shedding some old part of myself that isn’t doing me any favors and underneath this old self is a new self.

A Moni 2.0.

I’m looking forward to meeting her.


Let’s talk about hair


32583030462_e4cd157dda_kBack in January I caved into the advertising machine of New Wash and paid an inordinate amount of money for an 8 oz bottle of this “shampoo” (that’s not really shampoo). I also bought some of their Hair Balm (also kind of expensive). I just couldn’t resist the siren song of possibly fabulous hair.

If you don’t know about New Wash, it is, essentially, a co-wash product. Co-washing is when you wash your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo.

So using it is quite the production. You have to massage it into your scalp and then comb it into the ends and let it sit in your hair for a few minutes before rinsing it. Rinsing it takes FOREVER because it is hard to rinse out and if you don’t rinse every single bit of it out of your hair it will look and feel greasy and the opposite of fabulous.

After a month of hair fail  I came to realize that this type of product just wasn’t meant for me (I have wavy hair but it’s really fine and not necessarily dry).  However, I read somewhere online that using a regular shampoo once a week with it is helpful, so I tried that and it did, indeed, improve my experience with the product and in the end I kind of liked how it made my hair feel. It was kind of a love/hate thing. I loved the fact that I could get a comb through my hair, but I hated how flat and lifeless it made my hair, no matter how long I spent rinsing it out. When I finally ran out at the beginning of this month I was relieved to be done with this expensive experiment.

I kept on with my regular shampoo and conditioner but after a few days the same old problems arose from before I started using New Wash (and the reason I was drawn to it in the first place). My skin is ultra sensitive and dries easily. The shampoo I was using was drying my scalp and making my head itch. Not fun!

Over the weekend one of my social media friends (I can’t remember who it was now!) posted a selfie with the hashtag #curlygirl. I decided to jump down that rabbit hole with both feet. The absolute best thing about this was that the products for it are CHEAP! Drugstore conditioner and hair gel – and the cheap stuff at that! The cost of these two products is a fraction of a fraction of the price of New Wash. The Curly Girl method was the originator of co-washing, which is something I didn’t know until this weekend. I bought the book and bought some conditioner and gel (which I haven’t used in YEARS) and gave it a shot this morning.

I am really happy with the results! My hair formed into really nice natural curls today and it feels good! And my scalp feels moisturized! And the conditioner all rinsed out! I didn’t leave any in, as some of the websites suggest, since I don’t really need that. I just rinsed it all out.

I’m super stoked to have figured this out and that it is something that isn’t going to nickel and dime me to death.

Here are some before and after photos. The one of the left was taken on Sunday and the one on the right was taken this morning.

Another hair-related empowering moment  was that I realized, and learned how to, trim my own hair over the weekend. This is something that will take some practice but, again, I’m really happy to not have to go to a salon to do this. Personally, I hate getting my hair cut at the salon because it is never done right and I hate the hour of awkward conversation. Doing it myself is so much better!

Here is a good video about the Curly Girl method that I found helpful. And here is a website that will tell you pretty much everything you would want to know about it.

A beautiful sadness


Yesterday we went for a hike up at the Salmon River, one of my favorite places (if not my favorite). We hiked along the river to  a campground that we like to  rest at before turning around. We got to our spot and wandered down to the river. At this particular place there is a pool where the rapids seem to calm and the river stills itself. This is where Salmon come to spawn, and this is what they were doing yesterday. Watching the salmon spawn is a favorite activities and it always makes me bask in the wonder of nature.

Yesterday as I sat in this peaceful place I wondered about the salmon and spawning process. I knew a tiny bit about it: that they swim upriver from the sea. I also know that after the process of swimming upstream they die because I’ve seen a lot of dead salmon in the river during this season. But that is about the extent of my knowledge. So I did some reading about it and I am kind of moved by the lives these creatures live.

They are born in freshwater stream pools at higher altitudes, like the one I was staring at yesterday. Then swim downstream to the ocean where they live for about 4 years.  When they are old enough to swim upstream to return to the place they were born so they can spawn their own baby fish (called fry). The process ends up killing them in the end. So they die in the place they were born.

Reading about this made my heart break a little bit. It’s so sad, but sad in a beautiful way.

Adventures with henna


I have been wanting to dye my hair with henna for years. I was intrigued when Wendy of wendyknits started using henna to dye her own hair. I suppose this has been something on my unconscious “Awesome List” for several years! I am just realizing this. Something prompted me to take the plunge a couple of weeks ago (I don’t recall what that catalyst was) so I bought some from I remembered reading that for the best results you want to use “body art quality” henna, and this place has it. It’s kind of spendy, though. And shipping is outrageous (So I would love to find a local seller of it).

It came in the mail and, no time like the present, and, “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today” and all of that. I decided to just do it this weekend.

It is quite the process. You have to mix up the henna with something acidic. I chose straight lemon juice. Mix up and let it sit overnight.
Mixing up the henna with lemon juice.

Beer drinking optional.

Another quirky thing about this process is that it has to sit on your hair for-fricken-ever. So I got up at 5:00am and started the process. I washed my hair, dried it, had a cup of coffee, then I started smearing the goop in my hair. It took a long time to do this. And it was really disgusting. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever done in the name of beauty. I tried to coat sections of hair and when I was done I looked like Medusa. I couldn’t take a photo of myself looking like this because my gloves were filled with green goop. But here is a shot of my head right before I put the saran wrap on it.

This is, hands down, the most disgusting thing I have ever done in the name of beauty.

Yes, saran wrap. You wrap your head in saran wrap and then wait for hours and hours. I waited 3.

Wrapped in plastic

Then I rinsed it out. This was very difficult, as well. The mixture dried on my head and my hair was matted together. It didn’t come out easily. But, eventually, it did.

Here is what it looks like now:

red head!

It is supposed to deepen in the next few days. But I actually really like it a lot! My hair actually feels pretty fantastic, too. Also, it covered up the gray hair really well. Admittedly, I don’t have very many gray hairs but they are there and I know exactly where they are and I don’t like them. Here is another snapshot of it in the sunlight. Do I like it enough to do it once a month? No. Perhaps every other month, though.

Homemade Lip gloss

Cover of "The Green Beauty Guide: Your Es...

Cover via Amazon

I’ve been reading Allie’s Answer’s blog for about a month now and was especially inspired by a couple of posts that talked about natural skincare. I was especially interested in the guest post by Julie Gabriel in which she talks about the benefits of using oil to cleanse the skin. After reading that post I immediately put her book, The Green Beauty Guide on hold at the library. Wow. What an excellent book.

There is lots about this subject of natural skincare that I want to talk to you about! So I think I will blog about the things I’m learning about once a week. I kind of feel like I’ve stumbled on something really cool here and I want to share this journey with you.

Today I’m going to share my experience with making my own lip gloss. I’ve been wanting to do this for ages and a few weeks ago I finally just did it. It was so easy and it took maybe 10 minutes. The recipe I used made enough for one batch, which is just fine for me since I’m the only one using it at the moment. I read a bunch of different recipes and came up with something that worked for me, mostly because I had the ingredients readily available at the time. My lip gloss is based on this article in the New York Times.

1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of soy wax (I had some that I got from Michaels for candle making)
1 1/2 tablespoons of Cocoa Butter
1 drop of Vitamin E
3 drops of Peppermint Oil
Colored mineral makeup (that you would use for blush)

Put the coconut oil, soy wax, and cocoa butter in a glass Pyrex measuring cup (with a pouring spout) and place in a small saucepan filled a quarter of the way with water (or you can use a double boiler if you have one. I don’t). Melt the oils and wax until they are liquid. Take the Pyrex measuring cup out of the pan and add the Vitamin E, Peppermint Oil and mineral makeup. Pour into container and let cool.

I’m still experimenting with the amount of mineral makeup to use. For the first batch I used a pinch but it wasn’t enough color. The second batch I added more and it still wasn’t enough color for me. You will have to play around with that until you get the right amount for you. Or don’t use any if you don’t want colored lip gloss.

That’s it! It took me longer to write this up than it did to actually do this. It makes a really delicious lip gloss that really softens your lips. Plus it’s all natural and no chemicals.