Monday, July 28, 2014

Life's Too Short...

On, I saw a bio that had the greatest profile line ever: "Life's too short to drink bad wine."

How perfectly true is that?

Of course, it gets you thinking about other things. My first thought was, "Life's too short to spend so much of it frowning." Then I had about a zillion other thoughts pinging around in my head.

Here's my quicklist of "Life's Too Short...:

  • To worry about the day your outfit was horrible
  • For spending time on the wrong people
  • To think about what you can't do instead of doing what you can
  • For having bad relationships, friendships, unsatisfying jobs
  • To put off being happy
When I feel afraid of change or challenges, I have a way of putting things into perspective. It's a little morbid, but very effective. What I do is think of all the people who lived long, full, go-for-it lives. You know they type: people who laughed the loudest, cried the hardest, and loved with deep passion. If that doesn't work, I think of the people who died before they had the chance to realize just how short life really is. Basically, I read the obituaries that are clipped and saved in our family scrapbook.

The other day, my aunt was telling me about our 97-year old grandmother, *Sadie. "Miss Sadie" had just returned from a trip to Disneyland. Now that's the way to live a long life! She she still cooks and cleans and does all her own errands around town. (I just hope she's not still driving!) About five years ago, Sadie had a boyfriend 20 years her junior. Never mind his age, let's just think "boyfriend".

What does it means to have a boyfriend of any age when you yourself are 90-plus? I'm in my 50's and if I had to come up with an escort, I'd be calling 1-800-Rent-A-Date. (Maybe because I am sitting around reading family obits?)

After my sister was diagnosed with cancer, she didn't sit around crying about the worst that could happen. In her mind, she's so blessed every day that Death doesn't scare her the way it intends to. She's raised wonderful kids, she's been an amazing sister and daughter. She's been in love and she has friends who adore her. She hasn't yet done everything in life that she might want to, but she's enjoyed most of what she has done. 

That's what I want in life. If I die after my next breath, I will be glad that I have loved and been loved. I'm thankful that I will be missed and remembered with a lot of laughter. In my human vanity, I am sure that years from now, friends and family will be telling stories of things I've done (and I'm glad that some of the stories won't be repeated until after I'm dead!)

Lots of people have done more - and had more, seen more, tasted more, traveled more - than you and I. Some people have been known and loved by millions. Some have changed lives of millions. That doesn't make any other life mean less. All that really matters for each of us is that we meant something by being here. If that "something" was special to only one person - a child or a friend or a lover - it's enough. It's enough even if it's only special to us.

Life. What else is it good for other than for living? 


*Name changed to protect myself from having my ear pinched!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Makeup & Labels

I was thinking about how much attention I pay to food labels. I pay a lot of attention to almost anything I plan to eat. What I don't often do is take a good look at labels on my cosmetics. The other day, I did notice something about the foundation I use:

Revlon Photo Ready in shade 012/Mocha. I love this stuff because it works so well with my Garnier 5 Sec Blur. Actually what I love is that it doesn't look fake-ish and it doesn't easily streak and leave messy marks on clothing.

What I really like is the attached labeling - at least I did, once I paid attention to it:

Is sunscreen really the reason people buy this?
 I don't know about you, but I have never really bought foundation makeup for the purpose of using it as a sunscreen.
Also, I don't "apply liberally" or reapply ever 2 hours. I'm a once-in-the-morning user. I might blot my face with my makeup sponge a couple of times a day - if I'm feeling sweaty.

Who knew that all this info was included with the product? Not me because, if I notice it at all, I immediately rip off and toss any tags as trash.

Now that I have noticed the information, I have to say that I'm pleased that it's included. When I looked through the rest of my bag of tricks and illusions makeup, I realized that most products don't give such detailed notes.

Now, on to the main point of this post. When I took a closer look at the 2 main ingredients in this (and in many other) makeup, I went from pleased to alarmed to "Huh?" in about ten minutes. Why?

  • Because of the titanium dioxide skin-protection factors such as those mentioned here
  • Until I realized it might be dangerous because of what I read here
  • And then, I read this (which is a bit calming) and threw my hands up in surrender
I don't even want to look at the other ingredients. Bottom line is, I'll get worried if I notice my skin reacting badly. In the meantime, I'm going to just accept that if the makeup hasn't killed me yet, oh well. As the kids say:  #YOLO.

Thanks to Revlon for at least fully labeling a product. And thanks to them for having a decent shade of makeup for darker skin.


P.S.: Sorry that I'm slacking on posting & social networking (and responding to everyone online). It's been a rough couple of weeks. I'm now sitting here in the middle of all my boxes, with 6 days left to be out of this place. When Monday comes around and folks are looking for dependable old me to be there, I'm going to keep sitting here just taking care of me for once. Just venting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Nice" People and Their Dirty Deeds

What is the worst thing you have ever done to someone? Steal from them, cheat, lie on them?

The worst habit I practice
The one I hate most

The worse thing I have done to someone is to make them feel insignificant. It was a long time ago and, thank God, I learned how damaging that action can be.

I know lots of nice, wonderful (and, in some cases, Christian) people. I know folks who would feed a stranger with the last crumb in their pantry. Unfortunately, some of these people do horrible things every day, many times a day. The sad thing is, most of them probably never think about the dirty deeds they do.

Most of the best things I know about being a decent person are ones I learned from my mother. I'm better at some of these things than I am at others, but I am a work in progress. One of my less attractive habits (that I still cling to with a little bit of selfish relish) is calling people out on this blog. Sorry, but this is my rooftop and I'll shout if I want to!

A lot of us need to be called out every now and then. Like Carly Simon sings in"You're So Vain", some of you might think this song is about you.If so, then just do better or stay miserable. So, in my best Jeff Foxworthy voice (if not his humor), I present:

You Might be a Dirty Deeder...
  • You talk, talk, talk, but never listen, listen,  listen
  • You are annoying in the same was ways that others annoy you
  • You've forgotten how to say "Please" and "Thank you"
  • You think that being bossy makes you a boss
  • You never think of anyone but yourself (and it shows)
  • You take people for granted
  • You have a "God" complex - your universe, your rules
  • (God will deal with that one)
  • You mistake your faults for strengths
  • You're only good to people when you get credit for it
  • You mistake being a control freak for being in control
  • You forgot everything your elders taught you about being decent

Do you know people like this? Do you have friends like this? If you are young, you might as well know that you'll likely meet a lot of people who practice dirty deeds. This article could be helpful.

It happens
I've been on the giving and receiving end of careless unpleasantness. Once upon a time, if dirty deeds were a band, I'd have been the lead singer. These days, I'm just an occasional groupie. What helps me is feeling that my mother is watching me from Heaven and shaking her head when I go on the road. Mostly, I try hard to make her proud.

And make sure you don't choke
As a (mostly) reformed member of Dirty Deeds, I am forming a self-help group. Not really, but I have some advice that I know my mother would approve of. Matter of fact, I learned this from her as well:
  • Don't say you care. Care.
  • Try to hear yourself with the ears of the person you are talking to.
  • Know who you are dealing with and adjust your approach accordingly.
  • Learn to bite your tongue. It's a metaphor and won't really hurt so much.
  • Interact with and speak to your elders in the way you will want your children to mimic.
My mother wasn't big on words. She didn't often say that she loved me, but she was the queen of actions. Even so, I didn't realize what was truest about my mother's good heart until I saw this

Don't know who he is, but I like this thought

Monday, July 21, 2014

Creative Gifts

Okay, this is a brag post. I'm showing off some of the creative gifts that my creative niece, Gabby, has been making. You know how you see those Pinterest photos of projects that don't go quite as expected? Well, that's what always happens when I try to make things. My niece is the person who can just see an idea, then she goes off and improves on it.  I can talk her up all day long, but I'll try to let the photos speak for themselves. (I'll try.)

The first time I realized she could transfer her creative skills to edibles... She made this for DJ's first birthday:

And DJ's growing up to LOVE trucks!

Edible rocks & dirt. A kid's dream.

She even put "roadwork" inside

Having a baby? I'll give you onesies & diapers. Gabby will do this, using stuff Mom & Dad need.

Cute, right?

All kinds of useful baby items in this cute bundle

This is a favorite of mine. Airplane.
Bottles, diapers, toys...

She does stuff for the grownups too
Molded edible ornaments

For the game-playing cousin of hers

For her co-workers

With treats inside the treats

Her talents don't end with the gifts. She is going to talk me through making some chairs of my own when I get settled in my new home.

She took a plain set of chairs (left) & put on her spin to match a room decor (right)
Yeah, so, if you want a gift from this family, my feelings won't be hurt if you prefer Gabby's creations.

I'm trying to talk her into doing this as a side business. I mean, on top of her working a full-time job and pursuing her Masters... If you are interested you can connect with her here on Facebook or on Google Plus. Or, you know, me, her favorite auntie!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Time of Waiting

I'm always quoting Zora Neale Hurston's line: "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." I'm not worried about years, but, lately, I feel like I am living in a time of waiting.

My family and I are waiting to see how my sister's chemo is going; I am waiting to move and be settled; I have a friend who is waiting to see whether or not she will be moving. I have another friend who's wife is battling cancer. I'm waiting to hear how they are both doing. So, really, I waiting and praying. Lots of both, but I'm ashamed to say that I've been doing more worrying than praying. Bad habit.

In this time of waiting, I've been having moments of reflection that come out of nowhere. Not the good kind of reflection - like musing over hopes and goals - but the bad kind.

Last night's moment was dark. Early in the evening, I was dog tired, but when a sudden rainstorm started, I couldn't sleep so I just sat up feeling as if all my life is hanging in the middle of the universe. Waiting for something. Wishing I knew what all I need to be prepared for when the waiting ends and the breathing begins again. There have been a lot of those kinds of moments.

The other day, when I was visiting DJ, I actually did have one nice moment. He and I have this thing where we call each other "Boo-boo." (Him: "Bye, Boo-boo, I see ya 'laler'." Me: "No, Boo-boo! No spitting!" Him: "Okay. I sorry, Boo-boo.") I was watching as he struggled to put on his favorite (and about-to-be too-small) pair of shoes. I spent a few minutes wondering who and what he will be in ten or fifteen years.

Today, after a dismal start to the morning, the sun broke free and I just needed to be outside in the warmth. I had a nice moment of watching a tiny squirrel skitter around in the branches of a tree, but when the wind kicked up, I just felt so sad and lonely that I started questioning the meaning of my life.

It's all this waiting that is making me so restless and moody. I need time to speed up a little bit, just enough to end all the waiting and show some answers to my prayers. I just want to be out of this particular space of time.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dream Products

Since I'm prepping to relocate, I have't been able to take on any new product reviews. In the meantime, I've come up with a dream list of products I'd love to try out.

First of all, for any of the products, the basic criteria would include mainstream availability and prices affordable for average people. By "average" I mean those of us who don't have excessive discretionary funds. Maybe I even mean those of us who rarely get to use the term "discretionary funds".

So, here's the list I have in my head:

  • An entire skincare regimen with natural, wholesome ingredients without any mention of animals that weren't killed in the making of the finished products. I love animals, but I don't need to get an entire history of the treatment of them in a brochure attached to my wrinkle cream.
  • Any product that actually does reduce cellulite and takes inches off my waistline. The product can't include any ingredients that are renamed to hide the fact that they came from the lab of a mad scientist. Also, it can't take six months of installment-plan use to see any results.
  • Hair products that work - not just the sample product that is never quite the same as when you get the full-size treatment. If it implies that it will make your hair shine, bounce, curl, soften up, straighten up - or make complete strangers on the street follow you around because of the great smell - then, dangit, it will do that.
  • Something like those pocket/purse-sized teas and juices to squirt into my water that uses actual sugar - no artificial sweeteners allowed. Matter of fact, I want tiny, purse-sized teas, sodas and sugary juices for when I just need a little bit of a guilty thirst fix.
  • Cottage cheese that doesn't look like curdled baby poop. I don't even care if it tastes any different that regular cottage cheese. Every time I want to try cottage cheese, I just can't. I have a sensitive gag reflex when it comes to food that looks like it's already been partially digested.
  • Grape-sized, rind-less watermelon. Love watermelon. Hate the mess. Loathe that I have to have the fly-attracting rinds in the garbage can in summer.
  • Mixable, customize-able makeup. I've seen foundations that are supposed to blend in "true" to various shades, but it's all a lie. You still have to find a close enough match to blend true or else you will look like a cartoon parody of yourself. I want some foundation palettes, and some blendable lipstick that can take me from day to night without having to buy eight tubes of colors that are close-but-not-quite the right shade.
Am I asking for too much? I know I can't be the only one who hasn't thought of some of these products. I hope that by the time I get moved and settled in the new town, someone will have at least come up with the purse-sized sodas. At any rate, tomorrow I might post about my Amazon wishlist...


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

About Black (A.A.) Hair

This is an interesting article on WebMD that makes several good points about African American hair. (You all know how I hate that term "African American", but saying "black" hair would be confusing. Now that it's clear, I'll use "black".)

I just posted about a couple of products that I am using more of lately. This article has me ready to take a much closer look at labels (and my personal hair care routine).

I hope I'm not breaking any rules of quoting from someone else's source, but there are so many points made in the article that I locked onto:
  • One common myth is that there is just one type of African-American hair, New York stylist Ellin LaVar says. (I like the way she thinks. Here is the link to her site.)
  • Generally, the hair contains less water, grows more slowly, and breaks more easily than Caucasian or Asian hair (I knew this, but never thought about it enough.)
  • "Look for products that describe the texture of your hair, not the color of your skin," LaVar says. (Excellent point, right? I mean, Lupita N'yongo and I share a skin color, but I can tell from photos that we have different hair textures.)
  • "I often have to explain to clients that African-American hair needs to be washed regularly," (I've always been taught not to "over-wash" my hair, which I took to mean not washing moer than once every 10 to 12 days. Oops.)
  • Curly textures tend to be the most vulnerable to drying out and breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural oils to work their way down the hair shaft. (Another thing I knew without understanding it.)
  • "If the product feels greasy, it's probably not adding moisture inside the hair," LaVar says. "You need a penetrating conditioner with lightweight oils that are absorbed rather than sit on top of the hair." (My favorites don't feel greasy, but I want to look for something good for my hair, not just good on it.)
  • She prefers conditioners with essential oils -- like grape seed oil, for example -- that moisturize without leaving an oily residue (I need to think more about ingredients!)
  • LaVar says that body lotion can be a good stand-in for a leave-in conditioner because it is designed to be absorbed into the skin. Rub a dime-sized drop between your palms and smooth it over the length of your hair. (Wow! So my cousins and I were onto something when we were younger and used lotion in our hair!)
Man! I sure wish I could afford to hire this woman as my stylist. 

And wash regularly. Don't forget to wash!

I sure don't miss the salon!
 Here is another good take on caring for "dry hair". Good article, but I can't agree with the point made about conditioning. I know for a fact that it is not that hard to over-condition black hair. It depends on the conditioner and how long you leave it in. When my hair is over-conditioned, it becomes really weak - almost like when using a relaxer.

By the way, for my silky-haired sisters of all racial types, here are some ideas for curling without heat. Nice.

One of the things that I've gotten better about is not following trends when it comes to my hair. There was a time when if more than 5 people were doing something "new" with their hair, I wanted to try it out. I've done 2 types of "curls" (yes, I did the Jheri Curl!), worn cornrows and braid extensions; I wore all the ugly hairstyles that seemed so cool at the time; and I only stayed conservative when it came to dying my hair. I even tried out a weave for the first time just before I got sick. Now, that was a lifesaver when I was in the hospital and without the coordination or energy to use any products or appliances! 

The hate is real, y'all
I love my now natural hair, but I don't count "going natural" as following a trend. Being natural is not very cool when all the celebs are wearing flowing locks of weave down to their knees. Also, it wasn't easy doing the chop and getting used to caring for my hair in its natural state. It was a little bit of a nightmare, now that I think back on it. 

What I love about my hair now:
  • It is my natural hair (with a little colorizing help from the box!)
  • It's easier to care for than my relaxed/processed hair was.
  • It reflects me and not what someone else thinks of me.
  • It looks good even when the gray starts showing.
  • I can get caught in the rain without wanting to steal someone's umbrella.
  • Accepting my natural hair feels like accepting the natural me.
What I struggle with about hair:
  • Wanting to try every product for natural hair.
  • Finding good products at a good price.
  • Re-adjusting my hair care routine as I learn more about what is and is not healthy.
  • Some people still being so curious about this natural look.
  • People wanting to touch my hair. 
  • People who believe that "good hair" equals long (or straight or lots of) hair.

Until the past few weeks, I hated having people touch or feel my hair because, while it often looked nice, it didn't feel that way. Now that I've hit on some good products, I almost want people to touch my hair so that they can see that it is soft and sensual. I find myself touching my hair a lot more.

I'm better about this now

One thing that we women need to do is realize that we are all sisters - black, white and every color/race there is. We have the whole media industry pushing body and hair issues on us at every blink of the eye. Our best weapon against all the image bullying is to remind each other that we are amazing just because we are female. That's our freaking super power.

I have the same personal rule about my hair that I do with the rest of my physical appearnance: I do the best I can to make what I have healthy, clean, decent and, hopefully, pretty. If I had to do it to be a better person, I'd cut every strand off my head tomorrow and learn how to rock the baldness. I'd have to adjust of course, but there are too many more good things about me to be too hung up on appearances. That said, I'm happy for what I'm working with right now.


(Thanks to the folks on Pinterest who post the best natural hair humor ever!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

**REVIEW** StaSofFro and L'Oreal EverCreme

Now that I have more length to my hair, I had to switch up my styling products. With the shorter hair, I used a lot of oils and creams to help the growth. Dry and damaged = enemies of growth.

December 2013

March 2014

July 2014


For my shorter hair, I was using a lot of coconut oil, Jamaican Black Castor oil, plus just about anything that tamed the frizz. My hair has grown out quite a bit, so my big thing now is holding a curl, softness and conditioning.

The two products I'm using are ones I've talked about before, but I have a new appreciation for both:

The Leave-in is SO good

Sounds greasy, but it's not
I discovered the L'oreal EverCreme leave-in a couple years ago (according to my post). I like to use it first thing in the morning to add a shot of moisture to my hair. I follow that up with the SaySofFro for some softening and scalp moisture.

Most people think of StaSofFro as being greasy/oily like so many "wet curl" products, but it's a whole other thing. If you apply it and let it absorb for a few minutes, your hair is very touchable. The softening I get with this spray is amazing. After I wash and condition, I like to spray the StaSofFro on my roots and scalp. I massage it in a bit to work it through to my ends, then I spray the EverCreme just enough to get the outer part of my hair.

Since I've been using these two as my main hair products (about 2 weeks or so), I find that I have a lot less breakage and a lot less dryness. It's also nice that my hair is easier to "refresh" in the mornings.

What I like about both products is that they leave my hair very touchable and soft. Also, the price. I can get each for under $6. Can't beat that with a 5-speed blender.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Damages and Joy

Sunday was a nice family day. A bunch of us drove out to Eagle River to take DJ to the Bearclaw Bear Paw Festival. I rode with two of the nieces and, for some reason, I played a CD full of Elton John and Creedance Clearwater Revival. Big mistake. We all ended up meloncholy (and one of us just broke down and bawled).

This song is one of those with lyrics that almost every person with damages can relate to - damaged youth, damaged love, damaged dreams.

Wow. Yeah.

I think the mood did us all at least a little bit of good. I know that I was ready for some fun afterwards.
Nice drive
HATE this in winter

Look at that view

 The drive alone brought back memories of going to Eagle River to visit my dad when he was so sick.

Oh, THAT moose. Huh.

Yeah. Right.

This is who it was all for


I wanted to, but...
not today

He's going for a ride!

He was happier than he looked

Look at all these big folk. Eating fair food... ~sigh~
My niece will be leaving tonight, so I'm glad we all got to have a nice family day together. I think we must have depressed the weather with our earlier mood. It started raining just as we all got something to eat.

This picky eater was just killing the kettle corn!

I ask for some, but...
The rain kept coming down, so we headed back to Anchorage.

Fit our earlier mood
Right about the time we hit the highway, I remembered I'd wanted to have some funnel cake. Oh well. It was a great time & I got to knock out a quickie post.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

**REVIEW** Kiehl's Creme de Corps (lotion)

From my wonderful L'Oreal box of goodies, I picked out a couple of faves. I've already reviewed 5 Sec Blur from Garnier. My other fave? This lotion from Kiehl's:

It's good stuff. Just as promised by the site's info, the lotion is non-greasy and hydrating. I was kind of surprised at how well it worked when I used it. For one thing, it doesn't seem as thick as some other "rich" lotions out there. It feels a little wetter.

  • Takes very little to get results
  • Gives skin a nice softness that lasts all day long
  • No unpleasant odor (I smelled nothing)
  • Has a squeeze top - not  a pump (great for packing!)
  • Comes in sizes from 2.5oz - 1 liter (that one has a pump)
  • On-site reviews claim that it does improve skin texture over time
  • Pricey (from $11 to $75)

As usual, I didn't read all the suggestions for use before I, uh, used the product. I just slapped some on and rubbed it in. Turns out, there's a little tip for better results (I guess): apply lotion and let it "soak in" before dressing. That makes sense, if I applied more of it, but I'm being stingy to make the bottle last. I apply it the same as I do any other lotion - meaning I just apply it and go.
Maybe I'll try the "soak" application one day. Right now, it's all I can do to find time to shower and moisturize at all.

I've talked here before about the state of my extremely dry feet. This lotion works well enough to make my feet feel good. (I've been drinking more water lately, so that could be a contributing factor.) Because I'm a fanatic about moisturizing, I don't let my skin get too dry in the first place but, if I had to rate this lotion, I'd say that it does work really well. Since I haven't been using the "soak" method, I can tell you that it doesn't take much of it to moisturize from the shoulders down. My hands are almost as dry as my feet (almost, sort of) because I tend to wash and sanitize them throughout the day. The Kiehl's does soothe that dryness instantly, and the results last a long time.

I don't know if I will be able to buy this lotion often but, if I could, I would. The price is in a neighborhood I reserve for shoes and purses: $29.50 for the 8.4 oz bottle I received. However, there are a variety of sizes so the $11 2.5 oz bottle would be a nice to have in one of those purses.

If you have super-dry skin and are looking for a good lotion, this might be worth it. The reviews from customers (on the brand site) are very favorable.

By the way, I noticed that Kiehl's has a facial cream. Interesting. I'm going to have to see if I can get my hands on a sample...