December 2009 Archives

New Moon at Home

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Logan was sick yesterday, some sort of stomach bug. But he didn't have a fever, as my trusty mom hands informed me. Logan pointed out that my hands felt cold, and the truth is my hands are always cold, especially this time of year. And Michael, who currently is reading the Twilight series, made the observation that in our family:

I'm the vampire, and he's the werewolf. It fits -- I'm fair-skinned and cold body temp, and Michael's always hot (with ample chest hair, I might add). It's our own little Twilight saga at home.

Logan points out in his ever-literal way that the werewolves in Twilight are actually not werewolves, but shape-shifters. WHAT. EVER. Sounds better to say "vampire and werewolf" than "vampire and shape-shifter."

And Logan is on the mend, by the way. Hasn't thrown up since last night!

Henna 2

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Two days ago, I henna'd my hair for the second time. I couldn't find the mixture recipe I used last time, so I winged it. But this time, I got my recipe actually saved into the computer. I also learned a few things. This is all in the name of staying chemical-free while covering gray. Henna is more work and more time-consuming than chemical dyes, but to me it's worth it for my health and the health of the environment.

So for the goal of brown + red, here's what I did:

Henna Recipe, number 2

200g henna (body art quality)

1.5 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp allspice

1 cup +1/4 cup lemon juice

½ cup apple cider vinegar


100g indigo

About 1 ¼ cup distilled water - warm works faster than cool


To be on the safe side, I use only non-metal mixing utensils and bowls (glass bowl, wooden spoon, plastic measuring tools). Mix the henna and spices with the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, adding the liquid in small quantities until the mixture is the consistency of yogurt/mashed potatoes. Cover well with plastic wrap (I let a layer rest directly on top of the henna mixture, then seal the top of the bowl with another layer). Let sit overnight, or at least for many hours. The dye needs to release, and when it is ready, it will be a brown-orange color (when you first mix it, it is green).

When the henna is ready and you are about ready to work on your hair, it's time to prepare the indigo. I used distilled water to mix it in a large glass bowl - about 1 ¼  cup. At first I just used 1 cup of cool water, but the dye wouldn't release, even after waiting almost 30 minutes. So I added the extra ¼ of "quite warm" water from the tap, and then the indigo dye finally released. It appears almost blue-black on the surface (the color pre-release is a very dark green).

Before mixing the henna into the indigo, I added the extra ¼ cup of lemon juice to help soften the henna mixture, which had thickened to a mud-like consistency during the hours it took to release the dye. Then I mixed the henna into the indigo, and it was ready to go.

Make sure you have everything you need before you begin to work the henna-indigo mixture into your hair: gloves, paper towels, old clothes and/or towels, a drink if you need it. Because of the length of my hair, I also had plastic hair-gripping clips to section my hair and hold undyed hair out of the way, a comb just in case, and a pointed hair stick (like a chopstick) to pull hair sections down a bit at a time.

Use Vaseline if you are concerned about dye staining your skin, but the henna will not remain on your scalp, face, or neck as long as would your hands - for this reason, WEAR GLOVES when applying the henna. It's best to have a henna buddy to apply the mixture to your hair - my hair is thick and reaches past my shoulders, and it took about 1.5 hours to finish the application. This time, my dear hubbie was my henna buddy, and he did a great job. I told him to pretend he was an artist, and he'd do fine. And he did!

It's best to work from the base of the skull to the front, coating roots in small sections of hair and working the henna mixture out to the ends, laying each section down before getting the next section. Sections should be thin -- otherwise you'll find that not all the hairs get covered properly.

When the "mud" is well coating all the hair, pile the hair onto the top of the head and make a "pack" then wrap Saran Wrap around the head/scalp. Wrap it well so that no mud is exposed. I wear a tuque over my "plastic" hair to keep my head warm and less goofy looking (that doesn't mean you don't still look goofy with the tuque on). Then wait - at least 5-6 hours. This time I slept with the henna mixture on my hair and rinsed it first thing in the morning.

When it's time to rinse, I find it best to work the mud out of sections of hair in the shower. Others like to loosen the hair in the tub first, but my neck doesn't tolerate holding my head upside-down for too long. I rinse, and rinse, and then use a comb through the hair as I rinse yet again. Then I condition, comb, and rinse. And then guess what - I condition, comb, and rinse again. You want the water to be clear.  

Things to know about henna:

  • Plan ahead and just love the time involved. Henna needs to be prepared the night before. It also needs to sit on your head for several hours. So it's a great time to relax around the house, watch a movie, or sleep. It can feel like a day at the spa, almost zen-like.
  • The initial color will always be brighter than it will be after a few days, so don't henna right before you need to go out in public. Oxidation takes a few days, so how you look on day 1 is different from how you look on day 7.
  • Henna has an earthy smell. That's why some people mix in some spices. But I'll choose earthy over the smell of the chemical dye. And of course, the earthy smell washes out over time. To me, the earthy smell contributes to the zen-like feel of the process.
  • The henna is permanent -- it's a dedicated route, so don't henna on a whim. Henna stains the outer shaft of the hair, and it doesn't wash out, and trying to remove the color leads to horror stories in the hair color world. In my opinion, it's a great route for people who already have dark hair -- people with blonde hair run the risk of having a shocking color effect. Before you henna, research and do test samples, especially if you are blonde.
  • Henna'd hair shimmers in the sunlight. It's really an interesting effect, and it takes some getting used to. It catches the sunlight -- pretty cool.
  • Henna on gray hair is unpredictable, but the initial effect is likely to be bright red to bright orange the first day or two. Be patient and let it oxidize -- it will look different after the first few days.
  • The key is dye release. The first time I henna'd, I didn't actually achieve the dye release of the indigo before mixing in the henna, and I'm pretty sure it's why my hair's brown had a fair amount of red visible. This time, I did get the indigo to release, and it's definitely a darker result. Will I like it? Not sure yet. It's darker than my natural brown, but it's only day 2. 

The result of my recipe:

Day 1: The red on the grays is less shocking than it was the first time I henna'd. Hair looks suspiciously dark, but overall the color is nice.

Day 2: Yep, dark brown with red highlights. The dark is going to take some getting used to. It's quite a bit darker than my natural brown, but it's still in the brown realm. That indigo release was powerful. Glad I didn't go 50-50!

Yeah, I know, a picture would be really nice here. I'll try to add one later.



Happy Birthday, Grover

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grover1stbd.jpgToday Grover is one human year old. We celebrated by taking him to the store and getting him a new cat bed (yes, he's a dog) and a fleece football. At another store, we bought him special frosted and sprinkle-coated peanut butter dog cookies that he could share with everyone, and I do mean everyone. Loki and Sheba happily ate the happy cookies. But the ingredients were all human-grade, so the boys decided to try some, too. They started with the sprinkled ones (Grover, denied!) and then tried the frosted ones. I nibbled the edge of one, and that was enough for me.

Our boys are weird. Logan finished off the second cookie with a glass of milk.

Edit: Grover took about 20 seconds to work his way into the stuffing of the cat bed -- I knew I should have bought the fleece one instead of this soft furry one. Maybe it would have taken him a whole 45 seconds on the other one!

Second edit: Wait -- it's all good. Now he's sucking on the cat bed like a pacifier. It's why we buy him these cat beds. He sucks on them at bedtime, then goes to sleep. Too cute. Weird, yes. Guess that's a requirement in this family, being weird.

San Miguel photos and journal

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cactusb.jpgAs wonderful as San Miguel is, I took so many pictures that it was a challenge to sort and process them all. But my journal of the wedding trip is at last complete, with extra photos shown via Flickr. Enjoy!

Progress! Getting "Back"

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I'm officially starting to work my way back into the exercise world. I think sometimes you just have to hit bottom before you can go back up again. This week I've started some mild yoga and I'm resorting to spin classes, as cycling on my bike still aggravates my back.

Overall, I think my body is responding well. During yoga, though, my back gets quite inflamed, so while others get to do their sun salutations and wonderful poses, I have to start with simple and modified motions. I can't do the traditional sun salutation/down dog/up dog sequence right now -- the flexing of the back throws mine out. But many of the other yoga poses I can do, and they feel almost good. Not great when one's back is inflamed, but good enough to know that my body is responding.

The meditation portion of the class is interesting. While I used to enjoy relaxing my whole body, head to toe, into deep meditation, now this portion of the class for me is all about just getting my back to relax. It's very much a conscious process -- first I get into a position, then I will my back to relax, then I feel the pain, then I feel the release, and then after a few long moments I have to get into another position and start over. I move slowly and quietly so as to not disturb anyone nearby.

It's going to be a long road to recovery, but I'm think I'm actually back on that road, finally. And with the spin class turning out to be a success, albeit a boring one (no offense to the instructors -- I just prefer to ride outdoors), I hope that I'll finally lose these pounds I gained.

Oh, and at long last I'm "knee deep" in the San Miguel pictures and journal -- should be ready in a couple of days!

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