Long Hair Care

I recently considered cutting my hair off.  I tend to consider this from time to time but I was a bit more serious than usual almost to the point of making an appointment.  Instead I decided to try a homemade shine mask for my hair first to see if I could bring a little health back to the ends.  To my surprise the shine mask worked.  I think the reason I was so surprised that it made a difference is because it is made with ingredients from my kitchen.  Since this is so easy and worked so well, I thought I’d share it with you.  Enjoy!

(By the way, I decided not to cut my hair… for now.  Hopefully it sticks for a while.  I tend to get bored and want to change it but I really do want super long hair.)

Ingredients:

  1. 1 egg
  2. 4 TBSP yogurt
  3. 2 TBSP coconut oil (or olive oil)
  4. 1 TBSP of lemon juice

Directions:

Crack egg into a bowl and beat extremely well with a whisk (to the point where the top layer has bubbles).  Add in the yogurt, coconut oil and lemon juice and whisk once again extremely well.  Massage into dry hair.  If you have a dry scalp then massage mask into the scalp. Otherwise avoid getting the mask on the scalp and concentrate on the length of your hair.  Let sit for 20 minutes (clip up or put into a shower cap to avoid dripping). Rinse through with water only.  Shampoo and condition as normal.

Hair Color Gone Wrong

hair-complete
oil-treatment-before-and-after

How many of you have taken the plunge to bleach your hair only to end up with an orange dried mess?  I’ve gone the bleaching route but only twice.  The first time was not a problem; the second time, not so much.  My hair is dark brown; almost black so going light for me can be very tricky.  On the plus side, my hair is very thick and course so it can usually handle a good bit of abuse.

The Dryness Issue:
Before I explain what happened with this last bleaching experience, I will say that I have an unusual distaste for tangly, dried hair. I like hair that looks and feels healthy.  So, the adventure begins.  I went to a new salon and stylist to get a mix of ombre and balayage.  At first I liked the look, but that affinity faded quickly.  The more I washed my hair the more orange, tangly and dry it got (and I never even blow dried or used heat).  I began trying everything under the sun to soften the ends (where it was bleached).  I tried special (hard core) conditioner you wash out, hot oil treatments, leave in conditioner, smoothing oils, etc.  The list goes on and on.  In utter frustration, I got 5 inches of my hair cut off because the ends were in such bad shape. Luckily, my hair was down to my hips so I had some length to spare.  The cut did not help much.  My ends were still dry straw, YUCK!  I reached out to a friend to ask if she had any ideas and she brought me to the section in Wal-Mart typically for African women and showed me a product, B&B Tropical Roots, that her daughter uses who has thick, course hair similar to mine.  I was willing to try anything and at $5 a bottle it was worth it!

Dryness Solution:
Here is my process. I used the B&B Tropical Roots as a hot oil treatment by putting the entire bottle in a cup of nearly boiling water and heated it up for about 15 minutes.  Once heated, I worked the oil into my dry hair soaking it completely (only on the bleached parts).  I then clipped my hair on top of my head and put a shower cap on so that I didn’t drip any oil on my clothes and let it sit for 45 minutes.  After that, I simply shampooed and conditioned.  The before and after picture above shows the drastic difference.  I couldn’t believe it.  It worked!

*Only use Tropical Roots oil if you have very thick and course hair.  This product will not work for fine and/or thin hair.

Orange Color Solution:
I finally found something to overcome the dryness.  Now onto the issue with the orange color.  I was faced with two options; one, bleach further to lift the orange color to a blonde or two, dye back to my natural color.  Since I was not willing to bleach and damage my hair any further, I chose to dye my hair back to my natural color by using an oil based non-ammonia box color (Garnier Nutrisse or Garnier Olia).  Once again, success! (first image above)

*If you color right after doing the oil treatment, your hair may be very greasy until you wash it. Pony tails are your friend!

After much fretting, the problem was solved.  Never, never, never again will I bleach or lighten my hair.  I like my healthy, silky, smooth and manageable hair way more than I like trying a different color.

 

Autoimmune Paleo Trial

AIP Ketchup

Most of us have heard of the paleo diet but what you don’t hear much about is the Autoimmune Paleo diet (also known as the Autoimmune Protocol diet or AIP). I happened to run across info about this diet on the internet while down one of those deep dark rabbit holes that you tend to find yourself in when one search leads to another, to another and yet to another.  The word “autoimmune” caught my attention right away.  You see, I have two autoimmune diseases one of which is vitilago.  Vitilago is a disease that causes you to randomly lose pigment in your skin leaving patches of white spots all over your body.  See my previous post HERE with pics.

There are approximately 80 different autoimmune diseases currently.  Autoimmune disorders include hundreds of medical conditions that are due to the body’s own immune system attacking its own organs.  One of the most frustrating things autoimmune conditions is that there is no curative treatment for them.  By using food as medicine, AIP followers are able to reduce troublesome symptoms and heal underlying imbalances by decreasing inflammation and healing gut dysfunction. The diet focuses on a nutrient-dense intake and eliminates inflammatory and allergenic foods to support the body in cooling down the immune system (which is what’s going awry).

So what does this really mean?  It means no gluten, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar, no eggs, no spice or peppers, no nuts and seeds, tomatoes (SO hard), and no alcohol with keeping fruit to a minimum (which I’m not doing so well with thus far – baby steps).  Basically, you can eat meat and vegetables with caution to oil and spice.  Here is a great beginners guide with a chart.

Why go through this…what appears to be a somewhat horrific experience? Well, I have been gluten free for almost eight years and doing this initially made a huge impact on my first autoimmune disease but didn’t have too much of an impact on the vitilago.  Although, after going gluten free, most of the white patches on my face re-pigmented, thank GOD! However, it is still spreading fast and furious on my hands, feet, and knees.  This disease, while not painful physically, is very painful emotionally.  If there is a chance that I can heal a portion of all of the vitilago through diet, why not?  I have nothing to lose at this point.  I’m going to give the diet a trail run from 30-90 days to see if any re-pigmentation occurs.  Many diseases can be healed through diet.  They say you are what you eat, right? Well let’s see what happens.  Stay tuned for more.

* The pic above shows two jars of nomato ketchup that I made over the weekend.  You can find the recipe HERE.

Caffeine, Coffee & Me

Sad Selfie

Today marks day number eleven without soda, coffee or caffeine.  I like soda okay, but I LOOOOVE coffee.  I mean, I REALLY love it!  It’s what gets me up in the morning and keeps me running throughout most of the day.   You hear all this fuss about how bad caffeine is and how it’s considered a drug, but you truly don’t understand the impact (and hold) that caffeine has on your body until you try to cut it out completely.  Aside from it being a drug and addictive, it is known to trigger and exacerbate stress and anxiety (among many other things).  Stress and anxiety are two things that I am working hard to keep in check these days.

I recently ended up in a scary (to me) situation where, for days, my heart had been racing and I wasn’t able to sleep.  Looking back now, I realize that I had gotten so wound tight and so stressed that I didn’t know how to get out.  My dad explains it best by saying that it’s like you’re stuck in a pressure cooker with no release.  So, after this bout of anxiety, I came down with a fever and was in bed for days with the flu/sinus infection.  I used this opportunity to quit caffeine cold turkey.  Hey, I felt like complete crap anyway so, why not, right?  I’m not going to lie…it’s been hard.  I’ve been tired, foggy and quite moody.  I can feel my body adjusting.  I can feel my body fighting.  I’m drinking more water and I’ve replaced the coffee with some good herbal tea.  It is difficult but I will persevere.  I will push though to a better, healthier me.

January

Nell Walking to Waves Nell Walking to Waves 2

Going to the beach in January is unheard of.  Well, this is the reason I live in south Florida.  Typically, January and February are the coldest months that we see.  Cold for south Florida is a low in the 50’s and a high in the 60’s to 70’s.  Well up until a week ago it was was still very much summer weather with high’s in the mid 80’s.  While everyone was screaming for cold weather, I was at the beach riding the waves and soaking up the sun.

This past week the weather has adjusted itself to the typical January chill.  I have worn closed toe shoes for over a week now and I’m totally over it.  Bring back summer!

Dolly Shirt DIY

Nell Dolly Shirt Laughing Dolly Cut Out Dolly Shirt Pull Off

Ok, so I am definitely on a Dolly kick lately.  I’ve purchased 6 Dolly Parton vinyl’s within the last month alone.  I grew up listening to old country; Kenny Rogers, George Jones, Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, and of course, Dolly Parton.  Listening to these old songs especially on vinyl just feels good; it feels right and in a weird sort of way, it feels like home.

I’ve made many hand painted shirts over the past couple of years, so I thought I’d use this same technique to make a Dolly shirt.  Here are the instructions.  Enjoy!

Materials:

1 cotton t-shirt
matte fabric paint
sponge paint brush
Reynolds freezer paper (plastic coated)

Instructions:

  1. Find a design online or create one of your own
  2. Either trace on design or hand draw design on matte side of freezer paper
  3. Cut your design from the freezer paper using an x-acto knife (put down padding underneath so that you do not cut the table)
  4. Iron on the cut design onto the t-shirt
  5. Let cool completely
  6. Using the sponge brush, paint in the cut areas of your design
  7. Let dry overnight and peel off

6 Months

mom smelling roses

6 months. It has been 6 months since our lives were turned upside down and inside out. It has been 6 months since I received the worst and most shocking call of my life and witnessed a moment in time that I hope no one will ever have to experience.

Today marks the 6 month point since my moms tragic car accident. It was a moment in our lives that we will never forget. As I look back on that time, especially the first two weeks, I remember mourning my mother’s death at least 15 times. Yes, I actually mourned her death, not just once but 15 times. Can you imagine? It was a yo-yo experience where we toggled between hope and hopelessness; between thinking she may make it and thinking we would lose her forever. I can’t describe in words what this emotional state truly felt like. It was the worst feeling that I had ever experienced in my entire life.  No one has a picture of what mom looked like when Earl, dad and I walked into that hospital room for the first time on Friday, December 19, 2014. No one but the three of us saw her early on. I’ll be perfectly honest.  It was simply too difficult to see. I will say this though. There are actually three pictures of what those early days looked like; not physical pictures but one picture etched into each of our brains (Earl, dad and me). It is a picture that is as real as any picture you can hold in your hand. I can tell you that this picture is with me all the time no matter where I go. I close my eyes and there it is. But the amazing miracle is that now I can open my eyes and see my sweet and beautiful mama standing right in front of me.

As I sit on this side of that 6 month point, I am in awe, completely wowed and forever grateful. This has been the hardest 6 months of our lives especially dad’s, but by God’s grace, His miraculous works and one answered prayer after another, we are on the road to recovery. Mom has gone through nearly 10 surgeries, 3 months of hospitalization, 6 rooms changes, 1 TB scare, 1 move home, 50 days of rehab (and counting), at least 30 doctor visits, lots of family and friend visits, many miracles and lots of love. As incredibly difficult as this has been, we have seen many blessings. Our family is closer than ever before and we’ve seen God work like never before. For the first time, we have a whole new (and correct) perspective on life. I truly believe that God is far from finished with mom (and dad for that matter). Look how far she’s come in 6 months! She truly is a living miracle! I cannot wait to see what the next 6 months will bring. There are big plans in store and feel incredibly blessed to be a small part of this bigger plan and even bigger story.

(This picture (taken earlier this week) depicts perfectly one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned the last 6 months.  Take one day at at time. Live in the moment. Enjoy the moment. It’s all we are guaranteed. As mom shows it best, take time to stop and smell the roses.) Also, I have learned that my dad is a superhero! I don’t know where we would be without this amazing man.

P.S. A special thank you to those of you who have stuck by us through this journey in love, support and prayer.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.  We love each of you!

Prom – Where it all Begins

Danica & Jake Head Shot

Danica & Jake Laughing

Danica & Jake Straight Shot

Danica and Jake Holding Hands

Danica and Jake Hugging

Danica and Jake Kick Up

Danica and Jake looking into Eyes

Danica Holding out Dress

Danica Looking to Side

Danica Twirling

Steve and Danica Hugging

This past weekend was my girl, Danica’s, senior prom. She was by far the prettiest girl I had ever seen. We spent hours at the salon to get the perfect hair up do and it turned out perfectly. Danica is the type of girl that is just naturally beautiful and doesn’t need make-up therefore she never wears any. For prom, she decided to do it up right. All I can say is wow! There are no words to fully express how amazing she truly looked. All I can say is that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. No one even comes close. I am so very proud of the young lady she has become. This past weekend really proved to me that this is exactly what she has become. I’m simply in awe of her.

It has began; the beginning of the end. How did we even get to this place? My baby girl, the love of my life, is 18 and going to her senior prom with her boyfriend of nearly two years. So, yes, this is the beginning of the end. First, there’s prom, then it’s graduation and then she moves out and goes to college. All I know is that, at this point, it is certainly hitting me harder and earlier than I expected. It almost feels like someone is slowly pulling my heart away from my body. Uhhh, and here we go. We embark on this new journey of my little girl moving away into adulthood. What can I say? I love her to the moon and back.

A New Doo

New Hair Green Dress

One foot of hair chopped off!  I knew it was the right decision when the hairdresser chopped off that long pony tail and my first reaction was, “thank God!”.  It was time; time to lighten the load.  Time to get rid of the extra weight.  Time to unload the burden. It just feels great!

Quote for the Day

“That’s your solution? Have a cookie?’ Astrid asked. ‘No, my solution is to run down to the beach and hide out until this is all over,’ Sam said. ‘But a cookie never hurts.” -Michael Grant (Author of Gone)

Clear Water Pier ViewLooking up Needle Fish Shadow in the Water Beach Birds Beach Selfie Bird Crooked Beach Feet in the Water