Monday, June 30, 2014

Wen Does the Hair Miracle Begin??

Unless you live under a rock, or are totally impervious to persuasive advertising, you've probably seen Wen infomercials or this product's presentation on QVC.  It's going to make your hair silky, shiny, bouncy, manageable, healthy, blah, blah, blah.  It will be like your hair on steroids and going to the gym 7 days a week - whoo hoooo - it will be BUTT kicking hair!  Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point.  Your hair will look like a shampoo commercial 7 days a week.  Like water torture working its way into my thick skull, I finally caved to the hype and bought the stuff.

And how I want to know, WEN will I like this stuff?  I was so excited to get my order.  I had planned to keep one for myself, give one to my daughter one to my mom, etc.  I casually mentioned it to my mom and she said, "Oh I bought that stuff already and I really don't like it that much. Do you want mine?"  Hummm….  What don't you like about it?  I asked her.  "It makes my hair look greasy."  Greasy?  Really?  I took her bottle - maybe it was the formula she got?  Her hair type?  But the infomercials said it worked on all types of hair. Oh well.

Finally, I tried my Wen, and I was…  underwhelmed.  I tried the apple whatever-it-was.  My hair seemed somewhat more hydrated  (I have naturally curly hair that ALWAYS seems at least a bit on the dry side) but it was nothing spectacular.  Oh, wait - but I didn't use the recommended 16 pumps of product.  16 pumps.  yes, that's right, I'm not making that up.  My hair was pretty much saturated at around 8-10 pumps - why did I need 16? just to give you an idea of how much product this is, 16 pumps is probably somewhere near 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup.  If I was using my good old standby shampoo and conditioner, Dove, at about 3.50 for 12 ounces (and cheaper in Costco!!) this would be ok.  But we're talking cleansing conditioner that can afford to host its own infomercial.  This stuff is currently selling on QVC for 177.00 a gallon.  Yes, that's right, one hundred and seventy-seven dollars a gallon. that's more expensive than Godiva Chocolate, I think.  In any case, I'd rather have the chocolate.  Or some Kona coffee.  Just in case my husband reads this post, I want to state for the record that I didn't pay that much.  I also didn't buy a gallon of this stuff. BUT GOOD LORD, IF YOU'RE GOING TO BUY SOMETHING SO EXPENSIVE, YOU WOULD THINK IT WOULD WORK LIKE NOTHING ELSE ON EARTH, RIGHT?

I wanted to like this stuff, I really did.  My friend loves it.  But to be honest,  I think it's only so-so. It seemed to hydrate my hair a bit more, but then, it also seemed frizzier.  And the bottle I got from my mom?  I noticed the greasy look too.  My daughter had the same experience.  We tried rinsing it out REALLY well, but then, if you're going to do that, it's really not working as a leave-in conditioner (one of it's multitude of uses, according to the advertising) is it?   I watched some of the infomercials again… maybe I wasn't using enough of it?  I used more.  Nope, that wasn't it.  Maybe I wasn't giving it enough of a chance?  But then the more I used it, the more my scalp felt like I had my hair pulled in a tight rubber band for hours on end.  The only way I could describe it is to say that my hair roots hurt. I read reviews from people saying it had made their hair FALL OUT, and I got a little freaked out.  I washed with regular shampoo and the feeling went away.  But really, this is not the shampoo commercial hair I was expecting.  Plus, I also want to say for the record that one of the bottles pictured above is the only shampoo I ever used that prompted my husband to ask me, "What is that stuff in your hair?  It smells weird.  I don't like it." … And that was NOT the Fig, which is the one I thought was absolutely the worst meant-to-smell-good-shampoo I had ever smelled.  I grew on me after a while, (like a fungus) but still - Herbal Essences kicks its ASS in the scent department.   IEWWW.  

So, WEN does my hair miracle begin?  Apparently, the answer is never.  At least not with this product.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Painting New Life into an Old Nightstand

My daughter and I have been arguing over this nightstand for the past year or two.  My argument is that she should use it in her room until we get her the furniture she wants.  I admit, that could be a very long time from now.  I say it's better to put your stuff in some sort of organizational item (such as this very useful nightstand) rather than to leaving it in piles on the floor.  Or on the top of a speckled formica topped kid's play table that was old when I was a kid.  Yikes, now THAT'S old.

Her philosophy is that it is better to use nothing to organize her things than it is to use something ugly that you don't want.  After all, your mother might use that as a reason to continue to not by you the furniture you want.  It is better to hold out in stubbornness than to cave in.  

Did I say that she takes after her dad? 

Anyway, this little nightstand is very well made, it's just a little past its prime in the design arena.  It had very colonial looking handles on it, which I removed earlier today.  My plan is to paint it in funky patterns that my daughter may or may not like.  I'll get new handles that go with the new color scheme and designs.  If she likes it, great.  If not, I guess I'll see if I can sell it.  In the mean time, I have another craft project.   So far, I can't even settle on a color scheme, but I plan to start painting tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting Middle Schoolers to Return their Library Books

I just want to take a moment to show you how I'm trying to do my part in getting the kids in the school where I work to return their library books.  Every day for the past week, I've been reading a "return your library books" announcement modeled after those direct TV ads…

(I am not tech savvy enough to put a link here, but if you want to see one of these ads, go to youtube and search Direct TV Commercials and check  out any one of them. )

I don't know if they're getting the kids to return their books, but they seem to be getting the kids to SHUT UP and LISTEN to the announcements, which is maybe one step closer toward getting them to return their books.

Here are the announcements I've made up so far…

Feel free to use any of these in your own school, and if you do, post a response here to let me know if they help get those books returned!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Obsessed with Sugar Skulls

I attempting to find my perfect artistic medium combination, I'm now obsessed with sugar skulls.  For those of you who don't know, sugar skulls are decorative skulls (real sugar skulls are edible, but usually just used for decorative purposes) made for celebration of The Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in Mexico and closely related to All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  

When I was a kid, skulls and skeletons used to freak me out big time.  Periodically, when I went with my mother to Korvette's, a department store of the time, we would wind our way through several departments in our journey to her shopping destination.  This meant cutting through a smelly cheese department (fondue supplies, I'm sure) and then the toy department.  You would think the toy department would be a place I'd want to visit, but on one pass through, I'd spotted the dreaded Visible Man Anatomy Kit.  This was an anatomically model correct man with CLEAR SKIN.  Pictured on the box cover were cross sections of the man's muscles, organs and bones.  YUCK.  I had nightmares for months after that, just picturing that I, too, had this gross stuff inside my body, especially a skeleton!  But I digress…  

Still, I think this is partly why I like sugar skulls - they take something traditionally scary (the skull) and turn it into something beautiful.  They also nicely balance the living and the dead, and represent the idea that the spirits of our deceased loved ones are still with us… wonderful symbolism, in my opinion.  Anyway, I have been looking at sugar skull tattoos, drawings, paintings and masks on Pinterest for weeks now.  A skull seemed like a relatively easy shape to make in paper mache, and it would provide a nice painting surface.  Plus, as a sugar skull, I could sprinkle it with other three dimensional elements, too.  

First, I blew up a 12 inch balloon and covered it with a nice thick layer of paper mache.  Then I cut it in half lengthwise, and drew a face on it.  

I ripped some paper towels into small pieces, soaked them in water and then whipped them around in my blender for a bit until they were nicely chopped.  I then scooped them out in a kitchen strainer and tapped the strainer a bit to get the excess water out.  I mixed a small batch of flour and water in the usual ratio and mixed it into the ground paper towels until it looked something like oatmeal.

I globbed on clumps of the mixture in that places that seemed to require more depth.  I was pretty happy with how much depth it was adding, except the drying process wound up shrinking it considerably once again.  Oh well.  After the mush layer dried, I still had to add more crunched up paper to the chin and forehead.  After that dried, I added another layer of smooth sheets, just to smooth out the texture again.  

Now it's painting and decorating time.  I find myself in need of a new paintbrush - one that can make small dots and fine lines.  My daughter paid me a lovely compliment the other day.  She said, "Mom, if you paint this in purple and pink and teal,  I might want to hang it in my room."  

So now I have a color scheme as well.   

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mediumless: ...more commonly known as, Art and Craft ADD

My very first paper mache sculpture - based on a children's book. You can see it took some abuse from the preschoolers before this picture was taken.  

I was probably younger than four years old when my mother sculpted a head out of paper mache and baked it in our oven in attempt to dry it.  It turned black and moldy and never hardened the way it should have.  Little did she know she was going about the drying process in the wrong manner.  After her attempt, I begged her on several other occasions to try it again.  "Paper mache doesn't work…" she would tell me, or something like that.  She probably doesn't even remember this, but it made a lasting impression on me.  I thought there was something truly amazing in turning something into something completely different.  

Already, I was addicted to art and crafting.  As a kid I made doll furniture from cardboard milk cartons, coasters out of yarn scrolled in flat disk shapes and held together with tape, looped potholders, hooked rugs, crocheted squares, line drawings, macrame, tissue paper flowers, corn husk dolls, sock puppets…  Some of these items I haven't thought about in years. They were all wonderful and fun, and yet, I didn't stick with any of them for long.

I started sewing in high school; mostly because my mother was of the "why should we pay this much for it when we can MAKE it for this much…?"  school of thought.  She had her own sewing machine, but she never sewed much.  She got me a pattern and some fabric and told me to "look at the pattern directions and figure it out."  After I while I got pretty good at it, although perfectly set zippers still elude me.  I made ruffled shirts, button down shirts, jackets, pants and costumes.  I stuck with sewing for a while and I still love to sew but I can't sew exclusively.  I'm a craft cheater.

When I worked at the preschool I tried other crafts, most notably, paper mache.  Then I drifted to making beaded jewelry at home, but I still managed to take up scrapbooking, painted wood crafts; I tried soap making and I dabbled in herbal and essential oil crafting.  One thing that's disappointing, though.  It's difficult to get spectacularly good at any one thing when you keep losing interest and switching to another craft or medium.  I used to read articles about various types of crafters and artists - telling how "… the moment they picked up…"  this or that item they were mesmerized or hooked or whatever. I still dream of finding my One True Art and Craft Love, or maybe I'm just looking for that perfect combination of paint, sculpture beads, fabric and wire…

In any case,  I am willing to keep looking, and  willing to try them all.